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I am on my way to drinks with a childhood friend down in the big city. Now, besides the fact that I am “escaping” from Gwinnett – yes, indeed, I do cross the County Line on occasion. But I’m revisiting some childhood…
Damon and I grew up catty-corner to one another in Tulsa. If I leaned out far enough from my front porch and looked across the street at a diagonal, I could see his front porch. Our mothers were happy to have two children same age and his younger brother and sister were often a part of our daily fun. We rode our bikes, played in the street (it was just safer in the early 80s to be a wanderlust kid apparently), were in the same homeroom several years and he was my best “guy” friend. I know this NOW, but when you are an 9-year-old, you just assume your friends are always around and always ready for fun. Our group of neighborhood kids kind of just grew up together. And despite those depicted TV/movie interpretations, drama for us was who didn’t invite the other to a birthday party, or who didn’t talk to the other on the playground. We were pretty high-tech in those days. (and no, we didn’t have cell phones – but we did have some very low-tech walkie-talkies – with baby monitor interference built-in)
Later, a job transfer moved my family “north” to Pittsburgh, PA and life changed. I remember saying good-bye and everyone standing on their front porches or in our driveway – a feat in the middle of August in Oklahoma, but they wished us well. It kind of was disappointing – thought in my young mind I would lose touch or they would forget me. A few years into high school, however, both of our orchestras were at competition together in Virginia Beach. Damon & I were able to get together and spent a fun day being “kids” again at Busch Gardens. But we also dealt with some big changes, he was grappling at that time with a life decision and I remember that was the year I started becoming more of the swan and less the ugly duckling. I look back now and realize both of us were at stages of bullying by other stupid young children because we were different – a little geeky, maybe even classified nerds. But we survived it – and knew from the other that we were still cool in our small world, and that was what mattered. Now before you start conjuring up star-crossed romance, let me share and confirm – we were always just friends. But I do know he was a Prince Charming of the FRIEND Kingdom, the one who went to bat for me when I kissed Greg S. in 4th grade and then promptly after when Greg broke my heart the next week, Damon stuck it out with me and patted my arm and told me that there would be other better guys. He was right.
He was the one who built snow forts, ran through water sprinklers, and explored the wooded lots with me behind our street. We survived elementary school redistricting, Girl/Boy Scouts – he all the way to Eagle Scout, middle school and our first school dance. (Still remember that 7th grade dance more than Senior Prom – irony that we did more group dancing than couple dancing and had FUN). We lost touch every couple of years, but thanks to technology, email, and other techie inventions – we always reconnected. I listened to his adventures & challenges with college, and his decision to face a tech wave early with a computer company – which excelled. Who knew? (I was so proud!) He in turn heard about my adventures going into higher education and making a move away from my home in the ‘Burgh, to the City of Brotherly Love. He has heard my stories of heartache, job achievement and growing up & trying to become wiser. I have done the same for him. Always a phone call, email, and now Facebook or Twitter update away.
Here is what I notice – we’re still as real today as we were yesterday. THAT is FRIENDSHIP. No amount of required check-ins, status updates, or logging hours of dedicated time set the tone for our friendship. It’s been about 20 plus years since we saw each other. We rarely talk on the phone – ironic that we have highly involved “people jobs” but respect we kind of need down time after the workday. We didn’t graduate together; in fact, we are more different as individuals than when we met as kids. But what I love, it never seems to matter.
In adulthood, I have watched him find his true love & watch with fondness and admiration the two twin boys they now raise grow up. Tonight, he will hear stories about how I have finally found my niche in Georgia, and my own true love and a Cowboy Corgi I adore to bits. And I bet we’ll talk about work, and politics, and life decisions, our families -good and bad, and love…but guaranteed we’ll still just be those two cute kids racing each other down the block into the hot, orangello Oklahoma sunset.
I just finished babysitting your baby today.
I have salmon stuck on my neck and in the crease under my left breast.
My eardrum is damaged due to high frequency screaming.
I had to hold her while I was peeing because from her perspective it seemed like Satan himself would rape and kill her slowly if I put her down thus I did not get the chance to wipe myself properly…
…no matter though as I am covered in a thick layer of sweat from pushing the stroller up the hill so a bit more wet between the legs even things out.
I washed my hair this morning but all of a sudden it looks like a stringy bag of shit pile.
I haven’t had a chance to eat anything except snatching a few cold peas from her snack pack and my head is pounding.
I watched her draw on…
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The first drop was killer.
That second climb? Clearly intense.
The third free-fall was terrifying & just couldn’t let go…
The fourth round of sudden dips made me want to laugh & throw-up all at the same time.
Yet, those heart-stopping curves made me a bit more brazen.
The ups and downs made me anticipate a little more of the unexpected.
Get back in line & go again. The adventure gets better every single time.
“To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
I saw the fear in his eyes as I issued the words. No, it wasn’t the “challenge” – being an analytical thinker & a gamer, he loves puzzles- but the words which followed as I expressed, “Write me a letter for Valentine’s Day. From the heart.”
A few weeks ago, as Walton Boy and I were shopping, we watched shelves in stores begin to burst at the seams with cherry red hearts, cotton candy pink frothy cards, and flowery cursive expressions cascading off chocolate hearts and gummy cupids as they spilled over the shelves. Yes, Valentine’s Day. I knew then as his grip tightened over my hand the stress of expectation had begun. Now, understand we have already survived birthdays, the holidays, and the occasional “just because I love you” moments and succeeded with flying colors. However, I just had a feeling he would dread this more than a root canal. So, without hesitation, I turned to him and said, “I know what I want to do for Valentine’s Day. Forget cards, gifts, flowers, and meals by candlelight. Simply, I want us to write each other a letter, from the heart, as a special gift for the holiday.” I know he was pretty skeptical, he even asked about it one night when we were doing dishes, but I remained firm and reissued my request, “A letter from the heart. Nothing more, nothing less.”
In our life, love enters our world daily. His job as a musician is based partially on other’s love as he plays at weddings, dances, and even tonight, at a Valentine’s Dinner/Dance Event And, as I “save the world” daily, as he puts it, I open my heart to making a difference in the lives of students, organizations and sometimes the world. But this is a challenge for us to take time to really say it.
You may be thinking (and I suspect he did too) easy thing for her…She writes all the time, she was an English major, she is a girl and it will just come natural.
Not exactly, dear reader. In fact, during those weeks, I started and re-started several drafts and they just didn’t come out right. Sometimes it seemed too corny, sometimes too serious, sometimes just too stupid. Even now as I sit and look at the final copy sealed next to me on the desk, I wonder if it really is good enough. In the words of Alanis Morissette, Isn’t it Ironic?
However, after multiple drafts, I thought back to my initial decree. Write a letter. From the heart. Simple. So, I wrote from the heart why I love him.
Why I know in my heart, he has been the best gift I ever could have prayed for, wished for, or dreamed about in my imaginary fairy tale or reality. Why in a universe of a million stars, we managed to find each other and shine brighter together then we ever could have alone in this world. Why I know it was worth waiting and surviving other loves (and loss), when his love was eventually the one which exceeded all expectation in my life….and there is more. However, that is between the two of us, because not everything should be shared.
Today, in a world of technology, thousands of texts, posts, blogs, tweets, and emails will be sent across the wire (and wirelessly) expressing love, passion and the occasional realization of disgust over a holiday that gives more couples, singles, and those who witness it heartburn. But hopefully many of you will stop and realize the greatest gift today is what is burning from the heart.
Remember, it isn’t about the romance or expectation of commercialism, but more the gratitude, appreciation, and devotion you feel for your significant other, spouse, partner, child, parent, friend, or even your pet!
So there remains The Challenge. The Letter. The chance to give a gift of love. Simple. Pick up your pen, and make the decision.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Make it divalicious…
Energized and ready to write the new blog this week and wrap up the marvelous “Go Local” series. And then, hit a brick wall. Really a wall? Me the great writer of prose ran out of things to wax on about the merits and great benefits of going “Locavore?!?” As many of my younger asocial media counterparts say in a status/post, “SMH (shaking my head)” Craziness.
However, I reflected on something my dear, Texas Earth Mama friend posted this week. “I am a Fabulous Mess today!” I remember liking it, reflecting on it and throughout the week the phrase kept popping into my head, and life.
Evidence I am such a “Fabulous Mess”:
1) I was late and lost for a work meeting;
2) I misplaced (twice) a great personal resource file;
3) I snagged my pantyhose;
4) And, in a rush, spilled coffee down my white cami when heading out the door.
UGH! Fabulous Mess, indeed! And then, reminded about the reality, I am not perfect. I am human. I am just me. This is my life. And there is a blank space there to be filled. Instead, I am “Fabulousmess.”
Evidence I am such “Fabulousmess”:
1) I am loved by friends & acquaintances who, despite the run in my hose or the coffee stain on my blouse, accept me.
2) I have an awesome boss and great colleagues who helped remedy & improve one late mistake & a material loss.
3) I have this cool family – kin & “circle of friends”- who love me when I am down and know how to pick me up. And one Walton Boy who loves me even when I border on being a bit snotty or emotional and provides hugs that make it all disappear.
4) One greater power above who I know He accepts me without needing evidence. Period.
Eh, so how cool to know that in this sometimes overachieving, do it all, be the best, do it top notch world…I am a Fabulous Mess. I mean, “Fabulousmess.” This blog entry is dedicated to my friend, Texas Earth Mama. Because despite the fact she lives a few more hundred miles, hours, and hugs away- her advice, her love, and her influence is still felt by me each day. To her I say, Thank you for reminding me I can be “Fabulousmess.”
And you…yes, YOU out there. You are too! Patience, girl. Deep breath, and keep going.
And yes, the “Go Local” will now flow…