November 1st marked one year since I put my life and career on pause and moved back to my hometown to . . . re-evaluate. Day-to-day, the year has crept along at a pace only those who have lived in a truly small small town can understand, but the months and seasons continue to sneak up on me. The weight of summer’s humid air lifted from my shoulders so slowly I hardly noticed it leaving. A late summer drought slowly leeched the color from the hills of trees, taking them from lush, saturated green to the washed-out golden-green of a faded polaroid, then seemlessly to the rust autumn tones with no announcement. It was all very stealthy–so stealthy, in fact, that I only appreciated the transition from subconscious memory as I glanced at the hills in late October hoping to take in the beautiful fall foliage, but instead found a treeline of dark skeleton arms up-stretched, groping horrifically at the grey clouds overhead. The hills had donned their ghastly costumes in time for halloween.
I’d like to say that I’ve taken advantage of the slowed pace this past year to do all the things I never had time to fit in my busy schedule before. The truth is, Continue reading
And sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name. Sometimes you want a clean slate–not so much to reinvent yourself, but more to reintroduce yourself. After finally closing a door on the guy I always kind of thought I’d end up growing old with, I realized I’d been treading water, marking time, waiting for him to grow up and see that we were meant to be together. But we weren’t, we aren’t, and as hard as it was is for me to admit: we’ve grown up, and into people those wild-eyed high school sweethearts never imagined they’d become. I’d thought I’d shut that door many times, only to find it flung back open again. But all those times shutting the door had been a sad, mournful act. This time was different; it was empowering, and for the first time in my adult life I felt like my own person, finally untethered and free to move in any direction I chose.
Later that week I chose to celebrate some work success by letting loose my new-found freedom with a girls’ night–solo. While I could’ve had a fine time going out on a more traditional girls’ night (you know, with other girls–plural!), being surrounded by people who knew me as I was before my recent epiphany would only enable me to continue my old water-treading ways. I needed to do something bolder, something out of my comfort zone and a little bit scary. Plus, He’s Just Not That Into You had just come out in theaters, a tie-in/spin-off of one of my greatest guilty pleasures–Sex and the City. So I headed out for a SATC-worthy pre-movie snack at one of my favorite chain bar-and-grill restaurants from college.
I walked into the restaurant and found a seat at the bar with the confidence of a woman who’s just solved one of life’s great mysteries. Continue reading
I hear this song and suddenly I’m cruising down the street I grew up on in my electric blue ’93 Chevy Beretta with a carload of my fellow high school cheerleaders, windows down because the air conditioning was broken (or, actually, never really worked), letting the easy breeze that comes from hitting 40 MPH between stop signs relieve us from the soupy mid-July air of Southern Ohio. We’d spent the weeks since school let out practicing non-stop in preparation for the cheerleading competition at the county fair, and now that the fair was over we were relishing our free time. However, we soon realized that there wasn’t much for a bunch of 16-year-olds to do with so much free time and so little cash; at 78¢/gallon, a tank of gas split four-ways would give us hours of fun doing what all the other teens did on hot summer afternoons: cruising.
Those afternoons cruising in a wide, distorted loop around the eight or ten blocks of town, represented some of the only typical teenage behavior I can remember. Aside from the fact that we were all cheerleaders, I didn’t have much in common with my cruising pals. I’d never really dated–in fact, never been kissed–while they were completely boy-crazy, hopping from one “relationship” to another. At parties I preferred to get a nice sugar buzz from too much Pepsi so that I could remember all the sloppy, embarrassing antics my more inebriated friends might pull, though always playing the good sober baby sitter who stops them from doing anything truly regrettable. I attended a fairly strict church, helped with Sunday School, and participated in the church’s bible quiz team on Sunday mornings while my friends slept in and slept off their Saturday night indiscretions. They were still my friends–great friends–and we got on with only a tiny bit of teasing for my Sandra Dee persona.
That summer we couldn’t get enough of The Bloodhound Gang–probably because none of us had CD players in our cars, so we were at the mercy of the repetitive playlist of the one radio station we could get in that wasn’t exclusively country music or gospel. The music of that summer always conjures up warm, happy memories, but this past winter on an unforgivably cold February morning, the droning repetition of The roof. The roof. The roof is on fire. had a cold, numbing effect as one of my old cheerleading friends and I sat in my living room watching her house across the street burn.
10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!
I’m one of those saps at the party who actually yells “Happy New Year!” as the clock strikes midnight, while everyone else’s lips are otherwise occupied in a New Year’s kiss with the one they love. Or I’m not at a party at all, opting to clear the collision course for the braver drivers on New Year’s Eve by staying home and watching old movies, baking cookie, cleaning house, or crocheting. Or blogging. Ok, when I say it out loud like that it sounds a little sad. But really, I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Continue reading
Who is your personal hero?
Write a personal essay about
your hero's accomplishments and
what makes that person a hero.
How many times did I write essays about my personal hero as I moved from big, clumsy letters scratched from an oversized pencil to smooth careful curves flowing from a ballpoint pen to awkwardly fumbling fingers on a computer keyboard? When I was a child my heroes were important adults in my life; they were people who had accomplished great feats, faced great fears, and overcome great obstacles. These were people whom I aspired to be like. Some might have called them role models, but to me they were much more. They were heroes. They are heroes, still–those still with me, those far away, and those gone but not forgotten.
My heroes were not generic, faceless do-gooders, nor were they impersonal figures in a book or on a television screen. They were real, tangible humans who made up my day-to-day experience. They had faces, names, quirks, flaws, shortcomings, blood, tears, voices, laughter. However familiar and close to me, they were at the same time years and years away because they were adults and I was a child. Their actions and their hero status were out of my reach, if only by a few years (or a few inches).
Now I am an adult, and, as such, a member of that vast pool of potential heroes. I’m casually aware of this when interacting with children and young adults, but became acutely aware of it yesterday listening to the President speak at the memorial for the soldiers tragically taken in the Fort Hood shooting last week.
“We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.”
–President Barack Obama
November 10, 2009
I made it. The move is done. Well, the sorting, purging, packing my life into 15-odd boxes and 3 suitcases and plodding around an airport from 6 o’clock in the morning Pacific time til 7 o’clock in the evening East Coast time–that’s all done. Now I’m set unpacking those 15-odd boxes, which were meticulous and orderly for the first several trips to the post office, but become increasingly haphazard–I daresay schizo–as the moving day drew nearer and the contents of my apartment I had left to deal with became increasingly daunting.
And I’m not unpacking them into a new, empty space–a clean slate, if you will; no, I’m unpacking them in my old room in my parents’ house where I grew up. I carefully drew a box opener over the packaging tape sealing the first box and pulled out a beautiful mahogany frame encasing a photo of me and one of my best friends from college on the beach on Kauai at her wedding a couple years ago. I surveyed the room and placed it on the entertainment center next to some antique glass bowls that once belonged to my great-grandmother, a trophy from a writing competition in 7th grade, and a picture of me and my high school boyfriend at my senior prom. There it was–my heritage, my childhood, my first love, and my current best friend–a cluttered mess…or a beautiful mess?
This is my life. I suppose the beauty is in how you arrange it: in having a knack for keeping just enough of your past to be cozy without waxing too nostalgic; in having the good taste to keep that which is truly meaningful and to cast away the rest; and in having the sense of balance to blend the new with the old, the proud with the awkward, the joy with the heartache. This is my challenge. Continue reading