This has been a week, or maybe a bit more than a week, of visits and conversations with people, old friends, that I had not heard from in a decade or more. It happened again this afternoon, while I was ordering lunch at a fast-foodish sandwich shop. A woman I worked with in the late '90's was standing two people ahead of me, placing her order. I did not recognize her appearance as much as I recognized her voice - she had and still has a very nasally voice - she sounds like a female Tom Petty. After she had finished placing her order I spoke her name and she turned towards me and nearly shouted my name back. We sort of stepped away from the two people who were between us and said a few of the standard "Oh my god, where have you been, how have you been, you look great," things that people who haven't seen each other in a long while say to each other, until she had to collect her order and I had to place mine. After I got my sandwich I sat down at her table and we started the whole catching up conversation going again. She had switched careers after leaving retail sales, taking a job at the AFB in the Springs as a records clerk. She married a career military man back in 2002, and they had two kids before divorcing in 2009. She hadn't remarried but was now living with a guy in the Springs with whom she has a child, and they have 6 kids total in the house between them. Which was surprising to hear, as I had never thought she was the domestic type - she was quite a partier back when we worked together, and often came in on Saturday mornings looking as if she hadn't slept since Thursday. As there were no children with her, I asked if she was taking a day off from the kids to recharge her batteries and she laughed, nodding her head and asking me how I knew that was exactly what she was doing - I told her that not only do I have sisters who all have kids, but just about everybody else I know has kids, and as I work with a lot of women, I hear the statement, "Mommy needs a little alone time" a lot. Like, all the time. She told me she was pretty much spending the day hunting for Christmas gift bargains, and that it was going good. She also asked me if I had any gift ideas for a guy, and I assumed she was referring to her partner, so I suggested a nice date night where she took him to his favorite restaurant, let him pick the movie, etc. - basically, what I would consider a good gift from a partner. We had a nice twenty minute conversation until I realized I had to get back to work, and then exchanged contact info and the requisite "Look me up when you are in town" goodbyes. So, welcome surprise reunion at lunch, and a decent sandwich, too. Not a bad break in an otherwise dull afternoon. Wonder who the next old friend I'll run into will be?
We were both too young, too full of ourselves, too impossibly selfish to know that what we were doing, what we were imposing upon one another, was just wrong. But it was and now, all these years later, I think I can say I'm sorry to everyone who was around us at the time who had to endure our dysfunctionalism. It really was a screwed up time.
Every so often a mistake is made where the price to pay for correcting it (at best) or apologizing for it (at least) is just too high. The term used in those situations is usually "dearly." Dearly is the general cost of being wrong about something important. I have been wrong about some very important things, and I am paying dearly. But I am not about to apologize. Call it obstinate, call it what you will. But do not call requesting an apologia.
Someone once wrote that things happen to a person because of one of two factors - either they did everything in their power to make it happen, or they did nothing to prevent it from happening. Then again, someone else once wrote that a person can't control what happens to them, they can only control how they react to what happens to them. And further still there are those who have stated, more or less, that there are laws at work that determine what happens to people - such as the laws of Nature, the laws of Karma, Darwinian laws, the laws of attraction, etc. As for me, I think it's a combination of things, a witches brew if you will. Things happen, you react, other people react to your reaction, the universe throws in it's two cents, some other things happen due to a ripple effect, the government you happen to be living under gets it's nose into the mess, relatives and friends add a dash a salt...and then you have to either make a decision or one is foist upon you. 'course I could be wrong about that...
A few years ago I decided to try Rogaine to grow my hair out. Didn't think I'd share the results at the time because it smacked of vanity...as if that would be a surprise to anyone... This is how it went.
25 Days in....
51 Days in...
75 Days in...
100 Days in...
The only pic I could find of my head after about four months of Rogaine...not too shabby
But also not satisfactory...and for reasons beyond me, my once blonde hair was now brownish red.
Don't condemn, don't condemn, don't condemn It's hard enough making a go of it in this rough world Without you judging just 'cause it didn't work out Like you wanted C'mon, you had quite a few nice times Think hard, remember, there were plenty of good days It's only now when the tap's turned off That you want to destroy everything around you People change their minds, happens everyday One day they will tell you how much you mean to them The next they are wiping away Their prints from a knife sticking out of your back It's just how some people are, sometimes Walk away, walk alone for as long as it takes To get your head clear, to exorcise the demons Step back, you'll be able to clearly see That everybody struggles hard to be free Everybody struggles just like you, just like me Don't condemn, don't condemn, don't condemn It's hard enough making a go of it in this rough world Without you judging just 'cause it didn't work out Like you wanted Find a place in the sunshine Find a place where life is moving with grace No need to wallow or stagnate in the shadows You've got to get yourself to a better place Someday, probably sooner than you imagine You'll be living like life is again a dream All this disappointment and anger will seem so long ago You'll struggle to remember why you ever wasted a moment Of precious time turning friends into opponents Everything will feel alright once again You'll stop feeling as if you were made the fool Everything will balance out, all those knots will be undone You'll lie awake wondering how you ever doubted That everything would work out for the best in the long run Don't condemn, don't condemn, don't condemn Forgive, forget, move along, move on Leave all the ugly words and actions behind Without a word of grief or twinge of guilt Don't condone, don't condone, don't condone
My Mother was a small-town girl A coal miners daughter, raised in the northern Appalachians Joined the Navy to get out, maybe see the world Met my father while they both were serving During the Korean war So yeah, both of my parents were Korean war vets They married in '52 Settled down, bought a tract ranch house in San Diego Six kids later he left us all for someone new My Mother just soldiered on Kept us fed, kept a roof over our heads Never spent a day being pampered at a spa Or a beauty salon
Found strength in the works of the Catholic Church It took me decades to appreciate The burden she had to carry Doing without while providing for us The sacrifices she had to make My Mother used to sing in the kitchen After she had put all us younger kids to bed Songs from her childhood, songs from the gospel With a voice that still resonates sweetly in my head Sitting at the table, reading the paper Trusting that her older children My sisters, my brother Would be safe that night Where ever they were
Happy Birthday Mom, much love and endless thanks for all you did for us.
Back in the fall of 2005 Brad & I found ourselves at an auction for a bowling alley that was closing down. The lot for the house balls came up and the opening bid was announced as $200.00. No one made a move. The auctioneer then started riffing on lower and lower opening bid amounts until finally he announced, "$5.00, do I have any interest in them at $5.00?" I shot up my bidder number without thinking and the auctioneer yelled "We have five, do I hear ten? $5.00 is on the table, do I hear ten? Five dollars going once...going twice...sold to bidder (whatever my bidder number was, I've long since forgotten). Brad stared at me like I had suddenly sprouted horns. Then he asked the obvious question: "What the hell are you going to do with all of those bowling balls?" The only answer I could come up with was, "I have no idea." 144 bowling balls for $5.00, plus tax. Took two trips to get them all home. As the smaller of the two dogs I had at the time (Cami, the Brittany Spaniel) was in the habit of digging at various spots along the backyard fence, I decided to use the bowling balls to line it - so I dug a shallow trench the width of the entire north run of the fence (and a bit along the east run of the fence, too) and put the bowling balls in it. Worked like a charm.
If you are ever in a situation where tension has developed between you and a person you were or are extremely close with, due to some conflict real or imaginary that leads to an argument, it is, in my experience, always wise to have a graceful exit strategy that allows for both parties involved to go their separate ways without either party feeling ill will. In my fantasy experience that is. In my real-life experience it's always been a massive clusterf*ck of irrational behaviors and flying-off-the-handle assumptions that escalates in seconds from a petty spat to a thermo-nuclear level heated exchange that leaves nothing but remorse and recrimination in its' wake. So yeah, the first one, pay attention to that one. Learn it, live it.