I used to know someone who seemed to delight in crushing others’ dreams. When I was young, she approached my mother, all concerned, because I talked about wanting to be a teacher, when the week before I wanted to be something else. My mother responded, “She’s a kid. She’s supposed to try different ideas on for size. Let her be.” (That was probably one of my mother’s finest moments. Thanks, Ma.)
This person went on to have children of her own, and it broke my heart the way she used to deprive them of all hope. When one of her kids said she wanted to be a singer, she was told that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than become famous.
While that may be true, the message she was sending was, “Why even try? You won’t be good enough.” Because of that, that girl grew up and singing isn’t a part of her life. She might have been famous. Or she might have sung in the church choir and made lifelong friends that way. Or she might have become a music teacher. So many paths were cut off from her life thanks to her mudslide of a mother.
When another one of her kids showed aptitude in one area above all others, she tried her best to discourage him, because it wouldn’t be an easy career. But he lived and breathed it. He did manage to get halfway into it, but never went the distance. I often wonder where he’d be if he had gotten just the tiniest bit of encouragement from the woman he admired most.
It’s so much easier to crush someone than to lift that person up. When you crush, gravity is on your side. But I hope you’ll resist the urge.
Watching people fly, even if it’s away from you, even if the destination remains just out of reach for them, is much more satisfying than having to scrape them off the sole of your shoe.
I’ve been looking for you for years. I often wondered if you were right under my nose and I just wasn’t seeing you, or if I wasn’t looking in the right place. More than once I thought I saw you, and you just couldn’t or wouldn’t see me. I always wondered if you were reading my blog, which was the only way I knew how to show myself to the world.
Did we pass each other on the street without recognizing each other? I’d look into the faces of strangers, hoping they’d see me, really see me, and consider me worth the effort. I’m sure I looked like every other face in the crowd, but inside my head I was screaming, “Where are you?”
It’s been a long, lonely, painful slog. I know you’ve been looking for me, too. If you’re reading this, I’m just glad you’re finally here. All during the search, precious time was passing; this was time I could have been spending with you. It felt like such a missed opportunity.
Every time I saw something new, I wanted to share it with you. Every time I got good news, I wanted to tell you. Every time I hit a rough patch, I wished you were there to comfort me. And there were a lot of amazing experiences I passed up, simply because I didn’t want to go it alone. I hope we still have time to do those things. I hope you’ll want to.
All I’ve ever wanted, really, was someone to travel with, and take naps with, and be playful with and have intelligent conversations with. I’ve wanted someone brave enough to win over and love my psycho dog as much as I do (that alone will weed out the vast majority). I’ve wanted someone who looks forward to seeing me as much as I look forward to seeing him.
I wasn’t looking for glamor or perfection, just mutual acceptance. I want us both to be able to be ourselves. I want someone who gets me. I want us to be able to count on each other. I had that once, and it was abruptly taken away. (I just hate mortality, sometimes.) I miss it.
I want to create a safe and peaceful harbor, together. So if you’re reading this, thank you for showing up. I’m sorry for almost having given up on you. I should have had more faith. But having said that, what took you so long?
During my most recent trip to Canada, a friend and I decided to camp in the wilds of British Columbia. Sadly, the further out you get from Vancouver in the summer time, the more apt those wilds are to be on fire. So we really only went halfway to the back of beyond.
Still, that was good enough for me. It’s a beautiful province. I was thrilled just taking a break from big cities. We camped in Pemberton, Lillooet, and Boston Bar. We saw stars. We stuck our feet in the cold green of the Frasier River. We communed with chipmunks. We met some really nice people. We stopped at some funky cafes. I bought fridge magnets and fudge.
The nicest part was that, other than campsite reservations, we really didn’t have any firm schedule or expectations of any kind. If something sparked our interest, we would stop. As each destination was only about 2 hours away from the last, we weren’t in any hurry.
That’s how we found ourselves, on day three, riding the Hell’s Gate Airtram, not far from Boston Bar. This is a gondola that crosses the Frasier River at its narrowest point. I have a fraught relationship with gondolas, because I have a fear of heights. But they always afford such amazing views, so how can you resist?
And this place has some amazing history. When I imagine Frasier and his expedition actually portaging their canoes up these sheer cliffs, it makes me dizzy. And that’s how Hell’s Gate got its name.
So, I’ve been to Hell’s Gate. Now I should be able to do anything, right? Heck yeah!
And then just down the road from there is the delightfully artsy town of Hope on the edge of the Cascade Mountains, population 6,181. I could totally live there, even though it gets more rain than any other place in Canada. (It was sunny during my visit.)
In less than an hour, I went from Hell’s Gate to Hope. What a positive experience that was! I’m just glad I wasn’t driving in the opposite direction. That would be bad.
Spring is a time when life feels so abundant. Flowers are blooming and there are baby animals everywhere. Spring, for me, is the most hopeful time of the year. I went decades without experiencing it because I lived in Florida. Now that I am in Seattle, I have that hope once again, and I will never, ever take it for granted. It’s such a gift.
But this has been a strange spring. Mortality seems to be trying to get my attention of late. A dear friend of mine has been in and out of the hospital as his kidneys are failing. This, of course, has me extremely worried. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. He’s so young. Too young to be going through this. And then Don Rickles goes and dies of kidney failure. The last of the rat pack, reminding me that this is a big deal.
And then the other day, I Googled an ex-boyfriend just out of curiosity, only to discover that he died two years ago. He also managed to have nine children in the 25 years since I last saw him. But it’s a strange feeling, having boyfriends old enough to kick the bucket.
As I write this, I’m worried about my sister, who goes in for (granted, routine) surgery tomorrow. She’s my last sibling. She’s not worried. But just in case, I called her just now to tell her I love her, and to say that if she up and dies on me, I’m going to be really pissed off. Update: She did just fine and is recovering nicely.
I guess the older you get, the more this type of stuff enters your world–contemporaries dying, or having close calls. It makes life very bittersweet, but all the more precious for the frequent reminders that it’s all so finite.
I can’t remember where I read about this concept, but it appeals to me greatly. Just be. Live in the now. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Pure bliss.
It’s not as easy as it looks, though. For example, I’m in the midst of planning my vacations for the year. Obviously, that’s future stuff. And I came across my diary from high school, and have been reading it. Past stuff.
Much of this blog is about past experience or future dreams. And I’m a little stressed because I’ve been sick as a dog for the past few days, so I don’t have as many future blog entries waiting in the queue as I usually do.
Past, Future…see how many times I’ve bounced from one to the other in just the PAST few paragraphs? Why is it so hard to stay in the present? Do we not value it as much?
In truth, the present is the only thing that is real. The way we remember the past changes over time, and we view it through our own biased lens. As for the future, it may not come about. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow.
Heaven knows that the way I had my life plotted out in my high school diary certainly never came to be. Sometimes I look in the mirror and say to myself, “How the hell did you get here?” Sometimes that’s an angry question. Other times it’s infused with gratitude and awe.
But there I go again, reflecting on the past. I’ll have to work on that. Sometime in the future…
While sitting in my back yard the other day, watching the sun drift slowly down to the horizon as my beloved dogs destroyed stuffies on the lawn, I was reveling in how sweet my life has become. It’s every bit as sweet as the fresh organic cherries that I was eating.
In Florida the cherries were not nearly as good. They probably have to be picked slightly unripe in order to be shipped there intact. I had no idea cherries were meant to taste the way they can here in the Pacific Northwest, just as I had no idea life could be this good when I was sweltering in the conservative cultural backwater of ignorance that was Jacksonville, Florida (at least that’s how it seemed to me).
Come to think of it, cherries are a microcosm of life on many levels. You can have three of them, side by side, each as plump and red and beautiful as its neighbor, and yet, when you eat the first one, it will be bitter. The next will have no taste whatsoever. But the third… ah, the third! It will be so appealing and juicy and delicious that it will give you the impetus to try more.
The thing is, you never know which cherry you’re going to get. You just have to keep trying, never give up, and hope for the best. And when you are rewarded with that perfect cherry experience, the bitter or bland ones will suddenly seem to have been worth it.
Life isn’t a bowl of cherries. It’s a series of cherries, one after the other– good, bad, or indifferent. I can live with that level of hope and contentment. I’m just glad I’m now in a place where the odds are even more in my favor.
The other night I met a friend at Seattle’s Royal Room to hear Leah Tussing, an amazing blues/jazz singer. She and her band were wonderfully talented and it was a very lovely way to spend a rainy, blustery evening.
The Royal Room itself is a comfortable, welcoming venue with good food and a relaxed atmosphere, but it was the company that made the event great. I also got to meet some new friends and that’s always a pleasure.
All evening I got to watch my friend and her boyfriend interact, and it reaffirmed my faith that love can be magical. The way he looks at her, like she’s the most wonderful, amazing person on the planet, gave me hope that someone would look at me that way again someday. I miss it.
She also hasn’t been in the best of health this month, and he’s been taking amazing care of her. That feeling of being with someone who has my back like that is another thing I long for. I was beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination.
And the affectionate touches? I will never EVER take a touch for granted again, as long as I live. A touch can mean everything. You don’t realize it until you’ve lost it. Believe me.
Do I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself? On the contrary. That evening gave me hope. I left there feeling all warm and fuzzy, and very happy for my friend. Now I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me. Anything is possible.