I saw a family of five out together. The five year old led the pack, on a bike free of training wheels. The father ran slowly beside his toddler aged tow-headed son, who was running as fast as his legs could move, with such joy and enthusiasm. The mother, with her wrist tethered to a jogging stroller that held the baby, brought up the rear. You could see from her expression how much she enjoyed her children, and how proud she was of the family she had helped create. It was really a delight to experience them, even for a moment.
I’ve come to the conclusion that during times of transition, where you’re primed to move ahead with life, that that’s when you spend large chunks of time looking back. At least, that’s how I’ve been killing time. For the last couple of days, I’ve been mired in retrospection. None of it has been bad, but I’m feeling a little bogged down, a little slow and little sad. I’ve spent time thinking about the paths I’ve taken, including how I determined where to go to college and why I chose to move to Philly. I’ve run the list of former dates and encounters, wincing at some of the choices I’ve made. I’ve replayed scenes in my head, cringing at the apparent discomfort I displayed existing in my body.
I’ve also allowed myself to celebrate the good stuff. The friends I’ve picked and loved. The ways in which I’ve interacted with others that left them feeling better than they did before they knew me. The kindnesses I’ve shown to myself (and I speak for women in my generation on this, sometimes one of the hardest things you can do in life is treat yourself with kindness).
I hope that what I’m doing with all this is priming myself for more good experiences. I’d like to think that I’m looking back and remembering my cringe-worthy moments so that I can learn how to have less of them.
A girl can only hope.
and I overslept this morning. As a friend pointed out, at this point, at least they can’t fire me for being late.
I feel funny about leaving. As much as I was ready to be out, to move on, there were good things about my workplace too. I loved many of the people I worked with. The environment was flexible and casual. There was many a day where I left early to hit a thrift store. Leaving a comfortable environment, even if it’s oppressively, suffocatingly comfortable, is hard. Starting something new is even harder, and I’m about to dive into that on Monday.
When I left my last job, there were no mixed feelings, no gray area. I wanted out and when I walked through the doors of 615 Chestnut that last time, I felt buoyant. Today, leaving Queen Lane was hard. I worked later than I wanted, trying to get the last bits done before I left. When the mailing I was throwing together was done, I left quickly and did not linger. It was akin to ripped a band-aid off, it must be done firmly and without hesitation, or it will hurt and you’ll leave pieces of yourself behind.
I’ve been thinking about my life, and realized that I’ve been living in a series of four year increments. First there was high school (four years). Next college, another four years, with a life changing trip to Indonesia at the end. It’s been four years since college, that trip and almost four years since I’ve been in Philly. I feel ready to embark upon my next four year stint, my last four years in my 20’s. Here’s to the next cycle, may it be filled with love, joy and growth.
Two weeks ago today was the last day of my Portland vacation. My mom and I spent the day at coast (in Oregon it’s not the shore or the beach). As we drove west on highway 26 in my dad’s zippy (and fuel efficient) little sedan, we talked and enjoyed being in each other’s physical company. About 25 minutes into the drive we stopped at the one state-run rest stop on that stretch of road. As I came out of my stall and walked to the sink, I noticed a young woman washing her hands and chatting with a couple of friends.
Now, I haven’t lived in Oregon in four years, and I was really hardly there during college, which means it’s been more than eight years now. So I don’t know many people in that area anymore.
But wouldn’t you know, I happened to stop at a coastal rest stop at the same moment, on the same day as a friend from high school! It was such a kick. I believe in the principle that there are no accidents, that there is some reason, no matter how mundane, behind ever synchronicitious experience. I haven’t figured out why I ran into Vasiliki, maybe it was just for the fun and the story. That may just be enough.
On July 26th, 1947 my grandmother gave birth to her third child. A long-limbed little girl with brown hair, brown eyes, they called her Susan Elizabeth.
In the 1950’s Susan loved Little Lulu comics, her dog Penny, wearing dungarees and playing with the kids in suburban Philadelphia neighborhood. A dyslexic in a family of intellectuals, she was a shining star when it came to sports.
In the 1960’s she learned to drive, graduated from high school, went to Europe and Mexico, lost her father to a heart attack, graduated in film from Temple, got engaged twice, wore miniskirts in winter and saw her mother remarry.
In the 1970’s she met and married my father (all in a six week period), changed her name to Leana, moved to San Francisco, moved to LA, moved to Santa Cruz, opened a toy store, cooked meals for HeadStart, moved to Chicago, taught montessori school, moved (back) to LA, worked in television, and had me.
In the 1980’s she had my sister and spent most of that decade just trying to make sure my sister stayed in one piece. She struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome and still took amazing care of my sister and me. She made Halloween costumes and honey popcorn balls for school birthdays. She helped my father start a business and moved our family to Portland, OR.
In the 1990’s she watched her mother lose her mind to a stroke. She traveled to Europe and Hawaii. She helped me survive middle and high school. She sent us to sleep away camp in the summers, took our dog Toasty (who was suffering from cancer) to be put to sleep and sent me off to college. She started to write poetry and began meditating daily.
In the first five years of 21st century, my mother is a triumph. She writes, she prays, she walks, she heals (while still struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome), she grows, she learns and she loves. She appreciates each moment of life and connects with the universe with each beat of her heart.
I am blessed to be her daughter.
Happy birthday mommy.
I used to have a dream of opening up a pizza place in Walla Walla. There’d be five or six beers on tap, pizza by the slice and live music five nights a week. Well, I better get a move on, because according to the New York Times, Walla Walla is the capital of a new Napa Valley.
Red in the face.
Remind me not to highlight my hair orange and get a bright sunburn on my face in the same weekend.
It’s now hard to tell where my face ends and my hair begins. Definitely a fashion don’t.
(The picture was taken before the sunburn. I’m much [MUCH] redder than that).
I had a fun weekend, there’s no other way to describe it. Saturday night we got a group of ten together to go bowling. I haven’t been bowling since I was an RA my sophomore year of college, which was a good six years ago. I had played skee ball recently, but I don’t think that the skills necessary to play skee ball and those needed to bowl are really comparable. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, because I sucked. But, I had an excellent time while I played miserably, so I don’t really care. There was also a great deal of alcohol involved. My ability to hit the pins went up a bit during the first drink, but by the third, it was all downhill. But, the music was good, the people were excellent, Long Island Iced Teas were $3 a glass, and I entertained my friends with the song “Let’s Bowl Tonight” from Grease II repeatedly. Can’t much better than that.
One week ago today, I experienced perfection in the form of a sandwich. It was a roasted turkey and havarti on wheat, with red onions, dijon mustard, ripe tomato, avocado, cilantro and dark green lettuce. I split this sandwich with my mom. We ate slowly, taking time to put our sandwich halves down between bites to grab fresh pea pods from the plastic bag on the bench. We didn’t talk much, our eyes and minds too full with the view of the pacific ocean, the delight of our perfect lunch and the rare joy of being in each other’s company.
When the food was gone, our trash bagged and discarded pods from the peas gathered for the compost bin back home, we headed down to the beach. Oregon beaches are different than any other I’ve known (and I include both Bali and Hawaii in my beach experiences). They are wide, brimming with living creatures, sparsely populated and absolutely lovely. I stood in three inches of water, my jeans rolled up to my knees, and in that moment, I knew with certainly that I had found my heaven.
My dad got on a flight in Portland, OR this morning. His final destination is Innsbruck, Austria, and he should get there around 10:30 am tomorrow morning. Conveniently, he booked his flight to stop over in Philly. His layover this time around was only three hours, but he’ll be spending a full weekend with me on his way back home from the Subud Congress.
Tonight we had planned that I would meet him at the airport during his layover, bring him dinner and a couple of books and generally make the time go faster. He was supposed to call me when his flight landed at 5:10 pm. I started calling his cell phone at 5:15 and called him about seven times from 5:15 until 5:45. He had gotten on the flight in Portland with his back acting up, and I was spinning all sorts of worries in my head about how his back had gone out on the flight and he was unable to get off the plane without paramedical assistance.
At 5:55 I parked my car in the short term lot and headed into the terminal to look for him. I managed to ask the right question in front of the right person in the baggage claim area. A Frontier employee was taking reports of missing baggage and was helping the last guy in line. I interrupted really quickly and asked about my dad. The man who was reporting the missing bag had been sitting behind my dad on the flight and said that he had heard him saying that he had lost his cell phone in the Denver airport. It’s a classic move for my father, but at least I knew that he wasn’t in an ambulance somewhere.
So I headed to the US Airways International check in terminal and started whistling the family whistle. And there he was in line. I waited while he checked in and then handed him his (as requested) a roast beef hoagie from Wawa (I am a good daughter). We sat, we ate and I watched him (with a little jealousy in my heart) walk his way to the security check point, and head for three weeks of Subud fun. Have a great trip, Dad.