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A girl who rose from the ashes...and now is trying to make sense of this complicated world through her writing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two Ships

I looked at him and realized twenty-some odd years had passed.  I can't say with any degree of honesty that I had ever loved him, but then again the timing had never been right for me to have the proper chance to love him.  Maybe in the right set of circumstances I could have, but to think so is nothing more than sheer speculation.  I certainly had spent a good couple of years hard crushing on him.  And then when he was out of my sight, I pretty much forgot about him.

But then one night, all those years ago, we ended up in the same place (a divey, dirty small town bar) at the same time (a hot summer night) by pure happenstance.  There were a lot of contributing factors - cheap beer and a lot of it, raucous laughs and his bruised heart - that resulted in us staying up until the sun peeked through the windows.  Kissing even though we knew we shouldn't, laughing, talking, examining figurative wounds and then laughing and kissing some more. And that was it, really. It was lovely and fleeting.  He was gone once again, headed his own way and I headed mine.

So to see him again all these years later, hair graying at the temples and laugh lines around his eyes, was really something.  But I looked at him, and then I looked at his ordinary wife (who is no doubt perfectly lovely and wonderful but ordinary nonetheless), and I thought,  "I bet she makes him Swiss steak for dinner. And I bet after dinner they watch Dancing With the Stars."  If that sounds judgy, I promise you it's not. Eating Swiss steak and watching reality TV is a perfectly acceptable way to live if that's what makes you happy.

But it occurred to me, right then and there, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, that I am no ordinary woman.  Even if I tried with all my might, I could not be that ordinary woman. No, I am complicated and layered, difficult even.  And sometimes twenty-some odd years of time passing gives you perspective that everything is exactly as it should be, ordinary or not.  It's a good perspective to have.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


A hug from a friend whose life just changed for the better.  A beautiful new baby in your arms.  A wedding ceremony of someone you adore who spent 25 years finding her way back to the man she would rightly marry.  A gorgeous starry night outside a Frank Lloyd Wright house.  An open bar.  A dress that feels flattering.  An accompanying sweater that feels warm.  The smell of burning wood.  Eight hours of uninterrupted rest.  Waking up to the sound of the Lake Michigan waves crashing up against the rocks on the shoreline.  Free breakfast.  A slow, meandering drive along the lakefront.  Fall colors that take your breath away. An apple orchard.  A silly picture that makes you belly laugh.  A clean house, fresh sheets and a stocked fridge.  Two cats peacefully napping at your side. A delicious dinner prepped for a sister you never get tired of. A week ahead you are actually looking forward to.

Some weekends you just really get it right.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fist Bumps for Everyone

I endure the same slow, mundane drive to work every day.  I see the same landmarks, the same buildings, sometimes even the same people in the same cars.  I drive the same 26 minutes, five days a week, and even with a myriad of options, I almost always take the same route.  As I turn off of Wisconsin Avenue onto 92nd Street - the home stretch before I arrive at my second home - I see her in all her glory:  Fist Bump Lady.

Fist Bump Lady, who shall be known as FBL henceforth, is the crossing guard at a crosswalk that leads directly to the Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital.  Short, pleasingly plump, and with an ever-ready smile on her face, FBL never fails to deliver.  Sunny days are met with an extra spring in her step.  Rainy days are no bother, and why would they be when you've got a bright yellow slicker and sturdy galoshes?  Sleet and snow?  No problem, for FBL is ready for that, too.  I can't say for sure that she has one of those stocking caps that looks like a panda bear, but she seems like the kind of person who would.  She is ready for any of the Wisconsin elements, and cheerfully so.

Person after person, professional after professional, doctor after doctor - all are greeted with the same degree of enthusiasm, and all are offered a fist bump to start their day off right.  A few outliers avert their eyes and rush past FBL.  Most accept the offer, and give FBL a smile and a hearty fist bump back.  A few other outliers have taken FBL under their wing, and bring her coffee or other treats (after a compulsory fist bump, of course.)  It seems that in the land of all things Froedtert, FBL has become the mascot for healing what hurts us.

I admire this woman, FBL, because of her consistency and her zest for life. I don't know a single thing about her, other than what I have witnessed as I wait at the crosswalk day after day, eager to move ahead 2 more blocks and make the turn into my home-away-from-home parking lot.  But I do know this:  she has made happiness her priority and nothing is going to get in the way of that.  Not working a job most of us would not care to do. Not crappy Wisconsin weather, which is crappy too much of the time.  Not even the occasional hater.  No, no, no.  FBL has made a choice to be happy no matter what, and through her deeds shows us it is a choice we could all make.  Thanks for reminding us how to be in this world, FBL:  That whoever we are and whatever we do, we can always be of good cheer.