Despite my attempts at processing the hundreds of distinct thoughts and images in my head following my trip to the past last weekend, my mind is still in a whirl. During my drive north, while I tried to assert a sense of order to all that had been stimulated in my head, I realized that the 30th reunion I had attended had prompted more questions than it had answered and I wondered if other alumni felt the same way. I wished that I were better in those sorts of situations, more open to approaching others and initiating conversations. I had wanted to feel a connection with those around me, a connection which ultimately I could only find in fits and starts.
I’ve attended each reunion planned by the class Dynamo, Robin. There have been four. If I take the time to consider what compels me to insert myself in an environment which doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, my only conclusion is that I’m seeking something, some sort of resolution or denouement.
Kind of silly, right? What can be learned from surrounding myself by people with whom I shared a building, along with some experiences 30 years ago? I just don’t know.
High school was not four years of social activities and academic achievements for me. I was not present for much of it, figuratively and literally. I felt lost in the hugeness of the high school after the intimate experience of my Greenwood Lake education, going from a class of 65 to one of more than 400 in the blink of an eye. Cliques and expectations were well established and I flitted between groups (heads, brains, jocks) committing to none.
Each reunion has invoked a similar lack of ability to engage. I simply don’t know what to say to anyone. There are familiar faces, some from high school so long ago, others from social media, and flashes of memories race through my mind. But where does one start when it comes to covering the last three decades? And – to what purpose? My high school experience will never change and my future probably doesn’t include any of the people I struggle with to make meaningful conversation. If an opportunity presented itself – say a classmate was going to be in the Albany area and wanted to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I’d be interested. I’m just more comfortable interacting in a smaller, lower-volume setting. Perhaps that’s my take away, my conclusion?
I think this was my last reunion.
Last Sunday, while most of you were probably still snug in your jammies sipping coffee, the Lunar B*tches reunited in a parking lot up at Thacher. It was grey and wet and chilly, but the festive and costume-clad crowd pumped us up for our 6 mile trail run, the Squirrelly Six. I was glad that I had gone with 3 layers of varying thickness, along with gloves and a hat. The dampness was bone chilling and while the rain wasn’t constant, it was cold.
We hit the path at 9:35, due to a slight delay to accommodate those waiting in line for restroom facilities, and spent the next approximately 70 minutes dodging puddles and chainsaw wielding werewolves. The course isn’t made for breaking personal records, with bottlenecks and a couple of daunting hills, but it is made for fun. Because of the soggy conditions, caution was required when navigating the rocky, tree root-ridden paths covered in wet leaves. It was slippery and the downhill portions were the ones which I found to be most dangerous – and where I witnessed a runner go down, fortunately without injury.
This was the 10th year for this event and I definitely see myself continuing to participate in this uber fun race. Despite the weather and trail hazards, it was a beautiful run with lots of leaves still clinging to their branches. This year’s shirt may be the best one I’ve ever received – a bonus second only to hitting the trail with my favorite running girls.
Inspired by this sunflower.
Since I’ve shared the part of my weekend when I did do things myself, I believe it is only fair to also share the days since then when I’ve been very much accompanied. Monday I went to see my ENT. I wasn’t alone. My doctor pretty much did what I expected – an in office fine needle biopsy, orders for some blood work and a CAT scan and the promise of a call to schedule surgery. Whatever it is, it’s coming out.
Because I had been so open prior to the appointment, I felt compelled to report back to my friends, both “real” and virtual, to share the news from my office visit. The warm wishes, promises of prayers, and offers for assistance have left a greater mark on me than that bruise, or any of the already existing scars, on my neck. Thank you, friends.
Two days post-appointment, blood work done, anticipated CAT scan tomorrow and surgery three weeks away, I am bolstered and protected by the people I love, people who have demonstrated that they return the feeling. Although I’ve been down this path before, in terms of medical intervention, this sense that my being taken care of is a concern to many, is new. And cherished.
So, pathology should be back in a matter of days and in just a few weeks this latest (and literal) bump in the road will be gone. Thanks for traveling this path with me, and to someone who has allowed me to ride shotgun for a change, thank you for taking the wheel. I so appreciate it.
Last Sunday I did what I’ve done on countless other Columbus Day weekends – I drove down to New Paltz to get out on the trails in Minnewaska. In years past, it was more a walk around the woods with the girls, but in recent years it’s been all about running trails. Let me go on record, right here, right now, and say that this will be my first half marathon, 2015.
James and I hit the trails about 2pm under bright blue skies, parking in the Awosting lot. We ambled along hitting Cardiac Hill, gaining more than 1000+ feet of elevation,* and racking up more than 12 miles. Along the way we were treated to views which rivaled the breathtaking quality of the steepest ascents. It was a spectacular afternoon and I wish I could do this run with more frequency.
James is great running partner and I thoroughly enjoy the comfort we have with one another after more than 35 years of friendship. I can’t say either of us would have predicted the joy we would each take from running in the woods. It sure is different when you’re not running from the cops! Lakers, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Can’t wait to do it again.
*which is a lot according to my friend, James, and the way my ass felt the next day.
…there’s a way of seeing a situation from a different vantage point. I’ve talked before about my friend, Will. I’ve mentioned how he completely changed the flow of my home by suggesting I re-purpose 3 of the rooms, swapping the dining room, living room and office to become a family room, master bedroom and dining room. He was 100% right and I am happier with my house than ever before.
This summer he helped me to locate the carpenter who refreshed my deck. Not only did he find someone willing and interested in doing the work, but he basically GC’d the project for me. I’m really not good at aesthetic details and Will was able to make the decisions which threatened to completely overwhelm me. My deck now looks awesome.
On Sunday, when I was debating between the effort of driving to Saratoga to paddleboard on my own and the ease of driving to Niskayuna to hang out poolside at Will’s, we talked and he suggested that some alone time on the water might be precisely what I needed after a hectic week. Once again, he was correct.
As I drove up the Northway, the tension in my body began to relax and I became aware of my breathing. I melted into my car’s seat and loosened my grip on the steering wheel, setting the cruise control to monitor my speed, temporarily ridding myself of an element requiring constant surveillance. By the time I parked my car and got on my board, I knew that, yet again, the right decision had been made.
Is there a person in your life who consistently provides you with a fresh way of looking at things? I hope so. Having some Will-power can really improve one’s life.
One of the highlights of my Florida trip was a brief get together with one of the three women I consider to be my true mothers. Our reunion was surprisingly emotional for me – you know I’m no crier, yet that’s exactly who I became in her embrace. I can’t help but wonder if the sense of comfort and safety I feel with her is what most people receive from their own mothers. I’ll never really know for sure unfortunately, but how blessed am I to find it with someone else? Very.
Growing up, Sandy was my mother’s friend. Our families spent holidays together, eating Italian and Jewish and German specialties and playing backgammon for Marlboros. I’d never known a family like Sandy’s – around the table at Christmas you’d find she and her husband and their daughter. Also present would her two children from her previous marriage, as well as her husband’s son from his first marriage. Often, the father of Sandy’s older children would be there, too, with his son from his second marriage. There were Italians and Jews and my own little German threesome and it was the most wonderful thing imaginable.
Maybe that’s where I learned that the word “family” defies definition. I grew to understand that people came together because of love and that love evolves, sometimes changing form, but unfailingly remaining a force. Love was powerful and unifying, not destructive nor isolating. Love trumped anger and envy and was to be respected. That being said, I always thought that Sandy’s older daughter wished her mom was more like mine – structured, reliable and consistent. Naturally, I wished for a mom who was like Sandy, emotional, inspired by passion and inclined to relaxing in a bathtub with bubbles and maybe a joint.
As I got older, Sandy provided me with what my own mother could not – a roof over my head when our house burned down, encouragement to end a stagnating relationship, the confidence to believe that I could do anything. She convinced me that I was beautiful and smart and good and the trill of her laughter remains one of my favorite sounds.
We’ve been separated by hundreds of miles for many years now. There have been occasions, including a Thanksgiving decades ago when Sandy prepared an entire traditional dinner, threw it into the car and served it on a picnic table at the beach, when we’ve gotten together, but this recent visit was the first in far too long. For the first time ever I was able to take care of her. I selected the hotel knowing that she would get a kick out of staying at the Hilton on the beach. There was lunch poolside and talk and more talk. We caught up and found we were, despite all the changes and challenges we’ve each faced, as always, family. She’s truly the mother of my heart.
“In the sweet old country
Where I come from
Nobody ever works
Nothing ever gets done.”
There was a summer a long time ago, in the mythical (to some) town where I grew up, when it seemed that the Rolling Stones’ album “Some Girls” was in constant airplay. It didn’t seem possible that so many good songs could all be on a single piece of vinyl, but they were.
When I look back at that particular summer, it seems like I spent a lot of time hanging out in a gas station right in town. Those were the days when gas stations were places where the bays were devoted to car repairs rather than being set up as mini markets. There was an office with a big desk, a cash register, a phone which rang a surprising number of times a day and an old (even then) soda machine that had been jerry-rigged to dispense nips of beer instead cans of cola. I absolutely cherish these memories.
Over the years, the gas station was owned by the fathers of two different friends, I still am uncertain of the order. One of those fathers lost his child, my friend, to a motorcycle and a sense of invincibility decades ago. The other is now close to being lost to his daughter, and his other children, at what still seems to be too soon. It’s made me sadder than I ever imagined.
You should know that fathers were a bit scarce amongst my friends and me. Many of them were absent in one way or another, something we never explicitly questioned or discussed until years later. This particular Dad, though? This man was present. I came to know him and the quiet and amused manner in which he accepted me, always made me feel comfortable in his presence.
Although it has been many years since those days, I’ll never forget them. Time passes and life changes. It all becomes much less simple. Parents get divorced, they get sick and a future without them to look to guidance and validation becomes imminent. The memories though, the feelings of happiness and appreciation that can be summoned by a song on the radio, will be there always.
Some girls are really lucky.