Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summertime and the livin’ is easy

So June is wound down.

Here on the prairie we get a lot more daylight than we did for the decade and a half we lived in the east. Our little city is close to the Mountain Time Zone line so it stays light pretty darn late. After returning from a weekend trip to Des Moines for my new niece’s baptism, hubbie and I could walk and see where we were going, even though it was close to 10 p.m.

When I was a teenager in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, I could ride my bike downtown to the locks and hang out with my friends. Curfew was ten p.m. because it didn’t get dark until then in that northernmost corner of my world.

On our drive back this weekend, younger son Andrew asked if he had a curfew. His father told him he’d have one when he started driving.

Somewhere down the line, I’ve morphed from needing a curfew to not being able to stay up past curfew. Six months into fifty (and more than 20 pounds lighter, thank you Kearney YMCA!), I’ve adjusted well to this new decade but still have trouble processing I’m closer to a grandmother’s age than a new mother’s age.

As I awkwardly held my beautiful niece, Reese, at the outdoor church service on Sunday, I flashed back to the baptism of my two children. Erik was baptized on a snowy February Flagstaff day. Fittingly, Andrew was baptized barefoot at barely a month old in Morgantown, West Virginia. The wonderful late Hank Brown baptized that second baby, and I can still tell you (even though Andrew turns 15 in August) what I weighed that day…let’s just say I coulda gone12 rounds with George Foreman!

Confession time: I don’t feel fifty. I vividly recall my mother turning to me in church on Christmas Eve the year she was fifty and telling me she still felt the same inside as she did when she was younger…just time was marching on.

My father, now deceased, threw himself a pig roast at fifty. Before I hit that ‘magic’ number this past December, I went back and looked at pictures of him at that party. He looked older than I think I do. Or maybe we just always think our parents are older than they are…until we reach their age. I did inherit my gray from my dad and his side of the family. My brother Steve, five years younger than me, reminds me of my father…his good qualities, not his bad or sad ones.

Growing up , I always thought fall was my favorite season. No more do I think that.

Summertime…and the livin’ is easy…and I cherish the summers I have left.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And sometimes…

Just like that, life goes on.

To quote prolific romance writer, Holly Jacobs:

Life is good

Holding Pattern

Sometimes there’s no holding on or letting go, just holding.

A holding pattern is just that…a stasis that won’t let you move forward or backward. The flow of life stops until it doesn’t.

When that moment comes, good or bad, evil or well-intentioned, life goes on.

As young marrieds we called it ‘wait and see.’

We loathed ‘wait and see.’

Later, we’d repeat the phrase to our children as the answer to any number of questions: “Can I go to so and so’s house?” “Can we get X, Y or Z?” “Will there be a happy ending?” And the list goes on.

My husband’s favorite expression is “Proceed as the way opens.”

His, and my, least favorite?

Wait and see.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is…and the heart is a travelin’ thing.

Earlier this week, my husband and I returned from our sojourn from the prairie to the Appalachians. I went back to the best little writers’ conference around, the West Virginia Writers, Inc. annual conference held in the southeastern portion of that state at Cedar Lakes.

My husband met his friend Matt, a Lutheran minister, when we arrived and they motorcycled on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee, North Carolina. They met up with other friends in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

In just over three weeks my husband has gone nearly 5500 miles, via car and motorcycle. From Salt Lake City to Dolly Parton’s domain, my spouse has already covered enough miles to have criss-crossed the country, from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida.

My journey was shorter in distance but longer emotionally. This was my 8th summer at Cedar Lakes Conference Center, near Ripley, WV. I’ve written before how my friend, the late Mary Rodd Furbee, persuaded me to go with her that first time. When my husband and I crossed the Ohio River just last week, I was transported back to the return trip Mary and I made that first summer. We were chatting so much about exciting writing projects that we took a wrong turn somewhere and came upon that very same bridge. She and I made it home, but her time there was so short it makes me ache all over again for her and her loved ones.

The final night of the conference was bittersweet. Another friend who died too young this spring was honored for her writing. I wept and sniffled into my napkin.

Earlier that evening my eldest son, Erik, was awarded an honorable mention for a short story in the annual contest the organization sponsors every year. This is the child who professed for years not to like to write... until this year when the ‘bug’ hit him, and he has amazed me with his output and his burgeoning talent.

The time spent with old and new friends slipped by too quickly, especially since my night owl habits have flown the coop. Is that mixing my bird metaphors? Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

On the way home, we briefly saw Erik, his adorable girlfriend, Morgan, and his friend Alex, an amazing artist who just finished his freshman year at Rhode Island School of Design. Erik is in Morgantown this summer spending time with Morgan and his friends, doing an internship at the WVU Press, and taking an on-line summer school class. It was strange to say goodbye to him in a Bob Evans in Parkersburg, WV. But he’ll be home in August, and West Virginia is not northern Germany.

And it was time to get home to Andrew and my mom, who got along swimmingly until the day we were due home. “I think we’re getting on each other’s nerves,” he told me.

Dorothy Gale intones my favorite movie line of all time when she lands smack dab back in Kansas: “There’s no place like home,” she tells the confused loved ones gathered around her now sepia-toned bedroom.

But here’s the thing about home. You can carry a little piece of your loved ones around in your heart, no matter where you lay your head.