April Come She Will

promise of seasonsI recently heard an old Simon and Garfunkel song called “April Come She Will” and was instantly reminded not only of how beautiful a tune it is, but also how true. There is much debate over what the song means… from the natural evolution of a short-lived love affair likened to the changing of the seasons, to a metaphor for the actual brevity of life itself. Here are the lyrics… you can decide for yourself:

April Come She Will

April, comes she will,
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain.
May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again.

June, she’ll change her tune.
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night.
July, she will fly,
And give no warning to her flight.

August, die she must.
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.
September, I’ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old.

Any of the theories as to its meaning would work for me, but the snow on the ground, the shorter days, the layers of clothing I pile on every day or the space heater cranking away at my feet lead me to think about the seasons and how they change. I reflect upon the uncanny way each one has of representing a new phase or marking the visceral passage of time.

The inevitability of change… the promise of seasons is the only thing we can truly count on in this life. What is that saying? “The only constant is change?” … or something like that. The marching on of the seasons is reliable. No matter what is happening in our lives at any given moment — the backdrops of April, May, June, July, August, September and so on rarely change.

April comes and thaws and fosters life with rain. May follows and we are so grateful to see her again. With her flowers and warmth we graciously hang on to every last drop of sun she offers. June finds us tiring in the heat with days that last so long they’ll draw us into the night before we ever even know it is upon us.

July goes so fast with its high blue skies and holidays—like a month-long celebration—we’ll truly wonder where she’s gone by the time August interrupts. She gently reminds us that soon it will be time to go back. Back to school, back to work, back inside as the days grow shorter, darker… colder. September, we will remember, all the life and love and laughter that came with the start of April’s rain.

Endurance

woman runningI ran like the wind with a long blonde ponytail bouncing against protruding shoulder blades. My tan body tight and small—clad only in tiny spandex and a good pair of running shoes—nothing jiggled and nothing moved that wasn’t supposed to. Strong, muscular legs carried me wherever I wished to go without protest. My mind was clear and my vision clearer.

Life was far from perfect, wrought with problems some might say… but every piece of pavement passed and punished ‘neath the weight of my thundering footsteps brought me closer to their solutions. They also brought me closer to you. I wouldn’t know for quite a while. Much was still to be uncovered, discovered, experienced and endured. But you were out there. And WE were out there… sitting together on a horizon I could not yet see.

Sifting through the battered box in the basement marked “closet,” I saw the shoes again. Despite the wear and tear, they remain in good condition. I wish the same could be said of me. Today the tiny spandex would barely cover one thigh, the tan has faded and things now jiggle that I never even knew were a part of my anatomy.

Life is good, but far from perfect. It is wrought with different problems than before — of aging and becoming. Yes, you are here now, that much is true. You were a question to be answered… our life together a destination to be reached. For that I am forever grateful. But still, my vision could be clearer. My will stronger… my resolve more muscular. Perhaps I should throw on garments more forgiving, dust off the shoes, slip these older feet inside and lace them up.

After all, much is still to be uncovered, discovered, experienced and endured… out there on a horizon we cannot yet see.

Judge Not Lest Ye Be… Messy

SCSSA crumpled Wendy’s bag on the floor of the front passenger’s side, a coffee-soaked napkin in the cup holder resting innocently atop sticky, stray coins mingled with toothpicks and straw wrappers and a Starbucks pastry wrapper pinned beneath the snow brush on the floor of the backseat told me all that I needed to know.

As someone who thrives on neatness and order, I used to be quite judgmental of people with messy cars. And let me be a bit more specific by stating that when I say “used to be” I mean like… a month ago.

But climbing into my driver’s seat yesterday morning to the aforementioned scene caused me to realize that I am, indeed, one of THOSE people. That’s right. I, myself, am hereby (or at least for the time being) a Messy Car Person.

In my past life, I wondered how on earth it was possible for people to ride around in vehicles with muddy floor mats, cluttered backseats, unidentifiable schmutz on the interior and random cheerios strewn haphazardly about or ground deeply into the carpet.

I marveled at others’ abilities to travel from A to B all the while overlooking such sins as dirty clothes, fast food wrappers, wrinkled bits of note paper and empty beverage cups. I mean, it’s a CAR… not a closet or a kitchen or a GARBAGE CAN! Thus, it is with great humiliation and shame that I admit… I now stand among them.

HOW did this happen? You might ask. Someone once so fussy has now just given up!? Am I merely a modern version of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout who would not take the garbage out? Well. It’s not quite that simple. Or maybe it is. I’m not sure. What I DO know is that I got busy. VERY busy.

I know I’ve already touched on this but I started a new job that occupies me greatly with its lengthy commute and wicked learning curve. (Not that I’m complaining… because I honestly LOVE IT!) And I started taking a class. That has actual homework. So apparently I went from having oodles of time for the luxury of tossing out the trash… to not… having that luxury.

That’s it. That’s all I got. It’s the only excuse I can come up with. Busyness. I don’t want to admit that I’m lazy or dirty or slovenly. I think I’m just busy at the moment. At least I hope that’s all it is. Hopefully it is a fleeting thing and one day, when life begins to flatten out, I’ll be Little Miss Clean Car again — looking down my perfect little nose with great disgust in heavy judgment of the Messy Car People once more.

And all will be right with the world.

The Deep End

deep endSo it’s time to address the virtual elephant in the room. I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty lately… And a little bit like a slacker. Recently, I’ve barely managed to eek out two posts a week here on this blog, where at one time, I was posting daily. Admittedly, my comments go unacknowledged and unanswered for far too long. And I’m not EVEN going to address how badly I suck at visiting my friends’ blogs.

Except that I’ve been anything but a slacker… in my Real Life. In my flesh-and-blood-non-pixel-people-cyber-world things have been fairly active. So active, in fact, that it has kept me from this thing that I love so much. So to those of you who’ve been faithful readers all along AND those of you who may have just begun following, please accept my apologies.

Within the span of ONE week I began a new job in the Marketing Department of a large architectural firm, started studying Web Design at the Columbus College of Art and Design and fell prey to “The Crud” that’s been going around. I nursed one of my beloved cluster headaches for nearly two weeks while trying to assimilate to 35-minute-long city commutes, brown bag lunches, new passwords, unfamiliar coffee machines, copiers, printers and conference calls that span at least five different time zones.

I was, for lack of a better term, thrown into the deep end of Grownupland without a flotation device. I went from sleeping until 10, lounging around the house watching bad movies on Lifetime and sending out resumes, making calls and receiving countless “you suck” rejection emails while in yoga pants and sweatshirts… to actual WORK. Yes, that is a real, live, alarm-clock-smacking-rush-rush-shower-makeup-pantyhose-heels J-O-B.

But just last night—while brushing the three inches of fresh snow (that had fallen since lunch) from my car after an 11-hour work day—it occurred to me that even though I am thoroughly exhausted and my head feels as though it could explode from all of the “new” information I am taking in on a daily basis… I feel alive.

There is something quite invigorating about being challenged and pushed to beyond what we think we can bear at times. Hopefully soon, when the waters calm I’ll get back on track with more regular writing. But until then, if the choice is between sitting on the couch listening to Hoda and Kathy Lee whine about wine while looking for a job OR getting tossed head-long into the Deep End… I think I’d rather swim.

Seinfeld-ology: “Nods to Nothing”

SeinfeldWhile having lunch with a coworker the other day, our conversation wondered to the topic of a man we work with. For the sake of the story (and to protect the guilty) we’ll call him Bradley. She and I commiserated about the fact that while very friendly and outgoing initially, Bradley’s interactions with each of us had indeed diminished over the course of time.

“Don’t you think that’s strange!?” I said to her in an extremely annoyed and curious tone. “I mean, why in the world would a person just STOP communicating for no apparent reason?”

My dining companion appeared to be equally vexed at the mere consideration of my question. “You know,” I continued “You’re probably too young to have watched or remembered the show, but this whole situation reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld.”

Of course, as many of you know… almost EVERYTHING reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld. Though I’d like to think that rather than this being due to my having some sort of sick, twisted obsession with the “Show About Nothing” — it can be contributed to the fact that the show was pure genius in that it dealt with the mundane, everyday things that happen to all of us.

Tell me friends, has anything like this ever happened to you? Here is Elaine’s scene from the aforementioned episode…

ELAINE: Tell me if you think this is strange: There’s this guy who lives in my building, who I was introduced to a couple of years ago by a friend. He’s a teacher, or something. Anyway, after we met, whenever we’d run into each other on the street, or in the lobby, or whatever, we would stop and we would chat a little. Nothing much. Little pleasantries. He was a nice guy, he’s got a family… then after a while, I noticed there was no more stopping… Just saying hello and continuing on our way.

And then the verbal hellos stopped, and we just went into these little sort of nods of recognition. So, fine. I figure, that’s where this relationship is finally gonna settle: Polite Nodding. Then one day, he doesn’t nod. Like I don’t exist?! He went from nods to nothing.

And now, there’s this intense animosity whenever we pass. I mean, it’s like we really hate each other. And it’s based on nothing.

You see, this was a perfect description of what was happening to my coworker and I! We went from nods to nothing with this guy. And although it remains annoying… there is a bit of comfort to be found in the fact that this MUST be a somewhat common occurrance in social settings.

I only wish that I had the guts to confront “Bradley” the way Elaine eventually does with her problematic rude dude…

ELAINE: So, I had what you might call a little encounter this morning. I spotted the guy getting his mail. And at first, I was just going to walk on by, but then I thought “no, no, no, no. Do not be afraid of this man.

So, I walked up behind him and I tapped him on the shoulder. And I said, “Hi, remember me?” And he furrows his brow as if he’s really trying to figure it out. So I said to him, “You little phony. You know exactly who I am.”

And he goes, “Oh, yeah. You’re Jeanette’s friend. We did meet once.” And I said, “Well, how do you go from that to totally ignoring a person when they walk by?”

And he says, “Look, I just didn’t want to say hello anymore, alright?” And I said, “Fine. Fine! I didn’t want to say hello anymore either, but I just wanted YOU to know that I’M aware of it!”

But alas, I would never actually have the intestinal fortitude to say such a thing. Most of the time art imitates life. But oh how I wish (in this case) it could be the other way around.

Deep Freeze

ice-crystals
Like armies taking to the fields in battle, the ice marched steadily onward. Starting at the edges and meeting in the middle, its frozen grip grew briskly downward crystallizing all movement and solidifying that which was fluid mere hours ago.

Once again I stand in awe of nature and the uncanny way it has of taking over. It gains control of everything without ever having checked with us.

So too, life goes on without regard for our plans, our ideas, our dreams, our schemes. Time advances on us, like a freeze to unsuspecting open water, and we have no choice but to withdraw… to surrender… to survive… and to wait.

We wait—with overwhelming anticipation—for the sweet, sweet mercy of the thaw.

Someone Else’s Life

“Isn’t it strange you always wake up as yourself? Not even one day somebody else.”

Someone ElseThat is the opening line in one of my favorite episodes of HBO’s show Enlightened. The show stars Laura Dern as Amy — an enthusiastic but broken woman turned whistleblower trapped in a less-than-satisfying-sometimes-tragic-and-chaotic life in corporate America. I’ve actually written about it before and for anyone interested, you can find that post here.

The show is about to enter into it’s second season this weekend, therefore the previews and reruns have been rampant. Not that I mind. I loved it the first time and have been anxiously awaiting this moment for over a year. While waiting I’ve been refreshing my memory by watching the reruns and last night was reminded of the line I quoted at the beginning.

I was struck the first time I heard her character utter those words: Isn’t it strange you always wake up as yourself? Because I remember, vividly, as a child often pondering the very same thing. It must have been some sort of phase having to do with self-realization, self-awareness or some other sort of psycho-babble. But I’ve never shared those thoughts aloud until now. Apparently, I thought it would be fun to tell about 200+ readers instead of say, a close friend, parent or sibling.

I distinctly remember a time, early in elementary school when I would sit around my room, looking in the mirror or down at my hands, legs or feet and reflect on the notion that I was always, only ever going to look at the world through THESE eyes. As me. And NEVER anyone else. And honestly, I was a little bit disappointed. Mostly I was in awe of the fact that of all the people I’d witnessed coming and going at school, on the television, at church, at the bank or the grocery store… I would never be anyone else.

I couldn’t help but feel a teensy bit cheated by that reality. I mean, it wasn’t like life had dealt me a bad hand or anything. I had a good life. I was and am healthy. I had and continue to have wonderful parents, a sister who seemed to tolerate me THEN and is NOW a friend, a nice home, friends, pets, toys and lots and lots of love and laughter.

But I believe there was something in me that wanted desperately to know what life might be like through a different set of eyes. Call me adventurous or perhaps insane… I think back then, I just didn’t want to get bored. An entire lifetime, to me, seemed a very long time to spend inside the same body. Notice I said back then. Because as adults I think it is quite common to wonder what life looks like on the other side of the proverbial fence. We wonder what if

What if I had studied something else in school? What if I made twice what I’m making now? What if I had two children or six? (depending on what you may or may not already have) What if I stuck that out? (insert whatever your “that” is here) What if I lived in Fiji and sold t-shirts on the beach or was a SCUBA instructor with a killer tan and chiseled body? (OK, maybe that’s just mine.) But I think you get the idea…

This is it. This IS life. And this is all we get. ONE of them, experienced through ONE pair of eyes for as many days as we’ve been uniquely given. And I guess I can pout all I want to when I look in the mirror… wishing I were taller with a willowy frame, or that I’d been an attorney or a SCUBA instructor. But I think the point is to live THIS out the best that I can. Making the most of the highs, gaining perspective from the lows.

I just love the way Amy says—with childlike honesty—something we’ve probably all considered at one time or another during this thing that we only get to do ONCE. This thing called Life… Isn’t it strange you always wake up as yourself? Not even one day somebody else.

What’s In a Year?

holding handsKisses were exchanged as the clock struck midnight and one by one the couples announced their plans for 2013.

“We’re gonna pop out a kid, honey!” Said the couple excitedly expecting their first child in the spring.

“We did a pretty cool thing in 2012 and it looks like we’ve got an exciting year ahead of us.” Proclaimed the pair of newly-minted parents whose baby girl arrived the previous fall.

“Here’s to the first year in our new home.” One of the two newlyweds seated on the couch replied to the other.

Looking out across the snowy landscape in the wee hours of a brand new year, we couldn’t help but consider what 2013 might hold for us. “2013.” Lee said as he navigated the snow-covered roads back to our house at the conclusion of the party. “Twenty years ago…” We began to say at the exact same time. Twenty years ago we graduated high school together before heading off in two very different directions. “It’s just so hard to believe.” One of us exclaimed… preaching to the proverbial choir.

We will get married this summer. That much we know. The planning has begun and as a picture of our wedding day emerges, our excitement grows for the anticipated date. But beyond that, it is unclear where we will go and what life will look like. We have a home and friends and belong to a community. He has a real job and I am hoping that the new year brings permanent employment (beyond contract work) my way. But for the most part, we are settled. Much of our picture is already colored in.

“So I suppose they’ll have their own little club once they all have babies.” I announced over lunch today while referring to the growing enclave of which we are not a part. “There’s no one else like us, you know.” I muttered with a mouthful of food while considering what the words “like us” meant exactly. I decided I was referring to couples in their late 30’s who don’t have children and aren’t sure they want any. I suppose it is as simple as that.

“I like us.” Lee stated very matter-of-factly as he shrugged his shoulders in a perfunctory but decided sort of way.

And I was reminded—all over again—why I love him as much as I do.

“I like us, too.” I said and reached for another slice of pizza.

iChallenged

It scared the crap out of me when it lit up all of the sudden and vibrated while playing a snappy little tune. My brand new iPhone was informing me (just in case I wanted to know) that 60% of Americans believe the US will be better off at the end of Obama’s second term. Well, actually CNN told me because I’d signed up to receive breaking news alerts but the phone was the vehicle used to convey the message. And I have to tell you that I am completely and utterly confounded by this slick, little rectangular device. How can something so small and seemingly innocent hold so much power?

Yes, I just got an iPhone. I know, I’m a little late to the party as far as many of you out there are concerned. Some of you have had this thing for all five of its incarnations. The television has been doing a fine job in letting me know exactly how behind the times I’ve been with it’s “Everyone has an iPhone!” campaign agenda for well over a year now. Judge me if you must… but I only got mine a week ago. Before garnering this “smart” phone I had what I like to call a “semi-smart” phone. It offered me semi-reliable access to the internet with a semi-glimpse of Facebook, email and movie showtimes — but that’s about where its “smarts” parts ended.

It had no Words with Friends or Angry Birds or the ability to crop and color-correct photos. I couldn’t identify a random song I heard playing on the radio by artist AND album release date or find out where in the world 75% of the gold used to make jewelry is mined. I wasn’t able to map my exact location at the drop of a hat and determine whether gas was going to be more or less expensive by the time I was ten miles away from said location. I know what you’re thinking… I KNOW! How in the world did I survive for so long without the use of such valuable tools and information!?! The mind reels at the very contemplation of such ghastly things.

Yet somehow I managed. But then… enter the iPhone. I had no idea what I’d been missing. In fact, ever since the geek at Best Buy handed me the thing I have been virtually unable to put it down. Once—over the holiday—I had to keep it in the car so that I wouldn’t keep picking it up and looking for new apps to download. My best friend (already in possession of her own iPhone) stayed with me for the weekend and we “caught up” with one another by organizing the folders on our phones and finding new e-gadgets, doo-hickeys and thing-a-ma-bobs to install. It is insane, this thing and what it can do.

I realize when I hold this device in my hand, that I’ve literally got the world at my fingertips. And my aim—for the seven days that I have had it thus far—has been to organize that world… my world into neatly labeled and arranged folders. In addition to some of the features mentioned above, I am thrilled that I can also use my iPhone as a mirror, a flashlight, a timer, a dictionary, a compass, a bartender and a jukebox to name a few. Ironically, the only issue I’ve had with it has been using the “phone” part. Yes, you read right. I have been able to do ALL these wicked-cool things quite proficiently with my new phone except to use it as an actual PHONE.

Lee had to show me how to make and pick up a call. My nephew had to show me how to listen to my voicemail and my bff had to demonstrate for me how to readily access and retrieve aforementioned voicemail. Apparently, my friends, as much as it pains me to admit it, the upgrade from a semi-smart phone to a full-fledged smart phone does not guarantee that one’s semi-smart abilities will likewise be upgraded.

That Picture of Us

To say that a picture is worth a thousand words is true I suppose. But only if you’re counting all the ones that are left unsaid. The things it failed to capture and yet, were present all the same.

That picture of us that sits atop my second shelf only captured a moment. It is a mere sliver in time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.

It does not tell of weathered hearts and dusty dreams… of successes or of failures… Nor promises kept and promises broken. It gives no hint toward the future or revelation of the past.

That time I made you laugh so hard you nearly choked to death is nowhere to be seen. The scar on my left wrist I got while running after you is just outside the frame.

Weekends on the water, midnight rides and long, late nights of talking are written behind our eyes but no one would ever know it — were they to pick it up and hold it. Should they ever really, really study it…

That time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.

Do you remember? That image on my second shelf? It is the one collecting dust. That picture of us.