Monthly Archives: July 2009

Feels like home to me

SweetWilliams

I’ve been thinking a lot about home.  Which I’d always defined as that one place that, when you go there, they have to take you in.  One place. One home. 

But I’m broadening my definition.  Home is where the people who love you live. The people who love you for who you are.

So, by that definition, home is Shamokin, and Sunbury, and Pittsburgh, and Oak Park, and Portland, Oregon, to name a few.

I went to my original home last week. Well, not the original house. I wish I could have gone there and walked around. To see if it looked the same as I remember it, and smelled the way I remember it. But if not to the house, at least to the  town where I grew up, which formed me and then launched me into the world trailing a U-haul. Where I broke my front tooth in the playground of the Washington School. Where I learned to drive.  Where I fell in love the first time and had my heart broken the first time. Where I sang “Seasons in the Sun” over and over and over again.

I shared the places of my growing up with my children.  The cottage, Knoebels. Coney Island. I learned of the love that Emma has for these places, because of our frequent visits over the years. And I know that David and Margaret are developing that same love for the place I originally called home.

By the end of the trip, I was ready to return to our Oak Park home. The place where my stuff is. The place where my life is.  The place where I have wonderful, amazing friends who are like family to us.

But I’m grateful for all the places I can call home.

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We’ll always be loyal and true

I just spent the weekend with the most amazing women.  Women I’ve known pretty much my whole life (with the exception of Leigh, who was Margaret’s best friend from Penn State, but who we’ve known for so long that she’s one of the group.)  Women who know my deepest, darkest secrets and manage to like me anyway. Women who make me feel humble (because there’s nothing like hanging out with people who knew you “back in the day” to keep you humble.)

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Margaret was the hostess with the mostess. She lives in Caseyville, IL, and works for a securities firm whose name keeps changing, causing her no end of work. (She’s in internal communications.)

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Lin is on the faculty at a college in Maryland (I know, my command of the details has always been my strong point.)  She’s the only one of us with a Ph.D.  And we’re very proud of her.

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Maria left us after sophomore year of high school and we hadn’t seen her in 28 years. She lives in Colorado and does communications for a not-for-profit foster care agency. And yes, we picked up with her pretty much where we left off.

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Leigh is our adopted friend. She lives in Herndon, VA and is a national account manager for a large cosmetic company.

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And me, of course.

The sixth member of our little group, Karla, could not be with us this weekend and we were sad. But she’ll be with us next year.

I feel refreshed and relaxed. We laughed and talked and ate and slept and talked some more.  As it always is when we get together, it was like we had never been apart.

We talked about elementary school and middle school and the disastrous (for most of us) “open space” experiment we were all subjected to in 5th grade.  We talked about our jobs and our kids and our mundane lives. And of course we talked about high school.  How nasty we were to each other at times (I think it might have had something to do with some boys, many of whose names now escape us after 27 years.)  How much fun we had at band camp. (No, seriously, we did.) And on the band bus. (Yeah, seriously. We did.) About the differences between the perceptions we had of each others’ home lives growing up, and the realities of those lives. 

We talked about past loves and past good-enough-for-nows.  We shared our best moments and those we were still ashamed of, even after 10, 15, 25 years.  Our proudest memories and our most embarrassing moments.  Things we love remembering about high school and things we’d rather forget. And we made amends for things we should have made amends for years ago, and that we were still carrying around inside.

What was most fascinating to me was that we each had such different recollections of the same events.  And I’m quite sure that if we had a recording of the actual events, they would be different than any of us remembers. 

Though changes come, as time rolls on, we’ll always be loyal and true..

(And yes, I had to look that up. Thank you, Google.)

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Wanna get away?

I’ve been thinking about experiences that make me want to disappear through a trap door in the floor:

1. Seeing work colleagues at the pool.  When I’m in a bathing suit.  With my stomach showing. (I don’t remember this bothering me when I was 26, but at 46, it’s mortifying.) Although it is fun to see who has tattoos and piercings.

2. Forgetting someone’s name. Or worse, calling them by the wrong name. Or starting to call them by the wrong name, getting one syllable out, and then stopping and looking at the floor.  I hate it when that happens. Why can I not remember the names of people I see on a daily basis?

3. When we’re at the supermarket and one of my children innocently points to someone and yells the (obvious) observation that “That person is really fat.”‘

4. Being on the elevator with someone you sort of know and running out of chit-chatty things to talk about so that you’re both looking at the floor, the ceiling or the door.  (I find that looking at my Blackberry is a really good thing to do in this situation.)  With some people, once we’ve covered the weather (always a good topic of conversation in Chicago), there really is nothing to talk about.

5. Realizing that I have a really big stain on my shirt. Or a rip in the seat of my pants. And realizing that it may have been there all day.

6. Realizing that I’m wearing one navy trouser sock and one black trouser sock.  

7. Realizing at 5:00 that I have something stuck in my teeth. When the last time I ate anything was at lunch. And I’ve had three meetings since lunch.

8. Realizing in a meeting that someone else has something stuck in their teeth. Or that their fly is open. Or that their shirt is gaping and one of the girls is hanging out.   (The last one happened to me in a meeting at some point in my career, but I’m not saying who or when.) 

9. Tripping for absolutely no reason and going flying.

10. Being late for a meeting, trying to enter and sit down quietly, and then realizing that I’m in the WRONG meeting.

What are your mortifying moments?

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Next weekend, I’m off to St. Louis for a three-day reunion with old friends (referring to the length of time we’ve known each other, of course, not our chronological age.) While I will miss my children, of course, there are certain benefits to a child-free weekend.  Here are the things I think I’m going to enjoy most:

1. Going to the pool with people who will not drown if I take my eyes off them for a moment.

2. Not having to cut anyone’s meat.

3. Not having anyone complain that there is meat on their plate.

4. Not hearing the worlds, “Mama, I need a towel. I spilled sumping.”

5. Waking on my own timing, not someone else’s (I honestly don’t care if I wake up at 6 a.m., as long as no one else is doing the waking.)

6. Not having to say the words,” Margaret, stop hitting David.” (I will be with someone named Margaret, but I don’t expect that she’s going to be hitting anyone.)

7. Not having to wonder where the wet wipes are.

8. Not being responsible for anyone else’s clothes, shoes or pajamas.

9. Not having to strap anyone into a car seat (or get them out again). (Just to be clear, though, I do think I’m going to be responsible for driving everyone around in the mini-van, as it’s the only large vehicle we’ll have. But that’s okay, because the others are capable of buckling their own seat belts.)

10. Not having to recite the list of TiVo-recorded “Back in the Barnyard” episodes several times a day.

I’m quite certain that I will eagerly anticipate the reunion with my kids. But there’s nothing like a few days off to make me appreciate it…

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