Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scottsdale AZ But Our Minds Were in NC

This past weekend my friend Elizabeth and I went to see her mom and sister in Scottsdale, Arizona. We stayed in a beautiful hotel, The Scottsdale Resort. I don't believe I've ever had a finer experience with a hotel. The staff was accomodating in every way imaginable, all the amenities were either free or reasonable, and it was convenient to where we had to be.

Unfortunately, there was something going on back in North Carolina (and up the east coast): Hurricane Irene. Elizabeth and I would get up in the morning, grab our coffee and start reading or watching the television for news of the storm. I have daughters and other family at various intervals along our eastern border and I was in touch with them too. Elizabeth was talking to her husband often as they live in Pamlico County in NC.

The news was everywhere and the challenge was to separate the hype from the reality of the situation.

Meanwhile in Scottsdale, things were hot and brown. One hundred fourteen degrees all three days. My favorite expression of the weekend when we walked outside was, "Great! The heat's on!" I've never experienced heat like that. Is dry heat better, as they say? I can only say that anywhere that you are so hot the sweat dries as it pops out is too darn hot!

We tried to distract ourselves. We had drinks in the cabana where cool mist sprayed on us periodically.

We swam in swimming pools.

We had manicures and massages.

We took an early morning hike at a nearby park.

Modern communication methods were a blessing. In Elizabeth's town, there is an online news site, and she was able to follow day by day what was going on. However, it was very distressing for her to scroll down and see her house and office being flooded.

The last morning we were there, we had a wonderful brunch at the hotel. We smiled for the cameras, but I know Elizabeth was anxious to get home and see what had happened to her hometown. They are in the process of cleaning up and assessing the damages, as are thousands of others. There wasn't much she could have done while we were out of town, and I hope in some way that the trip was a diversion from what she faced on Monday morning.

On the plane going home, my IPod played Let It Rain by Luciano Pavarotti and Jon Bon Jovi. I began to cry, Pavarotti's beautiful voice the catalyst. Once I got home, I looked up the lyrics. They seemed fitting for the weekend of the storm and the time with Elizabeth's family.

Last night I had a dream; that there would be a morning after.
Long days, sunshine and peace;
Long nights of love, forgiveness, and laughter.
Maybe it was just a dream, but it could be reality.
Children are like planting seeds, you’ve got to let their flowers grow.

Fà che piova, (Let it rain)
Fà che il cielo mi lavi il dolore (Let heaven wash away my pain)
Fà che piova (Let it rain)
che sia la pace il nome d'amore (That peace would be the name of love)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keeping Up

A few months ago, my sisters and I sorted through the things my father saved for us in a big trunk. We made piles for the five of us. Report cards, letters, articles, scrapbooks. Drawings by our children. As we piled it all up, something became ridiculously apparent: My pile was very, very tall. And from there it became less and less until my youngest sister was able to fit hers in a large baggie.

Today I was looking for a photograph to post on Facebook of my daughter's birth thirty years ago. I pulled out her baby book. There were all the details of her length and weight, every present she received at every shower, her first words. All neatly gathered in the "Baby's Book." And I know that there isn't a book like that for my other daughters. There are photographs, lots of them, but the baby book went the way of time alone with my husband when the two of them came along.

I wish I had kept up my detailed record-keeping. Some people do (my sister is one) but I just let the time slip by without documenting the firsts and the dates.

I'm sure if I were to go back and look at my pictures, I'd find that there are many years when only a few photographs were taken. Important events like graduations and recitals got noticed, birthday parties and holidays were over-photographed. And there might be a few looks and attitudes, outfits and behaviors that are better off ignored through the camera lens.

I remember the over-arching themes of their lives and I've saved lots of artwork and a few report cards. I've got their letters and application letters and essays. Newspaper articles with their picture yellow in a cabinet. A few outfits remain in their drawers--t-shirts I think they'll want though they say they don't--clothes they'll eventually have to go through and decide about. Baby quilts and cross-stitched nursery rhymes are stacked in the closet.

There will be more than enough for them to go through. I just wish there was more. Our memories are short, and we are short-sighted about what we'll want to remember.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Writing Here Again

I've been stymied about what to write here because I said I was finished with my dad's story, and it's still very much on my mind. Yes, a year and some weeks later, I'm still thinking about him so much, sad, physically sad that he's gone. We closed on his house on Monday, another chapter of our lives closed with the signing of the papers.

But finally I had an idea for a post that didn't have to do with him.

I wrote about randomly sending out cards and letters to people whose names you chose from the phone book or newspaper. Cards with inspirational quotes or nice sayings. And then I started thinking, "What if the letter goes to a spouse who thinks his or her partner is having an affair?" What if they don't think that but because they got the letter, they start worrying that it might be so? And on and on my brain went, turning something that I at first thought was a good idea into something I had to reject because of unintended results.

Did I defeat my ideas with misgivings? Or did I stop myself from doing something that could have serious consquences beyond my intentions?

There are a lot of things going on beyond my control right now that effect us and our future, our children's future too. I rack my brain for ways that I can empower myself and stop hopelessness in its tracks. Sending out messages of hope to people felt at first like something that might ripple and make small differences. But then it didn't seem like such a good idea.

What are you doing to give yourself some control over what is going on in the world today? How do you keep from walking in your door at night and living in your little world, protected from the chaos outside?

I need some ideas and direction here. Will you pass yours on?