The Waves, They Carry Me All the Way Home.

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I have exactly ten minutes to write this in the practice of free writing–write, brush the editor off your shoulder, set the timer, go (not to mention that I can hear Mudslides being made in the blender.)

Today we went to the beach and we paddle boarded.  This was not easy, since the waves were rushing in willing any novice on a board from the Midwest to fall over.  But, we prevailed.  I was able to stay up on that board despite the waves that welled and lifted me up, because, I understood them.  Oh, I fell off a few times, and my thighs are KILLING me, but, it’s not mine to overcome the waves, it’s mine to understand that they are a will of Another.

This is how I am with water, and yet, I was raised surrounded by cornfields.  There was no water nearby, yet, when I am by a body of water, I am at peace. When I walk the river paths, my heart is happy. When I ride the waves my face toward the sun, I feel that rhythm in my soul.

Some people would say that is because I am a Pisces.  I dunno.  I DO think there is something to the lunar phases–years of working on the oncology unit will point to something that goes on during the full moon.  And I gravitate toward these things, yet, I would say, that there is a Hand bigger than just the “universe” at play here.

The tide comes in and goes out according to the pull of the moon, but who put the moon into action?

Good question.

In the meantime, after riding the board, I began to swim, and I was riding the waves of the ocean, they swelled under me, they pulled me close, and then pushed me away.  I was at will to their wanting.  I couldn’t hold my hand up and say, STOP!

I tried, they did not.

They swept me up, held me briefly, and then rushed back to the depths of the ocean that have literally never been explored, so deep, so profound, that no human has seen it.

Isn’t that amazing?

My time here is coming to an end with my hubby and our Besties.

The palms trees will whisper that we were here to the waves that carried us at their whim, while we usher in the golden reds of autumn in the Midwest.

I pray that the whispers of the palms and the ocean waves will reach my ears as I sit in the quiet of an autumn dawn.  My heart is alive in the seasons of my youth, and in that ocean of my dreams, and I am blessed to experience it all.

 

 

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Besties

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I met our best friends on the same exact day I met my husband, September 20th, 1980. They came along with him as moral support, but first stopping at K-Mart to get him a shirt, to meet some girl his sister wanted him to meet.  BAM! Magic.

Scott and Rick were best friends.  On May 24th that year, Rick stood up as best man at their wedding, little did we know that in less than a year, Scott would stand up in ours.

When we were young, we didn’t know what friendships would endure, and I honestly don’t think we even thought too much about it.  Friendships need cultivating, nurturing, and love.  But, some, like our Besties, come with minimal effort because they are so natural, like “meant to be” natural, that the love, nurturing and enduring is easy.  We could no more think of our life without automatically thinking of our life with our Besties. Our lives are intertwined with memories and moments that build a beautiful life together.

We’ve had some crazy times, C-R-A-Z-Y times, my friends.  We laugh until our bellies ache, and our cheeks hurt, and tears stream from our eyes when Rick and Scott recount again the antics of their youth.  I love hearing those stories, it was BM. Before Me.

After almost 40 years there is nothing left to say, and everything to say because there are so many memories to talk about, so much laughter, so much to look forward to together, and some sadness mixed in there, too.  That’s what Besties do, they hang tough when the tough stuff happens.  We  know if anything would happen, in a heartbeat we would be at their side, and they to ours.

Years ago in the quiet while our tiny kids were sleeping in the living room of our house on Oakley Ave, and we were talking around the table, we all made a pact that we could never EVER get a divorce, because we came as a group deal

Of course, as marriages go, that pact was tested, but weirdly, at least for me, I know that pact held import in how I dealt with the hard times, because, divorcing Rick would most likely mean, I’d be divorcing Scott and Jill and that would have broken my heart into a million MORE pieces. What can I say?  I’m a sucker for them.

Without them, Super Bowls would just be a football game, vacations would just be places to visit,  and lobster races of lore, would have just been food.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of our 25 Annual Second Honeymoon (I think it’s our 25th, but don’t quote me).  We began this crazy annual thing back in Galena, and like the pact above, Jillie and I said, let’s have an Annual Second Honeymoon every year, and so began an amazing adventure.

Oh, there were times when we were all broke and spent the night in a hotel in a nearby town, ate snacks and watched movies, or, maybe we had dinner downtown.  Last year, our Annual Second Honeymoon was the wedding of our daughter, who is their goddaughter. One to remember for sure.

We’ve been to Pismo Beach, Seattle, Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Florida, Hilton Head, Hawaii, Michigan in wintertime, and more…  So many trips and memories.

We’ve ridden horses, gambled, seen landmarks, been nearly eaten by a gator in the Everglades (okay, that one is a hyperbole), fed giraffes, eaten at some of the best restaurants, and witnessed historic events.

We’ve driven through the desert, along the ocean, over the mountains, by the canyons, and through the snow.

So, tomorrow, we’ll meet at the airport, the guys will have a big breakfast, and we will sigh contentedly and just let the busyness of life slide off us.  Jillie and I will have a Baileys on the plane.  And we will all sit in aisle seats across from each other so we can stretch our legs.

When we land, we will go eat somewhere fabulous (Hey, barbeque is fabulous, right?), then we will find the house we are renting, scope out the best light to set out the puzzles, go to the grocery, put on swimming suits, hike up the music, and hit the ball around to see how many times we can hit it before it drops, and we have gotten to over one thousand hits, I KID YOU NOT!  It’s legend–our prowess in the pool.

But, mostly, we will settle in like not a minute has passed since the last time, we will talk, laugh, eat, drink, work puzzles, and make memories like only Besties can.

Sticks and Stones…

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I was talking to a childhood friend a number of years ago, we’d been reaquainted when we were planning one of our class reunions.  She admitted that she was a bit of a bully as a kid.

We graduated with about 61 kids.  The majority of us grew up together, twinsie and I came to town in November of first grade, some kids came and went, but a good many of us can name all the teachers from first grade on.

My friend said that she wishes she could take back the things she said then, the hurt she caused, and I could see how honest those words were.  Her face was awash with sadness and pain that only that kind of confession and regret could garner.  I wasn’t a bully, I mean really?  But, I do remember bullying happening and watching with sadness.  I mean, who’d go up against the mean girls, right?  It was very scary, but no more than to the person being bullied.  That’s my regret, I remember the faces too, I remember the words that were said, and the pain they caused, and I didn’t do anything at all, except maybe stick around after the mean ones had gone and try to comfort the injured. I licked my own wounds from the names called me.

The carnage of words leave deep wounds that are scars on souls that people don’t see.  “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me…” We used to say that as kids, maybe stick out our tongues at our sisters, brothers or friends, but it’s not true, that’s the worst lie we ever said.

Words damage the core of a person, they damage the beauty of a person, they change the way a person thinks about his or herself.  Words hurt more than any broken bone, because bones mend and souls don’t as easily.  These are the words we hear when we doubt ourselves, when we look in the mirror, or seek the courage to go for that promotion, or job interview…  Stupid.  Ugly.  Fat. Carpenter’s Dream (Flat as a board and thin as a nail, this one was particularly harsh for 7th grader me.)  Dumb. Retard. Failure. Delinquent. Pig. And worse names that I just can’t put into writing.

These are the words of bullies, and there are new ones now, and new ways to shoot those painful arrows through texts and tweets and facebook pages.  And it’s not just the young, it’s all ages and people gaining control by getting in “here” (in our heads) reinforcing the words that stung and stuck so long ago.

And it’s isolating, and it’s painful, and we all remember, now don’t we?

So, where’s the hope in all of this if you were the bully, the standby, or the bullied, or maybe you were all three?

For that reunion, I volunteered to call the people I thought were most vulnerable of our class.  I called each person and talked to them, and personally invited them to come.  I heard many of them say, “Why would I want to subject myself to those who hurt me so badly, or even relive those years?”  And my only response was “People change, and I want to see you again, others do too.”

And a few of those men and women came to that reunion. When everyone came together, there was a genuine sense of healing.  Twenty or more years later, yah, but healing. We danced, we ate, we drank, we talked about old times, and we reveled in the discovery of the new.

After we’d done the “Hustle” and sat at almost every table chatting, one of the gals hurt more than anyone, I think, came up to me.  She said, “Bonnie, you’re right.  People do change.  I’m so glad I came, it was like coming home to a safe place.”  

Indeed. Finally. 

Home Again

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Writer Ella Winter once mentioned to Thomas Wolfe that you really “Can’t go home again.”  I don’t remember the context of the conversation, or maybe was not even taught it, but Wolfe went on to write a fascinating novel with that title. And it always made me wonder, Maybe you can’t go home again?

As a child, I had always dreamed I’d fall in love and stay forever in the village where I grew up but love, fate, and God had other plans.

Some years ago, maybe 15, I sat with a bunch of friends in our hometown park as we celebrated one of our high school reunions.  One buddy scowled, “Our hometown has changed so much, this isn’t coming home anymore.”  And I responded, “Doesn’t matter how much the town changes, it’s the people you come home to.”

And I believed that, and it finally answered the question, Can we really go home again? Yes, we can, and it’s better than ever no matter how much the buildings and streets have changed. Or if the farmland now grows storefronts, homes, and gas stations instead of soybeans and corn.  No matter how large the population has grown, and in our hometown that means from about 900+ in 1977 to a whopping 26,611 as of 2016.

It’s. Still. Home.

This weekend, these same friends, and my twinsie and I, gathered for our 40th class reunion. FORTY YEARS, people!

All of a sudden 40 years have passed since we graduated and the day is warm, the plans have been made, the food is coming, the tents are pitched, the tables are clothed, and we are together again.

I can’t speak for the others, but it felt like we were kids again, like time had stood still for a moment.  Yet we spoke of our children, our marriages, our grandchildren, our parents who’ve passed, or are still living, our lives, retiring, getting ready to retire. And still the nuances, the crooked smiles, the laughter, the memories brought out the kids in us.

Of our class of 61 kids, 3 passed away very early on, and 23 came to our reunion this weekend.  Our buddy Bubba said that was 37.7 %.  I said that was amazing, and he agreed.

For the people who didn’t come, I just want to say that life changes us.  If you were a bully, maybe there were regrets.  If you were bullied, maybe there was redemption.  If you were shy, maybe you blossomed, if you were pimply maybe your skin cleared up, if you were skinny, maybe you filled out more, if you were chubby, maybe you weighed less.  If you were the class clown, maybe you were serious, if you were an only child, maybe you had six. If you were poor, maybe you were rich now, if you were a sad kid, maybe you were happy?

In the end it’s all spoken there in the kindnesses we showed, in the hugs, the laughter, the earnest caring joy.  If only every kid could go “home” and feel that.  Right?  If only.

In all of it, there was this uncanny need to reach out to each other, to find that place where everyone felt familiar, even if we didn’t look the same.  Even though we weren’t the same.

We spent a long beautiful Indian summer day (which is apropos since we were The Redskins back in the day) talking, playing bags (I totally stink at it), drinking beer, wine, margaritas, sake (ode to Daddio), smoking cigars, and just found home again.  Really found home.

There was much laughter, catching up, double checking memories, and ribbing of each other, which by the way, to my Home Ec buddy who kept sticking his finger in the meringue of our baked Alaska while I chastised him and hid it from our teacher Ma Mowers, I just want to say, if you got a passing grade in that class, I saved your behind. And I will always love you and those memories. I always will, you made me sweat it out, but it was worth it just to be your pal.  Of course, being your pal in driver’s ed is a thing for another blog.  🙂

Our faces, hair lines, and hair color has changed, our bodies ache a bit more, and our life experiences for many have led us in directions no one could have even conceived 40 years ago.  But, in this group, just as the moon gathered the stars in the sky, we gathered our “family,” and celebrated “home” again.

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