23 June 2015

Old Friends and Fathers - a weekend in OKC

The hilly part of Kansas. Not that you can tell. 
Many months ago my friends from high school and I decided to gather from all four corners of the earth (and by that I just mean Boston, New York, Kansas City, and Oklahoma) for a mini reunion. (We have been friends for 20 years now. How is that possible?) We didn't intentionally choose Father's Day weekend as our timeframe for this event. But I'm glad it worked out this way.

The road to OKC was long - as always - but the drive was well worth it. At the end of that road was a very happy Honey & Papa, a couple of delighted cousins, some very dear old friends (and some new babies to meet!) ... and quality time with my dad on Father's Day - a treat not to be overlooked. 

On the way there, Sergio was able to get in a little early Father's Day affection when we stopped on the turnpike to get our wiggles out and the girls tackled him with a hug. Also en route, Julia whispered to me, "Mommy - you picked a good guy to marry." 

And of course she's right. 
Getting our wiggles out and our hugs in. 

mini harvest at my parents' house

Old friends. We are very old friends. 

my dad and me circa 1996

11 June 2015

Time Travel

I have been reading about Time Travel in this week's New Yorker. (Look at that - I've capitalized time travel. That's funny, isn't it?) Creative perspectives on the notion of time travel, I should say. In many of the pieces I'm reading, the authors contemplate going back in time to retrieve or capture something that has since been lost. Isn't that always the essence of going back in time? Something was lost and you can get it back fully - maybe even enjoy it more this time. (And maybe that's what's empowering about the possibility of going forward in time - that you would experience the future but would return to your now and relive it with new eyes, retrieve it.)

So I began imagining what I'd like to go back in time to retrieve or relive or repair. Did I imagine reliving those ecstatic milliseconds when I first laid eyes on each of my babies? Or did I want to retrieve a few extra moments of summer when I was a kid when there was nothing to worry about except mosquitos and sun burns? Did I want to go back and correct my major gaffes from college? Or prevent some painful mistake that can't be unmade, some words that can't be unsaid or some bell that can't be un-rung?

No. None of the above. Strangely, I imagined going back to the early part of 2012 (yes just 3 years ago) in order to retrieve the pictures of my Baja California sailing trip before they were mysteriously deleted from my iPhoto. I had 176 pictures from the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with Julia and we made this once-in-a-lifetime journey; I came home from that trip more pregnant than when I'd left and \ I spent the rest of the year gestating, giving birth, and caring for an infant, therefore I never did much with my pictures except put them on Flickr. Last summer, I went to look for them again and discovered they were gone (they were deleted from Flickr, too). They were digitally wiped completely off the face of the earth never to be seen again. Even - ironically - Apple's Time Machine could not retrieve what was lost.

Using my time travel to get some pictures is - obviously - a failure of imagination (which has become a chronic problem for me, I'm learning). Perhaps someone less fixated on loss than me might have had their priorities in line enough to imagine going back to the actual sailing trip itself. Now there's an idea.

Time travel would allow me to relive the smallest details of that once-in-a-lifetime trip ... like that moment when I stood on the front of the boat and did yoga in the dim light of the clear night. Or to that moment when Sergio finished slicing a mango in its peel and splayed it out so the square straight edges of each piece jutted out into the bright sun. Or the day we went for a swim off the side of the boat or the day we all hunkered down in our berths because the waves made us nauseous. Or that day we took the tiny boat to land to eat at a restaurant and got soaked in the process. Or that moment when we found the barbed or serrated, double-edged tooth of some sea creature and Sergio held it up so I could take a picture while he invited us all to imagine how painful it would be to get this tooth stuck in our arm (thanks, Sergio). Or to that moment when we came back to land and I took the longest, most luxurious shower of my life after having taken nothing but a few 60-second showers here and there over the course of 5 days.

But lest we think I'm totally short sighted in asking the time traveling genie to get me back my pictures (mixing metaphors - sorry), let's consider this. Consider that by using my time travel to retrieve pictures of my trip, I was - in essence - asking the genie for more wishes. Because what do I do when I look at pictures? I go back. Whether it's the picture of my kids from last night when they were being memorably cute or a picture of me as a child doing something I don't even remember doing, it's always going back. It's always a retrieval process of some sort.


After wishing to have my Baja California pictures back, I began to treat that sailing trip as a forever lost thing. But I decided to change my stripes when I realized that some of my most favorite moments from that trip were never even photographed - doing yoga in the moonlight for example - and I remembered, as my wise mother would say, that it's not a forever lost thing; it's a forever gained thing.

Indeed so many of the things I most want to remember in life are not only not photographed, they are unphotographable. Like the smell of my grandmother's roses. Or like sneaking up to the crib late at night in the dark and quietly reaching in to put my outstretched finger into my baby's loosely furled fist and feeling the soft warm palm of her hand while she squeezes her fingers around my finger and stays deeply asleep.

There are no pictures of that. But it is mine. And I time travel to it all the time.

05 June 2015

Red Day

Yesterday after school I asked Julia if she had a good day. She said she had a "red day." I asked what that meant and if that's good or bad? (I was thinking she was channeling Holly Golightly and the "mean reds.") She explained that a red day is a bad day.

So I asked what color she would use to describe a good day (green) and if this is something they do in school (no). I thought it was a Montessori thing; I'm still not sure on that. She wasn't very clear. But I went on to ask her about what other colors mean and here is the full roster according to Julia ...

thinking about the rainbow
red - bad day
yellow - slow day
green - great day
blue - dancing day
orange - fast day
purple - not listening day
pink - listening day

This week was difficult. For me and many others at Hallmark under the dark cloud of layoffs. As we each waited to hear our fate, we all had some yellow days. Once we got our news, it felt like our days were orange. Some people had red days and some had green. And for 165 people who are embarking on something new, the next few days and months will probably cycle through any and all of those colors - the full rainbow. It's hard to say goodbye to coworkers and it feels strange to feel the company shift so much again for those of us that remain employed. One thing is for sure: Hallmarkers are empathetic people. It's what makes us good at our jobs. The outpouring of support that I have witnessed this week is nice to see. I think there have been some good pink days.

Last night we had so much rain and a very loud thunderstorm, too. As if we need more rain. (I'm quite sure that the clouds are having some purple days and are ignoring our requests to lay off with the water works already.) The rain is making for some really, really red days for our farmers. Many will suffer great loss.

I would like to think about hope instead. The rainbow after the rain. There are no promises. But at least the sun is shining today. Maybe soon we'll have a blue day.