I’ve decided 2012 is the Year of the Rainbow.
For my friends and me, some of the happiest moments have come at the tail end of some deluges, both figuratively and literally.
Here are the top seven. …
#7: Courtenay Does Wine Country
In 2011, Courtenay’s boyfriend took her to dinner with all her friends and family, proposed to her in front of them and her 4-year-old daughter, then broke the engagement weeks later.
This year she could have sat at home feeling sad, betrayed or trying not to reminisce, but instead she planned a trip to invoke joy, create happy memories, and surround herself with loyal besties.
I’m not sure I know anyone else who could fire off an email like – “I’m going to be 34 in a couple months and I want to go to wine country and I want you to come, too” – and people would within seconds respond with “Sure! Where do I buy my tickets?”
It was great. She is great. The ex-fiance? Well… We wish him the best.
In less than two years’ time, my 11-year-old has handled her parents’ divorce, the transfer to a new school district and the start of middle school, her father’s remarriage, her mother’s venture into single life, and the beginning of puberty.
We went to the beach last summer with a group of friends (she’d been to another beach two weeks prior with her father and brand new stepfamily), and I will never forget a conversation as we walked along the sand one afternoon: She said her father lives in “Juli-ville” (Juli is his new wife*), her mother lives in “Creativity-ville”**, and she herself lives in “Variety-ville”.
Lily has thrived in her Variety-ville. She is the pied piper of my friends’ children, creating dance competitions and theater productions and endless shows for us to observe and enjoy. She is an instant big sister to her 5-year-old stepbrother. She is an honor roll student at her new school, and a budding songwriter at both her houses.
She is the most resourceful, flexible, perspective and graceful child I have ever known.
(*So, by Juli-ville, I am sure what she meant by this was that she sees her father as a devoted husband, which is good. **I think she also meant Creativity-ville as a compliment.)
#5: Standing Ovation
What Kate O’Neill has undergone this year is unimaginable for most of us. What her friends and community did to support her was – as most of us are blessed to understand – entirely expected. They responded with love and courage, fortitude and respect.
I know Kate could write of moments much more intimate than the one I’ve chosen, but what stands out in my mind is one of professional success. It was fall and a season had passed since Kate had lost Karsten. She was up for Technology Entrepreneur of the Year at the Chamber of Commerce’s NEXT Awards, and her hair was so elaborately braided that my daughter still talks about it. (Her dress was so short I’m sure some other folks still talk about that part!)
In a room full of collaborative entrepreneurs happy to applaud one another, Kate was the only one to receive a standing ovation – including from her fellow nominees.
She would have won that award anyway, but that night? Because she got a win, we all did too.
#4: Drink & Mow
One day last summer someone had thrown a party in East Nashville and a good many of us, myself included, ended up spending the night in various east side guest rooms.
The next morning we gathered for brunch at Mad Donnas, where there is a make-your-own bloody mary bar, and we bemoaned the fact that most of us would be spending the day doing responsible homeowner-type things such as yard work and laundry. Boo!
Then someone – I don’t know who, or I choose not to identify who – remarked that it would be so much better if we could all share in this burden, helping each other with the chores, all the while drinking beer. Sort of like a commune!
Then someone else said, “Okay, great! So we are going to do a Drink & Mow! What time, and whose house do we start at?” And, so, that happened. We eventually made our way to three different houses that day, mowing and drinking, ending up in Franklin (at my house), where it began to rain and someone else came over to cook dinner and someone’s kid looked out a window and yelled, “Hey everyone, look outside, there’s a double rainbow!”
Sure enough, there was. You cannot make this stuff up.
#3: Generosity And The New Normal
We all know the New Normal is not the economy we Gen Xers anticipated when we graduated college, but the people I know who have experienced job loss and wage cuts have not allowed the lousy conditions to drain their generous spirits.
Mike and Emmely Duncan are among the most gracious hosts I have ever known – throwing parties, cooking dinners, volunteering for their daughter’s school and the local arts communities, as well as constantly welcoming friends around their fire pit for impromptu chats or guitar lessons – despite Mike’s unexpected layoff earlier this year.
Their warmth may also be the reason he was nearly instantly snapped up by a new firm and courted by several others.
The same is true for the lovely Jason Dargavell, who has struggled to find work for a couple of years but been the consummate planner and event organizer whether it’s an intimate gathering of friends, an elaborate road trip, or a charity event for a group like Nashville’s Street Works.
He has also helped others start and grow their businesses, organize their personal lives and look after their homes and children.
This spring he was hired as a sales associate at the new Michael Kors outlet at Opry Mills and within a couple short months promoted to a management position.
None of his friends were surprised, nor have we been shocked that he’s continued with his fabulous and giving lifestyle. (The picture above is of a Derby party at Jase’s house last spring.)
#2: Heart-Shaped Necklace
When the holiday jewelry commercials began playing a couple months ago, I said to my sweet Charlie that if he ever bought me a heart-shaped necklace we might have to break up.
He laid a thought-that-counts guilt trip on me: “Are you telling me you are so materialistic that you’d dump some poor joe with bad taste in jewelry who had the balls to buy you a heart-shaped necklace?” (That’s a paraphrase, though I think he did use the word “balls”.) I hurled one back: “If you really know me, you know that’s not at all my style.” (Also a paraphrase, though I think I, too, probably used the word “balls”…)
Last night, after a retail season teasing each other about Kay commercials, we exchanged gifts. He gave me an antique field guide to wildflowers and a bracelet made from Victorian buttons. He has figured me out, and well beyond just the right gift.
He pokes the right bandaid. He kisses my wrists. He is intuitive, attentive, and a goofily charming, loyal friend. Still figuring out how to not be married, I did not intend to fall in love this year, but alas, I did.
P.S. on this one… I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two more who did the same in recent months: my lovely and super witty friends David and Josh. To steal a saying I believe David stole from Josh: They are The Best. Here they are, being The Most:
1. The Best Is Yet To Come…
My sister-in-law Catherine has tried five years to become a mother, enduring multiple costly fertility treatments including two failed in vitro cycles. The pain of longing for something that may not happen is unbearable at times, especially when it seems to come so easily for others around you.
For a period of time Catherine and I had a tradition where she would text me for a happy hour each month on the day she realized she was not pregnant. The idea was that if it was bad news, at least she’d have a happy moment with a friend to look forward to. For other periods of time she tried yoga, acupuncture, and alterations to her diet and exercise routines.
I cannot imagine what all this must have been like for Catherine and her husband, my dear brother-in-law Joe, especially since I know with all my heart what great parents they would be. Ask my daughter, their niece. Lily knows this better than anyone.
That is why – outside of Catherine and Joe – she was arguably the most excited person in the family to learn this:
Hands. Down. THE BEST news of 2012.