Things We Overcome

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A breakup.

A divorce.

The money you had to spend to replace your leaky garbage disposal, your broken thermostat, your refrigerator that died on Christmas Eve Eve.

A hangover.

A fight with your best friend.

A fight with your spouse.

A fight with your child.

Someone saying something mean about you on the internet.

A lunatic shooting up a school.

A lunatic shooting up a movie theater.

A lunatic shooting up a shopping mall.

Burning the main course.

The dog eating the caramel cake as it cools on the counter top.

The dog passing away.

Losing your job.

Moving away.

Missing your family on Christmas.

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The Top Seven Rainbow Bright Moments of 2012

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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. …

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Risque Photo Leaves Much to the Imagination

Dad and me, ca. 1978. This was not a surprising photo to find stashed in a box of family snapshots... But there is one that was...

Dad and me, ca. 1978. This was not a surprising photo to find stashed in a box of family snapshots… But there is one that was…

A couple years ago my dad gave me a big box of photos his own dad gave him after my grandmother died. I think I was the first to sort through the box.

Among the hodgepodge of unorganized snapshots:

  • My grandparents and another couple at a Chinese restaurant in the 1960s.
  • My grandfather, who served in Europe in World War II, in his Army uniform. He is small, with pronounced ears, and vaguely resembles Humphrey Bogart.
  • A series of faded, ghostly shots from a formal dining table stacked high with china and with a woman in an A-line dress standing to the side. It looks like the bounty from a bridal shower. I think the woman is my grandmother, but it’s too blurry to know for sure.
  • A girl (Dad thinks she’s his aunt) showing off an engagement ring to another girl (perhaps my grandmother).
  • And, then… My grandmother – definitely my grandmother – wearing lingerie and posed seductively on a coffee table.

That last one caught me off guard. My grandmother posed for sexy photos? Did my grandfather take them??

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Perennial Christmas

The sedum bloomed beautifully, taller than most sedum and full but tightly constructed like a cheerleader’s pompon, just like it did the year before and the year before that. The difference was that as it grew, the stalks separated from the middle of the original plant, spreading all over that part of the garden and leaving a hole in the center that mildly annoyed the gardener but not enough to propel her to do anything differently.

She cut stalks and decorated her home with them, arranging them with sprigs of rosemary, a plant with the same sort of beautiful, unwieldy but predictable center-holing attributes.

The best thing about the sedum was that when it dried, it looked almost exactly as it had when it lived. The other best thing was that the seeds were easy to harvest, and the gardener did so each holiday season, tucking them into Christmas cards (real Christmas cards, often homemade) that she wrote for people she loved.

She found many people to love each year.

The most precious people were the same ones as the year before, and the year before that.

She knew good people and she knew good plants, with annoying habits and otherwise.

One night she sat alone in her house, a little sleep deprived and a little buzzed on red wine she’d enjoyed with one of those good people, and she realized that people and plants were the same because the world – lovely as it is – does not allow for too much deviation from what has already grown.

A Christmas tree glowed in the background.

A year ago she found herself alone and wrapping presents, feeling 50% sentimental and 50% melancholy, in a state of wonder about all the ways she and the world around her had changed in 12 months. That refrain would repeat, and repeat again. Fundamental change, when it happens, takes many lifetimes.

The sedum flourished. The gardener flourished.

It was Christmas.

The people who loved each other toasted another year, and were surprised at their surprise.

What Helps Us Hold On

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I have never been more focused on the future than when I have needed time to pass.

Ten more minutes until I’m done with this run.
Two more hours and we’ll be out of the car.
Four days and these cold sores will be gone.
Three weeks and this report will be filed.
When fall arrives, the house will have sold.
When spring is here, my heart will be healing.
Next Christmas, I will have found someone to love.

In times of pain, fatigue, anxiety, mourning and longing, a knowingness that time will pass – that circumstances will change – has buoyed me. I’m an optimistic person, though, with plenty of reasons to believe that if life isn’t so great right this second, it will be momentarily.

I have very generous and supportive parents.
I live in a place with plenty of resources and access to them.
I am healthy.
And I have thoughtful, creative and fiercely loyal friends who – for the most part – also have good families, good health, and live in strong communities.

What if I didn’t?
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First-World White Lady Williamson County Problems

It was 6:30 p.m. and I was sitting in the parking lot of my office on Broadway and I was NEVER going to turn left out of there like I needed to, because there were 23 miles of bumper-to-bumper limos and whatnot heading in the opposite direction toward the CMA Awards. Y’all watched those, right? Yay for you. As for me, I threw myself a lovely little meltdown that began right there in the office parking lot!

At 6:30 p.m., all I wanted was:

For the Magic Dinner Fairy to appear with something awesome for my kid.

Wine.

Bubble bath.

I could have used a few other things too. Continue reading

The Best Songs Ever

Right now she’s 11 and has a playlist called “Best Songs Ever” which has 125 songs on it. As she gets older, the list will narrow.

She’ll get better at making lists, but “Best Songs Ever” – if she still has a list like that – will have (I predict) eight songs on it. Maybe nine.

One song for when she was 13 or 14 and was nursing her first heartbreak. Maybe it’s actually his heart and she broke it. She’ll lay on her bed in her room and lock the door and write in her diary and listen to that same song over and over again. It’ll make her feel as sentimental as a kid can feel at that age. She’ll write something along the lines of “I remember when life was much simpler and all we worried about was whose house we were going to have dance practice at.”

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