Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rain Delay

You spend so much time preparing. Learning. Studying. Practicing. Then, just when you've gotten started and everything seems to be progressing well, the rains come. And it's time to pull on the tarp and wait out the storm.

Sometimes it comes as a surprise but even when you see the clouds rolling in, you can't help but be a little stunned. And you may even be in awe as you just sit and watch it pour. You pay close attention to the speed and the intensity of the drops as they fall. You feel the water roll down your face and drip from your chin as you head for cover.

You distract yourself for a while. Conversation. Nap. Food. Games. Television. Music. Anything to pass the time. Perhaps you study a little. Try to learn from past mistakes or the experiences of others. Practice what you'll do next. Practice makes perfect, right?

There are days when the rains come right on time. You know you're not as prepared as you'd like to be. You're not ready for the situation. And the storms sort of bail you out. Buy you some time. And there are days when you feel so ready, like nothing could stop you. You feel better than you've every felt. Then the skies open up and put your day on hold.

But in that "everything happens for a reason" way, you do what it takes to get through it. Eventually, the clouds scatter and the sun reappears. And when the tarp is pulled back, you run back on the field and get back into the game.

It was only a rain delay after all. Not the end of the season...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

From Engelbert to Paul...

My grandmother had a thing for Engelbert Humperdinck. According to my aunt, Grandma always used to say, "Engelbert Humperdinck can put his shoes under my bed any time." My mom says she loved Paul Newman too.

I didn't know my grandma for very long. I was 10 months old when she died. But she sounds like a woman after my own heart. She didn't really have a type when it came to men. She loved the dark-haired Indian with the silky smooth voice and the blue-eyed dreamy actor and she married my grandpa who was tall and skinny and had a sense of humor that was out of this world. 

Grandma and I would have been great friends, I think. And we certainly would've enjoyed talking about men.  Not only because I don't really have a type either when it comes to men (and not just because I also think Engelbert and Paul were very hot); but also because I love a man for who he is and the characteristics he offers, not simply because he fits a mold. 

Maybe it's because I don't really fit a mold myself that I don't hold others to a certain set of requirements. I'm not sure. But I do know that finding the right guy when you really don't have a list isn't always easy. And everyone and their brother wants to fix you up with everyone from Engelbert to Paul in the hopes that you will stumble upon someone suitable in the process. 
And it's as taxing as it is exciting.
And I understand the frustration of the people around me who just want me to quit complaining and find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

I don't know who the right guy is. I don't know if he's dark and mysterious like Engelbert Humperdinck or dreamy like Paul Newman or spontaneously funny like my Grandpa. The possibilities seem endless. And once you settle on one, the possibilities just end. 

I wonder what Grandma's advice would be.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Freeze Pops on the Front Porch

We got lost somewhere. I'm not quite sure when it happened. But we made a wrong turn.

I remember the Friday nights at Grandpa's, playing wiffle ball in the alley or chasing the dog around. There were lawn chairs set up in a huge circle. I can still see the smiles and smell the cigar and cigarette smoke. I remember Richard mostly and his wild head of curly blonde hair. He could always be found in the midst of the fun.

I remember sleepovers. Hot rollers in my hair and disco music on the record player and everyone dancing... "And if you can stay awake, Michele, you can watch Saturday Night Live in the boys room." I never saw it. Not once.

I remember vacations. I remember fishing and pontoon boats and cannon balls into the pool.

I remember feeling like I was the luckiest kid in the world to be surrounded by such amazing people. And I still feel that anticipation in my stomach when I'm on my way to a family gathering because I hope that when I open the door, it will be just like it was back then.

I remember freeze pops on the front porch. I remember wagon rides. I remember wishing at one point in time that I could be each and every one of you for one reason or another.

But we got lost along the way. Just as people do. We each wandered in our own direction and for some, other things and people became more important. For others, life sucked us in and away and distracted us.

I can't help feeling like we made a wrong turn. I can't pinpoint it. I know life got complicated for each of us in our own way. I know life got complicated for me. And it's not the same now. I miss the excitement of just being together.

Today, I sat around a table with my aunts and uncles and listened to stories about my grandparents and great aunts & uncles. And they laughed like they used to in the yard behind the tavern that Grandpa owned. They said things that I'm sure would have been whispered back then so that "the kids" wouldn't hear. And I laughed. What a gift! What a golden opportunity!

And I worry that if we don't get back on track and figure out where we went wrong that the story telling will end with them. And that my kids won't know you, cousins. I worry.

This family is all I've got.

Our Flag

on the front porch of my parents' house... God Bless America!