Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A James Taylor kinda day

“Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”  

Those are wise words from a man I know.  Well, I don’t really know him personally, but I’ve seen him a couple of times.  From a distance.  Not like stalker distance, mind you.  I bought a ticket just like everyone else.

I have been troubled today.  And, when I’m troubled I turn to things that make me happy to lift me out of my sad state of mind.  My troubles started last night when, again, I had to test the elasticity of money to see how far it can stretch.  Then, this morning I get in my car and my air conditioning is out.  My son told me yesterday it was out, but I pushed it aside telling him it was just so hot outside the air can’t cool down the car fast enough.  Well, he was right, and I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Do you know I live in south Mississippi?  South, as in near the bottom.  South, as in the Southern Living Magazine’s guide to planting has my town bordering on the line called Tropical South.  South, as in hotter than Hades.  Air conditioning is not a luxury, it is an essential need for anyone near where I live.  

Through the grace of God (and I am serious) we had a cool morning so I made it to work without the air just fine.  On my 25-30 minute drive home, on the other hand, I felt God was punishing me for some sin I didn’t even know I committed.   I knew it would be bad so I let down the three windows that work and turned on the music I always turn to when I need a lift.

About five minutes or less into the ride I remembered a hair clip in my purse so I pulled it out and pulled my hair off my neck.  What was left unclipped blew recklessly in the wind, battering my face until it clumped into greasy ropes hanging in my eyes and flung over the top of my head in a haphazard way not attractive to anyone.

I might have topped the speed limit a few times to make it home faster, but I didn’t care.  I knew if I got pulled over I could surely cry my way out of that one.  One look at my wet, red face and ropey hair and surely any officer of the law would have pity on the sad sight that was me.

Well baked, and throbbing from the heat I somehow made it home without passing out from a heat stroke, but I credit my luck to one man, the man I can always count on in my troubled times.  The man I tuned in on my iPod and let his familiar voice lead me to a happier place.  That man would be Mr. James Taylor, to be sure.

Mr. James Taylor was formally introduced to me in college.  Yes, he was an older man, but the lyrics of his songs spoke to me.  I was having boyfriend troubles when we first met, so I turned to him in my confusion for words of wisdom.  One song became my mantra for those woeful days.  So, I listened to it on my way home today, but the heat was affecting me so I couldn’t even enjoy it.  I found myself talking back to him in a sardonic way.  It went something like this:

JT: “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”.  
Me:   I hope I don’t get pulled over for making this time pass faster.
JT: “Any fool can do it. There ain't nothing to it .” 
Me:  I feel like a fool in this stupid hot car with only three windows that can let down.
JT: “Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.  But since we're on our way down we might as well enjoy the ride.” 
Me:  I’m not enjoying this ride.  I feel like I’m on the highway to hell.

And it went on like that even through my favorite parts about time not being real and planets spinning through space.  

JT: “Isn't it a lovely ride?  Sliding down, gliding down.  Try not to try too hard.  It's just a lovely ride”

Oh, see there?  I can’t be mad for long with Mr. James Taylor around.  Life is a lovely ride even when you’re broke, sweating, and crying in your car because you’re afraid you can’t afford to fix the air conditioning.  You just have to keep your eye on what’s ahead, and be careful not to break the speed limit.

I truly can’t complain.  I would have money to fix the air conditioning and maybe even a new car if I didn’t spend it all trying to enjoy the ride that is life.  For example, I’m going to see Mr. James Taylor’s blue eyes with my very own green ones in just 12 days in Cleveland, Ohio.  Yes, indeed, I will be in the audience with my oldest friend and travelling partner trying not to try too hard and listening to the rewind of the soundtrack of my life. 

So Mr. James Taylor, if you should happen to read this, give a shout out to two aging women with eternally girlish hearts, won’t you?  We’ll be there.  July 9th.  Cleveland, Ohio.  We’ll be the ones with big smiles on our faces.  And if you see us you’ll just have to smile yourself.  Remember, July 9th.  Got it?  Okie dokie?  I’ll have my hair combed, I promise.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The eyes have it.

Today is Father’s Day, and my sister, the Middle Child, posted a picture on Facebook of her and our Daddy.  Guessing, I would say it was taken about 25 years ago or more.  Daddy looks so happy in the picture, being kissed on the cheek by his favorite.  I like the picture because his expression is so vibrant I can look at it and see Daddy, the real man, not just his image.  This is a thing I do when I look at pictures of people.  I look for their realness.

This strange habit started one day when I was looking at a picture of me, trying to find myself hidden inside the squinty eyes, puffy cheeks and double chin.  I knew the real me was in there somewhere, it just had to be.  So I stared at the picture and let my eyes go in and out of focus until they finally settled on what I was hoping to find.  It’s like those pictures from years ago, the ones with the dots you stare at until an image emerges.  I’ve never been good at those pictures; their secrets remain hidden from me, locked in the pixels. That is why I find it ironic I can stare at a photograph and see the essence of the person hidden behind the face.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot see into a person’s soul.  I do not have superpowers.  The day I stared at the picture of myself I was able to find the outline of my face the way it used to be when I was younger and much thinner.  The extra baggage melted away and I found the real me, the one that is locked away inside this body I am so ashamed to be living in.  

Once I realized I had this talent I began looking at pictures of other people to see if I could see the same thing in their photographs.  The answer is, yes, I can.  Usually.  There are some faces that do not emerge because I am distracted by the eyes.  The mouth may be smiling, but the eyes are numb.  It’s surprising how many pictures I come across with blank eyes.  It makes me wonder what unhappiness lies at their core, and why they are trying to hide it.

Yeah, I know I have a strange way of seeing things, but as the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.  (A truth I know because I’ve picked some stinkers based on their idyllic cover art.) That’s why I try to take time to really look beyond a person’s appearance and find their hidden self.  I think we all deserve that chance.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lemons or lemonade? It's up to you to make it palatable.

I’ve often heard the saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But even lemonade is bitter if you don’t add enough sugar.  Tonight I am sitting, well lying, on my couch in my living room with a Sherlock Holmes movie on in the background.  The one with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.  Not that I mind looking at Jude Law, but I was supposed to be in New York right now, seeing new things and having fun with my sister and my niece.  But due to a sad turn of events ending with a death in my sister’s family the trip has been put on hold for awhile.  Lemons.  Or, so some might think.

Now would be the proverbial time to make lemonade, but first I’ve got to find some sugar.  It needs something sweet to balance the sour.  Actually, I do not feel sour about missing out on our trip.  I am the type of person who believes everything happens for a reason.  I believe our actions and reactions fit together like pieces in a fluent puzzle, moving and twisting, pulling apart only to come together again in a different configuration.  Had the situation been different I would be somewhere on the streets of Manhattan right now instead of on my creaking sofa with a cat in my face.  Instead I will be able to spend Father’s Day with my husband, take some relaxing time off work, and be there for my son when he finishes his driver’s ed course on Friday.  And, I would not have been able to listen to the night sounds outside my door, the frogs and crickets vying to see who can sing the loudest.  Or, I would not have been able to see the stars tonight.  The sky in my piece of the world was pulsing with starlight.  I even got to see the Hubble telescope pass over.  You can’t see that in Manhattan.  See, I found my sugar after all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A reminder

There are many things I own that define “me”.  I have unique jewelry created just for me. My clothes speak my taste in style and the importance of comfort in my life.  My books reflect my thoughts and daydreams.  When you look at my photographs you see the world just as I see it.   The knick-knacks on my shelves are mementos of the things I like, the things that make me happy, the things that are memories of times and people passed.

You do not need things to know me, or to remember me when I’m gone.  Clothing, jewelry, books and the like are only temporary remnants of me.   If you want to truly know me, or remember me in a way that will never cease, then go out on a moon-lit night and look up.  When you see the moon, remember how I love it so, and there you will see my heart.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The summer with the fringe on top

As the song goes, “There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…the corn is as high as a elephant’s eye, and it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.   Oh, what a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day.  I got a beautiful feeling everything’s going my way.”

It certainly is a beautiful morning and by the sounds of the birds around me I think they are in agreement.  From my view on the porch the meadow is bright and the corn is high.  I don’t know if everything’s going my way, but it’s definitely coming my way.  

As I sit here, on my porch, on this unseasonably cool, June, Saturday morning I realize this is the last June Saturday morning I will be at home.  For the first time in forever my summer, or at least early summer, is booked with places to go and things to do.  It feels odd, really, to know I have so many things lined up.  It’s not my lifestyle, or at least my reality lifestyle.  In my dream life I am jetting all over, and when I’m home I’m usually at my cottage by the shore.  But in real life I’m always home, literally.  I hang my keys by the door on Friday evening and pick them up again on Monday morning.  If I leave the driveway anytime in between its usually because my husband wants to go out to eat or on those occasions when I get the shopping bug and have to go.

I’m not complaining.  I love being at home, but I also love to travel and roam.  It’s just that my life hasn’t gone in that direction, yet.  This month is the beginning (and if my bank account doesn’t improve, probably the last) of my travel days, at least for this summer.   I remember a Seinfeld episode where George declared it “the summer of George!”  Maybe this is my summer of Elizabeth.

My summer kicks off Monday, actually, with my youngest son starting driver’s ed.  I’m so happy for him, to have something to do instead of sitting in front of his computer all day.  I know this doesn’t have anything to do with me, but it will make me get up early everyday (I am home) this month and get him to school on time.  And since his school is at my job then maybe I’ll get to work on time too.

Next weekend, beginning Wednesday, I’m off to my annual Cousin Reunion on the Gulf Coast.  (Yay! Cousin Reunion.)  It’s a time when I get together with my sisters and some first cousins to while away the weekend doing much of nothing.  Our big event is a night out on Saturday when we will go to mass, eat out as a group, and then head to one of the local gaming establishments to try our luck in the hopes of winning the big one.   

One Reunion we walked into such an establishment and a voice popped into my head and told me to find a dwarf.  Well, let’s just say I found one cousin cashing in on her investment and down the row from her was, yes, a dwarf.  And, let’s just say I am now looked upon as one with special powers.  I can’t help what I hear in my head.  What I am thinking is that this is the first reunion with my mother in heaven.  My lucky, gambling-rich, want the best for everybody, selfless, mother.  And I am hoping that right now she is saying prayers of intercession for her broke children and nieces so that they can catch a break.  (Mama, are you listening?)

The weekend after the Cousin Reunion I am going to New York City with my sister, the pesky one, and my niece and one of her friends.  We will be gone an entire week, Saturday to Saturday.  The “thing” I want to do is go to Ellis Island and see what my grandfather saw when he stepped off the boat for the first time.  I want to listen for the echoes of the voices of those immigrants from so long ago.  I want to soak in it.  We have tickets to see Once on Broadway, and I hope to see a couple of other shows, but other than that we will be going freestyle. Que sera sera.  

The weekend following my New York trip I’ll finally get to spend some time with my family in Destin.  I can smell the saltwater just thinking about it.  There is something about the vastness of the ocean, the lull of the waves, the warmth of the sand that makes me feel close to the Creator.  My beach visits have always been a reflective time for me.  A time of renewal.

The Saturday after Destin I will be in Ohio again, visiting my oldest friend and travelling partner.  Our ramblings will lead us to the big city of Cleveland to look at and listen to the songs of Mr. James Taylor.  JT, as I call him.  Only one of my favorite entertainers of all time.  I’m just a little bit excited. But JT is just the icing.  The cake is spending a few days with my friend. Icing is sweet but cake is so much better.

So, driver’s ed, reunion, New York, Destin, Ohio.  How will I pay for all of this?  Que sera sera. (Mama, are you listening?)