Walls

March 11, 2016

Walls….wonderful walls…the wonder of walls…oh, the wonder of – it all.

A guilty pleasure or mine is to take the occasional tour of a house that is up for sale in my neighborhood. Partially it’s because I’m curious and quite frankly, to be honest, mainly because I am just that… curious. Not too long ago,  I found myself all alone while looking through a house – it was a moment when there were no prospective buyers milling about – just me. As I wandered through the rooms I could feel the laughter…the family dinners, the holiday parties. This was what I like to call a “happy house.” Sometimes I walk though houses where the the tears almost seem to stream down the walls and the arguments echo in the halls…..  in an “unhappy house.”

Then I wonder about my own house…someday, will someone walk through and feel the home that it was? Will the laughter tinkle from the chandelier in the dining-room where there have been countless celebratory dinners and afternoons spent playing Scrabble? Will happy energy race down the staircase that I love to drift down each morning and that my 3 children have raced up and pounded down with schoolbooks and backpacks in tow? How about the passion, creativity and sometimes frustration that buzzes around my kitchen where nightly dinner are in a daily state of conception?  Then there are the tears from times when life’s weight seem too heavy to bear and hearts were broken…will those tears they trickle down the walls?

And the Love…what of the love? The tender kisses, freely given hugs, playful tickles and comforting embraces….will they swirl around and take someone ‘s heart by surprise?

All those feelings – happy, sad, scared and celebratory are being absorbed on a daily basis in my walls. I like to think that hopefully, they will one day embrace, strengthen and inspire someone as they did when we moved into this happy house.

Walls….wonderful walls…the wonder of walls…oh, the magic of – it all.

 

 

Lost and Found

March 4, 2016

Middle age is a funny thing – a funny place to be. Around this time you begin to look back on your life – I mean really look back. People that have been floating around in the very back of your mind begin to surge forward…as does your 25 year-old self. So, as a not -so- middle aged gal, people began to creep in and out or my mind and about 5 years ago after having finally managed to navigate the wonderful (or is it?) world of social networking I set out to find my old friend and room mate. No matter how hard I tried – no matter where I looked, she was nowhere to be found, which was odd because we  had both been in the music/PR industry where everybody knows everybody and keeping a low profile just isn’t a profile.

We had been room mates when I moved from my big city hometown to another big city – introduced by my band’s booking agent for whom she did work. We were in our fabulous 20s  -young, vibrant, gorgeous and full of dreams. We clicked instantly, our love of all things music, spiritual and paranormal bonding us together. So often the sun was just starting to come up after having we had spent a whole night pondering the abstract….pondering the after-life, a common interest in the life of most 20-somethings as we all try to figure out who we are and where we are going.

I remember baking cookies that regularly burned, which frequently sent our crazy neighbour over to our apartment in search of an apparently delicious sample -according to her (hence, the “crazy”). How many times did we take long walks along the boardwalk at ungodly hours, much to the chagrin of our only responsible neighbour. We were always so busy sharing our dreams for fame and fortune, loved attending parties, dinners and conferences and we were always there to pick each other up after heartbreaks and break-ups and rescue each other from horrible dates.

We were pretty much joined at the hip….at least for awhile.

Then, I fell in love …. and my focus on a wedding, marriage and children collided with her focus on a career/no marriage or children and that became the raft that floated us apart. After I married, we saw each other occasionally, when my husband and I would come to town for a visit.

Years passed. We both moved on along our chosen paths. She crept in and out of my mind – never out of my heart – and after almost 5 years I began to actively look for her but every line that I cast out just floated there in the social network ocean with not one bite….until this week.

In the same moment, my happy surprise shattered my heart as her name appeared in the form of an obituary.

I missed her by just 3 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Trading One Today

February 12, 2016

A very long time ago at some social gathering – you know the kind, one where the wine flows and suddenly everyone is a junior philosopher and you are all solving the world’s problems – someone one asked me if I would ever one tomorrow for one yesterday.

I was in my early twenties and being a grown-up was still an exhilarating promotion in life so my answer was a resounding “NO!” I mean, come on – anything could happen tomorrow (and of course, in your twenties “anything” meant it was going to be exciting). You could suddenly be offered the job of your dreams, you could fall in love with THE ONE, you might win the lottery!

Fast forward a hundred years – or at least a couple of decades…I did indeed find THE ONE and am happily married to him – just about 30 years. My children are grown and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them, finding their way relatively well in the world – discovering adventures and solving the world’s problems at their own social gatherings, no doubt.

Recently, an old friend asked me that question again (only at this gathering we were now veteran philosophers) and I had to pause.. Without warning a flood of memories washed over me….lots and lots of Lego, playing with little figures and making the appropriate voices, baking one bijillion cookies in every shape possible, looking for “treasures” while walking to the grocery store….reading, all cuddled up in bed. Yes – most definitely. Yes – I would trade one tomorrow for one beautiful yesterday when my children were small.

As for the possibility of winning the lottery “tomorrow”……it seems that I already did.

Not so long ago, it used to drive me absolutely crazy when my 3 kids would be all together, creating a ruckus, laughing hysterically downstairs in the main floor family room as they either watched TV or played video games. I go to bed much earlier than they do (they are teen/young adults) and was desperately trying to get to sleep!  I always envisioned the Grinch, in that part of the How The Grinch Stole Christmas, where he talks about the “noise noise noise!” and the drums are banging on his eardrums. I used to think that the noise would never end -and to anyone with young kids, let me tell you that it will and it happens kind of unexpectedly. While  you probably cannot imagine it now as your young children are running around screaming, crying, laughing and making the general mayhem that children do- not only will it become quiet one day… you will feel that quiet – and let me tell  you – it feels strange

My son moved out a year and a half ago and the house has become definitely quieter – the girls just don’t get crazy together in that same way. He didn’t move far, just downtown, so that he could be closer to the university and so he does come home most weekends for a day/night (laundry and a good meal -Lol!). The funny thing is that, even though they are essentially all grown-up, when he comes home they all revert to being 8-10 years old. The level of “crazy” goes up and so does the sound.

The funny thing is that, now when I lie in bed, the loud squealing and laughter that used to drive me around the bend and keep me awake actually lulls me to sleep…yet another bittersweet parental realization.

There is nothing like the loud laughter of a houseful of kids…..who knew?

After much disappointment in certain people over the years – people who always have a negative response when you talk to them or get together –  or even when you pass them by with a casual “Hi – how are you”, well I have finally come to the conclusion that for the most part, these people don’t mean it -they don’t aren’t even aware that they are doing it. I think that there are some people who simply who need to live in a certain state of crisis. I know this sounds odd but think about this in  your own life…the person who, no matter the conversation seems to be  having some terribly difficult  situation that it impairing their day-to-day.

At first I silently lost patience thinking that they were constant complainers and then it dawned on me that this was not the case. I began to realize that it was just that they needed a certain level of Crisis to feel normal.  Crisis, no matter how big or small makes these people  feel alive and can even strangely make them productive and energized.

Now, I am no psychologist but this has to stem from somewhere deep down inside – from somewhere long ago in their lives…maybe even before they were born. Maybe this is something that it is inherited, something that exists in the very cells that make up who they are and it might be the only way that they can survive and get through this journey of life.

It’S exhausting and I think that you need to limit your involvement because the problem is that from the moment you say Hello – they cast an invisible line out and within moments begin to reel you in …and if Crisis is not your mode of operation, it will drain you…but you already know that – because you’ve been on that other end. The most difficult part is when you truly care about the person and cutting them out of your life is not possible – or desirable….but self protection is a must. You have to find a way, a method, to protect your heart, your soul and psyche…you need to find your own line – only instead of casting it out, you need to draw it – as they say…in the sand – and take care not to step over it….and you’ll be ok.

Awareness is always key, isn’t it?

Emotional Backpacks

September 12, 2015

I think that for women, in particular, the disappointment of realizing that someone who you have always regarded highly and have invested in, has no loyalty – it is so disheartening; it shatters everything that you know.

I have some incredible, truly Angelic girlfriends that have been in my life for 20+ years and have been my lifeline – my saving grace – my safe harbour in the many storms of life….and I know how blessed I am to have them. Without them, I truly would not be the woman I am today.

In the last two years, since my father has fallen into the cruel hands of ALS, and my mother into grief’s dark shadow – I have had incredible support and I make such an effort to not bring this dark cloud into conversations, as much as possible, unless asked – because, let’s be honest, your friends can only shoulder so much and the point of friendship is to share equally in each other’s lives and to have fun…it should not be a constant state of “poor me”. I truly get that.

I know that I am not alone in the revelation of the friend who is the emotional siphon – forever in need of advice, sympathy and your shoulder – and most of us never see this clearly. Then, one day we suddenly wake up. I don’t know what the straw is that finally breaks the proverbial camel’s back – but we wake up and open our eyes and see that perhaps this person has become – for lack of a more eloquent term – dead weight. Weight that we have been carrying on our backs like a backpack, in the form of excuses – excuses because of the history.

You realize that they have never honestly shared in your joys, consoled in your sorrows, supported in your various ventures and adventures. You have been the sounding board all these years and basically, just so that they could hear themselves speak, loud and clear…you’ve been the mirror that they could look into and adjust themselves accordingly.

I guess its true – you are never too old to learn something new. And while at first glance it can be a painful realization – within scant moments this becomes something so easy to let go of. Taking off that Emotional Backpack is such a relief. You take a deep breath in and find yourself moving forward at a fresh new and easy pace, wondering – what the heck took you so long?

Breath deep – hold your head up and smile….it’s a brand new day!

The Big Move

August 30, 2015

After a lifetime, the day finally arrived when the Rental sign went up as we had to make The Big Move – moving my parents from the home they have known for over 60 years, into an apartment. My father can no longer go up and down the unique curved staircase that I used to slide down to reach the walkway. My father can no longer walk at all…thank you ALS. The time had come to seriously downsize and move forward to a living situation that will give my parents a new sense of independence.

The house was originally my grandparents’ home – a place I stayed every other weekend with great joy. Later, as a family we lived there all together for 5 years while my father got his new company off the ground (we later moved 4 doors down). Then, many years later, my husband and I moved back into the house with our two children and also welcomed our third baby there – creating yet another series of memories.

So – on Thursday, furniture was loaded onto a truck – leaving me and my mom behind to go through cupboards and closets and pack a 62 year marriage into boxes. Clothing, dishware and long forgotten items hidden at the bottom of closets all had a story – many of which I heard from the first time. While packing away her cookbooks, 2 handmade Valentines fell out, sent to her by my father (who has always been an artist and musician, apart from his profession as an Ad Man). I ran my fingers over the simple, hand drawn cards imagining the 23 year old young man, courting the girl he had fallen desperately in love with…imagining him anticipating her surprise and delight at receiving a cute, romantic Valentine at her office.

Wedding gifts, barely used….dishes from my great grandmother’s wedding in 1893 (on my mom’s side) and dishes that graced our own family table while I was growing up. A hundred – no a million memories….and only a scant few that I could own myself, but I appreciated every single one shared. I met the young young couple my parents were (and still are, in their hearts) through those memories…but I suspect that I have always known them.

Later that night, after having moved all of the essentials and settled my parents into their new home – my husband and I went back to the house to see what was left to finish in the coming days.

I walked though the front door, as I have all my life and held back the 5 year old’s urge to call out, “Hi Granny” down the hall. I could almost smell the overly well-done toast and coffee which was my grandmother’s dinner ritual. As I moved though the house my steps seemed to slow – I stopped in the doorway of my old room and ran my hand along the molding where I split my lip open at age 2 on the night of my grandfather’s funeral…I stood in that room remembering how my little sister and I used to use the “telephone” we had made out of toilet paper rolls all taped together – as if no one could hear us! Then onto the vision of my own two daughters in their beds, set up the same way, only one of them was in a crib. I continued on to the back room, my mother’s “office” and saw pre-teen me sitting with my Grandmother on her bed, laughing together hysterically as I tried to read the Hungarian/English dictionary (of course looking up as many rude words as it held) and sharing my discovery of The Beatles…and how she showed so much interest….flash forward and I saw myself, the young mother, laying with my 7 year old son on his bed reading Harry Potter every night. Finally, the kitchen – heart of the home…my sister and I doing dishes every night, probably making quite a mess as we would be fighting or laughing, depending on the day. Simultaneously – me, cooking and creating crafts and changing the curtains and table cloths to suit the seasons when it was our turn to live there as a family.

Once we got to the basement I could hear and see me with my high school girlfriends singing into hairbrushes to The Partridge Family, which would have been spinning on vinyl. Suddenly, I had no strength left and melted into my husband’s arms, sobbing. There is truly a lifetime in those walls…my immigrant grandparents from Hungary, my newly engaged parents, my pre-teen self and finally myself as an adult and own little family.

The parties, the laughter, the tears….all embedded in the walls…walls now waiting for another family to add to the layers.