Biking home from work last night, it was cold for an August evening, and I was loaded down with fresh produce bought in the am from the farmers’ market downtown.  I’ve been trying to eat “Five a day, the color way” and it’s not easy.  Muskmelons were three for $2, so had those, as well as a three-pound bag of apples, a dozen sweet peppers, and an eggplant.  My mom had given me a boatload of tomatoes the day before, so red is pretty well covered.  Anyway, after working late, the ride home was chilly and dark so I took an alternate route, right past the coffee shop that has half-price bakery after 8pm or whenever the baristas get to putting the sign out.  The lure of muffins was irresistible.  My friend happened to be there for the chattin’.  That was awesome: the perfect end to an almost-perfect day.

Real story

E and I could never really remember how we actually met.  There was no one time.  I think we just sort of gradually became aware of each other as we followed our separate orbits and then gravity took over and we were friends.  I know I saw her on campus many times.  We dressed similarly and knew many of the same people.  That seems boring: there was nothing to remember.

 

Fake story

So we needed a story, which we then made up:  I was in a burning building, and E came by and rescued my cats. 

 

Takeaway

There may have been more details, but it’s even harder to remember a fake story.

There was a period of time after college when all my friends seemed to move away in a drawn-out exodus.  Most of them gravitated toward another city just like ours but with longer, colder winters.  My good friend E was no exception. 

 

 For awhile I pondered the possibility of orchestrating a “friend trade,” thinking that some other person’s friend must have moved here, right?  There are people moving here all the time.  I thought about it.  Then I made it happen.

 

E had moved, sure, but we kept in touch and the last time she visited “here” she also visited an old friend from high school whom I had never met and who had lived in Europe, and recently moved back.   I Facebook friended the mutual friend, found out she was a knitter, and invited her to knitting club, picking her up because she doesn’t have a car and lives close by.  Weirdly, we hit it off by telling E stories and figured out pretty quickly what other unusual coincidences that we have in common.

 

Of course E caught us posting stories about her on each other’s Facebook pages, but they were all such interesting, funny, warm stories that- well, how could she be mad?  It is too hard to make real friends in this world, especially starting as an adult, to criticize how one can become friends.  I will have to post more about this.  Maybe tomorrow.

Clematis.  Not chlamydia.
Clematis. Not chlamydia.

Several years ago, my friend came over, saw this vine in my yard, and said,

“Oh! I love your chlamydia!”

Of course we laughed and I set her straight.

Now every year when my clematis is in bloom, I think of her, and it makes me smile. I love my chlamydia too.

This post at Cheeky Pink Girl– a wonderfully thoughtful (and smart, and interesting) blog- is about me.

Charlotte- the blog’s author- is the only person that I could have even mentioned these things to. (Jack- bless his heart-has circuit overload when I try to talk about it. He’s wired a bit differently than most, too: don’t judge). Char and I had the most wonderful, loving phone discussion. When I say love, I mean tough love: the kind that she knew I really needed.


Usually I am an optimistic person, but sometimes the dark clouds take over- for instance, severe lasting physical pain brings them on, but also the winter SAD that for some reason was the worst this past winter than ever. I can get into a hole that seems to have no escape route other than exercising my free will to…well…but Char helped me find the some real escape routes: Prayer- of course; even the simplest of prayers; ways to find the right fit of a counselor; and possibly antidepressants just for the winter, and just getting the stupid light box already!!! (I had forgotten to tell her about my horrible EAP experience and our ridiculous stepfamily counseling sessions that hurt more than helped.   So my fear of finding the wrong counselor is not irrational). And then she opened up the discussion to her thoughtful and kind blog readers. People whom I have never met, and likely never will- except online!

What a blessing. What a cloud of believers on the Internet. Think about that- people’s souls- never having met IRL-, touching each other, praying for each other, in the ether, on the way to eternity. It is a beautiful thought.

Saturday was the first day in two weeks that I spent any amount of time functional and upright. There were two music events that I really wanted to catch, knowing that they would lift my spirits and require little physical exertion. Going to both was the right choice. It was a tiring evening, but so worth it.

The first was a Gospel music event held at one of the many churches I used to attend. Three groups “performed” (although I hate that word when it comes to praise music; it has such an egotistical connotation). It was powerful. I wept. I knew so many of the people there- and had to explain my injury and my cane about 30 times, but it gave me an excuse to say “No hugs!” (lest I break into vicious muscle spasm!) I tried to sing along to the songs that were so familiar to me, and choked up every time. Eventually, I realized (now, this concert was at the church where the pastor had told me that I was having a pity party)- that I was, indeed, at that very moment in time, having my very own pity party. It was a humbling moment. He may have hurt my feelings then- and definitely did not help me spiritually at that previous vulnerable moment- but sometimes words have a way of showing their meaning at a much later- and more appropriate- time.

Please do keep in mind that at that point I had been out of commission for two weeks that included my birthday. I had managed a calm optimism and problem-solving skills, and actually enjoyed the freedom to write things with the disinhibition that only valium can provide- but the day before this concert, I just finally broke. I melted down completely, having hit the limit of what I could bear. The previous afternoon my old suicidal ideations had came back with a vengeance. Being currently physically incapable of my standby “plan and means,” I started to look with different intent at my three pill bottles, so handy, so full, such a perfect handful. But how would I get myself into my Marilyn Monroe gown, so that I could shit all over it, in a perfect final “F**k You!” (Elastic waist pants and a t-shirt- the same ones for days and days and days (some days unable to even get that on)- then suddenly the formal gown that I was saving for Russ Feingold’s big Inaugural Ball when he finally gets elected President? That certainly would look suspicious… besides, I’d like to be an organ donor when the time comes.

But something happened at the gospel music festival. There was such power in the words- in the music- such faith emanating from the singers; it was palpable, electric. I am getting teary-eyed again just writing this. Such love and care from all the diverse and wonderful people I’ve worshipped with over the years-– some who have had it way worse than I have, coupled with amazing worship music- brought me out of the pity party, into the real party: the party everyone there was planning for, the one with trumpets and angels and Christ’s triumphant return.

After I got in a needed a couple-hour nap, Jack joined me for the always-amazing (and full of existential angst himself) Mark Mallman. The sound in the club was terrible, but the performance was energetic and just…amazing. I spoke with him at the merch table- he was selling his own merch and being friendly to each and every fan who came out. He is one of the musician I aspire to be like. He sings from the heart: from brutal honesty, from pain, from joy- from real life.

Today a dear longime friend called, encouraging me to seek some professional help (not from professional musicians; although as stated above, that is excellent therapy as well) and we had one of the best conversations possible: she showed me the angry love that I needed to hear. She shared her gift of self. She shared her personal trials and listened to mine- she showed me how God couldmaybe- just maybe- be using me for something bigger than myself. I have some ideas. I have some new plans- not to off myself- but for a new project or two that’s been percolating in my brain for months, and suddenly taking on a form, a shape, and a whole new life.

 

Stay tuned.

Today I was at one of my too-many recent medical appointments. The cleaning lady was trying to cheer me up while I was waiting to be seen, making small talk about her daughter (and pets, one of my favorite topics.)

“Oh yeah. She’s got two black labs. They’re yellow.”

It feels good to smile when you hurt.