Saturday, December 1, 2012

Strange Days

Regular readers already know what an odd year this has been for this Midlife Vegan+. It has been full of sorrow and blessings in close succession, so I continue to try to glean any lessons that may be lurking around each bend.

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are pursuing a goal, but obstacles and unexpected hurdles keep popping up, making the acquisition of the goal seem less and less likely? Yesterday was a real-life manifestation of this phenomenon for me. I've been trying to squeeze in as much needed healthcare as I can manage before the end of the year, since our deductible has been met and free benefits are nothing to sneeze at. Yesterday I had a first appointment scheduled with a podiatrist at 9:00, so my plan was to drive straight to work from the appointment and arrive a little early (I'm normally in at 11:00) to catch up on some loose ends and to give my treasured co-worker, Patsy, a chance to do the same. Upon meeting the podiatrist, I was convinced to have some very minor foot surgery right then and there. I asked how long it would take, and was told, "only a few minutes". Long story short, I realized too late that "only a few minutes" can mean two different things to different people. Driving, late, to work, I realized that new detours had been added to my route. Also, it was getting close to lunchtime, so a trip that should have taken five minutes took half an hour. I rolled into work at 12:00 noon. The work day proceeded along a similar vein.

By 7:00 p.m. my toe had begun to throb and it was time to rush home to meet a houseguest. Choosing my route was tricky, as I had to consider the different levels of rerouted traffic from the new detours. As it turned out, I chose wrong. A ten minute trip wound up taking an hour. The traffic lights had not been re-calibrated to account for the new traffic patterns, and as such, only three cars got through each green light traveling in my direction. Unbelievably, there also happened to be a festival in downtown Alpharetta, with people milling about on foot amidst the stopped cars. It was a bit surreal. I had no choice but to sit and wait my turn.

Do you feel the tension? Let's take a break for a second:

Ah -- healthy green juice! . . . Om . . .

Okay, now back to the story:

Such a circumstance opens the mind to rumination. Luckily, I was able to see my predicament for what it should be -- a forced stop. My frenetic pace of late, attempting to be all things to all people, has been a form of avoidance of the inner work I need to do. Being crazy-busy and reasonably successful feels better than really exploring what I have lost this year. Just as I was beginning to dig into this idea, sirens sounded. Straight ahead, spinning blue lights appeared in the opposite lane, coming in my direction. I started to wonder how emergency vehicles would maneuver through the sea of parked cars, but then I realized the traffic jam was really only in the direction I was traveling. several police cars raced toward me and past my position, followed by shiny new buses with black windows -- one, two, three . . . I counted up to nine. "What in the world?" I thought to myself. Different ideas began to pop into my head about who might be in the buses. We do have a vibrant music scene in the Atlanta area, and Alpharetta is picturesque and a few movies have been shot here, so maybe . . . But then I saw it -- wrapping up the procession was a smaller luxury van with the "Bama" logo on the side, followed by a few more police cars. It was the University of Alabama Football team! The SEC final between Alabama and University of  Georgia is today at 4:00, and the team must have been practicing at my son's old high school yesterday afternoon before returning to a hotel in Alpharetta. Instead of Athens, where UGA is, the game will take place in the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons play.

If you are not into college football, my excitement about this game will be lost on you. Normally it might have been lost on me as well, since I graduated from William and Mary, a school not renowned for its football team. But my firstborn, Hans, is now a Georgia Bulldog!

Here he is with me last summer.

Becoming acquainted with the University of Georgia football culture has been an unexpected surprise this year. Football in the southeast is a very big deal. My words won't do the experience justice. You'd have to attend a game yourself. In Athens, football fans bring tailgating to a new level. Women wear pretty dresses and the tailgaters set up tents, tables with tablecloths, lots of food, a full bar, candles, chairs, music, flowers.

Suddenly, people begin to check their watches and a flurry of dismantling occurs so the party can be put away in time for the "Dawg Walk". At first, I didn't understand what this was. We all ran over to the street adjacent to the Stadium, and a number of large buses with black windows, very much like Alabama's, pulled up. Then I got it -- the "Dawg Walk" The doors of the buses opened and the Georgia Dawgs, big, strong, giant children stepped off and walked, smiling and waving, into the stadium. I say "children" because there are some "true freshmen" on the team who are the age of my son -- 18 years old! These enormous, strong kids are like movie stars to this southern community -- they are incredible athletes, with the added benefits of the fearlessness and pliability of youth. Hans has met a couple of these stars and he says they are just normal kids -- down to earth, friendly, normal.

Whoever wins the game today will be the SEC champion. This background information will hopefully explain how amazing it was for me to be stuck in stopped traffic, after an especially stuck day, only to find that I was in the right place at the right time to have a brush with greatness.

Let me explain the significance of this in the evolution of my grief. I used to be very spiritually connected. I was raised in an esoteric family, and evidence of the oneness of all things was all around us. I have always had very specific beliefs. Then my precious mom, my best friend, died. Suddenly I was no longer sure of anything. What if it had all been a fairy tale? What if she really just ceased to exist? Nothing could feel more crushing. I couldn't think it. I got very busy. I was blessed with rewarding work with wonderful people -- with the doctor who has kept me well -- who was the very embodiment of the kind of faith I used to have. Then she died too. My crisis of faith deepened. I shut down and got busier.

So, being frustrated with being stuck, and then seeing how the brush of greatness in the midst of the stuckness couldn't really be a coincidence has begun to open a little chink in the wall of doubt I've erected. Blessedly, after the Alabama team proceeded along their unimpeded route, I was still left stuck for a little while longer. Remembrances of other bits of proof that what I used to believe is real began to pop into my head, one after another.

I remembered my funny little sunshine, Wynne.  Growing up has a way of damping our magic down. It's still there, only less accessible. I wouldn't change a thing about my wonderful daughter at 15, but being stuck in that traffic, after that brush with greatness, I began to remember the gift to all of us of her early connectedness.

This photo is old and blurry, but I hope you can see that, as I am looking at her reflection, she is looking through the mirror right into the lens of the camera. She was only two months old here. One week before she was nine months old, the sturdy little thing began walking and speaking in full sentences, though at first I was the only one who could decipher her language, perhaps because there was an intuitive connection between us.

An example of what she would say is: "chunchine on my lodelch one mo time pleege!" tr: "Sunshine on My Shoulders one more time please!"

Another would be: Aay bubba? a blountain? tr: Where's my brother? a mountain/fountain?

"Blountain" was a multi-purpose word for her, meaning both mountain and fountain. Only further context would help me determine which. Her other multi-purpose word was "blow-blow" meaning pillow or elbow.

But I digress . . . Wynne's connectedness:  One afternoon, for no reason, when she was about 5 years old, Wynne began asking me about earthquakes. She became more and more agitated as the evening went on, and even woke up in the middle of the night, terrified of an earthquake. I soothed her back to sleep. At about 5:00 a.m. the doors on the armoire in my room began slamming loudly and my bed seemed to be bouncing off the floor. I was so disoriented at first that I thought I was dreaming because of Wynne's earlier discussion. By the time I woke fully, it was over. The kids had slept through the whole thing. I turned on the TV to see if there was anything about it on the news, and sure enough, there had been an earthquake, right here in Georgia!

More recently, Wynne woke one morning to tell me about a very vivid dream. She was surfing in Japan and the "waves were HUGE!" I asked her how she knew she was in Japan, and she said she didn't know how, she just did. Three days later the Asian Tsunami happened.

There have been many many more bits of "evidence" around Wynne, but also around my mom, both of my grandmothers, and throughout my whole life in general. Sitting in traffic last night was actually a gift, as it instigated this train of thought, this reopening of the possibility that my former faith eventually might not seem so far out of reach.

Well, it's time to get ready to watch the game -- Go Bulldogs!!

Next post will include food!

No comments:

Post a Comment