August 24, 2007

1320 cubic feet of nothingness

My daughter's bedroom is EMPTY. I'm talking echoes and loneliness. Four walls colorblocked with hot pink, yellow, bright orange and neon green, with tie-dye curtains on the window and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling encasing 1320 cubic feet of nothingness. I avert my eyes when I walk down the hall, otherwise it makes me feel sad. However, it does have many possibilities. Definitely a queen-sized bed. Maybe a big desk to scrapbook on. Possibly move the treadmill in there as well - will moving to a new room make it more usable? (At least I won't be tempted to throw clothes on it.) I think I want to paint it apple green. For awhile I've been thinking about that color for the living room, but it's such a bold color, I'm a little afraid of it. Why is that? (Anybody out there like to paint?)

August 22, 2007

hearts and diamonds - a love story with cards

When we were in our pre-parenting days and living in Anchorage, we clicked with another young couple. They were from Oklahoma. Neal & Sherri. We were there via Uncle Sam's commissioning, Neal was working for one of the oil companies. We were all relative newlyweds, and had all recently moved up from "the lower 48", so when we met that July Sunday morning in church, we had an instant bond. When we discovered our mutual love for card-playing, that bond became tighter. (Once we shared the births of our firstborn, born on the same day two years apart, we were intertwined for life.) But I digress. . .

Spades, hearts, rummy. Occasionally a game of Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary, but mostly cards. Every Friday night. We'd get together, usually at their house because they had a "real table" (we only had a card table, and a flimsy one at that). And we'd play. And play. And play. Often into the wee wee hours of the morning. Of course, this entailed supper and stories and snacks and long conversations about who we were, are and were going to be. Occasionally we were together so long by the time we got ready to leave at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, snow had blanketed the city so deeply we'd end up spending the night, cooking breakfast together the next morning, and playing cards again on Saturday.

As we got to know others, our group grew, sometimes to as many as 12 - Reynolds, Collins, Turneys, Trevithicks, Geratys, Kettners. Every Friday night, come rain, sleet or snow (usually the latter, as we were in Alaska), now usually meeting at our house, since we had the most room. Then somebody had the bright idea of "why don't we have a Bible study before we play games"? So we did. Voila - a small group was born, complete with lesson, food and fellowship, long before we ever heard of them in a church setting. As the evenings wound down and couples dispersed to their own homes, Neal & Sherri would stay with us until the very small hours of the morning. Undoubtedly this was one of the best times in our lives - for all of us. We still all feel very connected, though we don't see each other much anymore. Many of our kids, all of whom were nonexistent when we first became friends, have now gone off to college and stay acquainted via Facebook. Most of us have changed careers and locations several times. We are scattered from Illinois and Kentucky to Colorado and Washington. Only Neal & Sherri still reside in Alaska. I miss them often.

Last Friday night we played cards with some good Kentucky friends. Hearts to be exact. We got home at 2:30 a.m. Made me feel really young again. (Of course, I had to wear my glasses to distinguish hearts from diamonds, we had to pause between every hand so one of us could go to the bathroom, and we spent an hour "oohing and aahing" over vacation photos and trying to remember the names of people we used to know. Still . . . )

August 16, 2007

elvis, mom, and graceland

We moved Kacey back to Nashville, this time not into the dorm, but into her own apartment. The back of the truck and her car were both brimming over! (Granted, we did take a bed, a desk, a dryer, 2 chairs, a futon, a partridge in a pear tree, and 371 flip-flops!) We arrived to a roomy apartment, 2 lovely Christian girl roomies, and a huge fish tank the other girls had bought Kacey as a birthday surprise. They named the fish: Ophelia, Paul Anka, Marcus Aurelius, Freboga, and something weird I can't remember.) I couldn't be happier with the situation . . . unless, of course, Kacey was a baby again.

That brings me to Elvis. Yesterday, August 16, marks a 20-year anniversary for Kacey & me, and a 30-year anniversary for Elvis. According to history, Elvis died on August 16, 1977. (Now, like all good conspiracy theorists, I have my doubts. I believe him to be inhabiting Hitler's old getaway in Argentina. Anyway . . . ) Twenty years ago yesterday, she and I flew from Anchorage, Alaska to Seattle, Washington, to Memphis, Tennessee, and then, ideally, to Nashville, where my grandparents were to pick us up and drive us "home home" to my parents. Well, there was a delay in Seattle, and by the time we got to Memphis, we had missed our connecting flight to Nashville. (No biggie, right?) Let me list the complications:
1) This was in the pre-cell-phone days. Heck, this was pre-answering-machine days.
2) My parents were out of town and didn't know I was "surprising them."
3) My grandparents only lived an hour away from the Nashville airport, so by the time I landed in Memphis, they were already on their way to pick me up, and I had absolutely no way of letting them know I wouldn't be there.
4) I didn't have a credit card, so I couldn't rent a car.
5) I had a 12-month-old daughter with me, along with large carry on bag and diaper bag the size of a canoe. (This was also pre-9/11 days.)
6) and this is the big one . . . I was in Memphis. On August 16, 1987. The 10th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Graceland is Mecca for the King and his followers, the result being "there were no rooms in the inn." Not a single empty hotel room in the city. Seriously.

In the meantime, I am using payphones to call my husband (who is 4,000 miles away). He is on the phone trying to track down my grandparents, my parents, and any Delta airline official who can somehow be held responsible for us being stranded without proper escort in the Memphis International Airport. To no avail. A strange man offered to take us home. I politely turned him down. As the hours got later and later, and the airport became more and more desolate, I stole a spoon from the cafeteria (so I could feed Kacey the organic homemade baby food I brought in my carry-on), and barricaded us into a large women's bathroom by pushing an old couch in front of the door. (Having, at this point, given up all hope, and now just biding time until my death, or tomorrow morning's 8 a.m. flight, whichever came first.)

I fed Kacey and got her to sleep, read "Anna Karenina" for awhile, realized there was NO WAY I was going to sleep in there, washed my hair in a public sink and "blow dried" it with one of those wall-mounted hand dryers - this would have been easier had I been a gymnast. After these eventful few hours, I hear a faint
"s...t...e...p...h...a...n...i...e..." from somewhere in distance. I listen. Again, I hear it, but this time louder. It's my mommy!!!! Now, I don't care if you are a 23-year-old parent who lives 4,000 miles from home, when you need your mommy, you need your mommy! She and dad eventually got the news and drove straight from wherever-they-were to Memphis to rescue me. Yeah!

On the return flight a couple of weeks later, I almost got stranded in Minneapolis. Again, as the result of a flight delay, I was late for my connecting flight to Seattle. When I got to the gate, they were rolling back the walkway. I met the exiting airline worker as she was walking back into the terminal. She told me I was too late. To this point in my life, I don't believe I had ever stood up for myself. My usual, a-bit-shy self, afraid of spending another sleepless night in an airport, looked her dead in the face, stuck out my pointer finger and demanded, "Either you roll that walkway back out and let me on that plane, or you, personally, will be paying for my hotel room tonight." Kacey and I made it back to Anchorage as scheduled.

Twenty years full circle. 1987: Kacey and I were stranded together in the home of "the King" trying to get to Nashville. 2007: Kacey and I part ways as she moves into her first real "home" and I leave her in care of "THE KING" in Nashville.

(Thank you God, that my Graceland is wherever You are.)