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Something was missing from her life. Never mind that it was jam packed with trying to move, planning her own wedding (sans assistance from dear mom or best friend), Olympic and Ravellenic Game season and a full time job, she felt the hole. It didn’t take long to discern what it was: that few minutes of daily reflection. Just living life wasn’t enough for her: never mind how inconvenient finding those precious few minutes was going to be in the coming weeks, she was going to have to find the time to pause, reflect and then write those hundred words.
Not that she was going to do the same old thing, it was time for a new approach. She had promised herself, and the project, several times in the past that she would not continually use it as a rant space. Not that she failed that promise utterly, but with concerning regularity she would vent her spleen in that space. Finding a way to get back to the original intent, that momentary reflection on TODAY, was now paramount, particularly as that was exactly what she felt was missing from her life now. An idea began to take shape one morning. . .
By late afternoon she was near tears. Clothes shopping had never been a favorite activity, but this was beginning to really wear her down. And there was no support, no one to talk to during these . . . adventures, which she tried hard not to think of as a sad state of affairs. She wanted a simple dress, not an evening gown. Natural fibers, no polyester. Some sleeve – short, elbow or long, no matter. Flattering. It could be any of a number of shades of pink, purple, teal, aqua, peacock, but not white, grey or black. An impossible quest.
The heat and humidity were impressive and oppressive as she continued the task of sorting and packing her possessions. The house lacked central air conditioning, in fact, only had one portable AC unit housed upstairs, and two of the working fans had already been transferred to the new house. One of the fans limped along in the living room, randomly refusing to oscillate. Sorting through the collection of alcohol stored in the dining room gave her momentary pause and she wondered
where on earth did all of this come from?
Followed shortly by,
surely we’ll never drink all of this?
An early morning swim was a lovely way to start the day, she thought while moving through the cool water. It woke her up, fully, without coffee, although she did still want a nice cup and breakfast afterwards. She was too far out of shape right now to manage much more than water exercises and a few laps, but it was still an excellent start to the day. And the next day, when she discovered which muscles in her back or sides hurt, and they would hurt, she’d think it a good thing, part of her return to the living.
She couldn’t have Rae do the flowers for her wedding, a thought that made her sad every time, and sometimes angry, and sometimes teary, sometimes all three - but least she had lucked out and found someone with a similar sensibility. Nancy understood artful disarray. That much was clear upon walking into Nancy's house. It was clean, absolutely, but there was also just enough artful disarray that it appeared was both decorated and very much loved and lived in. A very difficult look to achieve. But it gave her hope that real flowers on the cake could actually be realized.
Every time she drives past the old Runaway Bay Bookstore, she feels a deep pang of regret. She had been sporadic customer, but frequently did stop in just to browse, or get out of the house, or even order a specific book she wanted in no particular hurry. She missed sitting in the chair in the corner created by the bay window and shelves of cookbooks, and Harry the cat coming to demand tribute. The Victorian tile floors and tin ceiling of what had decades before been an ice-cream parlor. The current store is boring and full of useless things.
As she watched the video for “Hell Broke Luce” she felt the world around her go quite, still and fade away into the background. She was drawn in to the sound, the look, the feel, of the horror that conveyed what had happened, what had been asked of a few, and what had not been given in return to those few who had had survived. Was the video based on specific facts? Was it artistic creation and interpretation run amok? None of the answers seemed important, because to her, the story and meaning were Truth. Both beautiful and terrifying. Art.
The wedding invitations were supposed to be simple and straightforward. And they were on track to be simple, straightforward and inexpensive. Until himself became involved in the process. The invitations that they sent out were gorgeous and cost a small fortune. The wedding cake was likewise supposed to be simple and straightforward – it is wedding cake, after all. She found herself wondering where it would end, now that he had gotten involved in the cake, thinking of Beach Plum filling and cake flavor options. It was one way to ensure that they had a beautiful, delicious and memorable wedding cake.
She didn’t believe that this was normal based on her previous conversation with her doctor, so she called the office. It was Friday in August, and she fully expected to get the service, rather than a real person in the office. It was a welcome surprise then to speak with the assistant, and to get a call back from the doctor within 15 minutes. It was not exactly encouraging news, but as the situation wasn’t enough to warrant a trip to the ER, she slowly made her way home and then proceeded to melt into the couch with a book.
She sat on the couch, boneless and slightly damp from the high humidity. I’m like a used dishrag, she thought to herself. Moving about and doing anything meant she was sweating and exhausted in fifteen minutes. So it was a day of 20/40 hours: twenty minutes of vaguely productive “doing something” followed by forty minutes of recovery, drinking liquids and being by a fan. A cool shower, iced coffee and a long break early in the afternoon restored a little bit of energy. Working this way, the day was not a total loss, although she finished very little of consequence.
Today was her best friend’s birthday and she hadn’t managed to get a card in the mail, with the chaos of being ill, moving and the wedding. Her friend had wanted a gift certificate to download e-books, and although it wasn’t her style to give gift cards, it was certainly easy enough to shop online and know that the digital download of a gift would still arrive on time, despite the late date. She reminded herself that the point of giving gifts is to make the recipient, not the giver, happy - how many times she herself had been disappointed?
After work, after errands, after walking with her neighbor Lee, she sat down and began making a list. For many years, making lists was how she managed her busy life and maintained the discipline to get stuff done. She hadn’t made so many lists in the last few years, and it showed. Now was the time to roll up her metaphorical sleeves and THINK about what was essential to take to the new house for the first few weeks. She didn’t have energy to actually pack it right now, but spending the mental capital now would definitely pay off later.
The storm overnight was massive. T. Lightening flashed and at the same instance the thunder shook the house, and went on rumbling for minutes without stop. Car alarms went off from the vibrations. Rain began lashing the windows, the metallic tink-tink-tink of the rain drops hitting the storm windows caused her to get out of bed and shut windows throughout the house, and wipe down surfaces that were soaked by the time she got there. The cats stopped fussing at each other long enough to all gather on the bed, seeking reassurance that it wasn’t the end of the world.
The “Hummingbird and Flower” piece from Season Two (or Three?) of SYTYCD had simply overwhelmed her when it was broadcast. Her opinion of the show was instantaneously transformed – what began as light summer entertainment for her became Required Viewing. Yes, there was Mary Murphy’s obnoxious screaming commentary, and plenty of uninspired routines every week. Hidden amidst all of that dreck were these small jewels where music, choreography and performance combined beautifully, perfectly, into Art that moved the heart and spirit. She watched each week for her favorite choreographer, Mia Michaels, whose “Addiction” piece was beyond heartbreaking, and truly a masterpiece.
Clearly, she was not the only one concerned that she still hadn’t found a dress for the wedding. The shock and horror in her best friend’s voice said it all. Less than two months to the wedding, two months to the day she would be walking down the aisle, and she still had not found a dress. Then she realized that was not entirely true. She had seen one dress that met her criteria although the shape and style caused her some concern. But with nothing else even on the short list, she decided it was time to find out.
As she continued the process of sorting and packing she was amazed by the variety and amount of stuff she had collected and accumulated over four decades. Yes, there were the multiple punch bowls courtesy of her paternal grandmother, but there was a proliferation of candles, glassware, art supplies, filing supplies, notebooks, yoga and pilates tapes, just to mention a few. This was an opportunity to seriously destash a lot of stuff, in the most expedient way possible: donate everything that was in reasonable working order, and trash everything else. Except for the “one of a kind” and heirloom items.
She never thought she’d be contemplating wedding rings. Now, standing before glass jewelry cases in store after store, she tries to find a ring she really wants to wear. One that can become part of her daily life, that isn’t shy of getting wet or is too delicate - she knows that she is hard on rings. An idea had taken hold of her a few months ago, a band of rose gold and filigreed or etched, probably Edwardian. Trying on a simple antique rose gold band that actually fits, her she realizes the universe is speaking to her again.
At some point in the packing process she had begun to think of herself as a serial collector. The evidence was there in the house, the groups of things she had collected over the years: glassware, novels by certain writers, albums by certain bands, yarn, patterns – it all represented a pattern of material acquisition. But by now, she had started to feel as if the collections possessed her rather than the other way around. She began making tough decisions – not keeping what she hadn’t used in the last five years unless it was a signed original or meaningful family heirloom.
Having come face to face with her yarn stash during the packing process, she really did believe that she had a problem with execution. The ideas for design kept coming as her imagination fired looking at the yarn, buttons, books and magazines. She rarely knit something exactly as specified in the pattern (her current work-in-progress was one of the only times she used yarn called for in the pattern) but she freely used patterns as blueprints, or details as inspiration. Could this represent her next career, one that was not driven by a need to pay high rent or mortgage?
Seemingly out of nowhere, back pain blossomed. It was niggling at her the morning so she drove to work with the heated car seat on, despite the fact it was August. During the long day of “summer hours” she sat, and sat and sat. She stretched out when possible, and realized at some point she was limping again. With her long history of back pain, whenever it suddenly flared again, she generally spent a day in fear that something with that nerve and the disc had gone massively wrong, something they warned her about after the surgery ten years ago.
Overwhelmed by the pain in her lower back from the problem nerve, she decided to stay home so that at the very least she did not have to sit during the two hours of drive time. She scrounged around and found one of the little disposable heating packs and wore it all day, thankful that today at least, August was not being brutal while she was in the house with no air conditioning. She sat in her recliner chair, took a long hot bath with Epsom salts and took meds all day hoping to get the muscle to calm down.
Back in the office for a day, she was too busy to think. She always liked days like this, when you naturally moved immediately from task to task and didn’t have to stop to think of what it was could you do next. Days spent going directly from meeting to meeting did not meet with her approval, as generally she was simultaneously bored and getting more behind schedule. After a month or so of having very little to do in the office, the increased workload was welcome, although the forecast suggested the weeks ahead would be at an insane pace.
Watching a couple of Babylon 5 espisodes (first season) in HD on the big new plasma television, she was very content. Although himself made snarky comments at first, somewhere in the second episode he started asking questions. He started paying attention to the dialogue. Yes, some of the plot elements were a little simple –but there is a lot of stage setting in these very early episodes. And when he heard some of the comments made by Kosh, he became very interested in the Vorlons. “The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.” Indeed.
The wedding cake tasting was nothing short of a disaster. It had been a perfect illustration of how many ways can a business can fail its customers. From the beginning, the order process did not match up to either the options she’d been told were available, and she received no confirmation email – even after waiting two full days. And then to discover they had knowingly shorted her order and not said anything although charging the full amount? Even if the cakes had been stunningly delicious, she probably would not have wanted to do business with them after that poor service.
It was a Sunday as they used to be – waking up together, spending the day quietly, doing much of nothing. As much as she loved it, she knew it was a false day – there was a lot that she should be doing, on general principle, but with no definite timeline in pace for the move, she was tired of packing just to get ahead of the curve. The summer was essentially over and they’d done nothing to truly enjoy the season. So Thursday night dinner at JTs and a lazy Sunday in August were enjoyable bookends to a longish weekend.
She struggled to initially write the paper a year ago, and then to re-write it again several months ago. Page count was a real bitch sometimes, but she had years of practice in distilling her normal rambling style to fit in a confined format. After hearing that the paper been accepted for publication through a very well-respected institution, she was pleased and slightly vindicated after the earlier rejection. Then reading the reviewer comments that were so very positive all around gave her a rush much like getting that first unreserved A from Professor Wickstrom all those years ago in college.
In the last week of August, every year now, she dreams of Dragon Con. It has been eight years since she last made the pilgrimage, but she remembers those three Cons quite vividly, each for different reasons. This year, the pull of DragonCon along with a full moon, and a celebrity list full of her favorite science fiction characters, a digital Daily Dragon with the latest announcements, and DragonConTV in full blossom is especially strong. Every year she toys with the idea of going: seriously, what else would she do to celebrate the end of summer over Labor Day weekend?
DragonCon is not a last minute, impulsive decision, it generally requires an early commitment to get a good hotel room. Reservations are made at least by April, maybe earlier, to get a room at the Marriot, the only place to stay, in her opinion. And every year when she first considers the option, the memory of the crowds nearly overwhelms her, and she says to herself, maybe next year. But it hasn’t happened for several years and she’s not getting any younger. And now, with a pool in the backyard, there is something else to do for Labor Day weekend.
She was exhausted after running full tilt at the office for two and a half days. There are busy times, and there are stupid- can’t- possibly- do– it- all stretches. She was firmly in the middle of one of those, and was going to have to travel right after Labor Day and then again the day before her birthday, returning home on her birthday. She’d really wanted a nice stretch of “reasonably busy” for the next few months after a few weeks of nothing much to do, but the nature of the business truly seemed to be feast or famine.
It was a blue moon. Truly. She found a tailor to make her wedding dress. Locally. Exactly what she’d been thinking of. It would be expensive, yes. But no settling for this color or that shape or the wrong material. After meeting with Tanya, discussing fabric choices, she did a little more searching, and discovered where she could order swatches from and less than twenty minutes and twenty dollars later, an assortment of lavender and purple silks was on its way to her. The largest problem of the wedding – solved. All in one day. It just took a blue moon.
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