adventure, childhood, connections, friends, kids, life, life goes on, memories, photography

Old friends…

There was, after all, a lot to lose. My most treasured memories stem from the neighborhood that I lived in from ages 4 to 9. It doesn’t look at all the same now, it seems to have shrunk. I know this because I drove past it this weekend. I was there to visit with my lifelong best friend, but also to spend a little time at ‘home’. But there was also the fact that a few months ago my sister contacted my constant partner in crime from back in those days. It was a fluke that she spotted him online, and once she messaged me that she had contacted him I was tempted to contact him, but also a little afraid. All my life, it seems, when I would roll out a favorite memory of mine, my mother would jump in and insist that I had it all wrong. I would see it perfectly clearly in my head, but be told that I was wrong. Then when my daughter got to be about 12 or so I found myself in the same situation, my memories being corrected by my daughter. Clearly my memory was suspect. To my mind, back then we were like the kids in the Charlie Brown cartoons, with parents who were vaguely in the background. We were free, to climb trees, and swing on a rope swing out over the river, and there was even a garage roof we used to jump off of, grabbing a young tree trunk that would bounce us up and down a few times before we let let go, and then we would climb back onto the roof to do it again. I don’t recall sneaking to do these things, it was just what we did. If our parents knew it seemed to be okay. Even when my shoe fell off as I rode the rope swing over the river, I only remember watching it float away, I don’t remember going home to confess.

So making contact ran the risk of ruining those memories I’ve hung onto for all these years. To be told I was wrong, or, worse, to be greeted with a blank stare. But from my sister I did know that he remembered us, that much was a plus. But still it took me a month of thinking about it to actually message him, and over the weekend we were finally together. It is at least 60 years later, and those years most definitely have taken their toll on us both, but that cherished connection was still there. I think all the kids who grew up in that neighborhood in the 50s remember it the exact same way. It was a perfect time to be a kid. I thought we ought to climb a tree, but instead we talked, and talked, and talked some more. He told my sister that I was the first girl he ever kissed. I don’t think we said goodbye 60 years ago, we were still so young. But we kissed goodby this time, that same sort of kiss as from 60 years ago. He laughed and said that now I’m the first and also the last girl he’s ever kissed. I still think that next time we meet we ought to climb a tree…4-9Nausetlight

adventure, childhood, coping, courage, finding my way, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, photography, unintended consequences

Rolling back the clock…

I suppose there are endless ‘what if’ scenarios I could play out in my head, especially at 69 years old. Lots of water under the bridge, over the dam, forks in the road, and many more cliche phrases apply. But there is something about being alone at this stage of life that has me thinking, wondering, about the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. How did I spend so many years ‘under the influence’ so to speak? I was a spunky little kid. My cousin and I once decided to go for a walk, and set off, a 5 and a 4 year old, having an adventure. We were spotted by a woman who I think chatted with us as we passed her chain-link fenced yard. The next thing I knew there was a policeman on the scene, asking us who we were and where we were going. My cousin must have been much more polite than I was because she told the policeman everything he wanted to know. Not me though. I was mad. I wasn’t lost, and I certainly wasn’t finished having my adventure, so I wouldn’t tell him a thing. But since I lived upstairs from my cousin that was a bit of a moot point. I don’t remember the upshot, what my parents had to say about it, I only remember the woman, the fence, and how mad I was.

I just love that little kid that I was. But I have to wonder, when did I lose her? How did I let her go and never notice that I had done just that? That memory, and there are more from when I lived in that house and was that spunky kid, all date back to before I went to school. Is that when I started worrying about what other people thought, and doubting myself? By the time I hit high school I was quite sure that I didn’t measure up in any way, and spent most of my mental energy on trying to make sure that no one else knew just how out of it I was. I never expressed an opinion, practiced a go-with-the-flow attitude, got married young to hide from the bra-burning women’s libbers who seemed to be saying that I shouldn’t want a marriage and family, which is exactly what I told myself that I wanted, mostly because I thought of it as ‘safe’. Don’t misunderstand, I really was happy, found myself living all over the country and thought that was quite the thing. Enjoyed the heck out of raising my kids, and appreciated the accomplishment of raising them to be the people I’d hoped they’d be. And at work with Charley I had a position of authority that I enjoyed, but I also was aware that I hadn’t earned it as much as I had married into it. It wasn’t a bad life at all, so why am I so unsettled now?

I am an old lady who, now that I am alone for the first time since I was very young, finds myself relating more to the little kid that I was than to all the years in between. No one hijacked my life, I willingly participated. But now what? If you thought that I was going to wind this up with some sort of brilliant conclusion you’d be wrong. All I do know is that I have a vague notion of heading ‘home’ this summer, back to the people and places that I find myself thinking of so fondly. Back to where I was a spunky little kid with my whole life ahead of me…spunky.jpg

blessings, childhood, connections, coping, death, family, finding my way, grief, healing, life, life goes on, marriage, memories

Lost and found…

I’ve been up since 2 AM, thinking. About a lot of things, but mostly about Charley. Thinking back to when I met him. I was talking with my aunt and uncle the other day and I told them that when I met Charley I had the most overwhelming sense of re-connecting to someone I already knew, someone I treasured and had lost track of. I had found someone who had been missing. And what popped out of my mouth next was something that hadn’t occurred to me in the entire 34 years we were married. That person was… me!

It was the Italian thing. Funny since Charley wasn’t Italian, but he may as well have been. His mother had been raised in an Italian neighborhood in Baltimore, and his step-father was Italian. The first place that we went together was an Italian deli in Baltimore, Trinacria’s, and when he opened the door and I walked in I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of the place. I had just walked into my grandmother’s kitchen, or so you’d think by the smell. That he ripped off the end of the loaf of Italian bread and handed it to me was such a familiar gesture. Something lost was found. I was whole again.

Thank you Charley…

adventure, childhood, photography, Pine Island, silliness, simple things, sky, unintended images

Widget’s tale…

After two cold, rainy, and entirely dreary days, it was almost startling to see some blue sky that afternoon, but still lots of clouds. Clouds that just might be lit up by the sunset. I hadn’t been out for the sunset at Pine Island in quite a few days, so off I went. I complained when the wind wasn’t there the other day, and the no-see-ums were there, well, the wind was back, in spades. The clouds had been blown almost entirely away and the seagulls kept taking to the air, and flying nowhere. They couldn’t make headway against that wind.

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And that wind, well, the seagulls weren’t the only ones who struggled with it. Don’t I always say that Pine Island never disappoints? That the people I meet are just as important to me as the sunsets? Well, we can now add elves to that list, or, one elf at least. His name is Widget, and he had quite the tale to tell…

Widgets mission
It seems he had been chosen by Santa for a very special mission, one that had taken him to Hawaii. It was hard work training those elf recruits, so before he left Hawaii he earned a chance to relax on the beach…Widget gets some sun

But then a huge gust of wind blew across the beach, and Widget found himself flying through the sky.  All he could see were all the seagulls who were also being blown in the wind with him.  He was flying and flying, and he was very scared, but mostly because he didn’t know if he would ever see his boy Jonah again.  He just wanted to go home.

Widget touches down

There were hardly any people on Pine Island on that cold and windy evening.  But lucky for him Jonah’s mommy was one of the people there on the beach, and we all saw him as he flew through the air, and landed with a thud, and we ran to see if he was okay.  He didn’t care that he was cold, or that he was covered with sand, he said he just wanted to go home.  And then he smiled…

Widget's selfie

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birds, childhood, Florida wildlife, fun, kids, moments, nature, photography, Pine Island, sunset

The girl in the pink shirt…

Whenever I go out for the sunset I honestly don’t know what photos will make their way into the camera.  How could I have known that this little girl and her dad would be at Pine Island last night?  Or that they would be by themselves across the beach?

I was by myself also, standing alone and in plain sight, with my camera pointed at them and clicking away.  The dad was looking in my direction at least, I have to assume that he realized that I was taking pictures of them.  I planned to ask him if I could send him some, but later on when I looked for them I didn’t see them.  It would have been hard to miss that little one in the pink shirt, so I suppose they didn’t stay for the sunset.  She made my night…

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