13
Feb
12

popop noel

Months before his death and shortly after my Nana’s, I listened to my Popop talking with a fellow resident of the senior apartment housing where he had lived for the past few years.   Suddenly though, I listened as if for the first time and found myself in awe of a skill I had never really recognized in him before–his bilingualism.  Sure, he would joke around from time to time with us with a few Pennsylvania Dutch words, and I knew that they always used the language to yell  at each other over the table while playing cards when I was a kid.  However, here in the lobby, I listened as the two men moved flawlessly between English and Pennsylvania Dutch (or German, as the dialect actually is).  They wove together sentences in the two languages, changing on a dime, and just as seamlessly, flowing mid-sentence back into the other language.  I was reminded of my Latino students in the South Bronx, who wove together strands of English and Spanish like silver threads in a South American tongue, twinkling like silver bells on the tongue.  You were never quite sure where one language began and the next one ended.  Here before me were two elderly men with the same gift given by generations of Pennsylvania Germans who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania, farming the land and building communities.  Once a college friend who happened to meet my Popop even asked where he was from in response to hearing his  accented English.

In fact, my Popop, Willard G. Bachman, was born and raised in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania–and never in his 86 years lived anywhere else.  He knew the back roads of Lehigh County like a blind person knows her own home, and he often took us on adventurous Sunday afternoon drives over country dirt roads as my Nana yelled at him not to scratch the car!  He had leathery skin from years of working outdoors as an independent contractor–putting in windows, painting, concrete.  While his sense of business was weak, his care for the tools was painstaking.  I learned how to judge a good paintbrush from him and how to make sure it was thoroughly cleaned.  (However, despite his best efforts, I never quite succeeded in keeping my paintbrushes as ‘clean’ as his were when painting.)  This was during a two-week long adventure in painting my other grandfather’s house.  Two weeks.  Four grandparents.  One house.  It was at times as trying as it was rich.  I could only shake my head in wonder and exasperation when turning the corner to see both of my 80+ year old grandfathers trying to deal with scaffolding on their own!

Despite his impish appearance and everyone else’s delight at the “funny old man,” we in the family knew the truth.  He was a hard, racist, difficult person who consistently disrespected the women closest to him with ridicule, criticism, and contempt.  During a period of my adolescence, I remember hating him–hating the way he treated his family.   Of all of his expressions, the one I think of first is “don’t talk so dumb.”  His idea of asking for a drink at the table was to pick up his empty glass and wave it under your nose.  He pinched and poked his wife, and other females in his family.  He seemingly criticized almost everything: food, clothing, how one played cards.  It was a “do-it-right-the-first-time” philosophy, which left no room for failure or missteps.  (It wasn’t until about a year ago as I was reflecting on family stories with my aunt and uncle that I thought to ask if he had ever been more than just verbally and emotionally abusive.  As it turns out, there is one time in my aunt’s memory during which he came very, very close to breaking my Nana’s arm–all over her refusal to make him beets at 11 o’clock at night.  Had it not been for his son Larry, around 14 at the time, who stepped in and stopped him, things may have ended differently.)

Me and my Popop goofing around Thanksgiving 2008

For a long time I resented him and his behavior.  And then I made my own peace.  I learned to ask him what he wanted if he waved a glass at me, reminding him to use words if he needed something.  I learned to be goofy with him and deflect potential criticism through inane conversation.  I learned, ultimately, how to interact with him while maintaining and feeling respected.   I learned to make my peace.

In his last years, he developed Alzheimer’s which slowly left him more and more confused, unable to find his own apartment on his own, unable to drive, unable to remember answers to questions that were just asked, unable to play cards or follow suits.  So when my Nana died suddenly of a massive stroke in March 2011, my Popop’s universe was irreversibly shaken.  The woman with whom he had “for better or worse” spent over 65 years of his life–his single point of reference–was no longer there.  And in this brief period, I had a glimpse of a man I might have known.  A man softened and broken by grief.  As I sat next to him during the viewing preceding the funeral, he started telling me all about his son Larry, a son who had died suddenly of spinal meningitis at 21 years old.  An uncle I have never known except through limited stories and pictures.  To understand the enormity of this act is to understand that I have no recollection of my Popop ever talking about Larry, rarely evening metioning Larry, having a picture displayed of Larry.  From family stories, I know that when Larry died, they were told that they needed to move on.  There was no space and time for grief, no respect for emotions, and no allowance for asking for help.  So on the day of my Nana’s funeral, my Popop finally grieved–my Nana’s death the final tipping point perhaps of decades of loss and sadness swelling behind the floodgates.  I had never seen him cry, and I had never heard him talk, really talk, about Larry.  That day I bore witness to both.  He told me how smart Larry was, how good he was with technical things, and how he died.  I realized that I was sitting next to a broken man, a proud parent, who may have never once told his son how proud he really was of him.

The quietest of moments happened, however, as I said goodbye at the end of the weekend.  Going over to the armchair where he was sitting, I reached down and gave him a hug and told him into his ear that I loved him.  And for the first and only time in my life from this man, I heard the same words in return:  “I love you, too.”

Popop Noel and me (Christmases approximately twenty years apart–1982 and 2003)

Each family has its scars, often carved out away from public life in the privacy of their own homes. Recently, I have been reading the epic novel Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I was reminded of a passage early in the book as I sat down to write this post.  The narrator, a doctor, is commenting on his twin brother’s (also a doctor) perspective on surgery being about “fixing holes.”

But there’s another kind of hole, and that is the wound that divides family.  Sometimes this wound occurs at the moment of birth, sometimes it happens later.  We are all fixing what is broken.  It is the task of a lifetime.  We’ll leave much unfinished for the next generation.  (“Prologue – The Coming”)

To a lifetime of healing….

25
Nov
11

I’ll Fly Away

In January of 2010, I was standing in line with a fellow student at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, waiting to pass through security on our way to Mexico for a six-week internship.  As we were talking, the topic of grandparents arose.   Essentially the same age, we were years apart in our lives as grandchildren.  She had lost all of hers prior to her teen years; apart from my biological paternal grandmother who died when I was a baby, I still had all four of mine.  (My grandfather remarried about a year after his first wife’s death.  For stories on Grandma R____, Pug.)  She talked about how lucky I was to still have them all.  There were parts of me that wondered what she was talking about.  With one grandmother in the end stages of Alzheimer’s, unable to care for herself, verbally communicate, or even eat solid foods, and a grandfather on the other side of the family who was slowly heading down the same path, confused and befuddled by the cards in his hand for a game he used to criticize others for playing “so dumb,” I wondered if this friend of mine was right.  My other grandfather was increasingly losing his short-term memory to the extent that if I had spoken with him earlier that day, he wouldn’t remember having talked to me while chatting with my mom by phone that night. Watching so many lose their memories, awareness, independence seemed like anything but lucky to me.

So in early March this year my (step) grandmother finally passed away from years of Alzheimer’s.  Only weeks after that funeral I was awoken by the sobbing of my aunt M____ who thrust a phone into my ear at 7 a.m. only to the sounds of my mom also sobbing and the words: “Nana’s dying.”  It’s the second time in my life that I’ve been shaken awake by the wailing and drumbeat of death.  After recovering from my abrupt transition from sleep to wake, I learned that my Nana was in the hospital, connected to a breathing machine for comfort.  There was too much bleeding on the brain–nothing the doctors could do.  By the end of that day, she would fly away from us all.

It’s one of my favorite songs…we used to belt it out at Crossroads Chapel back in Michigan.  It’s a song about death that is infused with life.  This is how my Nana died.  Her death was quick and relatively painless; a major stroke that doctors posthumously believe took place over the course of two days.  She flew away to freedom.

wedding day, 1941

And while I mourn her loss in my life–after all, she was the only grandparent left who knew my name immediately–I felt that sense of “free at last.”  Born in the late 1920s, my Nana never quite completed high school, finding herself pregnant and married at 16 years old.  (It wasn’t until cleaning out the cubbyholes in the attic that my cousin and I came across the extended family tree and did the math on the difference between the marriage date and the birth of her oldest son.)  Probably trapped in a life she would not have otherwise chosen, she knew tragedy from a young age with the loss of her brother Q____ who was declared missing in action during World War II, and a mother who never quite overcame the loss.  Later, still shy of 40, she would bury her oldest son L______ who died of spinal meningitis while enlisted.  As a child, I remember accompanying her to his gravesite where she would replace a planter or take away the Christmas decorations.  She was, after all, a woman who loved her holiday decor and never ceased to acquire new trinkets for all seasons.

after my uncle dean's wedding...

Married to a difficult, domineering, and controlling man, my Nana was in many ways the epitome of perserverence and forever dedicated to her children and grandchildren.  Her life, for better or worse, was built on taking care of others: her husband, her children, her friends.  Whenever she came over to our house to visit, I remember her asking what there was to do.  You’d often find her ironing clothes, helping in the kitchen, even dusting.  Mostly, though, I remember her in the kitchen, preparing another meal or rolling out pie crust or coring strawberries.  As a teenager, I wanted to learn to cook the things I associated with her kitchen but was often at a loss when I was told that there wasn’t a recipe or that you just add “a dab of this” and “a little bit of that.”  Cooking was her homey art–not an exacting science.  She’s my favorite pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, homemade macaroni and cheese, pinwheel cookies, and corn fritters in the summer.  She loved her card clubs: the friends, food, and games.  And she was always ready to play another game–no matter how many times she’d suffered through Mouse Trap!  Summer vacations at my Nana and Popop’s house were full of good food, nights of Chinese Checkers and Parcheesi, breakfast at the local diner, daily interludes for “The Young and the Restless,” trips to the local farmers’ market or roadside food stands, and evening walks around the neighborhoods after the dishes were done.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I found many of us drawn to memories of Nana as seems natural given her powerful connection for us with food and family.  This year has presented me with five deaths: four grandparents and a board member for the nonprofit for which I work.  However, as I sat around the dining room table, I also realized that it’s been a year of celebrating those lives.  So I am grateful for life, and particularly tonight, a life that was shared with me for so many years and a woman who I grew to respect and admire more and more as each year passed.

I’ll fly away, Oh Lordy, I’ll fly away

When I die, Hallelujah by and by

I’ll fly away

04
Jul
11

a Tidioute triangle

There is a small town, a crossroads really, that sits quietly along the Allegheny River, just over the bridge connecting it to PA-62, a meandering back country highway that winds through the forested hills of northwestern Pennsylvania.  This sleepy, little town according to the 2010 census, is comprised of 724 people.

Gerry Wilson and Ruth Brocklihurst, Mother's Day 1943

Tidioute, Pennsylvania – a traffic light, a post office, a senior high rise, an ice cream shop.  And the hometown of my three grandparents.  Yes, three…as opposed to the other two.  Three who grew up in lil’ ol’ Tidioute on the banks of the Allegheny during the 30s and 40s.  Two best friends who pose, arm-in-arm for a photo.  School girls decked out in their dresses and shoes, their curled hair and nylon stockings.  Two best friends who would remain in contact for each others’ lifetimes.  Two who would marry the same man.

He said, “I love you, dearheart.  I love you so much.”  He said it repeatedly, daily, tenaciously.  He said it as a personal litany of love and commitment and care.  My grandpa who watched his second wife whither away, consumed from the inside out by Alzheimer’s disease.  My grandpa who saw her first become forgetful, depressed, angry…confused.  Who watched her lose language, lose the ability to walk, lose the ability to swallow liquids.  My grandpa who every day sat on the couch next to her–all to say “I love you.”  And then at last, at the beginning of March 2011, she was finally free.  The woman who Iknew as “grandma” my whole life was released from her useless body and mind.

While she is the only woman I knew as “grandma” on that side of the family,  in recent years I’ve found myself referring to her as Gerry, and my paternal grandmother as my grandmother.  Even so, I found myself startled to see printed in the obituary “step-grandchildren.”  It was the end of a confusing relationship for me….an ending that had begun years.   I’ve written previously about my paternal grandmother Ruth (about whom I’ve grown increasingly curious as an adult).  However, my relationship with the woman that I’ve known as grandma on this side of the family has challenged me.

Gerry Wilson and Ruth Brocklihurst, March 1, 1940

Gerry was my grandfather’s second wife.   Previously married, losing her first husband to cancer just months before my grandmother Ruth was killed in an automobile accident, Gerry grew to know my grandfather better as they both dealt with the losses before them.  Since Ruth died when I was just nine months old, Gerry is the only woman I’ve known as “grandma” on the Daelhousen side.  At least in the way we often call knowing–in having personal contact, relationship, and memory.  However, she would always refer to us as “Glenn’s grandchildren.”  It’s strange the extent to which children understand the distancing of language.  I think in many ways I always knew that in her mind we were more his than hers.  She and her first husband had never had children, and she herself was an only child.  Perhaps the lack of children was a decision made in part based on her cataplexy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataplexy), a neurological disorder that rendered her muscles useless at unsuspecting times. Because cataplectic attacks were often brought on when things got too “exciting,” she never played games with us and we were often reminded to quiet things down when conversation got too rambunctious around the dinner table.  It’s hard to bond with kids when you don’t/can’t play with them.  As I grew older, we butted heads over her sense of propriety in clothes and style.  She needed things just so: her hair, the house, her clothes.  There was a way one dressed when one went out.

As a kid staying with them for a week one summer, I remember that she bought tickets to see a production of “Annie” with me.  However, she insisted that I wear a dress, a request which I stubbornly refused.  I remember the showdown eventually involving my poor, exasperated grandpa who ultimately interceded on my behalf🙂  I am, after all, his only granddaughter!

Gerry Wilson

Later she would teach me a little about oil painting–a great hobby of hers.  The house is filled with many of her paintings.  In her seventies, she took up china painting.  Her work is everywhere in the house…the delicately painted flowers, the gold rim, the soft palette of color.  I like that about the visual arts.  A way that the artists saw the world stays with you when they’re gone.  It haunts the rooms of your house and gives you another chance to see the world the way they did.  My dad was a photographer by avocation.  His photographs are everywhere in my mom’s house.  They’re a reminder of what and how he saw–the way he always told me to “fill the frame.”  My artistry on the other hand moves.  It will not stand still enough to hang on someone’s wall when I am gone.  So while I’m here I’ll let it seep through each tendon and muscle to the rhythm of song bursting out of the radio in the car driving by.   I’ll feel my toes reach into the floor, sending deep roots down, loving the feeling of human contact, the power of stillness’ juxtaposition–being alive and present and free.  My art will not stand in a frame like those of my grandmother’s who keep me company when I use the bathroom or sit at the dining room table chatting with my grandpa.

And I will wonder–back before china painting, tidy houses, fashionable clothes, and things just so…. about the story I heard at her funeral—about her and my grandmother Ruth who used to catch worms and frogs and sell them to the fishermen to get some extra change for the local movie theater.  I will wonder about the tomboy I never knew.

15
Feb
11

at the crossroad of love and language

A friend of mine handed an email print out to me while I was visiting this past fall.  It was a poem that I had sent about four years ago, a poem that playfully uses grammar as a trope for love.  It’s my kind of love poem although Heather McHugh’s poem “Language Lesson, 1976” most definitely ties.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  -kd

 

Permanently
By Kenneth Koch

One day the Nouns were clustered in the street.
An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty.
The Nouns were struck, moved, changed.
The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence.

Each Sentence says one thing—for example, “Although it was a dark rainy day when
the Adjective walked by, I shall remember the pure and sweet expression on her face
until the day I perish from the green, effective earth.”
Or, “Will you please close the window, Andrew?”
Or, for example, “Thank you, the pink pot of flowers on the window sill has changed color
recently to a light yellow, due to the heat from the boiler factory which exists nearby.”

In the springtime the Sentences and the Nouns lay silently on the grass.
A lonely Conjunction here and there would call, “And! But!”
But the Adjective did not emerge.

As the Adjective is lost in the sentence,
So I am lost in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat—
You have enchanted me with a single kiss
Which can never be undone
Until the destruction of language.

 

03
Feb
11

a Valentine’s Day story for period 5

A few years ago, I was standing in a classroom as a first-year teacher, making all kinds of a typical novice’s mistakes…and then some.  They say that your first class is particularly special, particularly memorable.  Perhaps this is true, but I will have to let the years and time tell that story.  However, that particular cohort of students who I saw through two years of French had their own special magic as a group.  And one of those moments came out on our first Valentine’s Day together🙂  This story is theirs.

I’m not sure that the story was first fabricated on Valentine’s Day itself.  In fact, I suspect that it was the day before as excitement (and dread) filled the air over America’s holiday of “love.”  Conversation hearts, Hallmark cards, and the cliche dozen of roses leaving something to be desired for many.  However, on this day, somewhere in the middle of class, these students concocted such a far and away enduring story about my hot Valentine’s Day date.  I have no idea who started it, but suddenly French class had taken a turn and the students were elaborately telling each other that I had a hot date with a Frenchman who worked for AirFrance changing lightbulbs.  It’s not every that students come up with this level of detail–or absurdity–and I found myself doubled over with laughter.

What became so surprising was the longevity of the joke.  Weeks, months, and days later there would be sly side comments made about the status of our “relationship” if the lights weren’t working, and on a couple of occasions, I even wove the theme into fill-in-the-blank questions on their French quizzes.  The story remained in the wings, being pulled out from time to time for a few smiles.

A few years later, in early 2011, I was flying back to Pittsburgh from Omaha on Frontier Airlines.  I had just finished a few intense days of packing and shipping the remainder of my things and had brought a book on the plane to unwind.  As the cabin lights were turned off, I reached up to turn on my courtesy light.  I pressed the button once.  No response.  I pressed it again.  Still no response.  Before trying for a third time, I reached up to adjust the angle of the light and the glass covering came off into my hand.  I grinned.  And wondered where in the world my light-bulb-changing Frenchman was.  Suddenly, I could see their laughing faces–the ones of my students joking around about the fact that one of the rows of lights in the classroom wasn’t working.  This is a love story for period 5 and the memories that still make me smile.

29
Jan
11

the accident

They asked me what I remembered. I couldn’t tell them, really. Everything happens pretty fast when you’ve got your car set on cruise control riding at 65 mph. I remember waking up, turning the wheel, being completely out of control, being tossed by sheer force and landing upside down, suspended by my seatbelt sitting low across my hip bones–suspended from that webbed belt like a Cirque du Soleil dancer. I remember almost liking this sensation of simply hanging there…that moment just before reality set in. This is what I remember.

For years now, I have struggled with insomnia (and anxiety) which run together in vicious relays.  I’ve not slept more nights than I have bothered keeping track of.  I’ve had other nights where I finally fall into a restless sleep between three and four a.m.  Still others where I awake suddenly–anxiously– at five or six a.m. for no reason at all.  I’ve learned to accept sleep deprivation not out of my own willful choice to stay awake, but out of my body/mind’s current malfunction.  This is, of course, another story unto itself, but it gives background in understanding the tremendous irony in the accident.

On November 25th, 2010, I fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 80.  I could mince words, paint pretty prose, or try to gloss over it, but that fact remains.  The insomniac fell asleep at the wheel.  And this is how my memorable Thanksgiving began.

A correctional officer, T___, from the state of Illinois, witnessed the accident, and was the first person to respond at the scene. What I remember most in that moment was the fact that he gave me his hand. He reached out his hand. We often see symbols of hands grasping another’s–a symbol of compassion, outreach, unity. But some days it’s not a symbol, but a tangible hand–one that you have to hold in order to be safe, protected, reassured. Suddenly I was clutching his hand and tears started streaming down my face. By this time, many more people had stopped at the scene. And they guided me out of the driver’s side window (which no longer existed but save in a million shattered pieces on the ground).

I don’t know how long it was until I was put on the ambulance. Some off-duty doctors and EMTs had stopped, and two of them were taking turns holding my head still. They asked me questions, who I was, what the day was, where I was going, how old I was… I think I passed with flying colors. Coats and blankets from people’s cars appeared and were thrown on top of my body in an effort to keep warm despite the freezing ground. The day was crisp and cold with bright blue skies and a few puffy clouds. As I lay there, still, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I overheard a police officer asking anyone who wasn’t actively doing anything to please leave the scene. So many people had stopped along the side of the road that they feared causing another accident. And by this point, I had discerned that there was only one car involved–mine–and only one victim–me.

At last the ambulance arrived and the on call EMTs took over, slipping the neckbrace on, moving my shivering body onto a backboard, taping my head down, and sliding me into the back of the ambulance.  By this point, there was already a part of me enthralled with all the firsts: first car accident, first backboard, first ambulance ride.  Lucid and alert (and probably staving off shock), I joked around with the EMTs, asked them a thousand and one questions about what they were doing and why, answered their same questions for the umpteenth time.  Thus we all made our way to Guthrie County Hospital.

Once in the hospital I learned about one of the greatest inventions yet: heated blankets.  After yet another spinal, head, and over all physical, it was determined that there were no broken bones, and I was at last released from the backboard.  (The funny thing about backboards is while your head may not hurt when they first put you on one, by the time you hit the hospital the back of your head is throbbing!)  Hooked up to heart rate and blood pressure monitors, an IV saline solution piercing my right arm, I hung out in the hospital for the next few hours while they monitored me for signs of internal bleeding.

During this time, the correctional officer T___, who had first responded to the accident, arrived at the hospital like he had told me he would–complete with all my weekend belongings.  He arrived despite the fact that, like the other police officer officially working the case, he had been sent to another hospital 25 miles in the opposite direction.  Since my phone was lost, he helped work with me to find a way to contact family since my mom was at my aunt and uncle’s house and I didn’t have any memorized numbers to call.  Luckily, he found my little black book in my bag, full of addresses and a few phone numbers.  So he dialed my aunt’s number on his cell phone and placed the call.  What I forgot to warn him about is that he needed to start with “Kim is okay.”  There’s history in my family.  History of a car accident that stole the life of my paternal grandmother and put my father in the hospital.  So I listened as he introduced himself and simultaneously to my mom’s panic on the other end.

At last I was given a clean slate of health.  T___ had offered to drive me to my friend’s family’s house since it was on his way home to Illinois.  While the nurses in the hospital expressed their concern about releasing me to a complete stranger and a local police officer showed up to run a background check on T___ and talked to me himself, I decided to go with T__.  The fact of the matter is, when you’re on your own most of the time, you have to trust people.  And when you’re hanging upside down in your car by your seatbelt–you are at the mercy of others and of a sovereign God who sometimes graciously chooses to protect.  Just days before the accident, a friend from Geneva had ended an email with

Je te souhaite beaucoup des rencontres encouragent sur la route et un ange à tes côtés qui te protège.  [Wishing you many encouraging encounters on the road and an angel at your side to protect you.]

The words ended up being more prophetic than I had known at the time.  On Thanksgiving day, I was reminded of how powerful it is to be alive, to be able to walk and move freely, to see color and breathe in the sharp cold air of winter.  Three weeks shy of my thirtieth birthday toward which I had been rather irritable, I was reminded of what I had.  Turning thirty with no job, no home, no boyfriend, no real sense of place had seemed to me a depressing affair–particularly as friends scattered across the country and even world were settling into careers, marriages, families…life.  (And in writing this, I give nod to those who like me are still looking.)  I felt stranded somehow–caught in the grip of a milestone year that felt like anything less than a milestone.  However, November 25th, 2010 reminded me that reaching thirty was its own gift–a gift coupled with a healthy, active body and plenty of possibilities in 2011.  My twenties have been bookended with challenges: the death of my father a little over a month after my 21st birthday and a major car accident weeks shy of my thirtieth.  And these are part of my story–one that continues to be written daily.  I can joke about the accident now, thanks to time and space, the shedding of tears, and the lack of injury–or as my eldest cousin put it:  I’m glad you weren’t seriously injured so we can joke about it.

So here’s to the literal off-road adventure in my travels and a heart of deep gratitude to all those who responded both in presence and spirit.  Once upon a time, there was a young woman who fell asleep at the wheel and lived to tell about it….

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22
Nov
10

at the crossroad

I haven’t written in a while.  For a reason.  In fact, I haven’t been traveling much either.  Perhaps the greater purpose of a road trip is not to see the world but to learn to listen to oneself–one’s body and mind–and honor it.  And I came to this critical point a couple of weeks ago where the signals were pretty loud and clear; I couldn’t keep moving.  Because when you can’t sleep (or don’t sleep well) night after night, you don’t enjoy the exploration anymore, you don’t enjoy the time with your friends, and frankly, you don’t feel as safe behind the wheel of a car!

So all of the uncertainty of where I would end up spun out of control, and as there really weren’t any concrete possibilities come January by mid-November, I decided to stay in Omaha where I’m living with one of my good college friends (and with another close friend just a three-hour drive away….which in U.S. distance is super close!)

I’m staying because I need some grounding, because I’ve become so bounced around in the wind that I have no sense of rest anymore, because this is ultimately for me.  During my original stay in Omaha, I had already touched base with a couple of good yoga teachers and other professionals.  Plus, I have a good (and grounded) friend here and the space to stay, and, while there’s not a lot of tango (my first choice in forms of meditation :)), there is a little bitty group as well as other active dance communities in the area.  In fact, just this past weekend, I attended an east coast swing dance on Friday evening and a 3-hour lindy hop crash course the next afternoon.  And when not dancing or doing yoga or watching tango or west coast swing videos on YouTube, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking.  Because you have a lot of extra free time on your hands when you’re unemployed and finding a job (any job) these days is not as obvious as it seems.

So the journey continues, at least on a personal level–if not against the great, geographic American landscape.  And I’m learning more about the Midwest along the way–and my own sense of East coast bias :)  Plus there will be Thanksgiving this year on my friend’s grandparents’ farm in Iowa with her whole family and hopefully a trip to the Badlands in the Spring.  The road continues to bend in unexpected ways, I guess, as long as we continue to have the courage to walk forward.

November 22, 2010

Omaha, Nebraska




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