Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

This phrase usually carries a negative connotation to suggest that our past sins will come back to haunt us or sneak up to pounce on us from behind. In light of recent happenings in my life, a new meaning is making me revise my understanding of this saying.

Last week-end, I was reunited with a classmate from my adolescent past, thanks to the magic of Facebook. Actually, this friend was looking for Phil, hoping that my last name meant I was now married to his old friend. As we corresponded through Facebook, and I looked up his photograph in the high school yearbook that I keep next to my computer, I remembered this guy, although rather fuzzily. I recalled that he had dated my best friend, who was very popular and outgoing, and maybe that was the association. It couldn’t have been through Phil, because during those days we were church youth group buddies and not even attending the same school, and we spent more time picking at each other at church activities than anything else. Besides, after moving from Decatur, I didn’t see or hear from Phil for over twenty years.

When I mentioned this guy’s name to Phil, his face lit up, and he immediately began telling me stories about his youth and young adult days and how this new person, now my Facebook Friend, and he had become fast friends. I was so curious, I could hardly stand it. The two of them met for breakfast within the week, and then we invited him over to our house for dinner on Sunday.

This is not the only old friend I have caught up with through Facebook, but this is one who had a connection with both Phil and me, although separately. After a delightful dinner on Sunday evening sitting at our kitchen table, we three knew that several decades had evaporated before our eyes as memories of high school and beyond bubbled to the surface and the links became stronger.

As I look back at my teen-age years, I see myself as a shy girl, who was often considered a snob. It wasn’t that I wasn’t friendly, but that I was very unsure of myself, and as a result I was wrapped up in how I looked, what I wore, and what activities I was involved in. Sometimes I think that I missed out on a lot, just because I was so very self-absorbed. I never knew that this particular person, now back in my life, remembered me or knew who I was. Then yesterday, I got a huge surprise. He called me on the phone and asked me if the town of Safety Harbor meant anything to me. It had popped into his mind after our dinner together. Of course it did - that was the town we moved to when we left Decatur. He said that he remembered writing letters to me after I moved. Searching my memory, I vaguely remember this, as well. There were a few Decatur people who kept up with me for a short time, with whom I corresponded for awhile, and it had meant a lot to me in those lonely days in a new place.

It makes me pause to think. Maybe I wasn’t such a snob after all, if a teen-age boy thought enough of me to write letters to me after I moved from the town that was home to me. It also brings to mind “what goes around comes around.” Those connections we made as kids are still out there, just waiting for the opportunity to jump up and surprise us.

But it’s in a good way.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wedding Rings and Old Men

Now that I am baking bread on a regular basis – about three times a week- I’ve made a new discovery about myself. The only relation this has with bread is that I take off my wedding band to knead my bread.

Not that this is a big Ah-haa moment in itself. I tuck my ring into a safe place in my kitchen (one of my three logical places) while I am making my bread. What I find fascinating are the interesting encounters I make along my way if I don’t remember to put the ring back on before going out somewhere.

Old men are flirting with me. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But then it dawned on me. Old men look for wedding bands. When they don’t see one, it’s open season for them to flirt. The discovery I’ve made is that these old men aren’t necessarily looking for beautiful young women, but for women in their own age group. Interesting, now that I know what’s going on.

Yesterday at the grocery store when I was checking out, a gray-haired (maybe a few years older than me) gentleman was bagging my groceries. He struck up a conversation with me about the beautiful day and what a nice Spring we are having. Then he took the dive – he asked me if I lived nearby. At first, I didn’t realize what was going on. But as I was talking to him, I noticed that he kept looking at my left hand. No ring- I had just finished baking two loaves of bread before going to the store. He proceeded to tell me that he was a widower and was working at the store part-time now that he was retired. Since it was mid-morning, I'm sure that he assumed I was retired, too, and single. When he offered to wheel my buggy to my car for me, I politely refused, causing a stricken look to appear on his face. Rejection! Oh my, I should have put my wedding band back on before going to the store.

Something similar to this has happened three times in the past week. What is revealing to me now as I look back at these men is that I see that they could have been my high school classmates. Of course, I haven’t aged in forty years, but they sure have. Or maybe I have. Which is why they are flirting with me. Second Oh My!! And second Ah-haa!

I think I’ll start making a point to put my ring back on as soon as the bread comes out of the oven.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Four-Leaf Clovers

Today while Diamond and I were out walking down one of our country roads, I glanced down at the ground to see a four-leaf clover smiling up at us. As I leaned down to pick it, my eyes spotted five more right there in the same clover patch.

This is nothing new for me. Diamond is used to pausing in our walks whenever we pass a clover patch, so that I can check to see if there are any four-leaf ones. Usually, I spot at least one while on our walks; today was a windfall.

I don’t know if they bring me good luck or not. The three I found yesterday didn’t help me any in the Powerball game last night. My lucky numbers weren’t lucky at all. I also haven’t found a job yet, although I have to admit I don’t consider this a lack of luck at this point in time. But there is something about finding a four-leaf clover that makes me feel happy, and as I felt the cool breeze on my neck and the sun on my face today and looked up at the crystal blue sky, I knew that I was much more than lucky.

Four-leaf clovers have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Here is an excerpt from my book about a day in a little girl’s life watching over her clover patch. As I remember this day from my childhood, I think about yesterday’s walk when I watched the county mower making its way down the shoulder of one of our roads. I had the same feeling as I did as a child, grieving over all the four-leaf clovers that were being chopped up!

Clovers and Dandelions

Our front yard on Winnona Drive was not a landscaper’s dream. While my mother had beautiful flower gardens adorning the front of the house, the lawn would probably rank in the “desperately needs improvement” category. Our lawn did have grass, but not the smooth carpet as some or our neighbors’ yards. I don’t know if this was due to my dad’s seemingly lack of concern over its appearance, whether he was simply too busy to devote much time to cultivating a beautiful lawn, or if perhaps there was another reason.

I didn’t help matters much in the way our yard looked. What was my involvement in this wonderful world that was our front yard? I loved flowers, not only those that my mother so painstakingly planted and cared for, but clovers and dandelions were my all-time favorites. I could sit for hours in a clover patch searching for four leaf clovers and making clover blossom chains, which would become my jewelry of necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and belts. These items of jewelry were also special gifts for my mother to wear, and they accented beautifully her housedress and apron she always wore while doing her housework. After the blossoms withered and dried out and were no longer lovely pieces of art, I would carefully pluck the brown blossom remnants and broadcast clover seeds across the lawn in hopes of enlarging my beloved clover patch.

I also encouraged the growth of dandelions. I would watch the yellow dandelion blossoms and guard them until they transformed to white beards of fluff. Many wishes were made as I picked the dandelions to blow on them, sending their seeds on the wind of my breath across the yard. I can even remember picking dandelions from other yards and taking them home with me to make my wish!

I sat on the front steps of my house, crying my heart out while watching my father walking behind the old push mower, pushing and pulling it across my clover patch, chopping all the four leaf clovers I hadn’t found yet, and crushing all the little white flowers and yellow dandelion blossoms.

Now, so many years later, as I view this picture from the album of my memories, I wonder if our front yard was indeed the victim of a man who didn’t seem to be concerned with its appearance. I choose to believe that it was instead a world of wonder for a little girl, and if there was a victim, it was a father who couldn’t bear the tears of his child who was sitting on the steps watching the destruction of her beloved clovers and dandelions.