Sunday, February 26, 2012

I came home today after eight days on business, during which I spoke for the first time in front of a 100+ crowd. I clicked along my powerpoint pointer, got a few laughs, and became flustered when a photographer came too close. When it was over, I sat down with an adrenaline rush that lasted until....4 days later. It's been a long week. I say that knowing there is no way to put into words the amount of physical and mental brainpower that went into pulling off the week past of 37,000+ attendees at our conference, and the thrill that came from knowing I'm working toward something with meaning and purpose.

But nonetheless, eight days is eight days, and that's a long time to be away and to be "on" -- to have that smile, button the suit jacket, extend the hand and shake. On the plane back tonight, I alternated between reading a major federal regulation that dropped a few days ago, and sleeping. I woke up feeling disoriented, and turned on my cell to find out very sad news. A long-ago friend had died in a tragic accident, and my hands literally shook when I read the news. I looked out the window for a few long minutes and tried to catch my breath, then gathered my bags and walked off the plane.

At baggage claim, I watched a toddler fling herself into the arms of her mother and I kept walking as my eyes filled with tears. I have a wonderful life and a host of loved ones, but every now and then my breath catches with what I don't have. Age has taught me that instead of counting my blessings one-by-one and feeling guilty, I have to just feel what I feel and not apologize for it. I heard their loud greetings and laughter as I rode the elevator, and I shook my head against an impending spiral-down, centered, sighed, and carried on.

I alerted my favorite people via text that I had landed, and rode home in a cab in silence. I watched the lit-up monuments slide past my window as I tapped a forefinger on the glass silently to greet them. "Hello again, there you are; and here I am."

I live in the middle of a fairly popular place in DC to eat, socialize, etc. Tonight as my cab made its way, I noticed the familiar black Escalades and saw that certain side streets had been cleared. I knew what this meant -- El Presidente was near. I didn't think much of this, since I didn't assume he was hanging out in my living room and that's the only place I wanted to be.

We arrived, and the cabbie hauled my giant suitcase to the ground. I grabbed it, and started pulling it around the corner to a local corner store so I could grab a cheap bottle of wine and a frozen pizza (for cash only) from a local owner that I knew would be watching re-runs of America's Funniest Home Videos and laughing like a crazy person over them. I left the store, pulled my fleece jacket tighter around me, and headed for home.

To my left -- I saw her. Michelle Obama was sitting in a presidential (I would assume) vehicle and I guess had just come from eating at a restaurant on my block. I was tired and little heart-broken, along with wanting, needing, uncertain...all of those adjectives that don't exactly add up to being your most gracious neighborhood host.

And yet, I did something I almost never do. I raised my hand in a half wave/ half-salute. I didn't know what else to do.

We looked at each other for a second, and then she raised her hand back to me. I wonder what I must have looked like to her -- a native in stretchy pants and a blue fleece sweatshirt and red eyes from crying. She watched me for at least an hour (fifteen seconds) and that was that. The car left and she was gone, and I was still standing there. The entire encounter couldn't have been more than two minutes.

Sighing, I picked up my two bags and grabbed my suitcase handle, and turned back to my house. My way-upstairs neighbor hollered at me "welcome home!" from the party he was having on the roof and rose a beer to me. I smile and waved back. Hello again -- there you are.

Here I am.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My life these days

Can be summed up by the few words just spoken by our company Vice President to the team: "Every day here, we have a wonderful opportunity to work on our problem-solving skills."

AKA...every day here, we light our hair on fire and run around hysterically. Major convention happening next week. More attendees registered than the population of my hometown -- 36,000 and counting.

My hair's on fire, but at least it lets me see the light.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Ties That Bind

Yesterday, when I logged on to Facebook, I noticed that along the left sidebar, there were four profiles that appeared at the very top of my friends list. If you view your Facebook homepage, your friends are starting to list along that side. They rotate and shuffle their order randomly, so each time I hit refresh, a new sequence appears.

These four people were on the very top of my 300ish "friends" that range across the spectrum of this widely cast net that has encompassed my life so far. These four friends were as follows:

Maggie May

Angie M

Bethany M

Katie Granju

I had to stop and register this for a moment. You see, all four of these women I have never met (save one). And yet, all four of these women have changed my life, even still.

The entire time I've kept this blog, I figure I have a maximum of ten readers. I keep my little circle small, rarely letting in anyone in my "real" life, and I've done this now for about four years. Yet despite this, on a rainy Saturday, I am shown that the women I know only through this blog and and the lives I've shared with them throughout every day that have added up to weeks and months and years IS real life.

Over the last 4-5 years, I have read Maggie's writings with my breath literally held, lest she take it away with the things she writes. I watched her kids grow into teenagers, her miscarriage, her pregnancy, Ever's birth. I have read Angie's powerful essays, and have gotten the chance to meet this wonderful woman and her family in Oregon when I was passing through. That was my first experience actually meeting a blogger-friend, and it was excellent. I watched Bethany climb through a breakup, keeping her house, nurturing her pets, and growing by leaps and bounds (even if she doesn't know it, she has.) I watched as all three of them became integral parts of my life.

I watched as Maggie led me to Katie Granju -- whom I "met" after her son Henry passed away, and I watched with increasing outrage as her and her son's story was met with dismissal by authorities. I watched as she began a non-profit, Henry's Fund, for her son, I watched as she had her fifth and last baby, and I've watched how she has continued to fight and breathe and work and I've watched all this in awe. I watched Katie's sister Betsy take the Henry's Fund helm and try to bend and shape the lump of clay into something full of meaning and beauty.

I watched as Betsy struggled to honor her nephew that she loved like a son, and I knew that unique place from which she came, having loved and continue to fiercely love my own nieces and nephews. I know that love. I wrote a little note to Betsy one day, offering to help with Henry's Fund. A few months later, I got to hug her neck, and many more months later, we've formed a friendship that means we can answer the phone with each other while in the bathtub and I can start sentences like "Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but..."

These connections would never, ever have been without this blog, without these words.

My words, your words. Connections that form and grow, then begin to weave to lead to entangled lives, and all of a sudden you look up and realize that it is impossible to say that no, we haven't met.

I know you.

You know me. You know the deepest desires of my heart; you know what makes me tick. I am awfully honored to share in your company.

Write on.

-- SBJ