Turtle's Progress

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Geometry of Life

Have you ever noticed how we often use geometrical terms to describe our lives or how our lives intersect (see!) with others? I have been thinking about this lately and thought it might be interesting to look at it a little further.

There is a certain symmetry between my life and the lives of both of my daughters. Erin and I both married military men just five months before our 21st birthdays and took off to travel far from our homes. We both gave birth to our first child (girls) about five years later and became stay-at-home moms. Both of my daughters were military kids who lived all over the world for the first 12 years of their lives before we finally settled in Alabama. Somehow, Meghan’s life also fell in step with mine when she made the decision after college to move to California. At 21 years old she returned to live and work in the same California county I had left nearly a quarter century earlier. She first lived with her grandparents in the same home I had moved from so long ago. Where Erin is living parts of the life I actually had, Meghan is probably living the life I would have lived had I not left California.

Erin and her best friend, Samantha, seem to be living parallel lives. Not in the sense that their lives don’t intersect because they certainly do, but because they are so similar. They are both Early Childhood Educators, married to Air Force Officers who teach at the Air Force Academy, live blocks from each other, and gave birth to their first children (daughters) in October of last year. They met through their husbands about five years ago and began to see the similarities in their lives right off. Joyce and I also saw lots of parallels in our lives when we first met so many years ago – we had the same birthday, we were California women married to southern men, we loved to shop in thrift stores, our children were the same ages.

Some people’s lives seem to be a circle. They start out in one place (geographical or otherwise), move far from that place, and often end up right back where they started. My friend, Judy, has lived such a life. Living in rural Alabama during the “Jim Crow” south, her mother wanted more for her only child and sent her to a boarding high school in North Carolina. From there Judy went to college in California and moved into the corporate world in New York where she became a prize-winning writer, magazine editor, and radio talk show host. She lived her adult life in the “Big Apple” but as she was about to turn 50 she found herself back in Alabama becoming her mother’s caretaker. Just as her mother loved her enough to send her out of the life she would have lived if she had stayed in Alabama, Judy loved her mother enough to return to that life when her mother needed her the most. Her mother died a few years ago but Judy has remained and made a life for herself here in Alabama. A life in the same place she had left so long ago but far different than what it would have been had she not made the big circle away and then back again.

My sister, both of my daughters and I form what we call our “Circle of Trust”. If one of us knows something, then the others will soon know as well. When I told my daughters about my melanoma and my sister found out from one of them rather than from me, I got an immediate call… what’s going on? how are you doing?... If one of us gets good news, it’s good news for all of us, and any concern for one of us is a concern for all of us.

Triangles are a pretty obvious and well-used geometric analogy, usually in a negative way. We hear about, see, and live “love triangles” in abundance. But triangles can be seen in other relationships as well. If my children had just one friend come over to visit when they were young things just seemed to be out of balance – somebody was always being left out and feelings were hurt.

And sometimes the same point on the line of life can lead people in different directions. In the fall of 1973 at the party my family gave to celebrate my upcoming marriage and moving away, my Uncle Jerry pulled me aside to tell me that no one knew yet but he was about to end his marriage.

Many things about the “geometry of life” might be chalked up by some to be mere coincidence but if I remember my geometry book correctly I think that it means something geometrical when things “coincide”…..

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Lost In (a parking) Space" Junkies

My husband Tom and I are hooked on the television show "Lost". Not to the point that we try and figure out every clue that is given, and go to websites to see what others have figured out, but we like to watch it week by week just to see what is happening. When we aren't together on Wednesday nights we tape it and watch it later when we are together. For two weeks worth of Wednesdays I was in Colorado visiting EBS (Erin Brent Sarah) and he was "working" in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He had set up the VCR to tape the two weeks we would be gone. Last Saturday night we were finally back together, settled into our awesome recliners and ready to watch the tape. First week was fine, but the second week didn't tape at all -- apparently Anniston had some thunder storms, the house lost power and we lost "Lost".

We decided to go on-line and see if ABC would offer any hints about what had happened. To our amazement they did better than we ever imagined -- we could watch any past episode we wanted on the internet! Hurray! Well.... hurray if you have DSL... with a dial-up modem it could not be done! Not to be outdone by the lack of technology I get the bright idea to head over to "hotel row" in neighboring Oxford and try to hook into any hotel offering free wireless internet on Tom's laptop computer. Sounds good to him, so off we go! We are looking forward to watching our show in the car just like in a "drive-in".

We first tried Jameson, the connection was "good" but not good enough to allow us to view past the first few lines of the first scene. Not to be thwarted we drive on to the Holiday Inn Express, again it's "good"... Hampton, Wingate, and back to Jameson. By parking right next to the office in the Jameson parking lot we were able to get a connection that was "excellent" but STILL the stupid computer would not let us get past the first scene. After driving from parking lot to parking lot for about an hour (and actually NOT having the Oxford Police called on us) we gave up!!! Went to Cracker Barrel to drown our sorrows in apple pie and blackberry sundae, and ended up at home reading the script on another internet site.

I have to apologize to my sister who called my cell phone asking for parenting advice in the midst of our trying to make our connection. I was much more interested in getting my "Lost" fix than talking to anyone (even if your kid is having trouble in school -- hey we're talking "Lost" here!) Sorry, Lori! I know I have a problem, and I'm trying to deal with it. I promise to comment on every entry on your Blog (www.grimes4.blogspot.com ) if you will forgive me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

An Offer on the House

Yesterday we had an offer on the house. Tom just called them back and told them we would take it. It is only a bit less than our asking price but that is what we expected when we put it up for sale. It is contingent on the buyers selling their house in Florida but they certainly seem to want our house. They asked us not to put it on "For Sale By Owner.com" and said they would be putting all of the money in our hand when they sell their house. Another interesting thing about these buyers, apparently they talked with someone in Florida who had some sort of "vision"... this person told them that the house they found in Alabama would have columns in the front (check!), some sort of water in the back (pool, check!), a building in the back for a garden shed (check!), and a red kitchen (check!).... There are probably lots of houses in Anniston that would have those things but ours is the one they saw and they want!

So now I'm moving my focus from getting the house ready to sell to getting things packed up. I spent the first twenty years of my adulthood moving from dwelling to dwelling and trying hard to make each one a home. I know I'm up to the task! But in each one of my previous moves it was all done by professionals hired by the military. Sure, I had to get everything ready for the move but the actually packing and hauling was done by others. This time Tom and I are going to try to save some money and pack everything ourselves and then have the professionals move it all. I just suggested to him that maybe each time he works in Nashville and drives up from here for the week he should fill the car with the boxes we've packed and put them in a storage space up there. He thought it was a good idea so I guess next week we officially start moving up to Nashville. I'm looking forward to this new adventure!

On another note, I wish anybody "lurking" out there in the blogosphere would leave a comment. I would love to reconnect with family and friends and new friends who might be reading Turtle's Progress . I know that since Margaret read my blog at Uncle Chuck's memorial there might be some family that are reading it. Let me know. I hate that I couldn't be at the memorial to see family there but I'd like to be back in touch and the internet makes it pretty easy. All you have to do is click on the "comments" link (it says 2 comments, or 3 comments, etc), type what you want to say, sign it, click annonymous user if you don't have a blog of your own or don't want to create an account, and publish it! Love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

As much as I have enjoyed the past two weeks with the Cobb family, tomorrow I will head east and back to my life. I know that anyone reading this who has ever had to leave a grandchild will know exactly how hard this is going to be. Sarah has gotten to know me and responds to my voice and presence as soon as I walk into the room (maybe she will miss me a little too?) I can't seem to get enough of her. Even if all I'm doing is watching her from across the room, or listening to her speak her own private language on the baby monitor. And watching Erin and Brent with her has been a delight. Brent comes home from work and her face beams at the first ssound of his voice. Erin talks to me from another room while I give Sarah her bottle and Sarah stops and turns her head to listen and wait for her mama to enter. This little family is in love and it has been wonderful to share in that love for the past 12 days.

Tomorrow it is back to reality. By Friday I will be back home. The "For Sale" sign will be back in the yard and I will need to start packing up the house for the big move. I'm excited about the prospect of getting all of that underway, but have enjoyed this two week interlude of playing with "my" baby!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Drama Person

Today is my dear nephew Jared's 27th birthday. He was born in 1979 six months after my daughter, Meghan, and a year before my daughter, Erin. During their childhood these three cousins had a love-hate relationship. The first time they all spent any time together Meghan was 19 months, Jared 13 months, and Erin a newborn. He and Meghan played some but Jared was not a happy camper -- he wanted his mama and I was not her. He let me know that right away. Through the years until they were in their early teens these three saw each other on a semi-regular basis when we would visit from our Navy assignments in various parts of the world. They would be slow to warm-up to each other but would eventually enjoy playing together, creating memories they would laugh about in the future.

In 1991 when my family left the Navy and settled in Anniston, Alabama, we lived only an hour's drive from Jared and his family. The cousins became fast friends and longed to spend as much time as possible with each other. To accomodate and encourage this family tie, Jared's mother and I would often meet at the halfway point between our homes to drop-off or pick-up the cousins. They would spend weekends writing plays to be put on by the CAB (Cowan and Bowen) Theater, planning murder mystery dress-up parties, taking long walks together, or just hanging together. They became almost like siblings. I can remember one particular visit when Jared got mad at Meghan and Erin and called his mom and dad for an early pick-up. Before his parents could get to our home to rescue their son, they had all made up and wanted to stay longer!

I enjoyed having Jared in our home for these visits. My girls loved having him around and his abundance of creativity encouraged their own. They were always drawing or writing or singing... always having a good time together. Jared's uncle and I often talked about how we thought that Jared would need this bond with our daughters and the knowledge that he was always welcome in our home more in the future than he seemed to then.

Eventually the cousins learned to drive and the first long Interstate trip for each of them was for visits together. As they each graduated from high school and went off to Auburn, their bond grew stronger. At the end of the 2000 academic year, I found myself sitting on my back porch with Meghan and Jared. The conversation flowed with talk of Auburn, Meg's recent graduation, the upcoming party to celebrate that event and Erin's engagement. Eventually Meghan said, "Just tell her, it's not a big deal." I looked at them both, curious, wondering. Finally Jared begins, "There's this guy I like...." He very emphatically, and with much drama began telling me about this person. Here it was, what I had been expecting for years, what I thought to be true before he knew himself. He was trusting me enough to share his deepest secret, and there I was liberal, accepting, and non-judgemental Aunt Terry, listening and watching, and all I can think to say is, "Jared, you are such a drama (no! don't say it!)....person!"

Fortunately for me, Jared also has a great sense of humor! With the cousins now being adults my relationship with each of them has changed. Jared and I have become friends. I look forward to his visits on my porch, catching up with his life, sharing my own, reading his poetry, and journaling together. Because of him, and with him, I began attending PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings and was glad to make new friends who shared my views on many topics. Jared went with me to my first Mary Chapin Carpenter concert, and on my first birthday after removing my wedding ring for good, it was Jared who knew I would need something to replace it, and gave me the beautiful aquamarine birth stone ring I'd been longing for. And we have had many a laugh remembering how he came out to me and what I almost said to him!!

Happy Birthday, Jared! I love you.