One of the greatest blessings in our new home is a sanctuary where I can read and write and think and talk and work and pray. It's tucked in over the garage and chopped into two rooms. The coziest room, where I imagine talking with friends over tea and indulging my appreciation for squishy furniture when I'm working, is toward the front of the house. I love being there with or without guests, but I'm all set up with tea and cookies should someone special drop by.
I am an ardent Hunger Games fan. The movie surprised me when I accompanied a child who wanted to see it. Powerful emotional experiences of that kind must either be rejected, thoroughly, permanently, or they must be worn out. I decided to wear Hunger Games out, reading the books, collecting fan magazines and seeing the new movie right away. I think it was the tribute to Appalachian culture that made it stick. One time when I asked my grandmother what I should say when asked about my roots, she said that I should say, "West Virginian." She was right, even though I grew up in Maryland.
Music was the most prized art form when I was growing up. We sang all day most days, and I loved it. Whether we were opening school, class, or church, whether we were messing around on the playground, bus, or park, whether we were in rehearsal learning how all those things we did naturally, worked and were written down, whether we were performing for church, nursing homes, or competitions, we sang. I took it for granted.
The part of Katniss' story that has surprised me the most is from the last book when she is recovering from it all. She begins to sing and sing and sing her way back to a shaky sanity. What a clever, Appalachian twist. Life carried me away from Appalachia kicking and screaming. This thing then that thing then the other thing separated me from singing, until I was only skipping through the little songs I sing my children, and whatever was on the board for Sunday.
I have started to sing. I haven't experienced an apocalyptic horror, but I have feared it. I've carried broken things too long, and it's time to sing. I've joined the church choir, and I'm trying to make time to practice more at home. It isn't as spectacular as Katniss, but I think I'm getting closer to home.
Sometimes you need to practice in order to be ready for the happiness that is coming, especially when you know it will be from a sad gift. My children are growing up and leaving me--slowly, kindly, but steadily. I feel like Wilbur crying at the fence, but not today. Today I sit at my desk in my new library, and even though I have real work to do I am just sitting and imagining the time when this work will be primary and the children will take care of themselves. I am practicing being happy about it. I'm staring out the window at the next chapter of my life. It tastes like an orange Sour Patch Kid.
But I had no proof until today. Today I climbed on for the routine torture,and the electrics turned on, but the belt wasn't moving. I briefly considered racking up the world's easiest workout as I stood there watching the calories roll by, but those results aren't taken into consideration by my scale. I tried various fixes, but it wasn't moving. I resorted to pushing all the buttons. The total mileage stopped me in my tracks. The darned thing had stopped at 666 miles. I kid you not.
On my top ten list of items I will never own but can't help coveting, is the set of models Mr. Rogers would occasionally use to segue into a visit to The Neighborhood of Make-believe. I had a paper version briefly, but, it's a long story.
We are leaving Spring Lake and St. Mary's. In the eighth grade Mea had a to do a school project about the most beautiful place in Spring Lake. She chose St. Mary's, and I have to agree. One of the most impressive features is a copy of the Pieta made from molds taken from the original marble. It sits right outside of church, a beautiful gift to the entire community.
I had a gift certificate to spend and I carried it around for a month or two trying to decide what to with it. I'm ready for my life to be more visually Catholic. I was shopping for a good-sized crucifix when I saw the Pieta, model-sized. After that there could be no other purpose for the gift certificate, and I was so excited to receive the statuette. It is so good to have something to inspire good memories.
Everyone wants a cool nickname when they are growing up. The closest I came to having a nick name at all was "The Walking Dictionary." It was too cumbersome for everyday use, so it was reserved for the days when even my teacher wasn't sure what I'd said. Secretly I hoped they thought of me as "Dic" which demonstrates that my familiarity with slang could have been expanded.
Recently my thoughts returned to this melancholy subject, and my mind skipped forward a couple decades to sitting at a picnic table with a therapy group. "That girl is Spiderwoman. She knows what's going on with everyone in the room." The gentleman who spoke those words was truly street wise, and we all respected what he said. I blushed violently as every person in the circle shook their head in agreement. It's the best nickname I have ever been given.
Other people's feelings are important to me. Some people walk into a room and they can't rest until all the pictures are hanging straight. It can be like that for me with other people's negative feelings. I am uncomfortable because they are uncomfortable, so I take action. There's no need for an Iyanla intervention. You'd be amazed at how much pointing out the free coffee at the back of the room can accomplish.
Empathy has become fashionable. It's an official super-power on the Super Power Wiki. There are a lot of products being developed to teach children empathy. For a student to lack empathy is now as large a crisis as if they struggled to read. I was just born with it. It's a major reason I write, that and I have to do something with this ridiculous vocabulary.