Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Portal

Between my world and the real world lay the portal.  Not some high tech, science fiction time machine filled with lights and atomic particle manipulation.  Nope.  Just a tire swing.

Behind my house there was a thick line of tress, barely penetrable.  It separated my home in 1960’s suburbia with its manicured lawn; two point five children, a car and a dog form the “real world.  That is, beyond the tree line lay a huge cornfield.  And beyond that, other neighborhoods, shopping center, schools, and people.  For a five year old, the difference was significant.

In the center of the tree line stood an ancient oak tree.  Tall and wide.  Scarred by the strike of a lightning bolt.  No one knew how old the tree was.  Or when the lighting had struck.  It was too big to wrap my arms around, and even today still is I imagine.  From it’s lowest limb hung a thick hemp rope.  At the end of the rope, the tire.  Just high enough off the ground so it would swing back and forth.  I could sit on top, or in the opening.  Swinging for hours.

When I was young I would just swing, staring out.  Imagining.  As I got older, I pushed the tire aside and stepped through the portal.  Into the world.  Walk to a store here or there.  Build a fort in the cornfield.  Real, and imagined.  Two worlds combined. 

So simple to push the swing aside and walk out.  Like going through any door.  But this door, the portal, took me to a new world.  I don’t know what triggered this memory.  This thought.  I was on the verge of falling asleep in my bed when it hit me.  I had to get up to write it down.  I must be standing at another portal.  Looking out.  Ready to push the door open and step out.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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The Antique Shop

Poop or get off the pot!  That’s what they told me.  Well, they may have used some other words, but the gist of the statement was to make up my mind and do something.  One way or the other.  Quit dilly-dallying! 

Over the years I’ve often thought of opening an antique shop.  Real moneymaker, eh?  It’s just that I love all those old things.  Maybe not all of them, but a lot.  Everyone likes what they like, and maybe I like more old stuff than other people do.  When I was young my parents would take me to old dusty places filled with lots of old junk.  At least that’s what I thought until I found “it.” 

We were in a place in New Jersey.  Oh, what was its name?  Pinskey’s? Probably closed by now.  The man that ran it was ancient those many years ago.  Sprawling. Dusty.  Jam-packed.  But I found it.  That old bugle.  Nice patina.  It had a dent on the bell.  But it had a mouthpiece and it tasted like old metal when I blew it.  A horrible sound.

The old man came around and said to me that the bugle was the very one that Teddy Roosevelt carried up San Juan Hill during his famous charge.  Oh, what a story, what provenance!  Had to have it.  I think it cost twelve bucks back then.  My dad knew the story wasn’t true, but he saw the look in my eye and bought it for me.  Today it hangs by a golden lanyard inside a wooden frame lined with blue velvet.  History!

So now I want to open this store.  Filled with all the stuff I like.  But it’s a scary move.  High risk.  Not such high reward.  Other than that I control my destiny that way.  Yeah.  That’s valuable.  Beyond belief.

I’ve done some research on opening a stand-alone store.  And on running an antique mall.  And on just having a booth in a mall.  I’ll start with the booth in the mall.  But the stuff, what will I sell?  Those old antiques are expensive and I don’t really have a nest egg to begin with.  I’ll just wait some more.  Boy it sure would be nice to do this.  I’ll just wait.  Man, it would sure be nice to do this.  You get the picture.

Then one day I got off work early and decided I’d go to an antiques store nearby.  I walk in the door and bam, there “it” is.  No, not the bugle.  Something else I had to have.  And then there was something else, and another thing.  Before I knew it, I’d bought a whole bunch of stuff!  I said to myself, “self, time to jump into the game!”

I don’t have the store yet, but I know which mall I’ll be in.  I can picture the booth, filled with my stuff.  I see dollar signs.  I keep buying stuff.  Every weekend, yard sales.  Craigslist.  Ebay.  I’ll be selling everywhere.  It’s really happening. 

At yard sales I look and buy.  I see what others are buying.  Dang, why didn’t I buy that?  Oh yeah, I don’t care for that kind of thing.  I’m still learning what’s hot, tempered by what I like, and what stuff is worth.  That’s a scary part, but I’m in.  My biggest problem right now is where to keep all this stuff until I have a store to put it in.  My wife says, “Why don’t you wait.”  I’m in now.  Coming up my problem is going to be this:  sell it?  What do you mean sell it?  I can’t part with any of this stuff; it’s all so cool! 

I’ll enjoy the hunt and the purchase.  I’ll treasure each item for a while, and then pass it along for other s to enjoy.  I’m sure I’ll keep some things for a long time.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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The Secret

Pssst.  Wanna know a secret?  By nature, people, like cats, are naturally curious.  We all want to be in on a secret.  To be in the know.  Thing is, it’s not really a secret if everybody knows about it.  Is it?  So, by definition , a secret has a limited audience.

Some folks are not very good about keeping a secret.  They blab it to everyone and it moves into the realm of gossip.  True or not.  Others take this a little further toward meanness.  It becomes blackmail.  Keep me happy and I’ll keep your secret.

Secrets can big good or bad, big or little, important and trivial.  But what’s on my mind today is a special kind of secret.  One of those where you know something about someone before they know it themselves.  Not yet anyway.  They’ll find out soon enough.

Being privy to that kind of secret makes me giddy when it’s good news.  I know something you don’t.  Nah, nah.  I want to tell, but am sworn to secrecy lest I become a gossip.  Your parents are taking you to Disneyland!  But then again, not all secrets are good.

It makes me sad when there is something bad involved.  More than helpless.  Like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  If your doctor knows you have a terrible disease but hasn’t told you yet, it’s not really a secret.  She just hasn’t gotten a chance to tell you.  That’s different form what I’m talking about.  Sometimes what you know will make someone very unhappy when they find out.  You don’t really want to tell them.  No one wants to be the bearer of bad news.  And you couldn’t tell them anyway.  Sworn to secrecy you know.

You look at the person knowing that the stuff is going to hit their fan very shortly.  You smile and converse as if nothing is happening.  No worries.  How can I be so fake?  Do they see through me?  How can they look so calm.  Unconcerned.  Unknowing.  If I let on, the secret is out.  Not today.

They say knowledge is power.  Not today.  Curiosity killed the cat.  I just wish I didn’t know.


That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Now I Get It!

It was simply beautiful.  Not outrageously overdone.  The flowers were minimal, but lovely.  Contemporary music.  The sanctuary uncluttered by excessive adornment.  Dresses were simple.  Suits had neckties, not bows.  And the bride wore white.  A marvelously elegant strapless with a short trane.  Certainly not a wedding like that of Kate and William.  But just as meaningful to the bride and groom.   And just as expressive of who they are.

To me a wedding is a great ceremony for the bride and groom, but not so much for the unrelated guests.  I wasn’t a family member.  Nor a friend of bride or groom.  I’ve known the bride for a number of years, but only because of her parents and sister really.  Her sister played volleyball with my youngest daughter so we got to know her and her parents.  The bride was a sorority sister of my oldest daughter, but they didn’t know each other well.  I was happy to go, but I had no emotional investment.

So I thought.  It dawned on me why women cry at weddings.  No, I didn’t cry at the wedding.  And no special emotion swept over me as the bride and groom were joined together.  It was at the reception that it hit me.  They were showing a video/slideshow of the life and times of the bride and groom from childhood on.  With sappy music.  And it made me think of my two children.  And how I love them.  And how watching them grow up has been so hard, yet so rewarding.

One day they will get married.  And I will cry my eyes out at the wedding.  Then again, could be that I’ll be so happy for them that I will dance with joy.  Probably both.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Sweet and Sour

This happens every time.  It’s an emotional roller coaster.  And it makes me feel guilty.  It’s not Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best.  More like the Borgias meet the Waltons.

Family get-togethers, at least for me, are very stressful.  This is especially true when it’s my side of the family.  And the most recent one was no different.  My parents and sister were coming 800 miles to visit.  The big event?  My daughter’s college graduation.

The house would have to thoroughly cleaned.  Toilets, kitchen, living room.  Clothes and papers all put away.  Not necessarily where they belonged, but put away out of sight.  Meals planned.  And the schedule had to be set down to the minute.  Not that we expected to stick to the schedule.

Some members of my family are notoriously slow.  Some, like me, just because we are oblivious to time.  Others because they are just slow moving.  Still others because they are focused on their own activities, and not too concerned about others.  Thus, saying we need to leave the house at seven means we might get out by eleven.  I know, ridiculous.  One of those things you have to be there to understand.

My wife had the highest stress level.  She had to think of all the minutiae that had to be done.  I helped do it.  Not really the brawn to her brain, just the assistant when it comes to these things.  I have my own strengths in other areas.

The weather wasn’t helping either.  The ceremony was to be outdoors.  Rain was in the forecast.  Some wise administrator from the college was going to make the call as to whether the ceremony would be moved indoors in case of rain.  They chose to keep it outdoors.  In the rain.  A unique, and certainly memorable occasion.

Did I mention that the family dynamics were less than stellar? Certain members of the family do not get along well.  Incredible tension there.  Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes which wrecks havoc with making any sort of unanimous decision.  Even with a little thing like where to eat a meal.  I’m the peacekeeper in the family.  And I felt like I was standing on the DMZ of the Korean Peninsula or Gaza Strip.

The whole time I kept telling myself it would all be over before too long.  And then it was over and I found myself saying goodbye to my parents.  I don’t see them often because they live far away.  They are at an advanced age, but doing very well all things considered.  It always hits me though that this could be the last time I see them.  That makes me very sad.  And I wish, well, I wish we all got along better.   But I know the next get-together will be much the same.  I guess that’s just how families are.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?



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Undampened Spirits

It rained.  And I mean some rain.  Noah, yes, the biblical dude, would be able to relate to this.  College graduation.  Scheduled to be an outdoor ceremony in a beautiful garden on a warm, sunny, early May day in the deep South.  It was more like November in the Northeast!

Four years of anticipation for a thousand graduates and their families.  Visions of the sun and birds chirping.  Dashed!  The weather forecast had been kinda iffy.  For several days they had been predicting a chance of rain, possible showers, isolated thunderstorms.  All the things they predict all the time, most often with the outcome an outbreak of sunshine and warm breezes.  Almost Paradise!

But ya never know, so there was a back-up plan.  In case of rain, we move it all indoors.  Simple.  Cool.  No worries.  Except for one.  Or two.  If it moves indoors, many of the traditions would be lost.  There is an archway in the garden through which the new graduates walk to mark their transition.  The arch can’t be moved indoors.  And, and how this one is so, so imperfect, there woud be an element of human decsion making.  Under less than optimal conditons.

Should it be raining, or threatening, a decision would be made at four AM as to which way the ceremony would proceed.  I don’t know who makes the decision.  In this case, it was someone who had no good choices.  Four AM.  I know I’m always wide awake thinking most clearly then.  The ceremony was scheduled for nine AM, so an early, early morning decision was necessary.  Oh great weather predictors, what is your forecast?

Chance of rain.  Beginning after noon.  That’s it.  We go with the outdoor ceremony.  I think the weather predictors were in a different time zone.  It was raining when I got up at six AM, and never stopped.   We were all outside in the rain.  Lots of umbrellas.  Wet shoes. Wet clothes.  Lot’s of grumbling.  

The ceremony was cut short.  Short parade.  No long speeches.  No speeches at all except from the master of ceremonies saying how we were all showing great flexibility and an ability to adapt!  Interesting thing though.  The kids all marched through the arch.  And each name was read aloud.  And there was no dampened enthusiasm.  All else might have been soaked, but in the end, spirits soared.

It was, after all, a great day.  A day marking achievement, hard work, dedication. A day filled with pride and happiness.  And a testament to the human ability to weather all storms.  It’s certainly a day no one will ever forget.  And I wouldn’t have moved it indoors for anything!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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It’s almost here.  Hard to believe.  I’ve been waiting two decades for this, but much more intently over the past four years.  In two days my oldest daughter graduates from college!

Good Lord.  Where has the time gone?  Oh, so many clichés come to mind.  I vividly remember watching her walk off down the street toward her first college event.  Her mother, her sister and I followed her in the car.  All the while she ignored us.  She was ready.  We maybe weren’t.

Over the years she came home often.  Mainly for football games at UGA.  Or other Athens events.  But sometimes even to see her family.  All of that kind of gets blurred.  But the graduation I will remember well.

It’s a long way from my first memory of her.  Popping out into the world, clumsily caught by the delivering physician.  She screamed loudly.  Then rolled around in the inkpad the nurse was using to get a footprint for posterity.

So many memories over the years.  Where did it go?  But wait!  There is even more to come!  Every day creates a new memory.  And I’ll be looking forward to many more.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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