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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

did not consist of cleaning or laundry or lying on the couch watching TLC or Anthony Bourdain all day.  Nope, today I had myself a long-awaited lunch date with one of my oldest friends in the world, Johnny.  He and I go way back to 1st grade at Glen Rose Elementary.  How well I remember sitting across the aisle from each other, holding hands and singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”  I wonder if he remembers that.  We remained fast friends all through elementary, through Junior High and High School.  We remembered today, as we drove into our hometown, that the last time we had ourselves a little road trip, that it was also a rainy, muddy, nasty day and how much fun we had then.  He was, and is now, one of the most genuine human beings I have ever known.  He’s one of these people you can go years without seeing and then BAM! it’s like not a day has passed. 

It was a special treat to go out to see his mother and daddy, who were some of my mother’s earliest friends in Glen Rose.  His daddy reminded me that they used to visit down at the Golden Arrow, which, to the best of my remembrance, was a little motel/cafe type outfit.  It was fun to sit in her little alteration shop and visit.  The last time I visited with her was when Mother was in the nursing home…and that was 13 years ago.

It seems odd to me that you can go so long visiting with people you care so much about, and then when you see them again, again, it’s like BAM! no time has passed at all.  Even more fun was the fact that Johnny’s daddy offered up their chickens when I said I wanted one for the backyard. 

How many folks do YOU go visit where they offer you a chicken when you leave?

We drove around Glen Rose and wondered who in the hell thought it was a good idea to build houses along the Paluxy when just last summer it got…um…all the way UP TO THE ROAD.  Then when we drove by, we realized that they were building, or had at least built one house, and it was ON STILTS…like a BEACH HOUSE…and we both decided we wanted one.

I was especially thrilled that I’d spent yesterday sort of cleaning when he needed to come in and use the facilities.  It really wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since Johnny falls into that category of folks who you let in to witness your chaos and know that they won’t go home and blog how nasty your house was.  Belle and Jack loved him up a lot while he was here and I hated to see him go.  I want him to come back and meet the Mr. and the kids.  He has two boys about the same age as the Sub and the Longhorn.  He has had a long haul becoming the Johnny he is and I applaud his journey.  I just love this guy.  He is the best kind of friend ever.  He is that best friend from 1st grade that can be your best friend when you are 44. 

We all have a friend like that…or when you grow up in a place like Glen Rose, you probably have more than a few.  And with those friends you get to include their mamas and daddies who were friends with your mama…the folks who remember you when you were knee-high to a grasshopper.  There is something to be said for visiting with folks who knew you back when.  It is those kind of longlasting connections with folks who ground you…who remind you of where you came from…who you were…and in doing so, they make you appreciate where you are and who you have become.

It’s all just a little surreal for me to reconnect with folks who just see Christine…not the Christine that I see.  They see ME, not the me I see in the mirror…the older, fatter, greyer version of me…and spending the day with those folks absolutely made my day. 

I sincerely hope that you guys have a Johnny…or two.

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I realized something today.  I put myself in a box.  I realized that tonight when I took The Boy to a children’s party at church.  We’ve been going to our church since The Boy was about 4.  I went to a Sunday School class that I absolutely loved.  But only because of the teacher.  She was the wife of the pastor and her name was Margaret.  I adored her and every single lesson she taught.

My fellow classmates…not so much.  To me, I never really measured up to the other perfectly coifed, perfectly made up moms in their perfect outfits with the perfect shoes.  To me, I was way out of my league.  I put myself in a box where I was the overweight, older mom with a not so great hairdo and not so great makeup and not so great shoes…

and because of my own insecurities, I closed myself off to this perfectly coifed, perfectly dressed, perfectly made up group.  I decided that no matter what, I was never going to ‘fit in.’  When Margaret and the Pastor were relocated, I stopped going to Sunday School.

On the upnote, we did start going to church proper.  I finally started feeling like a part of the church, which meant that I make a point of taking The Boy to every kids’ function there was.

Thing is that because I never made any connection with the perfectly coifed, perfectly dressed other moms, I wind up sitting at a table by myself while The Boy goes and visits and has fun with his church friends. 

And…really…I was sort of okay with it. 

But tonight, I was sitting at a table alone, eating really, really bad pizza, while The Boy was off having pizza dinner with his friend, Autumn, one of the perfectly coifed, perfectly made up moms came and sat with me.  Her name is Julie and she was a classmate in my old Sunday School class.  As it turns out, she was very sweet and we had a very nice chat.

The thing is that she went out of HER way to come to ME and sit by ME to have her bad, bad pizza.  After she came to my formerly solo table, another nice lady came and joined us.  Then another sweet little mom came over to share her sweet baby and A.J. and Addison with me. 

As I sat there, I realized that maybe the perfectly coifed, perfectly made up types weren’t the ones who were putting me in ‘the box.’  It was me. 

I realized that it was my insecurity that was putting me in ‘the box.’  I realized that I was closing the door to any interaction with the perfectly coifed, perfectly made up set.

I realized tonight that it isn’t them, it’s me.

Tonight I realized that rather than putting myself in my solitary box because I am not perfectly coifed or perfectly dressed, I should maybe just put myself out there…meet the perfectly coifed and perfectly made up.  I thought, perhaps, the perfectly coifed would enjoy a chat with the un-perfectly coifed and un-perfectly made up…and I think she did.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that sometimes (and for me, all the time), we tend to put ourselves in boxes…we put ourselves in the box that doesn’t fit in with the ‘pretty people.’ 

And then, if we allow ourselves, we realize it is not a ‘them’ and ‘us’ thing…it is just an us putting ourselves in a box thing.

Yeah, I had an ‘aha’ moment tonight.

The ‘pretty people’ can like you…they can come sit at your table because you are sitting alone.  They can come to you, instead of waiting for you to come to them…

and then you can kind of feel like crap because you’ve (read that me) closed your box…not the pretty people. 

I think I may be coming out of my box.

*** okay, so I just read this and must say that apparently, after a few beers and while trying to carry on a conversation with the Mr. while I type, I use the word ‘realized’ wayyyy too much, along with ‘box’ and ‘perfectly coifed.’ Bear with me through this one.  LOL ***

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Worry not, folks, this Growing up Glen Rose thing has got to end at some point or the other.

As I’ve said before, these entries about my kidhood aren’t so much about writing something funny and entertaining as they are to document for me, and perhaps even my kids, how absolutely decent and loving my growing up was.  I think sometimes we get it in our heads how miserable our youth was…how our childhood was so hard.  I know that growing up, I did…heck, we all did.  All we thought about was getting out of Glen Rose.  That getting out of Glen Rose mentality was largely responsible for my child-brideness.

But then, a funny thing happened when I had kids in a place that was nothing like Glen Rose.  I realized pretty quick that my kids weren’t going to have the same experiences I did.  When I realized that, I began to appreciate more the fact that I had been miraculously blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people who not only helped my mother and I, but they truly cared about us. 

I’ve written about Olene and Burt and Lillian and Dorothy and Maxie, and today I am going to share a bit about Geneva and Doyle Aston. 

The Aston’s were our landlords for nearly as long as I can remember.  When we moved to English Street they became family. 

See, I was the same age and a lot of the time in the same class as their nephew Bradley.  Brad and I shared the love of UFOs and the Legend of Boggy Creek and Big Foot.  We were fast friends.  When mom was in hospital for this or that when I was little, I remember many times spending the night at Brad’s.  I remember sitting out on top of their storm cellar with walkee talkees thinking we were listening to UFO talks when in reality…well, it was truckers’ CBs. 

We were little.  We didn’t know that UFO folks probably didn’t say ‘Breaker 1-9.’  So, cut us some slack.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to Geneva and Doyle.

I’m quite sure that Geneva and Doyle more than once probably allowed Mom to be a little late with the rent.  They knew she was good for it.  They never minded me coming in to use their phone, since we didn’t have one and I was the one who would need to call if there was a problem with the gas bill or the electric bill.  Mom wasn’t comfortable talking on the phone with her German accent, so I learned early how to deal with folks on the phone.  At 10. 

Geneva and Doyle were always the first stop trick or treating.  Geneva always made ‘special’ treats for us…homemade popcorn balls or candied apples or cookies made especially for us.  They always oo’d and ah’d over whatever silly little costume I could come up with, which most of the time consisted of ‘hobo’ or ’50s girl.’ 

In the summertime, if they were watering their giant lawn, I was always invited to come play in it.  Especially if the grandkids were in visiting or Brad was over.  If there was a family gathering over there and they were making any number of freezers of homemade ice cream, I was always invited over to help sit on the things while the grownups cranked.  It always seemed to take forever for it to ‘make’ when I was little…while I was trying to keep my bare feet out of the little river of salt water that trickled out of the hole in the bucket. 

When you are waiting for the ice cream to freeze when you are 10, 30 minutes is an eternity.  The first time I actually made homemade ice cream as a grownup, it amazed me how fast the process was.

When we weren’t making ice cream, Doyle was always quick to flick me a quarter to run up to the corner for an ice cream.  Doyle, during baseball season, was forever sitting on the porch listening to the Ranger games.  I didn’t really get the baseball back then, but I remember so many summer evenings sitting on that glider on their front porch listening to games with Doyle while the cicadas chirped in the trees around us.  Any time I ever went over, they’d always offer up a ‘coke cola,’ of which they kept cases and cases in the carport.  Coke never tasted better than when I was sitting on the porch listening to a Ranger game with Doyle.

Well, maybe it tasted as good on the picnics with Olene up shotgun road. 

So, we’ll call it a tie.

As I got older and played junior high basketball, Doyle would always wish me luck (and I needed a LOT of it) as I’d walk up the drive on my way to school.  We only lived down the street from the school, so I’d walk to the school to catch the bus to go to the game and then walk home after…in the dark…alone. 

But it was Glen Rose, so it wasn’t really a scary proposition back then.

When Doyle’s health started failing a bit as I got older and he got older, I didn’t bother them so much.  When I would need to use the phone, Doyle quite often was napping in his recliner and I would talk in hushed tones so as not to bother him.  He always had his glasses on, sometimes a little askew on his head. 

When that awful morning came that I was awakened by the flashing lights of the ambulance, it was, perhaps, the first time the D-word affected me directly.  As the ambulance pulled off, I realized that I’d never sit on the porch with Doyle and listen to a Rangers game again.  He’d never throw me a quarter and tell me to go get an ice cream again. 

When we went to the ‘visitation’ at the funeral home, I will never forget how relieved I was that they’d laid him up proper with his glasses on his nose.  It made it like he was just dozing. 

And it made it all a little bit easier for me to deal with.  It was like Doyle wasn’t really dead, he was just napping.

My gosh, I loved those people…and they loved me. 

When mom was in nursing home, I got word that Geneva was in hospital at the same time and her health was failing.  I made myself go to visit.  I was so glad I did when she passed not too long after.  Even in the hospital with her own health failing, she was most concerned about how my mom was. 

And that is what being from Glen Rose was about.

People cared about you…truly.  They cared enough about you to love your scraggley kid.  They cared enough about you to invite you to the family ice cream supper.  They cared enough about you to give your kid the quarter you couldn’t afford so she could run up to the corner for a tasty ice cream snack.  They cared enough about you to invite you into the storm cellar when that ever-impending storm was coming.

They cared enough to make you FAMILY.

How many of us in this day and age can look around at our neighbors and say the same?  I’m guessing that not many of us can…

and I think that is sad.

I think it is especially sad for my kids.  Granted, the older girls did grow up on a street where there were close friendships.  We all had kids about the same age, so we all sort of looked after one another’s offspring.  We spent lots of time in their driveways while the kids played.  Happily, the girls still have some of my Ya-Ya friends from back then that still live on the street.  The Junior can still walk down the street and visit with Lee or with Colleen. 

Is it the same experience as I had?  Well, it’s close.

The thing I find so sad is that The Boy won’t ever have it.  We have become, since the Banishment, pretty much our own island here at the Casa.  We don’t really know the other neighbors that well.  Sure, sometimes when The Boy is out back with Belle, the other side neighbor will have a chat with him over the fence, but it isn’t the same. 

And it never will be. 

But hey, he has us and Belle.  I guess we’ll make do.

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