Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catching Fire

When I was little I did all sorts of things with my dad that my mom didn't know about.

When I was in second grade, we used to go to the High's store in Myersville, Maryland and get a double scoop ice cream cone on the way to the special eye doctor I used to go to for awhile. I remember most vividly mint-chocolate chip. That and the eye exercises that I refused to do, which is probably the reason why I am nearly blind these days.

We also used to go to Friendly's in the Fredericktown Mall, sit at the counter and order the clam strip basket and a Fribble, and today I took La to Friendly's in Pennsylvania to do the same thing. There were no counters, but everything was exactly the same (new Fribble recipe notwithstanding; it still tasted the same to me).

What a rare and beautiful thing to revisit something you remember from childhood and have it be exactly as you remember; I don't think I have ever had this experience. Every time I try to go back and see what I knew when I was younger, it is completely different.

Even the conversation La and I had was much the same as the conversations I would have with my father 35 years ago. We talked about life, plans, people's expectations. We talked about moving to Baltimore, living in England, playing softball for the Washington Huskies. We talked about the weight of making decisions when you have no idea what's next, and we talked about Dane and missing him, most of all, even when his name wasn't spoken. We talked about how we could make all the plans in the world, and they really don't matter much, in the end.

We talked about how much it hurts when people don't make time for you, and how it would work if we just stopped making time for them.

I told La that what has become most clear to me is that people don't really understand what truly matters to them until they are forced to take stock and re-evaluate what must stay and what must go. It's like choosing what to grab when there's a fire in your house; what would you reach for first? Imagine this translated to people, practices and what you spend your time, money and energy on. If there was a fire (or grief, say) that forced you to select what "items" you had to watch burn, which would you choose?

I must say that I am still in the process of choosing what matters most to me. That may sound odd, but in the shock of the thing it is hard to think clearly.  I don't know how you go about making these choices.

What we saw today (in addition to Betsy Ross, at the Betsy Ross House, who was AMAZING):

(yarn bomb in Philly)

(my people: an Obama sticker in the window of Elfreth's Alley, the oldest
residential alley in the country. Haven't seen a Jesus fish in seven days; I <heart> the north!)

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