The Packing Up and the White Shoes

Twenty-five years ago today I graduated from college.  I don’t remember a lot of the particulars but there are a couple of things that stand out for me about that day.

The night before, Sister had come up to spend the night with me.  Though she is three years my junior there have been times in my life when she has taken over and helped me through a hard time.  This was one of those times.  We visited while we packed my things–something I had been putting off.  About midnight we ran over to Denny’s for some sustenance in the form of fried mozzarella sticks and nachos.  (Two of the basic food groups for us back then.) When we got back to the dorm, Sister told me to go on to bed, rest well for my big day, and she would keep packing.

Which she did.  I should probably call and tell her thank you for that again.

The next morning I woke up and hurriedly put on the special one piece dress/culottes outfit that I had splurged on from Karats and Keepsakes–the only way to describe it is to say it was completely and totally ’90’s.

And I loved it.

I threw on my white shoes, because they matched it best, and because well-it WAS after Easter.  As I ran out of my dorm heading towards Porter Auditorium, one of my classmates pointed out my white shoes (“yes, thank you, they are pretty awesome, aren’t they?”) and kindly “reminded” me that all graduates were supposed to wear black shoes.

Oops.  Did I miss that memo?

Nowadays all information at my alma mater seems to be disseminated by e-mail.  Back then I am sure this was announced in a meeting. I can pretty much guess which one it probably was.  Only my mind was in a million different places about that time…..my future plans, moving back home, saying goodbye to sisterfriends I would miss dearly, and how to leave this place I had begun to call home.

Two thoughts for the young women I know who are about to graduate soon–actually no, this is a message for all of us.

Pay attention.  Listen up.  Don’t get so bogged down in worrying about your future that you miss out on what’s going on in your present. You might miss out on something important.  And it might be more than a fashion faux pas.

And here’s the other, even more important thing:

Have each other’s backs.

No matter what.

See, my sisterfriend who called out to me about the shoes–she was in a hurry too.  She had her mind on the BIG THING about to happen.  But she took the time to notice and to help me out by pointing out my mistake.  Kindly, I might add.

It’s so easy in this world where pushing ahead and success are so valued to just focus on ourselves, isn’t it?  But I challenge each one of us to take the time to notice.  To make the time.  And to help.  Offer a kind word.  Let someone know something they might have missed before.  It doesn’t take anything at all away from me to take a minute and say, “Hey, those are cute, but today we’re all supposed to be wearing black shoes.”

And it sure gives a lot to the one who hears those words.  (Seriously, what was I thinking? While the white shoes matched the outfit UNDERNEATH my graduation gown, they stuck out like a sore thumb with my black cap and gown.)

Two days ago I helped my rising junior finish packing up her things so we could move her back home.  Home from the same dorm where my journey at Wesleyan began.  As I moved around her room, consolidating and packing, I remembered Sister and gave thanks.  Paying it forward seems only right, you know?

Tonight I’m thankful for Sister and my sisterfriend, both of whom were interruptible.  Both of whom set aside what they had going on–for a minute, for a night–to help me.

That’s humbling right there.

May we all be so fortunate to have such a gift in our lives.

May we all strive to be that gift to someone else.

Love to all.

It Was a “Pink Toilet on the Side of the Road” Kind of Day

The littles and I were riding down the road one day last week, and I saw this.

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There is no filter.  That is indeed a pink toilet sitting on the side of the road.

A rose commode.

A throne.  The can.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s still there.  And still pink.

I was thinking about it tonight.  When I first saw it, it made me laugh.  And the song, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong” immediately started playing through my head.

Tonight it occurred to me that this is the perfect picture to describe my day.

Joyful–seeing this on the side of the road filled me with laughter and delight.  It’s whimsical.  Sticking a toilet there like that.  And a pink toilet makes me happy.  This is not the first one I have ever seen.  My Great Aunt had one in the master bedroom of her fine home.  It was color coordinated with the tile walls.  Ahem.  I had joy in my busy day with my sisterfriend, as we had fun sharing the joy and cookiebombing our sisters at our alma mater who are getting ready for finals and graduation and the next step on their journeys.  We laughed and laughed.  (Laughter’s my favorite pastime.)

Perplexed–what on earth is going on here?  This goes for the toilet on the side of the road and the state of affairs all around me.  As Niecy Nash said when she’d walk into a home on the show, Clean House, “Whose foolishness is this?”

Sad–What happened that this individual or family found it necessary to place this there?  It doesn’t make sense, and that makes me sad.  So many things I heard today just don’t make sense to me.  Things sure do seem broken right now–and all out of place.  Like that pink toilet.

Curious–There’s a story there.  (I came across more than one of those today)  And I want to know it.

Ah well, maybe that will have to be next on my agenda.  Writing a story about the pink toilet and why it sat on the side of the road for days.  Not joking, that first day, traffic moved a little slower as we were all rubbernecking for a better look.  I was in such a shock that I didn’t immediately think to stop and snap the pictures–it was our Princess who woke me from my mind’s meanderings and hollered, “Mama, take a picture!”

She has always been partial to pink, that one.

Tonight I’m thankful for the unexpected things that brighten my days–like a pink toilet sitting on the side of the road and all of the memories it brings back.  Or a visit and time spent with a dear friend.  The privilege of hearing about another’s passion and dreams.  Or a cool breeze that brings one more evening of reprieve from the gnats.  Or a little boy who still wants to hold my hand.

Despite all of the hard things and things that bamboozle me, and all of the brokenness folks are sitting on the side of the road, I am glad for the whimsy and surprises that make my heart smile.

Hoping you find a pink toilet to make you smile.

Love to all.

But First, A Selfie

After playing with her brother and Daddy one evening, our Princess came in and sat on the couch with a big smile on her face.  “Everyone should have a fun, silly, and clumsy person in their lives.  And a Mama too.”

Oh me.  Ouch.

Mayhaps I should be more in touch with my silly and fun side.  Clumsy–I’m okay with letting someone else fill that spot.

Last weekend I saw a phenomenon take place.  And I laughed harder than I have in a long time.  I even got a little silly.  Being with folks who knew you when you were young will do that for a person.  As we visited and sang and yelled our class cheers, I noticed one thing that put smiles on people’s faces faster than anything.

Selfies.

My oldest who is a sophomore at Wesleyan, my alma mater, is double majoring in Psychology and Religious Studies, but I am pretty sure she is getting her doctorate in Selfies.  She takes a lot of them.  She’s even taken one with the President…..of Wesleyan, which was a dream of hers.  She has the whole holding the phone just so and the photo ready smile/expression thing down pat.  Mine wind up fuzzy or with someone’s head cut off or eyes closed.  I long to reach her level of perfection.

The first selfie of the weekend surfaced on Facebook shortly after our Reunion Class picture was taken.  My girl was taking pictures of us, and then she decided to jazz it up a little.  She took a selfie with us in the background.

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion.  #selfiewithAub

My sophomore with my graduating class at our 25 Year Reunion. #selfiewithAub

Too much fun.

As the day progressed, she took selfies with different members of my class.  She even gave “lessons” on the perfect pose and the way to smile.  It was hilarious to watch all the action.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background.  I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

Aub and one of my favorite Purple Knight sisters taking a selfie with the President of the college in the background. I love the sisterhood that spans the generations at our alma mater.

And I noticed something.

Whether it was my Aub or one of my Purple Knight sisters taking the selfie with others on the front porch of Porter, they all had one thing in common.

The biggest smiles ever.

Aub and our sweet "little" Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class.  Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Aub and our sweet “little” Green Knight sister taking a selfie with a few from our Purple Knight class and a Pirate or two thrown in for good measure. Double selfie! #selfiewithAub

Fun.  Silly.

That right there.

When someone came up and asked to take a “selfie” with another person, there were no frowns or waves of the hands as if to say, “No, I don’t want my picture taken.”  There was only laughter and then looking at the camera with a great big smile.  Or a funny face.

But no matter the pose, there was joy.  Laughter.  Fun.  You could see it in their eyes.

I like it.

So be forewarned.  I frankly think the world can use more joy and laughter and silliness.  I think we need more smiles and togetherness.  So know that if we are together, I’m very likely to pull out my phone and say, “Hey, let’s take a selfie!” because I love the joy I see in all the ones taken last weekend.  AND because the next time our Princess walks in here talking about silliness and fun, I want her to say, “Everyone should have someone silly and fun in their lives, just like my Mama.”

May you all find someone to laugh and be silly with today.  Maybe even take a selfie–

Spread the joy.

Love to all.

Truth and Stories and the Dear Friends Who Tell Them

Last weekend at my college reunion I had the privilege of sitting next to not one, but two of the women who not only knew me when but who also lived with me, bless ’em.  As we sat and remembered and laughed and longed for more time to talk, a couple of moments stood out that reminded me why they are my friends.

Because they are–no matter how much time or distance is between us–these women will always be my treasured sisterfriends.

Friday evening my Deer friend came into the concert after the lights had been lowered.  I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years I guess, but in that moment it was like no time had passed.  I went over to her and led her to where I was sitting, giving her no choice but to follow, bless her heart.

In a break in the performances, I leaned over and whispered, asking her a question about how something had come about, and she nodded and started to say something.  Then she shook her head, shrugged, and said, “No.  I mean, I could make something up to tell you, but no, I really don’t know.”

I am still laughing over that one.  I don’t think she has it in her to tell anything but the truth.  I love that about her.

The next morning she and I were standing outside with our Rosie friend waiting for the processional into the beautiful and touching Candlelight service which would induct the seniors at our alma mater into the Alumnae Association.  We were catching up and all when she said, “Oooh!  I think a bug just flew in my eye.”

Y’all.  Spring in Georgia sure was lovely.  All fifteen minutes of it before the gnats came back–bringing reinforcements.

Sure enough, a gnat had flown into her eye.  She blinked and rubbed for a minute or two.  “Just my luck,” she laughed.

Our Rosie friend nodded and said authoritatively, “Yes.  Actually, that’s right.  A bug flying into your eye IS lucky.  Kind of like a bird when a bird poops on you.  Only not as messy.”

Chuckling, our Deer friend agreed that she’d rather have the bug than the poop.  At the luncheon after the meeting this same sweet girl (she hasn’t aged a bit in 25 years, I’d hate her if I didn’t love her so much) had an extra sweet tea in front of her place setting.

“See?” said our Rosie friend knowingly.  “I told you.  It’s your lucky day.  You are ON.”

I just love her.  She has all the grace and beauty of her mother, and all of the wit and laughter that I love and miss so much.

Tonight I give thanks for all of my beautiful and sassy and smart and funny sisterfriends.  Most of all I am thankful for a friend who tells the truth and whose sweet spirit makes me smile, and I give thanks for a friend who can make up something that helps make all right in the world for that moment.

Kind of contradictory, right?  Gratitude for the truth and for a story. All in the same breath.

And yet.  It all makes sense.  Surround yourself with folks who love you–folks who will tell you the truth when you need to hear it and will tell a story that will bring you comfort when you don’t.

Find friends like that and they will be yours for life.

Wishing you all will be so fortunate–

Love to all.

A Weekend With the Gardeners

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.  –Anthony J. D’Angelo

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One is not done growing or grown “up” when she leaves Wesleyan College as a young woman.  When she returns “home,” Wesleyan and all her sisters will continue to feed her soul and empower her to bloom and to continue becoming more–more of whom she was created to be–with love, laughter, and shared stories.  Tonight I am thankful for those gardeners who came into my life almost 29 years ago.

I love you, and I treasure you–your laughter, your hugs, your compassion, your frivolity, and your hearts.  I love that the women whom I started growing up with will snap pictures of you up to mischief one minute and then help you put things right in another.  They laugh over silly and joyful things, they tear up over injustices and hurt, they stand together and are strong.

May you each find yourself blessed with a charming gardener.  It’s planting season, y’all.  Let’s go love on some folks and grow some blooms.

Love to all.

to the next chapter

A star in the dark is thy glorious past.....

A star in the dark is thy glorious past…..

 

her past is my past

we are all like threads interwoven into the story that is hers

each bringing our own color and beauty and gifts to the tapestry

of all that has gone before

 

we are us

the ones who came young and left younger,

not quite ready for what the world might hold

but eager to take that step and fly

only just realizing that to fly one must leave the nest and

forge ahead

 

tonight the star in the dark was shining brightly

as we returned to the nest,

the stories were told once again

with laughter and tears

and the hugs hello lasted so much longer than

those goodbye hugs of so many years ago

 

as I saw her smile

and heard her voice

I realized how much I had missed her

 

and that with her

the light was brighter

and the melody more beautiful

and my heart was full

 

I had forgotten what life was like

with her

and in the remembering,

the tears flowed

for the time apart

 

but as we listened and laughed and shared

with so many things that didn’t have to be said

because this one who knew me well

smiled

and I knew

our stories would always be bound

 

and we set out to write another chapter

together

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Off-Balance

I have had the great pleasure and joy of having not one but two Wesleyannes in the house this weekend.

Aub came home, and her sisterfriend joined her.  The whole crew, including Miss Sophie, have carried on as if it were one big party.

And it has been really, because I can’t think of anything better to celebrate than being together and napping and laughing and playing and napping–oh yeah, and napping.  Because, you know, college is hard.

As these young women will tell you, the struggle is real.  One week back from Spring Break and I know they had at least three mid-terms to take this past week.  Underwater basket weaving was not one of them.

So sleep has definitely been on the agenda.

But so has fun.

This afternoon and evening the girls and I cleared a spot in the Nest and painted.  I am giggling to myself a bit, with delight, because when I sat down with my own paintbrush and invited them, Aub’s friend claimed she wasn’t much of an artist.

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Well, I beg to differ.  She did a beautiful job.  Hello, freehanded it.  Nailed it.

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As Aub was lettering, she got frustrated, saying she thought her words were off-balance.  I looked, and I thought she was doing a fabulous job.  In the meantime, I was getting ready to Mod Podge my words on my work, and I slipped up and placed it at a bad angle.  As I fussed to myself and was quickly peeling it off so I could move it, both girls looked over and said it looked great.

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They both suggested I write about being off-balance tonight.

So here are my thoughts.

We can feel off-balance, frustrated that everything isn’t a-okay-perfect in our lives.  The truth is nothing is ever going to be 100% perfect.  It’s hard to plan ahead on where to start so we end up with everything in exactly the right place at the end of the day.

However, isn’t it interesting that, while each of us thought her own piece was a train wreck and all off-kilter, the others thought it was lovely?

That’s all I have tonight.  What you think is a tore up mess and very obvious to the world probably ISN’T.  So just keep on keeping on, trying your best, because everyone has something go wonky at some point.  Grace abounds.

And sometimes when things are wonky is when they are most beautiful.

May you all find yourselves with just enough off-balance to keep things interesting.

Love to all.

My Daughter is Also My Sister

Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year.

Right up there with Christmas and Easter and birthdays in our family.

Huge.

It was STUNT weekend at Wesleyan College, my alma mater.

My second home.  The place of many joyful and wonderful memories.  The place where I figured out what I believed and tried it on for size for the first time.

Where I became a Psychology major and experienced great internships at places like the Methodist Children’s Home and Macon Outreach at Mulberry UMC.

Where I made friends for life and promised to be loyal and true to this place that built me.

And where I had the great privilege and honor and pure-tee fun of being a part of this great tradition, STUNT.

This is the 119th year of this event, which was begun to raise scholarship money for a sister who couldn’t afford to return to campus by a group of students all those years ago.  They would not let that happen, so they started this competition between the classes where each class writes and produces their own comedy musical.  The winner gets the coveted STUNT Cup.

That’s what the sisterhood at Wesleyan is all about.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve last seen each other or talked, if one of us needs something, we are there.  I’ve had my sisters sit with me in darkness–be there when I was grieving, show up at my Mama’s funeral, send me messages of encouragement, and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone.  I’ve had my sisters remind me to give myself grace, and show up to cheer on my daughter and her class.  They’ve even been known to wear a class color other than their own, just to encourage another.

And that’s huge, y’all.  Once you enter as a Purple Knight, Golden Heart, Green Knight, or Red Pirate, you spend the next four years and the rest of your life pretty much embracing that color.

It’s all about the sisterhood.

And so was yesterday.  I took our Princess up for the day, as this is her favorite day of the whole year–when alumnae bring prospective students to campus for fun and friendship–some are their own daughters, some are not.  But all enjoy and have the time of their lives, which might explain why our Princess had her bag packed to go since she got back from last year’s STUNT.

It was a day spent with people I have known and loved for a long time.  Familiar faces etched onto my heart, almost as though they are a part of me.  My PirateFriend and her OnlyFriend, who shared the story of their friendship that began the first day of their freshman year, with the comment, “Hey, I like your pants.”  Y’all this is the friendship of a lifetime–I’m going to start telling people I like their pants.  If that’s the kind of lifelong sisterhood and love that comes of it, we should ALL be telling someone we like their pants.  They played a trivia game with the young girls visiting, and we laughed and had such fun.  We even sang and danced to the original number written by the group, “Rosie had a little puppy, and it’s okay to love puppies.” (sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”–a future hit, I’m telling you)

I loved hearing the years the daughters of my friends will be there.  I look at my baby girl and know she will be there on campus with some of these other legacies, and I smile.  We will be attending STUNT for many, many years, and I like the sound of that.

As the day went on, we were joined by more friends–sweet faces that haven’t changed one bit since graduation.  We took pictures and hugged and laughed that we had become those “old” alumnae who show up for things.  And we loved every moment of it.  One of the most precious moments was when my oldest, a sophomore at Wesleyan–more importantly, a Red Pirate–came up and met members of my class.  They embraced her as one of their own.  My favorite photo is one I’m not in–it’s my girl with my Purple Knight sisters.  Who stepped out of their knighthood for the night and cheered on the Pirates.  Auburn was the chair of her class’ STUNT committee for the second year in a row.  She and a committee of three other women from her class wrote the 30 minute comedy musical–they wrote the script, the songs, cast and directed it.  They have only been rehearsing for the past two weeks.

It’s tradition.

As the classes marched in one by one, each class sang their cheers.  “Night of the Screaming Women” is a well deserved moniker.  We’re loud and we’re proud.

Yes. We.  All of us alumnae were cheering along too.

And when the lights went down, my last glance back behind me showed me faces I have known for almost thirty years.

I was glad the room was dark.  I may or may not have teared up.  Ahem.

There were Purple Knights, Green Knights, Golden Hearts, and Red Pirates there, all with anticipation and beauty and joy etched into their faces.

And my girl’s 84-year-old grandmother was in the audience too.  There because of love.

But then, weren’t we all?

Yes.

The night was a good one.  The STUNTS were all good, and the Pirates won.

Well, in my book they did, but the judges saw it differently.  The Golden Hearts won the STUNT Cup and the Spirit Cup.  As seniors that was especially poignant.  They were thrilled and the night ended with lots of laughter and hugs and encouragement. With goodbyes and promises to see each other soon.

Before the Cups were announced though, there was a passing of the hats.  The Co-Chairs of the different committees will be Chairs next year.  It was time for them to name their Co-Chairs who will be the Chairs in 2017.

Since shortly after Aub set foot on campus, my girl has hoped to be tapped for this.  She’s spent years poring over my yearbooks and looking at the pictures.  She knew I loved STUNT and that I served as Executive STUNT chair my senior year.  “Mama, I want to do that too.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

Well, only if you really want to.  I wanted her to do what she wanted to do at Wesleyan and not relive my years.

Long story short.  (or maybe a little shorter)

Last night her dream came true.  Auburn was named Co-Chair for 2015-2016.  Her junior year.  In the words of my daughter:

I.  Can’t.  Even.

As the announcement was being made, my classmate who is now an amazing member of the faculty at Wesleyan came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me.  She held on tight, and–

I.  Can’t.  Even.

See, she’s not one of my daughter’s professors.  It’s likely my girl won’t ever take a class from her.  But my friend has found her and loved her and–

Well.   She didn’t have to.

But that’s what the sisterhood is about.  And it lasts beyond the four years.  It lasts through generations.  And beyond.

It’s forever.

My friend whispered in my ear, “I’m so proud of our girl.” And she hugged me again.

Through my tears, I said, “Thank you for loving her.”

She waved her hand, “Don’t thank me for doing something that easy.”

Oh, my heart.

Today there have been so many pictures and posts on social media from my friends sharing their joy and happiness over being together yesterday.  One GreenKnight friend has said on more than one occasion, “It’s like going home.”

Amen.  And yesterday I sat upstairs in our “house,” and watched my girl and her sisterfriends SHINE like the stars they are.  I stood on stage with my sisterfriends and sang a song that another professor wrote, “Wesleyan is my school, Wesleyan is your school…..”  And my own daughter said she bawled.

She once told me that her friend who was STUNT chair last year was my special sister because we had a lineage between us of women who were tapped by the one before her, and it eventually was traced back to me.  And the one who tapped me and so on.

Well, huh.  I never thought of it that way.

And so now my oldest and much loved girl is a part of that lineage.  And I couldn’t be more tickled–because she’s happy.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

So yeah, my daughter is also my sister.

It’s a Wesleyan thing, y’all.

And I’m a Wesleyanne for life.

I’m thankful for that and for all the treasures which that has brought and continues to bring me.

Love to all.

 

Move-in Day and the Ties that Bind

Move-in Day.

She’s officially a sophomore.

Today her grandmother asked me how old someone I knew who was a child when Aub was a baby is now.  My first response was, “Ummm, maybe early 20’s?”  Then it hit me that she was several years older than my girl, and my girl is almost–gulp–19.

Well, when on earth did that happen?

Today we loaded up things she’s had packed up since May and things she’s used all summer into two vehicles and drove the 40 minutes to my alma mater and hers.  As I drove I thought back to move-in day last year.

So very different this year.

First, the weather.  A gorgeous but hot sunny day.  Last year, the rain was plentiful and had folks ducking and dashing with suitcases, boxes, refrigerators, TVs, and books by the backpack-ful.  Today the only thing we dashed for was the shade.

Last year she moved in with all of the other freshmen in her class.  Today, it looked like Aub was the only one moving in.  She’s an Orientation Leader this year, and training starts tomorrow afternoon.  It was a breeze getting things out of the vehicles parked right at the entrance to her new dorm.  No weaving around folks in the hall.  No making conversation with others or seeing all of the door decorations the young women brought with them.  Aub’s door was the only one with a name on it.  The halls are M-T, empty.

My girl's room for the next ten months.

My girl’s room for the next ten months.

This year our whole crew moved her up.  Last year we had the helping hands and giving spirits of our dear friends helping us out while my Fella was deployed.  They were missed and thought of often today, especially as my girl was unpacking her clothes.  I kept saying things could be hung up, but she missed her sweetheart friend who helped her organize her drawers last year.  Ah, well, there’s still time.

The best thing different were the tears.  Or lack thereof.  Last year’s move-in was especially hard.  This young woman who continues to amaze me had been through the wringer the two years prior to moving to college, losing people we love so dearly AND working to graduate from high school in three years.  She was emotional and sad and anxious.  All normal under the best of circumstances.  I remember Cooter standing by the window, forlornly saying, “We just didn’t have enough time together.  I wish I’d been born sooner.”

Today there was laughter and inspecting and questions and helping.  Our Princess told me as we carried up Load Number Umpteen that she was thinking that maybe if there were students who were missing their families, she could help cheer them up.  I don’t know if she means now or when she attends Wesleyan as a member of the Class of 2027 (and rest assured this WILL happen), but if anyone can make that happen, it’s her.  I explained that this is sort of what her big sister will be doing as an Orientation Leader, and that made her very happy.

My least favorite thing that was the same was the third floor.  Last year, third floor.  This year, the same. Only different building.  Those stairs.  Y’all.  I didn’t know what great shape I must have been in when I was traipsing up and down those flights of stairs my whole freshman year.  As I huffed and blew today, granted I was carrying some heavy loads, I remembered the exact feel of those steps and how I could do a bouncy thing down and make them in record time when necessary.

The exact feel of those exact steps.

My college sophomore is living in what was the freshman dorm when I was there.  And–

she’s living in part of my room.

Y’all.

It’s okay.  You can laugh.  Make fun.

But yes, I am that Mama.  This bit of coincidence makes me happy.  Very happy.  It’s not just good–in the words of my nephew, it’s great.

That window.  The same one that was in front of my bed my freshman year.  This brings me such joy, you don't even know.  Yeah, I'm that Mama.

That window. The same one that was in front of my bed my freshman year. This brings me such joy, you don’t even know. Yeah, I’m that Mama.

Aub's sink is in my closet.  This tickles me so much.

Aub’s sink is in my closet. This tickles me so much.

In the space of what was three separate rooms my freshman year, they have remodeled and turned those three into a suite with two bedrooms and a bath in between.  So she has part of my room in hers.  The window in front of my bed where the radiator sat all those years ago is in front of her study area.  Her sink is in what used to be my closet.  Which makes me giggle and I have no idea why.  Of course there are very few actual similarities to my old room.  The radiator that was a faithful place to dry dishes or store things until the day they announced they were turning them on is gone.  (What a furor and mad rushing from class that announcement caused–so many things stored on those radiators.)  The ceiling fans on the lowered ceilings serve to stir around the air-conditioned air, something we knew nothing about.  Box fans in the windows were our best friends.  The community bathrooms are gone to be replaced by a shower and private bath with double vanities.  Very fancy.  The hallways no longer have the shellacked looking slick floors–now they are carpeted with chair railing on the wall and lovely sconces lighting the hall.  So much has changed, and yet…..

my girl is living in my old room!

The hallway--I wandered down it, hearing echoes from the past.

The hallway–I wandered down it, hearing echoes from the past.

That’s how I’ve thought of it since she told me where her room was.  And I couldn’t help smiling today and wandering the halls, listening to the echoes of the past.  I even found the door to my room on the first floor of the same dorm unlocked–the room where I lived as a Resident Assistant my junior year.  I had a wonky-shaped bathtub in my private bathroom that I loved.  Sigh. It’s been replaced by a tile shower.

Ah well.

What a wonderful trip down memory lane today.  I take those trips often, sometimes they are happy, sometimes nostalgic, and sometimes, depending on the song on the radio, downright painful.  But today–

it was great.

I am thankful my girl is there.  I hope it will be a place that she will return to as I have for strength and confidence and comfort.  I’m hoping that she will form friendships, as I have been so lucky to do, that will last her through all kinds of changes in her life.  I want her to find people to love and who love her who will always be willing to hear her story.  No matter what.  And her theirs.  I want her to one day, maybe when she’s moving her own legacy in, hear the echoes of her own happy past at this wonderful place.

As we were leaving today, door locked, and heading down the hall, I turned back and said, “Oh no, we should have blessed your room or something!”  I was thinking of lovely words written by folks like Thom Shuman who make things seem filled with peace and good things–and that’s what I want for her for this year.

But my girl wasn’t following me.  She laughed.  “You want to lay hands on my room or something?”

Ah well, maybe not.  But I did get in the retort, “No, I want to put a curse on your doorstep that any boy who tries to enter will be–‘Petrificus Totalis’!”  Yeah, Cooter’s all about those Harry Potter spells.  I’ve got them down.

She walked away, “I’m not listening.”  Ha.  Yeah you were.

As we left for home, I thought about it.  I didn’t need to say anything to “bless” that room.  It already has been.  By all the voices and stories and joys and sorrows that the room has seen over the years.  All of those stories will be joined by the ones Aub and her sweet suitemate make this coming year.  Our stories are all connected, over time, by a shared love–of learning, of our sisters, and of making a difference in this world.

And after all, I think it’s those connections, those relationships, those ties that bind–that’s what really blesses us in this life.

Giving thanks for my sisters in spirit tonight–who embraced me and continue the tradition by embracing my girl.

Love to all.

 

Pirates, Pearls, and Open Doors

Yesterday my Wesleyanne, my Pirate 2017–the one almost done with her first year of college–went in to work about an hour before I headed out for our Alumnae weekend festivities.  She told me the night before that she thought she might drive up after work to play in the Alumnae/Student Soccer game.  I was visiting with friends, new and old, when she came walking up on the loggia yesterday afternoon, ready to play.

I drove out to the new soccer field (not sure how long it has been out there, but it will always be the “new” one to me) to cheer a team on.  On the one side my girl and her friends, on the other side friends I’ve had for twenty-eight years.  What. On. Earth.  (And no, I’m not telling who I was cheering for.  There’s some things you get old enough to know better about.)

As the game wrapped up with laughter and hugs and pats on the backs, the Pirates of ’89 gathered on the steps of the covered deck.  With my dear friend Oenone’s camera, I took pictures of this group of women who were such great role models and even better friends for me.  With a lump in my throat, I introduced them to my Pirate, and asked if I could take a picture of her with them.  That moment right there.  And a tradition was passed along.  Oenone put her pearls around Aub’s neck, saying it is a tradition for Pirates to play in pearls.  Moments like this are when I look back at 1986 Tara and whisper in her ear, “That whole college decision thing?  You chose well.”

 

A Pirate in pearls.....perfection.

A Pirate in pearls…..perfection.

As we were all leaving the soccer fields and heading back towards front campus for other events, some of our friends needed rides, as they had walked out to the new field from the old one and it was H.O.T. hot.  I had the privilege of being accompanied by the scarf-maker who could.  In the five minutes it took us to get to front campus, we were deep in conversation.  We found a couple of rockers and commenced to visiting.  Aub joined us a few minutes later and the laughter and near tears that passed among us were the stuff that the best of memories are made of.   My scarf-maker friend, this woman who takes Chances and makes things happen, walked with us over to the loggia overlooking the fountain where we would be eating soon.  She looked down at all below us and then back at Aub.

She motioned for Auburn.  “Come with me.  Mom, you stay here.”

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I saw them go down the marble stairs I’d gone up and down so many times over the years, probably the most significant of which was when I was married by that fountain in 2002.  They seemed lost in conversation as they headed over to the door that opened up to the post office and bookstore.  As she opened the door for Aub, my friend waved up at me.  They smiled, and then they headed back.

The first in a long line of many, I hope.  Thankful for the legacy my friend has passed along.

The first in a long line of many, I hope. Thankful for the legacy my friend has passed along.

I stood and looked out at the preparations for our fiesta by the fountain while I waited.  When they came back up, both were beaming.
“I just passed along a new tradition. You want to hear the story?”

I nodded.  Traditions.  That’s my middle name.  Daddy used to say, Look out, if you do anything more than once, it becomes a tradition with Tara.  So of course I wanted to know this story.

“You remember Rita Delaney Harris?” she asked.  I nodded.  I had seen her name in the Annual Meeting program that morning.  She passed away this past year.  She was a non-traditional older student, who was a senior my freshman year.

“It was my freshman year.  I was walking over to go in that door, and Rita was heading that way too.  I started to open the door for her, but she stopped me, reaching out and opening the door for me.  And she said, ‘No, let me.  And may this be the first of many doors opened for you.'”

Is it okay to say that I was about to cry?

Okay or not, it’s the truth.

What a precious lady.  To think that something that may have seemed so simple and  that happened twenty-nine years ago still touches my friend.  That it made such a lasting impression on her heart.

And now.

Now she has opened a door for my girl, wishing for her many more open doors in her future.

Oh good gravy.

Is there anything more precious that having someone you love and respect sharing love and light with your young’un?

Tonight I am thankful for sisterhood.  But it’s more than that really.  Sisterhood at Wesleyan is like the beautiful handkerchief I got from my Great Aunt.  I always have it.  It’s an heirloom passed down from one generation to the next.  I tuck it in my pocket or my purse or the top drawer of my dresser.  I always feel the comfort of the memories it brings me, and I appreciate that I have it now, after all of these years.  It dries my tears from laughter and from the hard times.  A treasure that is beautiful yet still quite functional.  I don’t tuck it away and never use it again.  Keeping it close only adds to the memories, and that is where so much joy comes from.  Keeping my sisters close, and sharing the memories of yesterday, the joys and sorrows of today, and the dreams for tomorrow.

Thank you Pirates 1989 for showing my girl what being a Pirate is all about.  “Guidelines only, laughter, pearls, and loving your sisters fiercely.”  And sharing grace and love by opening doors for each other every Chance we get.

Go take a chance and do something great for someone, no matter how small it seems.  I bet you’ll be surprised how far it goes.

 

Love to all.  And pearls.  Always pearls.  😉