A Much-Needed Diaspora

Today, I am leaving for Columbus to visit really good friends of The Boy’s and mine. Plans are to drive down to Ashland, I will hopefully get to do some laundry while I’m there, repack my bag, and head down from there to Columbus. Tonight’s plan is to go see Indiana Jones, tomorrow night is to hang out with a Director of Planning from the Columbus office from my business, Sunday I think The Boy and I will toodle around Columbus, and Monday will be some relaxing and heading back to Ashland/Cleveland.

The Boy and I started dating the winter of 2002; we officially started dating on December 1. I think that he took me down to Columbus to meet them in mid-January of 2003. He got a random call from our friends, just checking up on how he was doing, and how was life, and The Boy mentioned that he was seeing a new girl, and hey! would you like to meet her? They did, and so we began our first trek to Columbus at 10:00 at night on a Friday.

On the handful of times that I have been to Columbus, I can only site two times in which I went down and the weather was decent: Midsummer 2005, and (hopefully, today’s trip). So okay, officially, only one time I’ve gone to Columbus it’s been nice, I’m just wishfully thinking that this time will be nice.

The night I went down to meet Dear Friends, it was blizzarding, no fucking joke. At the time, The Boy drove a 1994 Buick Skylark (for the record, I think every Skylark from that year was painted maroon: I’ve never seen a Skylark in another color). Don’t get me wrong, that car was a beast, and I loved it (I got that thing up to 100 mph the first time I drove it). But this car scared the hell out of me in the winter time. In recent years, The Boy got a Honda CRV, which I felt a lot better in driving to Columbus in a blizzard, but not that first drive.

We made it to Columbus by about midnight, and that was my first encounter with Dear Friends. We spent the whole night staying up and talking about their history with The Boy, shared a much-digressed, seven-hour story of their mutual history, and listened to CD 101.1 all night.

Since that night, I have loved Dear Friends, and have met a lot of their other friends – who have, in turn, become our friends. One of the things that I am most looking forward to is our arrival in Columbus, where The Boy and I will come through the door, be escorted in, invited to sit down, and slowly the other members of our strange amoeba group will come by, excited to see us. I am longing for this trip because I’ve had such a rough time at both work and home lately, and I really need to escape and spend time with people I love to hang out with and talk to. This is the first time that I’m forced to run out of their house early on Sunday, and I can actually sit an relax.

I am so glad I am going on this trip.

Emerald and Seafoam

I have always found your words inspiring to my own. Our witty banter and clever contests pushed me to use my words wisely.

Joe always pushed us and praised us when praise was due, even to his squirrelly and disproportionately confident college students.

I was very grateful to get these words in response to Plain Secrets. Laura was a bit of a kindred spirit to me as I went through college, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one pining for the loss of written self in the days that have flowed to numerous to count from our most formative of days.

I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this here, but thinking about Ashland and my time there makes me think of this time of year, especially. Recently, DF (co-worker who was to buy the Coach briefcase, heretofore to be named “DF”) and I were commenting on how beautiful it was to see the trees turning green. And while my absolute favorite time of year is hands-down autumn for reasons I may explain later, there is something about the month of May that instills a lot of enmeshed feelings for me.

Firstly, the artist in me sees the contrast of the gray skies of May and the green of the trees. The color theory of the equation makes the green so much more verdant, the contrast more intense between the bright emerald of the tops of the leaves and the delicate seafoam of the undersides as they turn over, waiting for rain. Everything in May always feels fresh: instead of the crisp cool freshness of early October, it is the wet laundry clean of spring. You smell the loam of the earth that rises from the rain: as there is a distinct smell to death, unmistakable and undeniable, so is there a smell to life – that smell is May. May smells like dirt and rain.

But my memories of May, when I try to think on it, go back to Beaumont, and the different feeling of the spring release (as opposed to the end-of-summer return to school). The wool of our kilts that we wore through the year have become unbearably itchy and hot; sweater vests emblazoned with the school’s distinctive logo have given way to un-tucked and half-buttoned oxford blouses; long hair is pulled back into messy ponytails; and windows are opened to let the forthcoming warmth of inevitable summer in. Then came the months of May in college. The first part of the month spent in Ashland, those two weeks out on the lawn peppered with people both sunbathing and prepping for finals, the second spent at home, relaxing for a few weeks before the summer jobs, started, rife with sticky heat and baked air.

And before I knew it, the last Mays came. In high school, we prepared our senior projects for graduation; we gathered around the statue of the Virgin and laid flowers at her feet, asking for all of the virtues and blessings one woman could give another; we picnicked in the courtyard, lusting after the colleges we were attending, reminiscing of the four years past. …And then we were gone. In college, we sat on the quad, preparing our resumes for eventual jobs, clenching jaws at the bittersweet sting as we packed up dorm rooms and said goodbye to our little community, and pulling down Claremont Avenue for the last time as a resident of Ashland city proper. …And then we were gone.

Can we ever have those days back where our assigned task was to write from our self-conscious depths? When writing was forced upon us in our own best interest?

For me, May will always be the season of endings, but with the hope that beginnings will be sweet and plentiful.

Plain Secrets

I’m getting this chance to post while I’m sitting and waiting for my car to get it’s oil changed.

My professor at Ashland, Joe Mackall, put out his second book, Plain Secrets, writing about his perspective on life with the Amish.  It took me all of two days to read: Joe has always written a compelling story, and I appreciated the subject matter for various reasons.  For four years, I lived with the Amish as a constant reminder, be it from standing in line behind an Amish person at the local Wal-Mart, or from watching the Amish roll by in their buggies as I waited to cross the street.  Also, I don’t have any serious envy for the lifestyle the Amish lead, but I do appreciate the quiet simplicity of their lives.  I could never give up my freedoms as a woman, nor could I give up my technological creature comforts.  But, I do love going to Lehman’s in Kidron, and I do have a few Amish cookbooks, and I’ve always been fascinated with living in the country.

In addition, I received a copy of the book using a gift card given to my by a friend, and I had The Boy hand-carry it to Joe to have it signed.  I was absolutely thrilled to have Joe’s second book signed to me with a personal message, but a little bummed out that it was as perfunctory as that.  I miss Joe.  Not only do I have a copy of his first book, The Last Street Before Cleveland, but I have it signed, and I went to his book reading for it when it was hosted at Ashland.  I was not the only one to be moved to tears at his reading.  I admire and respect him in more ways than I’m sure he knows, and if I get the opportunity to sit and have coffee with him, I will tell him that I wish that I could have worked harder for him in his classes, that I’m sorry that I skipped as many as I did, and if I could go back, I would have attended every class, and worked so much harder on my writing.

Joe gave me such a wonderful gift by opening me up to writing, and such simply-worded praise that I will never forget.  I discovered the world of the personal-essay my freshman year of college at the same time I was going through one of the roughest periods of my life.  I wrote a piece about my grandmother’s death, which I didn’t realize at the time, could have been a total cliched subject.  But somehow, I wrote something worthy enough for Joe to say: the story of a grandmother dying could be so cliched, but [I] got to a part of this and realized that this was like no other story.

I’m butchering the quote, but it really was as simple as that.  There was no waxing poetic about the story that I told, no flowery language, no glowing praise.  But there is something about those words that have driven my writing ever since.

The machinations of my life are as mundane as any other: I eat, I bathe, I work, I fuck, I laugh, I cry just like any other person.  But steeped into those experiences is the words.  I love language: I love how any and every word is impregnated with potential meaning; I love that I can forever pin the butterfly of my experience for display.  I haven’t written in a long time, but it’s not for a lack of story to tell.  Reading Joe’s words inspire me to write again.  I long to get back to that.

He’s Not Bitter, Oh No

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve managed to master my grandmother’s apple pie recipe (with a bit of a twist). Since mastering this, The Boy is a voracious consumer of said pie. Since I started learning to make this pie, I’ve done about five of them.

Last year, I only made two, and they were made specifically for a coworker out of apples he provided to me from his family-owned orchard. The Boy was decidedly not happy about this arrangement, and has since crabbed every manly chance he has about not getting his pie.

I was musing today whilst I was on the phone with him about making another pie again. Not only did The Boy remind me that I didn’t make him pie, he accused me of infidelity.

[Me]: I know I only gave [DD] pie last year.

[The Boy]: And what flavor was it: apple or vagina?

I can’t believe I said yes when he asked me to marry him. I guess I am just a big bakery slut.