Thursday, December 30, 2004

The cave dweller emerges

At about 3 PM today, I went outside and sat at the table on our deck. It was 60 degrees and sunny; the famed "Carolina blue" sky was cloudless. I had my journal and all my colored pens and pencils with me – I go nowhere without my journal. I just sat there. I listened to the birds chirping, the dogs barking, the cars on the street, the breeze blowing through the trees. Our neighbors were cleaning out their garage. I smiled when I heard one of their teenage daughters say, “Gross.” I wished I could see what she’d discovered. I sat there. Not for very long, but long enough to feel the liberated bliss of having emerged from a cave. In essence, I had.

I’d spent most of the day in my bedroom, sitting bolt upright on my bed, entrancecd by CNN and other news stations, trying to absorb the magnitude of the disaster in Asia. I have since concluded that absorption is impossible. Absorption isn’t even advisable. I watched. I pondered. I wept. I prayed. I pumped my fists in anguish over the lost. I pumped my fists in joy over the found: the five-year-old who survived for two hours holding on to a door knob and paddling as fast as he could. And the son who managed to call his mother and tell her that he and his fiancĂ©e had been on an island that wasn’t hit by the storm; he will be reunited with his father -who had gone to Thailand to search for him. I wondered about those with survivor’s guilt: the supermodel, the famous decorator, the parent, the spouse, the child whose loved one was swept away, whose lives will never be the same, who wonder why they live and so many others do not. I prayed for the man who escaped from one of the Twin Towers on September 11th and who managed to survive this tsunami. He’d better start seriously considering what his life’s call is and fulfill it; he has obviously been spared for some special reason.

This emerged cave dweller made an early dinner of quesadillas and edamame, then loaded her remarkably accomodating husband, compliant kids, and her daughter's adventurous friend into the minivan, and headed over to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to meet up with a friend of mine from junior high school. (And now this emerged cave dweller will stop referring to herself in the 3rd person.)

I hope everyone in the world someday has a friend like Debby. She and I were best buddies in 7th and 8th grade. We spoke on the telephone every day, often more than once. We would call each other to coordinate what we would wear the next day. If she wore a white shirt, so did I. If I wore a blue skirt, so did she. We could finish each other’s sentences, and we often did. If she weren’t one of the blondest girls in the school and I weren’t one of only two black girls in the entire school, we might have been mistaken for sisters. Much to my dismay, after 8th grade, Debby and her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Then she went to college. I went to college. I got married and had kids. She got married and now has a daughter. And through all these years, Debby has kept in touch with me. She has tracked me down, sent me cards and letters, photos, and even attended the reunion of our senior class at Poly Prep. She didn’t graduate from Poly with me, mind you, but she came to the reunion because she has kept in touch with a few other members of our class. I suppose part of the reason she came is because I was the reunion speaker. She came all the way from Florida to hear me speak; I was shocked and extremely glad to see her.

Today Debby and her family were returning from visiting with in-laws St. Louis to her new home state of Florida and had a layover here in Charlotte. She actually chose to have the layover here so that we could get together. So our family met her family at baggage claim, sat with them for half an hour, took pictures, and then they went back to their gate for the continuing flight to Orlando.

This emerged cave dweller (just once more for dramatic effect; please forgive me!)and her family returned from the airport to Blockbuster video where we all picked videos for tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve festivities. There will be lots of movies, popcorn, pizza, Chinese food, soda, cookies, and all kinds of other treats as we bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new year. I plan to spend several hours tomorrow reflecting on 2004, making wishes and adding to my Mondo Beyondo list for 2005, writing cards and letters to friends, and strolling merrily down the aisles of the Harris Teeter supermarket. That’s a topic for a future blog for sure: I love supermarkets. And joy of joys: a brand new health food store is opening up only five minutes from the house!

I needed to emerge from the cave this afternoon. I needed to release myself from the web of sorrow I’d spun around myself. I needed to release myself from the guilt I’d begun to develop for the bountiful blessings we continue to enjoy here at home when there are so many millions who have lost absolutely everything. I needed help in order to emerge from the cave. If I hadn’t come out, I would have missed out on a balmy, late-December Charlotte afternoon. The sunshine helped. Exercise helped. Journaling helped. Taking care of the kids and the house helped. The family’s willingness to go with me to the airport helped. Seeing Debby again helped. Prayer helped. And tomorrow will help; I’ll get up and do it all over again. Plus there’s all of 2005 looming just a few hours off the starboard bow.

Happy New Year!

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