Friday, February 24, 2012

Bittersweet Memories

I spent an afternoon of quality time with Warren yesterday. It was all good, but something we talked about made me think about my high school friend Heidi Hardgrove. This was a bittersweet thing. Heidi died during the summer after my Freshman year of college, and it nearly broke my heart at the time. I would not describe Heidi as my very closest friend in high school, but I would certainly rank her in the top three or four. I have missed her mightily through the years.

I always remember my mother saying, while we were in high school, “I like Heidi. I really do. She's a sweet girl. It's just that I know if you break a rule or get into trouble, you are going to be with Heidi when you do it.” Which, in retrospect, makes it pretty clear why she was such a wonderful friend. She was a girl who knew how to live life with gusto.

And here's the thing: the stuff I would get into trouble for with Heidi wasn't really bad stuff. Shoot, my other closest friends were paragons of adult approval, great kids, really, but I probably tried more of the dangerous stuff of adolescence with them. No, Heidi and I were just more likely to roam beyond the boundaries of neighborhood and curfew.

I was a straight A student in high school, and most of the kids I really ran around with were kids I knew from all the advanced classes. Everyone was pretty much an A average, college prep type. With three exceptions: I had another close friend who played in a band, and while he was a straight A student, some of the musicians I knew through him weren't so much straight arrows; I was active in theater, and it seemed to draw a real cross-section of kids; and Heidi was bright enough, but definitely not on a college-prep track. That was before Title IX, so there weren't girls varsity sports, but she was athletic and played lots of intramural sports. She was taking typing and shorthand and skill-oriented classes like that, and for the school year she lived after high school, she was working an office job, not away at college. Which had the effect of allowing us to grow apart during that school year. I was away at school, so we didn't have much contact that year.

I marvel that we were as good a friends as we were, really. We didn't have a huge amount in common, but we always clicked. As I said, Heidi was athletic, and I am the biggest klutz on the planet. But Heidi always valiantly and loyally claimed that I wasn't uncoordinated. That's the mark of a friend. We also tended to serve as each others “wing men” to use the phrase my sons use. If one of us needed a cover story to get out of the house, the other would provide it. If one of us needed someone to go someplace to meet a boy or check one out or venture into uncertain terrain, we called the other. It was that kind of a friendship.

Heidi died 34 years ago this summer. I have been reconnecting with some old high school friends through Facebook, and that has been really nice. But it just makes her absence from the planet that much more real to me. You wouldn't think it could still evoke such heartache. But it really does. For all the wonderful people who have been in my life through the years, and all the wonderful friends from that time who I let slip away, the pain of the loss of Heidi so abruptly, so permanently, has always stayed with me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Follow the passion

After much reflection, I've realized that blogging about my passion means blogging about my home life and how the pieces and parts of my life weave together. For me, those are the Big Topics.

It's been almost two full months since I posted here. It hasn't been because I haven't had time, or didn't have anything to say. I actually have three entries during that period that I drafted but opted not to post. No, the problem has been my continued identity crisis about what I want this blog to be. I've been paying attention to what the professionals say about blogging, and had come to feel that my personal accounts of life in our home are too narrow, just don't interest anyone. I wanted to say something bigger: Politics. Women's issues. Observations on midlife. Surely, I thought, those would have more universal appeal. I tried to come up with a structure, thinking maybe I could post on one topic every Tuesday, say, and a different one every Saturday, or something like that. I have a friend who uses that kind of a structure very effectively in her blog.

In the end, though, I realized that one can only effectively blog about one's passion. And my great passion is the three guys who live under my roof, and the activities of our lives. I spent a decade or two of my life being outwardly oriented, career driven. It was a good time in my life and I don't denigrate it. I still hold a professional position which is important to me, and I always want to keep the right balance to give my work life its due. But where does my passion really lie? Here at home. So I hereby give myself permission to ramble on about my guys and their accomplishments and travails and how wonderful I find my life. I will either find readers or I won't.

Since my last posting, things are moving in wonderful directions in Warren's life. He not only continues with his UDF job, but is registered to start his first class at Columbus State next month. On his own, with no prompting, he is taking actions to clean up some unfinished financial business from before he came here. And there is a special someone in his life. There are some complications in that area which I won't detail here, but in spite of them, I have to say that the relationship is having a very salutary effect on his temperament and world view. I'm under no illusions – Warren has a long journey ahead to get from where he is to where he wants to be, and there will certainly be roadblocks and detours and stumbles along the way. But I feel he is on the right path and has been moving pretty consistently in the right direction since about Christmas time. I am savoring these positive moments.

Sam is in the final week of rehearsals for TWHS's spring musical, The Secret Garden, and is feeling exhausted. I just keep trying to remind him that it is only one more week and it will all be behind him except the happy memories. But probably the nicest development in his life, in my opinion, is that there is some kind of interest going on between him and a girl from church with whom he has been friends for years. They both volunteered together at a sub-sandwich making workday a few weeks ago and spent the entire time talking. Since then, they've been texting back and forth and this weekend, they are going to a movie together. I'm not sure exactly where this ranks on the friend-versus-girlfriend continuum, but there seems to be some level of interest on both sides. Hannah is a delightful girl, and he had told me long ago that he would never ask her out because he didn't think he was in her league. It has become clear to me -- and I think to him -- that Hannah does not share that opinion, and it makes me very happy to see him get that affirmation, and to have the chance to get out and have some social fun.

Bob remains happily overcommitted to Boy Scouts, so as long as he is enjoying it, who am I to argue? I am enjoying winding down on my several volunteer commitments that were centered around Sam's activities. I think it will be fun to figure out where I want to spend that time when my time is more my own. My professional life is very busy right now, but I've been through the calendar cycle before and know that it will get easier by the end of May. Oh, and a new department head has been hired. Again. We met her yesterday and she will begin work with us on March 1. We are all feeling cautious after the last person came and went so quickly, but this one did make a really strong first impression.  So I would say I have moved from cautious to cautiously optimistic.

Generally speaking, life is clipping along with joy and verve. We are all in good health, the good days far outweigh the bad, and both young men seem to be moving in positive directions. I'm not sure I could ask for anything more. Life is sweet!