I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Girls from DC

    When I was 13, I did something very mean.  In the school snack bar one morning, where 20 of my closest guy and girl friends gathered before class, I impulsively pulled the chair out from under my best friend Ruth.  She fell hard to the floor, her cheerleading skirt flying up right along with her hands, no time to brace herself for the fall.  I remember there being lots of laughter.  Then I remember her disbelieving gaze fall upon me right before she gave me a good smack upside the head with the purse that we fondly referred to as "the canteen".  Yes, I, the best friend, had just humiliated Ruth in front of our peers.   I shudder to think that I might have harbored some pent up hostility and jealously toward Ruth since she made cheerleader and I didn't.  I was, after all, only the runner-up, which meant I would spend game days having to wear normal clothes to school, not a cute litte red and white cheerleader uniform.  It also meant that I would spend ballgames sitting in the bleachers with the "pep squad" (the cheerleader wannabes) dreaming of what it would be like to be out on the track with the cheerleaders who were living the dream. 

     Well, clearly I've moved on!!  (Although the fact that I can still recall that morning in detail concerns me just a tad). Like all good junior high friendships, Ruth forgave me and our friendship continued.  Ruth and I, and our other close friends were, unknowingly, binding ourselves together for a lifetime with shared experiences. I really gave little thought then to the twists and turns these friendships would take as time rolled by. I didn't give a moments thought then to how we would grow apart.  And there is no way I could have anticipated the joy of our coming back together in mid-life.

     Life, for all of the girls from DC, got busy for a lot of years.   Moves.  Marriages.  Children.  Jobs. Some of us shared short exchanges on Christmas cards or saw each other briefly when we were home for holidays.  But, as I said, life was busy.  And let's face it--life pre-facebook and internet was just plain hard!  To stay in touch then meant having to find a piece of paper and an ink pen that wasn't dried up.  Then you had to find an envelope.  And then a postage stamp.  And then if you'd misplaced your address book, which was a REAL book usually stored in a desk drawer and not somewhere in cyberspace, then the letter might lay on your desk for weeks before you threw it away because all the information was old by then.  Like I said, life was hard.  It was easy to lose touch!!

   After 30 years, a class reunion happened.  We all came back together for one short weekend.  Our inner circle of friends vowed that we would have a mini-reunion during the next year.  And that is exactly what has happened every year since.  We meet up in a cool town for  a magical time where years melt away along with wrinkles. (Okay, the wrinkles don't actually melt away, but with declining vision, we don't see each other's wrinkles, therefore, in our virtual world, they do not exist.  How's that for logic?)  There's lots of coffee to keep us going because there's so little time and so much to talk about. There's a fair amount of junk food mixed in with lots of fresh fruit and veggies because we're older now and we need the roughage!  And mostly, there's laughter.  Lots of it.  This last year, we all turned 50.  So there was a big birthday cake and presents.  And more laughter.  And we reminisce.

     We reminisce about "the daredevils" who attempted to invade the halls during lunchtime when Mr. Blackwell had lunch duty.  We laughed about  Lisa giving "kissing" advice.  We talked about how smart Sue Anne was.  She actually took hard classes, as opposed to me. I took things like choir, office aid and speech which allowed me to rank higher without actually having to put out much effort.   Suzanne and I laugh about Fresca burps and tormenting freshmen.  We all laugh about living vicariously through Rose, who always attracted the attention of the older fellas.  We talk about liking the same boys at the same time, which is bound to happen when you live in a small town.  We laugh until our sides hurt about pranks, like dressing a mannequin in a choir uniform for a concert, which created quite an unforgettable moment for Mr. Richardson, our director, when the curtain went up! We groaned just remembering the horrible sunburns resulting from our water-skiing escapade at Lake Brownwood. Everything wasn't always fun and games, though.  And we talk about that, too!

   We talk about bullying.  We didn't really call it that then, but it happened.  We talk about what it felt like to be teased about weight and how badly it hurt to be called "Shirley Pimple".  We talk about tough times at home.  We talk about losing a parent. We remembered a tragedy in our town that made national news and resulted in the loss of our classmate.  We ask each other questions we wouldn't ask then.  We explain things we couldn't explain then.

   For all of us, there was life then.  And somewhere in the middle, there was life that happened while we were all apart.  We got married.  We got unmarried.  We got remarried.  We had babies and they grew up.  We lost ones that we love.  We traveled. We had grandbabies.  We had wonderful moments in our lives, and we had a few not-so-wonderful moments in our lives.  And for all of us, there is life now, which is where we all found each other again!

   Seems we girls from DC were bound so strongly by those early years, that it was inevitable that we would find each other again.  We have a shared history that is unique to us. Moments that will never again be duplicated, and quite likely never  spoken of  again except when we are together (thank goodness!).  With each annual visit (gosh, that sounds too much like a gynocologist appointment)--lets rephrase that to say that each time we reunite, we learn more about that mysterious "middle part" of our lives when we were apart.  I am so thankful for my girls from DC.  Here's to many more years of togetherness!!

All is forgiven.  Ruth and me post "mean girl" incident. 
See how happy we look??!!

After 40 years of friendship, some of  The Girls from DC: 
Suzanne, Deena, Sue Anne, Maurie, Lisa, Donna and me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


     It's a blustery, cold day today.  Even a few snow flurries are dancing around outside my window.  My thermometer shows 15 degrees.  School has been called off today.  Church services have been called off for tonight.  I will not argue with my friends up north---we in Central Texas are, admittedly, whimps when it comes to cold weather!  When it's 110 degrees outside with 80% humidity, we thrive.  When it's in the "teens", we shut down.  It's who we are!

     I do believe that at age 50 I have acquired late-onset Attention Deficit Disorder!  As I'm sitting at my desk trying to be ultra creative in designing a poster, what I see outside my window is so much more intriquing than what I see on my computer screen.  And what I see outside my window got me thinking, so I thought I would write about it...

    At the end of our front walk is a gate, and over the gate is an arbor.  In the summertime, it is in full bloom with the most fragrant jasmine.  For a short time in early summer it is graced with lovely yellow lady banks roses.  And even in the most excruciating summer heat, orange trumpet vines flourish on the arbor, offering a cool shade to whomever might want to sit below.

   In wintertime, the arbor looks kind of sad--only a bunch of desolate vines begging for the blooms of spring to "gussy" them up!  When I walk beneath it,  I hear rustling deep inside those vines where some sort of bird has managed to find refuge and warmth.  On this particular day, as I look out my window, I am pleasantly distracted by the cardinal that has perched himself in the tangle of dormant vines.  He sits there for a very long time.  I wondered if he was staking his claim there, although it didn't appear that he had any competition.  Currently, the arbor does not look like prime real estate for our feathered friends!  Then I thought how the cardinal is not worried about today, because he knows that in a few months the arbor will be a luxurious dwelling place.  It happens every year.  The old, faithful vines come back.  That is hope, and it gets us through wintertime and into spring.

    When our lives are in the middle of winter (which, incidentally can happen in the middle of summer!), God gives us hope.  It is all around us.  We just have to look.  For me, there's hope in an old couple sharing ice cream and in a little girl all bundled up with cheeks flushed from the cold and hot chocolate spilled all down the front of her coat.  There's hope when there is a little rain shower when the sun is still shining, when I put on a pair of socks still warm from the clothes dryer and when I hold a steaming cup of tea in my hands. There is hope when I hear the voices of my children at the other end of the phone line.  There's hope when I get an unexpected hug from a little boy who then, embarrassingly, tells me I'm pretty.  And this morning, there's hope in a bright red cardinal sitting in a mass of tangled, dead-looking vine.

There is hope in laughter and hope in the smallest comforts.  There is hope in good stuff!  I believe these are gifts from God!

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, watever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you".    --Phillipians 4:8,9

the arbor in springtime...