Monday, June 10, 2013

What comes around

            It seems that ever since I started writing Open Road, my life has taken spontaneous and interconnected twists and turns.  Events sync up; people are in the right place at the exact right moment; traffic lights are usually green and I have been creatively inspired beyond belief.  It's not as if everything I touch turns to gold -- it's that I'm finally able to see the golden moments that have been waiting for me.
            There's a new age belief that to be in the flow of life, we need to disconnect from needing to control the outcome.  It's not wise to try and push the river.  Still, there's something to be said about getting in the canoe, paddling on and enjoying the ride.
            Take last Saturday for instance.
            Before my morning yoga class, I was outside watering the garden when my neighbor stopped by.  "Our garage sale's open," Rick said. 
            "Have any bookshelves?" I asked, turning off the hose.
            We walked over to his house and although I didn't find a shelf that I needed for my closet, I did find a nice one to house my garden gear.  I'd just finished painting my guest room and wanted a couple of pictures to hang on the walls.  As I flipped through a box of prints that Karole, Rick's wife, had kept from her framing business, I was stunned to see a cross-stitch sampler I had made when I was sixteen along with a lovely Charles Wysocki print that had once hung in my dining room.
            "Those are left over from all the stuff you gave me to sell when you moved to California," Karole smiled.  "Want them back?"
            "YES!" I exclaimed.  "This sampler was one of the things I regret getting rid of and I totally forgot about the print!"
            "They're yours," Karole said. 
            I put them in a box along with some other trinkets and then needed to head home.  "Can I leave these here and pay later?" I asked.
            Karole nodded.  "Sure...just set them aside and I'll see you after your yoga class."
            A couple of hours later, I returned with one of my students.  As Barb and I walked by the side fence, I saw a jean jacket hanging on one of the posts.  I instantly recognized it.  It too had been mine, pre Big Sur, and I'd been trying to find one just like it at our local thrift store for years.  "Can I try this on?" I asked Karole.
            "It's yours," she smiled.  "Why not?"
            As I slipped it over my shoulders, I blurted out, "Well, now I'm really home."
            "I don't usually put out clothes, but thought I'd try a few coats," Karole said.  "You know how it is...that was meant to be."
            For five years, the pictures and the jacket had made annual appearances at Rick and Karole's garage sale, but for some reason, they were passed over so they could be magically passed back to me.

            It's funny the things I've remembered since bringing them home again.  As I hung the sampler, I remembered my family's road trip to South Carolina and how I'd meticulously passed the hours stitching the heart and snowman and pitcher of flowers.  Our dog, Cinder, sat on my feet and kept them warm as my father always blasted the air conditioning in the car.  When I finished the sampler, my mother carefully washed and framed it herself and it hung in my bedroom, then my first and second apartments and finally, in this house for more than fifteen years.  
            The Wysocki print was purchased during a time when I was pining after my first love, lost in a sea of denial, always hoping he'd return to me so our lives could begin again.  It's no wonder I was draw to paintings of women on widow's watches, or "Supper Call" in which a woman faces the sea and blows a bugle to signal her husband to come home.  When I look at that painting now, hanging in the heart of my guest room, all I see are the warm hues and autumnal favorite.  Gone are the pangs of anguish, the longing for something that was not meant to be.  Had I gotten what I wanted, I imagine it would have been me boarding a ship to sail the seas.
            The jean jacket now hangs in my closet awaiting cooler weather.  Sandwiched between a plethora of colorful scarves, tapestry embellished skirts and funky blazers, the jacket is a reminder of who I used to be and also who I still am.  Long gone are the jumpers and turtlenecks of my teaching days, and the years I wore only dark, solid colors so I would fade into the woodwork.   Living in California and perusing the Free Box at Esalen allowed me to experiment with clothing styles in ways I never would have dared before.  Since discovering Saver's Thrift Store, I can afford a colorful and rich wardrobe all the while living within my means.  The jean jacket is a reminder that, no matter how bright and multi-hued an outfit might be, I still like to anchor it with something simple.  And that's me -- complicated and simple, no matter how you slice it.

            I find it a blessing and comfort that karma works in mysterious ways.  What goes around, comes around, and never in the ways we expect.  I didn't go looking for those pictures or jacket; didn't even know they were safely harbored across the street, waiting for my return.  But they were and I embraced them, joyful to revisit parts of my history that I can metaphorically reframe and welcome into the present....and do so with ease.
            Forrest Gump's Mama had it right:  life is like a box of chocolates and we never know what we're going to get.  Sometimes it's nutty or filled with stuff we don't like. But in the end, it's all sweet to me.

"Supper Call" by Charles Wysocki