Sunday, May 20, 2007

Road Trips, Past and Future

Last weekend I went on a Quilt Shop Hop with my longtime friend Peggy. A Quilt Shop Hop like this is an opportunity for quilt shops to lure obsessed, addicted quilters into their stores to spend a lot of money they don't have on (sometimes) gorgeous material they may never use.
Should you not be a quilter, it works like this: a group of shops in a general area sell "passports" which need to be stamped at each and every shop in order to qualify for prizes which range from a super duper sewing machine, to "fat quarters" of fabric. (A fat quarter is a certain amount of material, the exact size of which I have yet to learn.) Along with the stamp, each shop gives out one part of quilt pattern. If one hits all stores, one has the whole quilt pattern to do, for free.
After one gets stamped, one then wanders around ooohing and ahhhing at material and quilting books and the amazing quilts most shops hang on their walls, often with the pattern and already chosen and cut fabric to make the quilt top.At a large extra cost, because all the choosing and cutting of fabric lengths has already been done.
I don't sew, therefore I don't quilt. At all. Never. And am highly unlikely to learn at this point in my life, what with my permanently injured right hand and all.
Peggy learned to sew at her mother's knees and makes wonderful quilts. (My mother had one arm and never sewed, either) Peg has enough spare fabric to make seven to ten huge quilts, all stored in her sewing room, and she has a small stash, compared to "real" quilters, she tells me.
So why was I along on a three day weekend to seven quilt stores in New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts, you ask. Well, because it was a road trip, of course, with three nights in hotels, and an opportunity to go to the ocean. Plus, as Peggy is quick to add, I have a good eye for color. This is a rather startling fact we discovered three years ago when she made me a quilt for which I picked all the fabric. She has dragged me along to quilt shops with her ever since.
Now Peggy and I met when I was four and she was five. This August will mark 54 years of friendship. The last road trip we had been on together, however, was over 35 years ago, with our then-husbands along in tow. It was also the last time we had a major blow out that almost came to blows. ( Long story short, we wanted to set up camp in different spots, ended up screaming at each other, and stomped off in different directions, leaving out frightened husbands behind. They tentatively set up in a third spot and were both surprised and relieved when we turned up happily together, several hours later. Our mothers could have told them this was a normal occurrence, reverting back to five year olds.)
This was our first road trip since then, and while we knew blow outs were unlikely, we did wonder how well we'd travel together now, in our late 50's.
It was great! We had a wonderful time, even though I got tired of fabric stores, and took to reading while she bought still more fabric. I even bought a passport to have stamped, though it turned out neither of us won anything, alas. 
After we finished the Shop Hop, we hit Newburyport, MA, like the tourists we were, going into the wonderful selection of clothing. furniture, art, junque, and second hand stores the city offers. Peggy is always helpful in dragging my walker up and down steps, so I could hit as many stores as I liked. Our big purchases? Peg bought a pair of denim "I dream of Jeannie" pants, and I bought a cheap ring, both in a small head shop, which was affordable. We also had dinner with two of her old friends who now live in the area.
We spent a couple of early morning hours at the beach in Newbury, MA, too. These were perhaps the best hours of the whole trip.
This trip has hardened my desire to take my own Road Trip this fall, in late September or early October. I have never take a road trip alone. I have always gone with my mother and/or daughter or one spouse or the other, and have always pretty nicely compromised over the route or the speed or the accommodations or the tourist traps, or all these together. This next trip will be mine, all mine. Never mind that I can probably only drive a few hours a day, and will need to rest a lot and walk around a lot, and deal with pain a lot. Never mind that I will be low budgeting it, and will miss my daughter and granddaughter and dog. Never mind that I won't be able to go as far as I'd like, and visit all my J-Land friends, I am going to do it, anyway!
My tentative route will be from CT to DC through WV to KY (near Cincinnati) to Pittsburgh, PA, then home to CT. Do any of my readers live roughly along that route? I would be happy to take an extra day or two to swing by to meet you, just let me know! (Mort, do you want a visit from an odd lesbian from New England?) I will be staying in motels in some places, and hope to bunk down on a sofa in others. I don't care how neat or messy anyone's house is, I just want whatever adventure the trip can offer me. And I have to be as frugal as possible.
And I want to meet and talk to people, flirt with babies, exchange hellos with strangers. This will be the most difficult part, I think. Rene is very good at striking up conversations with anyone, I am shyer. I just hope that between scheduled visits I can have hello-where-are-you-from? kind of interactions, no big thing, but still tough for me. We'll see what happens. Now I am going to get my maps out and start daydreaming.
Blessings, Margo

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Still Alive and Wondering-Me & Mom, too.

Amazingly enough, my mother is home and doing well. She never even had to go to rehab, though her balance is still off a bit because her left eye is still blurry. She has a physical therapist coming in twice a week to help her walk more steadily, and she has now lived to see her 82nd birthday, which was Wednesday.
I am so appreciative of the prayers, energy, thoughts everybody sent her way-her recovery is a response to such kindness that poured out of all my readers, and I am so beyond grateful I have no words beyond: Thank You All. Your support truly got me through in a way I could not have otherwise.
I am still processing the aftermath of the experience, however, and have been meditating in my own way about family dynamics. What has come to mind is the myth of Demeter and Persephone. (For a brief synopsis of the myth go here: In one view, psychologically, Demeter and Persephone are almost too entwined, and Demeter's response to Persephone's abduction is so strong that she withdraws from the world completely. I have been wondering how Persephone would have responded if Demeter had been abducted. And how intertwined I am with my own mother. And why.
 "I did think briefly about letting go, but I couldn't go yet," she told me, "you are not ready for that yet. Me, either." She told me when she was finally compos mentis (sp?) again.
My own response to the inevitability of my mother's death brings up such a rush of sorrow and desolation that it is scary. I told her later that when it is her time to let go, I will be all right-and I know I will be able to work through the pain-but it made me wonder a bit about what kind of bond we have. Two years ago, when she was so sick that Luke called me to come quick because the doctordid not believe she would live, she turned the corner as soon as she realized I was there. Everyone was amazed, but she told me the same thing, in different words, as soon as we were alone.
Careful, subtle questioning has lead me to believe she has not said anything similar to my siblings or father. I don't quite get it yet, and maybe I never will, but I have been pondering it a lot lately. Demeter was(is) immortal, so Persephone really never had to face her mother's death. But I believe she would have been able to move on if her mother had been mortal. Death of our parents is something we all have to mourn, move through and keep living with wholeness.
I think I am afraid that my mother doesn't want to let go because she fears for me, and I don't want her to do that. But I cannot change her, I can only continue to work on my own changes. And, of course, I do want her to keep living as long as she has quality of life. We still have to go to Taos next May.
Perhaps I am not making much sense, but it doesn't matter. I will continue to meditate on it, and am very grateful she is still with us.
Meanwhile, my "real life" is taking off at what is (for me) warp speed. (Part of me wants to laugh at this, for it is snail slow compared to my last life.) I finish my orientation at the hospital this week, so will be able to start doing real Gentle Touch/Guided Imagery the following week. I will be working on the Ortho Floor-the same one on which I had such a terrible, enraging experience four years ago. I still hold some anger, but am pleased that I can help change to culture of the floor even a little bit.
One afternoon a week I am also elder-sitting a friend of a friend's mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. And I am spending an hour a week with Glenn, my trainer. And going to at least one or two DR's appointments a week. And, six months after anesthesia and surgery, I can finally concentrate enough to read books again, and am having a small orgy of catching up. And I have discovered clothes shopping. Almost all my life I've shopped in Large Women's Stores, or online. Suddenly I fit into clothes from regular stores! I must be careful not to turn this new hobby into an expensive ongoing orgy, though I really need everything from undies to jeans and tops.
I am still trying to figure out how to do all this, and still get enough rest, but like everything else, I'll work it through, and get stronger in the process.
Blessings, Margo