Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everybody. It’s been quite a whirlwind of a few months. Now – as the veil between the living and the dead reaches its thinnest point – it feels like the right time to express gratitude for all the shedding of skins, the exorcism of ghosts. These ghosts can be unhealthy habits, old ways of thinking, or the end of cycles. (Heck, they can be real ghosts too! I certainly believe.) Let me share a few recent goings-on:

After 11 months of soul-searching, frustrations, and back-to-schooling, Gus landed a great job in September as a Human Resources Specialist. The past year was empowering (though initially unwelcome) as we navigated the emotional and financial terrains of his unemployment. In terms of our relationship, we passed with flying colors and then some. We got to see each other in action, digging deep into our core (and sometimes our despair) to yank out the truths and the strength and the resilience. Now he’s on this new, fulfilling track, filled with beautiful challenges and respect. I’m happy for him, and so proud of him.

Mom sold her house in Northeast Portland and just bought another house in a different part of town. She is moving within the next few weeks. I am so glad that the journey she’s been on, for a long time now, is cycling toward a new era with new opportunities.

Aaron and Stephenie bought a condo in Brooklyn, NY, and are enjoying their new space, their new yard, you name it. Aaron has lots of exciting, creative opportunities in the works in the fashion world – I couldn’t be happier for him!

Jordan is thriving in his job as an Adoption Specialist at the Oregon Humane Society. He has such a gift with animals, and I’m glad he took this chance to explore this career path to see where it may take him.

To Cassandra, my mannequin-writing muse: hang in there – I’ll have word for you soon. If you weren’t just a torso with no arms and no legs, I’d say cross your fingers for the exciting possibilities coming up (but since you don’t possess appendages, that request would just be rude of me).

Back in August, Gus and I headed to my old Wisconsin stomping grounds for a family reunion. I hadn’t been to Madison in seven years, and Lake Geneva in about ten years. The Bucks gathered at Lake Lawn Lodge – what a trip (literally and figuratively). To see ninety (yes, 9-0) of my relatives after so many years, to re-connect and be part of the beautiful, weird, flawed, hopeful dynamics of my father’s side of the family…well, I was just flooded with emotions of all shapes and sizes, as was Aaron, who also attended. I also got to connect with old friends, and meet new ones, folks from Gus’s past that have migrated to the Midwest. Before our flight departed from Milwaukee on the last day of our vacation, Gus and I stole a few moments at a park that overlooked Lake Michigan. The weather was perfect, and there was a gentle breeze, and we read aloud from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I cried and let loose so much from inside. Those memories and sensations and hopes for what could be. Gus held me and let me cry into his shoulder on that perfect summer day. I couldn’t have asked for anyone else to be there for me like that. A blessing indeed.

There’s one more Wisconsin memory I’ll share, which symbolically captures what’s been going on these past few months. Gus, his friend Susan, and I were walking down the street back to the rented car, and this family on its front porch stopped us and pointed at a giant flower in a hanging pot. “There’s a bird about to take flight!” the woman said. “His siblings flew off earlier today, and now it’s his turn!” The human family had been observing this bird family – sparrows maybe? – for a couple hours. The mother and father bird had built the nest smack-dab in the center of the flower pot. The last little guy had delicately perched on the edge of the pot, and was stretching his wings. His mother and father kept flying toward him, coaxing him, and he cutely and nervously faltered, worked up the courage, faltered again. And then, yes, mere minutes after we stopped on the sidewalk he flew off into the sky! But the story doesn’t stop there: in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way, he maneuvered his way awkwardly through the air and then – *gently* – whacked a parked car, landed in a bush, and started chirping. His ma and pa headed over and coaxed him back up into the sky. What a miracle, watching a bird take its first flight. I’m sure there’s a Journey song or Maya Angelou poem to fit this occasion, but really, how often do you witness something like this outside the Discovery Channel? And part of the miracle is this family’s willingness to include us in the awe, to take the time to say, Come close, look, there’s beauty and inspiration happening right this very moment as you are walking by.