10 February 2007

Cruising along...

I had the most wonderful lunch on Friday (2/09) with one of my best buddies. She's one of my dearest friends for so many reason, and one of the first people I became close to when I moved to Wilmington in August 2000.

We've been through a lot of things - both individually and collectively. My respect for her is huge and I can't imagine the past five years without this angel in my life. The very fact that my friend Sharon exists and that I know her, validates for me the existence of angels, not that I required any sort of formal confirmation; I live my life surrounded by informal manifestations.

Matt, proprietor of The Courthouse Cafe, served us a delectable and decadent homemade brownie complete with sinfully delicious swirls of whipped cream. Sharon started singing "happy birthday" again, but I strongly suggested she stop. She ignored me. It happens. I love her still.

My horoscope. I don't believe in them and yet I never resist the temptation to read them. That, and itself, defines Aquarian quirkiness. The LA Times had this to say on my birthday:

Today's birthday (Feb. 6). Your presence is inspiring to others. A change in your work environment allows you more freedom in March. May features demolition and rebuilding. You'll be flexing your creative muscles to great response in July. Singles marry in August. Couples recommit then, too. Love signs are Virgo and Gemini. Your lucky numbers are: 4, 39, 22, 19 and 45.

I had an interesting encounter at yet another local restaurant later in the day on Friday (I seem to visit a lot of restaurants lately). Someone who I don't really know and have exchanged nothing more than a casual, "Hi, how are you doing?" with, after taking my order, shared with me that she'd enjoyed the article in the Wilmington Star a couple of months ago. I smiled and thanked her. And then, in an almost sheepish, softer tone, she told me that February 15th would mark two months of her being sober. Of course, I congratulated her. Two months is a very long time to go without a drink and many don't make it that far. I was touched that she shared this with me. I had nothing to do with it, but my gosh I'm glad that such a conversation could even transpire. The much too "taboo" topic of alcoholism really doesn't merit the hushed tones and shadows in which it's generally discussed. Bringing it out into the light of day seems to extinguish a lot of its foreboding and misplaced power. Good news is good news and putting down the bottle for one more day, for an alcoholic, is darn fine news! It's the perfect reason for raising a glass...of jasmine tea.

Speaking of "putting down the bottle", there was a news item in the Wilmington-Star today that sort of surprised me, though I don't really know why. It seems one of the Assistant DA's for New Hanover County was charged with a DUI on February 1st. I can well imagine what she must feel like. At least when my own experience with alcohol appeared in the newspaper, I consented to its publication but, given her position in local government, she didn't quite have that luxury. She plead guilty and she's facing the probability of having her license suspended for a year which is now the penalty for a DUI in the State of North Carolina. As the article and Ben David, the District Attorney, reiterated, "no one is above the law" and, it goes without saying, no one should be.

I would never want to revisit how that whole experience made me feel when it happened three years ago, but I am grateful every single day that it did. I didn't realize at the time just how lucky I was but, with the passage of time, it's been demonstrated for me more times than I can count. Life goes on after such events but what is even more important to note, is that everyone has the power to determine which direction s/he chooses to follow.

At the time though, you spend a great deal of energy beating yourself up and it's such a miserable experience. But really, it has to be painful - we don't tend to change ways when we're not hurting. I know I wouldn't have. It's too easy not to remain the same even if the same isn't a very wise place to remain. The penalty for a DWI has, over the years, grown remarkably severe...as it should. It's serious business for both the person driving impaired and the innocent people who have to share the road with the offender.

Speaking of driving - I have a new car! (Well, new to me)! I never was minivan material though, no question, it's by far better than nothing. My dad and I met up with Mark Villanti at Neuwirth Chrysler, and what a cool guy he is. He listened very carefully to what I was looking for, and how I hoped to acquire it and, amazingly, he made it happen. The choice came down to a VW Cabriolet Convertible and an "Inferno Red" PT Cruiser. After trying out the VW which was in great shape, it was a 5-speed and I have scant experience with a stick. Considering that I am never without an iced tea (or two) and a cell phone, I knew it would be problematic to have something else requiring my hands and limited attention, not to mention actually focusing on "driving", so he suggested I take a look at the PT Cruiser. I had already decided I would hate it and saw very little reason to even take it for a spin, but he was charming and insistent and, and I loved it. I was astonished by how impressed I was with this car. I really didn't want to like it and he did offer to teach me to drive a 5-speed properly, but the PT Cruiser was just plain fun (though someday I still want a convertible...). It is a quirky little car which fits me perfectly. The transfer and document fees were a birthday gift from my parents. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday Evening, I was chatting with my friend in England (it was morning in the UK) and he asked if I'd received anything that day in the mail. When I told him nothing of note, he corrected me and said that he had compelling evidence that UPS had been to my house at 2:05 EST that very day. No one told me about it. However, a quick check of the front porch revealed a package that contained Norah Jones latest CD, "Not Too Late". And it wasn't! Too late, that is. What a great CD! Thank you, Ali! This has been the 12 days of my 47th birthday and a very full and happy week. I'm extremely grateful.

I was checking out my favorite websites yesterday and absently clicked on my daughter's blog and was surprised to see myself looking back - well, the 15 year old version of myself. Katie had updated her Vox Blog and, Katie had correctly noted that I had her when I was something like five or six years old - what a medical marvel it was at the time however, Katie, I regret to inform you that, well, you got it wrong. You incorrectly imagined this to be my 29th birthday. According to an e-mail I received today, 50 is now considered to be the new 30 which means, according to my calculator, 47 must be the new 27. You overstated my age by two years. I'll let it go this time, but next year, let's try and not make me older than I am. I guess that means, given that you're the antiquated age of 23, I must have had you when I was four. I hardly remember it! I just figured I was checking into the hospital to have my tonsils removed and I was bribed with tons of ice cream. Who knew?

And one last word to my buddy and sparring partner, Mike Ford, a hillbilly by way of Michigan; you better rest your old, silly self up. We're all looking forward to seeing you March 27th and you must be looking forward to the great "thaw". Mike is an OLD friend of my family's and he used to play with my sister and do really bad things to my parents front porch when he was a little boy. I won't go into the details of the crime, but it involved a paper bag and fire and my Dad actually caught him "red" handed. :-)

Now, I personally have never had the thrill of meeting Mike in person - I was born a vast ten years after he was, but we have done our share of e-mail swapping. Three years ago, about the time my world was changing, we "met" on the Internet and began corresponding. He left West Virginia long before we did, but that doesn't necessarily make him more brilliant. Remember, he is ten years older than me, a fact I never let him forget - particularly after that birthday card.

Mike was weaving his way through some challenging times himself and I have to say that he was a huge source of understanding and humor for me in the winter/spring of 2004, when I needed both of those things most. I feel like I know him and my parents think of him as family and, given that he's from WV, he probably is, but March 27th, he will be landing in Wilmington, NC and I will be there to pick him up at the airport. It will be then that Mike truly learns how important it is to fasten his seat belt and prepare for the ride of his life. My parents will get to relive and remind him of all the mischief he got himself into when he was a little guy and I will probably inspire him to get into more trouble. It's what I do. Mike, we can't wait to see you!

It was a beautiful day today and the sun seems to be lingering longer in the sky and I love it that the evenings are growing in light. I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day and that it's all you hope for and more.

Until later!