Monday, February 23, 2009

Somewhere over the rainbow

Today's photo of the day and a new favorite. I couldn't have asked for a more beautifully composed picture. Nature is it's own picture frame. This was one of those scenes you see that you just can't pass up. I was really impressed with it on the little 2x3 inch digital screen, but then I saw it on my laptop and fell in love with it!

~ Happy Valley Ranch in Susanville, CA.
(click on the picture to see it full size)

Now that I realize I have a little bit of an audience reading my scenes, I’m starting to do more editing in my head and about the things I want to plaster here in my writer’s free space. I’m leaving too much on the cutting room floor before it even hits my fingers and comes out into print. This is kind of like singing in the shower. Belting it out is easy until you know someone is listening to you. I can’t let myself think like that though, so I’m gonna try that age old fearful public speaker’s tool of imagining you, my reader, in your skivvies reading my blog wherever you might be.

There. Now I can bear little bits of my soul and you can read them unfiltered, but only now that we’re both a little bit compromised.

I spent my rainy day driving around Susanville with my tour guide Patti. Scratch that. I spent my day driving around and around and around Susanville. You can pretty much see most of it in a straight shot - cute little town. Patti and I had time to kill before she had to get Kenz at 2:30 from school. The school day update from the back seat included details about all kinds of friends; the crazy kid who wanted to stab himself with scissors last week, Miss Tween California who couldn’t join in PE cause she hurt her ankle in ballet yesterday, one of the teacher’s kids who gave away a pencil just to be nice, and a something about skinny jeans and a girl named Macy Sunshine Something (forgot her last name).

It only took nearly 12 hours later at o’dark terrible AM, just as I was going to sleep, for me to be struck by a memory from quite a few years ago when I was still in the 18 to 25 check box. You see I think I lied when I blogged about never being the girl who dreamed about my future and picking out pretend names for kids I was going to have some day. I did have a girl’s name picked out once upon a time…about say, nineteen to twenty-ish years old. I mean, yeah, I’m still well within my 20’s checkbox and the beginning of this decade for me wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like a lifetime ago. Until now, I forgot about this day in that chapter of my story…

I have a love story. It’s a tale really; an adventure that was dreamt up, but not well planned out by two crazy kids who were only 3,000 miles apart. It’s a long tale, so you might want to get comfy if you plan to continue.

When I was 19, I met this guy online. Yes, I know that sounds like the beginning of a Kidnapped! movie or a Cold Case, but it is a good story. You see, I was way ahead of the curve in 2001. Way ahead. Before there was the booming popularity of or E-Harmony, there was me and a boy whose middle initial was W. No actual name behind it, it wasn’t short for anything, but since all the men in his family had W-something middle names, he had to at least have the initial and that’s all he ended up getting. W.
Sounds like: Dub-yah. Period.

The website that was our fate wasn’t a dating site at all though. It doesn’t exist anymore, but it was a basic, early version of My Space. My oldest and dearest friend who has been with me for more chapter openings, writings, and closings, than anyone else, was with me for this particular chapter. Turns out we would be with each other on dual journeys that neither of us saw coming. My chapter would end up being more of a paragraph compared to the one that she is seeing end all too soon. Funny, I still remember her telling me about the website and my instant preachy reaction about how I couldn’t believe she resorted to meeting people online at such a young age and how unsafe it was. “You know this is how women get kidnapped and disappear, Chrissy. You never know what kind of weirdo you’re talking to online, then you meet them and next thing you know you’re killed on some back country road. This is crazy talk. Don’t you watch Dateline?”

Within two weeks, I ate my words big time. I was hooked on this site that paired up like personalities from all over the world. It was a social network where you could take these personality quizzes and the results would be posted on your “profile”. There was an entire bevy of surveys: What is your superhero personality? Are you the biggest bitch? What occupation is meant for you? If you were a cheese, what would you be?

Based on the answers, you were given some description, a cartoon character representing what your result was, and percentage of likeness compared to other users on the site. People would then compare notes and make comments on each other’s pages and that was that. Harmless enough, right? Well I don’t know when or where it all happened, ok, I take that back too - it was around January 13th, 2001 - that I got a comment that was simple enough from a “personality” in New Jersey. Many short banters full of one-liners later (AKA flirting), became longer emails, became instant messenger, became that first phone call that lasted for three and a half hours - with of course the three hour time difference. That tends to happen when there are 3,000 miles from one side of the coast to the other. Physically, me and Dub-yah could not be in the same piece of US earth and be farther apart.

He was exactly 6 months older than me, worked part time as a intern for the FAA, wanted to be a flight medic, and was a 5th generation volunteer firefighter through and through. Somehow the exactly 6 months younger Police intern former Cadet, full-time student, part-time waitress who wanted to be a cop caught his attention in a very serious way.

Infatuation is a tricky, tricky thing. It is a drug like none other. It’s like an emotion driven bitch slap that hits you so hard, it makes you think funny despite all the things you’ve ever been taught and all the gut feelings you’ve ever felt. It was decided – we had to meet. Had to. In the world of two 19 year olds, there was just no other option. I made Chrissy come over while I got to the business of telling my parents. I needed a witness in case they tried to strangle me or chain me to the bedpost until I was 30-something. I remember the scene in the kitchen, me standing propped up against a chair where I could make a quick getaway if I needed to, my mom standing by the stove, my dad somewhere in the general vicinity, and Chrissy sitting with her arms crossed just waiting for the fireworks to begin. She knew the scene well; growing up there was always some comedic fireworks show happening in my Osbourn-esque home.

Classic Lauren style, I just came out with it. Dropped the bomb. “I met this guy online and we’ve been talking a LOT and he lives in New Jersey and we want to meet in a few weeks. I’ll pay for the ticket, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to go.” Then the words that will go down in infamy for the entirety of my life, “He’s a fireman. He’s a good guy. He’s ok.” My mom just stared at me. I don’t think my dad heard me at all the first time - this was post hearing aids. I cannot imagine being a parent in this room at that moment in time. I was the oldest of three kids, graduated honor student who was putting herself through college, and worked two part-time jobs, one of which was for the police department. Never as much as smoked a cigarette or been drunk, but I was dead set on getting on a plane to the East Coast. My mother’s first question was “He didn’t do anything crazy like as you to marry him, did he?” “Of course not! That’s is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Do you think I’m stupid?” I said back without hesitation not making eye-contact with Chrissy. He had. He had asked me that a week before I had “the talk” with the ‘rents. Told you we were crazy nineteen year olds; just children playing dress up in an adult world.

Many disgustingly lovey details later, it was decided that sending the female off across the continent was much worse than having Dub-yah fly his happy ass out to California for 10 days. I remember the “meet”, as it would be titled if this was a movie and I was setting up the storyboard. His flight landed sometime after 9pm in San Francisco. That was a long butterfly filled drive to the airport. It was post 9-11 then, so it was still allowed that you could walk freely up to concourse and wait at the actual gate for your loved one’s flight to arrive. I got there too early – I paced the carpet waiting for that flight to land and deplane. I paced and paced and paced and I totally missed him, first person through the doorway. A phone call later, he had me playing a game. It was a comedy and I was the punchline. All of 6’2” Dub-yah had found his way across the busy hall and propped himself up against the wall as I looked around the crowd trying to find a familiar stranger who I had studied in many a picture. Cell phone technology wasn’t fabulous then, but it served the purpose for that scene.
L: “Ummm, your plane is here. Did you get on it? Where are you?”
Dub: “Right here looking at you.”
L: “What? Where? I don’t see you.”
Dub: “Right here, put your hand up.”
L: “OooooK. My hand’s up.”
Dub: “Now, turn around in a circle.”
L: “What the hell? A circle? Fine I’ll do it, but where are you? What is this? The jacked up hokey-pokey? I’m gonna leave you here.”
Dub: “Look to your right against the wall.”
And then the other infamous words…”Hi I’m Lauren and I’m trying to remember how to breath.” Followed by another infamous act…the world’s worst first kiss. In hindsight, the jacked up hokey pokey and slobber junction are what we calls “signs”.

Just the airport scene alone is enough. I cannot even begin to get into the details of the rest of the 10 days. It will send me into a diabetic coma with all the love-sick scenes that rival Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet. There is just one more that I will share though, the one that jogged my conscious back about eleven paragraphs up in this story:

I still remember the mushy scene that played itself out in the front set of my white Toyota Tercel on the way back from Bodega Bay somewhere along sunny highway 116 just between Sonoma and Napa counties.

*Let’s pause here for a second to remind ourselves that while you might be reading this blog in your skivvies, this scene contains all articles of clothing for the entirety. It is not one of “those” car stories.*

Back to the scene: We, at all of nineteen years old, having known of each other’s existence for less than six months, and into all of a week of knowing each other face to face, were talking about what we would name our kids (I know, it's ok. I just threw up at the gross puppy-loveness of that too). Looking back on it, the name game was more of his fantasy than mine. I went along with the show, but not completely. It was agreed that a boy would be called Jacob (Jake for short) and W-something of course in the middle. However, it was not decided that a girl would be called Sharon. I have a cousin Sharon and although I love her, I don’t think this era is naming its baby girls Sharon. Even after the story about how Dub-yah had lost a Sharon named friend in Jr. High to leukemia, I put my foot in my mouth, but I would not budge on that name. I had decided that I liked the name Macy (minus middle W), but would substitute Sharon as the middle name.

Turns out that was a year for the books. Infatuation took over the fist 9 months of my year, met in the middle with heartbreak and multi medical traumas. While I was in New Jersey one of my few trips, my grandmother had “the” fall - the last and final one that stripped her of her independence and started her downhill spiral. My uncle had surgery not once, but, twice through the back of his neck and then the front of his neck to repair some spinal nerve damage. The real kicker came in late July, on a the day when my dad, who had ignored the throbbing ache in his left leg for many days, felt something burning before he would take the Life or Limb flight to Stanford. They say things like that always come in 3’s. Well, not for me. Before the summer of family medicals was up, Dubyah decided that he just couldn’t take the 3,000 miles anymore. When the going get tough, the 19 year olds get going. We briefly changed our minds around 9-11, but frivolous air travel was not an option that anyone would be looking at for quite some time.

Jump eight years later to today’s backseat update about a grade-school girl named Macy Sunshine Something. I finally remembered that sunshiny day on highway 116 when there was a serious conversation with a boy from South Jersey about a baby girl who would one day be named Macy.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous! You're inspiring me to take more photos!