Never Disappointed

Without a doubt she has been one of the funniest women that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  She was my mother’s best friend for decades, and I can recall with affection the numerous crazy-funny moments that led to nothing but sheer laughter and joy while in the presence of the fabulous Mrs. K.

With wispy hair, a petite frame, and sparkling eyes, it has always been easy for me to see why my mother developed such a tight friendship with this charming, humorous, spontaneous, unique individual.

I began thinking about Mrs. K recently – oddly enough after hearing a very negative remark about humanity. Humanity in general, unfortunately, and all of humanity, whitewashed all together.  I don’t remember the exact phrasing (and am secretly glad that I don’t), but the main theory was those who put their faith in the goodness of others will always be disappointed.

Hmmm.

My mind drifted away from the negative humanity comments and back to the stories of two young girls growing up in a big city. Isabelle and Jean (my mother and Mrs. K respectively) – as regaled in story after story from my mom, finding their fair share of trouble, making their fair share of mistakes, having their fair share of close calls, and lamenting & repenting over their youthful sins.   And living for another day.

Though I enjoyed each and every tale told by my mom about her time with her best friend, and I equally enjoyed each adventure that I shared as a young daughter in the mix – having similar escapades with the two of them, it wasn’t the stories, the adventures and/or the escapades that sharpened my admiration for Mrs. K.

…………

I feel very differently about humanity.  I have rarely – if ever – been truly disappointed when putting my faith in the goodness of others.  In fact, I will step out on a limb here and state that I have never been disappointed.  Just never – not to the point that I remember it in any way.  It could be that I block such negativity out of my conscience thought. Perhaps I only see that which is good, great, and positive in the world.  And if I do, it seems to work for me, so I might continue that process.  Or it could be that I haven’t lived long enough to experience the flip side of humanity.  Perhaps the future will bring something completely different.  I hope not, but it could happen.  Or perhaps the world is truly a great place to live and those who see it differently need to come up to speed with reality.

I can say that I find it quite inappropriate to ever anticipate disappointment when placing faith in the goodness of others.  I believe that it is imperative for me to have faith, to trust others, and to expect the best.  It is important for me to be reliable, to be trustworthy, and to offer my best at all times.  From past practice,  I do know that I will receive both what I expect and what I give.

Which brings me back to Mrs. K.

Though my mother routinely detailed the major moments of fun and laughter that trailed through their time together as life long friends, she also quietly and assuredly discussed something more.  Mrs. K had a sibling who required more care and more effort than most family members.  Often times in their youth, this sibling would tag along, making a trio out of the duo.  According to my mother, never once did Mrs. K voice any complaints or in any way be critical of the situation that required one sibling to help with another.  Mrs. K was asked to step up to the plate and help, and she did.  Mrs. K’s sibling had faith in her sister, and wasn’t disappointed.  For life.

Mrs. K is the goodness that I see in humanity, over and over and over.  And over.

I plan on continuing to look for the best that humanity can bring and to drift off and think of people like Mrs. K when faced with those who are less complimentary about this world of ours.

The Earth is a Beautiful Place

The Earth is a Beautiful Place

I Wore My Shorts Inside Out

I wore my shorts inside out. . . For at least ten minutes. . . While shopping. . . With my daughter. . . On vacation. . . In Florida. . . They were lined Nike running shorts. . . Black. . . With black lining. . . Trimmed in neon yellow.

I had just tried on some clothes in a local beach shop. When I put my shorts back on, I put them on inside out. And I didn’t notice. . . At all.

I walked fifty feet to the cashier, bought a couple items, and exited the store.

I turned to my daughter and said, “My shorts feel a little sideways,” . . . never looking down at them. But she did. Within seconds, we were laughing so hard, our eyes were blurry and our stomach muscles hurt.

I actually wore my shorts inside out for at least ten minutes while shopping with my daughter on vacation in Florida, and didn’t notice.

There is no doubt in my mind that wearing my shorts inside out was one of the goofiest things I have ever done. Somewhere I am sure there is a long list of other crazy funny actions on my part. But this one happened a couple days ago, so it has risen exponentially as my number one memorable moment.

I asked my daughter if she thought anyone else noticed. Her response was: “How could others not?” She suggested checking social media quickly for ‘crazy funny woman with shorts on, lined shorts on, inside out’.

As we were still laughing upon returning to our vacation compound, I willingly shared my faux-pas with the remaining assembled relatives. Wearing lined shorts inside out while shopping. There was no need to embellish the story in any way. It was crazy funny in its short form.

I didn’t have to share the embarrassing moment with my vacation family. It was a choice. My daughter, following a politeness protocol, would have graciously kept the story to herself. But I threw caution to the wind and shared it.

I truly believe that the world is crazy funny more often than not. At any given time, someone somewhere is doing something that is just flat out funny. Most embarrassing moments are hysterical if the owners can overcome the embarrassment.

But it isn’t that simple.

Too often crazy funny moments are transformed into anger, frustration, or fright.

I could have blamed my inside out action on the lack of adequate light in the changing room. Or on the minuscule time I had available to shop. Or on my daughter for not alerting me sooner. The whole event could have been framed in anger with me passing blame towards anyone or anything beyond me.

During the same vacation week, I watched a young boy, a new bike rider, at a speed of less than 1/1000 mile per hour ever so slowly run into my cousin. I saw my college age nephew toss a bocce ball that broke into two as it hit the ground. And my thin and trim brother-in-law sat in three beach chairs, breaking each one, within a three hour period.

Each scenario could have been framed differently.

My cousin could have scolded the bike rider. With acres and acres of beach, it was rather quizzical for him to – at a snail’s pace – hit her. The opposing bocce team could have cried foul as a very competitive game came to a screeching halt when my nephew’s bocce ball split. The tournament was effectively ended. And with a three for three broken beach chair track record, my brother-in-law should have been a little frightened to sit in anything. Bodily injury was a possibility and his cost of sitting on the beach was escalating.

Instead we turned to the crazy funny side.

The little boy hopped off the bike, backed away (slowly) and we chuckled. The bocce players looked at the two half moon pieces, laughed, and went for a swim. My brother-in-law trudged three times to the trash can to dispose of the next broken chair while we howled.

And the inside out shorts?

The next morning as I arrived on the beach, five of the sweetest nieces and cousins suited up in their now favorite inside out shorts, inside out lined shorts, for that one extra belly-busting roller coaster laugh.

All I can say is . . . well framed!

20140802-185411.jpg

The Comeback Moment

I caught his eyes, and I knew it was the moment. My young, eighteen year old cousin was looking straight at me with that smile.  It was the moment we all waited for . . . the moment of excitement . . . the most anticipated moment . . . the defining moment.  He said absolutely nothing to me and I nothing to him.  But, we both grinned and we knew it.  And we weren’t the only ones who recognized it.

My sister was some twenty feet behind me laughing as she reached out for our tiny ten-year old niece who had just swallowed a bit of salt water, but was none-the-less smiling and laughing, too. My spouse, also laughing,  had tumbled back further towards shore and was intent on returning, pausing just long enough to squeeze water out of his faded yellow swim shirt and to meet up with a brother-in-law who likewise was making his way back to the group.

The teenage girls – six of them who were all nearly the same age, (old enough to be on their own, but young enough to need some watchful eyes) – were already waiting for the next round, as were the college kids – the bold, the crazy, the unabashed, the fearless – who had moved the center of the group several feet farther out into the ocean than the original position.

In all, there were nearly thirty of us, marching out from the inch deep shoreline to chin high waters in the Atlantic.  And with ocean waves crashing, we – aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, sisters, children, cousins, grandparents, and friends – stayed together.  The day was bright and the water was warm. The waves were all too often over our heads, yet for some reason their force was unusually weak, with just enough danger to make it seem dangerous mixed in with just enough safety for those of us old enough to be concerned to not be concerned.

Wave after wave, we would watch and wait for the perfect ride, the perfect catch. The waves would roll by and each of us would do our body surfing best, some with more success than others, to manage them with fun. It wasn’t the skill of the sport or the challenge of the water that interested us.  The lure was, and always has been, something else.

Vacation in my world has always meant traveling to the beach to meet up with a large assortment of family members.  For the past 45+ years, during the third week in July, we haul beach chairs, tents, umbrellas, buckets, shovels, nets, towels, cameras, toys, coolers, books, food, and now phones to the ocean shore.   Arriving mid-morning and leaving mid-evening, we pack, unpack, and eventually repack, learning to take a little less stuff and a little more food to the beach with each passing day.  As I watch my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews carry my belongings to the beach, I fondly recall the times I helped my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles carry theirs.

Throughout these 45+ years, we have developed our fair share of family vacation traditions: take pictures Friday night, share homemade salsa, play miniature golf Thursday, late lunches and dominoes, ring the bell, get an ice cream, church on Sunday,  beach bocce winner-take-all, and evenings poolside.  Are they special, extraordinary, unique, exceptional traditions?  Hardly.  They are simple, average, common, uncomplicated, ordinary ones – with everyone included in everything and no official planning for anything.

These traditions have created a sense of ease to a vacation that could be considered a little arduous as relatives are required to pack up significant belongings and travel hundreds of miles in over-stuffed vehicles just to be together for seven straight days.  And vacations, regardless of type, time, or location, can be costly.  Gas tanks, plane rides, car rentals, maps, fun food, sunscreen, laundromats, movie tickets, and finally, the purchasing of all necessities sadly forgotten at home means vacations have a price.  But, we return every year – same time, same place – to once again carry our stuff to the sandy ocean shore.

In all honesty, over those past 45+ years, we have changed locations . . . albeit once.  And why we moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic is a mystery to most of us, but somewhere in the 80s, we shifted east. It is clear, however, that those before me sought a quiet, remote, uncluttered, and unpopulated spot with little more to do than link lives with those in attendance.  No fast food, go-carts, shopping malls, piers, boardwalks, high rises, tourist attractions, beach bars, jet skis, surf shops, or restaurant chains.  Just a roof over our heads with sand, water, family and friends. 

As I caught my cousin’s eyes, I knew it was the moment.  I could see it.  To my right, a cousin of my cousin had locked arms with my niece.  From the shore, my brother and my aunt were snapping photo after photo. My spouse ended up circled by the six teenage girls who were holding onto the lone surf board owned and operated by another young cousin. To my left, I saw a cousin’s friend raising a lost, then found baseball cap that had left the drenched head of another relative.   Two others were holding the hands of that tiny, young ten-year old for safekeeping. Everyone was smiling.  Everyone was laughing.   

In that moment, I saw a family – 30+ strong  – dancing in the waves . . . together . . . in sync . . .with no thoughts and no cares in the world.  And I knew that this moment was the comeback moment, the one that will bring us back . . . together . . . again . . . next year.

.

                         Vacationing Together in the Summer on the Atlantic