dance in the rain
Twitter inspired me to ponder and reveal some tangibles about myself and distill them into 140 characters. I’ve decided to explain more here — if necessary — in increments of 10… Plus I’ve only done about a dozen or so anyway. Perhaps more to come.
Extra note: it was at least 10 years after my infatuation had dissolved but I remember crying that Halloween weekend in Rochester.
Extra note: this really does apply to everything— work, love, family — and I remember when he told me this. But that’s just for me.
Extra note: ya, so I hate change… And blow dryers. This eliminates both.
Extra note: it works!
Extra note: I feel like why watch fiction when I can watch authentic, fact-based programming. I also find prison culture fascinating. Dunno why. Just do.
Extra note: I’m part Italian.
Extra note: Laura and Amanda’s relationship was familiar and toxic… And I was jealous of the protective connection Tom had to his sister. In high school I read every Tennessee Williams play I could and soon decided he was one of the only american playwrights who wrote meaty, meaningful roles for women. Gimme a break, I was 15.
Extra note: the point is, these are the moments that stay with us and i want to hold her hand even if its under the cloak of darkness or something she will never admit to today. To exercise my memory, I could name them but I won’t. Ok, maybe one …. David Schatz. That’s it.
Extra note: the most underrated shows are also some of the best: an example Merrily We Roll Along is ripe for a revival… But a REAL one. Company and A Little Night Music are beautiful musicals but I don’t recommend seeing the former in the midst of a divorce, as I did. Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd are shows I saw Pre and post parenthood and as much as i enjoyed them on both occasions they take on new meaning that was quite unexpected… And that’s what’s so incredible about Sondheim, the layers are so intricate but personal and connected to who and where you are one almost feels he’s written the score just for you in that moment…and it transforms to work again 100 moments after.
Extra note: This is so great especially when it’s tears from pride, joy or relief. Sadness works too, just because it’s such a stark contrast, but truly a great thing.
Ok, so I could just not own up to it… But it’s been a while, and it’s not that I haven’t had ideas. I have. Some good, very good, borderline great ideas to post (in my own mind at least). Mostly on the subway that I’ve sworn would not dissolve by the time I stepped off at my stop and made my way through the crowd. Problem was as soon as I got off the platform and up the stairs my mind became focused on passing the slow moving pedestrian to my right or the meeting starting in 10 minutes i needed to prepare for. And there went the great, very good, eh ok…good idea.
I did this program a while back, the name isn’t so important, but one of the governing principles was around being open and present… (yawn) but let me explain… Not self-distracting. So when you’re on the subway, watch what people are doing, how they are relating. That girl with the loud iPod, the woman begging a full train to push in further to accommodate just one more, the guy checking his email, the couple leaning into each other. You get it. Whats interesting is this exercise starts making these people less annoying and sometimes very interesting conversations start.
So last night I’m on a plane traveling for work/ making a stop along the way. I’ve got lots on my mind (who doesn’t) and I’m thinking about something I have to deal with the next day (work related) and feeling guilty about what I’ve left (home related). A woman next to me sits down next to me, she has clothing with lots of wrapping, papers and workbooks, no luggage. She smiles at me and all I’m thinking is I hope she’s not a talker.
During the flight she asks a few questions from her workbook… It’s about English vocabulary so she’s learning / improving her English language skills… It’s words like ‘fertilizer’ and ‘southern’…and we start talking about their meaning. We both go back to our respective stuff. I’m on my iPad. She asks what it is. We talk about that. I put it away and take out a magazine—some weekly with pictures of reality stars in bikinis. She taps me again…
“Can I ask you something else? It’s not about my book.” I figure why not… We are in the air and the guy on the other side of me has his earphones in.
“Why do women dress like this in this country?” pointing to the half naked reality star in my open magazine.
This part of the conversation isn’t interesting, although her command of the English language is amazing as is her poise. I actually spent most of the time listening.
Here’s what I learned… She is from South Africa. A widow and now single mother to 10, yes 10 children. In her country they did not believe in educating women. Her tribe (and her husband) were one of the many casualties in Rwanda. Upon learning her husband was killed, she also then learned she was pregnant with twins—and was nursing her 8th baby, then 10 months old. She was arrested along with her children and taken to a “death camp” where she watched mothers and children separate, die, and be traded for various mercies. Never once did she say “why me?”
Today they are all living in the US in tact. Her eldest daughter gave birth in a clean hospital with sheets on the bed and her other children are in school, have food to eat everyday and clothes on their backs. She showed me pictures from her canon digital camera where they have iPods and hoodies and winning smiles. She also showed me a picture of her at the “death camp” with her twin babies on a cot, so she “never forgets.” Nothing short of a miracle. What was incredible was she was sharing it with gratitude and said — in so many words— her experience fortified her desire to get women to value themselves, love themselves, educate themselves and that’s what she does now. She travels the world speaking at universities, to governments… And then she showed me pictures of that. When we flipped through my magazines we came across a certain Hollywood A-Lister known for philanthropy and she said something about meeting her, how kind and lovely she was and not understanding why she would be in a magazine. I thought that was funny. I said she was a famous actress. She asks to see pictures of my family, and I proudly show her my husband, daughter and son. We are two moms swapping photos and compliments on how beautiful, proud, tall, handsome our families are.
She told her story so openly, so resolved to make a difference. I told her she was amazing and smart. To which she said she was only just learning English… I said smarts has nothing to do with books, you’re born with it. As sure as I know I love my children I know she is one of the smartest people I have ever met.
Did i mention never once did she say “why me?”
So she never had any formal education of any kind… Yet I learned so much from her in the last leg of this flight and it got me thinking about the idea of “being open” and what treasures can be uncovered when we pick our heads up from our blackberrys, unplug our earphones and try to connect with our fellowman. I know for me, my fellowmen are also the three I come home to and the ones I work with. They all have colorful and wonderful stories, ideas and history that can move and change the world as I know it if I’m open to it.
I have this woman’s email and I hope we stay in touch, when we said goodbye we hugged at the baggage claim… Another experience I will never forget. But if we don’t I can honestly say today I love my life a little bit more, love my family more vocally, I take my “problems” less seriously and I have a deeper faith in the power of the human spirit… If you had met her you would too. I hope I did her some kind of justice and you do too.