Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sherrie

There is nothing quite like walking into the Courtyard for the first time. Sherrie is the only one who has never crossed the threshold. What I told her, and I echoed to the others, is to make sure she dropped everything at the door. Just bring herself in.

This is sharing. This is me looking at Sherrie and watching her face as she enters the space.

Her eyes widen saying she would smile but she cannot shut her mouth until she finally says, "Shea! OH. MY. GOD." Sherrie doesn't use the Lord's name in vain. Here we have one of those witness for yourself moments, and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of Sherrie's witnessing. She is one of the most beautiful, strongest and expressive women I know. The look on her face as she scans the room, how she turns around arms outstretched, taking it all in and exclaiming, "I had no idea," is a moment.

I respond with a giggle, "I told you."

Sherrie. She needs this. She, like Angie, has been out there saving the world. On any given day, at any given moment you can call Sherrie and find out she's in another state handing clothes out to people who have been traumatized by a flood. Or wait, she could be at a women's shelter donating her time, her smile and laughter and wisdom disguised by, "Girl, you don't even know!"

She is amazing. I love her.

Kim and Angie have never actually met Sherrie. I simply told Kim earlier in the evening that she owed me $25 for the show.

"What are you talking about?"

"Just wait. You'll see. Sherrie and Angie are exactly alike. We'll just watch as they go back and forth. To them we won't be there."

She laughed.

When Slater had asked me earlier to tell him about Sherrie I simply responded, "Oh baby, she's your Aunt Angie in black."

Kim will now vouch for that statement.

Later we are all four sitting on the back porch, Kim is painting her nails and Angie and Sherrie are in a passionate conversation regarding their views which, thank you very much, are carbon copies of each other. Ladies and gentlemen, God clones.

I'm sitting here telling Kim I take checks, trying to get a word in edgewise with the clones and thinking I could never express the gratitude I feel for these souls surrounding me.

And oh, the conversations.....

Friday, July 30, 2010

cage

I was going to write about Sherrie today, but......well.....I don't think I'm ready.

What I think I need to say today is that I think I fear being trapped.

Sweet neurosis.

Silly girl.

We are all as free as we allow ourselves to be, right?

Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Angie

I feel nervous. Although I am sharing this space with people I love dearly, it is as if I am Tom Hanks in Castaway and have just been rescued off the island. Similar to the first dive into cold water on a hot summer day, refreshing yet shocking to the system.

Like a rubber band snapping back I am an overcompensating hostess. "Would you like a drink? Do you want to sit on the porch? Play some music? Look at this? What do you think about that?" And on and on.

I can usually rely on Kim to tell me to shut up, but she is just trying to absorb the place after a hard day of work. Yes, she'll have a drink.

We hear a knock at the door. It's Angie.

Angie comes in carrying the world. She has it packed on her back 'cause she's saving it. This, among many other reasons, is why she is my little sister. In my world there is this little addendum to biology where if you reach the age of mature decision making you can adopt the sister of the guy you are dating because you grew up with brothers and you always wanted a sister. I adopted Angie over twenty years ago. Got the papers and everything.

Another snapshot over the dining area and you'll see that Angie outwardly presents herself more on the lines of Kim than me. In fact, she's got a new purse and Kim is studying it while I make another drink. Angie soon joins me at the bar and pours herself a glass of wine.

Angie has to unwind. She needs the week I just had. All I can offer her is tonight so the speed in which she needs to come back from what she has confronted out there in the world is almost too much. Yet if anyone can do it, Angie can. I bet you didn't know that currently nuclear physicists are attempting to find ways to harness the power of Angie. For real.

Angie loves this place and is already making plans to bring Mike here.

We three women shuffle out to the back porch where we claim our spots for the night. I bring my cigarettes. Kim has her manicure tote in tow, and Angie brings her wine and stories.

The group is almost complete.

The only one missing is Sherrie....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kim

Kim arrives first, and she's bearing gifts. Of course she is. There are several and the wrappings include shiny bows with strands of brightly colored curls and rainbows in the form of tissue paper bursting from various bags created for the sole purpose of gift giving. I tell her she gives guilt, and she laughs.

Here's the problem. I am supposed to be in the NOW but how do you convey NOW when you have a thirty year history with someone? How do I let you know my NOW with Kim without reverting to everything I know about Kim leading up to this point?

My solution is to tell you that when I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me and says, "But hey, you've got Kim." And this makes me feel better because just the simple fact Kim is my friend means I'm okay. Everyone, in my opinion, needs a Kim in their life.

In the NOW if you had a camera poised at the far top corner of the Courtyard's kitchen area and you took a snapshot overlooking the dining area where we are standing you would conclude from the photograph that there are no two outwardly different people in this world.

She is decked out in lounging clothes sewn specifically for the act of lounging. I, on the other hand, am donning clothing with questionable origin chosen for lounging due to the holes and bleach stains.

Her purse matches her shoes.

I am not wearing shoes.

She is immaculately groomed.

I think I brushed my hair yesterday.

We are, as her Dad terms it, Mutt & Jeff.

What you don't see in this photograph is that when Kim speaks I nod. And when I speak Kim nods. Yet the most crucial, most beautiful, fantastic, wonderful thing is that we laugh together. Laugh hysterically at each other, at ourselves and, when we need to, life.

She wanders around the place making plans to possibly have a wedding shower here. I try to be the tour guide, and then we head out to get the pizzas before the remaining guests arrive.

Just wait till you meet Angie....

Friday, July 23, 2010

shawshank

I can't tell you this story.

I would like to say the reason is about good business practices, ethics and integrity. And, yes, all of those make great reasons to not tell a story about a business meeting.

Yet I think the best reason for not telling this story is that it involves others. I am not the only one in the room. My perspective is only a slice of the pie.

Today as I return to spend my last night at paradise with three wonderful women it seems most appropriate to leave you with this quote.....

I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still, or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey who's conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. ~ Red

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ticking clock

It could be that when you get this alone, when the existence of all that is around you has its own music, you may find yourself greedy. Not that you don't love others, you do, but you are fearful they will interrupt the melody.

Today, Thursday, I wake up to the sounds of this space. Sometimes it is barely audible like when the sheets rub against each other as I push them from my body or when my feet touch the rug beneath the bed. Other sounds provide a solid bass and lead as the old wood floors creak and the kitchen faucet forces the water into the coffee pot. The crinkling of the wrapping around the muffin, the tinkling of the plate when it's placed on the counter. The wind blowing against the large back window.

It is with such an orchestra that I sit on the couch and continue reading. Gary is writing of spiritual partnerships, and I consider those people in my life who have in one way or another contributed to my growth. Let's just say I had so much to learn because I am surrounded by a multitude of incredible teachers. Too numerous to name unless you wanted to focus on just one. That one would be my Mom.

Mama took us to a small Baptist church not because she was supposed to or because her mama took her. She did it due to her incredible thirst for knowledge. And I can't tell you what she really thought when we came to her with those childhood "but why" questions, all I can remember is that she always had answers which she seemed certain of. From an early age I think she taught me that if I looked hard enough, studied and listened, then I would find the answer.

As our relationship has evolved, and we have each been on some fantastic, sometimes quite hard hitting spiritual journeys we always seem to be able to take time, cut through a little clearing between our paths and discuss what we have seen and heard. In these moments I am acutely aware of and grateful for a spiritual partner who seems to understand we all find our own answers. Now it appears that we have simply become storytellers with each being the others most attentive audience.

Again I have to be aware of time. It can pass so quickly when you have an orchestra playing just for you and a book leads you to a woman you love, but the clock is now ticking.

I need to get moving. Today I have to actually open that front door and meet some guys who are flying in from overseas to visit the place where I get a paycheck.

Yeah, yeah I'm taking two hours out of this forty worth of vacation to do business. I know what you're thinking but this is about my need for answers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ballad

I feel my way through Wednesday. At times reading on the front porch of the rear cottage while at others sitting on the back porch of the main house watching the birds bathe in the fountain. I take naps when I am sleepy, prepare food when I am hungry. Here it is easy to savor the presence of each moment.

No schedule, no deadlines to be met. I never even open the front door today. I am fully, completely here. NOW.

When the darkness comes I greet it as a familiar lover. I am, once again, waiting it's arrival center stage.

First, the lights to the left blink on.

Then to the right.

It comes to me slow and easy, moving toward me on the brick path. I close my eyes and breathe in it's arrival. I feel the coolness of it's air touch my fingers and gradually move up my arms to my neck and face. I can hear the fountain as our witness.

I walk inside and light candles for it. Place a slow song in the player. I glide my hand over the smooth counter top at the bar. Pour me a drink. Stir. The wood floors gently touch my feet as I walk over to the tassel.

Intimacy.

Here, now is intimacy. Truly, I think, my first taste of it. Never have I known intimacy with a lover, with a friend, with even myself. Until now. Now I am intimate with everything.

And gratitude doesn't even begin to describe it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

the glass

I don't know what happens today.

I understand that I think I wake up post sunrise.

I understand that I think this place is leaving me.

There is this Buddhist story which speaks of a glass. The glass holds the water. It is quite useful, and the sun glistens off of it making it sparkle in a particularly pleasant way. Then the wind blows and the glass falls and breaks. Of course it does. Everything is transitory. The key is to understand how valuable the glass was before the wind came.

I already expect the wind. In fact, I have to talk myself out of dreading the wind since this will be my last day alone at the Como Courtyard. Tomorrow will break the silence.

I tell myself I must somehow learn to take this with me. Some piece of this at least. I understand that I think this is my challenge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

nothing

A heavy, steady beat is coming from the speakers.

Both my brother and son will tell you that at any given moment of any given day you can ask them if they are thinking anything and they will honestly respond in the negative. Not a thought in their head. I've argued this point with them for years clearly envious of anyone obtaining such a silence.

The Black Keys and it's loud.

I've even tried.

I'm standing in front of a small gold and silver tassel hanging from the bookcase, and my fingers are studying the tiny beads.

I'd close my eyes and find myself thinking, Am I thinking now? Well, of course, I'm thinking now. I just thought of that question. And now I just thought of that answer. And now I'm just recognizing all my thoughts. And damn!

Gold. Silver. Shiny little beads.

I've even bought guided meditation tapes with waterfalls and bells and soft voices leading me into another world. A world of no thought, but my thoughts kept following me wherever I went. I failed miserably.

Beautiful, glowing beads.

So I stopped trying.

Nothing.





Now I'm here doing the exact same thing I was before there was nothing. The music is blaring. The beads are glowing as my fingers move over them ever so lightly. Yet now I want to write. I want to write like a feind. It's been two and a half years since I've written anything more than an email, and now I need to write everything. It's as if those thoughts in my head feared I'd never come back from nothing and so when I did they were shouting at me.

I run over to the bar, tear a page from a yellow legal pad, grab a pen and start writing and pacing and dancing.

I have never felt more free in my life. I became free of thought and somehow became not my thoughts. In doing so, it seemed, I gave them a place to be separate of me.

Writing.

Tonight the Como Courtyard has given me a space to write again.

Later, much later I fall into bed exhausted and fully satisfied.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

rhythm

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I guess we can all agree that different moments contain different tempos. When Slater's call wakes me up from the long, drooling nap I am quickly energized by his invite to dinner. Simply the sound of his voice picks up my beat. He is in Oxford, MS and is just leaving his girlfriend, Shelby, after a nice afternoon date. What he proposes is stopping by my little hideaway, knocking on the door and properly escorting me down the sidewalk to a Chicago style pizza joint called Windy City Grill. I am quite honored and accept the invitation.

Shelby and I are both very lucky women.

Later I open the door to the greatest teacher I have ever known. He is decked out in old jeans sans belt, a wrinkled shirt and slip on shoes with no socks. His hair is wavy, a bit too long for his grandfather, and he is already showing the stubble of man who would rather not shave. Quite handsome without one ounce of pretension. God did some pretty intricate work on this one.

"Ma'am, are ya' ready for our date?" He gives me one of those big grins he knows I love and those blue eyes simply radiate laughter.

"Heck yeah!" I say and close the door behind me.

The dinner is fantastic. Good Italian food and incredible conversation. He can talk about anything and has a beautiful wit. Laughter dots our words as we discuss our individual past twenty-four hours, and there is an overwhelming satisfaction to being in this moment with him. To have once held a baby scared out of my mind and now to be sitting here across the table from a young man whose very presence gives me such faith in humanity is a complete miracle.

Just as Slater is asking for the check my old friend Rusty walks in, pulls up a chair and begins one of his comedy routines. He has a million of these. In the physical comedic arena he stands and falls and stumbles and gets right back up and falls again with such greats as John Ritter and Chevy Chase. The boy could actually quit his day job.

Slater and I offer to sit while Rusty orders something, but he opts to get a sausage and cheese plate from further down the sidewalk at The Como Steakhouse and return to the Courtyard for a visit. We accompany him on the nice evening stroll, up and down the length of Main Street Como.

Back at my sanctuary we all sit on the porch and marvel at the beauty. I receive just as much satisfaction, if not more, sharing this place with others and seeing the looks on their faces. Rusty is already making plans to bring his new love here, and I tell him there is no better choice for a romantic getaway.

There is some further conversation, darkness begins creeping in, the lights to the left shine, then to the right and the guys decide to mosey on. I read another chapter in Gary's book and fix me a drink.

Little do I know what this night will bring but I am fully open to all possibilities.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Once, Falling Slowly

Today is when time stops being. Without knowing I fall into the vacation mindset of night meets day, day meets night. The clock is irrelevant.

After the soak I shower, put on the fresh change of clothes and look again for a book. I had thrown Thoreau in the backpack as a last minute thought when leaving the house, but he seems too angry for here. He would think this was too decadent, and I would surmise he was too judgmental. Maybe he will be a more suited companion for a backpacking trip later. Maybe one day I'll drown him in the Greene River.

Although there is that bookcase, there are also books placed throughout the space and I eye an interesting title on the lower shelf of a side table next to an oversize chair. Soul Stories by Gary Zukav. I am immediately drawn to the title and know instantly this must be my vacation read.

A dim light is beginning to creep past the large windows while I settle into the couch and open the book. Gary begins his odyssey by explaining the evolution of souls, and I am instinctually drawn into his dream. Though knowledge is a wonderful thing, there is a gut feeling letting me know Zukav has won my heart in this journey. Thoreau can stay at Walden.

Later I place an old receipt in the book to mark my spot, put the dirty clothes in the grocery bag and head up the road to home. I know the boys are fine. They don't need me this week, but they don't mind me dropping in either. The truth is that every now and again I just need to see Slater, hear his voice on the phone or read a note he has left for me.

They are still asleep when I get home and have left the kitchen a mess. Obviously their previous night had been partly spent visiting the local Walmart and purchasing all the wrong foods for the right reasons. Three boys and a party. I walk past the mess, quietly open the door to Slater's room, peek in and make sure he's breathing. Dear children of all mothers, We love that you breathe. Laughter and smiling are the bonuses, the Publishers Clearing House of Life, but breathing is the meat and potatoes. Signed, mothers of all children.

I walk back to the kitchen and happily clean it as a contribution to their week. Afterwards I start laundry and take Billy Sue outside for some quality backyard time. She doesn't know where I've been, and I do feel a bit guilty hoping that time is irrelevant to her as well.

Once my duties are complete I put another fresh change of clothes in a bag, glance at the breathing of the child, ensure Billy Sue's bowl is full while telling her I love her and she is the best dog in the world, skip out to my car and return to my vacation.

Back at the Courtyard I take a nap.



Post script ~ If there were such things as side notes, today this would be my side note. Good movie. Good soundtrack.



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Friday, July 9, 2010

continued...with limited vocabulary (warning, warning)

The clock next to the bed reads 3:00am and the same killing is being played out on the screen when I wake. There is some comfort in thinking that maybe this is the only murder we've had in this country as of late and in some type of strange fear mongering the network has decided to keep replaying it. I roll out of bed and power it off before proven wrong.

I don't have to be anywhere today, and there could be others in this universe who may think I'm out of my mind for getting up and making coffee. That's okay, let them think as they will. This is my favorite part of any day. There is a certain stillness about 3am, a beautiful quiet.

As the coffee brews I check out all the goodies Kay left for me. Muffins, homemade banana nut bread, a basket full of fruit and juice in the refrigerator. She is quite the hostess. I opt for a muffin with my coffee as I sit at the table and thumb through the guest book feeding my voyeuristic tendencies in the most pleasant way. How many varieties of this place is exquisite are there? Page after page of people attempting to put in words what they found here. If you visit you must, must I say, leave something in this book. Kay treasures these notes.

Two cups of coffee and a quick clean of the kitchen later I am unclothing and snatching a complimentary robe out of a huge wardrobe in the bedroom. There are no birds singing, no dogs barking as I make my way out to the hot tub and disrobe. It is a certain guilty pleasure to be naked outdoors. Maybe in my world it has always been taboo, but here it feels free and wonderfully safe.

I hang the robe on the wood fence surrounding the hot tub, remove the cover of the big bath and step in. The cool, crisp morning air coupled with the circulating warm water feels like a gift, like God came down, prepared me a perfect moment in time and said in the sweetest, kindest whisper, "Just fucking relax, kid." Is it wrong that my God swears and looks like George Burns?

Maybe this is the beginning.

Maybe there are a million beginnings to this week.

The lower part of my body is submerged in the tub, the pulsating jets and rushing water are all that is audible as I fold my arms and rest my head on a window cut out of the brick looking at the lights, the trees, the shrubs and potted plants. Here in this place, in this very moment, I am filled with such complete gratitude and love.

I am in awe.

Of here.

Of now.

Of everyone.

Of everything.

Of how amazing this past forty years have been.

And I say to God, "Fucking thank you, man. Dude, THIS. LIFE. ROCKS."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

changing the title

I sit for hours absorbing the place, only moving to refill an empty glass. Cigarettes fill the ashtray and thoughts flood my mind. Nothing to do but sit. Sit and wait in darkness dotted by former Christmas lights as memories, judgments, guilts and the same old questions play havoc in my head. Ghosts only haunt if welcomed.

I sit and allow it to happen. There is no more arguing, the struggle has ceased to be. I only put a name to something in front of me, in my immediate presence if the conflict in my head feels pressing.

It's not until 11pm that I finally make my way back to the bedroom. Lots of pillows and thick blankets, a type of royal welcome to sleep. Here is what looks like a computer monitor on a dresser next to my declared side of the bed. I turn it on and find it's a television. There's some type of investigation being played out on the immediate channel. A man is telling a story. I pull back the covers, hug up to the pillows and drift off to a murder.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

for josh, continued

I spend the remainder of the afternoon explaining to myself it is okay I am here. The mental chatter wants to argue, tell me I've left something undone, that a good mother would have taken her child to the beach, how something at work is surely remaining. One thought leads into another and a less skilled soldier could very well lose this battle claiming defeat in the not good enough war.

Yet I have this place. I walk around the space lightly touching things giving them a name.

You're not good enough.

Tree, the one I jokingly threatened to chain myself to. I run my hand over the outer skin and remember the story I created. How Kay would come and tell me to leave. I would refuse, they would have to cut the tree down in order to remove me and how it would be my fault the tree died and Kay would never let me come back. I laugh. Good enough for what?

You're not good enough.

Hot tub, I open the cover, peak in. It's new, bigger than the last. So clean and massive. Maybe I'll take a soak later once night comes. I close the cover and walk away. What is good enough?

Good enough is something which you are not.

I walk back into the main house. Bookcase, my fingers run the length of the bindings as I read the titles, The Evil That Men Do. Why is that here? It seems out of place. I turn and walk away. Will I ever be good enough?

No, you'll never be good enough.

I walk toward the kitchen, picking up the grocery bag on my way. I empty the contents, naming a place for each one. Whiskey, I pour myself a drink in a short, heavy glass. Take a sip. Why try?

People need you to be good enough.

I notice the large screened television in the rear left corner of the room. Drink in hand, I walk over and fumble with the new technology finally and accidentally placing my finger on the power button. Voices break the stillness, and I immediately push the button again. Silence. People will be just fine if I'm not good enough.

But you won't.

I shuffle back to the center of the room, browse my music, pick a favorite and place it in the player. Slow, steady, a crooning blues. I take another sip of the whiskey, begin to feel the beat of the song, pivot on the wood floors and head back outside. You're wrong. This is good enough for me.

It can't be. You'll stop moving. You have to aspire to be better, to do better. This can't be good enough. You can't stay still.

I slow dance to the back porch. Once there I sit centered on the bench facing the yard. The light is growing dim and a tree to my left suddenly brightens as a string of lights magically power. Then to my right another begins to shine. I hear a dog bark outside the brick walls, some other world's sounds. Yes, I can.

Again I hear the water falling down into the base of the fountain.

A cool breeze whispers and touches my skin.

There is no good enough. There is only this.


to be continued....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

commercial (possibly for the use of psychiatric medications)

Taking the start of a new year as a time to resolve something in my life is not really my thing. It has to do with some type of natural rebellion, a mentality that says, "oh you don't think I can do that...well, just watch me!" Even against myself. Let's just say I've learned not to challenge self 'cause self shoots me the bird. Yet all selfs, even the opposing ones, seemed to agree in January of 2010 that it was okay maybe to possibly make a resolution to live only in the present moment, the NOW.

So I prayed for help.

And I laughed at myself. I still chuckle at the absurdity of making future plans to live in the present. The resolution itself went against it's self. Perfect. Because it was funny, all selfs were totally up for the challenge. Game on.

March 2010 my NOW was The Como Courtyard.

Yes, I am the luckiest girl alive.

I hope to continue writing about that week, to take your hand and walk you through what happened, the power of that place. It was....well....ummmm..I promise. I promise to come back here and tell you about it.

Right NOW though I'm getting ready to take a drive down south to see that beautiful family of mine. Jesse Claire Miller has learned how to water ski at six years old, and I want to see her face as she tells me the story.

Happy Independence Day, my friends.

Oh wait! I must leave you with this song about friendship. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Flogging Molly. Of course we're gonna leave this world alive!

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Friday, July 2, 2010

for josh, part duh!

The door is heavy, and I lean into it with a shoulder as I drag a backpack and grocery bag in behind me. Whiskey, cigarettes and music are the sustenance, but I think I've thrown some sandwich fixings and a change of clothes in there as well. I push the door shut with my back and stand facing myself in a mirror that reaches from the floor to at least the lower level of heaven. I have no idea how high these ceilings are so I'll just say they're the perfect height.

Here's where I breathe, the first good, solid inhale/exhale I've had in at least three days or nineteen years. Can you have an anxiety attack that lasts nineteen years? Some slow, steady, oozing acid in your gut that's been there for so long you think it's normal. Of course, it is. You know it 'cause you've been watching and listening as everyone else lives in their panic as well.

I drag the essentials with me as I follow the hallway to the right. There are pictures, paintings and framed articles about the place hanging on the old brick wall but I ignore them 'cause they say this place isn't mine, and I'm saying for right now it is. Kay, one of the most gracious and generous women I've ever met, has allowed me this say for a very fair price. She left me that key.

I drop the backpack in the bedroom to the left, a large room with double, dark stained doors. I'll return here later, but I'm quickly headed back up the hallway to the end where I stop and place the grocery bag on the dining room table. I slip off my flip flops without even looking down and feel the coolness of the wood floor beneath my bare feet.

I don't know how long I'm standing here, but I think this is where I take my second breath. Inhale. Exhale into a massive space, contained but not, a world all it's own. Once again, I know the ceiling is there because its a beautiful, decorated red tin and those massive brick walls are all around me reaching, reaching up.

The sun's light is pouring in from the glass facing me at the back of the room and I run toward it, pull open the door, push the screen and literally jump onto the back porch. This is a beautiful Spring day so I sit in the old, wood chair to my right and take in the scene. The brick walls continue here but show more wear and color. All that is missing is that tin ceiling as this place is opened to the heavens and the blueness of the sky falls in.

I hear the water dropping into the fountain.

The birds sing me their song.

I close my eyes and take my third breath.

Inhale.

Exhale.

To be continued.....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

for josh

The photographs are nice, but I have yet to see one that captures the essence of the place. It's as if you're walking into some type of sacred or hallowed ground, somewhere completely void of struggle. People I know, who have had the fortune of a visit and are attempting to describe it to those who have not, typically fumble through the aesthetics and finally end with, "You just have to see it. Witness it for yourself."

For this reason I am bowing, taking a type of curtsy, to the fear that I will be unable to do this place justice with my words. Thus, I am just going to go ahead and say what we know is coming, "You just have to see it. Witness it for yourself."

Rural Mississippi, to me, is a main street surrounded by back roads where a wave from the steering wheel is customary. Como is no exception. In fact, I think, it stands as a beloved representation of our fair state. This had to be at least part of the reason I chose to spend a week's vacation only seven miles south of my own home. Yet I think the main reason I went to Como that week had to do with my 40 days of 40.

"Huh, what's 40 days of 40?" you inquire.

"Thanks for asking," I say.

40 days of 40 was a period of time when I turned 40 years old and vowed to spend 40 days participating in all the things I truly loved in life. It was completely selfish, fantastic beyond words and lovingly supported by my family. I borrowed the idea from a brilliant friend and will forever be indebted to his sharing.

Here's where I need to interject a note from my heart saying I have and will always participate in the things I truly love. 40 days of 40 simply put a name to a particular period of time and seemed to make it okay for me to visit a place I loved on my own. Alone.

Five days, forty hours, of vacation time spent by a woman who doesn't exactly like to miss work 'cause she obviously thinks so much of herself she assumes the place will crumble without her. For this reason I spent the entire weekend before my vacation preparing for my absence and then explaining to my boss that he was to do nothing. Not touch anything. Can someone say fear of letting go? Yeah, I've been confronting that one for a while now.

My experience in the confrontation of fears has been that they are layers and once you begin peeling them back you immediately find yourself confronted with the next one. For me, after letting go came being alone. And, yes, I did put up one of those typical, last minute struggles that in the end left me claiming defeat in the alone category as well.

I finished work from the office computer I have installed in my home at 9am Monday morning. At 3pm I drove into Como, MS, parked on main street, walked up some steps, opened a large red door, looked to my right and grabbed a key that had been placed there for me. This was the beginning.

To be continued.....



Post Script to Josh ~ I know it's taking me a long time to get there but I think that's kinda the point. Love you.