Sunday, July 22, 2018

Leaps & Bounds

Despite the horrific experience that was my first marriage, I would not be deterred from getting my happily ever after.  Read:  I was kinda desperate to find The One.  I searched far and wide, sometimes ... correction ... usually looking in all the wrong places.  And some 14 years later, I found my next project … er … husband.

One would think I would’ve learned my lesson the first time around:  men cannot be saved, nor can they be changed.  Part Two of my love story strongly resembled Part One.  Only this time, it was not the man who needed saving (much), but rather his two young daughters.

We met at a 4th of July party.  On July 5th, he called and asked for a first date.

I was quite surprised, when, after dating a mere nine months, he suggested we look at engagement rings.  We then jetted off to Florida where he proposed to me in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  Truly, I thought, my fairy tale was coming true. 

About a month before the wedding, the wheels started to come off.  I started seeing glimpses of the “real” Jerry.  Glimpses of husband #1 and ideals which didn’t align with my own.  He wrote it off as cold feet and vowed to be better.  The rush to the altar, I (now) believe, his attempt to tie me down before I fully realized what I was getting myself into. 

With invitations sent and non-refundable deposits paid, I was transformed into my idea of Cinderella and we stood up before family and friends and said “I Do”.

The best game of charades ever played continued until about three months into our marriage.  At this point, I think he thought, there was no turning back.  You know, for better or worse - better for him, worse for me.

He was possessive, controlling, his personal views on child-rearing and household cleanliness so very different from my own; I mean … I like Mickey Mouse and all, but having mice running about in my home?  Not a fan. 

Where parenting was concerned, I think he was compensating for having divorced their mother.  Prior to our relationship, the girls had not met a single vegetable that they liked nor had they met a trash can they liked as it was not uncommon for candy wrappers and the like to be discarded wherever they stood. I had hoped to provide them with some structure and introduce them to some food options other than the only two food groups with which they were accustomed:  macaroni and cheese.

He stalked me at work, turning ugly and angry when I didn’t answer my (desk) phone (never mind the fact that I was often in meetings or assisting my manager); from my manager’s office, I could hear my phone ringing – one call after another after another – until she suggested I go answer the damn thing. 

He cyber-stalked me (before that was a thing) by following along on posts I made on a Disney-related message board (I mean REALLY?   What shady things could I possibly get into on a Disney-related board???). 

Knowing my dislike for smoking, he initially hid from me that he was a smoker, then vowed to quit when I made it clear that was a deal breaker.  A few months into the marriage, I wondered why he sounded so panicked to get home before I did when I agreed to fire up the grill for dinner.  Imagine my surprise when I went to light the coals only to find about a whole pack worth of cigarette butts in the grill.

We took the kids to Disney World and he started a fight with me there.  Knowing full-well that husband #1’s preferred means of emotional abuse was threatening to leave, he threatened to go home (while leaving his girls with me to finish out the vacation).  I don’t even remember what the argument was over, but I know that for as much as I loved Disney World, I couldn’t bring myself to go back for several years afterwards.

Serving as chaperones for my son’s band trip to Hawaii, he started an argument in front of the other chaperones – something about a camera or taking a picture, I don’t remember.  The looks on the other chaperones faces a mixture of pity and shock and awe.  I was hoping the magician we were seeing that night would ask for volunteers for his disappearing act!

It wasn’t long after that when we separated; in the middle of an argument, he threatened (again) to leave, and I warned him if he were to walk out the door, that he wouldn’t be walking back in.  Ever.  Unfortunately, the door didn’t hit him in the backside when he left.

At one point, when he was trying to weasel his way back into our home, the conversation went something like this:
HIM:  Were the phone calls at work really so bad?
ME: Uh … yeah … 
HIM:  So you mean to tell me that whenever you tried to call me, and I wasn’t at my desk, you assumed I was at work?
ME:  Uh … yeah … I did.  

Apparently I REALLY didn't pay attention the first time around.

A lengthy divorce followed (as I attempted to regain the several thousands of dollars that he owed me) and we finally said, “I Don’t” a mere 18 months after saying “I Do”.

And that’s the beginning of a personal transformation that would forever change me and my life.

Desperate to discover why I was so attuned to picking the wrong guy, I got into counseling.  What did I hope to get out of it?  I wanted to know what my part was in the downfall of not one, but two marriages.  (If you must know, it was my counselor’s professional opinion that I simply did not see or act on the multitude of red flags.)  Ever so patiently, my counselor helped me work through those issues (and several more) until I was ready to fly.  And fly I did.

At the time marriage #2 was falling apart, I underwent a spiritual awakening of sorts.  My faith walk began when I attended a spiritual retreat, the Walk to Emmaus.  It was through this retreat where I formed some incredible friendships with ladies that would help to see me through the dissolution of my marriage and who I still enjoy a loving friendship with today.

I became more active in my church, volunteering as a Stephen Minister (someone who helps others who are going through personal crises).  I was then asked to become a Stephen Leader for the ministry at my church.  It was during my Stephen Leader training that I read Speaking the Truth in Love:  How to be an Assertive Christian by Ruth N. Koch and Kenneth C. Haugk; the key word here (and the reason I share this is):  ASSERTIVE.  Where self-help books are concerned (and this wasn’t even meant to be one), this was the best!  My uber assertive co-worker even questioned what was happening with me, as she noticed my assertiveness in the office.

Just prior to accepting the leadership role at church, I was selected for my first management position in my Social Work career.  Along with my co-manager, we designed our own job responsibilities and that of our staff for the newly minted Quality Assurance section.  I loved building something from the ground up, as it were, and I was able to put my writing skills to work as we drafted procedures and other tools that enabled our staff to do their jobs.  And did I mention it was QA work?  I love structure (always have)!  As my son neared his high school graduation and prepared to leave the nest, I now had someone else (actually … about 50 someone else’s) for whom I was responsible.

It was this series of events that increased my confidence level and made me more self-aware.  I felt value in what I was doing, and I felt valued.  My self-esteem blossomed.  I grew by leaps and bounds (figuratively, of course).

No longer desperate to find a man, someone to make me whole, I made myself whole. 

I focused on my career with it’s ever-changing direction and tasks, I busied myself with my leadership role at church, and I enjoyed time with my friends – movies, dinner and drinks filled our evenings and binge-watching the Hallmark channel during the holidays was always a favorite.  I even enjoyed the time I spent at home alone.

I was content. 

It was at that point, when I was no longer actively looking for a man and I was happy with “me”, when a friend of mine said “There’s someone I think you should meet.  His name is Keith.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

An Ounce of Strength

I am a two-time loser in the game of marriage.  Yes, I eventually found my happily ever after, but before finding my prince, I did indeed have to kiss a lot of frogs.

This is part one of my not-so-beautiful love story; it’s about a young girl who fell madly in love for all the wrong reasons and who found an ounce of strength within herself.

As a college Freshman, I found who I thought was the love of my life:  Emery, a bartender at a nightclub I used to frequent.  He was from the other side of the tracks; not the wrong side necessarily, just the other side – his upbringing so totally different from my own.  And I was going to save him!  Because, you know … that’s what we girls (especially at a young age) do.  But I was young and naïve, in college and seeking my M.R.S. (isn’t that the point of college?  Kidding!)

He was raised in an alcoholic home, by a single mom, his dad (from what I gather) mostly out of the picture.  He was several years older than me.  And come to find out, he was married.  And he left me to go back to his wife.  Big surprise. 

I was destroyed. 

As time went by, I met and began a beautiful relationship with a wonderful guy. 

And then, Emery returned.  One knock on my door changed the course of my life.  I said goodbye to ‘wonderful guy’ and took Emery back in just about two heartbeats.

I’m sure there were good times, but the bad times are what stuck with me. 

I spent many a night watching him get trashed, he, being an alcoholic himself.  Yet if you asked him, he was not.  Because unlike his mother, whose choice of drink was liquor, he liked beer.  And lots of it.  And frequently.

Not only did he like beer, but he liked women.  Apparently, lots of women.  Other than me.  My sister tried to hold an intervention of sorts - sharing that he had hit on our roommate and told her countless stories of how easy it was to cheat on me.  And I found evidence of there being other women in his apartment - on more than one occasion and in more than one of his apartments.  And there were tears.  Lots of tears.  And yet I couldn't gather the strength to leave.  

And there was abuse of the emotional (and probably verbal) variety.  Forget having friends of the opposite sex, much less friends of the same sex.  I know now that he projected his infidelity onto me; as he made constant accusations, calling my monogamy into question (with both my male and female friends).    

But I just couldn’t see myself without him (I think that’s the way it is in abusive relationships).  It wasn’t even a matter of caring what would happen to him.  I really didn’t know what would happen to me.  And the strength to find out was all but non-existent.

As I prepared to graduate college and make my way into the world, my sister and brother-in-law gave me my out:  a place to stay, in another city, three hours away, where upon graduation, I stood a chance of getting my Journalism career off the ground.  And I jumped at it.

I told Emery I needed only to get settled in and get my career started before he could join me.  The truth of the matter was that I had absolutely no intention of reuniting with him.  This was the break that should’ve been made permanently when he left me the first time.  And yes, this was cowardice.

And then, there was a plus sign on the in-home pregnancy test.

What little snippet of confidence I might have gained in myself and my ability to get out of this toxic relationship just melted away.  I had a couple of decisions to make and they were big, not to mention difficult, ones.  To keep the baby or not?  To even tell him or not?  To marry this guy or not? 

At the age of 22, I didn’t feel strong enough to raise a child on my own, much less to be able to withstand society’s downward glances for having a child out of wedlock (as was common back in the day).  And so, I did tell him.  And we did get married.  And a week before my 23rd birthday, my son was born.

You would think that would be a joyous occasion.  You would think.  But as we sat down to our “complimentary” steak and sparkling fruit juice dinner in the hospital (I say complimentary because really … we all know NOTHING is complimentary in hospitals), this asshole looks at me and says, (and I quote) “so … if he was born on the 26th, when exactly did you get pregnant?”  He was trying to calculate whether he was really the father.  And there were more tears.  I did say he was an asshole, right?

I spent eight hours a day working my retail job (my dreams of a Journalism career denied) and the remaining hours trying to take care of an infant and worrying about where my husband was off to and how much he was drinking at any given moment.  Our son was colicky and so there wasn’t much sleep to be had either.

Then finally, at six months, my son began to sleep through the night.  At least there was that. 

Until … Emery came home one night, already toasted, and as I tried to feed our baby his cereal, Emery was throwing empty beer cans at me from across the room.  And that night, our baby did not sleep.

Abusing me was one thing but raising my son in an abusive home was quite another. 

I called my sister and brother-in-law the next day and said I wanted out.  The next phone call was to my mom.  Between the three of us, we set a plan for mine and my son’s escape.  And that’s exactly what it needed to be – because I truly feared Emery would never allow me to leave otherwise.  My family was strong for me when I couldn’t be.

Shortly before moving day, I found in his wallet, a phone number with the name “Debbie” written on it.  Rather than confront this hussy myself, or even confront my husband (wow – there’s an idea!), a friend of mine volunteered her husband to do my dirty work.  Pretending to be one of his (my husband’s) friends, he called Debbie, asking if she knew when Emery would be home.  This pre-dated Caller ID.  She knew exactly where he was (at work) and what time he would be home.  And that was all I needed to confirm that I was doing the right thing.  Oh!  And one other thing, the girl who caught me on my way to do laundry one day and fawned all over my son – her name was Debbie.

The day of my escape, my brother-in-law, mom, and aunt sat lying in wait until Emery left for work.  In the time it took him to work his 8-hour shift, we packed up my belongings (and yes, left him with the things he brought into the marriage) and fled to my parents’ home. 

I refused all of his phone calls for at least a week.  And when I did finally answer the phone, of course, he vowed to be better.  He denied any knowledge of Debbie.  And the cherry on top?  He knew we were drifting apart and thought perhaps we should have another baby to bring us back together.  With one ounce of strength, my answer was “NO”.

My son and I saw him for the last time around my son’s first birthday.  And his parental rights were terminated a few years later.

I can't explain why people like Emery exist in this world, but I know now that no one deserves to be treated that way. 
Knowing the person I am today, I cringe when I think about that time in my life.  How could I have been so blinded?  Why was I so weak?  How could I have allowed myself to be controlled and abused that way?  And yes, I ask myself often, what would’ve been if …

But I can’t dwell on that too much.  And I see that this was the first step in leading me to my happily ever after. 

Were it not for Emery, I would not have had my son.

Were it not for Emery, I would not have had my son who grew attached to one of his daycare providers, who became one of my best friends.

Were it not for Emery, I would not have had my son, who grew attached to one of his daycare providers, who became one of my best friends and who introduced me to my prince.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


At the ripe young age of 47, as menopause came on, and 10 stubborn pounds came with it, I wanted – no, I needed – something drastic to help me feel better.  I’d heard about this thing called CrossFit.  Yeah, I know, people who CrossFit love to talk about CrossFit.  But *this* is not about CrossFit (entirely) – that’s a post for a different day.  This is how, at the age of 47, enamored with my new-found sport and the tattooed hard-bodies I worked out with, I got my first ink (and then another and then, technically, another.  Don’t tell my mom!)

I’ve thought about getting a tattoo for many years.  There were many reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to do it:  Would “society” look down on me?  What would my friends think?  Would it hurt? (I HATE needles!) Can I afford it?  Will it look trashy?  Would it look unprofessional at work?  What would I get and where would I put it?  What would my family think? 

And there was one reason why I should do it:  I REALLY wanted one!

A friend of mine got one when we were in our 20’s.  She surprised us all, when, at her bachelorette party, she stood up in the middle of the restaurant and dropped her pants!  As a surprise to her husband, she’d gotten a heart with his name scrawled across it, which was scrawled across her gluteus maximus.  Given that we all came from very traditional and very conservative backgrounds, I always admired her for being *that girl*. 

Once on a family vacation, a conversation over dinner turned to tattoos.  My nephew had gotten one.  I was encouraged by him sharing it with our family.

A 20-something friend at the gym had gotten one and said she was going for another.  And bonus!  The tattoo studio she liked was having a Black Friday Sale!  It didn’t take much convincing.  So, while everyone else was headed to Best Buy and WalMart in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving, we were headed to Austin – to get some bargain-priced ink!  Yep – you read that right – I got my first tattoo on a Black Friday Sale. 

I still wasn’t sure what I wanted.  I had always thought I would get an infinity symbol in honor of my all-time favorite band, Journey.  I surprised even myself when I strayed from that idea and decided on something to show my love and loyalty for my alma mater, The University of Texas:  a Longhorn head on my shoulder.

I don’t remember it hurting that bad.  It was more ticklish than anything.  At least that’s what my sub-conscious chooses to remember – kinda like having a baby (when you choose to have another and then another).  Freshly tainted … or rather painted … we celebrated with a meal at Magnolia Pancake Haus.  

I returned home with care instructions for my husband; after all, I could not reach that part of my body.  He was so supportive (that’s also another post for another day).  He thought it was sexy, he loved it and still does!  The following Monday, I strutted into my CrossFit box wearing a tank top – I wanted everyone to see my new ink.  I was officially part of the club (or as some non-CrossFitters call it, the cult).  And no, not every CrossFitter has a tattoo.

But I was still embarrassed to show my (non-CrossFitter) friends and family (and I've never shared a CrossFit picture on FB that showed my bare right shoulder either!)  In fact, I’m pretty sure there are still family members who don’t know I have one, let alone, multiple tattoos.  Of course, if they're reading this, they know now.

We’d host pool parties and I’d wear a t-shirt and not get into the pool.  I celebrated the 50th birthday of one of my college buddies in Cancun; of course, I had to get into a swimsuit – I think she was shocked – and she took pictures!  It wasn’t until my closest group of friends and I celebrated our 50th birthdays in Destin, when I put on a bathing suit in front of the five of them.  My mom spotted it one day when I was at their house.  With a little smirk, she simply asked, “How long have you had that?” and nothing else was said.  To this day, she’s never mentioned it again.  I still don’t think my dad knows.

And I’m still self-conscious about it. 

Fast forward a couple of years and I decide on a second tattoo.  To combine my love of Disney with my love of Journey, I want a Mickey-head intertwined with an infinity symbol on the inner part of my heel.  I scour the internet (mostly Pinterest – who knew?!) to get some ideas.  Having found an artist, the appointment is set for six weeks out; I interpret this to mean he’s incredibly popular and must be a gifted artist.  

The day I got the work done, the artist suggested we change the design up a bit and went on to explain why he thinks it would be better if we did it this (new) way.  I liked his sketch well enough.  "Okay", I say, "you're the artist."  A friend went with and held my hand.  Literally.  It hurt like hell.  Because of my dislike for needles, I couldn’t look.  But when it was done, I hated it.  Literally from the first moment I looked at it, I hated it.  On the wall in the shop, there was a saw with the words “Tattoo Removal” painted on it – I was tempted to use it!  My friend tried to console me over margaritas.  She didn’t say how horrible it looked, but I could see it in her face.  

It was still flip-flop season, but if I was going out with friends, or going to visit my parents, I’d wear closed-toe shoes.  When I did dare to venture out wearing flip-flops, I put a band aid over my ink.  When I finally decided to go out sans band aid, I found I would constantly turn that foot inward to hide the hideous and now permanent blue blob that graced my body.  My self-consciousness over having a tattoo was now equal to the embarrassment I felt over this newest one.

The “artist” tried to correct it by adding some white ink and lightening it up.  It didn’t really help much.  And by now, hiding my foot was habit.

Within a matter of months, I decide to have it removed using laser treatments.  For a cost of more than three times what I paid for the tattoo, they think they can forever rid my body of the blue blob.   Five treatments later and that thing is STILL on my foot. I signed up for five more.  And that thing is STILL on my foot. 

Tired of the pain and suffering I was enduring with the laser removal treatments (not to mention the after-shocks and the blistering), I decided to look for a cover-up artist and see if I couldn’t make it all better.  Another friend knew a guy.  While my love of Mickey and Journey has not diminished, I wanted something totally different – to erase the memory of that ink stain forever.  
We agreed on a design (I’ve always loved the ocean) and he did a fantastic job!  I loved it and had zero problems stepping out in my flip flops (just not around family or close friends). 
But then … most of the ink came off (it’s not supposed to do that!).  He touched it up … and it faded again!  The laser treatments had damaged my skin beyond what either he or I could imagine.  
With his third, and likely final, attempt, we timed it so that I could live in my flip flops for a couple of weeks, hopefully giving the ink a better chance to stick without a shoe rubbing against it.  It’s already peeling, but at least there’s more ink left than the previous two attempts.  And at least what’s there is better than before, if a bit faded. 

During this time, I’ve gone out several times – both with friends who CrossFit and friends who don’t.  I called one of my (non-CrossFitter) friends and forewarned her about my tattoo and told her how self-conscious I was feeling; her response, “I can’t wait to see it!  And don’t worry about what others think!  I bet no one will even say anything!”  And guess what?  No one said a word.  Instead, they were busy admiring the shade of nail polish I had on my toes (it's a lovely shade of lavender, yes?)! 

That’s not entirely true – my CrossFit friends all agreed the tat is cool. 

I recognize that people have opinions about tattoos and those opinions can be very strong.  And they may even have opinions about people with tattoos (I know I sure do – when I see someone with a tat on their face or when I see a particularly artful piece.)  I recognize they’re not for everyone.  But I kinda like mine.

I’ve found that with age, I’ve become more adventurous.  I’ve found a confidence that eluded me for the better part of my life.  I’m becoming more comfortable, literally, in my own skin.

In a couple of weeks, we're hosting a family get-together, a pool party.  And you know what?  I'm going to wear my flip flops.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Just Write!

It began in 1971, first grade, my friendship with Amy.  In my memory, she had a head of beautiful, long, thick hair; mine was short and stringy and if I dared to grow it long, it looked even stringier, if that were possible.  We shared a love of horses and she had a pony; there was no room for a pony on our ¾ acre lot.  Her mom was the Art teacher in school; I loved Art – I think the only time outside of PE we weren’t made to sit still, because you know, I was 7.  She was smart; I wasn’t exactly in the top 10 percent, yet.  And there was something about her that drew people to her; already at age 7, I was the proverbial wallflower.  She doesn’t remember this, but Amy was popular – everyone liked her – and I liked her.  

It was a sad day when she moved to Austin, a mere 60 miles up the road, the summer between our 3rd and 4th grade years.  I missed my best friend.

We wrote to each other regularly, maybe even weekly.  The US Postal Service our only viable way of connection because long distance phone calls were too expensive, so said my parents.  I anxiously checked the mailbox every day, waiting to hear from my friend.  Upon receiving the coveted letter addressed to me, with her return address on it, I wrote back as quickly as I could.  What exactly those letters contained, I can’t say; I suppose at the age of 9 and being girls, bubble gum flavors and puppies might have been among our favorite topics.  And boys.  Maybe boys.
At some point (I don’t really know when), the frequency with which we wrote lessened. 

I remember visiting my sister when she was attending college in Austin and passing an elementary school I envisioned Amy attending (though I knew her school was on the other side of town).  I remember being in college, at the same university as my sister, and thinking of Amy as I passed that same elementary school.  Later in life, when I worked in Austin, my office just a few miles from that same school, and I thought of Amy.

By the time I was in college, the letters had stopped.  Here I was, in the same town where Amy finished her childhood, she was a mere 30 minutes away in Georgetown.  We both had the means to see each other, but we were each in the process of finding our young adult selves.  And so, we lost touch.

Fast forward to 2015.  I’m active on Facebook (way more than I should be!) and that excitement that I felt going to the mailbox every day returns in a flash - in pops a friend request from who else, but Amy!  I was shocked, thrilled, giddy, and I dare say, tears welled up in my eyes.  We chatted here and there (she tells me she never forgot me, I tell her I thought of her every year on our birthdays, which are one day apart), and of course, kept up with current stuff through FB.  But I want to know everything – since 1974 – everything about her life.  She’s back in Austin (and has been for quite some time) and I’ve returned to our hometown.  Again, a mere 60 miles separates us.

A few weeks ago, she says she’s coming for a visit!  Her dad used to be the pastor at a small church that is literally a block from my hairdresser’s shop.  Amy is an English and Literature professor and is authoring her next book, which begins with her time in the area.  She wants to visit the church and asks if I can meet her there.  As luck would have it, I had an upcoming appointment with my hairdresser and we arranged to meet that same day.  And so, it was set.  After 44 years, we are about to be reunited.

As the day drew near, I got a little nervous.  Maybe it was giddiness.  Maybe it was excitement.  But it was happening!  I couldn’t believe it.  I share my (low-level) anxiety with a mutual friend, someone we went to elementary school with, who encourages that I am still the person who, like when we were children, cherishes friendships fiercely and Amy will see that.

When I arrive at the church, it is locked.  I scan the parking lot and try to decide which of these cars belongs to Amy, which one looks most like Amy.  I decide none of them do.  A quick text tells me she’s in the office.  I smile.  But I’m shaking on the inside.  This is happening!  When we see each other, she interrupts her conversation with the pastor and gives me a huge hug.  She, her friend Caroline and I toured the church grounds and spent a lot of time in the chapel.  The parsonage, where Amy lived with her family, has long since been torn down and replaced with something more modern (circa 1980 or so); we stand on what we believe must have been the foundation of her home and remember the trees, the view of the cemetery from her front porch, and where she kept her pony.  Everything seemed much bigger back then.

We decide on lunch at a local comforty-food type of place in New Braunfels.  I ask if we should drive by our old elementary school and excitedly, Amy says yes – though she doesn’t remember the way.  I drive the route our bus used to take, in hopes that it will spark her memory and it does – she remembers the old railroad track we used to cross under and the multitude of cement plants/quarries along the way. 

And the car they were traveling in – not Amy’s car at all; it belonged to her friend Caroline.

Comal Elementary is now home to a Catholic High School.  As luck would have it, school is out and we’re able to roam the campus.  We stood in the parking lot, remembering the structure as we knew it in 1st grade (or rather, as we tried to remember it) and the changes made to it between our 1st and 2nd grade years when the radical “open-concept” was introduced in public schools.  The bus line has remained in place since we were 7-year-olds making the huge step into the big yellow school bus.  We stood on the playground and talked of the death traps that came in the form of playground equipment back in the day and the splinters which were embedded on various body parts thanks to them; the merry go round and the jungle gym being our favorites, followed closely by the see saw and swings. 

We talked of the trauma of moving at the age of 9 and how another teacher, rather than her own parents, was the one who told a very confused little girl that she would be moving over the summer.  Of course, we agreed, a lot had changed about the school and naturally, everything looked “smaller” to us now.

Over lunch, we shared a small portion of our own life’s highlight (lowlight?) reel.  I had no idea academia (as a profession) could be such a shark tank and my heart hurts to know the struggles she had while taking care of her aging and ill parents.  My bumps and bruises came in the form of past relationships.  She tells me she never forgot me.  We finished our time together with a trip to Naeglin’s Bakery – because – it’s Naeglin’s (and if you’re ever in New Braunfels, it’s one of those things you simply must do!).  I left her with this:  I wanted to share more with her – I wanted to know more about her.  What I meant was, I want to get to know her again and know all about what’s made Amy who she is today, and I want to reignite our friendship.

Her friend Caroline said she could see, just from a few hours, why we were friends all those years ago.  We still have a lot in common, though in other ways, we’re very different.

It was during a recent chat that I asked Amy more about her mom, who passed just a couple of years ago (shortly after Amy found me on Facebook).  She shared with me, a manuscript she’d written, an autobiographical piece which is not yet published.  In 212 pages, she delves into a cherished friendship, her career, her ancestry, time spent caring for her parents, then grieving her mother’s and best friend’s passing, all woven together with her own poetry.  This gives me an even bigger glimpse into a long-unanswered question:  who is Amy and what is she doing now?   If this is a teaching moment, then I am the student; and I’m learning about my friend. 

My friend, the English and Literature professor, the author, has lit a passion in me for writing.  One that I felt as we corresponded throughout the years and one that I pursued in the form of a Journalism degree.  One that I never really had an opportunity to use in my social work career.  But one I was inspired by whenever I read a John Grisham novel.  "Just Write!" says Amy.  And so I am.  Together, she and John Grisham have inspired me to begin my blog.