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Three little ducks.

January 8, 2012 1 comment

We laugh and tease

 like little kids,

but we know when it’s time to listen.

You need both sides of the coin.

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday was an amazing day for me.  I had lunch with a family friend, Amy, who’s known my parents since before I was born and my very close with my mom. We had some really interesting conversations about family, communities, motivation, and just life in general. Talking with Amy had this unique feel of spending some quiet time with family, but also that little bit of excitement that comes with good conversation. While Amy sometimes does act like my mama sometimes (giving me a little bag of Hanukkah gelt, asking me if I’m cold as I walk around in a spring jacket in 34 degree weather), it’s in a reassuring way. During yesterday’s conversation, I saw that even though Amy has strong memories of me a little kid, she’s able to see me as an adult, probably more so than I’m able to see myself that way.

Later on in the day, I met up with my friends, Dennis and Jenny, who recently got married. Now, I’ve known Dennis since I was about 10 years old and I met Jenny when I was 15 or 16. We all went to the same high school. Last night at dinner, it could have been two hours of “Remember when that gym teacher, Mr. Blah Blah Blah, got mad because of that thing? That was so funny!” Instead, it was about four hours of intense conversation about our careers (Jenny is in nursing school and Dennis, who served in both the military and law enforcement, is now a teacher) and the difficulties and rewards of being a “helping professional.” We talked about some of the things we’ve struggled with recently and what we hope for in the future. We didn’t skip over the dumb jokes though, nor did Dennis forget to tell us some hilarious stories about my brother. I felt like I was with my true family. Those four hours felt perfect.

While I was having this wonderful day, my great aunt and her family were in a hospice in New England with her son, my cousin, Steven. Steven was sick for a very long time, but things began to deteriorate for him quickly in the last few weeks. Last night, Steven was surrounded by people who loved him, but he didn’t make it through the night. Truthfully, I didn’t know Steven well. My dad’s side of the family is pretty big and I haven’t seen most of my relatives on his side since I was in elementary school. Steven and I had reconnected through Facebook in the last year or so, but still our interactions were very limited. What I remember about Steven is that he was remarkably smart and that he had a fantastic dry wit. Also, I knew I like Steven the first time I met him. My family when to visit my great aunt when I was about five years old and my brother was about seven.  Steven was there, too. He was in his twenties then, lounging on the couch, reading a book. My brother and I were bored. I had a twenty pack of plastic barrettes with little bunnies and duckies and kitty cats on them.  My brother and I asked Steven if we could put all the barrettes in his hair. He said yes. We spent a long time methodically fastening the barrettes into Steven’s hair while he read his book. He was nice enough to leave them in for a while after we were done.

It’s strange for me to think that Steven and his family were going through something so painful while I was I was having such a good time. I don’t feel guilty about or anything quite like that. It’s more like, thinking about Steven being gone makes me feel very appreciate for all the people in my life and the impact they’ve had on me, no matter how great or small. I have lifelong friends like Amy, Dennis, and Jenny who have evolved into my family, giving me such support and inspiration. In the last two years, I’ve made friends through school and judo who I know have made me stronger.

Life is full of loss, but I think it also comes with some pretty incredible gains.

From silence to growth.

December 28, 2011 5 comments

I like the evolution of friendships,

From barely noticing to passing conversation,

To inside jokes and prickly debates which lead to

Dreaming and planning.

And sometimes after years of unintentional silence,

Reconvening and making something old feel new.

 

 

Priorities

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

For some, the holidays are a time for families to take pause and reconnect with the people they care about through the comfort of tradition. This year for Christmas, Mr. Latimer and I will share in a Christmas brunch with his girlfriend and her family at the Latimer family home. I told my dad I would come over on Christmas Eve so that I could be there early the next morning to help get things ready. He said, “OK, sure. Whatever.” I said I’d come over Christmas Eve between four and five o’clock, to which he responded, “OK, sure. Whatever.”

Then this afternoon, Mr. Latimer sent me this text:

“Eagles game 4pm Sat on tv. If u need a ride it must b b4 then. XO”

When I was growing up, Eagles games were a special time when my dad would ignore everything else and scream at the television for three hours. I’m glad to know that Mr. Latimer and I will be sticking to our family tradition during this festive time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: conversations, Family, holidays

Family tree.

December 10, 2011 2 comments

So today was my cousin, Noah’s, wedding. It was probably the best Jamaican-American-Jewish wedding I’ve ever gone to. While last night I was glad to know that Noah’s wife and her family were now officially a part of my world, tonight I realized that there’s family I never met right in my hometown. See, Noah’s parents got divorced when he was pretty young. I’m related to him on his mom’s side and although Noah’s dad remains a part of our lives, I never met anyone from that side of Noah’s family. We all live in Philadelphia. I learned tonight that a lot of them are in like-minded professions, like nursing and psychology. There are even a few social workers. Like Noah, they are smart, welcoming, easy to talk to, and a little goofy. I’m hopeful that our paths will cross when we get back up North.

And in tribute to the handsome groom, I would like to share on of my most memorable conversations with Noah:

(Scene: Miami, 2008. I am ranting about a 25 year-male I know who cannot execute the simplest of tasks. Noah tries to inject insight and reason into my tirade.) 

Noah: Lori, when I was 25, I couldn’t mail a letter.

Me: (Rolls eyes.)

Noah: Well, did you ever get a letter from me?

Me: No, but–

Noah: Well, there you have it.

Me. (Sighs.) Well, how did you pay your bills?

Noah: I didn’t.

(End scene.)

Categories: conversations, Family, Life

Real talk.

November 23, 2011 2 comments

(A co-worker and I are transporting some items from the residential facility to the daycare center across the street for a meeting.)

Co-worker: Where’s your coat?

Me: It’s in the building.

CW: Who do you think you are, Superwoman?

Me: I don’t feel cold now.

CW: You’re going to end up in the hospital.

Me: No, no. I already did that this year. I’m not doing that again.

CW: Then go put your coat on.

When good things happen to good people.

November 20, 2011 3 comments

At 7:23AM on Saturday morning, my phone rang. This in itself is not as disturbing as one might think. My friends from school and I have fallen into the habit of contacting each other at morning hours that would shock and disgust 17 year-old me. What did concern me was that it was my friend, Dennis, who was calling. Since he’s not on my roster of people who call at impolite hours, I got worried something bad happened. I hoped he was pocket dialing me.

I knew the moment I heard his voice that something big was happening. Dennis sounded uncontrollably excited and so happy, I ruled out the third possible reason for his call, which would simply be to annoy me. “Lori!” he yelled. “This is Dennis. And Jenny. And you’re on speaker phone!” Jenny is Dennis’ girlfriend and a friend of mine from high school. They asked me what I was doing on a certain Saturday in December. I told them I’d be flying back from Miami from my cousin’s wedding. Dennis and Jenny told me that I now have the option of attending another wedding; they’re getting married.

This news made me happy to the core. First of all, I love Dennis. He’s my brother. I admire and respect him immensely, and he has given me support so many times that I don’t know if I could ever adequately thank him. Dennis remains the inappropriate, obnoxious imp that I met through my brother about 20 years ago, but I’ve seen him grown and change into a dedicated, passionate, giving, and insightful man. He’s been through some really difficult times, and he always comes out stronger than before. When he and Jenny started dating, I was so glad because I knew Jenny was incredibly smart, genuine, and caring, and that she shared Dennis’ level of ridiculousness. He’d found the right girl.

The second reason Dennis’ good news was so welcome is because I felt like it had been awhile since I heard something good. Several of my friends have recently been dealt some extremely hard situations, and a bunch of us are just not feeling great right now. When Dennis and Jenny called to share their news, it reminded me that life is not just the struggle. There are moments when things just feel right and you wind up walking around grinning to yourself intermittently throughout the day. I was going to my friend from high school’s wedding that day, and truthfully, the night before I was feeling anxious.  I’ve been so out of sorts and I didn’t know if I could handle being around a ton of people. But after getting off the phone with Dennis and Jenny, I remembered how much my friend means to me, and that at her wedding, I would see my best friend and all our our other buddies. Weddings are good things, especially when they take place between someone you love and someone you believe is right for the person you care about.

I’m afraid I might not be able to make it back to the Northeast for Dennis and Jenny’s ceremony, but I’m going to do what I can to at least dance and drink with them after.

Categories: conversations, Friends, Life, love