Sunday, October 17, 2010

Setting Down The Phone

I had another dream that seems to be plaguing me. I've already had the bagworm and Rick Springfield dream. I really don't need more. When I had this particular dream two months ago, I thought I could just let it go. Chalk it up to bizarre dream stuff that doesn't mean anything. Right?? I'm embarrassed that I'd place any stock in my dreams and for this particular dream I'm ashamed of my behavior. I'd like to think the behavior is not indicative of me; but as the dream pops in my head day after day (like my conscience talking to me) I'm beginning to wonder.

Here is the dream. I get a phone call from a long ago/long time friend. This is a friend that I have not seen or spoken to in twenty-something years. We do exchange Christmas cards and this person now lives in closer proximity than before. Yet I've never taken the time to arrange to see my friend.

I answer the phone and my friends says, "Hello, Aggie. Do you know who this is?" In my dream I can really hear the tone and rich timber of my friend's voice. It's a goose bump feeling to be able to close your eyes and hear the exact sound of your friend's voice. I immediately know who is calling.

In my dream, I say that of course I know who's calling. I'm giddy with excitement and we begin a conversation. I don't remember the exact conversation. It seems that we are just catching up on each others lives. During the conversation exchange, while my friend is talking to me, I set the phone down on my desk and walk off to do stuff. We're talking land line phone, not cellular or blue tooth. I'm wandering around my house while my friend is presumably still talking to me on the phone.

I come back and pick up the phone and try to act like I never walked off in the first place. Obviously I failed at that, but my friend is too kind to call me out on this behavior. We continue to talk some more and once again I set the phone down and walk away. I have no idea why I've done this. I care greatly about my friend and I know I would love to talk to and listen to my friend for hours. I'm positive we'd never run out of conversational topics. What's wrong with me??

When I come back and pick up the phone, my friend say, "It's obvious that I've called you at a bad time so I'll let you go." Immediately it clicks with me that my friend needs me. A friend that I look up to and admire, that I'd never think would need me, does in fact need me. I can now hear what sounds like weariness, sadness, or loneliness in my friend's voice. My friend needed me as someone who knows him and accepts just as he is, not seeing him as an extension of his life's work .

In my dream I redeem myself (somewhat). I exclaim,"No, no, no don't go." At that point I sit down and really listen.... and my dream ends.

I woke up feeling out of sorts and worried that my friend in real life was in need of my support or help, that something was wrong. Then I thought oh sure Aggie, it's all about you. Why would this friend NEED me? So I worked hard on letting the dream go and not giving yet another dream too much importance.

Then because it is my dream and hey isn't it all about me anyway. I began to look at my dream not as my friend needing me but the message being that I have figurative set down the phone and walked away from those reaching out to me. How many times have I set the phone down on my children, husband, parents, and siblings? Life pulls me in one direction and I just half listen to their communication, try to mulit-task and communicate, or bury my head in the sand and not communicate, because sometime it's hard. To be honest, I'm not dealing very well with this self-interpretation of my dream. I'd like to shelve it to the back recesses of my brain. Unfortunately that little voice keeps bringing it back to the forefront.

In September one of my dear friend's mother died. This is a friend that I have not directly kept in touch with over the years. It was good that my parents and sister could be there for my friend at her mom's wake and funeral. Well, my friend mailed me a wonderful letter after her mother's death and I've carried it around with me for weeks (setting down the phone, instead of making conversation). Every day I think today I've got to stop (pick up the phone) and make the time to write my friend a note. It's not that I don't have a card. I have a basket full of all kinds of perfect cards. It's not that I don't have great stationary. I have a file cabinet full of great paper, thanks to my Office Depot cravings. It's not a matter of want. I want to reach out to my friend, reconnect, and be a part of each others lives.

Then my dad e-mailed me this weekend and said that another one of my old FL friends called my parent's house and was looking for me (in GA). She wants me to call her. Now, I did e-mail my dad right away. But did I grab my phone and call my friend.....

You have to understand that I like these friends. I'd even go so far as to say that I love these friends. They've been integral parts of my life. We parted on good terms and I don't think we ever intended to lose touch of one another. But I'm finding it hard to "pick up the phone". I have convinced myself that there is a better day or time to "pick up the phone". On that magic day the words will flow easily and they will be the perfect words (maybe I'll be cuter and skinnier too).

Today I've finally decided that I won't procrastinate my way into believing that perfection will come. So I've just decided to do it (thank Nike)! Before finishing this blog which took two days and contemplations of leaving it in the draft pile, I wrote my friend and addressed the envelope. Perfect or not off it goes. And I'll call my FL friend tomorrow or the other tomorrow.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Poor Baby

I left my daughter at outdoor education in tears last night. I swear my kids sure know how to pull at my heart strings and make me worry more than a normal person should. I had already had a couple of restless nights worrying about her falling off a horse and breaking something (o.k. her neck), flipping the kayak and drowning, or getting the West Nile virus. Need I go on with my irrational thoughts. Then I get to outdoor education to see a perfectly healthy child who wants to go home where more often than not she is soooo bored.

Outdoor education is a program that started forever ago at our school. Fifth and sixth graders stay with their classroom teachers, a couple of P.E. teachers, and an art teacher at a campsite with cabins and a lodge for several days and do all types of outdoor educational activities. (photo from 5th grade.) The seventh and eighth graders along with their teachers stay at a state park in tents, cooking their own food on Coleman stoves, and expand on those outdoor learning experiences.

In the weeks leading up to the four day and three night stay, the students choose tent mates, plan menus, assign cooks, and go on a shopping field trip to price the cost of their planned meals. In Mimi's seventh grade year she practiced, at home, cooking her favorite breakfast of bacon and hash browns and she cooked pancakes. These would be the meals she would prepare for her tent mates. This year she did not practice. I think her cooking job was cinnamon sugar toast.

The night before the trip we helped Mimi pack her gear in a large rubber maid tub. In true Girl Scout fashion we pack with an eye towards being prepared for just about anything. Beyond the basic clothing needs we packed good quality rain gear that consists of a rain jacket, rain pants, and rubber boots. Over the years the groups have camped in the rain and I mean rain storms with blowing wind!!! The kids would come home so muddy parents would just throw their camping gear away.
Mimi's weatherproof tub of camping gear. The Kleenex were for nosebleeds (allergy related) not tears.

Even though or because it is October we pack sweatshirts, winter coat, gloves, a stocking cap, and these hand and feet warmers that are chemical gel packs. T-man's eighth grade outdoor education year (see photo) had teachers allowing kids to use the teachers' cell phones to ask their parent to bring coats and socks. They had had days of rain and then the tiniest amount of snow flurries, enough to make them cold and miserable. What else did we pack?... flashlight, batteries, garbage bags, towel, soap, toothpaste and brush, hand sanitizer, fry pan, bike helmet (bike and horseback riding), sleeping bag, camera, and mom's treasured West Point army blanket, and books. Can't go anywhere without a good book.

Mimi's eight grade class left on a Tuesday morning after loading their personal gear and team gear in a U-Haul truck. They headed to Wal-mart to purchase their food before heading to the wilds of the state park. Thursday night we would get to see her and Friday they would eat breakfast (cooked by the teachers) break camp, load the U-Haul, and arrive back home (school) around 1:30.

As Doug and I drove out to the state park for parent night, I felt that maternal tug on my heart of another milestone passing by to quickly. This would be our last outdoor education event, as Mimi will be heading to high school next year. I also said a prayer that she would not cry to go home like last year. When we arrived for parent night, Mimi was thrilled to see us. Giving us exuberant hugs that about knocked me off my feet.

Parents brought side dishes and dessert. Campfire roasted hot dogs were provided. I brought two batches of Mimi's favorite Spanish rice. We had fun chatting with her and her friends. As dusk began to fade into night the tears and complaints arose. Outdoor education was terrible. They don't learn anything. The toilets are horrible. The food is bad. Take me home!!!

I asked about kayaking, oh yea that was fun. How about getting water samples? She was looking forward to that. Oh yea that was fun too.
Mom: I'm guessing you (Mimi) didn't ride a horse since you don't like horses and have never ridden one.
Mimi: Oh no, I decided to ride one. It's part of the experience mom!! I rode a wonderful sweet horse.
Mom:What about astronomy? The star are gorgeous here. Did Mr. B bring the big huge telescope this year.
Mimi: Yea we did that last night. Oh and we had night hikes but they were too short. Sniffles and more tears.

We walk her down to her tent to check that out and get her in closer proximity to her friends.
Mimi: We hear wolves at night.
Dad: I think those are coyotes.
A few more tears and then she remembers that she left her book at the group gathering site. She heads back to get her book leaving Doug and I by her tent. I'm think can I run to the van now and escape the water works and pleas as we leave. But no I tough it out.

Mimi returns. I hug her and say we need to leave. She hangs on and again pleads her case to go home. In my heart, I know she's a picky eater and probably didn't each much. I know that she is a picky sleeper but she had my Army blanket. And I agree the bathroom facilities are horrible when you camp. I have exhausted the calm gentle reasoning of consoling, finding the silver lining, speeches of best experience of your life, this will make you stronger. Doug just jumps in and says we're not taking you home. With that we give her a hug, Doug promises lunch at her favorite restaurant, and we leave.

In the van I console myself. I remind myself that she loves the outdoors. This is the best weather you could have on a camping trip. Her tent group consists of her best school friends and they really get along well. Having been one of the outdoor education teachers in years past, I know that this is a wonderful, enriching, safe experience. The biggest caveat that I remind myself of is that she is a teenager, likes to complain (can we say spoiled), and loves to push mom's buttons.

She arrived at school Friday afternoon and dragged me outside to help carry her gear. She called her dad, and skipped off to lunch leaving her fire smoked, sweaty gear in my classroom.
The main camp site for the group, which includes a campfire.

The girls' horseshoe tent area. The center of the horseshoe has a campfire.

The tent buddies.