Saturday, August 26, 2006

Clearly Clairvoyant

This past week was my very first business trip. It was actually less business and more middle-school, since the purpose was to get to know the other offices in the Southwest Region--lots of "Get-to-know-you" games and fun activities. We did get to take the "Oldest Cog Railway" up to the top of Pike's Peak; I was hoping for some snow at the top, but it was just cold. We stayed in Manitou Springs, a tiny town outside of Colorado Springs ("Home to 73 (!!) Evangelical Christian Non-Profits") which was very quaint and rather hippyish. Lots of youths in dredlocks who smelled like they hadn't bathed in a few weeks.

The highlight had to be visiting my first Clairvoyant and having my palm read. Having grown up in a ultra-religious household, palm reading was on par with believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and celebrating Halloween---delving into the occult was not appropriate afternoon behavior.

But when we walked by the "Mystical Gardens" (a blue tarp next to a few scraggly flowers and some incense), I had this overwhelming urge to get my palm read. So I coughed up my "$20 for 10 minutes" and ducked inside the tarp. She was tall, thin, reddish-blond hair, tight jeans and long nails painted red and yellow, French manicure style. She had me picture an orb of color behind my eyelids until I could see it (which I was completely unable to do!) and then she began to study my palms. Here's the gist:
1. Apparently, I am clairvoyant as well. Despite my tramatic childhood, the angels have allowed me to "see" things in dreams that have later come to pass. About five years ago, I closed that door but the angels want me to reopen that door because things will come to pass that will affect my family.
2. Speaking of family, I will have three children and two great loves. The man I am with now I will "breed" with (her words, not mine) but will leave him when I meet my "True Love" around age 40.
3. I have hot, red hands which indicate "healer hands" and should be in a healing field of work.

Obviously, she was full of Clairvoyant Shit (although, did I suspect anything other than fake simply from her nails?). I find the idea that I myself am psychic laughable. If her ramblings were true, why would I need to have a List of Questions to Ask God When I Die--a list that is only getting lengthier as I age?

And, no, I still think her parents did it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

One Song for It All

It always strikes me as odd how powerful music is.

I'm not a music-fiend by any means. I can go weeks, months even, without listening to my iPod. I like music, but I listen to NPR more often than music radio. I'm just not on the cutting edge.

But every so often, I will hear a song and memories just come rushing back to me.

Exhibit 1: "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
Sorority Sister Cristin brought this song to my attention with a Journey's Greatest Hits CD after I blushingly confessed I didn't know the band or their music. Of course I fell in love with the song, but I have one poignant memory that sweeps over me every so often when I hear that song---a memory of me dancing in a bar in Seattle, my friends Jim, Brian and Meigan next to me, all of us shouting, "Don't Stop Believing!" That moment was one of the moments in my life where I paused, looked around and realized how happy I was with my life right then, at that moment. I hear that song now and I ache for my friends and life in Arizona.

Exhibit 2: "Heaven" by DJ Sammy
This song brings me back to my EuroTrash days of studying in Valencia. I remember the first time Amanda, Jessica and I (following some strange boy's instruction) took the bus to a club on the outskirts of town; we paid our 10 Euro entrance fee and went inside to a giant warehouse with the techno pounding, lights spinning, my chesting pumping with the beat of the bass. And the drugs! Everywhere----strangers trying to hand me ecstasy tablets (and the girls vomiting in the bathrooms). I have this gorgeous memory of Amanda dancing, across from me, the lights hazy around her head.

Exhibit 3: "Be Mine" by David Grey
Now this one seems obvious, since it was our wedding song. But when I hear Be Mine on the radio, all of those dance lessons come rushing back. Laughing, sweating, stepping on each other's toes, our dance teacher standing behind us clapping out the beat with her hands and feet. The smell of the studio. Practicing it over and over and over and over until we knew it by heart (but still not quite with the beat).

Exhibit 4: "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison
My college roommate Barbara sent me two CDs while I was in Kenya. And the first time the song played, it hit my chest like a ton of bricks. I have this memory of laying in bed together during our senior year, the windows open, the cars driving by outside, a breeze gently blowing the half-lowered shade, the smell of those verdant pines that penetrates William and Mary. The comfort of laying with someone who knows you inside and out, who knows you and loves you regardless of your shortcomings. The peace that comes when you don't know where you are going, only where you are that moment.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Miss the Rains Down in Africa

My friend Jim left for the Congo today. He's working for the Catholic Relief Services and will be Kinshasa for a year. He never ceases to amaze me with his energy and dedication. I love Jim with the kind of unfailing love that means I would do anything----literally anything----for him if he needed it. I'd fly across the world to be with him at a moment's notice if he needed it. I love all my friends, but in terms of understanding me like no one else, Jim takes the cake. He is the most compassionate and kind person I know.

He also served in the Peace Corps in Madegascar. So consequently, whenever I speak with him, I start to reflect on my own short-lived months as a volunteer. Which led me to google several of my PC friends and neighbors today...and I found some great updates on people. Everyone is leading interesting and brilliant lives.

Consequently, sometimes, I feel like a fraud. I know I was there for longer than some, but I was also there only a short time. I start to wonder if by leaving early, did I cheat myself of some unique opportunities that otherwise I will never have? (Probably.) Did I blow my brief negative experience out of the proportion? (Perhaps.) Did I make the right choice to come home early? Or is it such that the grass is always greener? (I will never know.)

Can I even call myself an RPCV? Do I have that right?

I wish I had gone to Kenya the person that I am now---more compassionate, more aware, more open, more willing, less arrogant, less brash. I think I would have stuck out my whole two-years. But that's the mother of all catch-22's, right? My experiences in Africa help shape me into who I am today and without them, I'd still be the same asshole right-out-of-college twit. But I do wish I had experienced some of the sadness of life before my African heartbreak nearly ripped me in two.

I worry sometimes that life will never right itself and this passion that glows in my heart for Africa will burn out before I can set foot on African soil again. I have made some heartbreaking decisions based on this elusive desire to return and work there. Were those decisions in vain?

I feel like I need a reminder, every now and then, of the person I was, the person I am and the person I hope to someday be.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Foster Cat Finds New Home

After taking Briar Patch into our home at a moment's notice, we decided it was time to find her a permanent home. We realized that we couldn't hide a cat from our landlord for three years and it would be best to adopt her out.

I agonized over this decision. I literally held Briar in my arms and cried. I love this little calico cat, but I also know that adopting her to a new home is in her (and our) best interest.

So we posted on Craig's List and a couple responded. We asked to meet them and, even though I was certain they wanted her for her fur (a la Cruela Devile), they turned out to be wonderfully nice cat lovers.

So it's decided. On Saturday, Briar will move into her new home. They are so excited about having her join their family and I can tell she will have a wonderful home.

However, I can't help but feel a little sad each night as I cuddle her soft little body into me and kiss her pink nose. Only a few more days left and she will be out of my life forever....

Friday, August 04, 2006

Getting Here from There

I made the catastrophic mistake of rereading my blog entries--all of them. It blows my mind that I've been keeping this public journal for almost two years. In the past three years, I've seen and done so much and it breaks my heart a little to see the person I am on the other side of that tunnel. Between Here and There and Africa and Boyfriends and and Heartbreak and the Unexpected and Unplanned, my life took a different course than what I had originally charted.

Reading those early entries, when I first moved to Tucson, the ending of my relationship with Ex-Beloved, made me start thinking, "How the hell did I end up here, so far off my expected destination?"

Had you asked me two years ago to predict the course of my life, I never would have predicted the path my life has taken. Yet somehow, as I look back, I can see exactly how each decision that I made has led me right to this point in my life. I couldn't have known it then, of course, but I realized that every decision I made is not a discrete thing, isolated in its own time and place; rather every choice is inexorably linked to the one before and the one after, even without me knowing so.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Moving On

Moving is so hard. Sometimes, when I'm driving through the streets of Albuquerque, I feel the waves of loneliness wash over me. I look around at the buildings lining the roads and I can taste the saddness in my throat.

I miss my home. I miss my home with a desperation that is palpable. I want to go back to my land of Saguaros, Sonoran hotdogs. I want my little apartment with the big bathroom. I want my friends.

I want my life back.

Sometimes, I take a step back and wonder, how did I end up here? I drive through this city and feel like a stranger. Even though I've been here two months, I still don't know which way is North most of the time. I feel disoriented.

And when I'm at the top of the city, near the Sandias, I look out to the wide, empty land that stretches far beyond I can see and all I can think: "That. That is the way home."