Thursday, January 12, 2006


Today I had a lunch date with my friend, Shining Silver. We’d planned it for a while. I was really looking forward to seeing her. We would be talking about this really cool project over lunch. I thought about how we’d laugh and toss around ideas. That kind of psychic energy, that intellectual input, her creative interaction, I was hungry for these things. I couldn’t wait to see her. Besides the project was out of my field, and I was out of my depth.

Sometimes the way you visualize things is not how they turn out.

I did my usual things this morning: coffee, insanely-early emails with insanely early-rising friends, project work that had to get done before I left, an unexpected phone call that threw a new twist into my life. It was an exciting, scary twist—the possibility of relocation again—I had faced down that kind of twist all too recently. I didn’t want to live through that mean decision again. By the time those morning tasks were done, it was time to pick up my wallet, pull on my jacket, kiss my husband, grab my keys, and head out the door.

My journey begins. I’m in my car and on the road, but these are city roads and the sky is pale white-gray not glorious blue. The buildings that hover over don’t invite me to think of joy or peace. The traffic at least makes room for me, while at the same time, ignores me too.

For some reason my music doesn’t satisfy me. I grow impatient with the CD chose—the one with the Joe Walsh Radio song. I put in a new CD, one I’ve not made friends with yet. It’s long and silly. But that’s okay, because I’m not listening anyway. I’m not thinking either. I’m driving safely, but I’m not there. I don’t know where I am. I’m on AutoLiz.

By some weird irony, my Shining Silver friend, someone I met in California, now lives one block away from a close college friend in suburban Chicago. Waves of nostalgia pour over me as I drive into a town I know well. Thoughts of those times come back, just as a song from the new CD comes on—a song about a girl with my name. It says she’s “pretty in her own way, but some people think she’s unusual in her head.” I’m driving by his house as that song is playing. It ends as I park in her driveway.

Shining Silver sees right through me. I feel it in her eyes. I should have known that this is one who wouldn’t let me pretend to play when I have things on my mind. Of course, she tried to make the project conversation work. But we both knew this "almost a good idea another time” was long past its sell by date now. She’s so positive, even compared to me, that she was still trying, long after I say that it’s not a good idea. I had to convince her I didn’t have the resources—the people or the time. She so wanted me to win.

We talked about the state of things. I told her about feelings I don’t share. If I don’t want to have these feelings, why would I give them to my friends? She helped lift my burden so that I could set it down. She found a way to build me up, and then she bought my lunch. She defines a friend.

On the drive back into the city, I put back in my favorite CD music mix. I tried to listen. I heard the sounds. I heard the music without the feelings. The sky was still so gray, the buildings uninviting in the winter light. The traffic was self-absorbed with fighting for the perfect place in line. I looked for something to catch my heart, anything to fall in love with, something I might write about. I looked, but couldn’t find it. I stopped trying soon enough. I drove.

I remember thinking only one thought somewhere nearing home. From the inside of my head I could be any age right now. That’s that only conscious thought I had. It’s the only thought I remember having.

Until I turned the last corner. . . from the south, over the high-rise on the left, the sun was shining down, directly on my building, exactly where my condo is, on my bedroom window.

Then I had my second thought. It was one word.

—me strauss Letting me be


Jennifer said...

Hey Liz,

Sorry I've been MIA though I have been around to read the post. I'm having one of my trying not to go crazy periods where everything in life hits me at once.

Home, is a lovely word, a lovely place, my sanctuary, where I feel safe, where I feel I can be me (totally me). Home is a word I cherished.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
No worries. I've been overloaded myself with too much to do and no time to do it. You stay well and come when you can.

dog1net said...

Bravo! This writing is so complete, so well paced, and so strong in voice. It's as if I'm in the car with you as you speak your thoughts aloud for me to hear, fully and clearly. I also like the impending theme expressed so well: "Sometimes the way you visualize things is not how they turn out."

As such it increases the tension as you reflect on meeting up with an old friend and talk about your "state of feelings" the indifferences between you; that is, "until you turn the corner," and head for "home." As you so eloquently bring to roost, "home" is not necessarily "place," it's also a state of being, not just with ourselves, but with the people who help shape and define who we are.

ME Strauss said...

Oh Scot,
This was indeed, a strong voice writing, filled with feelings. I could barely put these feelings on paper. Thank you for your clear and thoughtful reading. I still am not sure what this says, only that it says a lot and that there is a ray of safety and sunshine in the ending word--home.