Adulting is so tedious. And I find myself with so many “adult” things on my To-Do list.
There’s paying the car insurance that is due on March 12. Thanks to an encounter with a motorcyclist that was driving in the bicycle lane, my auto insurance is now $300/year more expensive than last year.
It wasn’t even my fault. How did I know that he was going to try to dash around me in the bike lane just as I was attempting to make a right-hand turn out of a traffic jam?
Back in the US for precisely two weeks now, the one question everyone asks me is “How long are you here for?”
Some people seem to expect a concrete answer to that question, but they don’t know me very well. What I’d originally planned as a visit to the US has now turned into a full repatriation. But it feels temporary.
Those who know me best are not surprised by the real answer, which is “I don’t know.” I can’t imagine not going back overseas.
When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma. We had a special relationship and I wanted to stay there with her forever and ever, where I felt comfortable, safe, and loved up.
After a visit, when my parents came to pick me up, she would stand on her front porch and wave goodbye until our car passed over the last rise and out of sight. I always had the feeling that she stayed there, for a minute or two afterward, with her hand raised in a wave just to make sure that I, teary-eyed, with my nose pressed against the back window of the car, could no longer see her.
A couple of weeks ago, my blogger friend, Gloria, the Nomadic Chica, nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World bloggers award. Thank you, Gloria!
To be a member of the Sisterhood, there are some requisites. One of them is answering ten questions. I’m not going to make it with all ten today, but one of them brings a story to mind. Here is the question: “If you could go any place in the world right now, where would that place be and why?”
I’ve been asked that question before. At some point, back in my youth, I was in a beauty pageant. We were a gaggle of local teenage girls, all vying for the crown, the right to represent our area at charitable events and in other pageants, as well.
My parents bought me a frothy, green “evening gown,” and even paid for a singing coach. I’m not sure how my mother finagled that one, but for weeks, she drove me to a bigger town nearby where I practiced with a man who was a retired musical theatre director.
On the night of the big competition. we sailed through the swimsuit and evening gown categories. Then came the talent portion. Dressed as a sailor and singing “Honey Bun” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, I wowed ’em. “Get a load of Honey Bun tonight…” I made it through the routine without falling on my face or forgetting the lines.
When the judges called out the finalists’ names, I was one of them. They asked each of us a different question and we had a few seconds to think before answering.
My question? “If you could go any place in the world right now, where would that place be and why?”
Oh, my gosh! What do I say? How do I answer? I can’t choose just any one country.
“Okay, Sally. Time’s up. Where would you like to go and why?”
I stuttered. I stammered. I hummed and hawed until I finally blurted it out. “I want to go everywhere! There are too many interesting places to only choose one.”
I came in First Runner Up to my classmate and friend whose answer to her question had been tidy and concrete.
Would I go back and change my answer if I could? Probably not. For me, the question isn’t, and never has been, “Where do you want to go?” but “Where do you want to go next?”
“After school, I was invited to go with the chorus to the annual Christmas concert at a nearby cathedral. Students from each of The Network’s schools participated. My kids were partnered with girls from the adjacent high school.
We left from school in a large van, zigging and zagging down narrow backstreets to arrive at the church just in time. In the 90-degree heat, my clothes clung to me as we hurried the kids inside to find our pews. I left summer temperatures behind as I stepped into the ancient church where it was blessedly cool. The air smelled of candles and furniture wax.
I sat with the mother of one of my students and kept an eye on them. In our chorus were eighteen girls and one lone boy. They were the only ones wearing their “every day” uniforms, the same tired, gray sweatsuits that they wore to school. Choir members from the other schools had on school uniforms, too, but they were cleaner, dressier, and more expensive. White shirts, navy pants for boys and white shirts with navy jumpers for girls. I had never seen my kids in any uniform except the sweatsuit and I wondered if my school might be the poorest in The Network.
Hearing commotion behind me, I turned around to find little girls pushing off one side and sliding to the opposite end of the polished pew. I gave them a look that included an arched eyebrow and they settled down again, giggling.
The concert began, only fifteen minutes late, with “It Came upon a Midnight Clear.” I recognized it from the melody, not the lyrics, since it was sung in Spanish. My kids were next. I’d never heard their song before, but it was beautiful with their young voices echoing strong in the vaulted cathedral. They accompanied the song by clapping their hands in flamenco-style rhythm as the youngest girl pinged on a triangle.
Out of the twenty or more songs that were sung, I only recognized five. The rest were traditional Chilean Christmas songs, unknown to me.
After the concert, we were dropped off back at school. It was later than usual when I boarded the Metro to go home. The train car was crowded and, at first, I didn’t notice the man who had followed me in…”
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate or even if you don’t, Happy anyway.