Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Tonight I found this photo hiding in a box of memories, one that contains relics of years gone. But I want to share it with you, my soul sister, for I have not told you in quite a while that I have long relished your gift to me.

We don't speak as often as we once did, but I think our paths intersect enough now to know that we still carry the connection that once wove our lives rather closely. I don't need to hear your voice each week to recognize that you are always there for me. You were my confidante, and I yours. Of course, my life has changed since those days, that span when I deeply needed you to help me find the way through sadness and change.

You held me as I cried, wondering if my life would ever materialize as I had envisioned.

You listened for hours and offered sage advice.

You nurtured me, my sister, through literature and music. (I still own the case of Ray Lynch cassette that I bought at the tchotchke shop in New Haven; I played it until it became a plastic carcass of wrinkled tape. Ray Lynch comforted me on bumpy roads, just as your calming and understanding voice did.)

You have walked on a path of fire, lighted by many sources, covered with many shards that would have fallen weaker women. But you have always held your own, carried your shoulders high. You are one of the reasons that I can paddle strongly along a swift current.

The ability to maneuver the current is what make us so sensible, so driven, so determined to find happiness, contentment, to find peace.

I found it here. And I've found it since. Even though my life is not perfect, I, like you, will keep paddling along as I continue my search.

words left unsaid

words left
of coffee and tea
in bed
no sugar
to sweeten
these conversations
left unsaid
for they are my own
my thoughts
stuck between stardust melody
and failed expectations
of engaging dialogue
gone silent

these words
shall remain
only in my mind,
shall remain
words left unsaid.

A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her. ~~ Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Me: "What's up with white shorts these days? They're all see-through. I had to buy nude thongs. Who wears nude thongs?"

Her: "I totally agree. But I can never wear white shorts again. Having an ass tattoo has become the bane of my fashion existence."


Confidence should never be underrated, especially when you have the confidence to simply be yourself, no matter what everyone else thinks.

I recall a time, many years ago in a former era of my existence, when I owned a bicycle with a baby seat on the back. Annie had long outgrown it, and I simply didn't feel the need to remove it. Why? Who knows.

But I realized that Max, my loyal West Highland Terrier, could fit in the seat rather comfortably. All I had to do was say, "Sit." He'd sit and then I'd pull the harness over his soft-coated chest and strap him in. (This was sans helmet, of course, but I don't think it's reason enough to notify PETA.) So several times a week, we'd head out for a few miles. He seemed to love it.

Yes, it was quite the sight. Yes, I was the sole person riding around town with a dog on my bike. Yes, I got a lot of looks.

And, I'd hear later, comments from the neighbors--but never to my face. But it didn't matter. It was me.

My friends know that I can never boast about being the most mature person, nor the smartest. I've made many foolish mistakes in my life, some that brought on a lot of pain to myself and to others.

But in it all, I don't think I've strayed far in the quest to be myself, to do what makes sense to me.

For example, take this guy that I videotaped at Downtown Disney:

A street band was performing some Latin American number, and this fellow just felt the tunes. He danced for about 5 minutes, prompting people to stop and watch. Granted, his eclectic nature could easily captivate one's eye. Heck, the outfit alone attracted fireflies.

But then throw in the shaking hips with his the bow-legged bossa nova and you were hooked.

A few Southern boys behind me chortled, commented on "what a weirdo" the dancer was. I turned, looked at their protruding bellies and triple chins and responded: "Well, at least dancing keeps him in shape and he's not afraid to have fun."

They shrugged. I don't think they'll ever get it.

Sometimes we do things that define us, no matter what others may think. We face the criticism, the questioning, the stares, the eye rolls. But it takes confidence to stay on the course of remaining steadfast on our journey.

Even if it means getting an ass tattoo and giving up the right to wear see-through white shorts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Return

Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together. -- Richard Ford

I confess that I have avoided visiting DC at all costs since 1999, otherwise known as The Big Collapse. That, of course, took place on Aug. 28 to be precise, the day after my newsroom colleagues threw a wonderful going-away party for me, complete with a faux yet highly credible front page announcing my move to just outside the Beltway. I recall the weather forecast in the corner: DC: Sunny and bright; Allentown: Cloudy and dark. On the morning of Aug. 28, after the party and post-party at Cannon's, you awoke crying, saying you were afraid to marry, afraid to be responsible, afraid of a house with a picket fence, afraid to pluck me from my home and move me, afraid that becoming a foreign correspondent would never materialize when I wanted to plant roots.

It was also the morning of my bridal shower, six weeks shy of our nuptials. The wedding invitations sat stamped, ready to go. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), they would never to be sent.

And so the plans to relocate my child and my career 200 miles south stopped. Immediately. Dead in their tracks.

I returned the 1.18-carat set in platinum. I told my bridesmaids that I was sorry. I ended up in counseling to cure myself of self-pity, only to be told it would take a long time to work you out of my system. I tried. But then you changed your mind. Again. And again. And again.

Finally, I quit you.

That counselor earned her money, for it took me years.

I vowed to never return to DC or Fairfax County where we once shopped for overpriced townhouses. I did break that promise briefly when I decided to run the National Marathon in early 2008. Somehow I managed to get through the race without much thought of you, perhaps because my focus remained on my race. It also remained on a man who wasn't afraid of shaky ground, someone who knew that you remained an emotional virus and accepted that you remained omnipresent.

But whenever the idea of returning to DC without a strong purpose arose, I felt anxiety biting my ankles.

Well, business recently harked, and so we headed south again as part of a multi-purpose journey. The first leg: National Harbor, just across the river. Part of me needed to prove to myself that I could return there as a different woman, not the broken one, and certainly not the one who stood by your side when you received the call, drank the champagne, raised your fist in the air and earned bragging rights to say that you won a Pulitzer Prize.

Today, I am a changed woman, an appreciative one who knows that the time we shared was, indeed, a gift. You helped me become a stronger person, a better writer, a soul who tries to live without regrets as you always extolled.

And so I drove my girls through the city, and as always, traffic was a bear. I always feared the move anyway, knowing that I grow antsy in gridlock. As I cruised around the Jefferson Memorial, I thought of the hours that I sat in my Isuzu Trooper on 495 every Friday night to make the 3-hour trek. This time, however, I maneuvered through the bottleneck jams with ease, without anxiety.

Here's proof, as one of my girls took pictures as part of my drive-by tour of the monuments:

The three of us walked through the Museum of Natural History which became so familiar to you and me; but now my girls and I negotiated the crowds and marveled at the same carcasses from a decade ago. Of course, I thought of you---and there were no regrets.

The following week, after a long trek in other states, I pushed the pedal as I drove along Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge through the Shenandoah. I reflected how you needed to find yourself, and it included this same drive on your way to self-discovery.

It took you a while, but you eventually did find yourself---elsewhere.

Without me. Without us. Without the white picket fence. Now, you share that with someone else.

And that, my friend, is fine. Truth be told, I have avoided any possible chance of bumping into you, bumping into awkward moments and memories that I always thought were best untouched, buried beneath a sea of time.

But after this trek, I realize that to avoid you is to avoid a signficant part of my life. It is a chapter that largely defines who I am today. And for that, I thank you.