A very sweet friend of mine, Patty at Scarlett 79, was kind enough to nominate me for this award. I told her I’d play along, but since I’ve shared ad nauseam about my breast cancer and resulting baldness and now short white hair and new boob (and that was just since August) I cannot imagine there’s much mystery remaining!
Rule 1: Put the award logo/image on your blog.
Rule 2: List the rules.
Rule 3: Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Rule 4: Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. Okoto Enigma’s blog
Rule 5: Tell your readers three things about yourself.
a) I adore writing fiction, though I started my blog as a book reviewer, hence the name
b) I love sports, especially the Chicago Cubs baseball team, and have ever since I was a teenager taking the El to games! (The El stands for elevated train, which is a form of public transportation in the Chicago area)
c) My favorite color is turquoise, though I love black clothing
Rule 6: You have to nominate 10 to 20 people. Nope. If you would be so kind, please copy this and tell us about yourselves if you are so inclined. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just hate to make people feel obligated…
Rule 7: Notify them.
Rule 8: Ask your nominee any five questions of your choice, one weird or funny question.
My five questions to answer:
What is your dream job? Naming the nail polishes for OPI. Or being a published novelist.
If money were no object, where would you live?? Hawaii. Would you work?? Only at getting a tan!
What is your favorite kind of animal??? Dogs. Do you have any animals?? Two sweet old dogs
East Coast or West Coast?? I like both, have spent more time on the East Coast
What is your favorite food of all time??? Crabcakes
Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup ??? I cannot bring myself to care after the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated 😦
Rule 9: Add a link to my best post. This is the first fiction piece I posted.
You can find earlier excerpts from The Reunion here
“So, can we see the rest of the place?” Jen was surprised at the excitement she felt in looking around at the inn. “I haven’t been in here except maybe once or twice when we were kids.”
Brian paused. “Well, maybe tomorrow or the next day if that’s okay. I want to give the floors time to dry really well before we walk on them. The plumber and electrician are coming in tomorrow, too, so maybe the day after and I’ll give you a personal tour?”
“Sure, that would be nice. I’d love to hear about how you decided to buy and run an inn in our old hometown.”
“Well, actually, I’d love to tell you. Why don’t we get dinner tonight and catch up?” Brian was proud of working in the invitation he’d been planning. Jen smiled, “Thanks, I’d like that. “
Jimmy and Pam stood off to the side with slight smiles on their faces, as though none of this was unexpected. Jim turned slightly and Jen thought she saw him wink at Pam. Uh, oh, was this part of the problem with Pam’s husband? She’d bet money that Pam didn’t even realize she was flirting with Jimmy, but if Kevin had seen that look… No, she was probably overreacting. When exactly would Pam and Jimmy ever see each other in this town?
“So, Pammie, we should probably get out of the guys’ way, don’t you think?” Jen wanted to hurry her sister out of the old inn before anything else could happen.
“Oh, of course, sorry. We didn’t mean to hold up all your work!” Pam was immediately apologetic and Jen felt stupid for saying anything. After hugs all around, Jen and Pam took their leave and Brian promised he’d be back at the house by six so he and Jen could get dinner.
Dinner out with Brian turned out to be a lot of fun. Jen had showered and dressed before Brian got home and he hurried to clean up so they were able to leave the house by 6:30. She had already fed and walked Jack and he curled up in his dog bed with a look over his shoulder that clearly admonished her for leaving him again. Jen patted his sweet head and promised quality doggy time later. With a wave of his plumy tail, Jack closed his eyes and drifted to sleep, his favorite evening activity anyway.
Brian had picked a little steak and seafood place for dinner that was about a 30 minute drive away, closer to the city. The hostess led them to their table, smiling sweetly at Brian as she seated them while managing to ignore Jen the entire time. Brian winced apologetically as the hostess walked away, but Jen just smiled and shook her head.
The food was heavenly. Jen had scallops, one of her favorites, grilled to perfection and served on a bed of wild rice and sautéed vegetables. She was glad to see that Brian liked his steak medium rare, because anything rarer than that would have left her nauseated. She liked an occasional piece of beef, too, but she preferred hers more than just warmed over lightly.
“So, Jen,” Brian started after clearing his throat, “I really feel like I should apologize once and for all about senior prom in high school. I was such a geeky idiot back then – yes, I get the irony – still a geek even now, but I like to think I wouldn’t be as big an idiot now. I’m afraid I was more worried about my lack of dancing and romancing skills than I was about hurting your feelings, and I’ve felt terrible about that.”
It was such a sweet apology and Jen couldn’t help but smile at him. “I was angry for a while, but believe me when I tell you I’ve gotten past it, Bri. I even had a boyfriend and a fiancée and an admittedly brief marriage, so you don’t need to spend another moment thinking about it. In fact, I’d really like to hear more about what’s been going on with you all these years.”
Those lovely hazel eyes of his brightened as he pulled out his phone. “Well, after I finished my degree, I got married, too,” he said, “and we have a teenaged daughter.”
At her gasp of surprise he looked a little confused then smiled again as understanding dawned. “Oh. No, not cheating on the wife. We’ve been divorced for a few years now. I wanted to move back to the small town and she wanted to move on to an even bigger city. Cities are just not for me, I’ve found. And when I heard that the old inn was for sale last year, it seemed like the perfect time to move back to Brim. This is my daughter, Casey.”
“Brian, she’s just beautiful!” And she was, all long blond hair and big light eyes and that tall, thin coltish look that Brian had growing up. “It’s hard to put my finger on it, but she definitely takes after you, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah, thankfully she’s got Sherry’s good looks, but she kind of has my build, I guess, although I’m not sure she’d be pleased to hear that. Right now we’re not on the best of terms. I put my foot down about her traveling this summer with a group of kids. She starts college in the fall and that’s a big enough step without backpacking around the country with friends.”
“Mm-hmm, that must be difficult, but –” Jen began.
He looked pained. “Her mother thinks it’s just fine for her to be alone for a month with a bunch of guys and girls I hardly know, not even sure where they’re going to be exactly or what they’ll be doing. I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it was like to be a teenaged boy! And just being safe nowadays. I mean, the stories in the news…” He shuddered.
“But she’d be traveling with several other teenagers in a group?” I’m a little confused as to why he’s totally freaking out.
“Sure, but three girls and three guys, I can just see there won’t be a lot of good judgment going on there. I mean, her boyfriend is a pretty good kid, but he’s heading off to school in Michigan in the fall anyway. And Sherry says she knows these other kids, but really? How well can she know them?”
“Brian, I do understand, but Casey’s what, 18, 19? And she is going to be out from under her parents’ roofs pretty soon anyway. You won’t have a lot of say so when she’s away at school, especially what she’s doing at night or on the weekends. It sounds like you did a great job raising her and now you’ll have to trust her to make good choices.“
Whoops, she knew she’d really stepped into it when his smile thinned and his eyes narrowed. “And you know this from your vast experience with child rearing?”
Take every opportunity to celebrate!
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
Emily Perl Kingsley is an American writer who joined the Sesame Street team in 1970 and has been writing for the show ever since. Her son Jason Kingsley was born with Down Syndrome in 1974.
I’ve written about my son who was born with a cleft lip and palate, cerebral palsy and developmental delays before. This poem captures the feelings I’ve had for 30 years since his birth…