I have a can of Alpo sitting on my desk. My friend, Stacy has issued a challenge which I foolishly accepted. We will write 50,000 words in a month’s time. Whoever does not will have to eat a can of Alpo.
Yes- I call this woman my friend.
The result? I am writing like mad. One, because I am tired of not being published and two, I know she will make sure I eat the damned thing if I fail to produce. But, dspite the fact that there is a possibility that I may have to chow down on a can of Prime Cuts – Stew with Beef & Vegetables in Beef Gravy, I like that she is there, poking me with a metaphorical stick. She is someone who will call my bluff and remind me of what I’m capable of.
Her son got married on Friday. I have watched her navigate her way through this event and the wide range of emotions swirling about this major change with grace. At the reception, someone asked me how I knew her – easy- she’s a fellow writer and we belonged to the same writing group in San Diego and she was homeschooling her children at the time, just as I was. We had ‘stuff’ in common. How long had I know her? I blurted out – about fifteen years. But then I stumbled about thinking that was not possible. Had it been that long? We had been friends during the birth of my third child, he’s 14 and during my divorce, her divorce – I quickly cataloged our friendship by the events in our lives and yes, it was true. Maybe a bit longer. And I was silently amazed at this – not because I had not thought we would be able to continue a friendship for that length of time, but because it has been as though there has been no time at all. This realization reminded me of an Einstein quote: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
And that’s why we need to focus on those things that give us bliss, that make life sweet and elongate our lives. Those friendships and chocolate and that pair of new shoes and the sound of mockingbirds fighting in the back yard or the joy of snuggling up with a book on a rainy day makes our lives longer – erasing our hours and in a sense, time. And I am learning that, in turn, we should run from those people or places or bad marriages or jobs that make us feel as if we are holding our breath while in a shark tank – every second magnified and troublesome making time swirl past us at a dizzying speed, every second noted, often with dread.
Stacy was lovely at the reception and I could tell the day had been wearing on her. There was a mix of emotions on her face and when talking about her son and his life and this choice, I told her that she had done a good job. And then moments later, she began to cry. I’m sure this was because she had passed another parenting hurdle with success – (Sidenote: Once I thought that when you reach adulthood – you’ll know everything – but alas, no. There’s always something new – kids in college, marriage, grandchildren, and the occasional surprise -“Mom, I’m thinking about not going back to school. I’d like to go to Africa to do charity work” – There are firsts at EVERY age.) During her son’s first dance with his bride, I think Stace realized that she had passed a ‘mom’ test and another first. I think she realized that she had indeed, done a good job. And the look on his face – the radiant happiness and the control with which he manuevered the reception was obvious to all that he was ready to step into manhood.
As parents, most of us are concerned with the quality of parenting we do. Some of us are vividly aware of how our words, actions and decisions affect those who have been born to us and in my talks with Stace, we see that sometimes those decisions and actions can cause a ripple over generations. And not always in a good way, but we hope. And we hope to have friends that can make time fly and reflect our lives back to us in a good way.
And she has most definitely done that for me. Alpo or no.