My Blank Page

The blank page. There is something about the white clean slate of if all. There is no beginning or ending, no anger or happiness, just the possibilities.

What does one do with it, create from it?

A blank slate can be freeing, a rebirth, a new start.

It contains the fear of possibilities or endlessness.

I think people become too sedate and flow with the words from others. They let other people write on their blank page and because it has words on it they follow it like it was written in stone.

For years I fell into that trap. I would turn the page to stare at the whiteness of possibilities, but before I could put pen to paper, someone had written on it.

My page filled with words and I followed it, believed in it, but they were not my words. It would take a long time before I realized they were not my ideas.

They sounded like me or some paler version of me, but they were not mine.

Time had passed and the message changed ever so slightly, unnoticeablely until eventually, I believed the thoughts were mine.

I guess to some extent they were because I allowed them to be. It was a slow realization that those words which were not mine changed and deviated from the path I envisioned for myself. It was the day I realized that I was not the author of my life that gave me back my power.

The ghost writer had no power over me.

It was a cold hard shock. How could this writer let someone else write for her?

It is easier to read than to write. What takes one person a day to read a novel, takes years for the novelist to write — to craft. Words chosen will be swapped out for more accurate ones, for more eloquent, subtle ones, more colorful ones. The slight word changes drastically impact the meaning.

It it the difference between choosing a new path or a slightly overgrown one. To stand on your own two feet or to continue in a fog thinking the feet you put one foot in front of the other are yours.

When you stop reading, take a breath, and look up you may realize that you too are not the author of your life. If this happens what you do?

Do you drop your head and continue reading or do you take the pen away from the ghost writer and find a quiet place to write?

For me, I chose the latter. I took the pen back, found a nice quiet place to write, and then set pen to paper. Today these words are my own. The whiteness before me hold many great possibilities.

I am a great friend, hugely popular writer, I travel as I want on my own terms. I am free to travel about the world and document what I see and hear.

Why? Because that is what I chose to be, me and no one else.

What will you write on your blank page?

Yes Santa Claus There is No Virginia (Bye – Bye George)

I lived in Virginia Beach for longer than was good for me. When the time came to say goodbye I was more than ready.

The hardest part was the same thing I face when I was in the military. It wasn’t leaving the location or the job, it was the people that was difficult.

Making friends is always hard to do, but somehow I seem to go from alone to having a good core group of friends in the blink of an eye. It’s never easy and somehow the socialization of it all seems to culminate in the last few weeks or months of me spending years in the same place.

I would like say I’m used to it, but I don’t think I ever was or ever will be. I’m happiest when I move every four or five years. I’m not sure if it’s the nomad in me or the excitement of change or that I haven’t found what I am looking for. I do know that leaving behind friends is the hardest part.

It was never more necessary for me as when I left Virginia; to move to a better place, a better space, and a better me.

This past weekend I flew back to that place I left in order to surprise one of my closest friends. She, like me, was long overdue to move on from Virginia. She has seen many ups and downs and been harassed by George the Helpful Friendly Ghost. Actually, I don’t know what he is, but he is always causing her some sort of mischief.

In the 8 years I have known her, she has collected several styles of medical boots. If it’s not one foot or Achilles that’s bad then it’s the other. I have ordered several hundreds of thousands of bubble wrap so that I don’t have to worry about her landing in a body cast just for standing up.

When I found out she was standing in the softball field while the game was in progress I almost had a heart attack. Can you imagine a softball actually coming at her? Oh, wait it did…how she survived that without injury is beyond me. Maybe George was on vacation that day.

She was generally doing ok, but the edges were gray and withering. It was time that she moved on and left George behind, but she needed to do it in her own time. The time was now. And I am happy for her.

This will give her time to herself to find what she really is about. It will give her time to adjust to a fabulous new job and reconnect with long time friends — I, unfortunately, am not one of them, as we are still states apart.

It will give her immediate family space to find themselves. When they join her it will be a great adventure for all.

They will come into their own and hopefully find peace, happiness, and a renewed sense of purpose. I hope, like me, she energizes her passion — for writing — for living — for laughing.

There is something to be said for packing up and moving on. A clean slate, a fresh start and enthusiasm for life. New adventures and things to discover about your new home.

This is the ultimate in leaving your comfort zone. It is amazing what you can discover not only about yourself, but of your current friends and family. You will find strength where you thought you had none. You will find out who is willing to make that extra effort to stay in your life.

You will change and grow as you learn new things. Finding new friends is difficult, sometimes overwhelming. But my friend has people she can lean on in her new home town. She has a job she is moving to that will give her a break from the newness of it all.

When she’s not working, she will have time to get the lay of the land before her family joins her. She will reconnect and build closer ties with the friends she already has in the new area. She will thrive and grow and find new life where Virginia was sucking it all out through the stagnation of repetitiveness.

I often wonder if the sameness eats away at people’s passion for life. Does aging make you more flotsam or is it the sameness that keeps us in a box?

Regardless of the stagnation, it will be set free with a long distance move. I think nothing but good will come of it for all involved.

She has always made me laugh and I cannot wait to be regaled with grand stories of the road trip (which she abhors) to the new co-workers to recon of Atlanta.

I must say, I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to have her tour me around Atlanta.

Good luck! Be safe my friend and may you forever leave George behind.

Letting Go

I’ve never been a big proponent of letting go. I’m not good at saying goodbye. Mainly because I’m afraid to let something go that I want…or need…or may need again…or I love unconditionally even when that love is not returned.

For the most part, despite all the trauma/drama of my younger years, I don’t think of my life as horrible. Even the “bad” things have a place and have made me stronger. Yet, I still have issues letting go.

My family, small as it is, and I are not close. I wonder if we ever were. It’s not that we don’t love each other in a distant respectful, well we have to cause we’re family, kind of way…it’s just we are different people.

As diverse, and as old, and as old fashion as my father and grandfather were, they both accepted me for who I am. There was no coming out speech, no loud arguments. I was just who I was and lived my life and introduced my girlfriend at the time like it was no big deal.

That didn’t mean my father and I agreed on anything. I remember one argument as a child where if he said the sky was blue I would say it was green. We were just two different people from two vastly different generations.  Dad Merchant Marine

He grew up in the depression; I grew up in the economy boom. He thought white males were supreme; I thought everyone was on equal footing. He grew up in the Appalachians; I grew up in the burbs.

I wanted for nothing growing up while he struggled to stay alive and make his way in the world. We rarely saw eye to eye on anything.

I often wondered why, but at the end of the day, we were just two different people.

We weren’t close as father and daughter should be. He was mostly a negative person, and I’m a realist with bouts of optimism thrown in to drive him crazy.

Toward the end of his life, I did my best to take care of him, despite the fact that we probably had not talked much or seen each other in many years. Holiday visits mostly. Sporadic talk about politics which digressed in the ultimate arguments. The best conversations were after football season started. Rabid Eagles fans the both of us; yet even that could turn into an argument if I didn’t agree about the current quarterback.

I moved him closer, not to live with me – the trial run of that was a dismal failure of epic portions – but closer with staff to help him and me. My sanity was preserved and I was obligated to visit him more often. The arguments popped up like hot fires. It depended on the Fox News cycle spin of the day, his opinion of it, and how patient I was.

In the beginning I treated him like I always did – argumentatively. Somewhere along the line I logically figured out I was debating with a man who had dementia. What was the point? Would he remember? Even if he did, what was the point?

I learned, through clenched teeth, to agree with him. It didn’t matter that he was mixing past memories with new ones, or that what he remembered was just plain historically wrong. I agreed with it all which ran counter to my understanding of what was accurate. It was one of the hardest things I did, agree with things not right.

Through it all, I saw and talked with him more in the last two years of his life than I had in the previous ten years. I learned more than I thought about him and from him. But to say we were close is not ever going to be accurate. I think that’s what surprised me most on my trip to his favorite city.

I lay in Texas preparing to drive the eight hours to New Orleans. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe. My father’s ashes lay on the counter not far from me. I had carried a part of him from the east coast to Midwest to the tune of When the Saints Go Marching In. It pounded in my head and strangled me, making me more immobile than anything I had ever experienced.

I couldn’t let go of a man I barely knew. I was an orphan when most of my friends still had both parents and in some cases, grandparents to keep them together.

My father was not an easy man to love, but he tried in the best way he knew how despite the fact that I think deep down he was happier to be a loner. The exact opposite of what I ever longed to be.

The trek was not easy and if it wasn’t for synchronicity, I’m positive I’d still be laying in that room in Texas. Despite a few panic attacks, random conversational distractions, and the surrealness of it all, I managed to take one tiny step toward letting go.

I had it easy when mom passed. The resting places that mom wanted fell mostly to my sister helped along with my uncle and aunt.

The last journey with my father was by far the hardest thing I had to do, but for a change, I not only got the last word, but I also got no argument.

Zizania Texana

There’s a restaurant I have found that draws me in whenever I’m in the area. It’s not a quaint place or a romantic venue, but it has something no other restaurant in the area has: nostalgia.

It’s wood and stone with dark black and brown paisley carpet. The cowboy decor of cow heads, wooden stage coach wheels mixed with neon beer and TVs silently boasting professional sports of the day. Not my typical style, but the food is excellent and the location is one of the best. It sits near just above the rush of (especially after lots of rain) river water. In warmer weather, when the sun is still up late, college kids, pups, and families dive in and splash about the year round 70 degree water.

While watching the water gush over the dam and rushing away in big fluffy white waves is fascinating, the allure to the area has more to do with friends who introduced me to this place on my first trip to the area.

It was an odd first trip here, but my friends seemed not to notice. Maybe I hid my distraction well or they were kind enough not to remark on it.
We sat overlooking the river debating football and generally getting to know one another.

It was a good time all in all, but still it was the intangible feeling and one brief moment in time that brings back past memories when I stop by the dam on the river.

It was a short conversation by the banks of the river with one of my friends that I will never forget – the one that gives me pause on my way out every time, the one that left a nostalgic imprint.

My friend who lives in the area called me over to the bank. We stood there, just the two of us, watching the slow movement of the river as it approached the drop. The water was crystal clear and the salt grass bent and swayed in a dance between the rocks in tune with the slow moving river.


I learned in a few minutes that the water was always crystal clear and a consistent 70 degrees year round because it flowed from the springs just north of where we stood. It was a moment in time where everything was as it should be – calm, happy, peaceful – everything was in sync.

I remember looking at the clear water with the dancing salt grass and then turning towards her. Her eyes taking in the water, but focused on the past.

It was the only time during that trip that I saw my friend as I had remembered her. It was the nostalgia in her eyes as she described the river, the smile of peace, the soft honey chuckle of past memories known only to her.

I come here, sit at a table (funny – it’s always the same table and it’s always open on my rare visits) that over looks the dam and rushing waterfall. I take a moment to remember my friends and the first visit then I put lots of moments to pen my thoughts – past and future.

PS: On the way out, I always stop at the bank and take a moment to remember that conversation and push away the whimsical thought that someday we will reconnect as we did for that brief moment.