Across the GREAT Divide

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History is a funny thing. Depending on the glasses it’s viewed with, the past is either chock full of not so great things or colored with a romantically soft blur. Me? I think it’s a little of both. History is life, with all its ups and downs, no matter how we’d like to retouch it. Graphic designers like me are cool with that kind of artistic license but history needs no retouched brand marketing. It is what it is.

The words ‘great again’ in relation to America have now become part of our daily lexicon. They are heard nearly every day and are pretty much guaranteed to echo through the next few years. Pretty good words; bold yet nostalgic rallying cry. The only problem is that each time I hear the phrase I find myself scratching my head. I can’t seem to nail down the period in history when our American lives were perfect enough, great enough for an encore.

If a handy time machine could transport us to the past, where exactly would we land? What era would our GPS point to? Would we be whisked back to the time we helped our entitled selves to the land of the true Native Americans, elbowing them out of the way? Or when we bought, sold, traded slaves to build that new country? Maybe it was those scary days when we were kids and the Cold War sent us scurrying to hide beneath our desks. Those nostalgic days also included ‘colored’ drinking fountains, gays who were forced to remain in the closet – and women in the kitchen.

I’m in advertising. I know snappy taglines sell things but I’m just having a problem wrapping my head around a ‘great again’ marketing slogan. I can’t seem to pinpoint the glorious golden age when all, regardless of color or gender were peaceful and happy.  Is our country truly great? You bet. But in a country of more than 318 million people of every diversity, having ups and downs, even in a single day, is part of the deal. It doesn’t make us less great; it makes great more fluid.

I’m old enough (not ancient, mind you) to have lived through several wars, from Vietnam and the Gulf War to Iran and Iraq. Living in a different time and different skin, I never experienced the Jim Crow laws that brutalized a whole portion of our fellow Americans. They were the citizens sent to the back of the bus, and denied use of the same restrooms and drinking fountains as their white neighbors. As a woman, I was lucky enough not to have lived in a time when I couldn’t vote because of my ‘weaker’ sex. I was a young mom by the time Roe vs Wade signaled the end of back-alley abortions and same sex relations were taken off the list of criminal offenses. Our land of opportunity didn’t always gift those opportunities to everyone. For many — it still doesn’t. Continue reading

Second Year – Now What?

 

rear-view-mirror“If you don’t know where you’re going – any road will get you there” Lewis Carroll

It just got real. The first year is over — now what? As if the first months and weeks after your loved one dies weren’t enough of a tsunami, the waves of the next one can flatten you. The reality of loss stands even starker after the fog clears of the first year. And the stabbing knowledge that they are never, ever coming back is even more acute; more glaring in everything you do.

Welcome to the real — After.

You are at ground zero. Like it or not, life created a new you and only you can decide what you’re going to do about it. Not gonna lie – sometimes all this change and reinvention completely sucks. Boy, do I know. But there’s only one way to go and that’s forward. Sometimes, people won’t understand your choices; sometimes even you won’t. Hey, that’s life – and you have a right to your own stamp on it. Often family or old friends may not understand the new you. Maybe they are as afraid of your relationships running on different tracks, apart from the status quo and that’s understandable. Change, as we know well – is scary.  But life has done a teensy makeover on you, (read ‘mammoth’) propping you up in a brand new world. You alone will figure out how to navigate it. Continue reading

#reality check

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Once upon a time, I was a flirty, social butterfly. Yeah, I can hardly picture it either. But back in the day, Saturday nights rarely found me at home. In that seemingly ancient time, I was post-nesting mama of three — and pre-married again. Happy wanderlust and a dancing queen persona was the fallout of sudden singlehood and ended when a really neat guy succeeded in, once again, getting me to the altar. When your nearly perfect match shows up with love as a big as an ocean liner, you say yes – and never look back.

But in a way, I was back – into the world of couple dinners, grandparental team babysitting nights, movies for four and parties for many and I was more than happy. I never really was the blithe divorcee anyway. (‘blithe’…seriously?) I had returned to where I began, peacefully curled up with hubby at home. And I was content.

That’s not to say I didn’t yearn for a night alone sometimes. Oh, there were dinners with a girlfriend or an adult ed class but I admit I did look forward to the occasional business trip that left me solo for a night or two. Having our own business, I could probably count on one hand when that actually happened. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my guy madly and when he was AWOL for a night, I missed him next to me. Still, those few nights I was a loner I ate what he hated, coveted the remote and happily watched chick flicks. Now every night is single night and whatever enthusiasm it used to hold, left the building when he did. They always say, ‘be careful what you pray for….’ Duh. Continue reading

Moving ahead; Looking back

1413386769-when-it-comes-finding-your-path-dont-overthink-do-womanLike it or not, we just stepped into a brand New Year. For those who’ve lost an other, a parent, or child the thought of moving ahead is more than layered. The past holds the person who is gone from us and we cling to it fiercely. Though we want and need to move forward, it’s hard not to worry that we will forget the sound of their voice, their scent, the way they hugged, laughed or…sung in the shower. But I don’t think it works that way; the past has a mind of its own.

My once young brother has been gone a very long time. Sometimes I can’t recall the planes of his face or how tall he was but I can still envision his eyes, his pranks and the way he loved anything to do with cars or building radios. We all remember how he would do anything he could think of to tease my father – and it always worked. And that same wise-ass little bro surprised me with a booklet entitled ‘How To Boil Water’ his handwritten engagement joke gift.

His siblings grew up, married, had kids, and he never was gifted with any of it. A long life is promised to no one. To his family, he will always be frozen in time, a 19 year old boy never to forgotten but not his memory not the stark, raw pain that followed his death. His pictures are a bit faded now, the color a fainter hue but he still exists in spirit. No matter how long he’s gone, he’ll always be my little brother. We never forget; the pain just loses some of its bruising edges. Continue reading