Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Change is inevitable...is that a good thing?

Change happens.  All the time. The weather, the landscape, your children's ages. Everything changes. As I write this I am eating a bowl of homemade cauliflower soup (and can I just say YUM!) which in a minute or so will be gone. Change. Anyone who says they don't like change is being disingenuous.  If they really didn't like change they would sit in the same chair, wearing the same clothes, day in, day out until someone either hosed them off or set them out on the curb for the no doubt underpaid garbage truck people to pick up. Oh well, they say, some change is ok. It's the big changes I don't like. Like what? You don't like summer turning into fall into winter into spring? You don't like the revolution of the earth? Don't like to see the sun come up every morning? Well, that's just silly! Of course that kind of change is ok. So what kind of change is not ok? I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the kind of change we don't like is a change we don't want.

I had breakfast with a good friend this morning and as I drove home I made a detour around town, realizing that this will be one of the last times I do that. Not the last, but one of the last. Change is all over Missoula. In the 20+ years I have lived here I have seen houses march along the hillside where empty lots used to sit. I have seen the city spread out to include dozens of businesses along a 4 lane road that runs the length of town, river to mountain. New buildings at the University. Different shops downtown. New restaurants, coffee shops and golf courses. When I first moved here, locals were always giving directions by saying what the location used to be, like the old JC Penney store, the even older Safeway on Higgins, the now abandoned drive in, the old Mansion (the original location up the Rattlesnake, not the new one on the hill). Now I can give my own directions with what-used-to-be-there's. Like where Insty Prints where I briefly worked was, or Hansen's Ice Cream Parlour where you could get a great hamburger as well as a killer hot fudge sundae, Montana Pies as well known for its soup as its pies.  The shopping mall has its own stories of change. WaldenBooks, Grady's Cafe, El Matador with its food barely recognizable as Mexican, a coffee shop done in forest green and white that had the best coffee I ever had, Nordstrom Annex that only sold women's clothing, and a host of local businesses that did not survive mall rent.

Some of the changes to my city were welcome (can't wait to shop there), some barely noted (hey, where did that come from?), others mourned (I loved that place. No, I didn't go much, but still). As I consider the move that is in my near future, I can't help but wonder what will be changed when I return. This won't be a temporary move as some of my others were. This is a move toward a future I can almost see and that I am excited about embracing. I will return to this much loved city, to sit on decks and drink wine, to camp by gorgeous rivers, to celebrate milestones both mine and others, both happy and sad. I will return but I doubt I will ever live here again.

A friend drove me home late one night last week and as we went past one of the several brand new apartment complexes springing up in the most unlikely places, I wondered out loud where all the people who were moving in lived before they were built.  To which my friend replied, at least there will be lots of choices when you move back. He's a funny guy.

Missoula Evening

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What do you regret?

I have always tried to live my life without regrets. Which is not to say I have lived a perfect life, indeed, who among us has? And how boring would that be if you did?  But I have always thought that you should try to be as happy as you can where you are, understanding that every step you have taken has brought you there. But I find myself looking back and having some regrets, not for things I did, but for things I didn't do.  For times I should have stood up for what I believed in, for what was right, for what needed to be said.

I never spoke up for the girl who had dirty hair and smelled funny and sat by herself at middle school lunch. Kids called her names and made fun of her, sometimes right to her face. And while I can say that I did not call her any names, neither did I ever try to help her out.

I never said a thing that day in college when a boy came in dressed as a girl, complete with heels and makeup. I watched as he sat quietly, head down, in the circle of desks in a class on Ethics. Other students left one by one. We could hear them laughing right thru the open door. A handful of us stayed in the room, quiet, solemn, not knowing what to do. Not meeting each other's eyes, but not meeting his, either. When class was over, the rest of us left while he stayed behind.  I never saw him again.

As a new real estate agent I was asked by my manager to take a visitor and his wife on a tour of Missoula, pointing out the highlights and trying to give him a sense of what our city was like. They were visiting from Auburn and as we drove up one of the residential hills, he began to talk about why he 'had' to move. Lets just say his racist comments flabbergasted me.

I was buying a minivan in preparation for a move down to Austin Texas and was chatting with the salesperson about why we were moving.  I said to him there is only one thing I am not sure I can live with in Texas. He nodded solemnly. As it turns out, he was a racist, too. After a shocked and awkward silence I said, no, I meant the humidity.  I bought the van.

I wish I had sat by that girl, told other kids to leave her alone. I wish I had talked to that boy. I wish I had gone out that door and shamed each and every one of those laughing students. I wish I had gone back into the classroom and asked that teacher "What is wrong with you? Why did you just sit there and stay silent when one of your students needed you?" I wish I had pulled my car over to the curb and told that self righteous bigot and his silent wife to get out of my car. I wish I had thrown the keys back in that salesman's face and told him to shove his minivan some place uncomfortable.

But I didn't. Instead I was silent. I will regret that to the end of my days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What dreams may come

When my dog thumped his paws on the bed near my pillow this morning, sticking his little furry face way too close to mine, he interrupted a very odd dream.  In it I was on a job interview in Seattle with Chef Bobby Flay...only in the dream he wasn't a chef but a real estate agent. He took me on a tour of his office which was about 6 stories of stairs and winding hallways, and said he would hire me if I could find my way out.  Somewhere along the way as I attempted to do just that, I lost my cell phone but acquired a very nice bottle of wine.  I distinctly remember looking down at the bottle's label and saying out loud "this is a very nice bottle of wine". I made my way thru the maze of rooms/floors/halls to the outside only to realize I had also lost my car. Bobby drove me to a gas station where I used a pay phone to call my adult daughter in Texas to let her know I was safely out of the building and could she please send me a taxi. And that is where the doggie thumping shook me out of the dream. I don't know if I got the job or the taxi or a new phone. I didn't get to ask Bobby why he didn't lend me his phone or call a taxi for me himself and I never got to drink the very nice wine.

As I stumbled out the door to walk my dog, still thinking about the dream, I remembered just a few weeks ago that a friend asked me if I had vivid dreams and, if so, did I remember them.  She said that sometimes hers were wild and a little weird but when she tried to recall them all she could come up with was a general feeling of having had the dream but not the dream itself.  I read somewhere that the only dreams you remember are the ones you wake up in the middle of, which is a shame. It is quite possible we are all having the most amazing dreams all night long that we will never remember, only waking up to remember the silly ones.

I have had a recurring dream for over 30 years, although in the past few years it has changed slightly. In the late 70s I had read a Ray Bradbury short story about a man who was responsible for the balancing of the universe.  He had to put odd things in odd places in order to keep the world spinning the way it should. For some reason this story really stuck with me and in my dream I am responsible for keeping the world safe from utter destruction thru a simple task like raising the blinds or shutting the curtains. I would wake up in a panic because in the dream I have forgotten to do that one simple task and now the world is coming to an end. I would rush out of the bedroom to the kitchen or the living room or wherever the very important curtains were, heart pounding as I tried to correct my mistake.  Fortunately by the time I reached the blinds, I fully realized what an idiot I was being and that the position of my curtains did not hold the fate of the world. Since I started taking blood thinners a few years ago, the dream has morphed from me having to shut the blinds and save the world into a requirement for me to take my medicine and save the world.  I wake up in a cold sweat because I have forgotten to do that one simple task and we are all going to die. And yes, I get up out of bed, rush into the bathroom and it is only as I am reaching for the medicine that I remember that the world does not revolve around my taking or not taking a pill.

I have had silly dreams, scary dreams and dreams that are full of friends and family who are no longer with me. Those are the hard ones. I have never seen myself in my dreams but I hear myself frequently and very clearly. I sometimes wonder when I hear myself if it is because I am talking out loud. I read a blog by a woman who said she was so curious about her dreaming self that she set up a camera to film her sleeping.  I find that mildly creepy.  I don't really want to see myself thrashing about and talking out loud. I also don't feel inclined to have my dreams analyzed. I am happy to have them remain a mystery.

Hamlet said "...to sleep, perchance to dream, ay, there's the rub." Do you remember your dreams?