Friday, August 26, 2016

Confessions of a Squealer

Dear Pyg,

Remember back in B309 when we used to joke about the kinds of girls that squealed at every little thing? Because we were not those kinds of girls. We were too level headed for that. But we also secretly admitted to each other that every now and then, we enjoyed a good squealing over something exciting. So we've been that kind of friend for each other, offering the Squeal-On-Demand, when it's needed, but not because we're actual squealers.

Turns out that is not entirely true of me anymore. This week, I realized, I too can be a squealer.

We headed to the beach with friends this week. We set up our blankets and headed into the tide pools to ease into the water. As the kids splashed and played, my friend and I admired the scenery, the cool air after a muggy summer, the life that was teaming at our feet. But even as I was calling the kids' attention to the tons of hermit crabs below the surface, I screeched and jumped as both my feet were suddenly caressed by tiny little crab arms. I was instantly embarrassed that it made me yelp and had a good laugh at myself. Silly squealer.

We continued to explore, enjoy the waves, discover some much bigger crabs (as in there were crowds of people hunting for their dinner among the rocks where we were wading), and eventually the kids got hungry enough to want to head back to our blanket for some lunch. We snuggled together in our towels and settled into our food, still facing the shore and enjoying all the vista had to offer. "Look at the clouds! Watch the seagulls soaring! Is that an airplane contrail in the sky?" The kids were apparently hungry enough to be quiet and even allow my friend and I to enjoy some adult conversation, which never happens.

So there I sat, in this idyllic Maine landscape, with my babies on a gorgeous cool day, pouring out some story to my dear friend, fully engrossed in that moment, when all of the sudden I was shocked with all my senses except sight. Unexplainable rough noises, a rush of horrid stench, and a knock to my body and sharp pain on my hand. I squealed and I screeched and I full our screamed, over and over. I was under sudden attack.

My whole body spasmed in response. I flailed my arms. I jumped to my feet. I shook my head and shoulders. I probably did a little dance with my toes. And I squealed some more.

I had been attacked by not one, but about five seagulls. It took me a minute to collect my thoughts and realize what had happened. First, one came in and bit my hand, compelling me to throw the sandwich I was holding up into the air. A few more came in and started flapping and jumping all around my head to keep me confused, while a last one swooped in to collect the relinquished prize of deli sliced turkey on twelve grain bread slathered with homemade pesto mayo made with homegrown basil. I can not entirely blame this gang of thugs. It was a good sandwich. I was really mad to lose it. Punks!

Once I gathered my wits and got over the shock, I looked around me to see a beach full of people just staring almost blankly at the show I'd just put on for them. It was thoroughly embarrassing.

We went back to our lunch, now hiding our food under a make-shift-hood of towels, only sneaking bites after doing a careful scan of our surroundings, quick to screech at any more seagulls that got anywhere close. But those that did just gave us empty, bored stare-downs, like they knew we were helpless against the strength of their numbers and the know how they had gathered from interacting with unsuspecting beach-go-ers every single day. It was only a matter of time before they'd get their dessert.

And that my friend is my confession. As cool as I'd like to believe I am, as proud as we were of ourselves back in the day, I am a bonafide involuntary squealer, just like a little pig, not the kind with the "Y." I hope you are not too ashamed to maintain our friendship. At least we have a country between us to protect you from the echoing of my squeals.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I was asked to talk to a stranger at the Dairy Queen

Last night I had some time to gallivant around the countryside, but since it was approximately 12904 degrees outside I decided to gallivant around the Gap and its air conditioning instead. Grandma gave me a gift card last month, so I had motive. Anyway, I found an armful of clothes to try on and headed into the fitting room thinking the choice of which stuff to buy would be a hard decision. I don't want to get too over-dramatic here, but disaster ensued. The armholes of the shirts were too low, one dress highlighted my unwavering adoration for fried potatoes and chocolate chip cookies and snacks before bedtime (shout-out to my fave, chocolate milk and dry Cheerios!), the other dress grabbed me in such a way that it looked like one could serve salsa from my cavernous belly button, and the shorts were...well, they were passable, but I wasn't thrilled about them. I like my clothes to thrill me. Summary of paragraph: I exited the Gap feeling a little bit blue.

I had accidentally parked far from the store, so I started my mope back to the car. I passed by the Dairy Queen and noticed an elderly woman sitting alone with her ice cream sundae. I kept walking, and the Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I reminded the Holy Spirit of the current temperature and that it was getting late and that I felt tired. I generally just whined internally. The Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I told the Holy Spirit that I was already five stores away from her and the people behind me would think I'm weird if I did a sudden about face. The Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I actually rolled my eyes and sighed because sometimes I act like a third grader, and then I finally turned around. 

I smiled at the woman as I approached, and I asked her if I could join her on the bench. "Can you get me some napkins first?" she asked, gesturing inside the DQ. I grabbed some for her, then sat and briefly considered if the Lord just sent me there to save her from sticky hands. I mean, sticky hands are the worst. But that probably wasn't it.

"How are you this evening?" I asked, my heart racing. Talking to strangers isn't my forte. Luckily that was all she needed. I learned that my stranger turned 83 last month. She had raised five kids and worked the whole time too. She has nine grandkids, and 14 great-grandkids. She had lived in Anza since the 70s but moved to Lake Elsinore last week because she had a heart attack and almost died three weeks ago. She went to sleep feeling fine one night, then woke up from a phone call from a friend and discovered she was unable to get out of bed. He stayed on the phone with her until the ambulance came. She lives with a granddaughter now who is an RN. She believes in God and goes to a Bible study each week and was amused when I told her why I was sitting there. She has a son in Germany who wasn't able to come to her last birthday party, but she didn't sound bitter about that, it was just a fact. She got a call on her flip phone (flip phone!) while we sat, and she talked briefly with her daughter in Colorado and when they ended the conversation she said "I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, dear. I love you." She just said that like it was something she says every day, which she probably does. 

We shook hands before I left, and she told me her name was Donna. I left our conversation feeling cheerful and energized for the walk back to the car. My attitude had completely flipped. Worrying about my belly and clothes and me-me-me suddenly seemed ridiculous. I had gone into that encounter wondering what God wanted me to do for Donna, but it turned out God wanted to bless me instead. BOOM. Awesome.

In conclusion, listen to the Holy Spirit* - every time I do, neat things happen. But maybe try complying without rolling your eyes and sighing first.  

*If you don't know who the heck the Holy Spirit is, or if you think this post makes me sound crazy, let me know and we can talk about it or email about it or carrier pigeon about it if you have one that we can both use.