For Leslie

#tattoo #leslieharpold

Six years ago this week, the world lost a treasure, and I sat at my desk at GSLIS mourning someone I never had the opportunity to really know. In previous years I’ve resolved to be more like Leslie – this year I put that resolution on my body. In her honor, do something unexpectedly awesome for someone in your life today.

About Leslie:

“Gather all around the things that you love, I thought, and prepare to lose them.”

My horoscope for this week suggests that I take maximum advantage of the big opportunity that’s ahead for you, Capricorn: an enhancement of your senses. That’s right. For the foreseeable future, you not only have the potential to experience extra vivid and memorable perceptions. You could also wangle an upgrade in the acuity and profundity of your senses, so that your sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch will forevermore gather in richer data. For best results, set aside what you believe about the world, and just drink in the pure impressions. In other words, focus less on the thoughts rumbling around inside your mind and simply notice what’s going on around you.

And maybe that’s what this broken arm is for: finally getting me to slow down and notice, appreciate, invest, and give back in ways that I’ve been too busy and distracted and heartsore to do these last few months.

Last night a new friend came by after work – I’d stayed home after a painful casting appointment and a couple of nights of bad sleep – and we took a long walk around my neighborhood. We stopped to look at statues in a park I’d never noticed. We were roped into a game of tag by a bunch of kids playing on the sidewalk. We walked by a new bike repair place and peered through the windows of a soon-to-be coffee shop. We kept an eye out for “my” ice cream truck after hearing a snippet of its signature music. I wouldn’t have taken that walk had I been able to ride, and we wouldn’t have had that visit if I hadn’t had my accident.

On Friday, a friend cut through my stubbornness and kidnapped me for the day. She and her 5 year old made me a futon nest, plied me with margaritas and The Muppet Show, and generally forced me to be still and engaged and present. It was a great day, pain and cast notwithstanding, and it wouldn’t have happened without my accident.

This has been a physically and emotionally difficult week, and will likely be a physically and emotionally difficult summer. There have been and will likely continue to be nights where I’ve cried myself to sleep out of anxiety, frustration, pain, and loneliness. I also know that my physical and emotional pain are so minimal in the grand scheme of things.

But that doesn’t diminish what I’m feeling right now: profoundly grateful for everyone who has reached out, expressed their concern, offered a shoulder to cry on, sent flowers or funny mail, gotten me out of my house or back in it, and generally reminded me that love isn’t binary, that family isn’t defined by blood, that community isn’t bounded by physical space, and that what you put out into the world will be repaid tenfold if only you’re brave enough to let it.

Say you’d follow me anywhere.

Say you'd follow me anywhere.

Photo by merlinmann, all rights reserved.

I was looking through my bookmarks just now to find something for work, and instead came across this post, which also reminded me of the above photo. I barely knew her but agree with the post author when he said that Leslie “made everyone who knew her better“. I’m so thankful to have people in my life like that – both past and present. So thank you, friends, for you.

Only Connect

(I had set a goal for myself to blog somewhere every day this month, but that goal was impossibilified by yesterday’s travel suckiness.  In lieu of yesterday’s post, an overly thoughtful one too too early in the morning.)

So it’s 7am and I’m in Atlanta, having spent the night in the airport after my flight out of Denver was delayed by a couple of hours.  Crying was involved, as was encouragement from several random strangers.  The random strangers are the subject of this post.

I really don’t like talking to people on planes.  It’s not so much that I’m antisocial as it is that I just want to zone out, read my book, sleep, etc.  That said, I talked to my seatmate for the entirety of the 2 1/2 hour flight from Denver to Atlanta, our conversation running the gamut from Aspergers to wilderness therapy to climate change as a concept to metadata.  At the conclusion, we exchanged warm farewells, aware that this was a chance connection, forged only because we were stuck in the airport and then in the plane next to each other for several unplanned hours.

When Erin Fae visited a few weeks ago, we talked about how we both really feel the lack of intimate friendships in our lives at the moment.  We both certainly have those sorts of friends – the ones that hang out in the kitchen while you’re making dinner, or call you at the last minute to go to the grocery store, or are comfortable being quiet together – but not as many as we’d like, and not necessarily in our same geographic regions, making the spontanaeity and comfort of the relationships a little more difficult.  We also talked about how it’s so much harder to make those kinds of friends as adults – and harder to make friends in general.

I guess that’s why I so value conversations like the one I had last night – or like Sunday night, when Max and I went to a bar near his apartment and just talked about whatever for an hour or two.  It’s so rare these days to have a real conversation with anyone, much less a total stranger, much less a conversation spanning multiple hours – so when they happen, it seems like a wonderful gift.

I guess the point of this – and bear with me, as I’ve had like 3 hours’ sleep in a cold and uncomfortable terminal – is that I’m thankful for opportunities to connect, to share a little part of my life with someone new, to step outside my comfort zone and be enriched by the experience.  I’m especially thankful when, as with Erin Fae, as with Linda, those moments turn into a wonderful friendship.