Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

It’s a poor attempt at a title. There’s no zip, nothing snazzy. Guess this is me now.

The past few days have been less than enjoyable when it comes to being on-call. Most of my waking hours yesterday was spent on the phone working on issues. By 9 pm I was in bed barely awake reading the beginnings of what is going to be an inspiring book.

I woke up early to get some work done and felt a feeling of dread with each breath I took. I was fearful that my pager would alarm. I just wanted a few hours of peace. With the first sip of my delicious coffee I hear Ava stir and start the first verse of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. Cute, but I just needed a few more minutes to myself. I grabbed my book and finished another chapter.

The rest of my morning spiraled into a yelling match with the dog while nearly landing on my back as I slid through his puddle of puke. This woke up the big man who was also less than thrilled with my boisterous bark.

My fear of being paged continued as I started to get ready for a friend’s bridal shower. What if I got paged? What if I couldn’t get there on time? What if I had to leave early? What if the same issue happens? What if? My entire morning was driven by ‘what if’s’. Not good for stress levels.

Well, I was going anyway. I made sure the on-call laptop was in the car and I headed out, alone.

As I started down my street I tried to recall the last time I was alone for a few hours – alone, with no husband or child. Alone. It felt nice. I hopped on the highway and as I got up to speed, played with the radio presets until I found something uplifting. I stopped on a local station playing jazz. Ahhhh…unwinding…

I quickly adjusted the rear view mirror and realized that there were some new grey hairs. I definitely got those yesterday. Definitely. I made a mental note to take a day off and schedule both a massage and a color. I desperately needed some pampering.

I sat back in my seat and focused on driving. Then something overwhelmed me…in a GOOD way. It was the jazz. The soulful bass beats, the crisp ride cymbal and the electric guitar filled my car and relaxed my muscles. I was instantly flooded with memories of my college dorm. I believe it went something like this:

It was September of 1997. A college friend came to my dorm room asking me to ‘entertain’ a friend from his home town while he attended a fraternity meeting. Okay. Weird. So, in walks Jen. The rest is history. We hit it off like a bunch of old friends.

My room always felt welcoming and warm. I tried to create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for both myself and my guests. If people weren’t comfortable or having a good time I wasn’t either. Lighting was always dim and accentuated by scented candles. Yes…I had two lava lamps. :) I had adorned a wall with a large tapestry that enhanced the warmness of the room with it’s rich colors and subtle flower pattern. I created a cozy sitting area with two bucket seats, a small round table and a soft glowing lamp.

Jen and I had our first of many discussions at this sitting area over numerous cups of tea with jazz in the background. We drank cups of regular flavored tea with sugar cubes and light cream. Jen introduced me to the sugar cubes. One afternoon, prior to Jen coming up to school (she lived in Jersey) she called to ask if I needed anything. I had just run out of sugar packets and wouldn’t make it to the dining hall to steal some. I requested a box of sugar. Jen shows up with sugar cubes. From that moment on sugar cubes were the way to go.

Day after day we went through cups of tea, boxes of sugar cubes, half pints of light cream and packs of cigarettes. Whether we were deeply discussing the complexity of her mother’s rich Italian cooking or we were gossiping about the boys in our lives it was always over tea and jazz.

Those days were spent in near seclusion. I didn’t go out often, but everyone came to my lair. Perhaps I was grossly depressed; I was undoubtedly hiding from something. The environment was my escape. At the time I think I thought I was pretty put together. Maybe it’s my sense of maturity, now, that makes me realize this was not the case. I was living in my own little world, but it felt good, both emotionally, spiritually and physically. It was welcoming and warm; accepting and therapeutic; familiar and enabling.

Things change. Jen and I eventually grew apart, my furniture moved, I finally graduated and the rest is another chapter in my history.

Today, over ten years later, I remembered those times. The jazz brought me back there, to a familiar time. I smiled. The radio lost reception and I was forced to change the station. The moment was again lost in my history. For a few more moments I saw me and Jen sitting across from each other, drinking tea, smoking cigarettes and discussing the bullshit of the day, while jazz hummed in the back ground.