November 30, 2014

This one is for Christine.

When I was growing up, I was surrounded by boys.  I had two older brothers and 6 male 1st cousins (all older except the youngest who was my age). My saving graces were my two 3rd cousins, Francine and Christine.  They were both younger than me by a few years, and lived in Charlotte, not far away.

Francine was the older of the two sisters, and had flaming red hair and freckles.  She was very quiet, and didn’t speak a lot, so I never quite knew where I stood with her.  Christine, however, was very vivacious and beautiful, just beautiful.  She had big soulful eyes and exotic dark hair that curled in the most lovely way.  She talked a lot and we got along quite well.  We took gymnastics together and she was very good.  They had a balance beam in their house and a trampoline, too, so I was quite envious.

I loved their house.  They lived in a beautiful neighborhood and their home had Japanese accents.  There was a creek in the backyard where we would catch salamanders and crayfish.  Their mother raised Yorkshire Terriers and their father loved to talk to me about philosophy, religion, and history.  I found them to be quite interesting and always enjoyed our visits, especially with Christine.

When the girls were in their teens, the family moved to an 18-acre farm in Weddington.  Now instead of a creek, they had a large pond with swans in it, and a beautiful aviary in their home.  Instead of Yorkies, their mom now raised pigmy goats.  Their father had a library in a balcony where he kept all of his books.  I loved the place, though I must admit I did miss their old house.  Apparently the girls did, too.

Christine didn’t do so well after they moved.  She got in with a cult, was hooked on hard drugs, and then became pregnant some time around the age of 18.  She kept the baby and named it after my grandmother, Sarah Catherine, as they were quite close.  She would bring her Sarah down for visits, and seemed to be getting her life back together.

But the need for drugs was too strong and some time around 1993 or so, she moved away from her family’s pressure to get her life back together and took her daughter to New York.  The last I spoke with her was in 1992 when she sent me a wedding gift.  I tried to find her on Facebook last year or anywhere on the web for that matter, and I couldn’t.  It’s like she didn’t exist.

On Thanksgiving just past, I learned that Christine threw herself off of the George Washington Bridge on Mother’s Day, 2014.

It took them 3 months to identify her body.  She had no identification on her, and no one reported her missing.  For no one to report her missing means that nobody missed her.  She had long been out of communication with her parents (they hadn’t spoken in 3 years) and her daughter–now in her 20s and engaged–would have nothing to do with her.  She had no one.

It saddens me deeply.  I really liked Christine.  We grew up together.  She was my favorite cousin.

To think that her life–which once appeared so happy and together–had gone off the rails so much is frightening.  I wonder what it was like for her, what pushed her to commit suicide on Mother’s Day.  Her mother said that she had always thought that she was bi-polar.  Maybe the drugs helped her to make sense of her life.  Maybe knowing that she was alone was too much for her.

It is important to note, very important, that they found no drugs in her system at the time of her death.  So it was all her free will with no added confusion.

There was no funeral, no obituary, no memorial.  She just died and that was it.

So this picture is for her.  It’s of my front window, lit by the warm glow of the lamp by my favorite chair.  You can see the blue sky in the reflection, and birthday flowers from a friend in the window.  It represents the peace that I wish she could have found for herself.  And it’s my way of saying I will remember her.

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November 29, 2014

My home is nowhere near perfect.  In fact, I struggle with it.

I’m gone a lot with work and getting the kids where they need to be, so my home gets pushed to the back of the list on most days.  Still, it is where I come to feel connected and centered.  Though it’s not nearly what I want it to be, it’s getting there.  So today’s photos reflect some of the comforts of home.

November 28, 2014

Back home today, after picking up Emma, Nick, and Olivia from Monroe.

These shots are of my mom’s cat “Fred.”  Fred is a stray who decided to start living at my mother’s house.  She loves him, and he brings something positive to her otherwise stressful life.

 

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m so glad to spend the day with my family.  Everyone.  What a blessing that is.

Here are some shots from the day.  The first is a photo of my home behind the gate that goes to my grandparent’s home.  Rather ominous and telling of the state of things.  The rest are photos from the Beasley House, the house that my aunts own.

 

November 26, 2014

This afternoon, Nick and I went to Swannanoa to pick up Emma and Olivia, then went to Monroe for Thanksgiving.  It was a lot of driving, but a beautiful day. The clouds were spectacular, and there was still a bit of color left on the trees…

November 25, 2014

Tonight I had a photo shoot with my class in a warehouse that belongs to a local theater.  We had a blast setting up a staged scene and using props.  Here are some of our mannequin models…Shirley and Gertrude.

November 22, 2014

Today is my 50th birthday.

This is the view that I had from my car as I received the most amazing gift this morning…

Over the past three months, Tony painstakingly collected voice recordings–songs, stories, salutations–from 84 of my friends and put them on 2 CDs.  For two hours, we sat in the car at Miller Park and listened to friends and family wish me well and share a piece of themselves with me.  It was the most beautiful experience I have had and the best birthday gift.  All of my family participated, as well as close friends, acquaintances, and many people who have touched my life.  As I told Tony, I felt lifted.

It was truly a beautiful moment, wonderfully emotional,  and I will never forget it.

Thank you Tony.  Thank you.

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So Here It Comes…

This is my last day of being in my 40s.  I’m excited…

I have big plans for my 50th birthday thus far. In the morning, I will be doing something with my boyfriend Tony who is insistent that I go over to his place as soon as I can in the morning and avoid Facebook at all costs.  I’m not sure why, but that will be known to me soon enough so I’ll play along.  After that, I will spend time with my son Nick, my daughter Emma, and maybe have lunch somewhere, I’m not sure.  More time with Tony at his request in the afternoon, then at 6:00 I will head over to our local music venue, The Garage, to set up for a big night of performing.  First, Tony and I will host our Pop Music Quiz that we have been doing for 8 years.  After that, Tony, three of my friends, and I will be performing 4 Squeeze songs together under the name Cuddle (Get it? Squeeze, Cuddle…Jon the drummer thought that one up!) .  Squeeze is one of my favorite bands and has been for over 30 years now, so it’s kind of a “Squeeze-themed” night in honor of my birthday.  I will be singing back-up and playing the bass guitar on the 4 songs we are performing (Hourglass, The Waiting Game, Messed Around, and Labeled With Love).  This will be the first time in 29 years that I have played bass with a band on stage, so I am a bit nervous.  But I’ve really enjoyed our practices, so I’m fighting my nerves and facing it head-on.  It’s a great way to bring on 50, I’d say.

After we play our 4 songs, a local band called the Vagabond Saints Society will perform the entire album Squeeze Singles: 45 and under.  Tony and I will be singing 3 songs with them: Take Me I’m Yours, Slap and Tickle, and If I Didn’t Love You.  So it’s a performance-filled night and I just hope it all goes well.  Nervous indeed, but excited, and also hopeful that this won’t be our last time performing.  I’ve got the bug again, and I’d really like to start playing the bass with a band on a regular basis.

So 50…what am I going to do with myself?  Things have to change, I know that for sure.  My 40s weren’t really a positive decade for me on the whole.  Lots of stress, life and family changes, loved ones gone, goals not met, and life passed by.  So I’m hoping that I can turn things around in my 50s and make it better.  I am genuinely feeling positive.

And I can’t wait to start posting a photo-a-day here.  That starts tomorrow and will continue with a photo-a-day until I turn 51.

Goodbye 40s, hello 50s! Bring it on!

Amanda