It’s a German word, meaning enjoyment obtained from the misfortune of others. You may not know the word, but you know the feeling. Oh, stop lying You know you do
I’m watching “The Voice” tonight (mostly because I’m too lazy I go get the remote I’m actually kind of over this show) and I’m suffering with the families as they watch their loved ones sing I’m silently begging for one of the judges (or better yet, two or three or four of the judges) to press their button and turn around.
Tonight I watch as a 23 year old woman sings her heart out, and though she sounds great to me, no one chooses her. The judges’ usually kind comments seem especially harsh, and I wince as they speak them
But I know Someone somewhere out there is relishing in her misfortune Maybe it’s her middle school nemesis. Perhaps it’s a girl from high school whose boyfriend she pursued Or, perhaps, it’s someone whose dislike originates from no particular cause. Whatever the reason, somewhere someone is smiling. I feel an uncomfortable kinship.
7:30 pm , 4.5 hours from home, but we stop for dinner at Bob Evans. Because we both deserve it.
In spite of the fact that it is well past dinner time in this farming community, we still have to leave our name with the hostess and wait for a table.
Looks like a lot of people had a rough weekend Looks like a lot of people deserve it.
I was in college when my grandparents were getting older and were becoming unable to care for themselves. I had no idea about the health issues, the refusal to move out of their too big and too much work homes, their denial that aging was an irreversible process.
Today, I am on my way to Ohio. I am loading my van with all the work I need to do this weekend. I am calculating the hours I will spend on the road. The hours I will spend at the hospital. The hours I will spend in their house. I am realizing that I can do this. That I have to do this.
Because now I am in the real world, and my parents are getting older and are becoming unable to care for themselves. And I gaining too much of an idea about the heath issues, the refusal to move out of the their too big and too much work homes, and their denial that aging is an irreversible process.
She’s there. Watching me. I know she is there before I even see her. Because I can feel the weight of her stare, and I know…. She is watching me. She is waiting for me.
I am reaching into the back of my van to retrieve my Diet Coke, and when a step back away, I see her there. She is standing on the sidewalk across from my regular spot in the parking lot. She is standing in the pouring rain. She doesn’t move when she sees me see her. She doesn’t acknowledge me. But she waits for me as I move toward her, walking quickly because I have given my umbrella to my own daughter and so now the rain is drenching me, too.
I was fifteen minutes later than usual this morning. I hit the snooze button several times. I talked longer to my husband than I usually do in the morning. I believed that I had nothing pressing to tend to when I got to work today, so I took my time. But she didn’t. She was here, waiting at my usual arrival time. And she’s standing here, now, watching me from the sidewalk. She’s waiting in the rain even though she could be waiting under the ample coverage of the roof by the door. She’s come out here to greet me in the rain. And though her greeting is silent, the message echos loudly in my conscience.
I am tempted to lecture her about standing in the rain. I am tempted to remind her that she doesn’t have to come to school early, that she doesn’t have to walk here when there is a bus that could pick her up within a block of her home. But I hold back, because she already knows all of this. Of course she does.
So, instead, I greet her, and we walk toward the door, together.
Two years ago I began my first “slice of life” challenge. Every day, a blank screen greeted me. And every day I filled that screen my thoughts. Oh, how those thoughts flowed freely from my brain, through my fingers, and onto my blog page. Oh, what a genius I was. Clearly, I was a gifted writer. I should probably find myself a literary agent. Because, dang, the world needed to read my amazing writings!
I took a bit of a gap year last year, so this year I was raring to go. Absolutely raring. I began planning posts in my brain early in February. Every time something interesting happened, I paused to think about how I could transform the event into an outstanding blog entry. Oh, I couldn’t wait to get started. Oh, it was going to be great.
But tonight when I sat down to write, the blank screen stayed just that–blank. No thoughts even began to form in my head, let alone making themselves course through my hands and onto the keyboard. I stared at the screen. And stared. And stared.
And then I remembered the pain of writing. The days when words wouldn’t come. The days when I thought I’d give up. The days when I finally managed to publish something in the last moments of a long day.
I have thirty more days of this. And I’m going to make it.
They are just a pair of dots in the sky, as they hang beneath a tinier-by-the-moment yellow parachute. A boat moves through the water and pulls them across the bright blue sky. And I wonder… Why is it that the things that thrill my daughters the most are the same things that most terrify me?
“How about this one?” The man asks, holding up one of the many young alligators that he has fished out of the murky water.
“That one is too skinny,” the woman standing on the other side of the fence tells him. She points out another alligator. “What about that one?” She asks.
“I already showed you that one. You said it was too mean. You said it would pick on the others.”
She pauses, remembering. Then her eyes scan the enclosure. She points to one near the wall. “That one,” she says. “Can you get that one for me?”
He moves quickly through the water, grasps the animal by its tail, and pulls it from the water. “This one?” He holds it up for approval.
“Yes,” she tells him. “That one is good.”
He brings the alligator toward the front of the enclosure. And when he steps out of the water we realize that he is barefoot.
An open-air tour trolley slowly moves past our hotel as we lounge by the pool. We are just a bit too far away, and the hotel’s music is just a bit too loud, for us to hear what the tour guide is saying. My husband raises his hand and slowly waves at the tourists who stare back at us, not waving…only watching.
Several minutes later another trolley appears. We watch as it, too, stops to make an unheard commentary. “I wonder what they’re saying,” I say as the faces turn in unison to stare in our direction.
“Probably that our hotel has been the sight of several unsolved murders,” my twelve year old tells me. And, while I laugh, I can’t help but wonder…
“Florida!” We all call out as we cross the state line. We’ve arrived! But, really,we aren’t even half way through today’s drive.
“It just feels like vacation has actually started when you finally get to Florida,” I say, remembering the lengthy drives of my childhood vacations when we drove here from Kansas and, later, Colorado. My husband nods, remembering his own family drives to Florida from Ohio, a path we are following now. But, though our girls have been to Florida many times, we have always flown. They don’t have any memories of a long drive to Spring Break on Florida’s warm beaches Or, at least they didn’t. Until now…
I wonder how they will remember this year’s long drive. Will they remember the picturesque, rolling hills and farms of Indiana and Ohio, the breathtaking vistas of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, the forests growing thicker as we headed south through the Carolinas and Georgia? Will they smile with the memory from last night when we couldn’t find an open gas station? Will they laugh at our firm (but untrue) announcement that we were going drive all night like we did when we were younger? Will they remember the way we all sang along to Meghan Trainor’s latest song, or the multiple searches for somewhere “fast, but not McDonalds” to eat?
I wonder if they will someday decide to drive their own children on vacation. But maybe they will only fly, leaving the farmlands, the mountains, the late-night rain, the changing landscapes, and the many, many memories to those who had the time to take the chance to enjoy them.
We were supposed to leave at three. But three became three-thirty. And then three-thirty became four. And now four has become four-thirty. A day with family lies behind us. An eight hour drive stretches out in front of us.
It’s time to go. Past time, really.
The kids take their places in the back seat. I close the trunk and walk to my door, calling one last goodbye to my parents. Shawn and I take our places in the front seats.
We back down the driveway, out into the street, and pull away. My parents wave from the front porch while we wave back to them.
And we are on our way. Again.
A day with family lies behind us. An eight hour drive stretches out in front of us.