An invitation to a wedding

It was the summer of 1974, and my best friend’s brother was getting married! It was exciting and mysterious all at the same time.  Getting married was practically unimaginable to me.  I hadn’t a boyfriend at that point in my life. If a boy even knocked on our door, I needed to keep it a secret so my father wouldn’t have a heart attack.  Boys generally didn’t swoon over me, so I used my imagination about boyfriends and romance. I was an experienced day dreamer!  In my imagination, I feel in love with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Cary Grant and Glenn Campbell. I would fall asleep singing like Olivia Newton John, “I love you…I honestly love you!” Life was simple and stress free.

At that time I was fifteen years old and working part time at the Arcade, a low cost department store.  A highlight of my work day included folding the bin of green tartan, polyester, stretchy pant suits from China. That bin was the focal point of many women shopping at the store.  They would tear through the bin looking for the right size to fit their daughter. I spent most of my part time hours re-folding those suits. My daily prayer was that the eczema on my hands did not flare up.

The women who worked in the Children’s Department with me would buy a sleeve of biscuits. I was allowed behind the cash register area to sneak one whenever I wanted. I loved standing there pretending I was in charge of the cash!  These co-workers told me sometimes girls met their boyfriends at work. I paid more attention to the shoppers! I soon discovered my co-workers had better imaginations than I did.  It was very unlikely prince charming was going to stroll into the Arcade. Still I went on happily day dreaming about Mr. Right sweeping me off my feet.

My friend Carol Ann was able to convince her family to invite me to the wedding, so that she had someone to sit with during the dance.  I was also allowed to invite a boy too. Initially, I looked at the invitation and back at my friend with a look of pure delight.  I felt older, more mature and equal to all the girls I hung around with after school. But, slowly it dawned on me. I was expected to have a date! If only a healthy imagination could provide one!

I didn’t have a boyfriend like Carol Ann. I didn’t even have a crush on someone, nor did anyone have a crush on me! During the previous winter I had a secret boyfriend named Jerry. When Jerry decided to “break up with me” after very little time, it was Carol Ann who stood by me and wiped away the tears. Now I needed to find a boy to go to the wedding with, so Carol Ann would no longer need to worry about me. I soon discovered that was easier said than done!

During the summer of 1974, whenever Jerry saw me, he generally turned and scurried away in the opposite direction. From time to time I would day dream about Jerry too. I could see him coming up to the door with roses and apologizing for being mean. Olivia Newton John would have been proud of me. In the real world, Jerry was my best prospect.

It became well known amongst my friends that I “needed” to ask someone to this wedding. The brother-of-the-bride-to-be was nice enough to tell me that Jerry had decided to join the Christian Brothers and he wouldn’t accept an invitation, even if I asked him. I didn’t particularly like the brother-of-the-bride-to-be and in truth I still don’t.  At fifteen years of age, I took his comment as a pretty big blow to my self worth. When the sting of that revelation began to pass, I told myself that Jerry was pretty much beyond any girl’s reach if he was going to take on a vocation. I decided that there were obviously plenty of fish in the ocean, so I had better move on and catch one. I was only interested in a catch and release, one date for one wedding.

On Friday and Saturday nights in the summer, the local stadium had rolling skating.  I didn’t think my parents would approve of me roller skating, so that was another secret! I rationalized that I might meet someone there who I could ask to the wedding. The music was really fast at rolling skating, so the only way I was likely to meet someone was if a boy asked me to skate to doubles or even triples. Triples skating was way too fast and boarder line dangerous! I hoped for doubles in the biggest way.

I remember that summer clearly.  I would carry my borrowed roller skates over my shoulder and walk 20 minutes to the arena, praying my mother or an Aunt wouldn’t drive by and catch me sneaking in to roller skating. This crime would have netted me a summer’s detention! Inside the privacy of the arena, the lights were bright and you could feel the excitement all around you.

Each night of roller skating I would sit with my friends from the West End of the city.  We would lace up our skates and make our way to the rink area.  I drew my long black hair back, either with a hair band or a scarf, put on that brave smiley face and hit the rink, in hope of a partner to skate with.  The boys generally looked at their feet and the girls watched me and smirked.

July turned into August. Over that time I had skated to two sets of triples but I was never asked to skate during doubles. As August hurried on, I had no prospects for the wedding. One Friday night Jerry skated up the corridor, circled behind me and smacked me on the backside! I interpreted that as tantamount to assault and glared at him. Needless to say that did not result in an invitation from me to Jerry to attend the wedding. As I think back to that moment, I remember concluding that such a public display of rejection banished me to singlehood. I was shattered.

The wedding was the last Saturday in August.  I stopped hoping I would find a date.  The weeks had drifted by. I told Carol Ann’s brother I would attend the wedding on my own. I remember how awkward the evening was, given I had no one to dance with.  My friend found it uncomfortable too as she felt she was supposed to keep me entertained. Jerry’s friend, the brother-of-the-bride seemed to have a great time though, the shmook.

Eventually, the night ended.  For once I was more than delighted that my mother was outside waiting to drive me home.  Mom was very kind to me that night.  As a mother, she was relieved I didn’t have a date. Yet, she understood I was unhappy about it. We didn’t talk much as she drove us home, but I sensed in her quiet manner a sign of respect.  Dad was still up when we trudged up the stairs to our house.  He wasn’t the affectionate sort either, so instead he told me to sit at the counter and he would make me a treat before bed. For me that was a sure sign of affection!  Quietly, I was surrounded by the sincerest love of my parents.

Being a teenager can be a tough time for some. It seems like life is slow and you still can’t keep up with it.  When I least expected it, at the age of seventeen, I met the boy of my dreams. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had met my future husband. Life seemed to speed up after that for the black haired young girl. And the rest, as they say, is (blissful) history!

Collaborating with my friend Bobo

What a great idea, with writing 101.  Cheri coached us to:

Reach out to someone for an interview or collaboration. This person can be someone else whose work you admire.

I selected INTERVIEW MY FRIEND BOBO, a fellow blogger, who I definitely admire.

Then Cheri advised, when you think of someone, reach out via their contact page.

Presto! I also checked that box the Mo way. I visited BoBo at http://www.bouzaneconsulting.com/what-does-it-take/

Cheri’s idea was that I would start right away. I was so excited!

I felt it was pure serendipity. BoBo contacted me before she was aware I was looking for her! She spoke with Hubby and asked him to tell me to call her, she had an idea!

As was sung in Fiddler on the Roof: Wonder of wonder! Miracles of miracles! I called BoBo. She was out! No problem, I resorted to email!

“Serendipity!

 You have an idea to share that between the whirl wind of my life and your destination changes, I may have missed.

 But, I need to collaborate with a fellow blogger I admire by Day 19, which is next Thursday!!!!  Are you interested still?  I am thinking your idea is a collaboration?  We could start with Day 19.

 Let me know your thoughts.  Can I call you on your cell phone?

 I can do an interview even.”

The next day BoBo and I met at a coffee shop of our choosing.  I will leave out the long string of emails as we batted back and forth different times and different places.  I have at least five favorite coffee shops and BoBo is not without a good few herself, the best being her house. Best yet, they are all South West! (if you don’t get that reference, read my blog Vanessa, I don’t want a map.)

BoBo is nothing if she isn’t fun! She hid in the most obscure part of the café. But having spent much of my life dedicated to dogs, I sniffed her out.

With a latte in hand and a chocolate dipped oatmeal cookie, I began my interview with my collaborator.

Mo: BoBo, what do you think of my work so far?

BoBo:  You have really come around over the past two and a half weeks.  You seemed to struggle a bit at first but you settled in after a while.  My impression is that you come alive when you write about your past.

Mo: I need a lot of help on the technology piece.  I just don’t get it.  It may be I am too old, but I don’t think so.  I accidently click the back arrow in the top left hand screen and I lose my post- I don’t save drafts in time. So, my struggles are most likely caused by little old me.  If you could have watched me the night I tried to place a gravatar on my account, you would have cried, and not because you were laughing. Then there was the night I lost my new post three times while trying to add a theme and widgets. I resorted to buying a theme, but the charge didn’t go through! And it will be no surprise to you that I didn’t get the theme either. By day light I had a mauve background and white page for free, which may be the only theme template I will ever have!  It matched the bags under my eyes, I just had to have it!

BoBo: If you aren’t one in a million Mo! All you needed to do was phone me.  I can teach you all that stuff in half a day.  What I want to know is where you want to take this?

Mo: Ahhh.  My interview was just ripped out from underneath my feet! Sneaky little devil you are BoBo!

I am not really sure what I want to do with this.  I really enjoy writing, rewriting and maybe I even like editing. I love opening the email assignments lately. I just sit in my room and look around it, searching for clues, inspirations.  The night I wrote the open letter to BooBoo, I looked up on Mom’s bookcase and there was the picture of BooBoo my niece Pascal painted for her. It was still wrapped in plastic because Mom didn’t want to take a chance of spoiling it. I also used a picture of the painting for the blog.

When I connect with something, my fingers just dance across the keyboard. I enjoy writing and that must explain why I am so sleep deprived today!

BoBo: I get the impression some days that you are heading toward a book?

Mo:  Once again BoBo, great interview skills!  To answer your open ended question, “maybe.”  Part of me is just content to write each night. I like the prompts and now know if I am stuck I can go to the Daily Prompt. It may take me a while to find it, but trust me, I will eventually.

You are right though.  I have always toyed around with the idea of a book. When I read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  I was enticed. I find the early 1900s fascinating and I loved the style of that book.  Letters from friends are so exciting. They relish the topics that inspired the letters and they are often filled with amazing descriptions and tales drizzled with emotion. Of course, Bridget Jones Diary was refreshing. It is more contemporary, but so alive.  I feel like I am reliving the tweets in the second Diary, but I would have to resort to fibs when it comes to numbers of followers or likes. Even so, I could be inspired to be Bridget.

The rest of the chat strayed to other topics and we agreed to get back together soon. We hugged each other and went our separate ways.

The next morning I received this email from my blogger friend:

“Mo,  I’m not sure whether I want to hug you or give you a good swift kick!

My day starts early and usually with 1/2 an hour of catch up on emails and scanning the priorities for the next 24 hours.  The first thing I do is take a quick look at my phone to see if there are any overnight messages to deal with and, of course, your blog pops up right away.  I can’t wait to read what you’ve written so I read directly from my phone with one eye open and one closed. This is while I’m still snuggled under the covers, before my bath or coffee.

So today I started my day in tears. You painted your picture so vividly that I was there with you. I felt your grief and saw you climb in beside your Mom seeking the comfort you needed. I saw your Dad through Heidi’s eyes.

Mo, you are gifted. Do not stop writing. You are growing with every paragraph you put to print.

It was wonderful to sit and chat with you yesterday.

Take care, may God bless and keep smiling.

B”

I can only pray that I don’t disappoint BoBo. BoBo is a story teller and poet.  She also tells spectacular tales. I am blessed to have her as my friend and I feel sure as the wind blows she will always be there! She will inspire me with her stories and motivate me to keep going.

I feel so lucky having taken on a blog.  I have a wonderful niece, Rebecca who dared me to write my experiences in a blog as I wore each and every item in my closet. She was my start, my inspiration. I regularly reblog Rebecca’s fashion posts. They are as beautiful as she is. I don’t want to disappoint her either.  Rebecca is BooBoo’s cat whisperer.

With the connections I have made through blogging 101 and writing 101 I feel supported.  If I do little more than disappear daily into My Reader, I will have gained from this experience enormously.  Once again, tonight I want to thank Cheri and everyone involved in these courses. You have helped me improve beyond my expectations.  Wordpress is now making my world go round!

Vanessa, I don’t want a map!

Vanessa and I are pretty close. We worked together, we go to book club together and we have several of the same friends. When we first met, I would visit her at her house in the next community. She shared her calamities with me and I commiserated in between giggles. Vanessa is a great cook and baker, but you don’t want to be with her when she boils Fussells thick cream. She boils the cream while it is still sealed in the can. Otherwise, Vanessa is a first pick for travel advice, to take on an adventure or to walk your Labrador with! But the biggest problem I have with Vanessa is that she moved to the other side of the City. We may not live in a Metropolis, but I need a map to get there.

I really dislike going to the east end of the City. It isn’t because it is unfriendly or dangerous, it is only because I don’t go there often and the labyrinth of streets and cul-de-sacs are difficult to navigate. Simply put, I have a habit of getting lost. I do not have my own internal compass. I routinely have been told by otherwise polite friends and colleagues, “No Mo, it’s your other left.” I am a hapless, map-less and dangerous traveller.

You would think that my objections to visiting people on the East Side would have all but stopped. My car is equipped with a GPS, my Samsung 4 has google maps and if all else fails I can make my way to our box store boulevard and ask for simple directions from there. With all the help available, I can still muck it up!

A year ago, my friend and fellow book club member, Vanessa, took her turn hosting our book club session. I never willingly miss book club, mainly because I enjoy reading, I like other people to figure out for me the best books to purchase, and the women in our club our unbelievably funny. As one of my friends would say, our book club nights are as good as a concert. My only regret is that Vanessa, the hostess with the flare to tantalize us with treats from her latest travel, lives on the East Side!

I am ashamed of my inability to drive to fixed destinations in a timely manner, so I was keeping it a secret. To complicate my life, I work late, so it impossible for me to car pool. This book club appointment required me to drive myself. I was confident that I could find the street buried somewhat inside of a new subdivision. I had my GPS. How hard could it be?

I knew the subdivision was four years old, because I remember buying our car about the same time as Vanessa and John built their house. The subdivision was just getting started then and even I could find it at that time. Since then, new streets and dead-end roads have been added. There are numerous ways to access the subdivision. They even have a Hotel there now. I can identify the hotel every time my husband drives us to Costco. It was a handy landmark for a trip to Vanessa’s.

I left work with about 30 minutes to spare. I programmed Vanessa’s address into my Toyota’s GPS. It occurred to me that a GPS must either come programmed with the maps in place at the time the car was manufactured or they regularly updated them from a satellite connection. The latter didn’t sound improbable but I wondered why I never noticed any messages on the console to that effect. I pulled out of the parking lot at the Southside of the city and headed North East.

This self-confessed travelling basket case did know enough to recognize that the GPS was guiding me past all the most likely turn offs. I trusted that soft spoken lady to know what she was doing. I began to notice I was driving at least ten minutes longer than I should have been and the console map did not have any sign of the expected right hand turn or any familiar destination. I presumed the GPS knew best. The subdivision was still growing and there was a big protest at City Council about vehicle congestion problems should Council approve a condo project there. Perhaps the residents built one of brick walls to contain their neighbour and make Council and developers go away? I had no idea where that subdivision had gone.

Sweat began to break out across my forehead as I followed the instruction to proceed down the highway along the City’s water supply. It was a very long road and for the life of me I couldn’t recall any right hand turns in that part of town. Eventually the street lights disappeared and I knew I was lost. Panic began to set in. My hands were clammy and my mind was slipping toward catastrophe. My temperature was rising and I was edgy. Suddenly I noticed a right hand turn.

I didn’t care if the right hand turn was correct or not, I had to take a turn that seemed to head south. The unfamiliar road began to look familiar, the way a trip to a new community in the country always looks a bit familiar. The darn road was twisting and I had no idea if I was headed South or North. I no longer felt embarrassed about being late, roughly 30 minutes at that point. I was just plain scared. The road finally intersected with a ramp that lead to a highway.

I was in the Twilight Zone. Where in the world did this highway come from? The encouraging part was that it was definitely pointing to the City. The road sign said as much. I drove for what seemed to be an eternity. I approached a new box store that I read about in the paper. I was near the box store boulevard. I wanted to pull off the road and do a happy dance, but I was too late and I was too nervous to do so. I soon made it to the intersection with Costco! I was back to concrete civilization.

I headed a little east and saw a second clue. The sign for the golf course was a sure giveaway. It was vital that I call for those directions, which even a child could follow. I stopped the car, retrieved my purse with my phone from the back seat. I called Vanessa.

Mo: “Vanessa, I’m lost.”

Vanessa: “Where are you?”

Mo: “ Next to the turn off for the Golf Course!”

Vanessa: “Well you are here then.”

Mo: “No! I may as well be in Albuquerque. I need you to lead me to your house.”

Well, Vanessa had a lot of patience with me as I located the hotel and drove down two winding roads until I saw her driveway. A real person with a kind voice and a bright light above her door will beat a GPS or a map any day!

I doubt I could drive to Vanessa’s without getting lost today. I believe in mental blocks and disorientation. I also believe my husband should always be the driver. But, sometimes you just have to take the steering wheel by its proverbial horns and drive until you get there.