Saturday, October 12, 2013

Twenty-Five Years

Twenty-five years ago, actually about a year before that, I went on vacation and never returned. Or so it has seemed. If I were to wish one thing for our son, this would be it.

Before that, my inclination was to play it safe, exceptions aside, as people who knew this guy back then would attest. Last week, a recent acquaintance observed, "You and your siblings seem to be strongly grounded." That may be true, but like almost every young person, at least I among them made some decisions with no serious thought to their implications. A few of those, thankfully a few, with a bit of luck, set me on track to safety and, maybe, firm grounding. I suppose one never knows for sure. A superstitious person might knock on wood.

Then, about twenty-six years ago, things changed. Someone taught me to assess each day and change if something didn't seem right, and to not look back. Well, sometimes I had trouble not looking back, but never for long. Today she's reading The Happiness Project and, though she doesn't say it, from what she reports I'd say it's old hat to her. Some of the books you most admire simply confirm what you already believe.

Let me think. How did Karen show me the way? Here's an example. She earned a promotion at work, one that some of the MBA management associates envied, but before she started the new job, she told me, "I'm going to The Broadcast Center. I tested well and got accepted." "What about your job?" I said. "I'm quitting" was her answer. That was that. Before long, she landed a plum internship at Channel 5, KSDK, an NBC affiliate in St. Louis. It ended on a Friday. As I've since learned, her timing is impeccable. She delivered Adam in a hospital the following Monday.

We began talking about redoing our bathroom. No matter what we did, we couldn't get rid of mold growing around the tub. A "professional" advised, "You'll have to replace this with modern tile. No one could repair this without breaking them." I returned from work soon after to find a pile of carefully numbered glassine tiles outside the bathroom. "I guess you're remodeling the bathroom." And each tile found its way back home.

Our kitchen was next. Those who know me can guess how the planning would have proceeded if I had anything to do with it -- very slowly. I came home one day to find the ceiling down and the sink disconnected. "I guess we're remodeling the kitchen?" I said. (Of course, "we" weren't.)

My teacher was a good one. We saw a home advertised in a newsletter of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a town in North Carolina we had visited several years before. I had a week of vacation available, so off we went. We looked at it, signed a contract the next day, and on the drive back to St. Louis I said, "I guess this means I'm quitting my job?" Karen smiled.

"Did you notice the similarity in the titles of your blog postings?" says Virginia.

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