Friday, February 19, 2010

Those Moments

Rori Gilmore once pointed out that the moments when the world is so perfect and you are completely happy are some of the saddest moments we have, because we know that it can't last and it will be a long time until things feel so perfect again.
I'm thinking about those moments, this morning, and feeling warm with the glow of their memory. Those are the moments that get you through the times that are so slow and hard that you think they can never end. And as I reflect on these moments, I realize that none of them have been me alone... they have been with people who make me feel good about myself and life. I think of driving back from Mandy's cabin with Kayla and silently marveling at the gigantic blood red sunset that we were driving into. I think of riding in the back seat with Jessica, windows rolled down, and letting "Blessed to be a Witness" wash over me. I think of belting out "For Good" with Becca, of the Golden Roast with Dara Lynn, of Nosferatu with Tyler,  of the St. Patrick's Day parade with Sarah and Matt, of Maria's run-in with the pyramid scheme pharmacist. And of my snow-walk with Bess last weekend.
I'm gearing up for battle, and I'm glad that I can think of those times that have been, but also that I'm confident that those times will come again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

i think that we are going to be friends

I have a lot of issues- that goes without saying. But one that has made me the saddest is the difficulty I have with truly bonding with people... Thanks, HCloud, for pointing that out. Most people would be surprised to know how hard it is for me to make friends- possibly because I define friendship as a relationship that has a deeper meaning than just hanging out with and enjoying someone's company- but the relationships that I treasure so much are a constant struggle for me. I'm in a perpetual struggle to force myself to relax and allow myself to care about people. I've been hurt so deeply by friends that I thought I could trust. Even now, the true friends I know that I have are on thin ice with me- not because of anything they've done necessarily, but because I expect near perfection from them. Any small slip and I think, well, I knew that was coming. I knew you'd fail me, I knew you'd betray me. Good try and nice knowing you.
I remember that I've twice promised myself I would never have a sole best friend again. The first time after the long and painful end of a highly dysfunctional and codependent relationship, the second time after a betrayal that I didn't see coming. I vowed that I would never again put all my eggs in one basket and would never again trust any one person completely.
I know God laughs every time I make these unbreakable vows.
I just spent the weekend with my best friend, Bess. Bess isn't my best friend because she's perfect or has never failed me or never annoys me. Bess is my best friend because she makes me laugh and she laughs at me, because she can tell me things and wants to hear about my things, because she loves me and I love her. Because I trust Bess. And what I've realized is that I decided to trust Bess, against all my better judgment, and have trusted her for a long time now. I didn't trust her because empirically she deserved it- she's human and therefore flawed. But she has proven to be trustworthy as any of us can be and I have given her my trust. No one forced me- I jumped.
This weekend, we went to museums and ate and giggled and cried and made dinner and watched movies. But the moment that I knew that whether I had decided never to have a best friend again or not, I had one, was when we went for a walk in the snow. We had my aunts dogs with us and they walk at different paces, so Bess was ahead of me the whole time. We were both listening to our iPods and we weren't talking or interacting. But when we came to the end of the street, Bess waited for me to catch up. We stood looking around at the snow. I was listening to "Mr. Blue Sky"- I don't know what she was listening to, but it was something with a beat. We stood there for a few moments and then made eye contact. Without missing a step, we both started dancing little silly half-dances, right there in the middle of the snowy street. And then we turned around and walked back, not at the same pace, but still together.  I haven't felt that comfortable in a long time. And with all the tumult, I need some comfort, and I think Bess does, too. He's a smart Guy, that God. And I'm glad of that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fare Thee Well, my Latin Muchacos

I have officially spent 2 weeks babysitting middle aged men from all over South America (and some Indians, to boot). I have sat in over-cooled or over-heated conference rooms, diligently insuring that none of them are sneaking away into the night with the pricing secrets of their competitors. I have had my name or some version of it- Alise Moore, Mauri Els, Mor Lise- paged over the intercom dozens of times and I have dutifully gone to fetch them from reception. When they at last do conquer my name, with the help of the extensive use of a white board and careful pronounciations, they roll the vowels so excitingly: Maorah (think the Maori tribe in New Zealand). Actually, the Spanish speakers on my team have started calling me Maurita, which means "little Maura." I gather it's like calling a John "Johnny" when he's young.
I've lined them up single-file and taken them to art class (or lunch, whatever). I've suppressed giggles at their misuse of English or at their well meant attempts to immulate American culture- my favorite moment was the Michael Bolton-esque ringtone that began with the immortal lines, "Catch a Tiger, Catch a Dream." I've patiently followed a winding path of explanation to arrive at mutual understanding. I've provided such golden English vocabulary nuggets as the difference between "power strip" and "power of attorney." And I've relished that time old south of the border tradition: long lunch.
All of this is to say, I have been immersed in Spanish and the Latin culture for the last couple of weeks. I've generally been exposed to it quite a bit in the last months, because the client I'm working for has it's operations all over South America, but I've heard more Spanish than English for days now. My comprehension has really improved and I now find myself responding to requests with "Perfecto" or "Claro" or "Porque?" I've loved bonding with the lone business women who have such chutzpah and have given me so much perspective on how well I'm treated and respected here as an equal, even on a bad day. But more than that, there is inherent value in experiencing the world from someone else's point of view. I'm no stranger to this phenomenon- for an ugly American, I think that I'm well educated about other cultures and I seek out opportunities to experience them. I've studied and traveled abroad extensively, I've worked a lot with international students, I minored in a foreign language and international business. Yet everytime I'm permitted to get a peak into another way of life, I'm always rewarded with fresh insight, renewed self-awareness, and a greater appreciation for the diversity of humanity that God has created. It's truly a beautiful thing.
So when my South American chicos loaded up to leave a few minutes ago, bundled up to their eyes and marveling at the snow, I was sad to see them go. They gave me a couple of Yankee Candle products (who knew they made hand sanitizer?) and, inexplicably, a Butterfinger, as a goodbye present and my heart melted with how sweet they were. They kept thanking me for being so kind and their angel. That shows the universality of good manners, for one thing, but it also shows that when you take the time to try to understand other people, they appreciate it.
Anyways, it's been a fun change of pace for the last few weeks, muchacos, and I hope you enjoy your long trips back to Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Lima, etc. etc. I salute you- and judging from your passionate love of details and $500 line items, I bet that I will be seeing you soon.