Thursday, May 26, 2005

Baby Steps on the Yellow Brick Road

I hope you weren't too worried about me. I hope you weren't living in fear, imagining me curled up in the fetal position on my bed, despondent and drained. I could be, but I'm not. Actually it's been quite the ride, nothing like that at all. I swear I've written volumes, but blogger was not willing to post anything for me, until I figured out a little trick yesterday called "Republish Index." I don't think blogger and Hello really get along all that well, and I know blogger and Firefox aren't the best of friends either, but I'm very loyal to Mozilla so there you have it.

First things first. I passed! I passed my Level I Wyoming Water System Operator's exam on the 12th, and I will officially be a Level I Operator on July 23rd, six months after my start date. And that, folks, will be awesome. I got an 81, which was a tad bit disappointing to my overachieving self, but after the events of the past four months, I'll take it. I would not have been happy with a 70, which was all I needed to pass. I would have liked a 97, but since nothing I studied was actually on the test I'm pretty proud of myself, and you should be, too. (I should have just memorized the entire Safe Drinking Water Act, instead of pump and hydrant parts, specific gravities, and all the other technical stuff. All bureaucrats care about is the paperwork.) Kendra and Tyler (who also passed their Wastewater Level I tests, with an 83 and an 80, respectively) and I went to Don Pedro's for lunch on the City's dime to celebrate, and made up for the uncomfortable silence and dread of the ride to Green River (in the City engineer's brand-new but filthy Ford Expedition) by behaving in a very giddy and uproarious manner and calling everyone we knew on our cellphones.

Second things second. The sun came out for Dad's services on April 23rd, for sure, but it outdid itself on the 14th for Grandma's funeral and the burial of both in the Rock Springs cemetery. An eight-month-long run of nasty weather ended that Saturday and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to play polkas and eat kronskies and potica and reminisce about the 94 years of Molly Seneshale's marvelous life. I got to have my first ride in a limo, too, heading up the long funeral procession to the cemetery, with Dad on Mom's lap in the perfect simple red toolbox and Grandma on my lap in a pale yellow case with garlands of roses and butterflies and delicate lines of music.

The thing about Grandma dying is that we've been preparing for it for twenty years (since she announced, at 75, that she would not be around much longer, and packed two bags that have been around ever since: the hospital bag, and the other bag, full of funereal accoutrements), and it was nothing like what I expected. Not that I can pinpoint just what that was exactly; maybe some dramatic last words and that jarring, abrupt stare you get when they die in the movies. Certainly not the quiet laugh Morgan, June, Mom and I were having when, lying at her side, I noticed that the deep, irregular breathing seemed to have stopped. I have now witnessed two of the six people dearest to me passing in ease and grace, and I am not afraid anymore. And what brings the most peace is the fact that they seem to be with me always, now. On the evening of the 19th our first orchestra concert provoked a (very deserved) standing ovation, and I thought suddenly how fortunate I was. When they were living, Dad and Gram would probably not have been able to attend, but that remarkable night I felt sure they had the best seats in the house. I talk to the fine spring sky as if they can hear me, and having no way to know they cannot, I am comforted.

That violin recital did something else. I haven't had what I call 'performance high' in years, since my last concert in the park with my beloved Coronado Community Band (which group's spirit of cameraderie I have never been able to replace) over four years ago. But that Thursday night I was reeling, feeling disembodied in the hot stage lights, remembering all the years I spent up there delighting in my mastery of the infinitely versatile and lovable trombone, adoring the attention. I was so transported I even made to clear my spit valve on the stage floor between numbers, while the conductor was talking, and out of the corner of my eye saw Mom and Morgan convulsed in surprised laughter and knew they'd caught the reflexive gesture, too. There is, after all, no spit valve on a violin.

Lots of other things have happened to me in the 23 days since I last posted; it's been a crazy spring. Believe it or not, I'm glad for the way things are going. I'm desperately glad for the emerald carpet of velvet grass that's covering the red clay around the Overthrust, the blossoms bursting on the crabapple trees, the paper-thin sego lilies on the sandy bluffs as I drive to work in watery morning light. And the smell! Nothing smells like a spring morning in Wyoming. Nothing smells cleaner or sweeter, all damp pine and cool earth and metallic mountain wind. Spring is a resurrection after eight months of winter. I am feeling just a tad bit invincible. And nobody's sympathy pains me. I take pride in the fact that I can honestly answer their concern, "it's okay."

Thank you for all the comments on my May 3rd post. Strange how connected you can feel to complete strangers (and friends you left far away, long ago). Some days I don't know what I'd do without the blog, because even if I'm not posting (for whatever reason, grrr), I'm really writing again, after, like, an eight year hiatus, and what a wonderful thing that is- both as outlet and art form. I'm still feeling slightly scrambled though, like a gerbil in one of those clear plastic exercise balls right after somebody shakes it really hard and puts it back on the floor. Libby and Shepcat: many thanks for your kind words to a stranger, and it does make a difference to know you're thinking of me. Larry/Linus/Sister Mary Rollerskate and Jason and Josh and Bekah and Jo/Don and Travis and Susan: nobody could have better friends. Lenny: no matter how many times you go to prison, you will always, always be my rock. Mom: aren't you something? I hope we see the silver lining soon. You are my hero. M&K: thanks for everything. This is starting to sound like one of those cryptic dedication pages inside album literature. I hate those. I don't know where it came from; I guess it just had to be said, and I forget when I've got you on the phone.

I'm going to sleep for three days now, and then I'm going to start packing for NEW YORK CITY, even though it's weeks away. Spamalot, here we come! Dad was so thrilled we're going and for his sake, in addition to my own, I'm going to enjoy the stuffing out of those seven days. The sights! The sounds! The knish! You can only imagine how much I'll stand out on the street there. This once somewhat cosmopolitan girl has become quite the country bumpkin. Hasn't she, Larry? But it's okay. I'm not going to meet the queen. (I wore earrings to the plant for the first time in four months today. I told the boys I'm suffering from a testosterone overdose and I have to apply some girliness, but fast.) I'm all out of breath from typing* so it's time to say goodnight, even though I'm anxious to refine and publish the post titled Don't Take Your Guns to Town.

*If you've never actually heard me speak, you won't get the full benefit of this post. Imagine the Chipmunks, Alvin and Simon and Theodore, at their most excitable and obnoxious. Then imagine a very young-ish, soft but steady female voice at that speed, saying everything I've written, with great emphasis and excessive theatrical inflection. Because when I have a lot to say, I say it fast, and only a handful of people understand me without effort. And one of them does it worse than I do. And she knows who she is, and she folds fitted sheets and owes me so many cans of Coke from jinxing with me that it's a miracle she hasn't left the country. Mlah-mlah! There's nothing like a sister.


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