Avalon

Once upon a time, in a city 800 miles away (well, not exactly 800 miles – I rounded it up for dramatic effect), there lived a young woman with beautiful black hair.  Actually, I can’ tell you what her real hair color is because she’s a stylist and colors it all the time.  Anyway, on this particular cold but sunny Sunday morning, the woman, whose name is Avalon, decided to go to the corner coffee shop to get her daily dose of caffeine.  Lo and behold, as she arrived at the shop, there she spied a handsome young man.  Her eyes were filled with stars as she fantasized about them becoming a couple and sharing their mornings drinking coffee and scanning the news on their tablets.

Sidebar: Think about this – how different it would have been thousands of years ago talking about reading tablets compared to now in 2015.

Back to the story –

Suddenly, as Avalon stood there daydreaming, she heard a voice calling, “Next?  Next?  Miss, what can I get for you?”  Avalon shook off the wonderful thoughts and proceeded to order her coffee.  She glanced around and saw the good-looking guy exit the shop.  Luckily, the shop front was nothing but a large window, so Avalon was able to see that the man was standing at the bus stop on the corner.  She couldn’t assess whether he was waiting for the bus or waiting to cross the street.  You know how it is when you’re supposed to stand there waiting for the tiny red-lighted hand to turn to the white-lighted icon of a walking person.  So she paid for her tall black coffee, no cream, no sugar, and rushed out the door ignoring the fact that she was holding the cup in the wrong spot (not on that cute little brown band they slip over the cup to keep you from burning your hand).  Avalon scurried to the corner and stood next to the charming young man.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, not looking at him.  “This coffee is super hot!”

The young man turned to her and admitted, “Yep, mine is too hot to even attempt to drink right now.  But it sure feels good to hold something warm.”

The smiled at each other.

“Do you live around here?” Avalon asked, never being a shy person or afraid to say what’s on her mind.

“No, I’m staying with a friend,” the man replied.  “Oh, that must be my bus,” he said as the Number 42 Metro pulled next to the curb.  The young man boarded the bus and sat down without waving goodbye or even acknowledging that Avalon was still standing on the corner.  The bus pulled away.

Avalon stood there, dumbfounded, wondering why her fantasies never come true.  Feeling slightly downhearted, she started walking back to her apartment.

The End

Did you thing there would be a happy ending?  Well, not all stories end with “and they lived happily ever after.”  The moral of this story is – reality bites sometimes.  So move on, make the best of what you have, always be mindful, and look for the next opportunity.

The Music Lesson

I’m sitting on the cold tan metal folding chair in the narrow hallway. The hunter green carpeting looks fairly new, but the cream colored vinyl moulding has seen better days. Although as I scan the white wall across from me, I see that the scrapes, nicks, and handprints littering the paint blend nicely with the scuffed moulding. Apparently the wall has its own story.

I am twenty minutes early for my mandolin lesson. Behind the closed classroom door next to my row of chairs the sounds of electric guitar chords mix incongruently with the trumpet blaring a halting version a Mendelssohn tune from a room two doors down to my left. The piano tinkling a show tune in the last room down the hall is interrupted …

… “Good job,” the guitar player’s instructor enthusiastically blurts …

… and the violin to my right chirps happy notes agreeing with him.

Three chairs to my left the mom of the budding guitarist reads her novel. She periodically coughs into her hand and then turns a page. She seems to be oblivious to all that is happening around her. It must be a very good story she is reading.

To my right a black Epiphone guitar case stands lonely against the wall. Its owner is MIA, probably perusing music books, maybe buying a set of strings or some flat picks, occupying himself before his lesson starts.

It’s Tuesday afternoon.

This story is about waiting your turn surrounded by sounds, patience, and creatively killing time. It’s a story about the drive to learn, the need to prove you can do it. It’s about never thinking you are too young or too old to create music.

The Stories Manifesto

It hit me today while I was washing my hair that I am missing out on a tremendous volume of stories. When I called my mom yesterday, a Sunday afternoon routine to stay in touch, I could hear conversation and laughter in the background. Turns out that my sister, my brother-in-law, and my nephew and his girlfriend were spending time with my parents the Sunday after my dad’s birthday. While I felt a touch of sadness while I was on the phone that I wasn’t there to spend that time with them, it really didn’t bother me until today. Distance can be a real drag.

I realized quite some time ago that there would be many things that I would miss by moving almost 800 miles away from my family. I think it’s a factor of getting older that you want to squeeze as much as you can into what you perceive as the time that you have left. The weekly telephone touch-base with my mom and my sister are not doing it for me the way it used to. I’ve relied on Facebook to keep in touch with my nephews so that I can feel a connection, although distant, to what’s going on in their lives. But there is something major lacking. “Liking” a post is in no way as gratifying as a heartfelt hug and speaking words instead of typing them onto a screen. And when your sister and parents aren’t Facebook “friends” it feels like the connection distance is magnified.

It’s evident to me that I am missing way too many stories. I’m missing the stories of what my nephews are doing with their lives because Facebook can only convey so much. I’m missing hearing the old stories of my dad when he was growing up and the wild things he and his buddies used to do. I’m missing the stories of my mom’s childhood and the wonderful and odd things she and her sisters used to do when they were young. Sure, I’ve heard many of those stories in the past, but I think perspective changes as you get older. There might be a little things in the stories, little nuances, that are important – things I may have missed the first time I heard them.

I’m not there for other family events, so it’s rare that I get to see uncles, aunts cousins, etc. thank goodness I saw many of them in June for my mom’s birthday party. Prior to that it had been years. Again, I miss hearing the stories of what’s going on in their lives. Tidbits on Facebook are good, but the reality is that I’ve lost touch with what makes everyone tick.

Maybe it’s just that I miss being surrounded by family sometimes.

Facebook is great. The telephone is wonderful. But nothing can take the place of being there in person to look into the eyes of the people you love and admire.

This is the beginning of my manifesto on Stories.