It always happens when you least expect it. (aka Something Wonderful This Way Comes…)

Part One 
(The "This is NOT a Fix-Up) 

I wasn’t going to go out with him. 

I met him several years ago when I was having dinner at the country club.  He was dining alone, and my best friend and her husband invited him to join us.   He was their neighbor and had known him for years.  We all had a very fun evening and we laughed and laughed.  He was going through a very amicable divorce from his wife and was getting ready to go on a cruise.  I completely enjoyed the night but never entertained the notion that he might be someone I would go out with.  He was, after all, quite a bit older and frankly I thought he was out of my league.  I was a kindergarten teacher fighting and scraping each month to pay the bills and wearing clothes from Ross’s and he was going on cruises and staying at his home in the Islands part of the year.

I wasn’t ever going to go out with him.

Over the course of last year I encountered him several more times at the club, joining a small group of very friendly and wonderful folks who made me laugh and laugh.  I tagged along with my friend and her husband and another fun couple, and coincidentally Ray was always there; alone.  I chastised Sheila who always claimed, “This is NOT a setup!”  I always believed her, because she is my BEST FRIEND and would never LIE to me and ended up always having a fantastic time.  Because it was NEVER a setup, I was relaxed and able to enjoy myself. 

At the end of the July, before my spiritual retreat to Maryland (i.e. I had nowhere to live and ended up house-sitting in PARADISE...) they invited me to a summer “semi-formal” dinner party at the Country Club.  Bitchy was also invited, as her best friend (Sheila’s daughter) Her Royal Highness was also attending.  Imagine my shock when they all re-arranged the cards and I landed right smack next to Ray.  What a surprise.  
We had a great dinner despite the fact that I was shooting arrows through my eyes at Bitchy and HRH all throughout the meal.  They just chuckled and whispered like evil conspirators.  Several cocktails later we all began to mingle around the room and a band started playing. It was quite a lively group and in eerie similarity to the YMCA dances in middle school, I joined a group of women who began dancing on the dance floor.  I have to admit, I was having a ball.  We sang along with the songs and danced and laughed in a large group.  

Then Ray asked me to dance.  

While older gentleman have many wonderful qualities, this particular gentleman turned out to be one HELL of a dancer.  And when I say helluva, I mean he had the rhythm and moves of any of the dancers on soul train.  We danced several dances and then made our way to the porch to join the rest of our group.  I shook my head as I followed him and joined the rest of our group.  I was shocked at his impressive skill on the dance floor.  Suddenly he wasn’t looking like that older gentleman anymore, and frankly I was questioning his heritage.  He claimed to be a simple white boy from Kentucky, but I was having serious suspicions.  

All in all I had a surprisingly fantastic night, but I didn’t want to think much of it.  I was very stressed about  leaving the next day for Maryland for a month,  and that was that. I had so much on my mind that there wasn't ROOM for any other thinking. Plus,  I was probably never ever going  OUT with him. 

But of course, we all know what happens when you say never.


Just because you can't take it with you doesn't mean you don't need it while you're here. (aka I miss my *@$#.)

I thought it would be easy. 

I was wrong.

I thought that moving into this house and “house-sitting” for the year would be the answer to my prayers.  Sure, I was still paying almost the same amount of rent but I didn’t have to worry about a deposit and a few other incidentals that I had to pay if I were to rent any other place. 

Silly me, I forgot how much The Powers That Be LOVE to @(#* me up.

I didn’t think it would be a big deal to have ALL of my worldly possessions (that keep dwindling down to less and less with each move) packed and stored in a garage and half a basement.  I didn’t think it would be hard to step right into someone else’s reality and preserve it for them while they were enjoying a year in Italy.

I was wrong. 

It was easy at first, and a carefree feeling had settled into my heart.  I enjoyed the large lived-in home and made myself comfortable among unfamiliar surroundings.  But then, slowly, I began missing some of the things that had for so long been at my fingertips.  The things that brought me comfortable memories and reminded me of the children I loved and the parents who loved me.  I miss the photos that were packed in bozes; the quilts lovingly stitched by my mother and the small wooden elephant my father had given me when we met his boat as it docked in Nice almost 50 years ago.

I didn’t know I’d miss the field hockey sticks perched in a corner, or the container near the TV of various controls, wires and cords that connected to some kind of game station to something in the back of the TV. I didn’t know I’d miss the five BAZILLION wine glasses I used for vodka, my familiar kitchen utensils, my books perched on shelves or my various junk in my various junk drawers. 

I didn’t know I’d miss my stuff.

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this melancholy? (Besides the fact that women who’ve had all their “stuff” removed can still apparently be hormonal and wackadoodle once in a while) is this: I guess if you can’t have the people you love most around you, it’s helps to surround yourself with the things that “bring them back”.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the basement to root through boxes and bring back my people.  (I need some love around here.) 


Sometimes it's great to be rendered speechless....

We were almost done with our faculty meeting two weeks ago when the principal and the social committee chairpersons stood in front of our staff.   Miss Energetic, Miss Periwinkle and the principal all smiled as Miss E. made an announcement.

“We don’t know if everyone knows this yet, but our very own Vodkamom has recently published a book on Amazon called The Book of Frank!”  The principal started a round of applause as the room erupted in congratulatory shouts.

I was stunned and shocked!
“We have purchased a copy for our teacher section of the library so that anyone can check it out- and we are very proud of you Vodkamom!” 

I didn’t know what to say!  I was really, really floored and practically speechless!  

For years I worked in an environment that was, well, not like this one.  I wrote under the cover of darkness and fear.  I was damaged to the core by certain events that threw my writing in the spotlight against my will.   While I have never written with ill intention or spite, I may or may not have made some bad choices along the way  My heart may never be completely healed after those events, but I have taken many steps towards the light... all the while helped along the way by many of YOU... and many more friends here at home. 

The school I have landed in has an amazing group of teachers and staff members and a principal that has continued to nurture and sustain an atmosphere of collaboration, enthusiasm, respect and positive energy.  I feel so very lucky to have landed here.  Here everyone lifts each other up, celebrates each others strengths and pitches in when needed.  I know that happens in most places, but it sure is nice when the captain of the ship uses positive energy to keep the boat afloat. 

I was reminded in that meeting that sometimes- MOST of the time, the things that hurt you the most, end up being the ones that in the end make you feel the best.