Words & Banter

This Past Month – We Both Grew Up

Photo taken by Red

I registered for Parent & Family Weekend even before my daughter left for her freshman year at college. Yes, I'm that parent, although I'll claim it's because I'm so organized. Yes, I started missing her even before she left (if that's possible). And yet it seemed like only yesterday, not a month ago, that we said good-bye and I became an empty nester.

Of course, being the straight-A student (some things you never outgrow), I studied the weekend's schedule of events and not just knew when, but where, each was taking place. And I couldn't help but notice there were several blocks of "downtime". Obviously, the school already knew what I was about to find out. Sometimes it's what's not on the schedule that really matters.

It was walking together to Kroger to get her "essentials" (Campbell's soup, Banquet chicken pot pies, and Cotton Candy grapes, although, much to my surprise, no ramen) and telling me about her idea to apply for an internship because classes are great, but she also wants real-life experience. It was not being able to decide where she wanted to go for dinner and instead ending up in her dorm room, her on her bed and me on the throw pillows on the floor, eating not Domino's pizza (although it was considered) but delivery from Noodles & Company and watching Survivor.

A few hours later, it was her walking me across the incredibly beautiful campus of Belmont University filled with majestic buildings, to the "circle" where everyone picks up their Uber, telling me that she's going to meet up with friends. Which made sense as I've heard so much about the people she's met and the many friends she's made, even meeting some of them. And it was the weekend after all.

But then she said something that totally caught me by surprise. Later she was going to study for several hours as that's her nightly routine (often starting after midnight). And, unlike me, who primarily focused on getting good grades, she explained that she loves her classes and truly wants to learn the material. Not for the test. Not for the grade. But to have the knowledge for when she graduates.

And on the Uber ride back to the hotel, I realized,

Parents Weekend is all about reassurance. Reassurance that she's happy and confident, and becoming the person that every parent hopes and dreams their child will become. It was my daughter, through her unprompted words and actions, during the "downtime" of Parent & Family Weekend, that brought me smiles and laughter. And without even knowing it, she reassured me that she was in the right place – literally and figuratively.

Life can change in an instant, and the repercussions not only begin instantly but will forever change your life. And often, the lives of others.

However, there was no way to know on that rainy Friday, Red’s crisis would be the start of her journey to take control of her life instead of letting her life control her. It wasn’t surprising that Black’s version of that day was very different, but that may have contributed to the creation of Red & Black … and our journey filled with many detours …

So, curious how Red & Black started? Well, on the surface, it would seem our journey started with the launch of the book I co-authored with my sister, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! But we all know that what leads up to the "start" of a journey can be just as important, and sometimes even more important. It's like a vacation, the actual vacation falls somewhere in the middle – after the planning and packing and before the post-vacation "recovery" phases that always seen to include lots of laundry.

But I digress (warning, I do that a lot). The real beginning of the journey started on a rainy Friday in January 2004.

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Photo by Walter Bibikow on Alamy
Red may be the theater major and movie fanatic, but when we talk about women’s equality and role models, ironically, I am the one who brings up movie and television characters. (Although she keeps trying to convince me that I am a role model.) Maybe because my favorite movie character is Scarlett in “Gone With The Wind,” and growing up, I was inspired by Marlo Thomas and “That Girl.” But once I learned the backstory of “I Love Lucy,” I realized Lucille Ball was the ultimate badass …

I Love Lucy. For many of us, myself included, those three words bring back memories of favorite episodes of the “I Love Lucy” show. And, although I would be hard-pressed to pick my favorites, some may reminisce that the show, which ran from 1951 – 1957, was from a simpler time and is dated. I would argue that the comic timing, the gags, and the chemistry of the characters have stood the test of time.

Maybe it is because they took frustrating situations in everyday life and then pushed them to the extreme – and made them hilarious along the way. For example, your young child wants a superhero at their birthday party. Reasonable. But for Lucy, after unsuccessfully trying to book Superman (Chris Reeves), she dons the costume in “Lucy and Superman.” A classic.

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Photo by alzay on iStock

It may seem odd to talk about footprints in the snow when most of us are experiencing record heat. But, as we all go through our busy days, it is easy to overlook how the steps we take in life, whether intentional or unplanned, good or bad, lead us to where we are today. And, while it is easy to focus on the past, the future is an untrodden path, waiting for our next step …

Back in 2004, I met an older couple participating in a Ferrari rally, and after a deep conversation over a long lunch, they became dear friends. It was an event that would change my life in many ways, and several months later, shortly after my husband “surprised” me with a divorce, the husband sent me an email that so moved me that I put it in my “Blue Book”. (A Circa planner with a blue leather cover, hence the name, that includes not only my calendars but also a section with a few things I re-read on a regular basis.)

Last month, he passed away. I always made a point of letting them know that “Footprints” had become an important part of my life. They are words to live by. And, in honor of my dear friend, who is loved and missed, I want to share that email. With no edits … as we do not get to edit our lives …

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