Tag Archives: flexibility

fearless means flexible

the call came just as i was settling down with a book and a late afternoon cookie.  i had resolved that there was no further reason for me to engage in the world–except in a fictional sense.  the relief, the sweet sigh, the gratitude that i didn’t have to go out anymore.

sure, i am falling a little behind on my facebook new year’s resolution.  it was day 193 of the year and i have only visited with 170 friends.  if i’m going to meet the goal of 335 friends who had been my friends as of january one, i had to be more disciplined.  but one day, one sweet day of being a shut in. . . . .

then i got the call from todd stephens.  at first i ignored it.  not because i was avoiding him.  or disliked him.  it’s just i knew what he wanted.  he wanted a f2fb encounter.

the conditions were right–sunny, hot, and a light breeze coming across lake michigan.

“we’re leaving in twenty minutes,”  he said in the voice message he left.  “hope you can make it.”

people like me, people who hide from the world, don’t like a change in plans.   especially when they’re wearing their pajamas and are planning a “safe” evening at home.  but flexibility is the thing i have been trying to learn this year.

i threw on some pants, found my keys, and arrived at f2fb friend #171 todd stephen’s home just in time.

todd is an adventurer.  exactly my age, he cycles, skis, climbs and runs.  but his greatest joy is boating.  he has three.  today we would sail on the sailacious.  losing just one i gives you a pretty good idea of todd’s sense of humor.  the boat has been todd’s for fourteen years.  oddly, the right to the slip at wilmette harbor is the more valuable item—there is a 78 year waiting list.  we brought with us a mutual friend and fellow rotarian chuck taylor who served as first mate.

as we pulled out onto the lake, i realized i had forgotten my ativan (for anxiety), my inhaler (for asthma), and a life vest.  the coast guard was nowhere to be seen.  todd and chuck unfurled the jib and main sail without the slightest concern for killer fish or spontaneous water spouting up from the depths.  in fact, they looked like they were having fun–trading jokes, imbibing in a brewskie.  i relaxed, i even allowed as how i could steer.

the weather turned cold, the clouds rolled in, the coast guard boat–sirens bleating–sped past us on some mission not directly related to rescuing me.  i didn’t mind.  i had a good time.  at the house, we shook hands and promised to do this again sometime.

i still got my book.  my cookie.  my pajamas.  i still closed the door on the world.  but i did it four hours later, after having a wonderful time on the lake.  my first time as a sailor.  thanks, todd, for teaching me something new!  although i still don’t know the difference between port and starboard and jib and main sail.

f2fb friend #166, flexibility, and NO beer! two out of three ain’t bad–

there can’t be a meeting between me and a facebook friend without me getting lost.  i have spent a lot of time at rest areas and freeway macdonald’s with a road atlas and my index cards with mapquest.com directions.  if my new years resolution is to see every one of my 335 facebook friends, that’s a lot of crying, driving in circles, and self-loathing. 

when i drove up to milwaukee i was actually pretty damn proud of myself. i was visiting f2fb friend #166 john gion who has 17 facebook friends in common with me.  i found his place quite easily.  that was before there was trouble:

john is a costumer who has worked for many theater and film production companies.  he has done work on many shows that my sons have been in.  he did the absolutely wonderful thing of asking after joseph and eastman when i arrived.

i told him i was taking him the milwaukee villa terrace museum of decorative arts.    i was sure that something like the milwaukee public museum or the pabst mansion would be too obvious.  we sallied forth in the direction suggested by mapquest. 

flexibility is the most important skill i’m learning this year.  because we got lost.  and i worried that i was disappointing john by not getting us to the new museum.  but john is one of the most flexible people, one who takes the world as it is presented to him.  he said “hey, we’re pretty close to the pabst mansion, let’s just go there” 

i was so relieved.  it was a beautiful tour of a mansion owned by the captain frederick pabst family.  john has displayed his costume collection in some of the 20,00 square foot home so it is nearly as if he was an owner.

too bad there wasn’t a pabst blue ribbon tasting after the tour. 

some people have asked me why i’m meeting all my friends and one part, small but significant, is that i am at an age where i am for the first time without children in the house.  and i know that one day i’m going to be a caretaker for my dad justin (f2fb friend #30) who was instititionalized by his wife barbara after my trip to tallahassee but has since gotten sprung.  i am at an in between phase. 

one of the things i admire about john gion is that he was a caretaker for his mother for many years before her death and now he acts as a caretaker for his father.  he has given up a lot to be there for him.  i hope to put him together with lon kiefer, f2fb friend #111 ,who has  a presence on facebook as defender of the caregiver, a resource for caregivers.

i left john at his apartment after a truly enjoyable afternoon–and i continue ahead to the next adventure. . .

next, andrew pearce helps me book flights for the international leg of the party–and i have news to share about the second half. . . .