Losing Andy

8084550131_22af3aeb7b_z“Andy Boy killed himself yesterday.”  My husband’s words felt like a punch to my chest.  Whooosh.  All the air is gone and instantly the world feels a little lonelier.

Andy and his wife, Andy Girl, were my husband’s landlords in Denver when we were dating and then engaged, 26 years ago.  In reality, they were his family, along with Ed, another wayward young lawyer living in their third floor.  Whenever I came to town to visit, they welcomed me into their family as well.  We were all young and establishing ourselves in the chaos of professional careers.  Andy was a small but mighty Jewish complement to Andy Girl’s beautiful Italian-ness.

Life happened.  They had children, we had our son.  We all worked really hard at living. We moved.  They moved.  Time went.  We kept track over the years.  Andy brought his kids to our condo in Copper years ago after a day on the ski hill, and we remarked at how wonderfully our children were growing up.  In my mind, he is still the man in his mid-20’s with the sideways, quiet smile – always up for a meat-centered boys’ night out that often included my husband.  My memories are of youth and hope and a deep love for the people in his life.

At the memorial service, hundreds filled the synagogue.  We heard his family share heartbreaking stories of Andy and his passions that verged on obsessions.  We heard of his love for his children and Andy Girl.  We learned that he had been tortured for years by dark depression and he had lost the strength to fend off the insidious, suffocating thoughts.  We felt the shattered hearts all around us, only just beginning to grasp that he was gone from this life.

The next evening we were invited to join Andy’s family and friends at his brother’s home.  The night was all about ribs, beer and stories of Andy told around a camp fire.  His family spoke of their love openly, tears streaming even as we laughed about his uniquely Andy Boy ways.  Friends came to remember him, from his high school days, his fraternity, his law school and the neighborhood bike shop.  We learned that he was the same man we knew in our youth.  His heart loved deeply, he would talk to anyone, he would take any poor soul mountain biking.  We also learned that he had an enduring love of IPA, worshiped the band Wide Spread Panic and felt an almost manic need to pull people into his life. Hearing this was both reassuring and troubling.  This cross-section of his life was consistent throughout, yet he lived with deep darkness.  This man who was loved and cherished by so many, who brought laughter and fun to such a broad group of people couldn’t see a place for himself in this world any longer.

We are heart-sick.  We liked knowing the world had Andy in it, even if we hadn’t seen him for a while.  We would have moved the earth to keep Andy in it. We spoke with our friends from that era, who have also been living these parallel lives, about honoring Andy by refreshing our friendships.  Ed’s son, sitting on the cusp of adulthood, heard his dad explain that the bonds he will make in the coming few years are unique and to be cherished.  They are pure, without the tarnish of grown-up weightiness and responsibility.

Losing Andy this week makes us aware of what we were too limited to realize when we were younger:  a true connection with another is precious.  We are privileged to have had such a connection with Andy.  Cheers, dear friend.

 

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Why Bother Season

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We have a few more weeks of skiing, but the reality has hit me:  we are on the cusp of mud season in the mountains of Colorado. It’s almost that time of year when everything is brown.  Everything is dirty.  And then, when it snows or rains, everything is muddy.  Some people view this season with affection, because it means the glorious summer isn’t too too far away.  Most people think of it as the time to leave for a nice beach somewhere for a month or two.  We are stuck here, save for a few days on a nice beach somewhere in Southern Florida in April.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Around the country, people jump into Spring with gusto, cleaning, airing out, getting some sunshine.  At my house, I turn into a lump of inactivity as I adopt a new mantra:  Oooohhhmmmm … Why Bother … Oooohhhmmmm … Why Bother …

I take the dogs for a walk and they come home muddy messes.  I give them baths.  I take the dogs for a walk and they come home muddy messes:  bath.  Walk, mud, bath, repeat.  Walk, mud, bath, repeat.  The next time I start to run the bath water, the mantra kicks in:  Why bother?  The next time the dogs want to go for a walk:  Why bother … Oooohhhmmmm.

And so it goes.  The floor is dirty and muddy.  Sweep the floor, clean the floor, rinse and repeat.  Why bother?  The cat and dog are shedding horribly.  Vacuum the couch, vacuum the rugs, wash the blankets to get the hair off and the next day everything is covered in dog and cat hair …  rinse and repeat.  Oooohhhmmm … Why Bother …  Oooohhhmmm … Why bother …

Yes, I know.  This is not a healthy way to go through life.  Time to eat?  Why bother, I’ll just be hungry again soon.  Time to brush my teeth?  Why bother…  And so on and so forth.  But for the next month or two, until it becomes gorgeously wonderful around here once again and the grass grows, the flowers bloom and winter’s gravel gets swept off the sides of the roads so that I can safely ride my road bike, the poor dogs may be going on fewer walks and the couch may be more covered in pet hair than usual.  Please don’t mind me.  I am in Why Bother Season.

 

Drum Roll, Please … Accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

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Many thanks to Quixotic Reflections for the Versatile Blogger Award nomination.  I am honored and pleased!  The fantastic blogs that I nominate for this award, in no particular order, are:

1.  Kevin’s Blog

2.  Kelzbelzphotography

3.  The Honking Goose

4.  Maybe Someone Should Write That Down

5.   Finish That Novel

6.  Wellfesto

7.  A Narcissist Writes Letters, to Himself

8. Pursuit of Life

9.  Ben’s Bitter Blog

Apologies if a nominee considers these “chain mail” awards as spam.  If so, please ignore and forgive.  I’m still in the place where, when anyone reads my blog let alone takes the time to recognize it, I’m thrilled.  Also, I like the idea of bringing more attention to interesting minds out there.

Rules of the award for those nominated, if they choose to accept, are as follows:

  • Show the award on your blog.
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 blogs (I’m a rule breaker, as I’m nominating 9 in this post.  Partly because Quixotic Reflections nominated a bunch that I would nominate, and partly because I’m trying to choose carefully … ).
  • Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.

Seven things about me:

1.  I was a cheerleader in high school.  Serious stuff — we went to camps and competed and did pretty well for a tiny private school squad.

2.  The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years in high school, I bought a bag of Harlequin romances for a dollar and read them all within about two weeks.  It was like crack; I couldn’t stop.

3.  I went topless on a beach in Saint Tropez when I was 19, until I saw the naked Germans making out next to me.  The word “Orangina,” as shouted by the beach hawkers walking by, still makes me cringe a little.

4.  I’m terrible at picking out gifts.

5.  I learned to alpine ski when I was 23 and to water ski when I was 35.

6.  Even thought I live in the mountains, I’ve only hiked one fourteener.

7.  I enjoy fly fishing, although I need a lot more practice.

Silly Thing for Today

Facebook newsfeed videos on my iPhone always catch me a little off guard.

It’s like having the Daily Prophet in the palm of my hand.

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How I Grew into Country Music

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Most of my life, country music lived in the margins.  My dad would listen to it as he worked around the house sometimes.  Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ’em.”  Or, as we drove to our cabin in the Up North of Michigan, the choices on the AM radio were static, talk or country in that order.  Twangy stories of heart break and dead dogs, I couldn’t relate and wondered why anyone else would.

A few years ago my life perspective shifted.  Part of my liberation of thought included buying myself a convertible.  It was illogical and selfish and fun and just what the doctor ordered.  And with all of the music available on local and XM Radio, I found myself tuning into country as the wind blew my hair into a frenzy.

My kid and I figured out that any good country song includes the elements of a truck, a girl, beer, America and sometimes God.  Generally all within the first two lines. “Truck, Yeah.”  Unapologetic.  Free.  Grounded in hillbilly, redneck, muddy pride.  Country singers are storytellers who draw us into a different world.   For three minutes, we become a girl pissed off that her boyfriend cheated on her or a father lamenting how fast life goes by or a man honoring the memory of his friend killed in the war.

I grew into this world of country music by letting go.  I let go of pretenses and prejudices.  I realized that whatever I thought I had been or was going to be, the core of it all is this short time we share together.  And those simple themes in country’s stories capture the essence of living fully and unabashedly.  Sometimes it isn’t pretty and sometimes we make mistakes.  Sometimes we go looking for something bad to happen.  Sometimes we hang out on a pontoon and sometimes we just love the ones in our lives.

And that’s how I grew into country music.  Or maybe country music grew into me.

Whoomp, There It Is!

I am a closet introvert.  In work settings, people are always shocked when I tell them that I’m an introvert.  I suppose that this is because I try to be engaging and entertaining and participatory and all that, rather than following my inclination to sit on a stool in the corner and people watch.  In fairness, I enjoy the extrovert game, but it really does steal my energy.

So the thought of launching a blog has been a little scary for me. My introvertedness finds the thought of a blog a bit silly, really.  I mean, who needs to put it all out there like that?  And then my insecurities bubble up and I fear that exposing my soft underbelly will make me a target for . . . something bad.   I do have a more rationale side and it tells me that my cowering self is being a bit, well, over dramatic.  Seriously.  How bad can it be?

Anyway, I have some things I’d like to say, and so I’ve found a place to say them.  Maybe someone will find these things interesting.  Maybe no one will.  But part of being true to myself (and if you can’t be true to yourself, who can you be true to?) includes this blog.  In the words of the 1990’s musical powerhouse Tag Team:  Whoomp, There It Is! I  hope you like it.  And if you don’t, I’ll just have to get over it!