By The Blessed Belle of Blowing Rock. December 17, 2015. BLOWING ROCK, NC — One of the value statements of the company I work for is “Wherever you are, be there”.
For me, that is a freeing statement: To live in the moment, not harnessed by the past or future. Being your true, authentic self, free of judgement.
This has become a core belief of mine and I apply this belief as often as I can, with one exception…when I am in the company of my older sister — whom I’ve always deemed a higher rank than myself.
A few weeks ago, I rode with my sister to our uncle’s funeral in what was once a small, quaint town outside of Charlotte. Driving into town I quickly and sadly realized it was no longer quaint, nor small. Over the years, fields of cows had turned into fields of asphalt and cement. Colorful “cash cow” franchises now monopolize the landscape.
…maybe because I ripped the heads off of her Barbie doll collection when I was 6…
Sitting in my uncle’s funeral service between my older brother and sister, I felt proud and safe. I remembered how my sister and I would shy away from my uncle when we were children because of his movie star looks. I recalled a few special moments I shared with my uncle, memories that he created for me by living in the moment for himself.
After the service everyone congregated into a larger room in the funeral home. I was in an unusually good mood. Taking a selfie with my cousin’s baby, I laughed out loud. From behind I heard a loud “Sssshhhh!” I turned around to catch my sister’s glare. I stopped living in the moment and reverted back to a spineless 10 year-old girl.
My sister and I aren’t particularly close, maybe because I ripped the heads off of her Barbie doll collection when I was 6, but we do have a lot of love for one another. We know our roles and on this particular day her starring role of “big sis” was Oscar worthy.
I was eating deer meat summer sausage and Ritz crackers.
Driving back to Blowing Rock while watching my sister talk and giving my own Oscar worthy performance of acting interested, I thought about the power she has over my moments. Earlier that week she called while I was sitting in a trailer on a construction site atop the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was eating deer meat summer sausage and Ritz crackers graciously given to me by the project manager. A colorful guy from “around ‘bout Statesvull” who has helped me make a lot of money for my company.
He and I were chatting about classic cars, in particular Corvairs. He bragged about the ones that he had restored and I bragged about how I had received one on my 16th birthday. I was living in the moment of the random scene and conversation… until my phone rang. It was my sister. A twinge of guilt came over me. Was what I was doing in that moment good enough for her ears? I ignored the call. Driving down from the site I thought about how many times I had not answered her call, too worried about what she would think of my life in that moment.
I laughed out loud thinking of the time she called me during my divorce (well, one of them). I lived in South Carolina and had just moved out of my once happy home into an old duplex in the historic part of town. The day could not have been anymore done. I sat sweating on the toilet, as it was the only place to sit. The phone rang, it was my sister… ashamed of the moment I was living in I hesitated to answer but did anyway.
There were a hundred big black ants crawling in and out of the boxes.
“Haaaaay, lil sis, how are you feeling? After giving her more details than we both wanted she sweetly pleaded in her crisp, southern, angelic voice “Now I want you to listen and do exactly as I say…(I sat up straight) …”go pour yourself a big ol’ glass of wine and run yourself a HOT bath, you will feel so much better. Will you please do that for me?!” My shoulders dropped.
I glanced over at the bathtub to my right, horrified. Filled with my stacked cardboard boxes there were over a hundred big black ants crawling in and out of the crevices of the boxes. I was too exhausted to react and couldn’t dare describe the scene to my sister, perish the thought! I told her I would do exactly what she said and tried to relay a smile through the phone line. How desperately I wanted some of her delusional sunshine, as I watched a big black ant crawl into my water bottle.
That night I drank a big ol’ glass of wine alright, in the form of two bottles. I also hosted my own taste test of four different brands of instant mashed potatoes and blasted B. B. King so loud that my new neighbor, who looked 12, rang my doorbell and asked me politely to turn it down. My sister called back, I didn’t answer. She would cringe at the visual. Plus I was too busy rating the texture of Instant Mashed Potato box # 3. Later, I listened to her voicemail, “I forgot to mention that you need to get out and exercise. It always makes me feel better. Ok? Love you lil sis.” I cringed at my visual.
Your journey is your own.
Looking back, it seems that those crazy moments where the only judgment that comes from us builds our character. They make us who we are. As ridiculous of a situation you are in…you are the one in it. No one else. Your journey is your own. As I grow older the times that I most recall are moments when I or someone I am with is truly, authentically living in the moment.
Winding up the mountain to Blowing Rock, still watching my sister’s mouth move as she talked. I realized that in my mind her life will always be more organized, mine a mess. Her hair will always be straight and silky, mine curly and frizzy. She will always be working out while I’m binge eating. I will always feel safe when I’m with her and she will never describe being around me as feeling safe.
I turned on my phone nodding my head to assure her I was still listening. I tapped on my “Quote of the Day” app icon. In bold yellow letters it read “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss.
Without a thought I leaned over and kissed my sister’s cheek. “You are an absolute nut” she said without hesitation. “Yes ma’am… yes ma’am I am” I replied in my best Dr. Seuss locution. We laughed loud. That moment, like most moments with her, are pure sunshine to me simply because she is there living in the moment with me… and loving me, with or without big black ants.