With apologies to Mr. Bill

A very old memory re-surfaced recently. I can’t say exactly when it came into my mind or what activity triggered it. I only remember that one day, it was a part of my psyche and I knew I had known it for a long time.

In this memory, I am in kindergarten. And, my friend, Tina, also a kindergartener and our kindergarten bus driver, Mr. Bill, are part of it, too.

I remember that I was going to go to Tina’s house after school to play and then, have a sleepover. The plan was that I would get off of the bus with her at her house. How I loved going to Tina’s. Her mom would be home and have a well rounded lunch ready for us, and ask us to show her our school work and proudly display our stuff on the refrigerator. It was totally unlike my house, since my mom worked shifts as a nurse at the hospital and I had to scrounge around all by myself after school to find something to eat.

Now, I can’t explain why we were the last two kids on the bus. Normally, there would have been a handful of other kindergarteners still on the bus in route to their own houses, after Tina and I departed. Maybe, on this particular day, we were busy chatting and missed her stop. Maybe, later when we realized it, we told Mr. Bill, and he said he would bring us back after he finished the route.

So, we are the only two kids on the bus, and when it nears Tina’s house, it speeds up, rather than slows to a stop. And, Mr. Bill passes her house in a flash. And, Tina and I yell for him to stop, but he ignores us and continues on down the road. We realize he is kidnapping us and we are scared. I get out of our seat and make my way to the front of the bus, and I begin to give Mr. Bill a piece of my mind. I tell him that if he doesn’t turn around and take us back to Tina’s that our parents would be very mad and that he would get arrested. I plead with him the whole way down the hill to the end of the road. I was scared out of my wits on the inside, but did not want Tina and Mr. Bill to know that.

And, then, when he could have made that final turn that would take us far away, forever, he instead, turned around and drove back up the hill and dropped us off at Tina’s house, unharmed. As Tina and I walk up her driveway, I tell her to never tell of this incident. Mr. Bill would be very mad at us, if we told, and, who knows what would happen then, so we must keep this as our secret.

And, we never spoke of it again.

After I became aware of this memory, I tried to remember more about it. Somewhere back there in the deep recesses of my mind, there must be more. Why were Tina and I the last two children on the bus? When the bus did not stop at Tina’s house, why didn’t her mom hop in her car and follow? What was I wearing that day? Did Tina ever tell her mom? Did her mom call my mom and did Mr. Bill get fired? Or, arrested? Has Tina, ever, in all these years, remembered this incident?

So, I decided I would ask Tina about it. I waited through all of the holidays – after all, this would have been a somewhat traumatic experience for two little girls, and if she has erased it from her memory, I didn’t want to upset her at Christmastime. And, I continued to think about it.

Finally, on Sunday morning, (yes, just the other day) I woke up early and wrote out this memory and sent a direct message detailing everything I could remember to Tina on Facebook. After about 15 minutes, I deleted it, thinking that if she had successfully suppressed this terrible memory all these years, I could not traumatize her. I mean, how do I know if she might have had an unexplainable fear of all men named Bill her whole life and never knew why?

So, I called her mother. I hadn’t talked to Tina’s mom in at least 10 years, probably longer! She was so very cool, just like I remember! And, after a few minutes of catching up, I relayed my story. She had no recollection of it. But, as she pointed out, Tina, may have, indeed, kept the whole terrible incident from her. And, she suggested I talk to Tina about it.

The next step was to contact Tina. I can’t remember, for sure, but I don’t think I’ve seen or spoken to Tina since my mother died in 2002. Yes, we had connected recently on Facebook, but since she hardly uses it, I don’t count the vague hello we said a few months back when we connected as a legitimate contact.

Turns out, Tina has absolutely no recollection of my memory, either. And, Tina’s memory is long. She would have remembered.

And, so, I’ve come to realize this never happened. It was only a dream.

Honestly, I’m relieved. But, it still feels weird, though.


When one door closes…

Do you remember the blog I wrote a short while ago about the year of 2010 as being the one in which I would live fearlessly? I had several ideas I was mulling over, one was starting an on-line magazine about Lake Marion. It was going to be the site that every local and every tourist was going to want to check out! I had wanted to start this endeavor ever since I quit the newspaper business over three and a half years ago. I had never gotten around to getting started, always one excuse or another, but mostly it was fear of failure that kept me from taking that plunge. Well, since this was my year of living fearlessly, I decided to quit thinking about it and take a step forward. So, about a month ago, I finally bought my domain name –lakemariononline.com. (Actually, I bought three domain names – lakemariononline.com, lakemariononline.net, lakemariononline.org because my site was so gonna rock that someone would surely try to piggy back on my success by using a similar name.)  

I had chosen a magazine web theme that looked great and wouldn’t be too hard for non-geek, non-techno-savvy me to use. I had quite a few notes on what I would be including in my first issues and pictures already worked up and ready to go. On my next long weekend, I was going to begin putting it all together.  Then, just several days before that weekend, I found a glossy magazine on the shelf in the restroom at work. I began to peruse the pages and realized that the publisher, who already had a daily newspaper with a staff of reporters and photographers on the payroll, was now producing a magazine, too, full of the same content that I had planned to have in my on-line magazine. Why, after all these years of publishing a daily newspaper, did this company now want to start a magazine? Well, same reason that I was, I reckon, it was a damn good idea!

So, I began to re-think my idea. Maybe I shouldn’t compete with the big dog. But, then again, why couldn’t I compete? After all, I used to know people in the industry and it wouldn’t be that hard to reconnect with the shakers and the doers of the community. And, I really had wanted to do this for a long time. What to do?

And so, for the next week, I pondered what the impact this magazine would have on my publication. I was still thinking that maybe I could do my thing. Until, I saw a billboard on my way to lunch one day. It advertised a new, online only magazine – Lake Marion Living. A SECOND COMPETITOR! I rushed back to the office and got on the internet to check out this new thorn in my side. Yep, there it was. But, this was worse. Much worse. This magazine wasn’t just similar to what I had been planning, it was exactly what I was planning. 

I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. Just like that. Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

A second billboard touting lakemarionliving.com has gone up just up the street from my house. I drive by it everyday. And, everyday, I am reminded of this painful lesson: if you have a great idea, don’t sit on it for too long, as someone else will surely think of it too, someone that won’t be a scaredy cat like you, and jump on it first!

It is time for me to let go of this dream. I know that. I’m working on it. The hard part is ignoring that one tiny whispering voice in my soul that says, “You never know, maybe someday…”

In the meantime, I have been contracted to create a website for a friend who is in business for himself.

When one door closes another one opens, yada, yada.


My good fortune

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that I mentioned a dream I had in late December. In it, I was ice skating. There were other skaters, skating on this frozen pond in a clearing in the woods. There were bonfires and people drinking mugs of hot chocolate. Everyone was happy and laughing. The snow was falling and I was skating perfect figure eights. I remember feeling incredible joy. 

I’ve been giving this dream a lot of thought and have concluded there is a message of great import in it for me.

Since I do not know how to ice skate, I think the dream is a metaphor for me to try new things. And, I think I was ice skating and not skydiving because the message is that I need not be afraid. (Not to make light of ice skating injuries, but, really, what’s the worse that might actually happen? [That is a rhetorical question and one I am not asking you to answer.])

The message is that if I am willing to try, I just might succeed and have a damn good time doing it!

Since this dream and my conclusion of it, I’ve been looking for meaning in all kinds of little things happening around me.

For instance, let me share something that happened to me a week or so ago. Brian and I went to the Chinese buffet for dinner. After dinner, I went to the ladies room to wash my hands and when I returned Brian was opening his fortune cookie. I picked up the remaining one, the one meant for me, and began opening it, while he read his fortune. “Your fondest dream will come true within this year,” his said. And, his lucky numbers are 8, 13, 23, 30, 33, 38.

I broke mine open only to discover that mine did not have a fortune in it. What? No fortune? This has never happened to me before. What can that possibly mean?

Figuring there are numerous reasons myths about why a person would not receive a fortune in his fortune cookie, I decided to go searching on the internet.  (This is never a good thing for me to do. I typically get hung up on all the extraneous info and end up spending hours on something that should have taken only minutes. Which is the case here, too.) 

To make a long story short, the general consensus in the world of fortune cookie myths is that it is very bad to get a fortune cookie with no fortune inside. The answer that I liked best, though, is this one on wiki-answers in response to someone very worried about his lack of a fortune in his cookie:

The Ying and Yang fortune cookie company has a telepathic employee who knows who is going to get each and every fortune cookie made. When she came to your cookie, she started typing up your fortune, but since it was so large, she ran out of room. She got a letter-sized piece of paper and began typing again. When she finished, she couldn’t figure out how to insert it into the cookie quickly, without cracking the cookie before getting wrapped and falling into the shipping bag at the end of the conveyor belt. If you call the company, it has your fortune sitting next to the phone, waiting for you to call, because the telepathic woman knows that you will indeed call, having telepathic abilities and all.

Haha! I also read that many people believe that the entire fortune cookie must be eaten in order for the fortune to come true. Or, believe that you should not eat the fortune cookie if the fortune seems unlucky. Or, that the entire cookie must be eaten before reading the fortune (ooh, which means that if you got an unlucky fortune, you are screwed). Or, that the fortune will not come true if read aloud, or read at all. Then there are rules on how to select your cookie. Do you close your eyes, pick one for someone else at the table, or choose a cookie that appears to be pointing at you?

I always let everyone select their cookie by whatever method they choose, and then I take the last one. It is that last remaining cookie that holds my fortune.

I’ve decided that  not getting a fortune in my fortune cookie is the luckiest of all possibilities. It means I get to create my own fortune!

What do you believe about fortune cookies?