Sunday, May 31, 2015

...where the journey leads

She is to the magnolia born, my friend, Jane-Anything-But-Plain. A Southern beauty, lover of hats, well-schooled in manners, terrifying at times. Holly Golightly as written by Louise Erdrich. Loves the lush green of Ireland. Lives, sometimes, in the red-dusted New Mexico land known as Ghost Ranch where she received the phone call every mother dreads. Her daughter had died and her own heart was not so much broken as shredded. She returned to this landscape to mourn. And has returned again, and yet again, to the land where she ruminates and sheds a layer or two.

Mentor, friend, bossy pants, she drug me to Ireland, then across the landscape in her VW Beetle to New Mexico...Tucumcari, Las Vegas (not that one), Taos, Abiquiu, Chama, Trampas, Chimayo, Espanola, Santa Fe. And Ghost Ranch. Where Georgia O'Keefe, another bossy pants, had lived and painted. Where, the day after we left, Don, a Presbyterian minister/volunteer at the ranch, fell to his death hiking Kitchen Mesa. Not a place for sissies. During a subsequent six-month volunteer stint, her emails described a sidewinder that crossed her path and the afternoon the Coca-Cola man removed the machine on the porch of the Trading Post because a six-foot bull snake had taken up residence in its innards. Then there's the October tarantula migration. I offer Exhibit A which crawled up the wall where I had stood the day before. Multiply five-inch long "A" by thousands and then picture the creepy-crawly horde pouring across the land and roads in search of a date.

Jane was a buyer for an upscale department store in Birmingham, a woman who made regular trips to New York City, wrapped in an ankle-length Blackgama mink coat to ward off the winter cold. She could intimidate a cabbie and collect a brilliant smile from, of all people, George Peppard in a Manhattan crosswalk...all in an afternoon's work. Or manage two chance encounters with O.J. Simpson, first on the street where he beamed at her, then an hour later at Barney's, with Nicole, when he recognized her and said, "We have to stop meeting like this." [Or did he say, "Are you following me?" Not sure. She'll set me straight.] Her appraisal of the man: spot on. She sold the mink coat to underwrite the Ireland trip. Just as well since the only time I ever saw her take it out of the closet was a frigid Birmingham night when she took the garbage out clad in her huge black-rimmed glasses and grey sweats topped with The Coat. To paraphrase Phineas Nigellus' talking portrait in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (or Kingsley Shacklebolt in the film version), "You know, you may not agree with Jane on many counts...but you cannot deny she's got style."

Style and moxie in spades she has. Enough cracks so as not to be unbearable. Some hard-earned knowledge, of which Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote: "It isn't for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for that long, uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security." And, with this, the growing awareness that sanity and faith and security aren't formulaic goals - doctrinal and attainable - but forged by the authenticity of the journey...the grace "between the macro and the micro". I've been watching, Jane, and learning. Thanks for the ride.

1 comment:

gretchenjoanna said...

Thank you, Celeste. I can appreciate the story of a courageous woman.