Friday, March 22, 2013

Church Lady -- for all my HOMIES in Santa Cruz, CA

There is this woman that sings in church.  She has a nice voice, and she usually sings at a particular mass.  She and her husband even help with the liturgies.  My older kids think she is annoying, and sometimes, her unnatural perkiness seems to be a little forced, and I will admit, at times she even annoys me, but I'm sure she is a good person and means well, and enjoys doing what she does.  God bless her even, but I'm sorry, each time I have the opportunity to actually speak with her, I always get a real negative feeling.

Years ago, I went with my older son to a catechism class, and I was sitting at her table.  We had just moved from our hometown and we were still new to the area, and the church.  My son was still in fact going to school in our old town, and I would drop him off before I went to work.  So, coming to this class was another "new" thing for my son to adjust to, and no, he wasn't a particularly happy 16 year old.  So here we were sitting at the table with the "annoying lady", and there she was with her happy, perfect toothed smile looking at us.

"Hi, I'm Dina, what's your name?"

We politely introduced ourselves to her and her son.  She quickly asked what school my son Andrew attended, and so I went to explain that he was still going to school in Santa Cruz.  Dina (not her real name) immediately looked at us with what looked very much like a grin of distaste, like she just bit into a lemon, and explained,

"Oh, that weird town with the hippies.."

I smiled back, and nodded my head.  I wanted to secretly kick her.  Sorry God, for I have sinned.  I was thinking evil thoughts about the lady that sings at your church.  My son Andrew looked at me immediately with eyes that said, "I want to leave now!"  Luckily our introductions were over, and we weren't forced to make any more chit chat for the rest of the evening.  At future classes, we purposely  sat away from the church lady.

Well, Dina and her darling husband naturally have a lot of kids, and of course her youngest child is in my son's class at school.  And, unfortunately for me, she attends all of the class field trips--naturally.  Well, I was able to avoid her from the first field trip, but "lucky" me had to sit with her on the school bus for a few minutes.

Now, I did try and be positive.  After she sat down next to me, I was hoping for a positive experience.  Of course she didn't recognize me.

"Hi I'm Dina!  What's your name?"

I politely introduced myself to her.  She asked who my son was, and I pointed to Nicholas who was sitting directly behind us on the bus.  She looked at him, and said that she remembered him from preschool and kindergarten classes, which was complete nonsense because I had him start in school in San Jose in the 2nd grade.  I explained to her that he was in Santa Cruz during that time... and before I could fully explain, there it was!   That look of utter disdain!

"Oooh... Santa Cruz?!"

Damn I wanted to kick her in the teeth.  Forgive me God!  What in the hell is wrong about being from Santa Cruz for God's sake?!

Well, luckily for me, Dina had to move out of my seat to make room for the other class, and I sat with my son.  Thank you God.

Sorry, Dina.  You've insulted my hometown twice in a span of 5 years.  You may sing like an angel, but I still don't like you very much.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye To A Friend

A week ago I remember waking up from a bad dream. I don't remember the content of this dream, I just remember waking up with a terrible sense of foreboding death. It was so intense that immediately crossed myself like a good Catholic girl, and recited an Our Father and the Hail Mary until I fell back to sleep. The thought came back later in the day, and for the next few days afterwards. I tried to ignore it, and eventually it went away. I convinced myself and reasoned that the bad dream came from the recent crime and senseless deaths of two police officers in my home town, and nothing else. The atmosphere at work was also tense, and I just reasoned that it was that anxiety I was feeling and nothing more.

Yesterday I had awoke in a fog. I wasn't able to get a good night's sleep the night before, but I forced got myself out of bed, got my son to school, and ventured into another fog-the morning fog. I blamed it all on Daylight Savings. I thought I was running late, but miraculously, I got onto the highway at a good time.

As I got onto the highway towards my way to work, the fog slowly lifted, like a blanket, to a beautiful blue sky. I remember thinking to myself, "What a beautiful Spring day." The sky, the green trees against the sky, the air--so fresh and clean. It looked like as if it was the beginning to be a perfect day. Even the air smelled sweet. I could smell a different fragrance in my car. It wasn't that "new car smell", and I just couldn't pin it what it was. Was it my new moisturizer? I don't know, it must be. Boy, did it smell good. I turned on the radio, and wouldn't you know, it was playing my favorite songs, all in a row. I smiled and sang along. As I reached my destination to Santa Cruz, and the little white church of Holy Cross, a sense unexplainable happiness and peacefulness engulfed me.

I got to work, parked my car, and prepared myself at work with my usual routine. Files awaited for me at my desk, along with some pink and blue documents; cases waiting to be entered and assigned. Back to reality of work, but it was good. I had my coffee, I was ready for anything I guessed.

Then that call came. The call I've been dreading; the call I hoped never to receive. It was Betty. Her voice was cracking. She really didn't have to explain anything more, I knew it was about Maria. My friend Maria, my "coffee buddy" from years back that I had missed for so long. The letters, the cards, the flowers could not bring her voice back to me. The suffering that she chose not to foreclose to me had ended the day before. Betty went on to tell me more of what happened, but all I could think of was Maria's dark eyes that sparkled when she spoke. I would never see those dark eyes again, nor her laugh or her smile. She was gone and there was nothing I could do about that.

Now I'm left to wonder, why, or if I had been more persistent in seeing her if could have changed anything. My letters, my cards--did they ever reach her? Did they really tell her that I had been thinking of her; wishing her well?  Did it make a difference? Did my silly letters that attempted to make her smile just a little, help? All I needed was a note, a phone call--but now that just seems so self-serving.  Why did I need any sort of verification? It doesn't make sense to me now--it never really did. Things had changed since I've seen her last; a distance that I can't really understand, but even that doesn't matter anymore either.

No Maria, it doesn't matter. What's done is done. Thank you for the sunshine the other morning, the sense of peace, the scent of your perfume, your happy laughter harmonizing over the radio. It all makes sense to me now. Thank you for your visit yesterday morning-it's all I ever needed. I will remember you the way you wanted me to. Your smile, and your laugh is forever in my heart. I'll see you in my dreams. Thank you, Maria, until we meet again, adeus amiga, adeus.

You know how I like my coffee.