Monday, February 27, 2017

Mr. Flannigan Would Be Proud

When I was little, around age 9 or 10, my mom bought me a bare bones, toy-like metal detector from Radio Shack.  It could find bottle caps, things near the surface of the sand and not much more.  We lived in Ocean City, NJ at that time and I had an ENTIRE BEACH to search for buried treasures.  I loved it.

Around that time, I met a little old man, Mr. Flannigan.  He really was little - I don't think he was much over 5 feet tall.  He had no teeth, unless he was taking his wife to dinner (then he put them in).  He wore the same exact thing every time I saw him.  He was dressed in a brown work suit - the kind mechanics wear.  He had the fanciest metal detector I ever saw.  This thing could find anything - and it did.  He wore a gold lion ring that had emeralds or rubies for eyes and a big diamond in the mouth.  He had all sorts of stuff like that.

He took a liking to me.  He'd bring things up to the surface so I, trailing behind him, could find things.  Often it was coins but once in a while it was jewelry.  I suppose this is where my love of treasure hunting started.  I would see him every summer into my early twenties.  I clearly remember the conversation where I said he'd known me more than half my life.  He was a fascinating old man.

He saw me through braces, my first job (at the Habitat), my first forray into my love of purple hair.  We talked about and met each other's families.  He was important to me.

Now, flash forward thirty years.  A couple of years ago, Andrew got me a metal detector for my birthday.  Not the radio shack version this time - a real one!!  I have gone metal detecting a few times but not often.  I don't get a chance to use it on a regular basis.  But when I do get to go, I love it!

Last weekend, we went to Ocean City, MD.  I needed a beach day.  I needed to search for buried treasure.  It didn't really occur to me that no people on the beach (it is winter, after all) would mean no buried treasure.  I was out there for about an hour before the first beeps started.  There were several beeps over the weekend.  We left with a small haul of....stuff.

We found a few bottle caps (found by Mikaela and me), a hook (that one took me by surprise), a rusty nail (that was pretty far down so I'm excited to know it can react to more than the first inch), a piece of wire and a disfigured penny (found by Andrew).

While I was waving the metal detector from side to side, I thought of Mr. Flannigan and how much fun I had with him.  I hope he knew that.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Half a life done

I have been 50 for a week now.  Fifty.  5-0.  I never really thought about being 50, until I turned 49.  Then I thought about it a lot.

My kids say I don't look 50.  But really, what does 50 look like?  Or, what's it supposed to look like?  I'm okay with how I look but I think I'd be okay if I didn't dye my hair, wear make-up or do whatever else I do.  Really, I've been thinking about what I've done with my life so far.  I told my partner that I felt like my life was passing me by and this was the year to stop allowing that to happen.  But then I thought about what I've done so far.  It's not a bad list.

Ages 1-10:  I was a pain in the ass kid.  I was difficult.  I felt different, which I didn't like.  I had a not-normal family which made me feel like I was different.  I was also clumsy, which didn't help.

Things that stand out in my memory:

1.  I learned to love the beach (or, more accurately, the shore).
2.  I learned that I didn't love school.
3.  I learned girls are mean, except the ones who aren't.  I'm still friends with the nice ones.

Ages 10-20: I was still a pain in the ass kid, but I also learned how to change things I didn't like about myself.

1.  I realized that I really was different from a lot of people.
2.  I behaved badly.
3.  I moved out on my own - and that was great.

Ages 20-30:  I finally got a life.

1.  I moved to an entirely other state (that wasn't NJ).  I never thought I'd do that.  But I did and I never looked back.
2.  I fell in love.  Several times.
3.  I found a profession.

Ages 30-40:  I became a grown up.

1.  I got married.
2.  I had kids - and have become a good mother, much to everyone's surprise (that will be a different blog post).
3.  I learned that no matter what, I end up on my feet.  I can take care of my family and myself.
4.  Oh, probably most important, I didn't die even though I was told I very well might.  Fuck that.

Ages 40-50:  I handle responsibility.

1.  Well, that whole marriage thing didn't really work out so well but I lived through it.
2.  I surrounded myself with people who love me.  I hope they know I love them, too.
3.  I have two teenagers and haven't run away from home yet - major accomplishment.
4.  I learned the role of "daughter" changes.  My girls fill it one way; my role is different with my mom.  It's all okay but they are drastically different.

So, what do the next few decades hold for me?  Obviously, I can't predict anything but there are a few things I can assume with some certainty will happen.  I will have two kids in college.  That will be a shock.  I will get married again.  That will be less of a shock but still a change.  I will hopefully end up somewhere where I can see the ocean on a regular basis.  And hopefully, I will end up happy.  Though, I have to say when I look at my life and all that has happened, I'm surprisingly happy.  I bitch a lot but that's just me.  More happiness is good.