Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day Appreciation

The weather started to change but now we know it is spring.

The Red Sox are on.

Forget homework.

Forget the no TV rule.

It’s opening day.

Chips, salsa, hot dogs and... well… milk. It’s still a school night.

Life is good.

I remembered a story today… a lesson I learned about eleven years ago taught to me by a woman I knew from Maine.

She was a little older than me and was at the time a girlfriend of a good friend of mine. She was from Kittery- a working class neighborhood. She finished high school and joined the army. There was never an option to go to college- she didn't have great grades and her family was the kind of working poor that have just enough not to qualify for anything. Stationed in Germany, she saw a lot of the world she would never have seen otherwise. She loved it.

And she learned how to shoot heroin.

She came back and after one too many shared needles, she was HIV positive. Her mother dragged her out of flophouses until she finally got clean.

When I knew her, she helped manage a pool distributor/builder business and made... maybe 8 bucks an hour. She was proud. Her voice was deep and corse from way too many cigarettes. And while she learned to respect a higher power? She was a sargent and you never forgot it.

I had just inherited a large chunk of money when my grandmother died. I felt horribly guilty about it. As I talked about my struggle, this woman growled, Give it to me.

That woke me up from my self-abosrbed ramble. Huh?

For god's sake, what a waste of time. Do you know lucky I'd feel if I had it? And while I'd certainly give some to my mom? I wouldn't feel like I had to share it.

You have your health. You have a beautiful baby (Ben had just been born). You have a ton of money. Shut the fuck up and enjoy it. Otherwise? It’s like spitting in my face.

One of my first lessons in social justice. Be respectful. Be grateful.

And shut the fuck up and enjoy it.

I don't know where she is today- they broke up and I didn't see her anymore. I hope she's well.

And as I sit here, with my kids chomping on chips, watching the game...

I really do know how good my life is.

(And as an aside? The same woman explained to my mother what 'poppers' were at my baby shower. She was... a character.)


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