Monday, October 5, 1998

Cloud Nine

I think it was television's Van Patten family that first said, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Generally I don't disagree with that belief but "old" and "new" of course are highly subjective terms. Take for example, our good friend Kurbie the dog who we were told last week has learned that the reason humans sleep with our heads outside our covers is to breath better. Seems Kurbie has taken to sleeping next to his best friend, little head outside the covers, little body tucked in warmly next to hers'. A lesson well learned and a reward well worthwhile I'm sure.

I must say that making the drive from St. Paul to St. Cloud and back again every day sure gives me time for such major contemplation. I've thought about buying some books on tape to pass the time but I'm rather content with my selection of music which I can enjoy while singing at the top of my lungs. Somehow screaming along to a John Grisham novel doesn't hold the same appeal.

The company I'm doing some work for has agreed to pay for a motel room a couple nights during the week for me but I haven't taken advantage of that yet. I was planning on staying in St. Cloud last Wednesday and Thursday and then I remembered that Thursday was Max's birthday (or more precisely the birthday I assigned to him when I first brought him in for his shots- and by the way that makes him a Libra, Mary). Since I have missed several of his birthdays over the past few years I figured I owed him the pleasure of my company for the evening. I am dorkiness defined. But he seemed to really enjoy the canned treat.

The absolute worst part of the drive is coming back home and crossing the Crow River where Wright County borders Hennepin County. As I see the sign for Hennepin County I think to myself, "I'M ALMOST HOME!" But it still is a good thirty minutes from Maple Grove to my house (especially during rush hour). Let your expectations get the better of you and the fall is so much harder. Someday I'll learn better.

I did take a day off during the middle of the week and went downtown St. Paul for lunch with my friend. We got some chocolate coolers and headed to Harriet Island. We sat by the river and enjoyed the sunny fall day despite our coolers having become warmers by the time we reached our destination. I think the afternoon helped me get my groove back- that and the season premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (sorry I have to disagree with you LeAnn- it was a swell opener).

As all of you know being such devoted fans of the show, last season ended with Buffy leaving her mother and friends behind in Sunnydale after having killed her boyfriend, the evil vampire turned good, turned evil again, Angel, to save the rest of us from the end of the world. The burden of being the chosen one, the responsibility of being the slayer, had gotten to be too much. Buffy wanted a chance for a quieter, simpler life where she was merely responsible to herself and no one else. So she winds up in a small town working at a truck stop as a waitress under the pseudonym "Anne" in a restaurant that has peach pie. Could there be a better, a more accurate mirror for the past half year of my own life? It's as if the producers of the show had pulled a Linda Tripp and wired one of my friends to put my life story on television.

The notion of what comes next for me is a fresh start somewhere else crossed my mind recently. Heck I think the seeds were planted during my trip to Japan. The strange feelings of a foreign familiarity cut as deep as the feelings of for once in my life not feeling so different from everyone else while at the same time never having felt quite as different ever before. Japan is a country where loyalty and honor are deeply rooted. To do something such as leave your job (and your company), especially without something else lined up, wouldn't be considered. I remember how when Al and I would ask our guides their views on America, each of them admired the "freedom" of Americans. One fellow mentioned feeling he already was with the company he would be with the rest of his life.

For those of you who haven't seen the Japanese movie, Shall We Dance, I suggest watching it for a taste of what the Japanese society is like. The movie is about a man who on his way home from work on the train spots a beautiful young woman at work in her dance studio. He becomes obsessed with her, and they have an affair, not one like our President, but one where they learn to share the same passion- for ballroom dancing. The movie is about taking chances and following one's heart; something that the Japanese don't normally do.

Getting back to Buffy, her quest was appreciated but not as much as another quiet moment with my friend. As we were leaving Harriet Island she reminded me of the importance of not giving up on dreams. Then she looked at the clouds, with the most wonderful look on her face. She loves clouds. It reminded me of another day with a certain person who saw puppies in cloud formations. I saw the potential storms that lie ahead. The perspective you allow yourself to take does make all the difference in the world.

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