Monday, July 14, 2014

TRO Post: Daddy's Birthday

 Today is my dad’s birthday and he is turning 40 years old, and I do mean OLD. 

I thought that it would be a good time to write about him. 

My dad is the best dad you could ever have. 
He is funny, smart, and nice. 

There are so many more things I could tell you about him. 

He and I are alike in many ways. We both like basketball.


We both like the Kentucky Wildcats. 

We are both impatient. We both like some of the same music. I could go on and on about how much we are alike. I mentioned we both like basketball. 

He has basically taught me how to play the game, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good. He’s been my coach for most of my life, so that has some advantages. 

My dream is to play basketball for the University of Kentucky, and with his help I think I can get there.  He is my hero. I look up to him with basketball, and with life. He is such an amazing dad. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!

Love, TRO

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cannonballs on Canandaigua Lake

I was listening to an NPR podcast once featuring a female refugee from Vietnam.  She spoke of her first steps on new soil after leaving her country.  Her mother told her and her sister to bend down and touch the ground as it was special.  The two young girls knelt down to feel the ground, expecting it to be different than the ground they had left.  When they turned to question their mother's statement, she said, "You now have a chance to make it special in your own mind."

Every community has them.  Those things that make living there unique.  Growing up in the Finger Lakes didn't feel all that extra special.  I guess I didn't pay attention to a lot while maneuvering through adolescence.  I believed that everyone lived the same kind of life that I did.  That was, until I moved 800 miles away, into a new community, that was nothing like the one I came from.

When I tell people that I grew up in NY, they always have a similar response.  "Oh, I LOVE New York."  I always chuckle as I listen to them tell me about all the shows they have seen on Broadway and their experience with the subway.  I recently had a friend that was visiting the city, text me and ask me the best places to eat.  Seems like a logical question for someone from New York.

The fact of the matter is that I have only been to the "city" a handful of times in my entire life.  I rode in my first taxi cab when I visited South Florida with my college roommate.  I was 22.  The New York that I come from has less concrete and tall buildings and more barns in the middle of fields.  The locals call it "Upstate" or the "Finger Lakes".   In the egocentric way of a two year old, I call it "My NY".  Each visit is customized like a personal order to refresh my affections for the beautiful place I called home for so many years.
About a year ago, I had a really bad day.  I was at a pretty low point and searching for a way to dig myself out.  I left my house that morning and told my husband I would be back later that day.  I had no real destination, but a very clear purpose.  I needed to clear my head and find myself.

I drove for several hours, many songs and a few tears.  At one point, I pulled over on the side of the road, leaned my seat back, looked up at the sky, and started praying.  It wasn't long before that feeling came over me.  The feeling that everything was going to be ok.

It doesn't take hours or even a drive in the car for me to find that place in New York.   A slice of pizza with my dad, a hike on my grandparents acreage, a ride on a familiar trail, or a swim in the lake are all simple things turned special.  Those moments are quite substantive really. It
helps me maintain my sanity the other 11.5 months of the year.

While visiting NY recently, I ordered pizza and wings at my favorite pizzeria.  As I pulled out my checkbook, the young guy working behind the counter said "We don't take out of state checks."  I turned around looking for an ATM since they didn't take debit cards when a familiar face came from the back.  He smiled and said, "We'll take that out-of-state check.  We know where to hunt her down."  

Every Friday night after our high school football game, my friends and I would cruise the plaza and end up listening to AC/DC while chowing down on the best pizza and wings in town.  It was our place and we made sure everyone knew it.  Its amazing that in an age before cell phones and social media, everyone still knew where to go and what time to be there.  

It remains one of the first places I visit when I pull in to town.  The same folks are still there slinging dough in the air, but now instead of giving me quarters to play AC/DC on the jukebox, they're giving my kids quarters to play video games.  The pizza can be (and should be) folded in half to eat. The wings are crispy and dripping with sauce. The Italian assorted sub maintains its place as my favorite sandwich EVER. It's the kind of place where a meal that should be rather quick can turn in to a couple of hours of conversation and laughs.  

On any given weekend in the Finger Lakes, you can find people making their ground special.  One Sunday in June, I joined some of my oldest friends on their boat for a day on Canandaigua Lake. When it comes to lakes, Canandaigua is quite spectacular.  It is sparkly blue like the ocean and you can actually see the bottom. The captain of the boat was my friend, Chris. I have known Chris since I was my daughter's age. He was my neighbor and my ride to school on many occasions. He is married to one of my closest friends from high school.

Chris and Amy are two wonderful people. I've known them as a couple for a few decades and they just work. I've never heard a cross word out of either of their mouths.  This day was no exception.  As always, they were gracious hosts that day. It was perfect weather, the kids loved their time together and the adults loved their time even more. At some point, my son asked Chris what we were going to do all day. Chris told him the Cannonball Contest would be at 3:30. 

I caught my son practicing his cannonball off the back of the boat. As promised, that afternoon, a similar sound repeated itself over and over on that boat deck. 

Step, step, step. 
Cannonballs in Canandaigua Lake with old friends. 
A slice of the best pizza in town with my parents. 
A waterfall hike with my brothers and nephews. 

Chocolate custard with rainbow sprinkles with the grandparents. 
A trip to Wegmans to stock up on marinades for the year. 
Four Wheeling at Austin Road with my kids. 

Ground made special by me, for me. And I'm quite certain, everything will be ok. 

Until next time. #iheartmyny