Thursday, May 3, 2018

Homesick for Anderson

I got homesick. It could be that I’m old. Or, in Orlando in January, it was cold and rainy. It could be that instead of spending three days hanging out with my daughter, Hope, during her last week of interning at Walt Disney World, I spent three days in bed with a headache if my head hit the pillow or nausea when I stood up, accompanied by vertigo returning from a three-year hiatus.

I got homesick. I had big reading and writing plans when Hope was working. I had mother/daughter shopping plans when Hope wasn’t working.  My only interruption was to be football. 
Instead, I watched only the second half of the Outback Bowl. Luckily for me, it was the right half, the one in which the Gamecocks decided to win.  I drove eight miles to Wal-Greens and bought over-the-counter medication, crackers and Ginger Ale. On the way home, I stopped at a Chick-fil-a drive-thru for soup, shivering when I rolled the window down. This took an hour and a half.  I stayed awake for the first half of the Sugar Bowl, then tossed and turned all night, waking every two hours with a headache, wondering the outcome but too miserable to check my phone. 
I got homesick before the virus, though, which is rare for me.  I’ve always enjoyed traveling, and we’ve been to Walt Disney World many times. But I got homesick in that city that week.  
Maybe it was all the lights on all the buildings or all the people in all the lines or all the noise on all the attractions or all the hours spent writing at a tiny desk in a tiny hotel room while all my family took naps or all the cars on all the crowded roads or all the minutes (three was the average) at all the traffic lights or all the frost on all the windows in the parking lots. 

Whatever it was, I couldn’t wait to be back in Anderson, South Carolina.  I drove myself, Hope, and the contents of her apartment to Anderson/HOME on a cold January Thursday, stopping once in the nine-hour trip.
Humor me while I tell you the rest of this fascinating story. 
Arriving home at 4:30PM, I went straight to bed.  I stayed in bed all day on Friday.  Saturday, I went to primary care, where I blacked out twice in the waiting room.  I had lost three pounds in one week, and the nurse thought she had misread my blood pressure. It was 80/60. I was severely dehydrated, which explained the return of vertigo.  
I welcomed a steroid shot. There was a shortage of fluid, so I was sent home with Gatorade instructions.  I felt better for two days, then returned to the doctor again for another shot and more hydration instructions. 
When you’re sick, you have time to think. What else can you do when you’re curled up under blankets drinking all that water and Gatorade not feeling well enough to read?
This is what I came up with. I learned something about myself in Florida. I’m a South Carolina snob. No, I’m an Upstate South Carolina snob because I’m also a four seasons snob.  
What else did I learn?  I’m a small-town snob and most definitely an Anderson snob.When I go to bed at night, my street and my home are dark and quiet. My drive to work is twelve minutes. It could be shorter, but I don’t drive over the speed limit anymore. Speeding tickets, I tell myself, are for the young and impatient; plus, I’m determined to keep my safe-driver discount. The longest red light in my day is the one-minute light next to Westside High School. I used to roll my eyes when caught there.  Used to.  
When I got homesick, I made a decision.  I will NEVER (I’m old enough to say never) live in a town bigger than Anderson, S.C., unless Anderson gets bigger than Anderson.  You know what I mean?  
I like to go. I like to travel. In fact, I have a long bucket list of destinations, but I know that Anderson, Home, the Electric City with four seasons, will be waiting for me.

Seasons of an Electric City

Your air turns cold as expected,
Yet we fret over fickle weather predicted,
Then laugh at ourselves for doubting your snowy surprise,
Oh, how you jest.
Some groan. Some dance,
At your attempt to make us rest.

Your temperatures warm and please,
And we delight in the early aroma, knowing you tease,
Then marvel at the pink, yellow, purple, and white blooms.
Oh, how you renew.
Some drive. Some walk,
On your streets lined with the softest hue.

Your heat takes our breath away,
But we gather, splash, sweat and play,
Then smack the mosquitoes and search for relief indoors.
Oh, how you ignite.
Some travel. Some stay,
As your landscape bursts at daylight.

Your trees amaze with their display,
For we lengthen our sleeves and watch our teams play,
Then carve and decorate, speak of blessings, and feast.
Oh, how you submit.
Some retire. Some pray,
In your early evenings, cool and moonlit.    
Your seasons electrify our community,
So we make a home, build friendships, find opportunity,
Then open our hearts and minds, and smile content.
Oh, how you grace.
Some ridicule. Some cherish,
Within your city of familiar face.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Did You Know? The History of Coffee

Pious Ethiopian monks centuries ago,
Did you know
The berries you ate, after which you stayed awake 
With vigor and spark
Would pour into my cup, so rich and dark?

Devout Arabians, the potent alcoholic drink your foe,  
Did you know
The beans you roasted, ground, and boiled
And called Kahweh 
Would heat a ceramic cup, bring warmth to me?

Eager Venetian trader, traveling a northern road,
Did you know
The magic drink you introduced to Europe’s 
Rebirthed minds, old and young
Would touch my lips, please my tongue?

Clever Dutch adventurer, whose soul stooped low,
Did you know
The tree you stole, the plantation that started
On a Pacific shore, away from frost
Would open my eyes, awaken my thoughts?

Greedy French naval officer, a fruitful crop to sow,
Did you know
The tree you took to the Caribbean, closer to the dimly lit shop
Warm and comfortable, where I spend my day,
Would stir up memories, help me know what to say?

Crafty military aide, to Brazil you did go,
Did you know
The branch you snuck, the industry that grew
Around the world, the powerful aroma for my readers to smell,
Would seize their senses, strengthen the stories I tell?

Friday, March 30, 2018

ROY G. BIVing Living

Several years ago, when I reentered the retail world, I had to relearn an elementary school science lesson: ROY G. BIV, the acronym for the colors that make up the rainbow - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. It sounded simple enough, but what about the other colors?  I learned that Pink is light red, peach is light orange, teal comes before blue, black goes after violet, and grey is light black.  Why was this important in retail?  Like an elementary school classroom, our store took science seriously and arranged apparel in an orderly ROY G. BIV fashion, perfectly lined up against the wall or at a wooden table. 

Arranging solid shirts according to ROY G. BIV was easy enough, but I soon learned that prints didn't have to follow ROY G. BIV as strictly as the solids. Perhaps they were the teacher’s pets.  A red, orange and yellow multicolored shirt could sit wherever he pleased as long as he didn't sit next to another print. ROY had an important color story to tell, and a print sitting next to a print was a visual interruption.  And if the pampered print shirts weren't annoying enough, I learned that G. BIV considered himself to be a cool color and didn't want to hang out with warm ROY.

I spent nine years watching apparel tell their color stories: the little black dress revealing her sophistication, elegance, and style, and the white dress indicating her purity or simplicity.
I haven’t forgotten ROY G. BIV. It reminds me that we, too, have a story to tell. We can do a little ROY G BIVing, too.

Symbolizing excitement, energy, and speed, a red sweater might be a wise choice when we drag in on Monday, but it also symbolizes aggression; in fact, some car insurance companies charge more for red cars.  December in retail was a nightmare.  Sometimes I wondered what would happen if we changed our store’s d├ęcor to pink (caring) and beige (pleasantness)? Or what would happen if I change my busyness to caring?

Orange demands attention and symbolizes enthusiasm.  When Clinique promoted their fragrance, Happy, we enthusiastically participated by sporting our different shades of orange.  At work or play, enthusiasm is a worthwhile addition.

Yellow, which happens to be my favorite color, symbolizes imagination, friendship, summertime, and hope.  After the cold winter, spring is a season of anticipation. We run to our windows praising the warm sunny days, knowing vacations and gatherings with family and friends draw closer. 

Green is not only associated with envy but also luck.  What color is our money? What a coincidence. 

Blue, another favorite of mine, has been known to have a calming effect and lower blood pressure.  If a cold, dreary week is followed by a blue sky, let it remind you of God’s calming hand and of his faithfulness.

Purple, or violet, is a popular color for Easter because it symbolizes royalty. It’s also believed to relieve migraines.  I once considered sending a note to corporate: paint the shoe department purple during the Easter season.  Purple is also a mysterious color.  Wow, what if the fresh coat of paint brought back all the missing "other" shoes?

Easter. There isn't a better season to talk about a color story.  Retail stores want their products to be as appealing as a basket of dyed eggs.  The Greek word baptizo was often used to describe the procedure in which a piece of cloth was dipped into dye, resulting in an entirely new color.  

I've never dyed cloth but have baptized many Easter eggs with my kids.  We never ROY G. BIVed them, though. The eggs that always stood out to me were the purple or green.  Green is not only luck and envy but also renewal.  Purple is not only royalty and mystery but also transformation.  We have a chance to renew and transform our living with strength, balance, joy, generosity, truth, sincerity, and wisdom.  Easter is a time to find new life, to be baptized by a Savior who transforms our living.  
Happy Easter,