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Getting Dirty with Friends

A few weeks ago, friends came to visit from Florida; Mike and Patty, and their kids Little Mike and Taylor. They’d had a very unpleasant experience at our old business, and Mike was hurt, angry and confused. The awkward thing was, even though we had nothing to do with the offense and even though we couldn’t control the behaviors of those involved, we felt badly, because it was clear he’d been singled out and attacked because he is one of the few friends from our past who refuses to cease any and all communication with us. It’s a situation that is all sort of surreal, like a bad B-movie where the actions of all the characters come across as overblown and false because there is no realistic motivation or explanation for it. Anyway, we invited the Chesleys to visit, hoping to get their mind off the entire episode and to remind them to laugh. We had one rule. No talking about the event, or our former school. Life is too short, ya know.


 


When they pulled up, Mike got their luggage out of the car and then reached in and pulled out his nifty cowboy hat. Ha The boy was ready to go country. We were not about to let him down. We had a wonderful four days. We went four wheeling (his son could do this 24-7-365) and horse back riding. We made marshmallows on a big bonfire and the girls explored the creek. Mike is a ruff and ready outdoor type, and he is most at home getting grubby. He is a paintball king; an ex-hunter (which allowed us to enjoy a campfire without me having to preach) has two four-wheelers of his own, etc….


While we were out taking care of the horses, I was busy picking mud out of hooves, when he turned to me and said, “I’m so shocked to see you like this.”


“Like what?” I asked.


“Getting so dirty.”


Ha. That was too good an opening. I said, “Come on Mike, you know I’m about the dirtiest girl of your acquaintance.” And I winked. Love making Mike blush, don’t ya know.


He said, ‘You know what I mean. Getting all muddy. Mucking with horses and all.”


Now, I do understand that people who know me from my dance world often think that is all there is. I have a certain persona there; I am always running around in sporty clothes, doing the cosmopolitan dance thing, sequins and makeup never more than a reach away. I have that New York image from my past hanging on which makes people tag you a certain way.


 


But Mike is the friend I zeroed in on to be a partner in the great adventure race in Blue Ridge – a 9 hour race that includes running, biking, canoeing, and surprise “adventures” like tree climbing or wading through a mid pit.  At the last recital, we spent days making jokes about it backstage. (I didn’t pursue it this year due to all the upheaval of moving and construction – and I’m not in good enough shape – and … the sun is in my eyes ……. Ummm… please fill in the blanks with any more excuses that might work……) the point is, he knows I am more than a dance teacher.


 


Mike said, “I know you are sporty, but I thought that meant running and tennis and Nike shoes and stuff. Not THIS.”


Well, welcome to the real me, Mike. A girl can get dirty in lots of ways, and the older I get the more I’m thinking this is the only “dirty” that anyone cares to witness.


 


The next day, we took them square dancing. What a hoot. I got a chance to see the boy’s real talent (he was a natural) I danced with Mike, Little Mike and Kent. Only danced with Mark once (guess we’ve danced enough together for one lifetime so the urgency to gather his wife in his arms for a spin isn’t there). Patty danced with Mike, Little Mike, Kent and Mark. The two little girls danced together (and with some adults, who thought they were fun – even though a bit short for a dos-se-do). It was a novel experience – one they won’t forget anytime soon, I’m guessing. And Mike kept looking at his wife and saying, “Isn’t this fantastic. Don’t you think it would be great to live here?” Ah – that is how it begins. Watch out…


 


We took them to the art galleries and shops, to papa’s pizza buffet (where we play this dumb word game with total intensity like it is the word Olympics or something) Mike ate an entire blueberry pizza himself. Amazing.  The next day we went to Sue’s Best Burger in Town, where I humiliated Mike in a rousing game of air hockey. I happen to be undefeated (which is totally a lie, and I’m just writing this to annoy any opponents who might read this….. but I’m fierce, win or lose.)  We even went to Helen, an old Bavarian style town to shop and look around. They were out of corndogs (the nerve), but had an art festival going on, so we forgave them. Mike was amazed by the wood turning some artists displayed and later, went with Mark to the studio to met his teacher and see Mark’s work. Now, naturally, HE wants to learn to turn too. It is a man thing, this fascination with wood.


It was all a fun adventure.


 


They went home, feeling better, so the visit was a success. They were supposed to come visit again this week for Spring break, but the entire family caught the flue. Gee, the lengths people will go to avoid getting beat in air hockey.


 


This week, my best friend Jody Smith has come to visit with her son Kyle (Kent’s best friend) and her grandson Sebbie (who is a perfect companion for Neva). It is so fun “showing off” my new life. Yesterday, we went four wheeling and had a weenie roast at the land, tromped through our house construction site (the entire house is now framed – it is getting so exciting.)


The funny thing is, Jody wasn’t at all surprised to see me mucky. This time it was ME who was surprised. Jody grabbed a horse and started talking to him, and I asked if she ever rode, and she laughed and said, “I grew up on a farm and we owned horses.” Well, ya learn something new everyday. Jody was a camper, horse woman and competitor and all that, when young. Funny, how you can be friends for years and not know a detail like that. We didn’t ride yesterday, because it was rather cold, but tomorrow it will be 60, so we will. We will do the galleries today, and I want to take Sebbie to the feed store to look at the young chicks. Fun.


 


*Side note – I have decided what to name my rooster when I get it. Joe Cocker. Partly because of the cock thing, but partly because when Joe cocker sings, some people think it’ awful noise, and others think it is a beautiful sound. Joe is controversial that way, just like a rooster. Anyway, I gave it some thought, and that seems to be what sticks for me. Joe Cocker, Ginny’s cock. Yep. It is perfect.


 


 It is a joy having my best buddy here. Nice to have someone to talk about grad school , kids, life change, frustrations etc..  Jody understands it all – been there, done that. She is a social worker, and we also have some great intellectual conversations about the culture here, my reading student,  etc…. She recommended some books I’d love – a book on class distinction in America and how to handle and communicate with different socio-economic groups. (Sounds boring, but it is actually a fascination and this book, I’m told,  is fun.)  I’ll just put it on my year away reading list.


The point is, I needed this visit. Really. I’ve been feeling isolated and lonely lately. Happy, but missing friends.


 


New subject –


Yesterday, I got my student facility parings list. I will be working with a new mentor, A.J. Verdale next term. I am so jazzed. She’s a powerful, demanding teacher -I was so impressed with her at the last residency. I made a request for her, but wasn’t sure I’d be assigned. Now, I am excited and feeling the pressure a bit. She is someone I will have to work hard to impress. Can’t wait. After that, my final term, I’ll be able to choose whomever I want to work with and get it, since it will be time to finalize my thesis. Gee, time flies when you are drowning in reading and writing.


 


Ah – someone is stirring. Gotta go. Cooking for a crowd, don’t ya know. Got a hashbrown casserole in the oven and I need to make the bacon and biscuits and a fruit salad.


Love company for more reasons than one, ya see.


 


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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