Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Hill of Great Speculation

I've mentioned several times that I pass Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll twice a day on my regular commute to and from work. So I guess it will come as a shock to no one that it's one of the more interesting places that I find my mind focusing on each day.

I know that for many people, this location only serves as one of the most horrific moments in our country's history, and I respect that thought. The first time I visited it, it quite honestly gave me chills. I stood there in the spot where that pivotal moment in our history occurred and the World honestly went silent for me. My Lord, what Jackie must have felt in that moment? The gut wrenching chaos that followed is surreal to imagine when you're standing there in this place that seems as large as a football field in the videos we all watched at school. The reality is though that Dealey Plaza is a very small, one block radias that butts up against downtown Dallas and the West End on one side and a major freeway on the other. It's a very claustrophobic, beautifully landscaped space in which the entire World suddenly changed course over 40 years ago.

It's here in that tiny space of downtown Dallas that I enjoy some of my most favorite people watching on a daily basis. Even in the still early moments of most weekday mornings, as the city is just barely starting to come to life, there are already visitors covering the grounds of Dealey Plaza. You'll see them, mostly in small groups, moving from location to location; trying to get just the right view.

On the North side of the Plaza, where the Grassy Knolls lays, you'll find them feet away from the bronze land marker, gazing up at the rust colored building on the Northeast corner. Collectively they sort out the pieces of information that they have gathered over the years and develop their own conclusions.

Each afternoon I chuckle as I see this one gentleman out there with his television around which, a small crowd is always gathered. A video of the assassination plays on a loop on the television. What does he tell him, I wonder? The crowd is always very respectfully engaged as he points to the screen, then to the rust colored building, and continues his story as his arms remain in constant motion the entire time.

Once in a while you'll see a single person, typically sitting across the street from the Grassy Knoll, just gazing at it. I never see a single person sitting on the hill itself; they always seem to sit across the street, as if out of respect for the hill and what it stands for. For these single people, this visit appears as more of a spiritual journey than an opportunity for speculation, as it is for the smaller groups that move from point to point throughout the Plaza.

There are two things I've noticed about Dealey Plaza over the years. First, you never see people displaying outward hostility there. Even if, within the varied clumps of spectators with their differing opinions, they debate and discuss in a very calm fashion. The second is that I have never found one drop of graffiti or trash on the grounds. And no, I never see any cleaning crews. One of the most trafficked spots for visitors in Dallas, Texas and nothing ever seems out of place. Why is this? Why are people able to discuss such a volitial topic with calm respectfulness and keep such a highly visited place in such pristine condition?

Considering our daily lives, drives and political views spawn moments of hostility and the inability to see another's point of view, I wonder what it is about this place that provides such magical guidance. Noticing all the trash along freeways and streets that community groups and inmates are often relegated to picking up, why is it that this place remains in a constant state of beauty?

I'd like to think that Dealey Plaza, this place of such a horrific moment in time, embodies the dreams and hopes of one man and an entire generation. For in this place, everyone is equal, all thoughts and opinions are welcomed and considered, and everyone respects and does their part to maintain the beauty that is around all of us. I'd like to believe that in this place, a man didn't just die, but rather, still lives on to guide us all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mommy, Party of One Now Being Served

And so it was that I found myself the only human occupying my house for a 24-hour period this weekend. Now I want to make a distinction here that I was the only human in the house, for saying that I was "alone" would really be a huge misnomer; I was, in fact, all but alone.

As is normal around my house my cat made several guest appearances throughout the weekend. I've noticed that in recent years she's not as under my feet as she used to be; her sitings have become more casual in nature. I typically now notice her as the statuesque figure sitting on the bed or in a chair in whatever room I'm in that occasionally meows at me for support with my task at hand, or just to remind me that she's still there and is now ready to accept whatever affection I have at the moment to bestow upon her.

I also had the constant shadows of my boys to keep me company. As I fluttered around the house accomplishing various tasks, there they were, the ever vigil fawn and black Pugs, at my feet. We moved together as a unit from room to room throughout the day and finally found ourselves, quite literally, in a dog pile on my bed around 10 o'clock last night as we hunkered down to watch a movie and fall asleep.

The constant companionship of my quadrupedal friends provided me with a nature feeling of the house feeling full still, even though the constant harmony of televisions and children playing were no where to be found. They also served as the best alarm system known to man! Even a rogue twig falling on the roof prompted their ears to perk up and listen for additional signs that there might be a potential intruder around. I'm not sure what they'd do exactly if an intruder ever did show. My fear is that they would most likely see them as an opportunity to play, rather potential danger, and wound bound torwads them with the enthusiam and constant snorting sounds that only Pugs can provide. But hey, at least I'd know someone was there.

My three little counterparts also gave me an excuse to say "I was talking to the animals" when I found myself, at several points throughout the weekend, talking to no one in particular. I guess that's another reason why I say I wasn't "alone"; it's in these weekends that I am reminded that I am a real person and not just "mommy", "wife", "daughter". I have a habit of talking to her, this often lost person, during these weekends; something I really should do more frequently (and no not a in Cybil kind of way).

See, these weekends, or the brief moments in time when I am lucky enough to find myself in the quiet solitude of my house or car, give me something that most people can't even find in a therapist's office. These weekends give me an opportunity to clear out the tasks on my ever growing To Do List as well as clear out the cobwebs in my head.

I'm sure to a lot of people if they had a weekend all to themselves, the first item on their agenda would not be to clean the house from top to bottom or to attack their closet, but for me, they were two of the items that took center stage on my weeekend agenda. For me, clearing out my closet was about much more than getting things organized; it was a symbol that the weight I've lost, both physically and mentally, was a success and that I have no intention of going back. Cleaning and organizing other areas of the house were a way for me to show that I am in control once again.

Now please don't take this the wrong way because I treasure my family most of all; but if there is one thing I have learned over the past couple of years, it's that I have to keep my own personal "house" in order, otherwise there won't be anything of me left to give the people I value most in my life. More than getting my soul and mind back in order, these moments in time also give me a sense of normalcy. For most people the idea of walking a flight of stairs or cleaning isn't that big of a deal, but for me and my medical condition, those regular daily activities can be an exhaustive mountain to climb. These weekends are true achievements for me and allow me to feel "normal" again, serving as proof to myself that I am much stronger than I some times give myself credit.

Even if it's 30 minutes in the morning or the time you spend by yourself in your car going to and from work, I think everyone should take the time to reconnect and clear out your mind. Talk to yourself, go's kind of fun, and I guarantee you, you'll be one of the best listeners you'll ever find! Instead of focusing on how tired you are at the end of the day, congratulate yourself on all that you were able to accomplish that day I mean, let's be honest here, balancing life, family and work is not an easy task at all, but it's worth reflecting on in order to appreciate the spectacular opportunities and gifts that those challenge give to all of us.