My Antique Friends

My latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune. Feel free to share or reblog.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Mary, Karen and I

Best Friends Forever Mary, Karen and I – I miss you Karen but I know you are with us in spirit still today.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I find that to be true in different venues in life, especially with old friends.

We make friends in our childhood, in our teenage years, in our adult years, throughout middle age and even during our sunset years. Our interaction with even our best friends from early in our life changes as we go through life. We grow up, move, are busy raising children or go on to jobs that take us in different directions. We stay friends and settle for those moments of Christmas cards and chance meetings to connect. Perhaps our personalities changed because of experiences which impacted our friendships.

There are those friends whom we don’t see for years, but we take up where we left off immediately upon meeting them again — the years falling away. And then there are new friends who are really old acquaintances, with which we connect with in our later years, who become good friends.

At this time in my life I feel I am coming back to some of my beginnings. I have reconnected with best friends from grade school and high school. It is easier to stay in each other’s lives because of technology.

My husband and I play trivia on Tuesday night. I have mentioned that before, but what I didn’t mention was our reconnecting with old friends who were an important part of our early lives. I call it karma that life has taken us around in this circle.

Enter my friend from Wisconsin who called and suggested dinner. We met for the first time in years. She pushed me many years ago into my first date with the man that became my husband. At dinner that night she persuaded me to join her playing trivia at our local Legion. I must admit I was scared. I am not the person who remembers history, etc. I was surprised when I felt right at home with the team we joined.

One man was the usher in our wedding. Well … let’s put it this way, he was supposed to be the usher in our wedding. It’s a long story. Another player was my neighbor from my childhood. We spent many nights playing kick the can and spying on our neighbors to see what was going on in their garage. Should I mention bank robber? We had wild imaginations.

One of our quick trivia minds is a friend from our bartending years. We were bartenders together. I loved that job and the people I worked with, especially this person. Further down the table is a woman I shared my high school years with. We weren’t good friends in high school but now we are coming together in a new, fun adult friendship.

The nice thing about a new friendship with an old friend is we do share memories of a time in our life that was special to us.

There are other friends in our trivia group. Some we have had contact with during the latter years and others are brand new friends. But I feel we have come full circle and have come home to a time where we enjoyed life and enjoyed those friendships with people from our past.

One of the things I marvel at the most is that I can be stupid with these friends when it comes to trivia, and I am not made to feel that stupidity. Wouldn’t it be great if we offered that freedom every day to those we spend our lives with?

Our group is a mishmash of intellect. We have farmers, a nurse, a counselor, a couple of office managers, an author, a service manager, a dental tech, plus others and also those who drop in to join us from time to time. It is always a surprise to see what former members come back and offer us their wisdom.

We have all changed over the years. Our lives took us in opposite directions. We all experienced good times and bad times that shaped who we are over the years. The more things changed (us), the more they stayed the same (friendship).

Our bodies may change, our circumstances may spin out of control, but the caring you feel for someone who was important in your life stays there forever, waiting to be rekindled at the right time in your life.

Here is a little trivia for you today. Who said, “Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends?”

I can identify with being an antique, because a ruler that had my dad’s shoe store logo on it that I used in third grade — autographed with my name — was found in an antique store in Iowa.

I am officially an antique and I am enjoying my time with other antiques.

Happy Memories Grade School Class from St. Casimir’s

Definition of an antique: “A collectible having a high value because of considerable age.”

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Words Can Break A Heart

Something About Nothing published the Week of April 3, 2016 in the Albert Lea Tribune.

I had to visit the dentist last week and have a tooth pulled. I actually needed two teeth pulled — one on each side of my mouth — but I opted for the right side of my mouth to be tampered with first. It was the tooth that was in the most pieces.
I have a fear of the dentist that goes back to my childhood. An ungraceful badminton racket swing by a friend took out my two front teeth. I moved forward to get the birdie, while my friend moved backward. Amazingly enough it was a perfect swing, catching just my teeth but not my mouth.
The summer beginning my eighth-grade year in school was spent in the dentist office. There was no soft music, gentle touch or pain-free dental equipment, nor was there a dentist with steady hands. The fear fueled by those memories lasts a lifetime.
New technology and gentle hands by both the technicians and the dentist now make a visit to their offices as pain free as possible. My tooth is out, and I am making plans to go back for the next removal. My fear is subsiding, and I found my fear was worse than the visit. But it is hard to remove those memories of long ago from my mind.
Recently, I asked my readers for devastating words said to them at some time in their lives that stuck in their thoughts and hearts forever. I was doing research for a Lenten service I wanted to write. My readers responded, and my heart broke as I read some of the unkind and thoughtless words that were left glued inside their mind.
Here are a few examples:
• I will never forgive you.
• “You’re fat, dumb and ugly.”
• “How stupid are you to adopt disabled children? You’d return any other defective merchandise.”
• “You can’t carry a tune. Your voice is terrible.”
• “I’m going to send you home in a body bag.”
These were just a few of the responses I received. Words hurt just as much, if not more than the dentist drill of my childhood. My fear of the dentist didn’t shape my life, only the care of my teeth. Words said in the heat of anger or to wound can twist someone’s life. Kind words in the future do not seem to wipe out the memories of the past cruelties.
Of these five examples, one person did not sing in public or in a choir again. One, because they felt they were too ugly and dumb, didn’t have the confidence to go on to nursing school. And I can’t even respond to how not being forgiven or your life being threatened would change the way one lives. Luckily the person who was taunted for adopting disabled children did not listen but hurt for the children in their care who were ridiculed.
The words I remember the most from my teen years were when a boy told me I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen. I remember that boy, but luckily I had enough support that I could move on in my life. To this day, I remember that boy because of his cruel words. I always wonder what words I might have said that are remembered by someone, and I hope they have forgiven me for them. But I know they aren’t forgotten. Forgiveness and forgetting are two different things.
There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt.” I’d like to change that saying to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can break my heart.”

     

Support Your Local Arts

 

Something About Nothing published the week of March 6, 2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. I suppose in today’s world I would say I wanted to be an actor. The word actress seems to have gone away in this politically correct world we now live in.

During my high school years I participated in drama and had a few nondescript roles. I enjoyed being behind the scenes, and my insecurities about my looks and my talent kept me from trying out for more roles.

In my middle adult years, I got involved in the drama departments in the high school when my kids participated, mostly behind the scenes with costumes. It was actually during one of those times I took the stage again as the front part of a dancing horse in the “Music Man.” It happened by accident when my friend Peggy and I, who was also doing costumes, put on the horse costume for fun and pranced around the auditorium to see what it felt like inside the costume. Mark Rud, who was directing the extravaganza at NRHEG, saw us and decided it would be fun if we became part of the play. No one would know who we were and we were to dance in pulling the Wells Fargo wagon, do a little jig and exit the stage. I must admit it was so much fun to do and my friend Peggy and I remember it to this day and — we almost fell off the stage because we couldn’t see where we were going.

A little later in my life, I and my family got involved in Albert Lea Community Theatre, my daughter in the musical, “Heidi,” and my husband in “Heidi” and “Peter Pan.” They talked me into trying out for a role in “I Remember Mama.” I actually got the part of one of the aunts. I suspect I got the part not because I was good, because I wasn’t, and the word ostentatious seemed to trip me up on a few nights because I couldn’t remember the word in my lines. Now I ask who doesn’t remember a word like that? I think I got the part because of my height, and I matched the person who played my husband. I felt I had come full circle because I had also been in the play in high school.

My favorite and fun part while being a part of the community theater was in an “Alice in Wonderland” play as part of a program they put on for school children each year. I got to play the Dodo bird in full costume. I loved it. Looking back, I think I would have been a better actress if I would have went for the costumed silly parts, because I loved them and they were so much fun. There were no nerves involved in being silly, even if I had lines.

The Albert Lea Community Theatre has been around for many years. This past weekend we attended a performance of “12 Angry Jurors.” As a mystery writer, it got my creative juices going. The cast superbly played the part of disagreeing jurors. Not only did they show their frustration at the process, but they conveyed the vulnerability of each juror coming from different experiences in their lives. Those experiences might or might not influence decisions one makes about someone else’s life, and in this case, whether a young man will be prosecuted, put in jail and possibly put to death. The cast played all of these emotions and kept the audience drawn in so that the time passed so quickly we were surprised when it was over.

As a writer, I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened when that jury went back into the courtroom and gave their verdict. I wanted to know if years down the road they were right or wrong. I wanted to know what happened to each one of them in their lives, and I wanted to know the impact the discussion to reach the verdict had on the way they would view others when they walked out of that jury room. The director and cast told the story so well they kept us wanting more.

The arts are important. If you have not experienced Albert Lea Community Theatre, I would highly recommend seeing their productions or getting involved as a volunteer. There is so much emphasis on the sporting world for kids, the arts and humanities are not always encouraged. It hasn’t been until recently that arts have come into their own as a respected medium. Our children should be encouraged to explore the arts because not every student has the ability or the desire to participate in sports, but they may be great at acting, painting or expressing themselves positively another way through a different medium.

I, myself, know because I have dabbled in it — acting where you must remember lines is not for me. I am better at the improv. I never could remember lines or deliver lines appropriately even in my good memory years. I wouldn’t know that unless I had the chance to experience it. My children have all had that experience from their high schools and hobbies. One loved it so much it has been a staple of her life, bringing that experience to complement her career.

We are fortunate to have opportunities in our area, even in small communities, to give all the experience of the arts whether it is by participating or viewing. As Mikey from the Life commercial would say, “Try it, you might like it.”