1. How are you supposed to feel when a dream comes true? When a thing you have hoped for and imagined and believed in and worked toward is actually, finally achieved? Or at least launched? I'm having great difficulty putting into words how absurdly wonderful I feel about everything that has already been and soon will be accomplished by our little nonprofit that could. Every single day sees a new blessing, a new sign that this is right and good and needed. At the risk of coming across as insufferable (or worse), I feel filled with purpose, ready for the task, undaunted by any obstacles that may show themselves on the road ahead.
2. As is usually the case, this post-three day weekend short week has been incredibly long. Five work days crammed into four, catching up, gearing up, all of that. This one had a little more baggage than normal in that it sees us saying good-bye to a member of our team I valued greatly. Her commitment and energy are going to be sorely missed. She is leaving us for all good reasons: a fabulous opportunity for her career and a whole lot more balance for her family. But still. She was one of my work daughters and I will miss her.
3. The husband and I had a lovely evening. It started with a casual, "Hey! Wanna go to Staples?" and ended with a trunk full of gear to go with the kayak I won back in June and dinner out. We got a cool little pontoon-ish tube-ish - pon-tube-ish, if you will - contraption for the designated "wing man" to ride alongside the kayak. We got a couple of paddles. We got life jackets. We got stuff. We're ready.
4. What's that? I didn't mention the kayak that I won? Who can remember, with all the updates taking place here on a daily weekly monthly whenver-ish basis. Anyhoo...the story is, we had a fabulous outdoor party event in June and one of our sponsors brought a kayak to raffle off. I entered. I won. ME! She who never wins ANYTHING! I WON A FREAKING KAYAK! A beautiful, bright yellow banana of kayak. Alas, the biggest adventure we've had with said kayak to date has been getting it home that night. That changes this weekend. I hope!
5. The husband and I have arrived rather fashionably late to the 'Breaking Bad' soiree. But now that we have indeed arrived, all I can say is, holy crikey! It's the most consistently compelling and "OMG, that did NOT just happen!" television show since 'The Sopranos,' in my book. We just started season three, and I cannot fathom how the show will play out at the end of it all. But I'm going to enjoy the ride. (Enjoy is an awful word to use there. Do we really "enjoy" shows like this? Or is it more accurate to say we're captivated by them? In near-literal terms. We're captive to it, my husband and I, without question.
6. Anyway. We did also get to Staples, as we'd originally planned. I got my 2015 Daytimer refills. I've carried around the same classic/desk sized maroon vinyl binder for more than 20 years now. It holds my life, I like to say, and this is really not too big a stretch from the truth. But I'm branching out a little. I also purchased an 8 1/2 x 11 At-a-Glance monthly/weekly spiral bound, academic year dated, from July '14 - June '15. I'm gonna try it out. Give it a go. The time feels ripe for a change. I will keep you posted on this critical development.
7. I just realized that I did not document a single minute of my girls' weekend with Miss Henley. We had a fabulous time, she in all her boundary pushing two year old glory and me in all my, baby you can do no wrong Grandmadom. It was the perfect coupling. LOL We went to the children's museum, ate Chick-fil-A, watched endless Care Bear movies, read a gazillion books, went and bought more books, and giggled lots. Perfection. I can't wait until next time.
8. I took the long way home from that glorious weekend, via the back roads that would take me through Churchville. I had first discovered this little town when I drove to Bridgewater three years or so ago for Jessi's first baby shower. On that trip, I couldn't help but notice dozens of small country churches tucked into the hills, along the side of the winding roads and I wondered, what's going to happen to these historic buildings? Who is going to remember their lineage and pass down their stories of family, community, place? I decided I needed to start taking photos and researching histories. Of churches. Small churches, large churches, every denomination. Appalachian churches. I needed to record them, make note of them, before they were lost forever. And then I looked up and found myself in Churchville, Virginia. For real. It was a sign, right?
9. So...a couple of weeks ago, I took the back roads home with my camera by my side. It was Sunday, just before noon, when I rolled into Churchville and pulled up to the first church I saw. Glossbrenner United Methodist. Being Methodist myself, I decided it was as good a place to start as any. I parked my car and started walking around the building, snapping pics, when suddenly a voice said, "Lemme get out of the way, first! Are you here to take photos of the big event?" I laughed and said, "No, but what big event?" And that's how I met Ann.
10. I'm going to guess Ann is in her late 70s or early 80s. She ushered me around the side of the church explaining that their new(ish) pastor Erin was about to take the ice bucket challenge that was all the rage. She'd told her congregants that if they raised $100, she would do it. They raised $115. She was doing it. While we waited for the excitement to begin, along with 20 or so other parishioners, Ann asked me where I was from and why I was in town. I began to tell her, and when I said, "I'm from Charleston, WV," she said, "My goodness! I lived in Beckley for years and years!" We talked for several minutes, and then she sort of adopted me as her own, introducing me around to everyone. We spent about thirty minutes standing in the parking lot, conversing easily, laughing; Ann was clearly in her element, showing me the ropes. She was sweet as could be, and as we said good-bye, she said, "Come on back anytime. We'd love to have you visit again."
11. I walked around town filling my camera card with photographs of the five churches in the middle of town. I had lunch - well, a late breakfast, farmhouse style - at T-Bone Tooter's on the main drag through town. When I got back to my car, I notice there were still a couple of folks milling around in the Glossbrenner United Methodist parking lot. So I pulled in, rolled down the window and said, "Excuse me...can I give you a donation? For the church?" A young mother said, "Well, shoot - of course! We're always happy to accept a gift of money!" So I wrote out a check and handed it her. We smiled, I waved, and off I drove, headed for home.
12. When I got back to Charleston, I posted about my little Jennyventure on Facebook. And that's when I realized that they had posted about it also. First, a video of Pastor Erin getting soaked. And then a little bemused wonderment at my anonymous passing by. I have an attachment to this house of worship now. I feel a kinship and I want to go back, next time, to attend a service. Mark my words: I'm totally going to do it. Especially after today.
13. Because today, I got a letter from Ann. A handwritten letter on pretty stationery with a stamp and return address, delivered by my mailman. It reads:
It was so neat meeting someone from WV and a lovely surprise.
Anytime you come through I would be glad for a visit. We can talk about WV. I live by myself, so you won't be upsetting anyone.
My day was made. I was so touched by her gesture. She must have gotten my information from the check I wrote. It's a tiny congregation and I can just imagine the conversation that led to her figuring it out, copying down my contact information, and writing me this note.
The whole idea of it brings me ridiculous joy.
I'll be writing her back tomorrow. I would love nothing more than to be adopted as her pen pal. And the next time I go through Churchville, I'm going to invite her to lunch, so we can chat over sweet tea and home cookin' while someone else gets to worry about the dirty dishes.
I can't wait.
*Title quote borrowed from Isabel Allende.