The invisible string

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:37 PM

There is a string, says a lovely children’s book by British author Patrice Karst, that connects us all, tying us together with those who are most important. Even when we are separated, even when we are alone, as long as we have known someone, truly known them, they are with us always. This book is a favorite of my friend Bobbi’s for many reasons.

Bobbi lives here in Southern California with her husband of nearly 29 years, Roy, surrounded by a number of friends who consider her family. Her other family is mostly in Wisconsin, but Bobbi left them and her life there at the tender age of 18 to come west. She brought the string with her, and it connects her daily with the love she has for her father, stepmother, brothers and sisters and their assorted families, and her now grown daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

The string also connects her to many of her friends, both here and all over the world. And she has many. I suspect that were I to ask each of them their true feelings about her, they would likely gush, for she is a true friend, a light shining bright even when times are foggy and dark. Like a beacon, she smiles and the fog lifts. You feel better having talked with her, for being connected to her.

I honestly don’t know how we became such good friends. We met more than 20 years ago when we both worked at Sebastian International, the hair care and beauty company. Since we were both in the art department, which was fairly small at that point, we bonded over deadlines and irritations. But what tied us together was bigger than that; it was a mutual respect, similar senses of humor, background, and dreams. I was married to my first husband then. It was hard for him to socialize with anyone in my little world because he didn’t like it. But after I finally got rid of him, my friendships blossomed. I suspect that’s when Bobbi and I got closer.

She’s also the one responsible for putting Kevin and I together. I’ll never forget the phone call. She and Roy had long left Sebastian to start their own design studio, in a space they shared with a photographer. I was working with the photographer on a short film so I was at the studio for a meeting. As she was leaving to go home for the night, she had a huge grin on her face as she looked at me and said: Call me when you get home.

I did. That’s essentially how I got married for the second time though there were many events and several years between that phone call and Kevin’s and my wedding in 1998. All fodder for another blog post.

We’ve all become great, great friends, sharing many holidays together, certainly the big ones of Thanksgiving and Christmas, always with others there to celebrate as well. But selfishly I like to think of us as the core four.

Today is my friend’s birthday. May 1st. May Day, the worker’s holiday that began in Australia in 1856 and was designated Loyalty Day in the U.S. in 1958. It can also be traced to the Celtic festival known as Bealtain, celebrating the midpoint in the sun’s progress between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. In Germany it is celebrated as Walpurgisnacht, after Saint Walburga, an English missionary to the Frankish Empire in the 8th century. Her May 1st celebration still includes much dancing and bonfires. In the U.S., one of the biggest celebrations takes place in Minneapolis and is called the “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Parade and Pageant.”

The maypole, also part of May Day, is a symbol decorated with ribbons or streamers, and has history in the pagan symbolism first introduced by the Celts so many centuries ago. The pole represents the male, the ribbons the female. Today, it’s part of European folk festivals, and an opportunity for children to sing as they dance around the pole, holding the ribbons, expressing joy through giggles.

These ribbons or streamers are strings, too. They are the threads that sew us to humanity’s rich history; they are the ties that hold us together. Perhaps that’s why May Day has become special to me, and to all of us who know her, who are forever tied to her through our invisible strings.

Grab a ribbon and dance to celebrate Barbara Jo – Bobbi – Jankovich.

Happy Birthday, my good friend. Live it out loud!

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Live it out loud

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:18 PM

Every day the sun rises, the newspaper lands with a thud – some days with a bigger thud than others – and the dog stirs. Time to get up and see what wonders the day has in store.

It can be hard sometimes to find the good things, the things worth celebrating, but I have come to believe that there is always something that makes it all worthwhile, that gives purpose to what I’m doing, that brings joy and puts a smile in my heart. I believe that everyone can find one such something every day.

I have friends who are having difficulties and I know at such times, when financial worries crowd out all pleasure, when physical pains can be overwhelming, when it feels like the sun didn’t rise at all, this is when we should remember that we have people who love us, that we have people who like us, and that we will get through whatever the world has planned. Because we’re here together. Because we’re a ‘we’ in these circumstances, not just an ‘I.’ Friends are one of the biggest causes for celebration.

I’m celebrating my life here in California, which began so many years ago when I drove across the country with my mother after I decided to move my life with no job, no friends, nothing but the sheer audacity of youth. I thank my parents for not standing in my way, as hard as it must have been for them. I thank my mother for making the journey with me; for believing in me. I still can see my dad’s face, tears falling, as we pulled out of the driveway that June morning. But I’ve never looked back and I celebrate the decision daily.

This is my home, even though I miss my mother, my sister, her family. It is where my friends are, even when they’re far away. They are all in my heart, and embedded in my soul, always. This is where the good grapes are cultivated and great wine is made to be poured. It’s where I live, work and play; where I met my husband and my son; where I love.

This is when I celebrate, not just the glory of the day, but the beauty of the life I lead. Because even when lives can be interrupted, or when they can challenge our very core, I believe that we all came to live our lives out loud.

And so I find cause to celebrate.

Yesterday I blogged about a special dog named Tucker, a therapy dog who works with children with cancer, and I celebrated him, his mom and all of the children he has walked with. But I also celebrated a conversation with my mother even if she began to yawn half way through. I didn’t take it personally; there is a three-hour time difference after all.

Today I’m blogging about nothing and yet everything, about the seemingly innocuous realities that happen every day; about finding the something. The feel of that newspaper and the slight ink stains on my fingers after I read it. The fact that I’m in flip-flops again and the days are warm. The idea that I’m going to change my hair, because I can. It’s been long, it’s time to go short. Maybe I’ll even go blonde. Probably not. That friends and family are finding things to celebrate, too.

I’m celebrating discussing with my husband the duties we have as parents, which today included deciding on a model first and then ordering a new computer for Justin. We also talked about which iPad I’m going to buy, what to have for dinner, if it was time to walk Maguire, what came in the mail and if there was anything worth opening. A funny email, a touching note from a friend with an idea to celebrate called operation beautiful. These are tiny things, but they’re life. They’re my life; they’re everyone’s lives.

And every single one of us came to live it out loud. Celebrate something.

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live out loud

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