Unexpected Moments…

In which I look at the moments that touch us, reach us, or change us.

The other night I was lying in bed in the dark and letting my mind wander. I had just received my high school’s alumni bulletin, so naturally my mind went to special memories of that time. And then I was struck by the one-time-ness of the memories I recalled. What do I mean? For example, I was in a lot of plays during high school. While rehearsing for Cabaret (the high-school version), I was sitting in the day student break room (you know I went to boarding school, right?) with a group of fellow cast members when someone pulled out a guitar and we all improvised with the music. We harmonized, laughed, sang some more, hit wrong notes, hit amazing notes, soloed, dueted, etc. It was a special moment of no real significance, except that it was rare and unrelivable. We tried to recreate that moment again on a different day, but the same mood, attitude, atmosphere wasn’t there. So the one episode remains a special memory tucked away in my mind that I retrieve every now and again to prove to myself that I was once there and a singer and performer.

Sage Hall Dorm at FVS

For me, the same thing happens with people. I will on occasion have a conversation with someone and make a real connection for just one time, never to be repeated. I went to high school with a man who is now a famous actor. We also attended college together for one year. After a rehearsal of a play we were in together (yes, again, a play–The World is Round by Armand Salacrou), we were walking back to our dorms, when we started to talk. Now keep in mind I had known this guy for four years by this point, and while I had a crush on him for a short time in high school, I was never a close friend of his. Definitely acquaintances, but never close friends despite the small population of the school (everybody knew everybody), being in at least eight shows together and several classes. But that night we talked for about an hour, hour and a half, about life. How he was transferring colleges, how I was transferring college too, about dreams, hopes, goals, etc. I wonder if he remembers that night. Nothing happened. It was just a connection between two people who were fond of each other, but it makes me think of him in an entirely positive light to this day.

Just recently I met an author who is definitely up and coming. I expect to hear great things about him soon. We spent at least an hour and a half laughing, chatting, interrupting each other and generally just having a good time. It was a a very small writers’ retreat, but for that hour and a half, it was just two people making a connection. I will treasure that moment forever, and when he’s huge, and I truly believe he will be, I’ll have that moment to say, yeah, I once touched him.

These pearls are unique. I have copious memories of the people closest to me, but they are often conglomerations of several hours/days spent in one anothers’ company–my husband, my kids, my family. Other memories are mere moments, like the time my cousin slammed my grandmother’s hand in the door of our car in Hungary (I was four, and one of the two memories I have of my grandmother. The other one is the first time I ever saw her. It was that same summer in Hungary–her hair was covered by a scarf, she wore black, and I was scared because I thought she was a witch. She died before we visited Hungary again.)I expect to have and make memories with them. But the ones where I felt a real connection to someone unexpected, those are rare and fun to pull out every once in a while to assure ourselves that we existed.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted by Regina Berreca

Time Capsule

I thinking of creating a personal time capsule to be opened when my first great-grandchild is born or one hundred years from now, whichever is first. I don’t really know why. I never met my great grandparents—heck I barely met my grandparents. They lived in Hungary while I lived in California. I met one grandmother when I was four and then I never saw her again. I have three fleeting memories of her, the most vivid one being my first sighting of her. A scarf covered her head, and I was afraid of her because I thought she was a witch. Hey, I was four. Too bad because everyone says she was a wonderful, loving woman. The other grandparents I only saw one time after that when I was eleven.

 

I don’t really have many memories of extended family, and I don’t set store in the importance of genealogy. In the first place, I’m not a royal and stand in no line for any throne. Second, I read an article once that anyone alive today with a European background can claim to be a direct descendent from Charlemagne. Same holds true for Julius Caesar. At some point we all have shared ancestors. Name a famous person of the far past, and I’m descended from him/her. Go back to ancient times, and I can claim Nefertiti. So really, who you are descended from makes no difference.

 

So why the time capsule? Well, Mark Twain has no direct descendents (although he and I are cousins very far removed through Charlemagne), but he is and will be remembered. While I would prefer to enjoy my celebrity while I live, a part of me thinks it wouldn’t be bad to be remembered after (even if I’m not around to enjoy the fruits of my accomplishments). But at least I would like my family to remember me. I can’t even tell my children stories about my grandparents (except the witch one), and my father died before they were born, so they have no memories about him either. Thus the time capsule.

 

Here are the items I would include in my time capsule:

  • A copy of every one of my books—I’d put them on a flash drive, but who knows if they’d be able to access them. It would be worse than trying to find something today to play a Beta videotape (and if you’re young enough, you’re asking what’s a videotape.).
  • Pictures of me throughout my life—this would be hard because I have a real problem with pictures of me. I don’t like to take pictures.
  • My engagement ring—it’s not worth much monetarily, and I don’t wear it. Suffice it to say that graduate students don’t have a lot of money and neither Robot Guy or I think/thought going into debt for a hunk of metal and a rock was worth it. We went to Europe instead. Much better. Whatever. The ring seems to have worked.

 

Wait? That’s all? Hmm, having thought about a time capsule, I think I’m depressed. I don’t have many things I would want to pass down to my descendents. I have tons of books I would include, but that would no longer be a time capsule but a time storage unit. I would love to share my thoughts with them, but I don’t keep a journal (Gasp! A writer who doesn’t journal? For shame. Yeah, yeah, yeah.), so I don’t have my philosophies to pass along. I have a gazillion knickknacks around my house that all hold meaning and value to me, but really they’re kind of silly. Things have no real value to me. If I lost everything tomorrow (not people or pets), it would be inconvenient, and I’d be angry and sad, but, eh, I can collect more. Home is people not a place. (One of the many reoccurring themes in my novels.) Experiences are more important than possessions.

 

So I guess I’m stuck chasing after celebrity in this life again. Gotta go write some more books. What would you put in a time capsule?

 

–Gabi

 

Books I’m reading now.

A Dance with Dragons (I know, I know you’re sick of reading this one)

A Merchant of Venice (Ditto)