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Suburban Island

Tuesday, Aug. 03, 2004, 1:27 a.m.

QUESTION; What's missing now?

WHAT I LEARN: Appreciate what you have at this very moment.

I miss things when they are gone. Not just my toothbrush when I am traveling and I realize it is sitting back home in our bathroom. Not just the latest issue of The Star Magazine that I bought so I could read about why celebrities aren’t as hot as they look on their photos and that my daughter took to work and didn’t bring back. No, and not just the humongous jar of my favorite face cleanser, which is pink and is a bit like scented lard but does wonders for my complexion, and is gone but my husband swears he didn’t throw out.

I miss more stuff that is gone than that.

I grow attached to people, places, and things, and I mourn them when they are gone. I'm sentimental to the nth degree. I’ve been thinking about missing things because a few of my favorite things have gone missing lately. For instance, there’s the Weatherpixie. Who doesn’t love the Weatherpixie? I have two of them – one on my diary and one on my blog. Well, where the hell is that pixie? She is gone – just gone – and without a word of warning or a goodbye.

And then there is my favorite coffee establishment. It is a drive-up-and-order coffee place that I would go 20 minutes out of my way to frequent – but not lately. Ah, that’s the way it goes. I don’t get my cup of coffee there for a month or so and the next thing you know everything is changed and familiar faces have departed never to be seen again. In this case, my daughter called me and told me that the coffee shop had been sold, and none of the old staff where there. I felt sad about that.

Last year the barbeque joint that my kids and I went to every Wednesday evening before piano lessons (and had the most delicious chopped Mexican salads, Cincinnati chili mac, and fajitas) just closed up its doors and all those people we saw every week are gone off into the world to create wonderful food somewhere else. At the beach, a favorite dive of a restaurant burned to the ground and will be replaced with condominiums. I feel overwhelmed with momentary grief and the desire for a Carolina BBQ recipe served with sweet potato fries, served with a smile, and sweetened with a picture-perfect view of the boardwalk.

The chocolate shop down the street from my office shut down but luckily opened up a block away. However, the trendy shop next door that I enjoyed window-shopping at is now just a memory – gone in July. So too has gone the Merle Norman cosmetics store - owned by a lovely mother and daughter - that had been in the local mall for 20 years. Both these charming southern belles looked pretty damn good and knew about the importance of free samples. My daughter and I got lots of fabulous samples along with a ready supply of the lovely lardy pink cleansing cream that does wonders for my skin from these fine ladies, who are now living La Vida Loca in Florida. I hope they are both well.

And so it is with friends as well. So many work friends leave for this reason and that and it is hard to keep in touch no matter how good the intention to do so is. Once, many years ago, I started tapering off on phone calls to my best friend - who had left the area - in a misguided effort to force myself to create new friendships locally. Luckily, she noticed and set me straight and over 20 years later that friendship is still going strong. I wish that I could create that strong continuous connection with other dear friends and acquaintances that have populated prior times and spaces in my life.

I miss friends on the web too - those who leave suddenly, or just stop updating their site, those who decide that their diary/blog has served its purpose and move on without another word written beyond that explanation, or those who simply disappear behind a locked diary and close their guestbook and notes. One wonders about them – how they are, and hope that they are well.

TV shows – they can be old friends too. They are often just as irretrievably lost as a pal who has moved across the globe. Wonderfalls, for instance - a show I believe I might have loved - was gone before it had even gotten a chance to get started. What was up with that? Mary Tyler Moore, an old favorite, is also mostly lost to me. All I have left of Mary, an old and dear pal, is Season One on DVD, and nothing else seems to be coming down the pike with regard to further season releases. And where is the Odd Couple? I ate many a solitary dinner and closed many a quiet night with Felix and Oscar checking in for a ½ hour of dysfunctional fun. Thank God, my old TV friend from my single days of old is in Season 6 on DVD – that would be MASH. MASH was a wonderful companion at 7:30 PM and 11:30 PM when I was living on my own in my first apartment. It was a happy constant at dinner and bedtime and I was thankful that I had that comforting consistency in that other life and other time.

I have been thinking so much about lose and change lately because last week I realized that I have even begun to feel a bit misty over our regular vacation destination, which we have jettisoned in favor of upping the ante a bit to splurge on a big time vacation in Orlando. Can you believe it? This year we decided to go to Orlando for the great theme park vacation instead of a week at the beach and I am missing the idea of going to the seashore per our usual habit. I can’t wait to go to Florida – even though it will be hot, hot, hot - but I am sad about no boardwalk, no crab and beer, and no days sitting in a folding beach chair reading novels and drinking vast quantities of very iced iced tea.

There is grace in consistency of experience when it is a good experience. I need to remember that the next time I do something routine and take it for granted.

I wonder if this extends to making the bed, doing the laundry, or filling out my weekly reports for work?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

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