R is for Rain

RPerhaps it was prophetic that I’d be enamored with storms. Now decades later the memory of this vivid dream never fades. Out of the bazillions of dreams I’ve had during my lifetime, this was by far one of the best dreams I’ve ever had. I don’t know why but I remember there being an utter feeling of bliss that accompanied the dream.

I was young when I had that dream. Really young. Maybe 12 or 13. In it, I was carrying a baby in my arms and was heading to the car at the edge of my grandparents property in Pennsylvania. As I was walking down the lawn it started to rain. And quickly it began to pour. Just then I lifted the baby up to the skies, as if in offering, and said, “Learn to love the rain, Baby. Learn to love the rain.”

I certainly have learned to love the rain. When storms blow through, I stop whatever I’m doing, turn off any music or stop any chatter and I indulge and devote all my senses to the storm. It yields for me more than a sheer enjoyment. When the rains come, it’s almost a holy experience for me. It evokes pure joy, awe and a sense of deep gratitude.

I often wonder about that dream. What did it mean? I don’t have children. I never wanted any so it didn’t have anything to do with the baby. It was all about the rain. Maybe it has to do with the fact that dark dreary rainy days turn me on. I’m happier when it rains than when the sun is shining. I’ve always tried to understand why. After a storm passes and the sun starts to peek out from behind the clouds, my first reaction is “Oh shit, here comes the sun.”

Every time I say that I feel like a freak. Everyone else seems to flourish in the sunshine. I flourish on dark rainy stormy days. What does that say about me?? I have only met two other people who are like me in that regard. I’d love to discover that there are more of us out there. What about you? How do you feel about rainy days?

Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

O is for Ocean

OIt all started with our road trip to Myrtle Beach, SC, by way of Shreveport and Atlanta. We headed out around midnight and stopped at 5am to gamble for a few hours at the casino in Shreveport. After a free breakfast buffet, we took our winnings and got back on the highway. We hit Atlanta just as the morning rush hour was starting and we got lost as we cruised around looking for the Fulton County Stadium so Brian, an avid and almost maniacal baseball fan, could say he’d seen the stadium where the Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series.  

We finally reached Myrtle Beach. We settled in to our ocean front room, showered and, because we’d been on the road for two days, crashed hard. The next morning we got up early and hit the beach.

Brian had never been to an east coast beach and it had been years since I’d been in Myrtle Beach. The day welcomed us with sunshine and balmy breezes and the ocean waves beckoned us with promises of fun and adventure. We goofed around in the water for quite a while then both of us got quiet and we just laid back and let the water wash over us, yielding to the push and pull of the waves.  

There’s something so enchanting about the ocean water and the weightlessness that you feel as the waves lift and transport you. Brian says being in the ocean water feels like God has his arms around him.

I don’t know how much time had passed as I floated, scanning the expansive horizon and the far off waves, which glittered like diamonds in the sun’s beams. I turned to say something to Brian and was immediately overwhelmed to see how far I was from the shore. At the time I hadn’t realized it, but I was about 1/8th of a mile away from the shoreline, a little more than the length of two football fields. I started to panic, and the more I panicked, the farther out the waves took me. I yelled to Brian. He hadn’t noticed how far out I had drifted either. He could see the fear in my face and hear it in my voice. He kept telling me, “Just go with the waves. When the wave comes in, swim into it and let it bring you closer. I’m coming to get you. Just stay calm.”

It seemed like forever before he finally got to me. But he did and as soon as I fell into his arms I felt safe. I knew he’d bring me all the way back in. And he did. Just in time for a big wave to swipe the glasses off his face! Then it was my turn to rescue him. I took him by the hand and led him back to our hotel; he couldn’t see even mere inches in front of him. Of course it was the weekend and we had to wait until Monday morning to go see an optician and get him a new pair of glasses. 

It was definitely a vacation where we learned the formidability of the great ocean and we both came away with deep reverence for its power.

The respect which I had always held for the ocean deepened to an awe of its tremendous deception. The ocean is a world foreign to the one that I’ve so self-confidently navigated on land. It moves to its own rules and is merciful to none. What happened to me sounds like such a tiny little incident in comparison to what others have experienced in the great depths of the ocean blue, but it was enough for me to admit complete inferiority and bow down to its great might. It also gave me trepidation to enter its world again. I may walk a short distance into the salt water but I’m way more comfortable sitting on the shore and admiring it from afar…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tell me your ocean stories…

Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. Photos by Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

M is for Monte Carlo

MI CAN’T DRIVE 55 – A Love Affair with My Monte Carlo©

My first car: a ’71 Monte Carlo. A 350 4-barrel dual exhaust blue beauty that could do zero to sixty in 4.9 seconds. Always washed and waxed, the wheels shined and the black hard-top glistened. The neighborhood cop dubbed me “the Blue Streak.” He told me once that he could always hear me coming (who couldn’t?) but just as he’d look up, he’d catch only a glimpse of sky-blue as I sped past and never quite managed to stop for the stop sign at the end of his street.

1971 Monte Carlo120-watt Jensen speakers blasted shades of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Iconic tunes blended with the haze of purple microdot, orange sunshine or the rainbow-color blotter of the day, accented of course by the sweet aroma of Colombian Gold.

rolling papers - E-Z Wider 1-1/2

A pack of EZ Widers rolling papers was always strategically wedged under the 8-track cartridge. It was the burnouts’ solution to control the ‘waah-waah’ drag of overplayed warped tape.

 

Nestled in the crook of the ashtray would be my favorite head-shop find: the Jimmy Carter roach clip. Our political declarations – or lack of them – spoke volumes as we passed around “Mr. Jimmy,” as he fondly became known… that presidential roach clip with a handily crafted resin peanut on the end, and liberally carved into it those famous Jimmy Carter lips and toothy grin.

With carefree spirits we’d cruise to various neighborhoods, making the rounds to support our friends and their garage bands.

We’d bar-hop nightly, jumping across county lines to catch the latest last-call. And we’d always make a final stop for breakfast at Sambo’s or Denny’s before rolling home at dawn.

The summer days were spent moving from party to party at Oppenheim Park: sitting atop weathered picnic tables, passing joints and vintage Power Hittersharing bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 MD 20/20 Pure Grape Wine  (how  ever did we drink that stuff??) while cases of Labatt’s Blue and six-packs of Miller ponies sat icing in the back of someone’s van.

We’d pass the cold months sitting parked in some dark lot, bundled up and huddled, with the Chevy’s heat blasting to assuage the bitter sub-zero temperatures of Buffalo winters. We’d trip and we’d smoke and we’d drink while we laughed and played and flirted and philosophized, listening to tracks of The Guess Who, Van Halen, AC/DC and Aerosmith.

And on those rare days when I wanted to be alone, my Monte Carlo satisfied my introspection. She and I would take to the wide open highway, barreling along aimlessly. Or we’d wind through back country roads, a joint in hand Vintage roach stone - marijuana leafand a chilled bottle of wine tucked in between the seats, usually not knowing quite where we’d end up…just content to be rolling.

Well, the seasons, they turned into years, and the years into decades and my Monte Carlo is long gone. But that car lives on forever in my heart. She was an extension of me, part of my identity really, somehow inextricably linked to my very soul. No doubt when friends look back on days gone by and happen to think of me, my Monte Carlo will spring to mind as well because, after all, she was so much a part of me. How I miss that car!

Tell me about your first car: Did you love it? Hate it? What memories does it hold for you?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

I is for Illusion

All is Vanity image by Charles Allen Gilbert

Charles Allen Gilbert completed the classic black & white optical illusion in 1892. It can be seen as a pretty girl admiring her reflection in a mirror, or as an ominous skull in the background. The tableau is exquisite and the message is clear.

Illusion: the image created by imagination and having no objective reality. Things look different than they really are. Illusion is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality, a false impression.

Do you get caught up in the constant drive to achieve some ideal and seemingly unattainable version of yourself and your life? I do. Or I should say I used to. I don’t so much anymore because after 50 years it’s finally sinking in that so much of what I see is illusion.

I see model-thin women, making self-deluding statements with their latest must-have fashions, and for years I’ve been insanely jealous but now I know that what lies beneath the veneer of confident smiles is a woman who is just as unsatisfied with her body as I am with mine.

Every day I see façades of happy couples but I know that behind the façade is a pair of individuals who are essentially miserable being married.

I see those who have so much money they couldn’t possibly spend it all in a lifetime, yet they hold on to it so tightly as if that money defines their identity and is inextricably tied to their core being. I can’t help but yearn to have that kind of money and I tell myself, with me, it would be different; I wouldn’t fall victim to its spell. But is that the truth?

I look to all the mansions and expansive homes with indulgent envy but I’m pretty sure now that the people inside are just as fucked up as the rest of us.

TS Eliot said “Humankind cannot handle very much reality.” I’d say that’s probably not far from the truth. We all seem to live in a land of illusion and for the most part, we seem to be pretty okay with it…maybe because we don’t even realize it.

So, is reality overrated? What do you think? Is illusion a preferred state?

Welcome to the grand illusion
Come on in and see what’s happening
Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
The stage is set, the band starts playing
Suddenly your heart is pounding
You’re wishing secretly you were a star

But don’t be fooled by the radio
The TV or the magazines
They’ll show you photographs of how your life should be
But they’re just someone else’s fantasies
So if you think your life is complete confusion
‘Cause you never win the game
Just remember that it’s a grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same
We’re all the same

So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because your neighbor’s got it made
Just remember that it’s a grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same

America spells competition
Join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motorcar
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder
What on earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder
Who the hell we are

Lyrics to “The Grand Illusion” by Styx, the title track of their 1977 Grand Illusion album

I

 

Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.