The day before we evacuated for Hurricane Gustav a handful of weeks ago, I dropped by our elderly neighbor's home to find out what their evacuation plans were and to share my family's. They are a wonderful couple that have lived in this home for over thirty years, friendly and both interesting and interested.
Needless to say, I rarely visit them. Yep, I'm that neighbor. I'm the one that smiles and waves, greets you through the fence, buys lemonade at your child's lemonade stand, but generally doesn't step into your yard.
The day I stopped by to discuss evacuation plans was not the first time I had knocked on their door, but it was the first time I accepted an invitation to come inside. I did not have our two toddler boys with me at the time, so was enjoying the rare moment in which I could make decisions independent of everyone else's immediate vicinity to impaling devices. As such, I happily stepped into what I expected to be a very similar floor plan as our own home, our houses being two of the oldest on the street.
The home I found myself standing in was, instead, the home our house wishes it could be. I did not hide my enthusiasm for their renovations, so the Mrs. welcomed me to tour the home with her so she could point out the changes.
After a walk-through that had my brain mapping out blueprints for the virtual mansion I wish our home could one day become (okay, more like bungalow with a larger family room), we returned to the kitchen to find the Mr. waiting for us with a plastic bag full of something heavy and plentiful.
Mr.: Do you like pears?
Megan: Sure, we love pears.
Mr.: I thought you might, so I picked these while you were with the Mrs. They are from our tree out front.
Megan: Oh my, thank you! I always wondered if those were edible.
Mr.: They aren't good for eating, but they're fine for baking. I thought you could bake a pie with them when you get back.
Megan: (trying to comprehend a couple foreign words he used in those sentences) Sure. Absolutely... I. will. bake. a. pie.
Mr.: smiling proudly, having helped a young mother provide a special treat for her young family...
Her young family who are actually completely oblivious as to what a pie is or how one would be made from scratch and then baked in that big white thing we make grilled cheese sandwiches on top of, if we're lucky.
I left with my bag of freshly picked pears, plopped them on my kitchen table, and then forgot about them. What did stick with me, though, was how casually he had said I could "bake a pie with them." As though of course I knew how to bake. A pie. With fresh ingredients.
I am a young mother, with a young family, on a tight budget, and I do not know how to bake a pie. I sure do have a cute apron, though. One I designed and had made from a vintage table cloth. One I had made by a friend I met online, from a table cloth I bought online, and which I intended to sell online in order to help support my family.
That is the mother that I am. I don't bake pies, creating them from scratch, slipping them into the oven to bake, then serving them to my expectant family at the dinner table.
Rather, I Google pie images, digitally insert them into graphics programs and then virtually publish them from my digital desktop for my statistically relevant online audience to consume.
I suspect I'm missing something here. For all that my .com resourcefulness gets me, I suspect that a certain amount of real "calm" could be gained from that real pie.
And that is what stuck with me.
In the days to follow, long after the pears had to be thrown out, I was still thinking about that pie. That damn pie.
After a long day of wrangling editors and answering questions from PR emails, I turned off the computer, loaded the boys in the car, and headed over to my parents' house for a bit of a break. After satisfactorily distracting the boys, I plopped down on the couch and found a movie to watch. Waitress starring Keri Russell was on, a movie I had heard great independent-movie things about.
And I'll be damned if it wasn't about pies.
What followed was roughly two hours of watching pies being made. The filmmakers might suggest that there was a plot line and a romance and something about marriage and babies and career, but all I saw was pies. Pies, and a simplicity that my life has been missing lately.
I've written only one blog post since then, because I more or less turned off the computer and started reassessing the clutter in my life, both literally and figuratively. For those of you that have been reading me a long time, you know I do this every now and then. I don't make a big fuss about it, I just don't show up for a few weeks.
But this isn't about blogging. I'm not looking for comments that read "I'm glad you're back!" or "I missed reading you." The web is stuffed full of enough to keep you occupied, and I think that is precisely my point.
This reassessment of our priorities and taking inventory of our homes and goals is relevant to every single one of us. Or at least it should be.
When I wrote Gravel Paves the Road to The White House, my point was not a small towns vs. cities one. Rather, it was about taking the time to listen, to absorb, to process and integrate the mass amounts of stimuli we are faced with every single day. It was about taking the time to settle the white noise in our heads.
You didn't notice it happening, but then you step outside one evening, discover it quiet, and realize that you have cocooned yourself within a wall of static.
That pie. That damn pie that I never made, sliced through my static.
This is about simplicity. It is about appreciating what I already have at my fingertips. What I've struggled to build but then sometimes take for granted. It is about what I let slip by me every day and never notice. It is about that woman that I'm going to get around to being.
So... I've been cleaning. Decluttering. Stepping back and asking questions, making decisions, taking action. Slicing through the static I've let accumulate, static that I've allowed to drown out something important that I can't quite put my finger on but that I can sense is still there.
Maybe it's the stress from all of this screeching panic on the news each day. The economy. The bailout. The election. The noise the noise the noise.
You don't notice it sneaking up on you. You don't think you even care. But then there it is. Regardless of how much you think it affects you, you find yourself needing to make a decision, put your foot down, stake your claim.
Close your eyes, take a breath, exhale. Open your eyes. Step back. Sit down. Stand up. Move forward. Slow down.
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