The Quilt

img_4545The quilt was an idea I had several years ago.  To get t-shirts from past Geek Galas, along with from some of our sponsors, and put them together as an auction item to help raise money for the event.

It took a while to get it together – to gather enough shirts, to find someone to quilt it, to get it done in time for the Gala.  I had been talking about it for a while, and I know that some folks started to lose faith in it ever getting done – because sometimes projects are just pipe dreams you talk about but never do.

But this year was the year.  I’d found someone willing to help me, I had piles of t-shirts from various movies, films, tv shows, and sponsors.  Donna (my quilter extraordinaire) and I had set a date to meet up so I could hand over the 2 bags of options, and she could get started.

As I made sure I had t-shirts from all the past years (2010 – 2015) – I knew that some of the t-shirts were the last ones I had for that year – which meant this quilt would truly be one of a kind.

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Donna holding up the quilt right before handing it to me for this year’s auction at the Gala.

Donna dropped the quilt back off to me a few days before the Gala.  As my hands passed over all the beautiful stitching, and all the shirts with their memories, I knew I wanted to keep it.  But this was for the Gala, and I had strict rules about stuff for the Gala.  Anything someone hands me for the Gala never belongs to me.  I don’t bid on things, I don’t buy raffle tickets, I would never want to do anything that would make people feel like they couldn’t bid against me or that I had rigged the raffle.  It’s just not okay.   People are so kind and generous with their donations for the Gala, it wouldn’t be right for me to keep it and not have it go where it is intended.

The quilt was amazing – and I happily showed it around to various folks – took it with me to the CW TV station, showed it around my office, told everyone about it.

On the night of the auction, I gave the emcee the list of descriptions and the order of the auction, making sure the quilt was last. I busied myself and ensured we had the card machine ready to process the payments as pieces were bid on.

When the quilt came up for auction, it made me glad to hear some of the “oohs” and “aahs.”  It seemed like 40 hands immediately went up to start the bidding.  The emcee chuckled and just started going up by fives until eventually just a few hands were left.   I tried to focus on processing payments – I didn’t want to see who was lucky enough to take my prized project home.

Finally, the bidding stopped – it had brought in over double what any other piece had earned. I looked up from my tablet to see 3 of my dear friends in front of me.  “We need to split this 3 ways – we bought this for you.”

And I just lost it.  I cried and cried.  I cried so hard, I had to put my hands up over my face to hide the ugly cry.  My friend, LC, just kept saying, “Oh Joey, don’t cry.  Oh Joey.”

Another friend, hearing the good news, told the emcee what had happened.  I tried to wipe the tears from my face as he relayed the news to the crowd.  I covered my face with hands again, and opened them to see a group of folks standing up and clapping in excitement for me.  I cried some more.  I’m even crying some now as I type this. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.

I was later told that the other group bidding on the quilt had planned to give it to me as well. Which made me cry some more.   I had my friend Tiffles take the quilt home with her that night – she was one of the 3 bidders along with LC and KSmiles – and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to it.

Tiffles brought it back over to me last night.  It made me so happy when I saw it.  I didn’t even take it out of the plastic protector I had originally placed it in – I wanted to wait and just make the moment last.

This quilt, this amazing quilt, is just a thing.  But the love and kindness and the friendship that are now stitched in to it by the generous people that fill my life – that is what it means to me now.  And I’ll probably cry about it some more.  And that is okay.

 

“So you guys dated, huh?”

I nod.

“Wow, I can’t picture you guys together.”

It’s a statement I’ve heard a few times. The Geek world tends to run in small circles, so it’s not uncommon to run in to ex-boyfriends or dating partners. My goal is always that if we liked each other enough to start dating, we can like each other enough to be friends or at least friendly acquaintances when we stop dating. I don’t need to be their best friend; I just don’t want to be their sworn enemy because we weren’t ultimately a good fit.

It’s easy to pick out the things that didn’t work when talking about past loves. It’s easy to make the other person the enemy or the fool. But the truth is, there was something good and attractive that started the whole thing off in the first place.

The way he smiled at me when I was feeling alone. The way he made me feel beautiful when I really needed to be attractive to someone. The emails he sent that gave me something to look forward to, that inspired me to be witty and whimsical when I replied. The help he gave me when I just wanted someone else to take over for a while.

Even though he may have been the wrong one, each one did enough of the right stuff to get my attention. Sometimes that’s enough to give things a try. Hopefully, I was someone who gave as good as I got – that made the world a little brighter for a while.

I admit it. I like happy endings. I want people to see me and smile; I want to see someone from my past dating life and feel like I can walk up and give them a hug. I want us to be able to be real with each other and encourage each other as we look for new things.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….”

I strive (even if I don’t always succeed) to view past relationships that way. Each wrong relationship shows me what does and doesn’t work for me; what I can and cannot contribute. And each wrong relationship was made up of two people, both who crave and deserve love.

So yeah, maybe to the outside world, our union doesn’t make sense. But for us, for a short time, it did. And I’m grateful for the good things each one gave us.

Happy Trails Day

It was 9 years ago today that I packed my Toyota Corolla and headed west to Colorado.  I stopped by my mom’s to tell her goodbye, then got in my car and just started driving. 

My reason for leaving on February 13th was calculated:  I didn’t want to spend another Valentine’s Day with someone who didn’t know how to love me, or couldn’t commit to me not just in front of witnesses, but on a day-to-day basis.

I drove 3 days to start this new life.  It’s kind of ironic that I went from living in a brand new home with a queen-sized bed and a steady job and my friends and family around me, but lived in misery because of my marriage.  3 days later, I slept on a poorly-inflated air mattress in a cold 2-room basement sublet with no job and no local friends/family and yet I had never been so giddy.   I was finally free.

Tomorrow will be the first time in 5 years that I won’t have a Valentine or special someone to call my own.  I’d be lying if I wasn’t sometimes sad about it.  Not the loss of the person himself – because why be with someone who doesn’t want you as his forever girl? But just the concept, the emptiness of that space in my heart.

However, in reality? It’s okay.  Just like 9 years ago, I recognize the start of a new life.  In the past 4 months I’ve been able to better appreciate the great friendships, good job, and happy world I can create for myself.  I’ve got things I’m passionate about, things that make me happy, and a way to give back to others.

Finally, I’m a better person than I ever was.  I’m strong enough to love the right way.  And I’m ready to blaze a new trail.

“Two roads diverged in a yellowed and I?  I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference . . .” (Robert Frost)

Romance vs. 7-11

I once dated a taxicab driver for about 5 months.  I worked days, he worked nights and weekends. We would meet for lunch and/or dinner at my place, sometimes bounce some springs, and then he’d head off in to the night. 

I broke it off when I started to feel like his personal 7-11:  a place where he could get a quick bite, a few laughs, and some general affection (quick or otherwise). We never went out to eat – because going out to eat meant 2 more hours of him driving cab to replace the money spent.  He chipped in for the weekly groceries – and when we broke up he made sure to take half of the groceries with him.

I longed for romance, and I realized it just wasn’t part of his genetic make-up.  I don’t believe in yelling and arguing about these things, but we did have two rather serious conversations about it during the 5 months.  And then I realized it was better just to break it off as friends. I didn’t want to resent him for something that just wasn’t part of who he was, and I didn’t want him to resent me for trying to make him change.

Define romance,” said Rocker last night, after I told him this story. “Because if you ask 10 women to define romance, you will get 11 different answers.”

I thought about this for a bit before answering.

For me, romance is when someone shows you they care about you in a non-practical way.

It’s a noted effort to do something special for someone out of love and affection, rather than simply out of habit or obligation. 

When I did my internet radio show, I would often provide a list of 10 budget-friendly romantic gestures. Because romance doesn’t have to have a price tag attached to it.

I know one of my friends would find it romantic if her boyfriend would just ask her if she wanted a drink when he got himself one.  I was touched the first time a former boyfriend picked me up a pair of windshield wipers for my car when he was picking up some for himself.

But for me, romance is a silly card on my bedside table, a flower picked for me, a love note stuck in my jacket pocket.   A serenade in the middle of the grocery store, a slow dance barefoot in the kitchen.

And yes, there are ones that cost money too – and those should happen, even if only once or twice a year. An occasional reason to get dressed up for dinner or the local theater.  A surprise weekend getaway.  A gift certificate for a spa day or a mani/pedi.  Flowers at work. Chocolate. And yes, sometimes, jewelry.

But it doesn’t matter how much it costs if the sentiment behind it is not one of love. It’s not just what you do, it’s why you are doing it.  And your attitude towards doing it.  If you are doing it because you feel you have to – and I know it – then it all becomes bittersweet.

The poets most certainly say it better, but that’s my explanation for today.