Sunday, December 09, 2007

Black Moments

As writers, we all know what this means, what it entails, its signifigance to the story, the necessity for the character arch, the need to justifiy the Happily Ever After. That moment so dark, so helpless, there is no way the hero and heroine can possibly make it. It's over. It's done. And you wait with eager anticipation, flipping the pages, reading faster and faster, your heart in your throat hoping the two pull through, regardless of this huge, horrible BLACK MOMENT.

Possibly the most heartwrenching black moment I've watched/read was in the movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommended it.

Never have I felt what I experienced when watching that movie. Such despair. Such desperation. A love that ended in such pain, you choose to wipe it all away. Better to have loved and lost to have never loved at all? No thanks. The pain is too great. Erase it.

And you relive the moments as they're being erased, you remember the beginning, the pure fun and excitement, the exhiliaration of seeing each other, the skipping heartbeats at a single touch, the thrill that not only have you found someone you'd searched for - hoped for - but that unbelievable passion and breath-taking realization of that person loves you back. Those are there, and you see it all again, you RELIVE it, every smile, every word, every touch, forced to remember before the stresses of every day had hit, before the mundane drowned it out. But the memories, those moments, they fade during the removal along with the bad times you wanted taken away, and you scream, "No, not this one. LEAVE ME THIS ONE!" and then it's just... gone. The absolute panic, pure desperation to hang onto what once was. What you'd give, what you'd say, to not lose what was once there. When you finally see it really being gone FOREVER, you belatedly realize you not only desire it, crave it, you have to have it. You need it. Even through those bad times. Even through daily stresses. You look at the relationship from beginning to end in mere moments, months and months zeroed down into snapshots and you see how much the great times outweighed the bad times together. Then you blink, and the process is over, and all the moments, all the memories, are lost. Not even a shadow remains of what once was.

In this particular movie, with this huge black moment, I honestly didn't see a way to achieve the Happily Ever After. But the hero and heroine run into each other again, total strangers to each other now, but Fate brought them together again, this beating of hearts that matched so perfectly, looking into each other's eyes and seeing a reflection of something great, knowing in their soul that whatever "this" is, it's huge and needs to be explored.

And they started again. Fate was stronger than anything that could ever be erased, no matter how hard we tried to make that pain go away.

If it's meant to be, it just WILL be.

Better to have love and lost than to never love at all? I don't know. I really don't. But I do know we have to go on faith, even when that faith is shaky, because you never know what sneaky Fate has in store, and in the end, it may have been worth the pain just to experience the ride, to record in your heart and mind those amazing times over and over again, those little snapshots of love.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Hunt for Hidden Treasures and the Pitfalls of Finding Them

I know, I know. I said I'd post about this the day after the last post, but alas, I didn't. Here it is though.

I cannot reveal what "the item" I really, really wanted was, because I never know if one of the older children may come over here and read, and it's such a huge surprise, it must remain a secret until after Christmas morning. But here is the story of the hunt for two of the items I really, really wanted to get, two items were the reasons for me to head out at 3am after a cold front hit Texas. If my kids ever, ever question my love and devotion to them, I'm absolutely pointing them to this blog.

I think, in general, my mother thinks I'm a not-so-nice person. I don't attend church all the time as I was raised to do. I don't talk the "right way", do the "right things" (in her opinion, of course), and I'm sure the way I do every single little thing could be done ohhhhh so much nicer. I believe with all my being that my mother loves me and adores me, but that inately she feels I'm not one of those who people say, "She's 'good people'." Frankly, I'm okay with that. I have no problem making waves if I feel strongly about something. I have no problem at all saying what I think the moment I think it. I'm stubborn, short-tempered, and patience never even knocked on my soul as I was created. I'm passionate and tenacious to a FAULT.

But I do try to be a good person in general, with basic kindness and friendship and small, simple gestures so ofter overlooked these days. I've never met a stranger - thus the bonding with the married couple in front of us that day at Toys R Us and I am the first person to let someone else in front of me if I'm not in a rush and I can sense that they are. Why do I do this? Because it makes me feel better, makes others feel better, and waves out positive vibes into The Land of Karma.

All of this I pointed out to my mother after the following things occurred:

We left Toys R Us around 5:45am with everything we went after, save that one item and rushed over to Target, where no incident occurred at the door (YAY!) I had ONE thing there I desperately wanted that was ONLY at Target. My mother grabbed a cart while I bolted in and out of clothing, staying off the main and crowded aisles, and headed straight for the toy department, knowing what I was after would be on an end-cap. I found the end-cap, and lo and behold, ALREADY empty. I sighed. This was one of Sydney's big gifts. ONLY found at Target, and, I suspect, ONLY on Black Friday. I was dismayed and another lady and I sighed and shrugged at each other, told her my story, she told me hers, then she went off to find something else. A lady in the cluster of people around us tapped my shoulder, and said, "I picked up two. Here... take one of mine."

I was floored. Absolutely shocked. There are rare, rare moments when I have nothing to say, no words utter forth, but this was one of those times. I squeeked out, "Are you sure?" as my fist clenched in a painful effort not to snatch it and run.

She said, "Absolutely. I grabbed two just in case, but I only NEEDED one. Go ahead."

I swear, it took everything in me not to break down in sobs. I was on an emotional overload after the Toys R Us failure on one gift, the fight behind us, the rush to Target, then the dismay at not finding this one. Add in only 3 hours of sleep, and I was already a wreck. I thanked her profusely, and if fate would have it, maybe someday she'll stumble upon this blog and realize what a huge difference she made in at least one life that day.

I found my mom stuck with the cart on one of the main aisles and told her what happened as I placed the precious item in the cart, under my jacket (I was seriously afraid someone may take it from the cart.) She just stared in amazement.

From there, we went to Walmart. We had very few items we wanted there, but one thing I wanted was what Toys R Us ran out of. Walmart has a POLICY of price-matching on the exact item, so as long as they had that in the brown color, it should be mine. I rushed to the department and asked. The manager said he had price matched it, but was out. Ugh! My bummed heart!

I looked at Mom who had this "give it up" look on her face. I gave her a look back that said, "Uh, no."

We rushed to another Walmart further out of town, I bolted to the department, and OH MY GOSH! They had eight of them! In BROWN! It was mine! I had my Toys R Us ad in my trembling little hand as I went up to the department manager to ask for one and have it price matched.

He said they weren't doing it. My jaw dropped, my heart sank. Then he said that another woman had just been there and was up talking to the store manager. I said, "Point me the direction, because now there will be two of us."

I went up there, my mother - never the trouble-maker - trailing a bit behind me. I saw a cluster of 3-4 people talking near the front, and one broke away and walked toward me. I said, "I'm looking for the store manager."

He said, "I'm the co-manager."

I held out my ad and said, "It's your store policy to price match. You have this exact item, I have my ad, and I'd like to buy it, please."

He said, "No. I'm not doing it. It's a percentage off, not an exact price, and the policy states we don't match percentages."

Um, WRONG ANSWER. I used to work for Walmart parttime over the holidays several years back. I KNOW that policy. He was partially right; they don't match percentage off ads. However, this not only said "Percentage of savings: 60%" but it gave an EXACT price. The percentage he attempted to use wasn't the "ad price" but to let the customer know the percentage of savings.

I start out nice. I really do. He, however, succeeded in pissing me off. I said, "You obviously don't know your store policy well, yet you co-manage. I'll continue to the manager who understands how the policy works" and promptly left him standing there. The other group was a lady and her son and the manager, and she'd been sent by another Walmart to that Walmart for the same item I was after.

I walked up, overheard her, and said, "Yeah. That. I came from another Walmart (different than the one she'd come from) and they were price matching this product as well. I know the story policy on price matching, and you, me, and that co-manager over there (pointing to him) know that the percentage listing here isn't what you're attempting to make it. You don't get to pick and choose price matching. You either do it or you don't. And no where in the policy does it state, 'We match competitors' ads EXCEPT on Black Friday.'"

The manager grinned at me, turned to the co-manager, and ordered him to go and get two of those items, one for me, and one for the other lady. The look on that co-manager's face was priceless. I beamed. I thanked the manager over and over as my hand clutched the item to my chest. He grinned back and said, "Merry Christmas."

We bolted for the check out and left. As I walked out the door, I turned toward where he stood and waved, mouthing another "thank you". He smiled and waved and went to calm some other frantic mother out there trying to do her best for her kids.

Two of the biggest items I'd wanted that day weren't mine to have. Twice, I lost. But due to the kindness of strangers in two different incidences, I ended up with them in the back of my van and relief and happiness in my heart.

We got in the car and I said to my mother, "I know you think I'm not that nice of a person, but all of this that's happened today, that's good karma coming back."

She just said, ever so unapologically, "You should still go to church though."

I laughed, started the car, and cranked up the Dixie Chicks' song SIN WAGON. Life is good. Just follow your heart and your never-ceasing tenacity. Never settle. Never.