After completely unplugging for several days, I am back and attempting to catch up on what I missed here in blog-o-land while away. I read post after post this morning and a bit this afternoon and evening when I could steal a few minutes. I found my head just spinning, trying to respond to diverse thoughts and meaningful reflections; some funny, some lighthearted, one so very generous, and some so compelling I’d just have to stop for awhile. And think.
When I was a kid, I grew up in a town not far from a beach and boardwalk, where there was a marvelous historic merry-go-round designed by the same carver who created the famous Coney Island carousel.
It is also one of only a handful of carousels in the world still featuring a working ring dispenser. Rings were once hand loaded by “ring boys,” as the young employees were called. The process was mechanized in 1950. Steel rings are used today, with brass plated rings added on special occasions. Riders on outside horses can grab rings from a dispenser as they spin, then toss them into a large clown’s gaping mouth, rewarded by bells and flashing lights.
I can remember, vividly, the fun of trying to get an outside horse, so that as the carousel spun us around, I would be positioned to grab a ring on each pass, and attempt to get it in the clown’s mouth. It was dizzying, but fun and I did it over and over and over, no sooner focusing again on the ring dispenser than the moment the ring left my hand. Other than the old wooden roller coaster, it’s the most vivid and sense-filled memory I have of many visits to the Boardwalk.
That’s how I felt today…up and down, laughing with one post, sighing with another, relating to something, and pondering the next; round and round.
And then I realized that my thoughts were more scattered than usual, it was a challenge to frame my reactions and responses in a comment as I spun around. And, isn’t that just sometimes the best part of this, the comments? The dialogue – the hilarity, the community, the validation – that ensues from so many posts – has been such a welcome surprise.
I thought about it and I realized that our comments, just like in our in-person conversations, are how we show that we are listening. We can’t just nod our head, or murmur an hmm-mmm in agreement. We meet each other with words; and today, plugging back in, I didn’t feel like I could quite reach the ring, let alone land it in its target. It was in reaching though, that it became clear that it is important to me that you know that I am listening.
It also dawned on me that in reading what you write, I feel stretched, to be better, to reflect more deeply and that the comments can bring out the best in us, sometimes just as much as our own posts, just in different ways. Some days what you write stops me in my tracks and sometimes the words I need to convey my thoughts – or depth of feeling – elude me. Or just take their own sweet time to arrive.
Like the merry-go-round, this also reminded me of something familiar from childhood – it brought back an old staple of growing up – mayonnaise. Well, not really mayonnaise, but the selling point employed in their advertising jingle: bring out the best.
I grew up in California where our mayo was known as Best Foods. My husband and I moved to DC when we were first married, and I remember searching high and low for the Best Foods: I scanned the shelves over and over looking for it, sure that I spotted it, not realizing I was seeing the same label with a different name. It wasn’t until I called a friend from home in CA, who had grown up in Baltimore, and while talking about the move and settling in, I mentioned the mayonnaise and she laughed. She had gone through the same thing when she moved from Maryland to California. Best Foods. Hellmans. All the same.
So for my east coast peeps and my west coast peeps and everybody in between and everywhere else, know that when you post, you challenge me to keep reaching for the ring and to bring out my best.
PS – If you are one who really can’t stand mayo – I’m married to one – my apologies for an analogy that makes you say ewww! 🙂