Silence Is Golden

February 19, 2010

I just spent 2 days in Kennebunkport, Maine and had such a great time.  At this stage in my life, my idea of a perfect vacation involves a cozy room, a fireplace, a good book and silence.  This was my sixth visit to The Captain Lord Mansion  and it is one of my favorite places in the world.  I discovered this B&B about 15 years ago when I was looking for somewhere for my family to spend Christmas, since my parents’ house was under construction and my sister Robyn and I both lived in small apartments.  Robyn was in law school in Portland, Maine, so I found a couple of places in Maine, sent my sister to check them out and The Captain Lord Mansion was at the top of my list. She (and my dad, if I remember right) visited it first and as soon as they walked in the door they were won over and made our reservation.

I can’t afford to buy milk right now, much less take a vacation, so this trip was my Christmas gift from my parents.  And boy, did I need it.  Since adopting Rahul almost 2 years ago, while I’ve had the occasional break, I hadn’t taken a vacation.  And I have to say, the thing I appreciated the most about the trip, was the SILENCE.  Its amazing how soothing the sound of silence is.  I literally parked myself in front of the fireplace in my room and read the whole time.  The breakfast cook told me about a man named Wilbur who visits there every Fall for 18 days.  He loves reading so much that he ships a big box of books to the CLM before he flies in.  She said he becomes a fixture in the wing backed chair in front of the fireplace in the mansion’s common room and just quietly reads from morning to night.  Sounds like bliss to me.

One of the books I took with me to read was Persuasion by Jane Austen.  I read it years ago, but recently saw a great exhibit of Jane Austen’s letters at the Morgan Library and it inspired me to re-read some of my favorites.  The first time I read it I was traveling on a Greyhound bus and the sun went down just as I got to the best part (the last two chapters are gripping and amazing!) and the light above my head went out.  Panicking, I looked around the bus for another seat and realized that they were all filled!  So I held the book up the window and every time we passed a street light I would read a few words.  I just couldn’t bear to wait until I got home to see how it ended!  So as I re-read Persuasion yesterday and was getting to the end, I realized it was time to check out of my room.  I really didn’t want to get into the car without having finished it.  So after I checked out and packed my car, I sat in the wing backed chair by the fireplace in the common room and dug in.  And just as I was nearing the end I heard the mansion staff whispering about me. Apparently I had earned a new nickname–Wilbur.

Money Changes Everything

February 12, 2010

Today there was a bake sale at my son’s school during lunch and I wanted to send a few dollars with him to school so he could buy himself a treat.  Now, I am about as broke as a person can be, but I set aside $3 earlier in the week so he could participate in this activity.  Right now, $3 is a lot of money to me! So this morning as I was explaining to Rahul about the bake sale, he asked if he could bring more than $3.  I should have just said no, but I felt tired of constantly telling him I don’t have money to buy things and I just wanted to be able to say yes. So I took another $5 out my wallet (that was already earmarked for something else) and gave it to him. I felt really good that I could give him something he asked for and he never spends all the money I give him for these things, so I figured I’d probably get it back.

So when I picked him up from school today, I asked if he bought anything at the bake sale.  And he said, “Yeah, and I gave Tony $4 because he wanted to buy something and he only had $2.”  Now, I have no idea who Tony is–Rahul has never mentioned him before. But right then I wanted to call his mother and GET MY MONEY BACK! I was furious.  I didn’t want to make a huge deal of it, because I know Rahul was just trying to be generous, but I wanted him to understand how to draw the line between being generous and giving away money we need for survival.  I thought of that scene in The Pursuit of Happyness where Will Smith’s character is asked casually by his boss to lend him $5 to cover cab fare and when he looks in his wallet at the last $5 he has to live on he struggles to give that money away rather than risk his reputation and therefore his future at his company.  Sometimes its just really hard to give away money.  And $4 to one person is $4,000 to someone else.

I have tried to teach Rahul about money and its a really complicated subject for us.  Rahul spent his first 7 1/2 year in poverty and when I adopted him he was suddenly thrust into a life where he can have nearly anything he wants.  When he boarded the plane in Delhi to come home with me, he had no possessions with him except for a book I had given him and the clothes on his back, which had belonged to his orphanage.  How do you guide a child through the transition from nothing to everything?

This is what Clarence the angel writes to George Bailey at the end of Its A Wonderful Life. I can relate to that movie so much. George has such a clear vision for what he wants to accomplish in life. And even though he has the talent to achieve success the way he envisions it, life just leads him in a different direction. He feels like a failure, because he hasn’t hit the marks he expected to, until he is shown what the world would be like without him. Then he realizes that he has led a very powerful life and his relationships and his virtues are what make him rich.

I cannot begin to express how similar my journey has been.

Today I am working on my business plan for the salon I plan to open later this year. My son is home from school because there is a snow day and he is playing Wii. Right now he’s very irritated that I am making him read the words on the game himself, because he is learning to read and he hates it. I adopted him from India when he was 7 1/2 and he is my favorite person in the entire universe. Although he is 9 now, he is still learning English. Actually, he speaks it very well. And very often. Reading just hasn’t clicked yet. My dog, who is the craziest thing you ever saw, is cuddling on the couch, snoring softly as he naps. He is my best friend. Yes, a dog. I have lots of human friends, too. People I admire and who constantly fascinate me.

I never planned on being a mom. Or being single. Or being a business owner. But somehow, this is my life! My wonderful, unexpected life.

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