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  • Writer's pictureJerri Lynn Sparks

A Soft Place To Land

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Well I'm looking for a soft place to land The forest floor The palms of your hands” – Kathleen Edwards, ‘A Soft Place To Land’ from the album 'Voyageur' I love the opening of the song “A Soft Place To Land” by Kathleen Edwards, one of my favorite musicians. The song begins with a violin and ends with an electric guitar and any song that can pull that off, the artistic transition from classical to badass, is alright by me. I like to think of it as a life goal – to move from classical little girl who curtsied and wore sunhats in the Southern sun (and who still does 😉 ) to the grown woman who goes for all the things… I started my day at 5:30AM when my cat who thinks he’s a dog saw a rabbit outside the window that he needed to protect me from, the village being recently overcome by rabid killer rabbits that must be stopped. Ever since Angel died, Midnight has been so lonely that he’s resorted to chasing all the things and keeping us safe from the incredible danger of tiny birds, outdoor cats, wild rabbits, random falling leaves and daily rainbows that taunt us through the prism in the kitchen window. It turns out even cats need something to chase and conquer. I lay there a few minutes looking out at the impressionistic light from the rain-streaked windows. On nice days like this it’s as if Monet has landed softly back to earth to visit for a while and to share a masterpiece with us if we just learn how to appreciate the small and maddening strokes of life’s uncertainties. You can see more in a blurry scene than you can in sharply drawn moments if your heart dial is set to “Dream.” I started thinking about my senior year of high school and the day I graduated. I was standing outside in the evening and all my friends were tossing their blue graduation caps into the air hooping and hollering and I just stood there still as the moon and took it all in. Even now that memory takes my breath away. There was so much uncertainty then but I was enthralled by all the possibilities. Somehow I knew then that I wouldn’t see most of these people ever again. I knew I was going far away… The imagery was beautiful – a blue Carolina sky filled with white and gold tassels clinging to navy blue rectangles – and I remember wondering: “How will we know which one is ours? And will they land softly?” The answer to the landing was easier: some of us did, others didn’t. By the time our five-year reunion rolled around, a few of our classmates had a hard landing and we’d never see them again in this realm. The part about knowing which one is ours is how we probably spend most of our lives though… The maddening stroke of uncertainty was there that night but my heart was pre-set to “Dream” from when I was a child. I don’t know if I picked up the right cap that day but I chose one and made it my own as I made my way to the car after saying all the teary-eyed goodbyes and promises I’ve yet to keep. I really did mean to “hang out at the pool all summer” with Aden and Kevin and Chris and Lisa and Lori and Tammy but what I did was drive immediately to the beach and promise the ocean I was going to love it forever. I’ve kept that promise at least. The ocean makes waves but I do too, imitation being the highest form of flattery. 😉 Now that my kids are in that same place, on the precipice of adulthood, not only do I wonder what they will become, what they will chase and where and how they will land, I wonder what’s next for me. I’m not sad about it like so many friends say they are, not yet anyway. I’m excited. I’ve taught my children well and they have good, practical minds. And while I’ve cared for them and given them all I can, I’ve also shown them that part of being a good steward of their lives is making time for yourself. For example, Friday night I was going to stay in and just be with them but my sons both said “No, mom, you should go out and have fun with your friends. We’ve got things to do with our friends and you deserve a break.” I’d already put on my lounge clothes and was curled up on the couch with a political show I love to watch but then I realized there are only so many chances to ride the waves of this life. The ocean gives and gives and gives but how often do we surf it? So I sprang up to my room, put on my new silky, off-the-shoulder red blouse and new black leggings, high-heeled boots and dangly crystal earrings, feeling all girlie and celebratory for no particular reason other than I’m alive and free and happy and healthy, and texted my beautiful ones and said “Meet me at TRATA!” And we had a wonderful night laughing and toasting to good times. When I got back home, my heart and soul thoroughly replenished with laughter and fun, my boys were still with their friends having their own good time riding the last few years of childhood waves… and I went to bed with a happy heart and a smile, having finally found a soft place to land. (Written right before the pandemic when we could still go out.) #SoloParenting #KathleenEdwards #Music #SundayMorningOfferings

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Charlie Yanaitis
Charlie Yanaitis
Mar 28, 2021

I went to the old Cardinal Mooney HS (it closed in 1989) and my class graduation was held at Eastman Theater. Afterwards, we all congregated outside the theater on the sidewalk and met with our families. I think all of us were bursting forth with glee on embarking in adult life! Five days later, I was on my way to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX for USAF basic training.

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