my birthday week of men
i've always thought it kind of cool to be the lone girly fish in a sea of men. surrounded by testosterone, manly men sporting guns (the arm-candy kind), smiling and being shifty. if you're a woman and reading this, tell me i'm wrong. you can't. i know you too well.
it's my birthday week - yes, when you're this old, you get a week - and i started thinking about all the men that i have been around these past seven days. so, here's a list, in order of appearance :)
1. lloyd carter: he's my touchstone to my past. a father of a friend who reminds me just how good life was and is. his smile is contagious and his attitude, inspirational. len and i spend last sunday afternoon with his family, at the family reunion. since our parents are gone, we've adopted new parents plus an entire family. i can't think of any better than this man. thank you lloyd for loving me and showing me the way. you're a 91-year old-pistol!
2. his holiness the dalai lama: i know what you're thinking. you really weren't with him, but i like to think sharing the same air space counts for something. after all, a year ago, if you had told me i would be 'shooting' this man, i would have laughed in your face. so there's two moments here; one of opportunity and one of inspiration. being in gwinnett arena on wednesday proved that you're never too old to dream. if you want something badly enough, well, then, go get it. today, i'm 54, and i - along with my husband - want to be tops in the travel/writing/photography industry. i'm on my way because this week - i photographed THE dalai lama. wow. secondly, it never hurts to hear some common sense preached. simple concepts of love, compassion, respect - that's all it takes to solve the worlds greatest ills. sounds like the thoughts of another who changed the world. i'm overflowing with gratitude.
3. ty johnson: yes, he's my son, and i'm partial. as a mom, i have that right. over the past few months, he has been my inspiration. len and i have been watching him map out his life, attempting to figure out the path that will lead him to where he wants to go (and, yes, it has nothing to do with spelling). it's not where he wants to go that's impressive, it's the steps he's taking to get there. the old adage of "it's not the destination but the journey" rings true. he has taught me the importance of commitment to a goal and the risk of being steadfast and to jump when all those risks line up. i'm proud of him, and i'm proud to be his mom. i'm tickled-pink to find a hand-written note on the counter before sunrise. again, so much gratitude.
4. len garrison, sexy man: that's his listing in my phone. when i call upon my voice commands to dial him up, she always asks if i want to dial "len garrison, sexy man". i always giggle, and say yes. and then i giggle more when i realize that he's mine. and as he reminds me on my birthday card, he's "my own personal sheldon". and then i remind myself of just how lucky i am. rock-bottom was my only option until i found him - or rather, he found me. then he raised me up, allowed me to dream, and promised he'd be there every second. that - my friends - is the gift that keeps on giving. overflowing with gratitude.
so these are my men of this birthday week. a distinguished assortment of testosterone.
the 11alive forecast told of a perfect day in georgia. an "11" on the wizometer. i tend to agree. it's only a few hours old, and perfection is rising.
his face splattered across my big screen tv. still recognizable. i gasped. that's all i could manage.
my thoughts shifted to 1978 and a souped-up baby blue nova. to the guy with arms the circumference of watermelons (maybe this explains the temptation of dan uggla), with demonstrative movements that roared "i'm the man"', azure eyes as intense as the grand canyon, and a compact body that rendered me powerless and weak in the knees. then, there was that smile, a sly, edgy slope of the lips that was rare, but spoke volumes of intent. i made excuses to be in the same room as he, and i found myself carrying a crush that would endure for years. he became an inferno not easily doused by water or common sense. long before i knew what a 'bad boy' was, i had my very own.
while my fire continued to blaze, he remained comfortable in the field. the choice of every warm-blooded young teenage girl who registered a pulse. in the end it became clear, there was no prescription to tame a guy like that. what was i thinking? however, there were a few moments when his resolve withered and good old-fashioned desire won out. it was nice. in fact, it was too nice. on one cold november night, he even seemed normal, just like the high school quarterback, offering a christmas gift of overly expensive earrings, opening the car door, and then, altering his sly smile to one of genuineness. then, on that same night, the bad boy met a bad girl, and i was history.
fast forward almost thirty-five years. there was an accident, a fiery crash on atlanta's perimeter, and it was his moment. there are lots of descriptors for bad boys; most follow the usual stereotype. and for right or wrong reasons, most labels include running into catastrophe, attempting to save the day, which is what he did on this day when he saved a man from a burning vehicle. he was labeled a hero by the man and a community. and in true bad-boy fashion, he abated his response, giving credit to instinct. to god. to his parents.
my knees buckled when i saw my bad boy, just as they had years ago. i hadn't thought of him in years, but i had always wondered what became of his cherished nova and about the girl that finally crippled his heart. from the on-camera interviews, i could see his sly smile had been replaced by one of compassion. from the neck up, he looked much the same. as for the rest of him, my imagination will have to kick in.
congrats to my bad boy. now, the world knows exactly what i know.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.