I’ll Close My Eyes and Then I Won’t See…

‘I’ll close my eyes and then I won’t see the love you don’t feel when you’re holding me…’   When I left my home for Daytona, I had no idea that I would meet someone who would have such a profound impact on my heart.  I was dating someone and he was the total opposite of the one who ignited a flame in me while I was in Florida.  Mickey was 21 years old to my 16.  I was unversed in love.  I was naïve.  I thought when someone said, “I love you,” it was because it was true.  Up until this point, I had had only one boyfriend and I had broken up with him after he went away for the military.  I was only 15 and he was so kind and so respectful and good, and I was ONLY 15.  I wanted to date, to go places, to be out and about.  He was, interestingly, also named Gordon.  However, upon breaking up, I met Mickey.  He changed the very course of my life because he changed how I saw myself, what I felt about myself, and how I valued myself.

I can’t even remember HOW I met him, but I remember his eyes.  Deep brown, maybe a little hardened, and maybe a little foreboding.  He was rough around the edges.  He was tough and when he drank, he was tougher.  He was very adept at drawing the attention of women and girls and he knew it.  There was just something about him that spelled trouble.  He didn’t have respect for women, but it took me a little while to figure this out.  By then, it was too late.  I had been worn down with the oldest line in the world, “You would, if you loved me.”  I was too young to realize that the response to this was, “You would wait and you wouldn’t pressure, if you loved ME.”

Like most women, I wanted the romance. I wanted the tenderness and the sensuality. I wanted my first time to be special.  It was, sadly, not to be the case.  When my first time happened, it was rough and painful.  It started out as it always did…making out in some isolated field or old logging road.  It was under the stars and could have held all of the romance in the world, but there was no gentle coaxing, no softly whispered words.  I resisted.  I said no many times, yet I found myself penned beneath him.  There was a stabbing pain and there were silent tears.  It didn’t last long, but it seemed an eternity.  My innocence was gone, in a matter of minutes, and I was left feeling decidedly not special.  Within a month or two, I just felt used.

He had a knack for cheating.  You could catch him, red handed, and he would lie his way out of the situation.  I tried everything I could think of and acquiesced to many of his demands to try to keep him.  He made sure I knew how to please him, but he never concerned himself with pleasing me, in any way.  I think I felt ashamed and almost obligated to try to make something good come out of this hell I found myself in. It never materialized.  It took many years and many experiences in life before I came to realize that NO is NO is NO.  I told him no and he took from me anyway.

When I left for Daytona, he tried to wield control over me to ensure I would not have a good time on vacation.  He tried to make me worry about what he would be doing in my absence.  For a minute, it worked…until I met a wonderful young man on this trip and he, Gord, became the love I can’t forget.

You’re the Girl I Could Wait a Lifetime For

You’re the girl I could wait a lifetime for…  I have heard this replay in my mind a million times.  He wrote it to me in letters.  He told me on the phone when we spoke.  He whispered it into my ear when we were together.  How could I not have faith and just believe in what he was saying?  It begins with other people telling you that dreams don’t come true; that long distance relationships never work out; that you just need to be practical and “get real” about what you want in life.  It ends with you (me) not following my heart and stupidly allowing other to dictate your (my) life.  Moral of the story:  Unless you have seen or someone can point to something that is a real indicator that a dream you are following is going to have an unhealthy outcome, ignore them.  Pursue, pursue, pursue…with diligence, perseverance, dedication, and faith.

I met him at the gloriously adventurous age of 16 on the beach at Daytona on my family vacation.  I was there with my parents, my little brother, some other family members, and my best friend, Mariece.  She and I were down on the boardwalk checking out our new surroundings and trying to look very “grown up” and cool.  As we strolled toward the arcade, we passed three guys who were taking particular note of us.  The minute Gord and I looked into each others’ eyes, the earth shook, the sun shone brighter, the waves broke louder…it was magical.  They found a way to approach us…I believe it was a skeeball challenge and we were off and running.  He and his friends were on holiday from Toronto (no parents in tow) and staying at a campground.  He wasn’t just easy on the eyes, this guy knew how to have a genuine conversation.  Gord was sweet, polite, fun, interesting, athletic, and incredibly handsome.  We were inseparable for the next seven days.  The day we packed up to leave, there were two songs that played several times as we lay on the beach for those last few hours talking about how we would stay in touch and when (not if) we would see each other again.  Those songs, Afternoon Delight and Kiss and Say Goodbye, became “our” songs.  The latter one, more especially, because over the years (yes, we did stay in touch and see each other again) it seemed we did a lot of kissing and saying goodbye.

Three years passed and during that time he came to see me and we wrote to one another at least once a week and spoke on the phone just as much.  Our conversations were sweet, excited, inquiring, and tender.  We were fully involved in each other’s lives.  He played ice hockey, football, and baseball.  I got calls to update me on wins and losses and, in the case of hockey, new scars.  I kept him updated on softball, my horse and my dog and cats.  We spoke of our studies and our plans for the future.  Those plans, for each of us, included the other.

We graduated high school and I declined to head straight into college.  My father was not happy with my decision.  I was a very “spirited and head-strong” girl.  I took a job working in a retail outlet and eventually went on to work at corporate headquarters for a grocery chain in Atlanta.  Gord did go on to attend college at University of Waterloo in Ontario.  There, he successfully completed his degree in engineering.  It was while he was at university that he made a trip down to Atlanta to visit with me.  This visit brought some awkwardness (my fault) and saw him leave feeling as if he knew me less.

Seems a good time to call it a night and prepare for bed.  I am a little tired and thinking back on all of this, while it brings me great joy and a smile to my face, it also brings me great pain and tears to my eyes.  I will come back to continue this story tomorrow.

Good night.

You’re the Girl I Could Wait a Lifetime For…More of the Story

I have to tell you that, with every letter I read, I believed more and more in the dream he and I had of one day being together.  We were a perfect fit.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly little whispers of words that discourage and repudiate the luster and indomitability of love can worm their way into the mind (never the heart) and work their destructive magic?  I know how precise is the aim of phrases like, “Long distance relationships never work.  Be practical.”, “Don’t you think you are just daydreaming?”, and “You are wasting your youth…time you should be dating and really enjoying life.”  It should be noted that my parents were NOT the ones saying these things to me.  THEY believed in the dream we had. Yet, when you are hearing these kinds of things from people you have loved and emulated most of your life, it is hard to remember one simple phrase.  Love can overcome. It was these things that caused the awkwardness.  It was almost as if I had sought to drive him away and he had DRIVEN 900 miles to see me.  Somehow, we managed to get past all of this and enjoy his visit, but that doubt haunted me.  Within a couple of years, I found myself a bride…one who had settled for less than she wanted because she stopped believing.  The real trouble with all of this was that I had never told Gord.

We each knew that the other was dating, but we were quick to let people in our lives know that we were not available for committed relationships.  I had fallen in love with this young man who finished his letters to me with sweet, sweet passages written in French that I would immediately set about to translate and he had fallen in love with me, his small town Southern girl with the soft drawl.  Yet, we still went out to dinner with dates to a movie, a game, a concert.  Gord told me of a young woman that he had gone out with.  She was attending the same university as he.  He told me that he had shared with her his commitment to me but she wanted to continue to see him.  She didn’t realize the depth of our feelings and thought that maybe something in his heart would change.  I would tell him if I had gone out with someone, but I was never very specific.  Neither of us were really.  I know it seems strange to say that we spoke with each other about our dating circumstances, but we understood the reality that we were very far apart in distance and we were young and wanted to socialize and couldn’t be with each other right then.  The only thing we knew for sure was that we had to be honest with each other…and I was for a good little while but those doubts just wouldn’t shake loose.

I met a man the summer of my 18th year and married him in April of my 19th year.  He was seven years older than me.  Lloyd had been married before.  He owned a home and had worked at his place of employment since he was 18 years old.  He owned a motorcycle and he was mature and settled.  At the same time, he was a little rough around the edges, yet gentle with me.  He was, when it first started, an adventure. The further down the road I went with Lloyd, the more I convinced myself that the people whose whispers I had heard were right…it could never be possible with Gord.  How could it?  He wasn’t here with me.  He wasn’t at my side.  Still his letters of love continued to show up in my mailbox even though I wrote less frequently. I began to plan my wedding and we set the date in April.  He gave me a beautiful ring.  I was feted by my family and friends.  I chose my maid of honor and bridesmaids.  We picked out dresses and flowers and tuxedos.  We chose our music.  We planned our honeymoon…and my heart was breaking.  It began to rain the week before my wedding day.  It rained for a full seven days until it finally stopped.  The weather simply mirrored how my heart felt.  It was like a runaway train and I didn’t know how to stop it.

One day, in particular, my sweet mother saw me crying and I think a light must have gone off in her head.  She came to me and asked had I called Gord to tell him I was getting married.  It was now only three days to go before the “I dos” and I looked at her in desperation and almost inaudibly told her, “No.”  She made me call him, right there, on the spot.  She told me, in no uncertain terms, that she would not be left to mop up this mess…she was not going to have to be the one to break the news to Gord.  I dialed his number and listened to the ringing of the phone while my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest.  He answered and I died a thousand deaths.  I told him that I had something I had to tell him and I then revealed to him that I was getting married in three days.

When he finally spoke, Gord’s voice was tender and soft, but cracked with emotion.  He asked me, “What do you want me to do, Lisa?  I am a college student and I can’t just hop on a plane and fly down there to stop you. I don’t have the money to do that.”  I told him, “I know. I know you can’t.  I don’t know what I want.”  Then he spoke to me and told me these words that have followed me all of these years and will not leave me alone.  He said, “Lisa, I don’t know what to say.  You are the girl I could wait a lifetime for and I know you will be a beautiful bride.  I know because I have imagined it a million times.  I love you and I hope you will be happy.”

I cried right up to the day of my wedding.  Yes, I went through with it.  No, it didn’t last.  No, the story of me and Gord did not end here.  Love, when left unfulfilled, is at it most romantic.  It creates, quite possibly, limerence.  Even more, it beacons the lover carrying the torch with promises of what might still could be.

As we go forward, I will write of later encounters with Gord.  All I can say right now is, “Electric.”  Oh, and good night.

What Do You Mean “Salon” Anyway?

Some months back, my cousin Jeff presented me with the idea of co-hosting a series of “salons” in his home.  The idea being that, since I love to cook and enjoy entertaining, it would be great fun to plan a menu for a dinner each month and invite different people from different walks of life to the table. I thought this was a tremendous idea.

As the weeks went by, the ideas began to formulate and a plan of action began taking shape.  I proposed that we visit a different country each month and prepare traditional foods, listen to the music of that particular place, and, in general, immerse ourselves in their story and become more knowledgeable while conversing and exchanging ideas.  I thought we were really on to something new and wonderful.

The first “salon” took us to Morocco.  We delved into the Persian and French influences and devised a menu that included Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives, Persian Jeweled Rice, Fattoush (shepherd’s salad), pita bread toasted, and variety of pastries and butter cookies from a Middle Eastern bakery.  It was a very impressive menu and quite an undertaking, but the outcome was magnificent.

We also served multiple bottles of Bordeaux and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Port with dessert.  The food was a success with the dinner guests, the wine was down to “not a drop left” at the end of the evening, and everyone appeared happy.  Yet, I had a problem.

The original idea my cousin had was to have everyone come early and participate in the preparation and cooking process.  I wasn’t really keen on this.  I love having everyone around while I am cooking, but too many chefs in the kitchen….well, you see my point.  Oddly enough, that didn’t turn into a problem.  One couple had to come a little late due to work constraints, and two were late because they couldn’t find us.  Jeff went to get them.  The conversations seemed to be moving right along while everyone was milling around the kitchen, library, living, and dining rooms, but once we all moved to the table, it became a little “broken down.”  “What happened?”, I thought to myself.  There was no real discourse that everyone could be involved in and I didn’t know what to do, but with the evening adjourning, I just pushed it to the back of my mind and figured we could direct it better next time.

Fast forward to the second month and it seems we are looking at a very similar guest list as we head to Sweden for a sample of their gastronomic delights.  The menu was set and we were serving Venison Steaks and Pork Loin Steaks rubbed in crushed juniper berries and peppercorns and then topped with a Blackberry and Lingonberry sauce, roasted potatoes with rosemary and sea salt, and a salad of apple,walnut, and celery with an apple cider vinaigrette, and rustic rye bread.  For dessert, we decided on a German Chocolate Cake.

Right out of the gate, three people begged off the day of the salon.  I called four people who had been with us before.  Two came and two didn’t.  The two who were late for being lost before (actually, one of the two did make it both times, but was stuck waiting for the one who said “lost”, “traffic”, “accident”…..) were late again for the same person and same reasons.  There was considerably less milling around and conversing and help in the kitchen this time, but I decided to take matters into my own hands at the table.  I tried culture of Sweden, ingredients of the food we were eating and the importance to me for fresh and organically produced, Monsanto, what country would you most like to travel to, etc.

I really got nowhere.  So, I came home thinking to myself, “What the hell is a ‘salon’ anyway?”  Now, I understand the source of my frustration and, hopefully, so will you.  Here is what I found:

From Wikipedia –

The salon was an Italian invention of the 16th century which flourished in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The salon continued to flourish in Italy throughout the 19th century. In 16th-century Italy, some brilliant circles formed in the smaller courts which resembled salons, often galvanized by the presence of a beautiful and educated patroness.

One important place for the exchange of ideas was the salon. The word salon first appeared in France in 1664 (from the Italian word salone, itself from sala, the large reception hall of Italian mansions). Literary gatherings before this were often referred to by using the name of the room in which they occurred, like cabinet, réduit, ruelle, and alcôve. Before the end of the 17th century, these gatherings were frequently held in the bedroom (treated as a more private form of drawing room): a lady, reclining on her bed, would receive close friends who would sit on chairs or stools drawn around. This practice may be contrasted with the greater formalities of Louis XIV’s petit lever, where all stood. Ruelle, literally meaning “narrow street” or “lane”, designates the space between a bed and the wall in a bedroom; it was used commonly to designate the gatherings of the “precieuces”, the intellectual and literary circles that formed around women in the first half of the 17th century. The first renowned salon in France was the Hotel de Rambouillet, not far from the Palais de Louvre in Paris, which its hostess, Roman-born Catherine Vivonne de Rambouillet (1588–1665), ran from 1607 until her death. She established the rules of etiquette of the salon which resembled the earlier codes of Italian chivalry.  —

From now on, I think I will forego cooking and just recline on my bed and invite people over!  To learn a little more about Salons, you can follow this link:  http://www.bdavetian.com/salonhistory.html

Recipes for the dinners thus far will be posted on the Recipe page.


Thinking of My Beginnings

When I was born, I was named by my father. He did this while my mom was still in the Recovery Room. So it was that I became Lisa Gaye Palmer…until my mama was brought to her hospital room and I was given to her with my baby bracelet secured around my wrist. She was so put out that my dad had just named me without her (they apparently had a couple of names picked out and he just veered off course) that she made the nurses change my name before they could even register my birth. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Lisa Joy Palmer-Caban and I hope you find some pleasure and laughter in my remembrances of growing up High on the Shoals.

Over the years, I have developed strong opinions on a variety of subjects. I have shared my thoughts with a million different people from all walks of life and from all over the world. Today, however, is very different and very special. Today, I am writing my first blog. It was set up for me by Maria Carter, the daughter of my cousin Jeff. She did it as a surprise for me and I am eternally grateful.