Saturday, July 26, 2014

"I prefer the errors of enthusiam to the indifference of wisdom."               ~ Anatole France


Can you imagine a perfect little two-story brick Tudor house, complete with diamond-paned windows in the tiny entry room and a huge full-grown pine tree in the front yard, along with the best neighbors you could ever ask for right next-door to all that? Well, I don't have to imagine it, because that was our first house!

C'mon inside... 

Our little house was based on a much smaller floorplan of a medieval cathedral with just a few differences. The living room was based on the nave of a cathedral. It had a vee-shaped ceiling nearly two-stories high, but, instead of an altar, the focus of the living room was the brick fireplace, just perfect for the snowy winters in Omaha, Nebraska. The windows on either side of that fireplace weren't stained glass, but they were situated perfectly so you could see that glorious pine tree standing guard outside. 

Turning around and looking back towards the opposite wall, you'd see a very small, arched window midway up that 2-storied wall called the "leper window." In medieval cathedrals, lepers were allowed to kneel at that window up-stairs there and watch the church service. They were far enough away from the congregation not to give offense, that way.

In our house, though, you could go up the stairs to the second floor hallway, sit on the floor if you wanted to, and look down on the entire living room. It would have been lots of fun for kids to do when their folks had parties, I suppose.

I loved that house! Richard would push back in the big leather chair and read, while I'd sit cross-legged on the couch grading my students' artwork, writing encouraging commets on the back of each one next to the grade. Every night Clancy would back up to the couch right next to me, sitting down carefully, with both front feet on the floor and his hind end touching me... Clancy was a big Old English Sheepdog! I've never seen a dog, before or since Clancy, who sat comfortably on a couch, exactly like a human being! I knew he was comfortable because, as I graded the art work, he would turn, look at at me, and sigh. Clancy was the smartest dog whoever owned me!

There was one big problem for me, though ~ asthma! What a stupid thing to invade me when I was 7 months old. Many a night, I'd have to sit straight up to sleep if I wanted to breathe for the rest of the night.  Eight hours of sitting-up-wheezing sleep isn't nearly as good as lying-down-quietly sleep, let me tell you...

One day after school, as I wandered through the corner drugstore, I saw a new product. It said that if you took it, you'd be wheeze-free. It was worth the money to get to hear pure quiet for a whole night, so I bought a big bottle. The directions said that I could take 1-2 pills, so I dashed back home, grabbed a big glass of water, and washed 'em down. Then I sat down on the couch with pen and paper to write a long overdue letter to my Mom and Dad. Clancy nudged me over a little bit so his bottom would be in a more cozy place, and I began to write about something funny that had happened in one of my art classes that day. 

As I wrote, I found myself giggling, and then I started to laugh, and then...  well, something came over me... enveloped me... and it was wonderful... euphoric... I suddenly understood the whole world and all the people in it... I LOVED THEM... every last one of the people in the world... You see, people just didn't understand that everyone was good... really G O O D... people just didn't understand how wonderful every single person was... I, on the other hand, DID understand... I... it... they... oooh, it was so much fun sitting on this fluffy-white cloud and just floating...

Then I looked down from my "cloud" and I found that the letter-writing I was doing to Mom and Dad had drifted off the paper and wandered across my jeans and dribbled onto the couch! And it wasn't human writing at all... it had turned into loops and scribbles and gibberish - artful, but gibberish, just the same.

This writer whose story you are reading had always been secretly proud of the fact that she had never done drugs or even smoked a cigarette in her life... a beer or two or three in college, yes. But nothing more! But I was pretty sure that I had just been a true "druggie" for a little while! How long? I have no idea... not long enough, though. It had been so unreal and I had been so high!

I got up off the couch, walked into the bathroom, grabbed the bottle of the "new-and-improved" asthma symptom relief medicine, and realized that I'd "had a trip, man... a real trip!" It had to be thrown away right then and there! It had to be! But do you know what I did? I didn't throw it away. No! I actually put it in a far-away corner of the medicine cabinet, just in case. "Just in case" what, Terry Ann Kingston Waldron?????? 

To allow you to stop surmising, I found that bottle about a year later and I DID throw it away, un-re-opened. And they DID take it off the market about 6 months later.

But that night, when I walked back into the living room, there was Richard, still sitting in his chair reading the newspaper. And there was Clancy, wondering when I was coming back to sit on the couch and grade my papers so he could do some more sighing... And I guess that makes you, readers, the first to know that I, Terry Ann Kingston Waldron, had "tripped out"... Oh, it was a trip, man!" 
     

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