My 20 Years With ‘MidWeek’
Wednesday - January 04, 2012
A new year is like the illusive clean closet, the one that’s been purged of the skinny jeans, which turned out to be an oxymoron, low riders that rode where plumbers dared tread, and all neon tops. A new year is but life’s empty hangers dangling there yearning for a perfect fit.
2012 marks my 20th year as a MidWeek columnist. This means that 20 times over two decades I’ve stared into that bare closet of new beginnings and attempted to find that perfect fit, rhetorically speaking. A lot of mistakes and surprises have moved in and out of life’s closets since 1992 for me, for our state, nation, the world and I’m sure for you, too.
Personally, within that 20 year span, my parents and two mothers-in-law died, I was divorced, remarried and acquired four adult stepchildren and a granddaughter. I sold two businesses and became a partner in another one. My son graduated college, joined the Marine Corps, earned his jet wings and served in Iraq. My daughter married and had two children.
Three of my stepchildren married and gave us six grandchildren. My son married and has a baby on the way. (If you’re counting, that soon makes 10 grandkeiki.) My husband Jerry had two heart attacks and two knee replacements on the same knee. I look out the window at seven kukui nut trees we planted as seedlings in 1996 that are now 35 feet tall. Lucy and Rufus transitioned from wiggly balls of yellow Lab puppy fur in 2000 into our best, laid-back old friends. We made some forays into politics (Jerry ran for a state House seat and briefly for the U.S. Senate, a race curtailed by heart surgery). And I developed an up-close and personal relationship with HIV/AIDS orphans of subSaharan Africa.
In 2006 alone, within two months, we had two deaths, a heart attack, a near-deadly assault and the much needed relief of a big, joyous wedding. This leads me to the conclusion that life is an unstoppable, unpredictable surge that mocks the best prepared.
In 1992, my column was the Fashion Page, reflecting my business experience in fashion, modeling and photography. Each submission commented on such weighty issues as best and worst current styles, tips for packing, dressing for your body type and shopping within a budget. Eventually, after fashion-topic overload, a malaise settled into my brain like a lazy house guest.
Given the colossal changes in our state, country and world from the cataclysmic to the comical I craved a piece of that commentary. Soon the Fashion Page became Susan’s Page, in which lifestyle supplanted fashion style.
As I reflect on writings from the past 20 years, I see a mixed bag of “awful fits” and “awesome keepers” in the human closet. Looking ahead, being of an age to have witnessed much, it would be easy to dwell on the awful: disasters, wars, etc. Risking the Pollyanna label, I choose to seize upon the keepers, because it’s great news that we’ve survived and often thrived within the cataclysmic: two decades of war, disease, economic downs, political upheavals and uncertainty.
I remind myself of the new effective treatments for old diseases such as cystic fibrosis and even HIV/AIDS. Technology can now help the paralyzed walk. LASIK eye surgeries enable good vision for nearly everyone.
We’ve landed a spacecraft on Mars and have discovered new planets (hang in there, Pluto) and solar systems unheard of even 10 years ago. My new cell phone does what sci-fi movies couldn’t even fantasize 30 years ago voice recognition and all. I can talk to and see! my grandchildren across the miles on Skype. Today’s movies are 3-D stereoscopic and can be watched on some cell phones. We’ve witnessed acts of heroism and inspiration by our own military troops, firefighters and police. Throughout disasters like Katrina, the horrendous Eastern Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Japan’s in 2011, and the earthquakes in Haiti and other regions, the generosity of Americans who’ve given time and treasure has been a beautiful thing.
What will fill 2012’s closet? I wouldn’t venture a guess. It is clear that whatever surprises are in there, sunny or gray, we’ll wear them. The power of the human spirit that has sustained us over the last 20 years and long before will prevail.
How will your closet look in 2012?
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