Memories Lost and Found

l60699-coca-cola-bottle-18609As a therapist  I know a lot about memories. In some ways you could say my bread and butter is helping people move past, untangle and reframe painful memories.

I know that memory is tricky, a slippery slope of bits and pieces of information that we think is a whole truth.  And know that we each often remember the very same incident differently with unique meanings, feelings and implications.

Yesterday, Rick Clarke (my first 7th grade crush) sent me an e-mail that he had just attended a memorial service for a high school classmate, Bob Blakey

The information hit me in the gut and sadness washed over me.  I had forgotten Bob.

Rick’s e-mail instantly triggered a memory from my 40th  high school reunion where Bob approached me. I didn’t recognize him. He saw me squinting at his name tag and said to me,  “Bob! BOB!, remember I spilled coke all over you after the dance?!!!” I hadn’t remembered . . . until that moment.

I flashed on the scene after the dance sitting at Googies, a local coffee shop that served hot Unknownfudge banana royals and Bob spilling his coke all over my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.

I don’t remember if I asked Bob or he asked me to the dance. I don’t remember the dance. I  know it must have been a BIG important dance – like a junior-senior prom – because I wore the splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.

But Bob remembered, remembered me, remembered my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats, remembered knocking over his coke.  He remembered my mortification even though I didn’t remember being mortified.  

Tonight I’ll drink a coke in remembrance.  Here’s to you Bob.

The Wild West

Wasn’t able to post from Phoenix, Arizona while I was there for my 50th high school reunion – couldn’t get internet access.

I stayed with a wonderful high school friend, Sharon and her husband Norris.  They have an incredible house in Cave Creek.  Here are a few pictures of  their neighborhood!  (Except for the first picture from the plane and the last picture of the Mouse)


Flying into Phoenix





Holes in saguaro cactus where Cactus Wrens nest.

The Arizona-Desert Museum: The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age, although some never grow arms. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Saguaro are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer.


You find this cactus in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. At the northern portion of their range they are more plentiful on the warmer south facing slopes. A few stray plants can also be found in southeast California.

Life Span

With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.DSCN5209


Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

Extra Fun-facts

  • The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.
  • Most of the saguaro roots are only 4-6 inches deep and radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall. There is one deep root, or tap-root that extends down into the ground more than 2 feet.
  • After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. The holes that birds nested in or “saguaro boots” can be found among the dead saguaro. Native Americans used these as water containers long before the canteen was available.

DSCN5191 DSCN5214

Extra Fun-facts:

  • In Arizona you can carry a gun, concealed or open, without a permit!
  • Grasshopper mice are being studied about how they turn off pain pathways when being stung by scorpions. The  mouse is immune to scorpion venom and eats them like sirloin steak treats.
  • The first day I was there Sharon told me to keep a light on in the guest bathroom JUST IN CASE a scorpion decides to come in for a drink of water in the night.  (Next time I go I’m bringing a Grasshopper mouse with me) 
Grasshopper Mouse with his dinner snack

Grasshopper Mouse with his dinner snack

50th High School Reunion – An Open Letter to Terry G.

Dear Terry G.,

Thank you for your invitation to our 50th high school reunion this coming weekend in Phoenix.  However . . .  I would have appreciated a warning notice that the invite was coming with an alert to be sitting down before I read it.    Your first sentence: “Oh my gosh . . . a half a century . . . just doesn’t seem possible!”  set off an eye twitch that has not subsided.

50 years!!!!!!!!  Half a century!!!!!     Terry, Terry, Terry, when we were in high school, people our current age were dead at worst or senile at best.  Please never lead off any invitation with a reference to centuries or decades.

To add to the assault you included my senior class picture.  Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate your taking the time to scan pictures into your invite and I admire your creativity but honestly Terry my second eye started twitching.

Senior Picture

Senior Picture

WHO is that girl?   You must have air-brushed the wrinkles out, colored the hair?  I absolutely remember that is NOT how I looked.  I was much plainer looking . . . (no wonder I’m a psychotherapist)

You went the extra mile scanning the picture of the student body executive board into your invitation but . . .  when I saw it I got queasy. I had big crush on the President, Bill Nelson.  He never seemed interested in me so I never told anyone.  Unrequited love really hurts . . . (no wonder I have a heart arrhythmia.)

Judy, Senior, board Pic

You really went all out to include a list of all the honors & activities I was involved in. Wow!  I was really active(no wonder I’m always tired now).

However, Terry, it’s the very last entry in the list of accolades and activities that created outright nausea:

Miss “Senior Hambone”

I am looking forward to seeing you Terry.  It has been a very long time.  I’m glad you included your senior picture and your current picture on the invitation so I will recognize you.  You’ll have no trouble recognizing me.  I’ll be the one with both eyes twitching, periodically running to the bathroom.


Normal Need Not Apply

Sharon and I go back to grade school, 4th grade Madison Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona.  We both played violin (I played at playing the violin).

At Camelback High School we shared most of the same classes.  We both were on the college track.

Sharon was REALLY smart.  I have proof — she was class Valedictorian.  While I was running for school offices, Sharon stayed behind the scenes: Editor-in-chief of the school paper, a creative writer, Junior Statesman, Honors Societies, racking up A’s in all her classes.

After graduation from High School our paths never crossed until our 40th High School reunion.  

We talked and talked and it was like we had never been separated.

And we discovered  we both went to college in Northern California (where she was on full scholarship). We both ended up in the helping professions. Sharon’s a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  We both ended up with chronic medical conditions.

We discovered we had a lot in common – nether of us was NORMAL!

I have proof:  On this page is a representative sample of some of the things SHE has picked out to send me:

Friends are like bras, close to your heart and all about support (embroidered on pillow)

Behave like a duck . . . Keep calm on the surface, but . . . paddle like the dickens underneath!

Now here’s the rub.  Everyone has always known I’m not normal BUT SHARON hid it! – just like her duck!

Well, my dear friend, now that you are almost as old as I am,

it’s time the world knew:

You are abnormally smart, abnormally kind, abnormally talented and a wonderful abnormal friend.

Happy HAPPY  Birthday!

 I love you!

P.S.  The package is in the mail.