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After a rather emotional, intense counseling session today (centered around my mom’s declining health), I needed to get my mind off of all the stress, and do something to nurture myself.  I don’t do that often, but I should.  Everyone needs time to enjoy life.

My favorite past time (other than reading and writing) is shopping in thrift stores. I find the most amazing things! It is SO much fun. I have an indoor flea market/collectibles booth, so many of the things that I purchase, I buy for resale. But there are so many truly wonderful finds that I cannot part with.  It’s like a big treasure chest, and as you know…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Today I found a brand new oriental screen room divider, a shelf for my flea market booth, a mirrored tray, and several really good books. For the first time in months, I found myself with an extra hour, before I needed to be home. I drove to a nearby waterfront park, and sat in my car, and read a book. Wow-to have that much time to relax is a treat that I have not allowed myself for a long time. Life has been far too complicated and busy, and there is always so much to do.

So one of the books that I found at the thrift store today, was an autobiography of Ali MacGraw. When I graduated from high school in 1970, Love Story was all the rage. I identified so much with Jenny in the movie (not the dying part), but with her bohemian, hippie style, and with the financial struggling phase that she and Oliver went through. I remember when I was married the first time at 17, my husband and I lived in Atlanta, and we worked very hard every week. At the time, neither of us had attended college, and our pay definitely reflected that.

But it was the 70s, and we were “weekend hippies”-ditching our respectable work clothes for jeans, fringe, and moccasins, and attending music festivals in Piedmont Park, or hanging out in smoky underground bars (usually drinking cola) with singers playing folk guitars. One was in the basement of an old church, and was called “The Catacombs.”

Later in our marriage, I was an evening cocktail waitress, at a nice restaraunt and hotel, in the southern coastal town where I still live.  It suited me (having always preferred the night time to the day time.) But it was very hard work, and I didn’t particularly like having to wear the red, short, off one shoulder “costume” that  all the girls in the upstairs lounge had to dress in. I remember being so modest, that I would bend my knees, trying not to bend over to expose the matching black undergarments. I spent my nights balancing trays of fancy drinks, served in pineapples, to go along with the Hawaiian theme of the restaraunt and lounge, and dodging the advances of inebriated men. 

But it was a beautiful setting, and I used to lean against the lounge rail, and gaze into the elegant oceanfront dining room below (that actually revolved) and dream that I was one of the elegantly dressed ladies, adored and pampered by her dashing date.

But in truth, I was a waitress, and a big night out for us, on the weekend, was McDonald’s or a movie, but never both! So I could relate to Jenny and Oliver, meeting on the steps of the college, to make peanut butter sandwiches. (We ate a lot of hot dogs and fish sticks.) Still, life was an adventure then; we were full of hopes and dreams, and the true tragedies of life had not yet crossed our path. The biggest problem we had was paying our rent, and beyond that, we were caught up in our music. We had tried to make it for awhile as a folk duo, singing in bars-mostly upscale, until we added a drummer. The drummer decided that he could get us some gigs, and one night we found ourselves singing in a backstreet dive, where a fight broke out between bikers, and someone took out a whip and cracked it, right in the middle of my soft, sweet solo ballad. (We quickly fired the drummer.)

But getting back to Ali MacGraw, Love Story, and the year 1970. Perhaps it was the most exciting time of my life. I had just graduated from high school, moved out of my parents’ house, married, and was finally able to be myself. I was in love (or as much in love as a 17 year old girl can be) and I was young, attractive, and hopeful about the future. I had my whole life in front of me.

When I look back on Jenny and Oliver in Love Story, it captures beautifully the innocence of first love, that short time in life when it seems that anything is possible, and “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Choke…who thought that up???? Ali referred to it in her book, as an “absurd lie.” (But I had to get that in.)  Actually, true love really means being able (and willing) to say you’re sorry

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