Fiction Facebook Friendship

Tap your heels together three times, Dorothy.

You always had the power.

To go home.

These days find me longing for some kind of yesterday. Can’t say I loved high school (who really does?) but I can say I remember being enthralled by a book I was supposed to hate if for no other reason than it wasn’t cool to like.

Boring? Maybe to some (most?) of my friends, engrossing to me:

Silas Marner.

Who, as a young teen, could even contemplate a condition known as catalepsy?george eiiot

Then there was Eppie. Innocent if not truly orphaned, when she finds her way to the doorstep of the gentle recluse himself. The bonds of love sometimes have a way of surprising us, even if, in our hearts, we know it couldn’t be any other way.

And the author, a woman with a man’s name.

Middlemarch (not to be confused with Middlesex or Middle Earth) has me in its grip now. The pull of the narrative is immediate, sinewy sentences that require the kind of deep attention that always rewards. No small irony in this time traveling from a world in hyperdrive, more and more on edge by the day, to one that doesn’t seem as old hat as it should in its exploration of marriage, and social mores, and politics in 19th century England. Times change, narrative syntax evolves; but there’s a reason great works of literature, with their timeless perspective on the big themes of life, beg to be read again, and again.

These are horrible, troubling, anxiety-ridden times. Paris . . .Brussels . . . no sane person sees any good there. Cuba? How you feel about it is intrinsically linked to whom you’re rooting for in the Reality TV show known as a presidential election. A wise friend on Facebook puts out a call to hide posts re: the Republication frontrunner (I can’t even say his name without becoming nauseous). A cousin spouts his negative thoughts re: our current president (one of the best ever, to my thinking).

I look for quotes by Rumi to share. Art, poetry, good books that move me. Links to music videos that do what only music can do to the spirit.

Along comes Marlene, a high school friend who connects with me on Facebook. Whatever divergent paths our lives since 1966 have taken us on, we’re here now, real friends in a virtual world. Synchronicity reveals its pretty head: like me, she’s a long-time fan of Leonard Cohen. Bruce Springsteen? Don’t even get us started. Turns out she lives in southern California, and when I tell her that my daughter has an extra pair of tickets to a Springsteen show (that will turn out to be historic as the four-hour finale at the L.A. Sports Arena), it’s a done deal.

In the best of all possible worlds, I’d hop on a plane, take a ticket for myself. It wouldn’t be the first time I flew out to go to a concert with my daughter.

In the real world, I smile at the photo an old high school friend has shared with my daughter, who has shared it with me. I may look back with mixed feelings at my high school self, but there’s only delight at the serendipity that has played its hand in reconnecting us, a connection magnified by the power of music. My physical body was (alas) not at that stupendous show, but trust me, I was there.

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Those Darn Shoes

I’ve always had a thing for ruby red slippers. . . . I mean, doesn’t every woman who’s seen The Wizard of Oz at least once? It’s pretty much the ultimate pair of shoes to own.ruby red shoes red shoes

Last year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences put on a Hollywood Costume exhibit at LACMA in the months leading up to the 2015 Oscars. It was a greatly curated interactive collection that ended with “the shoes,” acquired by the Academy with the help of a group of “angel donors” headed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg. Actually four pairs were known to have existed, one of which mysteriously disappeared from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN; another pair went to the Smithsonian, and another to a group of collectors who keep it in a bank vault. The missing pair may never turn up, and if you’re curious about the full history, read The Ruby Red Slippers of Oz. As my mother likes to say, it’s never just about the shoes, though seeing these in person does have a certain magic. Someone may have put a two-million-dollar price tag on them, but they really are priceless.ruby_infographic_updated_2

The overriding symbol of these shoes in film and literature seems to be power: in The Wizard of Oz, they represent Dorothy’s power over the Wicked Witch and her key to getting home, and in the book, Wicked, they stand for Elphaba’s obsession, after her sister was killed by Dorothy’s house, to retrieve the token of her father’s love for her sister (his favored daughter).

Are they “power heels,” their sexiness and shininess giving us a sense of power over our lives in a society still a little too patriarchal? Is it the red or the sparkles or the combination of them that embodies fun/cute/sexy? Sure, I had my little costume ruby red slippers growing up, I convinced my parents to get a bright red car, and I did have a pair of sequined shoes for my senior prom. I may have outgrown the sequins, but in my adult life I seem to keep searching for the perfect Dorothy shoe.

Dorothy was herself just a girl. Maybe what we really relate to is that feeling of wanting to be an adult. But not really. Adulting is hard and scary and filled with bills and stuff. So we need that sparkle to remind us we’re still young.

Which is why when I saw a pair of SJP pumps recently at Nordstrom, I really thought these were ‘the ones.’ But I’m very particular about the fit, which wasn’t quite right. So one day, when Dorothy and Cinderella join forces to bring me the pretty red shoes with the perfect fit, I’ll be ready, and maybe even lucky enough to have Leo and Spielberg as benefactors.

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