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Somewhere in the run-up to my 30th college reunion–which I did not attend–I received a survey to fill out from the alumni office. They’ve never lost me in all these 30 years, but they must keep hoping they have the wrong Maureen Egan (there were two of us in our class at Holy Cross) and figure eventually they’ll find the one who is a billionaire and wants to give it all back to the college. Keep trying.

Of course, they want to know what field people are working in. Under the self-employed spot–after the ones they’re really interested in–investment bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers–a couple of telling options popped up. There was freelance writer, where it belonged, which is one part of what I do. Right under it was an option I’d never considered and certainly didn’t expect it to have its own line: funeral director. A trick of that pesky alphabet or something more? The two fields have plenty of things in common. Magazines and newspapers keep dying and so do people. Synergy. God knows I’ve been to enough funerals that provide a microphone to people who could use a good writer to make what’s said not make the audience go nutty. See, Yes, I’m referencing my own damned story! It’s sad that I remember the awful funerals as funny stories and don’t remember the good funerals much at all. Perhaps I should write about that….

Rabbit, rabbit. Ah yes, the silly, superstitious phrase my college friend Amy L. taught me. How is it that that’s one of the main bits I remember from my Jesuit education? Certainly worth many thousands of dollars, no doubt, for all the good it has done me over the years. My parents must be so proud.

I’m not proud that many a morning on the first of a month when I’m up early to use the facilities and say a word or two to my husband and then get back to a half sleep, I think, “Shit, I didn’t say ‘Rabbit, rabbit.'” But then I tell myself that if I say “Rabbit, rabbit” when I truly wake up for the day, it will work as advertised. That probably is true, at least to the extent that it ever could. And then I move on to debating how many angels are dancing on top of that pin. Perhaps the truth is that I’ve never really ever woken up. I’m living in a hallucinatory state where uttering meaningless phrases changes one’s life. I’m tempted to say some funny and biting things about my years of Catholic schooling, but I think I’ll bite my tongue instead. Let’s just say I’ve woken up.

It is your good fortune that I went to Fountain Lake at Byrd Park yesterday with my two sisters and two nephews. Ok, so you didn’t get to ride the pedal boats (or paddle boats, but I did most of the pedaling, hence calling a spade a spade) or eat a boxed lunch from Sally Bell\’s. (And I ate a mocha/chocolate cupcake–of course I did. That was the whole reason for the adventure. Odd that neither of my sisters did. They let  their children eat their cupcakes. Unlucky–and unthinkable for me.)

You are lucky because you are getting a reminder that it’s what you should do this summer if you’re in Richmond. Even on a Wednesday, lots of people were out on the lake, either avoiding the windswept fountain in the middle

Captain Emmet and his crew

or, if you happened to be in the boat with the diabolical Ethan, getting sopping wet. Of course, it was his only shower of the week, so it was well worth it.

no one went down with the ship

Before this most  pleasant outing, my love of Fountain Lake was limited. I had run around it during the Frostbite 15k in January one year and spent a couple of hours manning a booth at It Starts in Parks a few years back. I’ve driven by it and noticed the pedal boats, but was never a believer until the promise of cupcakes sealed the deal. Let there be no doubt that spending $12 for a half hour of boating (as many as 4 people can fit) on a lovely, breezy summer day, knowing that you are at all times within five minutes of cupcakes and egg salad and root beer floats, is my kind of boating. Plus there was an adorable duck family with four little ones paddling (not pedaling) around. Once ashore, we sat overlooking the lake at one of several picnic tables with new and festive umbrellas. By the looks of everyone–age 3 to 80-plus– enjoying the spot, it was their lucky day, too.

A startling bunch of coincidences piled up today that might add up to destiny.  This morning my daughter asked me to look through any old clothes I had for vintage-like finds for her. I knew there wasn’t much worth finding, but did come upon one of my favorite possessions–a classic t-shirt that I’ve meant to frame instead of bury in the bottom of a plastic bin for years. My daughter, who has excellent taste in clothes, knew a find when she saw one.

A few hours later I called my older sister since her birthday landed today, strangely enough, just like every other June 7th since 1958. While we were chatting, she mentioned that she would be heading up to Worcester, MA for her 30th reunion from our alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross,  this next weekend. She pined a bit for the classic t-shirt she remembered me having from my Worcester days (after I pissed her off and followed her to Woo-town and lived there afterwards in Worcester’s hey-day that never quite was).  She was referring to the very same vintage piece my daughter had commandeered this morning:

alas, those really weren't the days

How cute and sad and funny–just like Worcester. Bold inferiority and hopeless swagger and bright red cotton go so well together.  The great old Tatnuck Bookseller in Tatnuck Square put that slogan out there and ran with it–doubt it got as far as Lake Quinsig, but it always brought a smile to my face. When I was the confirmation sponsor for my young sister-in-law during that hopeful, light-filled era–when Worcester was neck-and-neck with Paris and I still knew what the inside of a church looked like, I gave the then 10th grader the perfect confirmation gift–this t-shirt in navy blue, I believe–it was a solemn occasion after all.

And the last coincidence of them all was that the very same sister-in-law was visiting here just yesterday on her way to Taiwan for a few years. Out of the blue, we talked about meeting in Paris this Christmas. I’ve already spent many a Christmas in Worcester. Perhaps destiny will lead me to the real Paris this next one. There are worse ways to go through life than following the subtext of one’s old t-shirts.

I’m back!

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