ON THE AIR with LINDA MASON HUNTER
In the Zone
Life is Good
April 12, 2018
What a way to end Mercury retrograde! Rode as copilot on a floatplane from Gabriola Island to the port of Vancouver, British Columbia. "I'm a bit claustrophobic" I told the young pilot as I gingerly stepped through the door of the tiny plane. "Well then, why don't you sit up front with me," he replied.
After strapping me in, he gave me a set of headphones to wear so I could hear him speak to me, as well as eavesdrop on the chatter of air traffic control. Then off we went, up up and away, over the Johnstone Strait with its numerous islands ringed with granite cliffs covered in pine, arbutus, cedar, and spruce; me searching the sparkling ocean for signs of orca and dolphin, following the trail of tankers from all over the world headed for English Bay. Then, slipping through the mouth of the Bay, over the water past UBC and a string of beaches (there's mine! Kits Beach, where I live just up the hill). Around the tip of Stanley Park the plane descends to just a few feet off the water. I watch the Vancouver skyline creep closer and closer until....we round a corner and splash! We are on the water, floating into the dock in the heart of downtown, just like a boat.
The smell of fossil fuel makes me lightheaded up here in the front of the plane. I spot a boat with a sign that reads "Spill cleanup." A shame it has to exist, but that doesn't dampen my spirits. The rain is over; spring has arrived with promised warmth, cheerful birdsong, and good karma. Wow!
Don’t Turn Into a Hollow Human
Daily life in this odd political landscape, with a country in turmoil and climate change destroying Planet Earth as we know it, I am often at a loss of what to do. We need a new paradigm, we need to turn American culture away from the profit motive at all costs, and into one of cooperation and compassion. It will be a struggle, but we owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to the planet to do the best that we can.
I’ve written a mantra to guide me through the chaos. Here it is:
# 1. Simply love those close to you and treat strangers in need as close to you.
#2. Minimize cynicism and maximize hope and optimism.
#3. Believe that democracy is self correcting, that truth is more powerful than falsity, that this is not a nation of hate but of pursuit of common interest.
#4. Be a person of good will. Make love a priority.
#5. Don’t turn into a hollow human. Be real, a person of courage and integrity in counterpoint to the profound emptiness at the heart of those we see in business and in government.
By Linda Mason Hunter
Jayme and I were girlfriends. We did girlfriend things together. It started in the mid-1980s with “Friday Afternoons,” a casual salon centered around frank, honest discussion—three knowledge-hungry psychologists and me, a stuttering journalist nursing a childhood wound. In no time these wise and witty women became my support group.
Though busy mothers in our 30s and 40s—juggling families and careers, tiptoeing through a minefield of challenges—we managed to show up at 4:00 on the afternoon of the third Friday each month for the better part of 20 years. Boldly and tirelessly we navigated personal relationships, shared secrets, pondered life’s persistent questions, and laughed. We laughed at everything. We took strength from one another. We were girlfriends.
The idea for “Friday Afternoons” originated with Sandra and Jayme, office mates at Broadlawns, the Polk County hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. Jane Rock worked there, too. Soon Sandra, Jayme and Jane formed a threesome. When Sandra introduced me to the group, we four forged a quick, natural, and lasting bond. That memorable night culminated with the four of us inebriated in a taxi, revealing (at Jayme’s urging) the sacred wisdom our mother’s bequeathed to us. When my turn came I solemnly recited my heart’s mantra, earnestly passed from my grandmother to my mother then to me: “Everything works out for the best,” I intoned from the center of my sincerity. The taxi Immediately exploded with laughter, thereby shredding my last thread of innocence. From that moment on girlfriends became my safety net.
Wine was the Friday afternoon sacrament of choice, except for Jayme; she drank beer. Five o’clock found us headlong in conversation, seeking to understand our pre-teen children, the intricacies of the human brain, world politics, why people behave the way they do; sharing secrets, pondering life’s persistent questions, and laughing. Always laughing. Honesty was the only rule.
Our families (difficult constellations of yours, mine, and ours) challenged each of us in different ways. Sandra was the primary mother of five stepchildren, each a year or two apart. I was blending my two with my husband’s two under the same roof. But Jayme’s family took the prize for complication. Children from her first marriage shared half siblings from two other mothers and two separate fathers.
Of the four of us Jayme told the best stories. A wicked mimic with a gift for physical humor, she could send me into fits of laughter until my sides ached. She could draw and paint pictures. How she could paint pictures! Of the four of us she possessed the most talent.
Friday Afternoons led to slumber parties and pure silliness. Jayme brought the latest Cosmo and made us take the quiz. Eventually we traveled together—a weekend in Kansas City for Sandra's 50th. (Jayme held Sandra's hand while she got her ears pierced). Omaha for my 60th. Cabin weekends in Wisconsin playing Scattergories, grilling salmon, and canoeing down the Flambeau backwards. When Jane moved to Seattle, we visited for a week in the mountains, hot tubbing in a pine wood, hiking to a pure mountain lake, and (most memorably) donning body-clinging wet suits for a wild white water raft down the Wenatchee River. We spent a week on the Mexican Rivera. In memory vivid as an October morning I see Jayme walking barefoot in the sand looking relaxed and happy and absolutely smashing, her big red hair barely contained under a floppy wide-brimmed hat, sandals carelessly dangling from the hand at her side.
Jayme loved her children with a ferocity that outmatched even my own. Her parenting advice remains the soundest I’ve ever heard: "The goal is to love your kids unconditionally, use M&Ms when needed, and get to the car without saying ‘Goddammit.'" Her grandchildren never failed to delight her. When my first grandchild was born Jayme sent me roses.
Jayme was my girlfriend. We sang and danced and giggled and skipped and did girlfriend things together. She always told us she’d die first. Godspeed, Jayme. Here’s to a peaceful crossing. I know you aren’t far away.
Speaking of Friendship...
No one makes me laugh like Suzanne Summersgill can. She's just plain fun to play with. So play we did, collaborating on our children's book, Three Green Rats, An Eco Tale. My Vancouver touchstone. www.pinnstudio.com