...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Castle on the Hill

Lyric excerpts from Castle on The Hill, by Ed Sheeran

"Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I've grown
But I can't wait to go home
I'm on my way
Driving at ninety down those country lanes
Singing to "Tiny Dancer"
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One's brother overdosed
One's already on his second wife
One's just barely getting by
But these people raised me and I can't wait to go home
And I'm on my way, I still remember
This old country lanes
When we did not know the answers
And I miss the way you make me feel, it's real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill"


Sunset over the Castle in Chicago
Shared pains.
Growing up.
Being Real.

Friendships are precious.

What does a boy of almost 26 know of reconnection's?  Recently, Ed Sheeran released two new songs, his next album is due out on March 3rd.  When I initially listened to both songs I was immediately drawn to the sure-to-be number 1 dance song, Shape of You.  Upon further listening...it is his song Castle on the Hill that touches my soul. It's a song about returning home.  

In January, I reconnected with a few of my high school friends.  We spent the better part of a long weekend in Chicago.  What a blast!  I grew up in a community that was nestled in the cornfields of northern Indiana.  Most of these people I shared the weekend with, I first met when I was 11 years old.

Back in our high school days, we branched out from the safety of the cornfields once in awhile, and headed to the big city of Chicago for fun.  I recall thinking Chicago was ginormous.  My parents wouldn't let me go there without an adult present.  Thankfully, we had teachers who realized, high school students who live among the cornfields, needed to be exposed to culture.  IN MY DAY...teachers could drive a carload of students places without worry of accusations.  More likely accusations happened, but the teachers really knew the families of the students they were putting in their cars.  I think I grew up in a smaller world.  

We had an English teacher who would periodically take a group of us into the city to eat pizza at the Rathskeller, or Gino's.  We would also go to see Second City.  That was in the day when comedians Mary Gross, and Jim Belushi were on the main stage.  Occasionally, we'd head to Chicago to see a musical or eat an authentic meal: Mexican or French depending on what language one was studying. My love for live theatre was born when I was in high school, as I recall seeing both Evita and Annie live. I am thankful for the English, Spanish, French, Music and Band teachers I had growing up.    

The take away from my teachers...respect other cultures, and the Arts are important.

Today I am that "adult present" my parents long ago required. I drove my own car north into the Windy City from my little Southern Indiana town.  I was one of seven high school friends who came together for a mini-reunion.  We came from Northern and Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois and California.  We dined at Gino's, then headed to The Second City Main Stage.  Some history is worth repeating.  One in our group announced to our waitress that we were celebrating our high school reunion.  He told her if she could guess how long it's been, he'd give her a one hundred dollar tip.  Seconds later there was a loud, collective burst of "Oh My Gosh!!!!" when she said, "thirty-five." Amazing!  Or was it?  *wink, wink.  She did get that one hundred dollar tip.  

The show was a blast.  When it was over, 10:15 seemed too early to end the fun even though I know personally, my life as a first grade teacher finds me ready for bed shortly after I get home each night.  It was suggested we should go to a nearby (Uber ride away) bar, called The Original Mother's. Apparently Rob Lowe was in a movie that featured this bar.  Sadly, he wasn't to be seen on our visit.  We did play a non-traditional game of Beer Pong where we did not consume beer.  Two of us sang a karaoke duet to "Summer Loving," from Grease.  There is a video, but it's not blackmail worthy.  Both singers had a blast, with one having his own doo wop posse. 

The next day was filled with shopping at The Water Tower Place, followed by a decadent late afternoon lunch at the Ralph Lauren Club.  

When it was near dinner time we weren't anywhere close to being hungry.  One in our group made a small mention that her daughter is managing a hotel nearby.  Off we went on another short Uber ride; we all wanted to meet this beautiful young offspring of our childhood friend. As it was still too soon for dinner, we decided to catch a show before we dined.  This weekend was filled with many firsts.  

We headed to the world famous Baton Show Lounge that features female impersonators.  Holy crumbs, were they great!  Despite the group next to us embarrassing themselves with a party member who had too-much-something before they arrived, we had a wonderfully, entertaining evening.  All of the females in our group commented how intimidated they felt by the performers. The performers were sensual, curvaceous, owned their bodies, were flirtatious...and, yes a little outrageous!  As we were leaving, I stopped to tell the owner how much I enjoyed the evening. When we arrived that night, playing on a large screen over the stage was a video loop. The video explained how The Baton got it's name.  The owner, Jim Flint, twirled baton 47 years ago.  Well, so did I.  On a whim, I asked if he twirled and competed against another fairly famous Indiana baton twirler.  He had!  I knew it!  So had I!!!  I recall just one boy in the area who twirled when I was growing up...not including my brother and friend, Gordon, who were made to take a year of twirling due to complaining and competing with their sisters.  I am sure it was likely Jim.  Small world!

As we left The Baton, the male in our group was asked if he was follicly challenged?  Gathered on the sidewalk was a bachelorette party, on a scavenger hunt.  They needed to take a picture of the bride-to-be kissing a bald head.  My friend is such a good sport!  Payment came in the form of small jello filled cups for all.  Have you seen the movie, The Hangover?  I was sure one of us was going to end up sleeping on the roof of our hotel!  Strangers, on the streets of Chicago, offering Jello Shots out of a plastic Wal-Mart bag.  Oh my goodness! This evening really was to be filled with firsts.

At 10:30, we were now ready for dinner.  Off we headed to The Purple Pig where we shared, gourmet tapas plates.  Perfection!  Laughter filled the rest of the waning evening.  We opted to walk back to the hotel so we could enjoy the global warming effecting our January visit to the Windy City.  The walk home was filled with questions and curiosities about the performers from The Baton.  The costumes were very revealing...

Our weekend came to an end the next morning.  We shared breakfast at another wonderful eatery, the Tempo Cafe.


What I have failed to mention is that all weekend long, there were little conversations that happened.  Sometimes two of us would get a chance to have a private conversation and rediscover who our former friends had grown to become.  We re-discovered...we are all beautiful human beings, and discovered we all survivors. We are survivors of the challenges life has offered.  In our presence was kindness, authenticity, acceptance, and maturity.   There was a realization of deeper connections that happened over those few days we shared. When you are older, and reconnect with those you knew growing up, you realize you didn't really know that person as a 17 or 18 year old.  How could you?  That person wasn't finished become the person they were meant to become.  Or maybe, they hadn't yet been colored by life.  They hadn't had the time to develop into the layered, intellectual soul they were meant to become.

Some people have things happen when they are young that does color them.  Most of us are able to survive our teens, and twenties without much damage.  I think it's typical that one hits 30, and life becomes more challenge filled. Not Adulting is NOT an option after a certain age is reached. (adult used here as a verb) By fifty, many are married, may have kids and/or possibly have gone through a broken relationship.  Our parents are starting to age, and their, or our, own health issues may be starting to rear their ugly heads.  The realization that one's career/dreams are not being reached means we start to re-evaluate what it is that we are really chasing.

When connecting with old friends, one can reminisce about events from one's youth, but the real connections begin when one realizes that none are completely comfortable in their own skin.  That doesn't mean we aren't comfortable.  What I am trying to say is that what others may presume to be true, may in fact not be true. Before I met my friends that weekend, I was thinking...these people were so beautiful when we were young.  Today they are even more beautiful AND successful. How can I even compare?  What ended up happening was I shared my weekend with real people.  They ARE beautiful and successful, but they are also very human.  I didn't really know that before.  My definitions for beauty and success are so different now than what they were when I was young.  For some reason, I was stuck with those old definitions in my brain.  

There is a certain safety in returning "home".  I ask again, how does a boy of almost 26 know of such reconnections?  Ed Sheeran, I admire your insights.  

~Lisa Kroll, healing with the help of my friends. 

Tonight's blogging music:  

Inspired by Ed Sheeran's, Castle on the Hill single to be released on his new album called Divide. Due out on March 3, 2017.  

Editing music: Music from the album Spirit by Amos Lee.