Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

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All the difference.

I’d like to think that I’m smart enough to see the choices, the solutions, the options even, that are right in front of me, (I suppose we’d all like to think that), but I must admit I often need a little shove. 

My guardian angel must have perfected her eye roll by now, as I wander past the obvious signs until finally being clunked on the head, thinking, oh look what I discovered. And still, she allows me the victory. 

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday on the all too familiar path. A group of tree trimmers told me I couldn’t pass back this way. I had been thinking for the last week or so that I was getting bored with this route, this form of exercise. But yet I kept walking the same gravel. Feeling a little annoyed, I crossed the river, started walking the route that I hadn’t visited for maybe six months. Half way down the path I saw it. A complete Fit Park — filled with bikes, an elliptical, a rower, weights, stair stepper, everything. I sheepishly smiled. Alright…I get it. 

I went back in the afternoon. So pleased with my discovery.  (I can hear the laughter as I type it — “my” discovery.) 

It’s not lost on me that we studied the poem in junior high. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Went through it word by word. Wrote the paper. Knowing, I would be the one who so easily took the different paths. I wouldn’t be afraid. I would be living the words, 

“I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” 
And for the most part, I can say that I have. I have lived this. But not all by my own doing. I have been led, and pushed and guided and loved through it all. And as I read through the words now, I think maybe it has always been the love. Love that let me wander. Love that sat beside me when I was tired. Love that dared me to continue. Love that offered me to stay. Love that each day, even after stumbling along in rock filled shoes, produces a grateful grin on my sheepish heart. 

The sun is rising. Love is calling. I must go.


Forever Connected.

I hate that someone else has her phone number now. Our phone number. The phone number I memorized since I was five. Carried with me. Still do. I hate that they won’t take the time to memorize it (nobody does anymore.) No, they’ll just plug it into their cell phone’s memory and forget about it. It won’t be held in their hearts and brains like a safety net. It will just be one click of a button. It won’t be dialed. Written on papers. Given to friends. Friends’ parents. It won’t be given the reverence so deserved. Our sacred phone number. My mom’s phone number.

763-5809. That number was the reason I dared to attempt my first sleep-over at Cindy Lanigan’s house. The same number that told my mom to come and pick me up the minute it got dark (outside and/or in my imagination.) These were the numbers that erased miles and distance. Allowed me to go to college. To get a job. To quit that job and begin a life. To become. These were the numbers that allowed me to fall in love. Move to another country, and still have my mother within reach.

They weren’t just numbers. And to think of someone just casually dialing them now. Or not bothering to dial at all…

These numbers were birthdays and holidays. Meetings and come find me! These numbers were “I need you,” and “I love you,” and “I’m right here.” I guess if you know this, you can use these numbers. And that will be OK, good even. Use them in the same respectful way. Know that there was love in that connecting line. Real love in every number.

If you are lucky enough to now travel in that line, please be open, be kind, be there. She would like that. That’s who she was. I guess I’d like that too. I’m dialing right now. Forever connected.

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It’s not true to say we didn’t play with our grandma’s phone. Not the way children do now. We weren’t prompted with apps, or videos, but we did have fun!

There was only one telephone in this house that raised nine children. And it was a party line (meaning the neighbors also used it.) The chord for the receiver rested in a heap on the kitchen floor. It had to be long. It had to stretch through the kitchen to the stairs. I suppose we could have set the receiver down and then walked up the stairs to yell at grandma in the sewing room, but instead, when getting a call, we clutched the phone to our chest and walked it and the cord as far as it would go, disappearing all the coils to a flat line. Grandma would then waddle the call. Pull the receiver from our sweaty hands and “talk on swede” so we couldn’t understand. It was so exotic. It was all my cousins and I could do to not to crawl through the line and enter this magical world. Instead, when grandma was off the phone, we would sneak back and hope to listen in on the neighbor’s conversation. I don’t know how she knew, but she always did — yelling at us from the sewing machine, “Hang up the phone.” We hung it up, but did the next best thing, taking turns wrapping ourselves up like mummies in the coil of the cord. Standing on the “lazy susan” we could spin ourselves free, until someone threw up from the dizzy.  We didn’t have the internet, but oh, the places we went on that single landline.

I was listening to a podcast the other day while going for a walk. It would have been hard to imagine that one day my phone could be with me, miles from home. The magic is still dizzying. The podcast expert was comparing the progression of our times. Unfortunately we have not made the advances proportionate to our advantages. And it got me thinking, questioning, am I? Am I doing the best with what I have? I hope so. I want to! I want to be as curious as I was when the coil of the phone wrapped around my face. When I could travel in time and space with only my imagination. There is so much still for all of us to learn. To experience. We just can’t lose sight of the magic. 

The morning sun is ringing off the hook!  I race to the day, yelling “Phone!!!!!!!!” 

Answer the call.