Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Love Comes In All Shapes

When I was visiting my folks over Thanksgiving, my mom and I went for a walk. At one point along this walk, I looked down and spotted a piece of asphalt shingle in the middle of the sidewalk. It caught my eye because of its unusual shape.

I stopped to pick it up and then caught up to my mom. "Hey!" I panted. "Look at this! What does this look like?"

"A shingle," she replied, unimpressed.

"Yes, but look at the shape! What does the shape look like?" I pressed.


"AFRICA!" I squealed. "It looks like Africa!"

My mother was not as worked up over this as I was. Clearly she didn't understand the potential here. I had found an asphalt shingle. In the shape of Africa! Just lying there on the sidewalk. Why, think of the possibilities! I might possibly find all the other continents too--although I will have to study up on the individual shapes of Europe and Asia, as I am used to seeing them connected on maps--and then I could display all of my wondrous finds for the world. Everyone would be amazed.

When I explained this to my mother she cracked up. The woman has no vision. (Kidding, mother. I love you.) So I told her that when we got back to the house, I'd show it to everyone. I was certain that everyone else would see Africa right away and that at least one or two of them would be like-minded at the miraculousness of it.

Well, I was partially right. A few responded like my mom did with "It's a shingle." But some other creative geniuses with brilliant minds like me of the others saw Africa as well. Nobody, however, was as taken with the serendipity of the find as I was. We did have a fun time talking about how I might find a South America shaped rock or a candy wrapper shaped like Australia and then I could have this very cool mixed media display.

I decided to keep the shingle. And even though I joked about it, I made up my mind to keep my eyes open for the other continents because I am, as I might have stated somewhere before on this blog, slightly unbalanced. Unfortunately, in all the business and chaos of packing up my family for the drive home, I left my shingle behind. I figured that it would wind up in the garbage bin.

I hadn't counted on my sister in law (Uncle Grumpy's wife, who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination be called grumpy. In fact, by comparison, she is downright chipper!). When the family sat down to open gifts at our family Christmas, this past weekend, my mom announced that Aunt Chipper had a presentation to make. Aunt Chipper reminded everyone of my weird and slightly off-kilter joy at finding a shingle in the shape of Africa. She then proceeded to hand me a gift bag. When I opened it, it contained this:

I cannot lie. I cracked up. I also thought it looked pretty amazing. Aunt Chipper explained that when I left it behind, she called my parents and asked if they would keep it so she could frame it, explaining that she had a frame. Then my mom chimed in and said that my dad did the matting and that Aunt Chipper forgot the frame, so my folks framed it. We all laughed as this is sort of typical for Aunt Chipper. But who can blame the woman? She's the mother of six children. She's just a little busy.

I really do love the gift. And aside from now feeling like I really do have to find the other continents to go with such a neatly framed gift, when I look at it I feel some other things. I feel supported by my family. I know that whatever I pursue in life--even a quest for the continents made from garbage--my family will back me up. I feel joy, because I am fortunate to have a family that gets along and has a good time together. I feel love.

Who knew all that could come from an Africa-shaped asphalt shingle?

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