Marco and fast-moving mudslides

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

Since the first part of December, my life has felt like a fast-moving mudslide.

An ill-considered, inadequately dressed, windy and cold 4-mile hike around a mountain lake resulted in a dreadful upper respiratory infection which has required three trips to the doctor, two prednisone shots and a round of antibiotics. A Facebook picture of a friend’s beautiful just-painted kitchen cabinets, sparked the desire to have our 40-year-old cabinets painted. The painter, a former student of mine named Martha, had an opening in her schedule to paint our cabinets before Christmas, and we jumped at the opportunity.

Martha took our kitchen drawers and cabinet doors home to paint and, seeing how much we own, it was apparent that a major donation drive was needed. In the middle of this mass donation, I managed to gather up not only all my old glasses, but my current pair of prescription sunglasses. As one who can easily develop a migraine when exposed to bright lights, I could not drive without the sunglasses, so off to a one-hour glasses store I went.

To add to the glory, we are currently cleaning out and stocking our camper for future winter camping trips. Jittery on prednisone and distressed by the necessary disorder currently in our house, one could say I was more than a little grumpy. That changed yesterday when we received a Christmas card addressed to Polo and Cindy Arp, the return name – Marco.

It took us awhile to figure out which Marco friend this was because Dan has a lot of Marco friends. Dan’s Marcos are folks with whom he keeps in touch by periodically texting to them, “Marco?” If the friend texts back, “Polo,” both sides understand that they are here, present and accounted for. If, after a day or two, Dan doesn’t receive a text from his Marco friend, he calls the person and if, after a few attempts, Marco doesn’t answer the phone, Dan goes looking for Marco.

Dan might drop by their house or, as was the case last week, drive to Rockwood and intercept Marco on his lunch break. Just like old swimming pool game of Marco-Polo, where Marco closes his/her eyes and tries to locate those surrounding him when they answer Polo, Dan’s friends understand that Dan is trying to locate them.

Have I located you? Are you okay? Do you need to talk? What is going on? I am here.

It is easy to interpret life as a fast-moving mudslide instead of just another part of the life we live. One can stop falling in a mudslide by grabbing the hand of a friend, a friend who is alert, a friend who keeps an eye on us, a friend who understands life is sometimes hard.

Marco’s hand-painted Christmas card was a gift not just for its beauty, but because it was a reminder that we are all here, we are together, we are located. We’re humans. Merry Christmas, Marco.   – Love, Polo.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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