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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Claim Check

I love my dry cleaners. It offers drive-up service. And, they give you back your clothes even when you lose, forget, let the dog eat, or bake the claim check into the meatloaf. Not that I would ever do that. I don't go often so it's not that they know me on sight. But they know enough to know that when I pull up and give them my phone number, I get my sweater back. Years ago our neighborhood conversations got around to the subject of husband's shirts. "Where do you take them?" It was getting expensive to send them out to be laundered. Where was the cheapest place that did a good job? Several opinions were expressed, criteria clarified, and recommendations made. I was silent, listening with some confusion. Until Linda asked, "Jan, where do you take Dave's shirts?" "Oh. I don't. We don't send them out." "You IRON them?" my neighbors all asked at once. "No," I confessed. "Isn't that what permanent press is for?" The more amusing part of this story came a few days later. Six-year-old Annika was visiting next-door-neighbor and wonder woman, Linda, a quilter, in her sewing room. My daughter was wide eyed as Linda showed her how she pieced together the beautiful fabrics. But then things got weird. A strange appartus was unfolded. A metal object placed upon it. Water poured into a spout. Steam arose from it. Annika, daughter of my heart, and flesh of my flesh, then asked, "what's that?" "An iron," Linda answered. "What's an iron?" Yes, it's true. We don't iron much. Another perk of Colorado living. But every great once in a while, sweaters and silks need to be dry cleaned. And I am always freaked about losing the claim ticket. Never fear. My clothes claim me. All of which has me pondering tonight. What else claims me? What people, relationships, family claim me? Choose me. And expect something of me. What are the claims on my time and attentions? What claims tie up my energies and affections? My emotions, intellectual curiosity? And you? I've decided it's time once more to do a claim check. To make sure I'm being claimed by the things -- people, values, commitments, talents -- that best reflect the person I understand myself to be and the gifts I've been given. It's easy to get distracted and derailed. I dare say, especially in our addled, busy world with multitudes of choices, voices clamoring in our heads, calling us this way and that. To make the inevitable Polish connection, I find myself more easily focused there. And my friends too. Tho' not so much as they used to be, the choices are more stark. It is not so easy to do all of the both/and's that we get away with. You can't have it all. Or come close to pretending. The claims on energy and attention are rigorous and sometimes present a zero-sum option. I like the good discipline I'm forced to accept when I'm in Poland, living in Warsaw as I do from time to time. In Denver, it's easier to wander off course. So it's time again for a claim check. Who gets me? What gets me? And you?

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