Monday, February 13, 2006

There appears to be both a bottom and a top ... . I've now seen both.

Long ago when Rick was at his hardest places -- alcoholism counselors would insist that I needed to allow him to "bottom out" in order to begin to find his way to sobriety. It was a cliché that we both knew well. I visualized it as a place where he was underwater drowning but needing to touch the pool floor in order to kick himself back to the surface. It was more poetic than real, I think. It never worked because love always managed to get in the way, paradoxically.

This past week or so I found myself with the opposite dilemma -- working so hard to bring off my latest project -- the second Leadership Tour of the park. The first had been phenomenally successful with so much positive buzz that virtually no recruiting had been necessary for this one. People had been calling in asking to be included since the day after.

On Thursday, February 10th, we gathered in the Shimada Room at City Hall for coffee at 8:30, boarded our tour bus at 9:10 for the Rosie The Riveter Memorial at the shoreline, enjoyed a guided tour past World War II structures (Newell Supermarket, the Old Greyhound Bus Station, the Japanese Oishi-Sakai Nurseries (41 handmade greenhouses that survived the years), the Park Florist that supplied the flowers for launchings at the shipyards, the Winters Building that served as an air raid shelter, Atchison Village war housing, the Red Oak Victory Ship and Whirley Crane at Shipyard #3, ending at the magnificant Ford Assembly Plant where the park's reception center will eventually be housed. We gathered for lunch and a de-briefing at the Harbormaster's Offices on the Marina shortly after noon. It was a great event.

That day I'd received a large package from the National Women's History Project containing the large posters and NWHP catalogs. I felt momentary excitement but instantly knew that I needed to stash them away for later. Among our tour passengers was the director of the National Parks Foundation who had flown out from Washington, D.C. He was obviously impressed by the work Naomi and I had done in breathing life into the concept of Civic Engagement.

It was then that I found "The Top." I was experiencing something previously unknown for me. It felt as though my persona was beginning to overwhelm my work. It was getting in the way. The tour I'd worked so doggedly to bring off successfully needed to move to the forefront. This day couldn't be about me.

I'd touched the sky and now was the time to come down.

After the tour ended and the guests (all 28) had scattered back into their lives, I quietly placed the beautiful poster on (Superintendent) Martha's desk - stashed the catalogs in the trunk of my car -- and went home for the day. It felt right.

On March 19th I'll bring out my paper hat again and celebrate.

Everyone should touch the sky, at least once, but that isn't a place that sustains life for long, I think.

Note: Our tours began with a viewing of "Of Lost Conversations ... and Untold stories," the DVD that is now available if you'll click on Cbreaux Annex (the link in the left hand column.) Do leave a comment. Would love to know if the information is new to you. It's all been carefully documented. I don't think Ken Burns needs to worry, though. We're no competition, yet ... .

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