As some of you may know, I am a pretty deep person…I am spiritual…and emotional. When we were young, my sisters and I used to laugh at my Mom when we would watch Little House On The Prairie. It was one of the shows we were allowed to watch on the one channel we got at our house out in Maple City. She would cry…during every episode. We used to laugh and point and roll our eyes, and occasionally, maybe even shake a tear or two off our own cheek after Charles Ingles would be bawling because he found little Laura Ingles at the top of the mountain where she was trying to get as close to God as possible because she wanted to ask for Him to give her little sister back that died at birth. Or she would cry when Mary saved the liter of puppies that some mean guy wrapped in a burlap bag and tied a brick to as he tossed it into the brook on the side of town.
It is me now, that has tears billowing in my eyes when a contestant on the voice gets a four chair turn when they were told for years that they weren’t good enough, and my daughter looking at me saying “Momma?”. Or my son looking real close at my eye, wondering if I am crying when a sappy commercial comes on. I catch them too, having moments of happy tears…of being touched. I am a blessed woman. No doubt about it. I could (and do) go on and on about all the lovely people, opportunities, and places I have been fortunate to be a part of. I am touched by all those who have been a part of this journey of life. A part of my journey.
I had a 36 hour adventure to Grand Rapids a few weeks ago. I was touched by all the moments in that 36 hours I was able to reflect and be grateful. All those reflections reminded me of the experiences and people who have touched me in the time I spent Grand Rapids and at Aquinas College and how it all has made me who I am and how it all truly matters.
Driving down with the most amazing woman I know, my Mother. Dining in the revived cherry street area, remembering the times spent with friends at PickWick,Gaia and Cherry Inn when I lived in GR and was a student at Aquinas College. Walking in the evening in an area of GR that was not safe back in the day, popping in and out of art galleries feeling inspired by creative colors and sculptures. Driving downtown to our hotel and remembering blues at San Chez every Wednesday, passing by the Civic Theatre and laughing about memories of improv acting classes with Angela and silly one acts. Strolling through the Amyway Grande viewing magnificent instillations for Artprize and thinking of my photography professor Dana Freeman who saved egg shells from
AQ kitchen for a year to make an instillation of thousands of eggs shells stacked upon one another balancing in perfection. I also thought of our AQ spring flings held at Amyway and all of us girls getting dolled up to pretend to be princess’ for a night. Crossing streets downtown and seeing all the changes, expansions and growth in Monroe Center and all the side streets. The B.O.B on the corner brought me back to bartending at Rose’s and seeing Greg study a fax he got about this old building he just bought downtown and the risk of the remodel, wondering if GR was ready for such a bold move! Stopping in to many stores that sell The Redheads, reconnecting with them, remembering when Christen and I would drive down every week and personally deliver to them all! Eric at Kingma’s, Art of the Tables quaintness, Nourish’s sweet market, AE Brady’s meat shop. I did a quick tour past Hampton Street and Lovett Street where I lived with some of my most favorite people in the world: Sara, Angela, Christen and Benny. Memories of walking to The Intersection, saxophone in hand, for my weekly gig with Domestic Problems…Bivins dancing barefoot on the brick streets celebrating Clinton’s election or by where Eastown deli used to be where I sat with Dave Deever and negotiated our weekly gig…and most importantly the Bell’s beer we wanted to drink as a part of our contract! (Thanks Dave! You’re the best! Good beer to starving college students was more than just a perk!) Regina Hall…St Joe’s and all the amazing people that blessed my years at AQ…I am still in touch with so many and love seeing their lives and what paths they have taken. Having lunch with Laura at Rose’s where Christen and I learned even more about good, scratch food and impeccable service. And parking out in front of the AB building at the beautiful Aquinas College campus..yes, in a faculty reserved parking place just as I used to do with my green bean machine 1980 honda hatch back! (I thought no one noticed, however, I had over $300 worth of parking tickets due before I could get my diploma back in 1995! oops!)
I was eager to go to the Art building where I knew the dear Ron and Mirram Pederson were having a joint sculpture and poetry show. To see these two beautiful people was nothing short of inspiring. Decades of creating art together, raising two children, both professors at AQ and the profs that went to Ireland as my teachers in 1994. It was fantastic to reconnect and I so admire both of their talents as artists. They have influenced my work and my life view and I am forever grateful that the study abroad experience that changed my life included the two of them. Dana Freeman was also there. An on the edge artist that I always admired, who made me push the envelope on the art shows I have done over the years.
After finishing my visit with my professors, and walking through their show, I followed the path to touch down Mary, where a beer tent was erected and music and games were being enjoyed for the AQ homecoming celebration. I met my dear friend Laura N at the gate and she passed me a beer voucher and after digging for our ID’s we headed in to the crowd. (Yes! We were carded!) To my surprise, I heard some voices and instruments I recognized oh so well. Some of the DP boys were playing live at the beer tent. It was a treat to watch them play and hear the song that Andy wrote so many years ago that I first heard on our sisters graduation party (Andy’s sister Mary Pat and my sister Christen were best friends in college and how I met Andy). I watched Billy the tall glass of milk, Seth King York, and my Neddy all rocking out with the statue of Mary off the the side. The same sculpture that as a sulking sophomore, I slowly walked past to go to class almost certainly 20 years ago to the day. And on that day Andy and Billy were playing their guitars while sitting on that statue with a crowd of 15 surrounding them just joining in or listening. I walked up and did the same. As the students started to dwindle to their classrooms, I stayed and jumped up on the ledge with the boys and began to harmonize and sing. It was truly brilliant! I was needing something to give me direction and connection as I hadn’t declared my major yet and I was not feeling the sass to life this day. I was moved. The boys asked me to come by St. Joe’s hall for a rehearsal and that was the beginning of a very important and dear to my heart musical journey with gentlemen (most of the time:) that I thought of as my brothers: Tadd, Ned, Josh, Seth, Job, Jason, Billy and Andy~ it was all greater than any domestic problem we were experiencing at the time:)
I drove away with Aquinas and Grand Rapids and so many important memories in my rear view mirror. I felt so grateful and amazed at how fast this life goes. I feel that it is all connected and with out all of the experience that I have had in this life, I would most definitely not be the woman I am today nor be as fulfilled as I am. They all matter. We each matter.
It all matters.
Live it Sassy….because it is just better!
Sarah Felicity Landry Ryder