You May Now Move Freely About the Cabin

CherriWishing for you a first-class ticket into 2014.

by Cherri Ellis


2013 is skidding sideways onto the tarmac, knocking our luggage around a little but bringing us home safe. Each year carries with it the foibles and triumphs of another chronological age. It marks the morphing of four more seasons and brings reflection on the times that have shaped my life for those 526,600 minutes.

This year I have been exalted and humbled, burdened and blessed. I have had tears run down my face from sadness and laughter. I think I am funny, but all of my family and friends are funnier than me. I wake up to texts from my sister Marlena with messages like, “F-yeah—who fixed the dishwasher? BOOM goes the dyn-o-mite.  Repairman can bite me or follow me and learn my ways.” I have another friend who is funny without meaning to be, like when she blithely explained that she was running late because she just had lunch with her ex-husband’s girlfriend’s ex-husband’s wife. My lifelong pal Jeff is in New York City bossing Rockettes around all day, but he was the first person I texted when I discovered the maple bacon donut. We were both on diets at the time, and my phone lit up later in a meeting with his response: “Honey, I would crawl up the back of a pig for bacon.”

This year I worked—hard. I saw things go right and things go awry, but I loved being in the trenches with smart, talented people.  We were shot at by deadlines and returned fire with ideas. We took a few bullets, yes, but we kept moving forward, everybody carrying or being carried by someone else at some point.

2013 took me to New Orleans, New York City, Ohio, Austin, Atlanta, Navarre, Destin, and Fort Walton, not to mention places right here in the ’Ham that I hadn’t been before. When you travel, you are someone else.  You are not the representative you send into work, and you are not the person who does laundry at home. You are someone more stylish and debonair, with heightened awareness of your surroundings. I hope that next year, I can grab my daughter and bust out of the country for one of our fabled mother/daughter trips. These vacations get some kind of green light on the concept that they are providing one-on-one time, which we all know we could do much less expensively in our living room.

As a parent, every year is different, and I have loved this 21st year. A senior at the University of Alabama, my girl lives in a tiny house with three other girls in the shadow of Bryant Denny stadium, and on game days, her wolf pack of about 16 swirls around me in a sea of cute boots and sunglasses and perfect hair. I love them. I once set a tray of 60 Zaxby’s chicken fingers down and glanced away for a nanosecond. When I looked back down, I checked the carpet because so many were gone I thought I had spilled them.

This year brought perspective. I was met with many professional successes, but I also lived through moments like the one at a dinner with my boss’s boss’s boss. It was at the end of the meal when he was addressing everyone in the warm, authoritive manner of a real leader. He was genuine and inspiring, and as we leaned in to catch every word, I took the last sip of my water. The ice that had been settling in the bottom shifted, and it looked exactly as if I had just thrown the glass’s contents in my own face. We collectively ignored it. (No small feat.)

2013 was jam-packed with experience. I have run toward life with the zeal of one who was threatened with its end. If I am lucky enough to grow old, I do not want to forget what it felt like to dance the West Coast Swing with Fabian the hot Columbian, to trust-fall back into silk fabric in an Aerial Pilates class, or to cook with coconut milk and fresh spices while drinking really good chardonnay.

I have suffered loss. There are people I miss whose absence in my life leaves a cavernous hole that may never fill up again. I am coming to understand that grief is not a process that you get through—it’s more like learning to carry something unwieldy in the most comfortable way. The loss I have suffered pales in comparison to the love I have been shown, so on the big dry erase board of life, I’m ahead.

A few Saturdays ago, I was standing in the parking lot of Edgar’s Bakery, enjoying a long goodbye to an out-of-town friend following a delicious breakfast. The sun was pouring down on us, and we were laughing when I suddenly felt the heavy weight of warm liquid splattering down on me, as if I was under a tree after a rainstorm and someone had shaken the branch. Unbelievably, an entire flock of geese had en masse relieved themselves on us as they flew overhead. I looked like I was on a game show as I tried to get my shirt off without actually touching it. The world has a way of keeping you humble.

And so 2013 brought me the rewards of another year of life survival, if you will.  What a trip it’s been. For all of its peaceful gliding and gut-checking turbulence, I still feel like I got extra peanuts without asking.  If you are reading this, I send to you every joy this glorious life can offer. I hope you enjoy Flight 2014.

2 Responses to “You May Now Move Freely About the Cabin”

  1. Becky Satterfield says:


    Delightful reading as always. Have a great time on Flight 2014!

    Love ya,


  2. Joyce Norman says:

    Really enjoyed your writing today.
    Made me aware how many people sometimes glide through each year’s flights, without being fully conscious of gifts, love, blessings that meet them at every turn. Your words make it clear to get aboard Flight 2014 with great healthy expectations. A few storms up ahead. No big turbulence. Smooth sailing.

    Joyce 🙂

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