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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
I remember the excitement. Bone-thrilling anticipation. I was going to meet my favorite writer and listen to him speak and buy a signed copy of his new book. Even take a picture if they would allow it.

I drove an hour to a massive bookstore and wandered the stacks on several floors and looked at the pictures of the famous writers who had been there before and thought this was the most holy of places. This collection of talent and wit and literary acumen was unparalleled.

Chairs were set up throughout a room down a narrow hallway and there was a stack of books at the front and a lectern. I positioned myself about halfway back near a speaker. I didn’t want to be first in line, I wanted to linger on every word, every story told, and wait for our meeting.

My favorite author is a raconteur, a storyteller, a fabulist. He spun a web of stories that night that lingered over the audience like a fog, shrouding us with elegance and beauty and pain. He told some stories about his childhood that made sense of his writing, that explained why he had chosen to put down his stories. It was wonderful and sad and triumphant.

Now you must understand that I had stalked this writer for years. I had gone to his home state and even vacationed near his home, thinking that I might catch a glimpse of him in his natural habitat. I caught no glimpse, but there was born inside an insatiable desire to one day shake his hand, look him in the eye, and tell him what his stories meant to me.

When the talk was over I got in line and waited, listening to the laughter and titters and stories around me. People whose lives had been enriched by this man. Former classmates of his. Friends from around the country. Cultured and refined people. I remained silent, inching forward as he took time with each person, even allowing photos to be snapped.

When it was my turn he asked my name and what I wanted signed. I told him. And then, fumbling over my words like a nervous schoolboy, I revealed as much as I could about what his writing had meant to me, how I had been moved.

He looked past me, toward the line. Perhaps there was someone there he knew. Perhaps he was hungry and wanted to go to dinner and was gauging how much longer he would need to sign. Or perhaps there was a beautiful woman behind me that caught his eye.

I can’t remember what he said, exactly, but in that moment I sensed something I will never forget. It was a feeling that springs from the bottom of life’s well and churns and bubbles up. Disappointment. A feeling that others behind me were more important. I was an obstruction. Another book to sign. Please move forward.

Let me hasten to say that if he had stood and embraced me and asked me to dinner afterward, it would have been a letdown. Nothing he could have done would have lived up to the affection in my heart. But this was…well, rejection at worst and indifference at best.

I didn’t get my picture taken with him. Maybe I had lost the desire. I snapped one from my perch beyond the table, with him alone, red-faced, signing his name, smiling at the person behind me. It was a good picture. Wall-worthy, even.

Driving home I felt the inexpressible loss of a dream. Foolish to think this writer, this famous person, would in any way regard me. I had conjured up this grand connection between us, a literary umbilical chord. But there was no attachment from his side of the page.

“How was it?” my wife said when I returned.

“It was okay,” I said. “He told some great stories.”

I had the photo developed and decided to give him another chance. To give me another chance, really. The dream lives in the hearts of readers. Hope is hard to kill. You can put your foot on its neck but it will rise just about every time.

I put the photo in an envelope with a short note, asking him to sign it. I included a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Perhaps it never reached him. Perhaps he tossed it away. It never returned.

There is more to this story, however. Much more.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The car in front of us was going the speed limit. My daughter had her earphones in. She glanced at the clock.

“Can you pass him?”

Deadpan. As if she had the power to move heaven and earth.

I glanced at her. Not too long. I might have swerved. I glanced back at the road and the sheriff’s car pulling out and going the other direction.

“You want to pay for the ticket?” I said.

She stared ahead and sighed.

“Drive the speed limit and you’ll never have to worry if you have enough money to pay a ticket,” I said.

We pulled up to the school one minute before the bell rang. I waved and told the kids to have a good day. I had taught such a great lesson to my daughter, I thought.

I had to run a couple of errands, make a phone call, do busy work. As I headed home the clock felt like it was slipping away. Not enough hours in the day.

About halfway home I noticed a car behind me, pretty far behind but zooming. Lights on top of the car. My stomach clenched. I looked down at the speedometer and let off the gas slightly. I wasn’t going that far over the limit, but I was over.

I knew the officers were out today. I knew it. I saw it. I told my daughter about it. And here was the nice officer in the car right on my tail. Numbers began turning in my head. How much would this cost?

He followed me for a while. An unnervingly long time. I came to a turning area I figured this would be the place where he’d hit the lights and pull me over. I was prepared for it.
But he just kept following. Maybe he was running my plates. Did I remember to renew my registration? I wanted to stop and hold my hands up. "I give up! I was going 5 mph over! Please, take me in now!"

I gave my turn signal at a big cross street. He gave his turn signal. Maybe I had committed some crime I couldn’t remember and he was going to nab me. Shoplifting? Nothing I can remember. I didn't put my cart back once at Target and still feel guilty. Maybe it had run over someone.

I gave my turn signal again and slowed. I turned and he gunned his engine and raced past me. Sigh.

What I told my daughter earlier was true. For both of us.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I suppose the people at the adult bookstore thought it was a good idea. Entice a few new patrons with some innocent looking helium balloons. What they came up with was the perfect metaphor. A mirror to the soul.

Valentine’s Day is upon us. I know because the card aisle at Target is nothing but red. Chocolate everywhere. Hearts. Love. Pink, too. That store is already red, so when this time of year rolls around it looks like an abattoir. (Fancy word for a slaughterhouse.)

But it was what I saw outside the adult bookstore that caught my eye. I know it’s an adult bookstore because on the side of the street is a crudely drawn sign that says, “Adult Bookstore.” They are not subtle. I drove past with my youngest daughter and glanced that direction and saw two helium-filled, heart-shaped balloons tied to a lamp-post in front.

The store itself was what you’d expect. A square building. Bars on the windows. Not too many windows. A parking lot in the back, I suppose. The front door was close to the dirty street. Not a soul in sight. Keep things hidden. Keep windows covered. But present a welcoming atmosphere with red, heart-shaped, helium-filled balloons on the pole in front.

As if you could find life behind those doors.

As if you’d find any kind of love. Or use something inside to show love to someone else. An adult bookstore takes much more than it ever gives.

The wind wasn’t just blowing on that Tucson street, it was howling and the tether to each balloon had wrapped around the pole as far as they could go, causing the balloons to fold in on themselves. They were just misshapen forms, hardly recognizable as hearts, crinkled and undefined.

The intent was this: “Come inside, we can give something good, something to spark your love life. Even if you don't have a love life. Come inside.”

The reality of the metaphor was closer to the truth" “Come inside and your heart will get wrapped around a light pole.”

I suppose there are many with hearts wrung out and wrapped around light poles. The divorced woman who hasn’t had a Valentine card in years. The divorced man who experiences the same. Or, perhaps they laugh and drink and try to numb the pain. Choices. Wrong turns. A heart given freely wrapped around a light pole. I read a blog over the weekend by a spurned woman who didn't know if she'd get a Valentine card this year. Another heart broken.

Maybe it’s the single woman who has longed for someone good and has only found bad apples. Or a single man who has kept himself as pure as he can who feels like he waits in vain.

Valentine’s Day is one of the happiest observances of all, but peel back the layers of lives and you’ll find something else. Deep inside is a longing. Maybe frustration. Desire. Disappointment squared.

All of this is good to recognize. The longing and desire and frustration point to something true and real. We were built for relationships. We were created to live in harmony with others and ourselves. We were made uniquely human and the heart remains restless until it discovers what it has always longed for.

And in the process, a lot of us get wrapped around light poles and our hearts get torn apart and crinkled.

No matter how badly misshapen your heart may be, it is still a heart. It is still beating. And if it can hurt, if it is in pain, that means there’s hope. Even wrapped around a light pole outside an adult bookstore there is still hope.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Dappled and drowsy I drove my kids to school and kept the radio off driving home so I could think. Quiet and peace and a restful heart are things you must fight to gain. They don’t come easily.

Thinking. Ideas about competing stories are crowding other things. Important things. Big decisions about life loom. Fear and anxiety spin like a top in my heart and the quiet and relative peace amplify the angst.

I came to an intersection and a truck whizzed past. I pulled behind it and followed. A Chevy. Long bed. Newer truck with a tinted rear window. A dog in the back.

This is not uncommon in Arizona. Lots of people haul dogs in the back of their trucks. They roam free in the back, watching, waiting.

The sun warmed the cactus and cholla now. It revealed dirt on my windshield I didn’t know was there. But I could see the road and the dog. He had short hair, a long tail, and looked ready for the hunt. It looked like a dog that could point at a rabbit or duck in some marshy field.

The dog paced from one side of the truck bed to the other. It craned its head around the driver’s side, then did the same on the passenger side. Then it stopped in the middle and looked through the tinted window at the two figures in front.

Back and forth, back and forth, tail wagging, wind blowing his ears. Around curves he braced himself and tried not to skid. Vigilant, exuberant about life, prepared for what was ahead, ready.

I stared at the Chevy emblem on the back and the license plate. The dog was being carried along by a power and force he didn’t understand. He had no concept of the engine, the plugs and points, fuel, combustion, or lubrication.

Perhaps the dog felt that by moving from one side to the other he was controlling things, creating momentum. Perhaps he felt all his nervous energy aided the journey. I’m not sure what went on in the dog’s head. Perhaps he was simply passing the time and waiting until he could jump.

I can scarcely know what goes on in my own head when I see such a thing.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
It’s Sunday morning and the sun is coming up over the Rincons. Cactus reflect the rays and there’s a wind, cool and inviting. I’m finally able to see outside here at the Cactus Compound and write with a view instead of wall-locked in the small room where I broadcast.

I can see the back of a STOP sign on a street a couple hundred yards away. I can see brown ridges of plant-life and trees that dot the mountain a few miles away. Or I can focus on the gravel and sand in the back yard. The scrub oak. Cholla. A rabbit making its way through the brush into the wash.

It’s really my choice. I can choose to focus on the ding in my Viewsonic monitor, the one put there by a friend who was helping me set up my office a few years ago, or I can look at the clouds. The sky is usually clear and blue and runs forever, but today there are rippling clouds that look like cotton.

I can focus on my empty coffee mug, the stack of credit card bills, or the black and white pup that has brought life to our beleaguered souls.

They say happiness is a choice. So is love. And if you fill your life with both, you’ll find yourself looking. Seeing. Even in the desert.