Three Times I’ve Felt Blessed

When I really, really knew. I’m talking profound, existential moments.

The first time it hit me, really hit me, I was on a flight home from Santa Barbara. I’d been in California visiting a long-time, on again-off again boyfriend. What was different about this trip, as opposed to a handful of others to San Diego and Laguna, was that this time I fell in love with California. Santa Barbara – its intimately small airport, State Street with its farmer’s market full of vibrant locally grown produce, the little Greek deli’s spanakopita, the flea market/mall filled with old treasures, the Mission and the beautiful rose garden, the State Street Theater, Earthling bookstore, the magnificent cliffs overlooking the Pacific, two old men painting landscapes on the beach. I spent a great deal of time driving and exploring by myself, and the independence I felt brought me back to those solitary New York days where I was discovering who I was.

I got on the plane that last day and felt not melancholy, but … at peace. I’ve never been afraid to fly. I’ve always loved the rush of the jet lifting off, and again when the wheels skidded to a halt on the runway. And, as the plane lifted off and the California landscape grew smaller and smaller, I thought to myself, how wonderful. If this plane never lands again, if I don’t survive this flight, it will be okay, because I. Am. Blessed. I am happy.

The second, profound, time, on a day I can’t exactly recall, I realized again. Blessed to have extricated myself from a painful situation and I knew that God stood beside me as I walked in the light again. My friends stood beside me, they offered prayers and encouraging words, and I was blessed. And I was blessed to have Todd back. I was blessed during this time that he loved me still, and he stood beside me during the worst of the battles I needed to walk through. The revelation and remembrance that I was blessed is what got me through my darkest days.

This morning. After waking up on the couch at 4 o’clock in the morning, alone, with the cat sleeping on top of me and the dog nearby in her bed and the candles still burning on the coffee table… I crawled back to the bedroom where my husband lay sleeping. I woke again 3 hours later, and snuggled up beside him, his hand massaging the pain out of my arm and we spoke the silent language of long-time lovers and friends and I stroked his brown and gray-stubbled cheek, admiring the curve of his nose and the softness of the lips I’ve known for a lifetime. And I felt Blessed.

For I am and have always been blessed. Not more than anyone else deserves to be, but I recognize it – and inside the walls of my soul, no one and nothing can take that away.

6 Things They Say We Gotta Do, Todd!

Well, Todd, here we go again. It must be couples awareness month, because the articles are trickling in on how to be better at it. (Not that I think we need to be better at it, ‘cause I think we’re rocking the heart stuff, but … play along.)

This one came from a site called Warm Fuzzies, and it’s titled 6 Things You and Your Spouse Should Try This Year!

Create a Marriage Vision Board. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, think collage, but here couples glue shit they want to do and shit they want out of their marriage together, so they can visualize their dreams and make them reality. Who has time for that?! How about pay the bills, keep the kids alive, and maybe retire before we die? Are there pics for that in magazines? Seriously though, I have a good feeling ours would feature two more Mustangs, another cat, a pool, Scotland, a router saw, a child-free vacation to Disney, and a million dollars.

Try out a new hotel in your city. What city are we talking about here? Cause in our town, we’re talking about the truck stop/hotel off of I-95. There IS something romantic and sexy about staying in a hotel, I agree, but not if it includes bed bugs and hookers. For the record, we have considered a night out and overnight in Baltimore, but it seems impractical when we could drive home in 40 minutes or stay at my in-laws. And believe me – there’s nothing romantic and sexy about sleeping in your in-laws’ guest room.

Take an exercise class together. Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Like THAT’S going to happen. They said that “there’s probably one of you who likes to exercise more than the other.” Um, which one of us would that be? Nevertheless, we biked together over the summer a few times and it was wonderful, so I’d have to say it’s highly recommended. Meanwhile, we have added a treadmill to our newly established weight room and it’s getting plenty of use, albeit at differing times. I guess we still have accountability, though.

Go someplace you’ve never been to before. Yes! Always on my radar, but not always able to. I’d like to say we just get in the car and go, but we’ve had some weekend trips for state bowling tourneys that took us to Erie and Pittsburgh that were reasonably fun and places that wouldn’t be first pick for a destination. But we made the most out of them that we could. The article suggests making a list of 5-7 places to go, and creating a savings to make that happen. I’d say that’s good advice. I wonder if they’re also supposed to be pictured on that Vision Board?

Get more creative in the bedroom. I suppose there’s a lot I could say here, like perhaps we should revisit the back wall of Spencer’s, but Todd is very private and plus my dad reads my blog and so do my in-laws. I prefer to keep my blog PG-14.

Reenact your first date. I really like this idea. That is, if either one of us could remember the actual first date 30 years ago. I suppose we could pretend. Or, reenact any of those dates that followed. But then I couldn’t write about them because they may cross the limits of PG-14 (sorry moms and dads). So, that leaves us with our first meeting as grownups reunited – which was pretty exciting – or perhaps the second time when you grabbed me and kissed me full on. Or maybe the birthday date, with a wonderful dinner and the most thoughtful gifts a man ever gave me. Yeah – let’s do THAT one again.

If you have time, click on the link above – as I want to give full credit to the original article. And while you’re at it, scroll down to the exercise picture and I ask you to envision you and your spouse doing that. Because I want to try this with Todd, just for shits and giggles. If nothing less than a fart or two. Because THIS would be hilarious.

What are your plans with your spouse this year?

The Chronicles: Thanksgiving Edition

The desire to write again is creeping back slowly. I was, as so many were, so deeply affected by the outcome of the election. Many people are talking about it, still talking about it, posting about it …. and I don’t want to. I have no desire to write about it. But what worried me more was that I had no desire to write, period.

So I returned to my writing roots, to my journals where I write only for me. The daily morning ritual of coffee and pen to paper has helped. The impending holidays and several neck and back adjustments have done just enough to turn my frown upside down. And so, without further ado, the previous week’s shenanigans…

About a week before Thanksgiving, Veruca begged me to listen to the Holly channel while we were driving. Please please please?? Fine, I said. It was the Twelve Days of Christmas. At least we could sing along. However, this version, by Straight No Chaser, is like following somebody to a place you’ve never been and they’re driving so fast you end up losing them. These dudes skipped numbers, turned back to those missed halfway through the song, dipped into Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel, and then slipped into Toto’s Africa, Christmas-style. Eight maids-a-milking, and they’re milking just for me…  And I don’t always have a dirty mind but when I do, it’s not in the car with my 11-year-old singing the Twelve Days of Christmas.

And while we’re on the subject of feeling uncomfortable, I recently heard a fun story about a family that sits in a circle after Thanksgiving dinner watching the Sound of Music and rubbing each other’s feet. The whole damn family! In a circle. Touching each other’s feet. For 3 hours. Imagine that! Because I can’t. But if you can, and you like it, that’s great. There’s no judgement here.

So Thanksgiving. The night before, Todd and I drove the kids up to their dad’s and – against my better judgement – decided to have an impromptu date night at the restaurant. The night before Thanksgiving. This is never a good idea, no matter how much food and wine my mother plies me with. I ended up behind the bar – surprise! And date night turned into tipsy-bartender night with hubby rubbing elbows with some of our favorite guests. And then, while totally unnecessary, the staff tipped me out for “saving” them. How many people who aren’t professional escorts can say Date Night turned a profit?

We hosted Thanksgiving at home, as we always do, with a total of 15 people (and four dogs) who came to nosh and drink and watch The Secret Life of Pets before passing out. I’m happy to report it was a peaceful bi-partisan gathering with no talk of all the president-elect’s men. Well there was the whisper of one, which I shut down like a boss by threatening to leave my own house and run away to an unnamed neighbor’s, leaving the targets looking like two deer trapped in the headlights. Nonetheless, I would like to apologize to all of my mothers, who may not have been guilty at all.

It was a lovely day… no smoking bird and no fistfights (really, we’re not that kind of family, but wouldn’t it be fun to say so?), the only casualties a crystal champagne glass and our downstairs toilet, which sustained a mysterious crack in its tank and leaked a rather large puddle of water overnight. Oh – and in keeping with the spirit of lost items at every event, a pair of ear buds were found in the driveway the next morning.

Oliver was extremely pissed to have to share his home with visiting dogs, one of whom spent the night guarding the space between the kitchen and the rec room where his litter box lives, and having the area around his litter box flooded sent him over the edge and apparently onto one of our bathroom rugs, which sent Todd over the edge. Oliver has been banned from the master bedroom indefinitely, and there’s nothing I can say to save him until the smoke clears.

I don’t shop on Black Friday because I’m not suicidal, so I don’t have any good shopping stories yet. But I learned some other things. I learned that people who get really drunk and loud and obnoxious still exist. I learned that some girls really do like older men, though in some cases I can’t for the life of me figure out why. To quote a friend, there’s not enough money in the world to [put up with that]. The latter part is censored because I just can’t write it here without feeling dirty, and believe me I feel dirty enough when two people are hurling accusations of infidelity in front of me and I’m desperately wishing I’d worn my invisibility cloak. I must say I felt terribly sorry for the Uber driver who spent what must have been a very entertaining, albeit uncomfortable, hour locked in a car with these two.

Yet truly, I felt sorry for the two of them. Imagine being in an on-again, off-again relationship for years, punctuated by fancy dinners and expensive wine (if it doesn’t get spilled all over the table), mistrust and hushed yet very public arguments, hopefully some decent Viagra-assisted sex, and constantly having to apologize for your date’s behavior. Where is the joy in that? It’s a very sad, sad situation, and one I would never envy. I’d rather spend the rest of my life alone with twenty-seven cats, than have even one night of that kind of drama.

It’s a gift, to get reminders now and then of just how good I have it.  An old family-drama-of-marriages-past tried its best to suck me  in recently, and I’m relieved and proud to say that I slammed the door on that circus.

I am so blessed to have the love of a good man – who may be old to a 20-year-old but is perfect for this 47-year-old. Life is good.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Reunion

I drove to our meeting place, my heart in my throat and my stomach somersaulting. While we wanted this first time to be private, circumstances made that virtually impossible. I imagined this as some epic reunion, and could hardly think of seeing him, after so long, in some crowded restaurant.

I pulled into the lot, my palms sweaty and trembling on the wheel. We had spoken frequently over several weeks, his voice over the air waves like an old familiar song, but until this very moment our eyes hadn’t met in over twenty years. All I’d had were pictures on a computer screen, and an old prom photo that by some miracle had escaped a jealousy-driven purge many years ago.

I saw his silhouette inside his truck, and knew there was no turning back. My heart was pounding in my chest. He stepped out of his truck as I opened my car door, and I was soon standing by my car feeling suddenly shy and conspicuous. We walked a cavernous short distance toward each other and I did what I always do when I’m breathtakingly nervous – smile stupidly like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

And then we were face to face. This boy I’d loved beyond all rational reason 25 years ago, the first real love I had, the unforgotten one who was indelibly imprinted on me … was standing right in front of me, flesh and bone. Same soft dark hair, shorter today. Same frame and square shoulders. Same dark eyes that see inside of me, reading all of my secrets.

And he did what any guy in his right mind would do under these extraordinary circumstances. He hugged me. I felt his arms encircle me and tried not to melt into them. I tried to remember that I was a 41-year-old woman who was mature and put together and … then I hugged him back. I couldn’t breathe. Because, Todd.

I hadn’t spoken that name out loud in forever. Hadn’t dared to think much more beyond a casual reminiscence. We stood back, looking at each other. So? So?

And suddenly there were no words. We sat down together, and suddenly the walls came down again, like they had on the phone, and we were talking about everything and nothing.

At some point he picked up my hand and I looked down, surprised by the familiarity – by the sight of his hands. You know how not all hands you will look at like they are yours? We were older now, but his hands hadn’t changed. And when I felt his hand around mine, it was a memory come to life again. In that moment, nothing had ever felt so right.

This is Not About PMS

Blogged while finishing off the coffee Todd made. (Sorry babe.)

At the risk of scaring away any male readers, PMS sucks. It was not in my plan to make this an opener today. I had other plans for this post. But today’s post isn’t going to be about the original plan, and it’s not going to be about PMS either. However, PMS has driven the direction of my thoughts today, and so there you have it.

I just want to preface this by stating that being in my 40s has given me a sort of Superwoman ability to recognize when PMS is coming. Okay, so maybe it’s really just a side effect of maturity… but still…this, my friends, is a –UGE milestone. Where in my  20s I’d hit that week where everyone and everything pissed me off and I barreled through all of it like a freight train bent on destruction, I can now see myself getting stabby and am able to sort of reel it in before everyone in my orbit feels like they’ve been tased. There are far fewer victims in my wake now.

Todd can talk me down off the wall, but I still have to make him understand why I feel this way and he has to acknowledge it before I can let it go. Like yesterday in the garage. I was putting stuff away from the community yard sale and sweating my balls off, and complaining wildly about it. The sweating, not the putting away of stuff. And before someone tells me I don’t have balls I will tell you I have plenty, and I’m not afraid to use them, but I was sweating so hard [sweating my balls off] that I sweat them right off! So in which case, you’re right – I have no balls now.

And, while we’re on the subject of balls, a few weeks ago my mom was over and we were all standing out on the deck enjoying a relaxing Sunday when she suddenly looked at Opac and said, don’t scratch your balls in front of your Nannie. Veruca’s face registered an amusing struggle to simultaneously control shock and hysteria. Opac stopped scratching/adjusting/ whatever-you-boys-do and fired back matter-of-factly – why were you looking there?

Anyway, back to not talking about PMS. It makes me stabby, and occasionally weepy. But we’re not going to talk about that. Except for the fact that I am almost never feeling that way, except for that one week every month, and even then it’s almost always never weepy. Except for this time.

I’m trying not to feel weepy about Pi, who’s 15 and falling down a little more often every day and sometimes when she does she loses her bladder. I have a post started along the My Life Is Shit series, meant to be funny, but today it’s anything but funny.

Todd and I were simultaneously cleaning up kitchen surfaces this morning – him, the pile of papers on the island and me, the pile of stuff on the kitchen table. I bought these “Calming” chews for Sabra and I held up the bag to show him and he wondered aloud if someone makes something all-natural like this for humans, which surely someone does, and I said as much while remembering some Chinese herbs someone had “prescribed” me years ago for my anxiety. So of course he asked, who? Someone I dated on and off over a 6-year period, who moved to California to study Chinese medicine and acupuncture. He said, why don’t you call him and find out what it was? I would never, because he would never speak to me – I’d walked away from him three times. I’m not so callous to think he has even thought of me in the last 18 years, but if he did, it was with hate.

Todd’s on this plane right now that is equally matter-of-fact and at times quite harsh. His response to this? That guy had no business being with me. You were never his, he said. That may be true, but for the record – I was never about breaking hearts.

The conversation segued into how series of events lead us to the places we end up in… like for me, had I never gone to a small college in PA I would never have met a guy who introduced me to my big sister (sorority), and with whom we would not have visited a fraternity brother in a hospital in North Jersey, and ended up spending a whirlwind day in New York City whereby I discovered a certain University whose purple flags hung all over the village and intrigued me to the point I would never forget them.

Todd pointed out that had we not broken up, he would not have left town for Baltimore. Or, that I might have moved down there with him, and gone to college there. He mentioned that night I came to his work to return some things of his, and how difficult it was for him. Tears filled my eyes as he told me how he flipped out on someone and walked out. I can still remember that night like it was yesterday, or at least the emotions I felt. Erikah drove me over there. I remember the anxiety, and the awkwardness between us. And how I cried as we drove away.

I swiped at the tears while we talked this morning. I don’t remember what I was returning to him that night – because we’d had another day when he’d come to my house and I gave him his jacket and his ring, and we’d ended up on the floor, loving each other like it would never be over.

If he saw the tears rimming my eyes as we talked, it didn’t stop his train of thought as he pointed out how, when something is that difficult to let go of, you’re not supposed to let go of it. And – our breakup was very, very hard to do. It wasn’t a breakup where one of us said to the other – I don’t want you. I just want and/or need something else too.

It was me. The child, the Gemini in me, had something more she wanted to do, something more she wanted to know, experience, live…  He said this morning, he would never have broken up with me. Maybe not, but we will never know. We took a different path. He chose not to fight me. He didn’t want to hold me back – a display of love and maturity that defied his 17 years. I stood before him conflicted and heartbroken, and cried a thousand times over him as I moved on. It’s amazing how easy it is to remember and feel them in the same way, in all of my extremities and my heart and the pit of my stomach.

I’m so glad he took me back. I’m so glad he loved me. I’m so blessed to share the rest of our lives together, as it was written long ago.

And equally blessed because this man who knows me better than I know myself, just walked quietly past me and dropped a handful of M&Ms on my desk.

 

 

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Happily ever after…

Copyright The Tara Chronicles.