The Weekend, Dreams, and Butthurt

I woke this morning from a terrible dream that involved the kids and my ex and Todd was in there somewhere too but incongruously juxtaposed with the ex, and there was this weird camp/event/gathering with strangers (who were friends in the dream but who I’ve never seen before in my life). We were having dinner at the friends’ apartment and there was this keg of red champagne that exploded like dynamite and somehow I was to blame because I’d partially opened it by mistake and then everyone there was angry with me. I tried to wipe everything down and suddenly was fighting with my ex, or maybe it was Todd, and crying about the fact that I was trying my best to clean up the blood-like spatter of this red champagne that made the house look like a crime scene. And then I left there for some marketplace filled with outdoor shops and flea markets,  there was a flood and I was floating along the rapids with my shopping cart, worried about losing the ibuprofen I’d just purchased for Opac.

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t do drugs.

Why me? Why do I have to have these fucked up catastrophic dreams where I’m either crying or running away from a serial killer? Too much binge-watching of Murdock Mysteries??

Why can’t I have dreams about swashbuckling pirates like my friend – who, incidentally, is a very physical dreamer and has frightened more people awake with her very loud vocals and thrashing about? It seems infinitely more fun than being chased by a whackjob who wants to kill me.

Sleep is overrated, apparently. The dog decided that she absolutely could not wait until morning to go out on the last night I could actually sleep through the night before V came home, and woke me up at 1:40 a.m. When I actually want to sleep – I can’t. Otherwise, I’m falling asleep on the couch at 8:30-9:00 every night because my eyes just can’t take it anymore. Poor Todd. I wasn’t much fun on Saturday night.

And speaking of sleep, the cat continues to sleep on the dining room table such that I’ve taken the tablecloth off, leaving the ugly vinyl padding exposed and I don’t give a shit. I’m so over de-fuzzing the tablecloth every night so we can eat dinner there. He knows he’s not supposed to be there, and how do I know this? Because he knows the sound of me picking up the water gun, and also because the minute he hears me down the hall he’s jumping off. I guess he thinks he’s fooled me, but it hasn’t occurred to him that I can hear the sound of elephant paws hitting the floor.

I noticed that he no longer sleeps with us when the kids are away, and he no longer sleeps with V either. I thought maybe something was amiss, especially since he doesn’t jump up on the couch next to me much lately either. But this morning it occurred to me that it’s too hot, and then it occurred to me that he only sleeps with us when it’s cold and NOT because he loves any of us, so in reality he is selfish and only out for himself. Which is why he doesn’t give a f@#% about the rules. YET, I continue to love him.

But not as much as I love Todd and IPA, which is why I woke up Sunday morning prepared for butthurt and to make it up to him for falling asleep so early the night before. We got up and cycled a 13.6-mile circle around our town which was exhilarating and satisfying and only momentarily embarrassing when our two lumps on bicycles were passed by a cycling club of about 8 sleekly-clad riders who knew the proper alerts to give me as they approached from behind. At least they were kind and asked, how are you this morning, though it should’ve been painfully obvious.

We got home and Todd took to mowing the lawn, and then I took over the push mower for the first time ever which I know must come as shock. I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life. I once rode a tractor in my old life, but only for about 2 minutes because I panicked when I let go the brake and the damn thing took off like a train. (Well, not really, but it was really scary when I forgot how to make it stop.) So, I can now check off another item from my bucket list. Not that it was on there. I find that it’s easier to add things to the bucket list after I’ve done them.

We ended up checking out a local place on the water we hadn’t been to yet, which turned out to be the very same vacant, for-sale property we’d checked out four years ago and talked to my mom about opening a restaurant in. Obviously that never happened, and – excuse my French – this place is now a fucking gold mine. And loud. But we enjoyed sitting outside on the covered deck, enjoying IPA and Crabby Mac n Cheese and loaded nachos, all of which I think were well-earned after the morning we had.

Lessons learned – don’t ever hesitate on a reasonably good idea. Although, I wouldn’t want the headache of a place like that, between the hell of staffing and security, not to mention the liability associated with its proximity to the water. I’m so over the restaurant business anyway, even as Todd keeps returning with these fantasies of owning a very lucrative, if not seasonal, one. Personally, I love the idea of a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 situation, where somebody else is the boss and I only have to show up and do my job right. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lower expectations. Well, except when you just want to sit down without pain.

Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

People have asked me why I’m not writing much… this is [one reason] why. Life is busier than I expected it would be these last three months. And now that school has let out – and Veruca’s softball season has ended – summer workouts for football have begun.

The title of this post is kinda random, since I was listening to the radio when I picked Opac up from summer workouts and this was on. I love this song, I love to belt it out and had it turned up until he got into the car. I watched him walking out from the building, looking like somebody had dragged him across the field on his head. He got into the car and reached over to turn down the volume saying “I gotta turn this shit down, it’s not my victory song” as he did so.

And so it goes. The kids are full of it these days – wit and wisdom. Two days ago he went to practice early so he could watch and “help” with the freshmen workouts, because “freshman make a lot of mistakes (they can’t help it).”

Meanwhile back in Veruca-land, where the world has to be just so or hellfire will burn your house down, a conversation about Opac being a junior now and my melancholy at this revelation that he’ll be graduating in two years prompted V to comfort me with a whispered, “don’t worry, he’s not going to be able to support himself, so he’ll come back home.” Who ARE these children??

Unfortunately, the frequency with which they make me laugh since school let out 36 hours ago is not surpassing the frequency with which the urge to kill is rising. V is testing every limit I have established for my nerves and sanity. She’s pissed that she can’t leave for vacation with her dad until Friday; she’s pissed that Opac is threatening not to go on said vacation; she’s pissed that I won’t buy tater tots; she’s pissed I won’t get her another manicure before her vacation; she’s pissed that Opac won’t play Call of Duty with her; she’s pissed that she can’t go to work with me. Seriously.

Today was the first day of summer vacation. I took V for a repeat blood test she needed (and, for the first time ever, she went back without me), picked up my new glasses again (long story, that one), spent $17 on lunch at Wawa, and then drove O to Dick’s Sporting Goods for some crazy-ass device you wear on your face to basically add more stress to your heart and lungs so you can build endurance. I talked him out of it, by the way. Seriously.

And then we stopped at Macy’s because I still have credit and a small shred of dignity and thought I’d see if there were any decent swimsuits to be had. As usual, I was wrong. The selection was abysmal, because hello! June. And everything this year has this new trend called “cutouts,” which are not really for real women but for meth addicts and size 0 bulimic models. We literally circled the store and the department in less than 10 minutes and were back in the car.

Wait. Back up. Opac was in the car, with V screaming at him that he promised she would get the front seat and she’s freaking out because “my stuff” is in the front seat. And guess what – he threw her “stuff” over his shoulder into the backseat, which only incensed her more. He threw her stuff! Good lord, what is the world coming to?

This, on the first day of summer vacation.

And of course the pets are following suit. Sabra has finally been spayed, and she’s doing great, except for the running and jumping she’s not supposed to be doing. She’s managed to slip under the fence into the neighbor’s yard, and yesterday she chased the  squirrel who buried his nuts in my potted plants last fall, from one tree to another.

Oliver has been more vocal than ever, running into the kitchen during my 3 a.m. blood sugar checks for Veruca, meowing at me like he hasn’t eaten in 39 days. This morning, at least, he waited until I woke up for the day… I sat up and saw he had stuffed his Biggie Smalls body into an empty Eminem shoebox I’d left near the foot of the bed. I need a picture of this.

So meanwhile, we’re all on pins and needles while Opac decides whether he’s going on vaca with his dad. I feel compelled to protect his feelings and his privacy, so I can’t explain his reasoning behind it all. But I am surprisingly surprised that some things (or people) just never change. Seriously.

 

Life After Midnight

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Home from work at 1:36 a.m. and enjoying a little leftover Ferrari-Carano Siena Red, which is delicious by the way, while the kitty snores behind me and everyone else sleeps. It sucks working Saturday nights, if only because I come home and Todd is sound asleep at 1 a.m. because he rises so early.

Veruca is with her dad this weekend, as she is most weekends, since we changed our custody agreement. Meanwhile, Opac chooses whether he stays home on “my weekends” or goes to his dad’s. This weekend he’s home. Because he has a football day planned with his pack tomorrow.

Anyway, I checked in on him when I got home, and woke him up by accident. Oh well. Todd barely moved when I entered our bedroom, so I figured I’d sit out in my space and have some wine and write nonsense. We’re having breakfast with mom-and-dad-Todd, at what amounts to the crack of dawn after a work night for me but not for the rest of the world, tomorrow morning.

The pets are SO excited when I get home from work, they follow me into the darkened bedroom where Todd slumbers and where I try to peacefully unzip my boots, and I wonder if anyone remembered to feed them tonight while I was gone. Which is anybody’s guess, since Todd is really good about that and yet the pets will lend me the impression that Oh My God no one has fed us since you left 16 hours ago! And then of course I have to hand out the treats and fill up their bowls and they gratefully accept it all like they have been waiting forever.

The remnants of tonight’s dinner appear to be a crockpot full of vegetarian chili (Todd’s), and two cold slices of pepperoni pizza. By the way, cold pepperoni pizza goes well with the aforementioned wine.

I’m not tired yet. I should be, but I’m not tired. It’s customary to have A drink after work – years ago we’d all sit around the bar after closing and drink together. Those days are long past. I can’t drink because I have an hour’s drive home. I fixed the last-girl-standing a martini, and Stevie B got a Long Island Iced Tea that was too wicked even for him. I might’ve been offended, but I accidentally poured tequila in my friend’s martini (she wanted vodka) and so… I thought, hey! Let’s make Stevie B a LIIT. Still, it had just enough too much tequila to burn the hair off his chest, if he had any. Not that I’d know if he has hair on his chest, just sayin’.

Anyway, I drove myself home in the Mustang – which is always a joy late at night because it’s stick and there’s no one on the highway that late so I can really fly – and it helps keep me awake. I look forward to having a drink when I get home, which would be a lot more fun if someone else was awake with me (well, except for Opac, which would be completely inappropriate). And before someone says it’s bad to drink alone, I say it’s actually better, since no one is there to tell you you’ve had enough, or witness the tomfoolery that follows half a bottle of wine… except two cats and a dog you’re talking to. Which, technically, means I’m not drinking alone. Or alone drinking. And they listen really well, always agree with me, and never argue about politics. Best drinking companions, ever.

 

 

 

Melancholy

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I went to Walmart yesterday with Opac. He was adamant about stocking up on his favorite hair glue, so much so that he was spazzing out because I didn’t want to go since my brother was over and Veruca is overdue for a haircut and I wanted to kill two birds with one stone (hairdresser is in the same shopping center). And Veruca wanted to stay home with her frizzled hair with Uncle Matt and play video games.

Side note: this is an interesting stage – this age 11-going-on-12 stage. She’s obsessed with the clothes she’s wearing, and little else. She ransacks her room for clothes every morning, and right now every drawer is open on her dresser, and clothes are spilling out of them onto the floor. The ones that have escaped the dresser are covering the floor like measles on a sick kid. She obsesses over the leggings and t-shirts/sweatshirts she wears every single day – nevermind all the nice stuff I got her from Justice – but never remembers to brush her teeth. And her hair? Her hair makes me nuts. It’s tough keeping quiet, yet I know there are bigger problems worth arguing over, like the snacking without bolusing that continues like a blister on my heel. And I do know, thank you very much, that this will all shift in some blindsided way and suddenly the raging hormones will render her certifiably irrational.

Meanwhile, back to Opac. It’s always nice when we get one-on-one time, even if it’s simple like going out to eat or a trip to the store. He will always say he’s glad when it’s just the two of us. We shopped together. It was nice. He shares things with me. Although initially I was reluctant to go, I later realized it was something he needed. An old friend of his from middle school, whom he hadn’t seen in over 2 years, was killed in a car accident yesterday morning. The news spread through the high school like fire; he told me there were people crying everywhere. One of his good friends, was this kid’s best friend. He said it was weird. He feels weird, not sure how to feel at all. We talked about it. About my own experiences with this – how it’s difficult to understand why something like this happens, and what I believe is at work spiritually, behind it. He swiped at his eyes once or twice.

I’ve fallen into that delicate place, the “life is a tragedy for those who feel” part of Shakespeare’s prolific words, and I was already feeling emotional, as I always do, on my Nana’s birthday. I can’t explain what I feel, though I often speak of her with love and honor. My kids know who she is, even if they don’t remember anymore. I’d give almost anything to talk to her today. If even just one more time.

The news of this young kid dying struck me senseless, left me weeping in the car this morning after I dropped V off at school, as I literally felt the physical pain those parents are feeling. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. For a moment I felt the inside of their hearts, and I felt sick. I don’t know how one goes on living after such a loss. I don’t know that I could. I call myself strong, I think many people see me that way, but on the inside is a weakness, a compassion or emotion for tragedy that I must consciously block out sometimes, for nothing less than mental survival. Please Father, don’t take my children. I will die.

I was also reminded of another friend of his, when he mentioned that even “John” had tears in his eyes, because about a year ago “John’s” mother died a horrific and tragic death that left me crying for days. She suffered from some form of mental illness, and believed to not be getting the proper care and support she needed. She told John one night where all the important documents were kept in the house, and told him to go upstairs to bed and not to come back down, no matter what. What followed is a police account of what happened. They were called to the darkened home with reports of an intruder, only to break in and find her seated in a chair in the dark holding what appeared to be a gun. She ignored repeated requests to put down the weapon, and when she raised it, they fired on her, killing her. The sorrow I felt for John was overwhelming. How does a 15-year-old boy recover from that?

The sadness was overwhelming, not because I knew them, but because his was a familiar face and I just wanted to reach out to him. And because I remember seeing him and his mother in the grocery store, weeks before, and I attempted to smile at her to be friendly but she never once looked at me. And in retrospect, I can’t help but wonder if she had – would it have made a difference in her day? In the future?

Of course I’m not that powerful. But the takeaway is, it’s always better to offer a friendly smile to anyone – because we’re all fighting battles that are sometimes less obvious than a grumpy face. If you can turn one person’s day around with a simple gesture, would you do it?

Meanwhile, my other grandmother, a life-long smoker and drinker, is approaching her 92nd birthday. She has type 2 diabetes, and now takes insulin to manage her blood sugar levels. She told my mom the other day, she doesn’t know why she’s still here. She has body failings, that upset her and add to her overall depression. My mom reminded me that the body as it ages is only going in one direction… that improvements, while small, will ultimately only hold up until they don’t. The body, at 92, is slowly deteriorating, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. That revelation made me sad too. What must it feel like to be where she is? Will I approach it with today’s half of Shakespeare’s quote, as my mommom does, or will I approach it with Tara’s usual MO – the other half that says, that “life is a comedy for those who think”??

 

 

 

My Other Kids

The dog and cat are standing in the kitchen staring at me as I cook. They do this now. They stand side by side waiting for me, depending on where I am and the time of day. On weekends it’s by my side of the bed. Or outside the bathroom door. My kids are grown enough, so now I have pets who follow me to the bathroom and make messes with their food or refuse to eat it at all, and beg for treats 24/7.

Sabra will ask to go outside and will literally turn back to the door, waiting to be let back in and when you do, she has the audacity to wait for a treat. And when she gets one – because, spoiled – the cat comes over and waits for one too. I kid you not.

Oliver is very vocal about breakfast. He wants it NOW. The minute my feet hit the floor at 6 a.m. he’s standing there in the doorway like the ghost of breakfast past. He runs just an inch in front of my feet, so that I step on him in my early morning before-coffee clumsiness, and so I feel guilty for stepping on him. He will meow at me loudly until I feed him, no matter that I am holding the Fancy Feast in my hand with a fork already, and then when I crouch down to put it in the bowl he comes up under me and blocks my view. And meows. Loudly.

But that’s not all. He not only gets a small serving of canned food, he also gets a small serving of dry food too. And he will walk over to the pantry door where it is stored and sit down, alternately staring at the door and looking over his shoulder at me. I get it. He’s hungry.

Sabra will stand in the hall around the corner trying to be inconspicuous. She stands just behind the wall, so that she appears to be spying on me. Other times she’s more obvious, like just inside the kitchen, or by her bed in the living room, or looking out from under the dining room table. She just stands there, and stares at me.

It’s kinda creepy, actually. I can feel their eyes on me. Always watching. Sometimes Oliver follows me to the rec room, like a prison guard assuring that I won’t escape these walls unnoticed. He rarely openly monitors the litter box maintenance, but I know for a fact that he’s watching from somewhere because I no sooner leave the vicinity and he’s in that box, adding his own special brand of air freshener to the atmosphere.

It’s almost funny how much more demanding he is, than the dog, and yet – is the epitome of feline. Demanding, selfish, indifferent, seasoned with an occasional cuddle on the couch… on HIS terms, of course.

Now that the fire place is officially working, he maintains a circle of space in front of it. It’s not on right now, and he just stood on the edge of the hearth and pawed at the screen. Because, yes – the fire is for him.

We are contemplating a new addition to the household, but timing is everything and I keep having second thoughts; however, Todd and I made a deal whereby I get what I want, when he gets what he wants. So far, the score is Todd: 1, Tara: 0.

Stay tuned.

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Hello?! Over here!

 

A Day in PA

It was a great bookend to a very bizarre weekend that involved a new car and a fire, both of which I am not authorized to discuss publicly. Not to mention a shocking Superbowl win for the Patriots.

My mom had oral surgery yesterday morning and everyone knows you need a driver for that kind of stuff and as the daughter it’s my job to get her there. And take pictures.

So after a series of extremely fucked up dreams I fell into after each blood sugar check, all of which clearly indicate a very disturbed subconscious – including being detained at the airport because I was carrying pump supplies which weren’t authorized and another dream about being summoned by a mean spirit who lives in the restaurant who meant to harm me – I got two kids off to school without missing any busses and twenty minutes later I was on my way to PA.

Anyway, the drive was mostly uneventful, at least until I got to a major intersection where my right turn lane had the green arrow and I was following the cars in front of me into that turn when all of a sudden, this car from the other side of the highway does a complete U-turn right into me. Slammed the brakes, she slammed the brakes, and I could literally see the whites of her eyes while I lost my shit through my closed window.

Fact: U-turns are ILLEGAL in Pennsylvania. I know this because – born and raised – and lived 44 years (minus 3 in New York) in Pennsylvania. Had I not been on a tight timetable, I might have let her hit me. Just because I’m crazy enough to teach the little bitch a lesson in driving safety and another little something called, The Law.

So Mom goes to the oral surgeon. Except I’m driving and she keeps telling me where to go like I haven’t grown up in this town and don’t know my way around, and then she doesn’t even know where his office is, except I do because I’ve already been there with Opac. She gets out of the car and notes the concrete steps she’ll have to navigate on the way out when she’s all loopy. I told her I’d move the damn car after she went in. No, it’s okay, she said. I give her a pass, since she’s been up for 3 hours and hasn’t had coffee yet and I know how that feels.

So the procedure took about an hour or so and then she was in recovery and they come get me. I know many people have been there with their parents and/or have lost parents, but I have been doubly blessed to have both of mine and they’re healthy, so my eyes watered when I saw her. She was still coming out of the anesthesia so she was sleepy-eyed and her right cheek was bulging with gauze. She looked over at me and I held up my phone and, say cheese! Her eyes narrowed and I told her I was just kidding, because I was.

She was lucid enough to talk, and she was saying stuff to me I couldn’t understand – one, because I’m hard of hearing, and two, because her mouth is stuffed with gauze and so all I hear is wuh wuh wuh wuh ah buh wuh unh huh. And I’m pissed, because she is still in recovery and maybe I’m missing some really good shit here. But eventually she told me to go ahead and take the pic, and she posed with the bulging gauzed-out cheek and her eyes shut and her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. We sent it to a friend and I captioned it, they said it’ll be another 2o minutes or so until she can get her tongue back in her mouth. And I started laughing so hard I was crying, and then Mom started sniggling and it was hard because she couldn’t feel the right side of her face which was even funnier.

We eventually got the all-clear and she got her exit papers. We made a drug run to CVS where she made new friends as she waited with this giant ice pack pressed to her cheek, and I repressed my desire to blurt out that she was in a bar brawl, and then I took her home and made my way back to Maryland. But I can’t do this without passing through part of my old hometown, which is full of wonder and excitement that only the fully initiated can appreciate. I passed a woman standing on the side of the street in a camouflage bathrobe and flip flops, a winter hat with the ball on top that was bright blue with white snowflakes on it and a scarf wrapped around her face so only her eyes were visible. She was pacing back and forth. This is Pottstown at its finest, folks. I just can’t make this shit up.

I made it back home with 10 minutes to spare before the kids got there…by some miracle after being cut off, tailgated, and narrowly avoiding what should have been a 10-car pile-up on Route 100 in Lionville (for those who know) when this woman threw on her right turn signal and just merged without ever looking. Thank God for the car in front of me and their quick reflexes, because otherwise we were all going down.

Meanwhile, back in Maryland…

Ever have one of those days where you’re sure the universe is trying to tell you something? I think yesterday was that day. Besides the rainy day and the PA drivers living up to their stellar reputation for dangerous driving, I rushed home to find our garage door open – which has done so spontaneously now 3 times and so it’s been disconnected. I was gone all day, and I have no idea when it opened.

Then the kids descended on the house with their own level of chaos, ransacking the kitchen and scaring the dog and the cat, whose tail puffed out like a deployed airbag. And then they’re arguing with each other, which seems impossible when they’ve been apart for 8 hours. And then I get the news that the toilet is clogged again. And no one knows how it happened.

Rush hour here looks like: hurry up and make dinner, feed the pets, drag the kids out of their bedrooms where they’re both practically asleep, clean up dinner and dishes, process two loads of laundry, unclog a toilet and finish the vacuuming started by Veruca, who was ordered to clean up her mess under the counter. Fruity Pebbles are the annoying glitter of the cereal world.

How did it end? On the couch with V – watching old episodes of X-Files. Todd finally rolled in around 10 and I might have been awake for a whole 20 minutes after.

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring Friends

With all the negativity circulating social media and most often in my morning news feed, I made a couple of self-preservation decisions. One was to start my morning with coffee and my journal. In other words, I don’t start my day reading the stuff that gets my blood pumping. I’m journaling “almost” regularly now, like I used to, since 1987. The current journal’s (numbered #38) opening date is August 23, 2013. That’s over three years ago! Which at one time would  have been unheard of.

I’ve also begun writing what I’ll call a “long piece,” because I’m not ready to call it a novel yet. So far, I have 15 pages and 7500 words. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an accomplishment for me to actually DO it. I have so many ideas that I bounce back and forth between this one and that – which do I want to write? So I can now say I’m committed to writing this one.

I met the sweetest woman at the restaurant about a month ago who told me she keeps a Gratitude journal. Every day she writes in this journal, about something she is grateful for. I thought, what a wonderful idea! So positive, so enlightening, so powerful. We ALL need more of this, especially now. I decided that I wanted to keep one too, but couldn’t decide whether to include it in my current journal or keep a separate one just for gratitude, and then I thought that perhaps there would be times they’d overlap and then it would be like writing twice, and who has time for that? Plus, I could be in danger of creating my own version of the Golden Notebook and I already have enough anxiety.

Anyway, back to social media. I started what I’m calling an Honoring Friends Initiative. Every day I choose a friend to honor. So, in essence, it’s very much a gratitude-type of journal, only it’s public.

I’m 8 days into what I limited to a 30-day initiative. It’s been easy so far, with the exception of locating a suitable photo with both of us in it. I clarified that it was random, so that the order in which I introduced each of them wasn’t a declaration of their order of importance to me – which I suspected could easily be misinterpreted.

What I’ve noticed so far, on this eighth day, is that if I had to get married all over again, traditional wedding and all – I would want every one of them to stand up with me.

These eight women are comprised of a friend who traveled with my family to Greece when we were 14, another dear friend I met at the bus stop who 30 years later is still one of my closest, my oldest friend I’ve known for all (but 5 months) of my 47 years, a best friend with whom I shared all the ups and downs of adolescence, my pledge sister from my first college, another long-time friend and maid-of-honor (the first time around), my roommate at NYU, and still another long-time friend who’s been there since the 6th grade.

They are all special in their own ways, they have all been “best friends” with whom I have collectively shared laughter and tears, sarcasm, arguments, hugs, secrets, sleepovers and concerts, late nights, hangovers, vacations and silly adventures, broken hearts and weddings, and most of all – unwavering friendship in spite of our absences.

What is life without friendships? They are all valuable, for they are all different. I want to thank those eight ladies for their friendship and love, in spite of me.

My friends have made the story of my life…. turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy. ~ Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

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.

I Met Elvis at the Grocery Store

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This is me.

Saturday Todd and I ventured out to the Happiest Place on Earth – Home Depot. We needed spackling paste and I wanted to buy paint for the guest room, which I ended up not being able to decide on because there’s 50 shades of the color I like. I stood in front of the paint chips display feeling dizzy, and just started grabbing cards like a 3-year-old. And I was giddy as a 3-year-old too.

The place was crawling with orange-aproned people who were so damn happy to see us I was beginning to wonder if we’d fallen through a worm hole and this was Disney in disguise. I swallowed the pill that morning that slows my internal world down from rabbit to the Zootopia sloth, and I was strolling the aisles clutching Todd’s arm while he commandeered the shopping cart – because we can’t go anywhere without pushing a giant shopping cart – and smiling like a bride on her wedding day.

Every single Home Depot employee greeted us at every turn with a huge smile and a hello and a how-are-you? Which began to feel enormously funny to me and then suddenly I was smiling stupidly at everyone and everything. It was like the whole place was infused with laughing gas and they let me, and only me, in on the secret. Because Todd wasn’t laughing. His mind works at a mind-numbing pace so that he is constantly thinking about this thing and that, what he’s doing later, or on Tuesday, or next weekend, or what programming changes need to be made, or home projects, or whether to buy a new Mustang or a pickup truck because he’s sick to death of being without something to lug big stuff around. If I had to live one second inside his brain, I’d probably spontaneously combust.

Anyway. We strolled the aisles together and then I’d wander off to see something or other. We have many plans for the house so much of the tour is about pricing and planning. And as I wandered slowly alone, another employee would smile and say Hello! Some of them greeted me twice, which was really funny. One of them was pushing a giant I-don’t-know-what-you-call-it full of merchandise and miscalculated the turn and slammed into a pole in the aisle next to us, and he started laughing then so I was enormously grateful that I didn’t have to suppress my own laughter. I was sniggling to myself for over an hour in this place.

Finally, Todd took me out of there clutching my handful of paint chips and a package of Reese’s peanut butter cups – and we continued on our journey. We stopped at the liquor store to shop for wine and he loves me. He bought me a new bottle of my favorite vodka, which I’m not going to name so you don’t try to take it when you come to my house, and I was so excited because it came with two crystal skull glasses.

Last stop on the most awesome Date Day ever was the grocery store. Because, food. We just had a few staples to pick up, but Todd grabbed the big cart because, I guess, he’s a man. I don’t get to push the cart, and I’m glad because it lets me be the free spirit I am and wander aimlessly away from him while he “shops.” Seriously, this man can shop. He will stop and look at everything. All you ladies out there whose husbands hate to shop – eat your heart out. You will never see mine sitting alone on one of those plush chairs in department stores trying to blend in with the scenery.

So we’re in the grocery store planning dinner when my appetite was ruined by two girls walking past us, one of whom took her hand away from her mouth just in time for the vomit to escape to the floor in the seafood department. While I was grateful of the reminder that I’m not cut out to be a nurse, I was appalled that they kept going and told no one. So, of course I told someone, and continued through the store feeling nauseated, which is a good thing because that made me think of soda and so I turned the corner of the soda aisle and walked right into Elvis.

Which, if you don’t know by now, was THE highlight of my day. And I know what you’re thinking and NO, I was not hallucinating. He was in disguise though, in regular street clothes, but the sideburns gave him away. I stopped dead (no pun intended, really), not really sure what to do, and Todd goes and says hello to him! And he says hello back and says something totally un-Elvis, like hey man, how ya doin’? And then Todd asks him when he’s appearing again and he doesn’t know, man, since the casino is renovating the bar/restaurant and it’s not supposed to be done til March and it’s under new management and he’s not even sure IF they’ll have him back. I’m like, WHAT?! That’s just wrong. Elvis has a huge following, and the casino will have a riot on their hands if they don’t have him back. I’ll start the petition.

And all this totally happened, because WE have Elvis in OUR town. He lives here. Except he goes by an alias, so we kept it on the downlow when we parted – Todd, Tara, and Ted.