Things That Matter and Other Things

Today is Todd’s 51st birthday. I thought about writing a long post honoring him, but I think after the previous posts (see under “Love” tab above) it would be overkill and these days I’m feeling more private about “us,” which I’m sure makes everyone happier since people do get sick of hearing sappy and gushy love stories from middle-aged folks I think. So, let’s just say a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the love of my life and move on, shall we?

Thanksgiving came and went more smoothly than a Hallmark movie. Well, except that I almost burned down the house before we even finished cooking the second turkey  when one of the towels on the counter caught fire – but then it wouldn’t be a holiday without a little drama. The housecleaning was done the weekend before and I prepped all the food the day before with an actual list of what needed to be done when. This goes way beyond my usual capabilities, since I prefer a more by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach followed by a meltdown of hot stressy mess. I was inspired by a friend who takes organization to a diabolical level – which, for the record, I am in awe of – and now I’m feeling competitive over completing home projects, which is a good thing since we’ll actually be getting stuff done and even though she has no idea, it’s all thanks to HER.

Opac is finishing up his final days of his first semester – which definitely wins the prize for fuckery of the most epic kind. I took a photo of him and his roommate on move-in day and sent it to my mom with the caption, “taking bets on how long it’ll be before he’s smoking pot” (if you saw the roommate you’d fully understand). Little did I know.

When he returned to school from fall break, he ended up getting really sick. All upper-respiratory – really bad, persistent cough, headaches, and fever – the latter was what prompted him to call me and ask what he should do because his fever was 103. No mom 98 minutes away from her child wants to get this call. After I asked how he knew his temperature (there’s these strips they put on their tongue – he got one from a friend – and I’ve never even heard of this) I ordered him to get to an urgent care. Now.

Long story short, his friends took him – one of whom called me and told me they were in the car and on their way (my heart). I sat on the couch and waited. An hour or so later O called me and told me that he was given medication and was staying out of class the next day to rest.

A couple of weeks later… he called to tell me he was “not living in [his] dorm right now.” WHAT do you MEAN, you’re not living in your dorm right now?

Roommate has a big problem, apparently, with alcohol, marijuana, and keeping his hands off of my son’s throat. He has a knife collection he calls “tools” and plenty of vehicles by which to deliver marijuana to his internal organs. Opac asked him repeatedly not to smoke in the room.

Okay so now at this point I’m wondering how this kid was smoking in a freshman dorm and – let’s face it – that particular habit has a VERY distinct odor – how, just HOW has he not been caught? And then the flood of other concerns… like my son smelling like that, he could end up guilty by association or worse… and then all of that was shut down by “let me go there and put my hands on him” because that meme You hurt my son and I’ll make your death look like an accident suddenly felt like my theme song.

But. My son went to his RA and Resident Life and told them everything, including that the physical assault was a repeat offense (yeah, like WTF – he never told any of us) and he was moved to an “emergency room” in another hall, there was an investigation where of course they found nothing in a subsequent room search, and in the end O was moved to a new dorm with a new roommate. And all of this transpired with absolutely NO intervention by myself, Todd, or the ex. My kid HANDLED it. And I couldn’t be more proud.

And now for an illogical segue to The Black Handbag.

Back in Vegas, I saw a handbag in Michael Kors that I WANTED. At the time, my adoring and most wonderful husband told me to just buy it. But I’m practical, not to mention broke, so there is no justification for a $350 handbag unless it cleans the house, cooks dinner, and spontaneously refills itself with hundred dollar bills.

Anyway. Michael Kors + holiday season = 70% off sale (my favorite kind of math!) I told Todd. He again said, just buy it. (But also noted how fortunate I didn’t buy it in Vegas at full retail.) I waited several days, and then finally just did it. Meanwhile, V was texting me pictures (from her dad’s house) of Michael Kors boots and an MK backpack she wanted.

You know, when I was her age, I wanted clothes from The LIMITED and a Swatch watch…. none of which cost a car payment under the bridge of my parents’ incomes. What the hell with all these topline designers for teenagers?

I pointed out that she already has a Michael Kors backpack (from her dad – I’m not that crazy). Yes, but this one is black, she said. And then, you have more than one handbag (a remark aimed at my newest purchase, scheduled for delivery the next day). Deep breath. I am an adult and have a job. I don’t need to justify my purchases with anyone. Which, though it hardly matters anymore, was a regular expectation in my previous life.

She turned the conversation to the topic of another thing she wanted for Christmas – a mini-fridge. Not just any mini-fridge. This one is for makeup. What makeup needs to be stored in a mini-fridge? I asked. Different things, like skincare products and stuff, she said. Since when does this stuff need a refrigerator? It’s small. It sits on my dresser, she said, and it’s only $30. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And she got mad and said, fine! I’ll buy it myself.

The next day, when Todd picked her up from practice – and I have absolutely no idea how this conversation got started because I was at work minding my own business – she brought up the handbag I was getting and he gave her a mild-mannered talking to about the merits of being a grown-ass woman with a job and her own money to do with as she sees fit. Essentially I’m her mother and I do a lot for her and O, and I made sacrifices and I’ve worked hard and don’t I deserve to have nice things?

I don’t know all the details, but I do know that they drove along in silence until he pulled into the driveway and my delivery was on the front porch… and Little Miss Attitude with the unfortunate and entirely genetic defect of snarky spillage of the mouth noted…

and there’s the purse mom doesn’t need.

Poor Veruca. Now she made Todd mad. She spent the rest of the night in her room in self-imposed exile, wasn’t hungry, and didn’t want to talk.

The next morning she came into the kitchen and chipperly asked me if I was “so excited” about my new purse, with genuine interest and nary a twitch of sarcasm.

But she’s still not getting a duplicate MK bag.

To Veruca, On Love

*Update: After posting, I realized there was something else to say. See at end of post.*

It took me a very long time to see love without rose-colored glasses. Don’t get me wrong – love is, as Shakespeare said, a many-splendored thing. I was enamored with love long before it was returned.

I liked a LOT of boys. I ended up “going with” (what we called it in middle school) two that I previously had zero awareness of before I heard they liked me. Lesson in caution: when a boy you’ve hardly noticed turns up in pursuit of you – proceed with caution. Not that you can’t fall in love with him, but it can be fairly intoxicating to be adored by someone.

To that end, beware the boy who pursues you when you’re already involved with someone else. It is one thing to love someone from afar, respecting the relationship you have with another, and it is quite another to make plain to everyone who will listen that he wants to be with you. Further, strategically placing himself where he is most likely to see you, and you him, fermenting a possible triangle which I assure you will not end well (see aforementioned “intoxication” above). If he doesn’t respect your relationship with another, how will he respect any he might have with you?

Leaving one boy for another is quite common and, even if you disguise it with a need to exit a “bad situation,” you have barely enough time to breathe and/or heal the wounds of the previous while you’re embarking on the next. Also guaranteed not to end well.

If you’re just leaving because boy #2 looks way better than boy #1, STILL. Give yourself time. You can’t recognize true love if you keep jumping from one pond to another without time to reflect.

Relationships that are always full of drama are not “real love.” If “we’re always fighting” is part of your relationship, it’s not a healthy relationship. And it doesn’t matter who is bringing the drama. If it’s him, it’s not good. If it’s you, you need to stop and take a good hard look at why. You will benefit and grow from an introspective look at yourself.

Your first real love may very well be the love that will define your expectations for every love that follows, good or bad. Or not. Not everyone’s first love is life-altering. But many first loves will lay the groundwork for every relationship you ever have, and you may subconsciously measure every subsequent relationship against that first, intense love. You may chase every relationship you have, unknowingly trying to recapture the same feelings, emotions, and physical reactions. No matter what, no matter how tempting, be aware – not to mold every relationship into the one that was your foundation. You will fail.

Instead, learn from that first love. Learn how it feels to be loved. Learn how you felt to give love. Learn how it felt to be treated by this person. Did you feel good, or did you feel uneasy? What characteristics did he have that you valued? Which would you choose to avoid? Learn how it felt when that love ended. Were you amicable? Was it ugly? How did you conduct yourself? Did you give yourself enough time to reflect and heal? (These are all relevant questions in every relationship.)

Beware the Rebound. The “rebound” is a relationship you find yourself in soon after a breakup. This person makes you feel good when you’ve been really sad and down. That’s great. Except, it’s not love. (See the aforementioned “intoxication.”) Which also means, you’ve had no time to heal.

Beware of the exotic. Exotic, as defined in the dictionary, is “of foreign origin or character; not native.” Accents are sexy. What is foreign is sometimes intoxicatingly attractive. What I want you to know is, don’t get stoopid over some guy with a foreign accent. It’s not romantic. He’s not different. He will treat you the same as any other guy you meet, maybe better, or maybe not as well. Just keep perspective and have self-respect. If you don’t, you will drown in that gorgeous Italian accent. Or Latino. Or English. Or Afrikaans. Or some form of  Asian.

Never, Ever, pursue a friend of an ex. If he’s good guy, he won’t go out with you. He may like you, but there’s a guy code (as there is a girl code) and that will preclude any attraction you may have to each other. As it should be. If he doesn’t care that you’re his best friend’s ex, you best be prepared to wonder why and what kind of friend he really is. Either way, if scoring you outranks his friendship with [your ex], that’s a serious character flaw.

Next: Long distance relationships are tough. That’s not to say they can’t work out, but be realistic about this distance and the amount of time apart. And more importantly, what are the boundaries of a long-distance relationship, and what are the guidelines? Be realistic in your expectations, and see how they line up with his.

Don’t give yourself up to someone who won’t commit to you. This can look like not calling you like he said he would to excusing an ex-girlfriend showing up, to blowing off your date, to openly flirting with other girls in front of you. He’s “just not that into you.” And don’t you DARE take that shit personal – it’s his flaw, not yours.

“Bad boys” can be intoxicating themselves – but be prepared to lose your heart and soul to this guy. It’s not going to end well for you if he’s drinking and doing drugs regularly. And – this should go without saying – ANY boy who lays a hand on you is abusive and you need to walk, no – RUN, away fast. “I’m sorry” is a lie you will regret believing. And, while we’re on the subject, verbal abuse IS abuse and no less of a crime.

Now for the icky part and I’ll make it quick: Sex is something you will consider sooner or later. I hope you would come talk to me about it, but you might not and that’s okay. Don’t let anyone, even a long-time boyfriend, pressure you into something you don’t want/aren’t ready for. But know that for you, sharing that will change you forever in ways you won’t understand until you’re much older.

To wrap this up before you’ve had enough – guys with girlfriends are OFF LIMITS. Have respect for yourself (and your fellow woman). And older guys are usually no different than boys your age. They aren’t always wiser or more sophisticated and, let’s face it, if he’s 10 years older that’s just gross.*

Finally, you deserve to be loved and treated with respect and reverence. Expect it and you will get it from those who deserve you, and the rest will fade away. Never, Ever settle for less. Never, ever, settle.

Update: I would be remiss to tell you that when you find someone worthy, love with your whole heart. Do not be afraid to love, or to lose love. Sometimes love doesn’t always end the way you want it to, but that is no reason not to try, when it feels right. You will most definitely not get through life unscathed by love, but to quote another famous writer – Alfred Lord Tennyson –  ” tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” It’s all part of the journey, my love, and I will see you through it all.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

                        ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

 

 

*This is actually directly from a comment she once made about older guys. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a 10-year age difference. I’m not against it. I do, however, believe that this difference is felt more acutely and may be harder to overcome, the younger two people are.

 

Valentine’s Day and 100 Days to Go

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I read an article about all the things you should and shouldn’t do when you’re over 40. Exercise every day, but not too much. Don’t eat the junk food that sustained you in your 20s. Your body doesn’t like it. Don’t drink too much. Apparently your body doesn’t like that either. Make sure you get enough rest, but not too much. Don’t stare at your cell phone before bed… it affects melatonin. Sex is important. Spend time with your friends. But not while having sex. Well, unless that’s how you roll, but that’s none of my business.

Let’s see how we’re doing so far in 2019: Um, 1) not so good 2) reasonable food choices 3) failed 4) mostly 5) failed 6) none of your business and 7) yes. I can’t speak for Todd.

The T ~n~ T house hosted two parties the last weekend in January. The first was Opac’s… a crowd of about 17 downstairs playing pool, poker, and darts, and standing around the firepit outside. I stayed upstairs in the living room, stone cold sober, and watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey because I’m a classy bitch. Todd left the house for his usual bowling night. I finally broke out the wine around 11:30 as most of them were dispersing.

The following night was our quarterly poker party that in its infancy began as a group of about 6 guys, with beer and brats, pulled pork, and buffalo chicken dip. It has grown to a mixed crowd of about 22 including spouses and children, only a handful in the poker game and the rest playing pool and darts. Because I grew up “in the business,” I put out a spread I slaved and worried over all day and felt was adequate, and then was surprised that anyone was impressed.

Side note: Cards Against Humanity – Funniest. Game. Ever. Make sure you are properly sauced and have emptied your bladder. This is not for the faint of heart and definitely NOT for children. Shout out to Jonathan for knowing exactly how to entertain me.

Got my first round of injections in my L4-5 and L5-S1 which, I later learned, was a “test run.” WTF?? I woke up 5 days after with pain topping a seven, and Todd said, oh yeah, it’s been five days, right? That’s good – that means it worked. And I said, what do you MEAN, “it worked?” I repeat, W.T.F.

I’m going back next week to repeat it bilaterally, and then the week after to burn the nerves. Injections in the spine must be horrible, you say? Not so much. No one is more surprised than I am, that I have willingly submitted myself for injections ANYWHERE. No one likes needles, but when I was young I took it to a new level.

I’ve stopped wearing heeled shoes/boots. I’ve been wearing flat shoes or sneakers in an effort to curb some of the more intense pain. This new development for me is temporary, I assure you. My love affair with a chunky heel will not be curbed by back pain, numb toes, or my husband’s height.

Social life continues. Todd overbooked us last weekend and I spent the better part of Friday at work trying not to resent him focus on the lack of rest I was staring down over the next two days.

Friday night is always bowling night. It depends on my work schedule and my level of fatigue, whether I go with him. Last week I did. Friday morning he had “reminded” me of the tournament Saturday night that he’d never told me about. Saturday afternoon was a long-planned meetup with friends in Federal Hill to watch the Bayern soccer game. Which was great. We ate Schnitzel fingers and drank Stiegl Grapefruit Radler (light, refreshing, 2% alcohol).

We came home and rested a whole twenty minutes before we had to leave to meet friends for dinner an hour and a half away, before the tournament. Which, by the way, is roughly an hour and 45 minutes from home. The tournament is held in a firehouse bowling alley that has to be the only place north of Alabama that still allows smoking in the bar. But the drinks are cheap and the bartenders friendly. I was everybody’s drink bitch, since I was only spectating. We got home sometime around 12:30 a.m.

Sunday was a Dean-and-Mrs day; the college had an afternoon of music and fine arts presented by the faculty in Todd’s division. The music was great, but I was thoroughly distracted by the musicians’ shoes. Have you ever looked at musicians’ shoes? This led me down the rabbit hole of my thoughts until I was snapped out of my reverie by a lingering, and particularly foul, fart. What is WRONG with people?

Another weekend is approaching and there is a fundraiser that involves bowling and so here we go again. Somehow bowling has become my life and I don’t even bowl. Years ago I tried to make it fun, hanging out with the other bowlers and drinking, and cheering when they’d strike, which apparently is not something you do so I’ve learned to curb my enthusiasm and just stick to drinking.

****

Meanwhile, today – 100 days before my 50th birthday – is Valentine’s Day. Veruca was buzzing last night with the glow only a 13-year-old can have… hoping her crush would finally ask her out today. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d bet my life he isn’t going to be thinking, it’s Valentine’s Day, I think I finally have the balls to ask her out.

Back in school I remember Valentine’s Day carnations… white, pink, or red… available to buy and send to whoever you wanted… and the hoping against hope that you’d get one. And I’m not talking about Todd. Valentine’s 1986 – I filled his VW bug with balloons that blew all over the school parking lot when he opened the door. I gave him cards. He gave me cards, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a tiny bottle of his cologne, and a pink gold heart necklace. I tried to give him something else but – relax Dad – he didn’t take it.

I’m refocusing my energies on goals in the coming year. Not the least of which is writing that damn novel. There – I said it. Accountability is a thing, right?

 

Miscellaneous:

There is no vaccine for the stomach virus. (Oh yes, they did.)

If you’ve ever wondered if your hippie parents still smoke grass, the answer is yes. Also, if you walk into their house at the right moment, expect to be accosted with pleas to “just smell” this peanut butter cracker.

Leopards don’t change their spots. Shame on you for believing those days might finally be over. (Those unfamiliar: I’ll elaborate in another post, once I recover from the whiplash.)

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve, Then and Now

1985                         

16 and 17, respectively. Most likely our first official date.

Lying on the floor in my attic bedroom, listening to Prince on my stereo rack in the glass case… Purple Rain, Controversy, For You… talking about whatever teenagers talk about when they’re falling in love and getting to know more about each other.

His brown hair was soft and long, mine was long and curly. Two pairs of brown eyes meeting shyly and intensely across the space between us on the floor.

My parents were downstairs watching TV. I guess they weren’t worried about the daughter two floors up alone with a boy in her bedroom. They didn’t have to be.

We may have had snacks and sodas, I don’t remember.

We may have also cuddled close on that floor, kissing and feeling all the butterflies and fireworks, and falling irrevocably in love.

We may have also had the TV on, watching but not watching Dick Clark and the ball eventually drop, signaling the time for him to go home, because he couldn’t stay.

I went to bed, aching for him in that way that teens in love do, and couldn’t fall sleep.

 

2018

49 and 50, respectively. Our 9th New Year’s Eve together.

We sat at the table with grilled filet and baked potatoes, drinking a bottle of Wente Cab by candlelight, in an otherwise empty house.

He put on one of our MP3 lists, with Scandalous Prince. We talked about our families, those still with us and those who are not. We talked about all the dogs that came before Pi and Sabra, and how neither of us wants to love and lose another pet.

We talked about our plans for the future, airfare, and practical stuff like house renovations, and the next poker party.

His brown hair is short today. So is mine. Maybe his a bit thinner than it was in 1985, and shades of gray peeking through. My hair is a reflection of my original color; otherwise it would be heavily gray.

We sat on the couch and snuggled close and took selfies. I joked we should lie on the floor and make out; he said great idea, until we have to get up off the floor.

We watched Dark Matter on Netflix. The cousins in Oregon called and we had a lovely, long conversation.

We climbed into bed sometime near 11:30, and I fell asleep just 15 minutes before the ball dropped.

 

Of Blogging, and First Dates

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I wasn’t going to write today. I don’t typically write every day. I had a few thoughts rolling around my brain of what I wanted to write about next; they’re an eclectic and somewhat schizophrenic collection of ideas that have little to do with one another.

Todd and I worked on one of them together, several arctic nights ago. It began by the fire and ended in bed. We slid our bodies between silken sheets and soft blankets, he picked up his toy and I picked up mine and….

He continued his Angry Birds game and I pulled up the Notes icon on my own mobile device.

I took down notes on my phone about one of my creative thoughts (coming soon), because if I got up again the animals of the house would have expectations.

So yesterday I posted about blogging vs. reality and I didn’t expect the reactions I received. Hell – I didn’t expect any at all. The most I ever see is a “like” here and there; otherwise the readers are really just ghosts that come and go, silently.

So. Now I’m wondering if this will affect my output and content. To be relevant, and not just a “whatever” poster. I guess. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I just say thank you and keep moving forward.

I really want Todd to guest post. He seems reluctant. And while he shares my ridiculous and often bizarre sense of humor, he has a preference for privacy that rivals my salacious Gemini nature of the shock factor. He is amused by my naughty jokes amongst friends, my improper remarks about our sex life to him in intentional earshot of others; however, to write about what really goes on behind our bedroom door, or when the kids are away and the cat is sleeping at the foot of the bed … is that-which-shall-remain-sacred.

I once made a remark to a gay friend that had everything to do with my mom’s shop vac – I said, Todd’s is much bigger. It truly wasn’t spoken out of turn, but when I saw his reaction, I winked. Todd, however, laughed it off and really – who in their right mind would be angry with that implication? Besides, on the heels of yesterday’s post and in the interest of honesty, Todd really does have a big… shop vac.

Anyway. As we careen toward another shiny object… on a different arctic night (we’ve had several here in our region of the world)… Todd remembered! At least we think he remembered, and since I’ve rendered what facts he presented to support this memory as highly likely… I think he uncovered the mystery of When Our First Date was.

A number of times I had admitted to not remembering our first date, and Todd was equally perplexed though perhaps it was irrelevant anyway because, today. I said before that while I don’t remember our first date, I do remember spending New Year’s Eve together.

Well, the mystery has been solved. I think. Through a series of what should have been the most obvious deductions… Wait! Back up.

Todd and I met in the fall of 1984. But, as my mom taught me that girls don’t call boys (or wear black, whatever the hell that meant in the 80s) and I was shy anyway and would never have flat out told a boy I was interested (which really deserves a separate post), and therefore he had no idea that I was because he’s also oblivious – and yes, that’s in the present tense because he IS and shamelessly admits to it – we never went out.

There was an awful lot of “let’s insert myself near this person so they can’t miss me” behavior, but it wasn’t until the fall of 1985 that we danced around each other again. And it wasn’t until another young man named Tom told Todd he’d better ask me out before someone else did, though I have no idea what insight he could possibly have had since I never spoke two words to him. Sometime thereafter, the timeline of which remains a mystery, Todd did ask me out.

However, the following deductions have led to the conclusion that the actual real First Date was, in fact New Year’s Eve. (Which would also explain why we can’t remember another first date – because there wasn’t one.)

#1 – Todd’s birthday is in mid-December, and we didn’t spend that day together, nor was it acknowledged.

#2 – Wrestling was ongoing, so there were meets and tournaments going on on Saturdays, which meant we likely wouldn’t have gone out then either. Except for maybe a rendezvous or two in our cars, though I can assure you I was Not That Kind of Girl. Yet.

#3 – We both had jobs. He worked for KFC after school and weekends, and I worked in my family’s restaurant which was over 45 minutes away.

#4 – We didn’t exchange gifts or acknowledge Christmas.

Therefore, my Murdoch man determined that New Year’s Eve had to be the night. Not that night. Just the first date night.

I’m so excited by this revelation, if only because I’m sick of forgetting and/or not remembering shit. It’s embarrassing. And annoying.

And to think these memories were triggered by someone else’s first date. Yes, there was a first date around here recently. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because, privacy.

New Year’s Eve 1985/86 was spent on the floor in my bedroom, two floors away from my parents who I am still shocked allowed this first boy into my bedroom on our first date and trusted us. I had a stereo system on which we played my collection of Prince vinyl and talked for hours about lord knows what. I’m certain that his lips found mine somewhere during that long conversation. I’m certain that I melted in the glow of this intensity I’d only written about in journals before.

I had no idea where that night would end. Living in the moment and flying by the seat of my pants is an earmark of Gemini existence. I’m sure I’m a young soul, still learning the lessons old souls like Todd have known for centuries. It still thrills me to kiss him and smell the very same smell of his 17-year-old skin. It stirs something in me I’m afraid I’d need another blog to specialize in. Nevertheless, I remain blown away that that night was over 30 years, and several relationships and a marriage ago, and that we ended up here anyway in spite of it all.

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?

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.

Never Date Somebody You’ve Never Noticed

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Imagine that you one day meet someone who has been admiring you from afar that you didn’t even know existed before they mustered up the courage to enter your orbit. Imagine that you’ve been pining away for someone else entirely. Now imagine that this secret admirer asks you out. You are either flattered or horrified. Let’s assume it’s the former, and you figure – what the hell? (Except maybe when you’re really young, you don’t use that kind of language yet.)

What the hell, you say? Don’t Do It. It won’t end well. At least it doesn’t when you’re an incurable flirt, immature, and … me. It didn’t end well because it wasn’t meant to be, was a waste of time, and took me away from my destiny. (Cue Soap Opera organ music.)

I stumbled on one of three journals I kept in my teen years, this small, navy-blue-with-white-flowers-on-it cloth-covered book. It was filled with song lyrics of the day (ahem <cough> 80s) and some really lame prose I’d written about love and longing, peppered with a little bit of lust I had yet to experience. My memory isn’t terrible, and so I can remember meeting Todd when I was 15 and what that was like. I’ve written about it before. We saw, we met, we … didn’t date. But I was definitely into him. What I didn’t know was that he was too. I mean, I thought he was, but he never even asked me out. If “WTF” existed then, I’d have posted multiple pics of my crush from a safe distance, on Instagram, captioned with it.

What was really cool about finding this journal is reading the words my 15-year-old self said about him that I’d never read in 30 years. Some senior I barely knew asked me out and I wrote that I was going on my first date – and that “Todd waited too long…” as if he were to blame for it.

I ended up dating this other guy in college who I never even knew existed. Eleven months later – was it a mistake? I don’t know, I’m truly not one to say I regret something. There are lessons, sometimes. But it was one hell of a painful lesson I didn’t think I needed. I got dumped and rebounded into another thing with yet another guy I never knew existed. And guess who came back in the middle of my rebound? Todd.

I wasn’t ready for that. As I revisit old journals to tell my tales of New York, I see just how not ready I was. New friends, new experiences… new guys… oh there were plenty of them for my incurably flirtatious self to distract myself with. It’s almost embarrassing, and why I won’t be retelling those tales if I can help it.

We spoke a handful of times that summer I moved to New York. We wrote letters. I held onto the last one he sent me – where he had hand-drawn a rose at the bottom – for more than 10 years. I regret that I allowed it to be taken from me by jealousy.

We talked about this recently. I told him I was writing this post. This all sounds like I obsess over “what if” … and I’m focused on the past I cannot change. I know someone who’s going to say so, and will also tell me that I should be focused on the blessings that we have today (you will be wrong, and I do, and I love you for caring). Anyway, what came of our conversation was this: I was literally flying by the seat of my pants back then and that I wasn’t ready for anything. I knew it, too. I wrote about it constantly.

The other thing that came of it was this: I was immature and wasn’t self-aware enough to know better. Todd said, you took what you could get. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I took what I could get.

You go through life and you’re looking for something… and it’s just not there… or you think you’ll never find it. But others are there and it seems okay, so …. Take what you can get.

And now I think I’ve talked myself into a circle, or is it a corner? Am I advising against dating someone you never noticed? No, cause that would be stupid. Do I really obsess over this? Nah…I just enjoy dissecting things sometimes. It’s fun to imagine where we’d be without those “intermissions.”

One thing I know for sure – the route may have been different, but the destination would still be the same.