Ghosts and cobwebs

Exiting and entering a relationship is never the same twice. I guess that makes sense since I’ve come to learn that the only truly consistent thing I’ve found in my own romantic pairings has been that they all leave a mark.

I ran a race on Wednesday, almost the longest day of the year, that I had also run two years ago. My previous experience had been as close to perfect as I would ever dare hope, the weather, course and company were ideal. I couldn’t imagine it ever being better.

Yet, on Wednesday it was.

Photo: C. Allen

The event was very different this year. We were sans guys, more relaxed (I think) with weather that was kind of misty, rather than sunny, but with fairly delicious air. It was wonderful in a new way. The trails in Minnewaska are lovely, wide with a fairly soft surface, and amazing views. Fantastic.

Photo: C. Allen

As I ran, I felt strong. My feet hurt a little, but my heart felt powerful and I enjoyed the run. Along the course there were parts that were familiar, and others that I didn’t recall from previous races. I started thinking about how the trail was kind of a metaphor for how I’m feeling these days, like there are parts of myself that seem familiar, while others I don’t remember ever encountering before. Ghosts and cobwebs.

Past relationships kind of stick with us in a variety of different ways. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe you wear the color (s)he always liked best and can’t help but to remember how you felt each time (s)he said blue was your color. Like those parts of the trail, that’s a ghost. It stays with you.

The cobwebs, though…those, for me, are the places of which I have no memory at all, because those parts haven’t been used in so very long. Maybe not even ever. It’s like virgin territory. Exploring this new terrain is exciting, but by a certain age, or level of experience, you’ve probably learned to pay close attention to where you step. Keeping one’s feet on the ground and trying to not fall down can be a struggle, but they’re good goals for a trail and a relationship.

A becoming-more-familiar race and a new romance seem to be just about the best way to experience ghosts and cobwebs.  And, like that solstice run, I’ll do it again.

Thoughts to share?

 

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Filed under aging, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I told a story

For months I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook promoting the Front Parlor Series – public storytelling in the Capital Region. The group hosts an event every third Monday of the month at The Olde English and describes them as being “like The Moth radio hour…” Hmmm, doesn’t that sound interesting?

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to get down there for some time and when I saw that June’s theme was “Dads,” I knew I had to go. The event began at 7:30 and I rolled in solo some time after 8:00. The upstairs room at The Olde English was steamy hot which provided the perfect excuse for my flushed face and general sweaty-with-nerves appearance. I  missed the first group of storytellers and had arrived at intermission. Never having done an open mic thing before, I looked around for a sign-up sheet, but learned quickly that it was more casual than that – just leave your name and they’ll let you know when it’s your turn.

There were three people in front of me and they each told stories which were unique in both content and conveyance. The first man seemed to be responding to an earlier participant (his daughter?) and tended to wander  a bit, while the second man had a more focused tale that he shared, gathering laughs along the way. The woman immediately before me told a sweet, but alarmingly brief, story that had a distinctly poetic sound to it. I would have enjoyed hearing more from her, but suddenly it was my turn.

The rules stated no notes, so I didn’t have anything beyond a mental outline of what I was going to share. Participants are limited to 5-7 minutes, but I had no sense of how long it would take to tell my story. There had been a timer which had actually sounded during one of the previous stories, but no one really paid any attention to it from what I could see. Maybe it would have been an issue had there been more participants, but on this particular night it wasn’t a problem. That took some pressure off and I made a note to speak slowly and take my time collecting my thoughts and words.

So – my story was about how I found my father. I brought a prop for inspiration (and a shot of confidence), the 30+ year old page from the Dublin phone directory which led to me locating my first ever relative on either side of my family. It’s a story that can take significantly longer to tell than 7 minutes, but I hit the most important parts while purposefully keeping the story focused on my father and his our family.

The response from the audience was encouraging. They laughed and sighed at the right times and afterwards a few were kind enough to compliment me on my story.  I recognize that I tell stories here, but standing in front of a roomful of strangers and actually seeing their reaction was a whole new experience for me. I’d definitely consider doing this again, if only as an exercise in pushing myself beyond my comfort level.

Maybe you have some stories to tell, too?

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Filed under Albany, Events, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, writing

Telling stories – Adam Gidwitz

Last week, author Adam Gidwitz visited my school and spent the day doing presentations and hanging out with kids, and it was incredible. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but last year’s The Inquisitor’s Tale was one of my favorite recent reads. It’s a book that is difficult to sort into a definitive genre, but it has historic fiction, fantasy and adventure elements that combine beautifully into a wonderful story told in multiple voices a la The Canterbury Tales. Except that, unlike my high school experience suffering through Chaucer, this book was a joy from start to finish.

Adam did three separate presentations for my students and each was slightly tweaked to meet the population, in this case, our school’s grades of sixth, seventh and eighth. I was totally impressed with his comfort level with our students and his genuine interest in them. For instance, as students were filing in to the auditorium he made a point of introducing himself to those already seated with an easy “Hi, I’m Adam. What’s your name?” His past career as “the worst teacher in NYC,”* was proven impossible to believe. He gets kids.

We had lunch as a group of about 25 and it was relaxed and fun. I know the kids who were present won’t ever forget the experience. It was so cool. The last presentation was with our sixth graders and it was magic to see him wrangle that group of pre-pubescent kids, on the last Friday afternoon of the school year, with just four words: Once upon a time…

Read his books and see him speak, if you have the chance. There’s a possibility that he might pop up in the area next year and I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

*laughingly self-defined as such

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Soccer balls

My youngest son had his last AYSO game this weekend.  As we were getting ready to go to the field Jeter was desperately maneuvering to join us, winding all 85 lbs of himself between my legs, and under my feet, until I relented and agreed to take him. I knew he couldn’t hang out on the field, but figured I’d take him for a walk during the first half and then settle down with him for the second half somewhere with a view of the field. Off we went.

We arrived at the fields behind AHS and parked. I sent Quinn on his way and put Jeter’s harness on and headed out for our walk.  Because I didn’t want to miss the entire game, we did a simple loop and were back in maybe a half an hour. As I returned to the fields, walking across the road from the actual playing area, I overheard a woman on the opposite side of the road talking. She said something like, “Look at her walking that dog right past the sign that says ‘No dogs.’”  I don’t like passive aggressive folks and my response was immediate: “I’m walking my dog back to my parked car. My child is playing soccer.” She seemed a bit surprised by my directness but continued to insist that dogs weren’t permitted. I pointed out that the sign says no dogs on the fields. We weren’t on the field, we were across the street from the field and clearly walking to the parking lot. She said something else, again not to me, but about me. I looked at her, told her she was wrong, pointed out that I had seen a couple of other small dogs and repeated that we weren’t on the field and continued to my car.

I don’t know. Was I wrong? Does “No dogs on the field area” mean I couldn’t walk him along the road back and forth to my parked car? What do you think?

 

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, soccer, Uncategorized

Scattered

I’m feeling scattered. The end of the school year brings lots of activities that (often delightfully) disrupt my work days and my personal life has taken a positive turn which has caused unexpected, but very much appreciated reverberations. Summer is looking really good and I’m so ready for it.

My middle son’s upcoming trip to Thailand has been my focus recently and I’ve spent very little time working on my own trip to Europe this summer. Gathering the necessary documents for his required visa has taken some work and I’m constantly checking in with myself and him about what is his responsibility and what I should be taking on on his behalf. It’s a balance that is kind of new – next stage parenting, I suppose.

My oldest son and I will be visiting Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. Other than Munich, which I visited in 1992, I haven’t been to any of those places before and I’m pretty stoked. The big stuff is done – a plan to meet with family, our accommodations, an outing or two, but I haven’t even looked at details such as transportation or scouting out where we’ll want to eat or what sites we won’t want to miss. I think we’ll be winging it. Suggestions are welcomed.

For a period of time next month, all three of my children will be on different continents. I’ve been trying to process this fact ever since it occurred to me a couple of days ago and I’m still not quite there. Wow. How did I/we ever get lucky enough for this to even possible much less accurate? It’s amazing to me and I don’t take it for granted on any level.

Somehow, I have children who are comfortable and excited by adventure. They are interested and curious about history and people and the world we live in and that prompts me to be so very proud of them. I appreciate that the experiences I’ve cultivated with them have been influential, but it certainly isn’t all due to me. These upcoming trips were inspired by Anthony Bourdain (Thailand) and the Von Trapp family (Austria) and I can’t tell you thrilled I am that my sons are eager to collect their own memories of places around their world and that sometimes I get to be a witness to their wonder.

Scattered isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you think about stars and seeds. Here’s hoping that summer 2018 brings light and new life to each of us.

 

 

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Filed under aging, Boys, Europe, family, Germany, Summer, travel, vacation

Watching my mouth

If you know me, you’re probably expecting a post about my struggle to control my tendency to use colorful language or to share stories that may not always be appreciated by those mentioned. But, no, that’s not quite what this is about. This isn’t about what may come out of my mouth, but instead it is about what goes in.

But, first some history. I’m sure I’ve written before about the recurring dream I had for years. I must have, it was pretty profound for me. The dream is set in a rural area I lived in for a couple of crucial elementary school years. It was a place that had left me with idyllic memories, but in my dream the entire area had been poorly developed and settled with over-sized houses replacing blueberry bushes, fields and trees. The wildness that I had loved was gone.

I always woke up sad from that dream until the day I recognized that I only had that dream when I was faced with change or a decision. Once I had that realization, I never had the dream again.

The point of the preceding, is this: when we recognize why or how something exerts power over us, often it loses its hold. So, about my mouth…

I’ve come to understand that there are times in my life when my eating practices become a form of exerting control. It’s like I’ve been disappointed by the connection between my actions and the results in some personal situation, so I limit my eating to be able to observe the numbers on the scale going down, sort of as proof of the positive relationship between effort and reward.

Without exception, this only occurs when I’m feeling emotionally beaten up and it never really lasts for very long. After a week or two, my body demands more food if I’m going to make it run or bike or walk or paddle board or ski. I remember again that I’m more of an “indulge myself” girl than a “deny myself” lady and eat some ice cream, maybe even with hot fudge, and the scale goes back up a few pounds.

I don’t even know if it’s a bad thing, this temporary curtailing of my consumption. It seems to only make me eventually more appreciative of food than I had been, more thoughtful about what I ingest, which seems ok. There’s nothing wrong with paying more attention to what you’re interested and willing to swallow.

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Filed under aging, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, stress

Lessons learned

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If you’re lucky to live long enough, life comes with all sorts of lessons. Some are pretty simple, you know, like treat people the way you want to be treated or you get more bees with honey, but other lessons require more experience and perspective. I’ve recently been schooled by the universe and have learned some new lessons that I’m going to share with you in the hopes that you can avoid having your own similar personal education. Tuition free.

  • Trust yourself even when the people you trusted prove you wrong.
  • If a situation isn’t improving, that means something.
  • When two people both want the same thing (together), the efforts exerted to make that work feel much less laborious than when two people are not working to be together.
  • Trying is admirable, but martyrdom isn’t a good look on anyone.
  • Letting go can be: a. Harder than hanging on
    b. Super easy with lots of tequila
    c. A lengthy process
    d. All of the above
  • One day the sun will shine so brightly that your eyes will struggle with all that is revealed.
  • Laughter comes back. You may unexpectedly find yourself humming.
  • You’ll start to forget why it meant so much and begin remembering how much more you wanted.
  • And you will realize that your hands are finally empty and it feels like a gain, and not a loss.

Class dismissed.  It’s going to be an epic summer.

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