On our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband and I had a special dinner at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. The meal was a bit of a disappointment, but the company was good.
After we had finished our meals and were somewhere between entrée and dessert, our wedding song came on over the restaurant’s speakers. I was touched and felt my eyes well with emotion. I thought to myself “we should dance.” There wasn’t a dance floor (it was a restaurant), but we could have managed a twirl or two. It was our 15th wedding anniversary.
I’ve thought back to that night a few times and wonder what might have been different if I had forced the words “we should dance” out of my mouth or if he had said “I arranged for this song to play.” If either of us had done something to demonstrate our love for the other. Would it have been enough to have prompted us to steer our ships once again to be side by side and in the same direction? I’ll never know.
By our next anniversary dinner, we were, in retrospect, clearly sailing in different directions. It was a fancy meal, perfectly executed and filled with laughter. We met the chef-owner and there were many bottles of wine uncorked. My feet hurt in their new shoes. It was good to feel something.
It’s almost 5 years later now and I never dreamed this life that I’m living. I write and run and work and eat and take pictures and I love, love, love. I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt and am equally inspired by today and the thought of tomorrow. Things may not have gone the way I imagined they would, but as an inherently grounded person, my imagination is sometimes too timid.
I never imagined I’d quote Hugh Hefner but he said it perfectly:
“In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter life.”
Last evening, after finally coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to take a run, I decided to take a walk instead with Jeter. I made my usual offer to the boys to see if they cared to join me but was met by their usual response – no, thanks. I got myself warmly dressed and cued up a Pandora station of standards/vocal jazz and popped my earbuds in. Just as I reached for the doorknob, Quinn had a change of heart and decided to accompany me. Faster than I’ve ever seen him move, he had shoes and coat on and off we went.
There was something about walking in the foggy night that made for a cozy, not creepy experience. As we walked along Whitehall Road, we talked quietly, sharing my earbuds as we listened together to Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Our conversation was filled with talk of which houses we admired, how challenging Jeter could be at times and how cool his new clip-on flashing light is. Funnily, I thought the light was shaped like a heart,* while Quinn thought it was a bone. He was correct but I was graciously given permission to think it was a heart if I wanted to. Sweet.
We stopped at his school’s primary grades playground and Quinn shared memories of playing there “years ago.” We talked about how in just a couple of years he’ll moving on to middle school and how fast time goes. As we neared the end of our walk, he found a series of puddles irresistible and made an attempt to leap them, with mixed success. His landing perfectly illustrated why so many of his pants have blown out knees. He is adorable.
Once home, after suggesting that we “do this again soon,” he continued to charm me with all that he had to say. Like: “What do you want to do? Watch a movie and sit on the couch eating ice cream?” and “Why does everything happen when you’re three? Grandma Sheila died when I was 3. I made a lot of my life decisions when I was three.”
I am so looking forward to our next walk.
*probably because of my love for the person who gave it to Jeter
Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Do you think we can apply this logic in a broader sense to situations in which we feel advantage has been taken of us? Do we somehow give permission to people to take advantage of us?
There are particular incidents in my life that continue to bother me despite the passage of time, usually because I failed to assert myself. I essentially gave someone an opportunity to make me feel inferior because I failed to stop them. When I think about those occasions I find myself replaying the scenarios, inserting a response that I only wish I had conjured up during the original altercation. You know, the perfect retort just too late. I want a do over.
The older I get, though, the less frequently I feel the need for a do over. I’ve learned that the discomfort of directly dealing with a person who is threatening my sense of what is fair or reasonable, is less damaging than perpetually looping the incident mentally afterwards. Ultimately, it’s better to give someone a piece of my mind than to allow them to just take it.
Don’t even approach my body unless you’ve first been between my ears. I’m 48, not 18.
True love isn’t roses and chocolate. It’s starting my car on a winter’s morning or bringing home pizza on a Friday night.
Love is buying me the Sunday paper on Saturday so I don’t have to go outside on a cold morning.
Love means being able to continue to believe.
My run Sunday came at a price – more specifically, the knee of my oldest running tights and a little skin on both my palm and my knee. Jeter and I had gotten a later start at the golf course than I had hoped, and by the time we completed the back nine and were midway through the front nine, it was fairly dark. Or maybe unfairly dark when it came to that patch of ice which did not reveal itself until my foot landed on it. Oops.
As my foot led, my body went up in the air, ultimately smacking to the ground on hip, hand and knee. Ouch. It hurt. I like to think that overall, I didn’t go down as terribly as I might have. I mean, I was a gymnast years ago and there’s muscle memory when it comes to falling, isn’t there? On the cold ground I did a quick inventory and, comfortable with my self-assessment, I got back up. Because that is what you do, isn’t it?
Once I regained my feet, I continued on the path with my thoughts shifting from where they had been previously. Before my slip, I had been reflecting about how much I loved exercising outdoors, year round. Even when I lose my footing and completely wipe out, fresh air still trumps the stale air and static view of a gym.
Now I thought back to when my children were toddlers and young boys and the frequency with which they seemed to fall down. It was remarkable. The slightest discrepancy in flooring, the tiniest drops of moisture, a tree root or dip in the earth would end with the same result – child on the ground. It was almost predictable in its capriciousness.
As we age, we don’t expect to end up on the ground, do we? Indulgence and illness aside, we remain consistently on our feet. Falling down is a part of life, though. Maybe the occasional reminder of that truth is something we all need.
Many years ago a friend in the midst of the disintegration of her marriage, told me she didn’t want to be responsible for her husband’s happiness. Since that time, I’ve learned what that felt like and I’ve heard other women say the same thing, although not always using the same words. Who are you responsible for making happy?
I’ve learned that I can contribute to someone’s happiness. I may on occasion even inspire another’s happiness. But, when it comes to making someone happy, I don’t think it is possible for me to make it so. The only person I have the ability to make happy is myself.
I may at times be self-indulgent, but I don’t believe I can accurately be described as selfish. When I think about making myself happy, it isn’t at another’s expense. In fact, if I don’t take the time to ensure my own pleasure with life, the only one who pays is me.
So? What made me happy today? A morning yoga class (more about that tomorrow), errands and chores, a long walk with my celebrity dog,* watching a hawk swoop across the road in front of me, cooking some simple and delicious food and the anticipation of a half-time bubble bath.
What did you do today to make yourself happy?
*Did you see Jeter in Thursday’s Times Union? He’s been recognized each day since his photo was published.
The day we first met Jeter
The youngest of my “boys” recently celebrated his first birthday and, while the occasion was a happy one to mark, I also noted the date with a tinge of sadness. That year certainly went quickly. When I thought about the number of years we got to love Cassidy (12.5) and started doing simple math in my head, I got a bit melancholy considering how few more years we can expect Jeter to be our baby. It simply doesn’t feel like nearly enough.
I don’t dwell on the lack of how much time remains, but I do find myself conscious of it. I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. The older I get, the more I value it. What to do with my time and who to spend it with are two of the most important decisions I make each day. What once seemed infinite has definitely evolved into being one of life’s most precious gifts. It’s true, time is a present and I’ve vowed to become even more discriminating about how I use it.
When it comes to time, how long are you willing to invest in someone? What length of time would you give a person to show you their very best? A week? A year? Or, are you of the mindset that we’re all works in progress and it is acceptable to wait forever? It’s a tough call, one we each have to make (and live with) ourselves.
How do we ever know if we’ve done the right thing(s) with our time? As my oldest son gets ready to make decisions about where to continue to his education and to leave home, I wonder how the time of our living under the same roof went by so remarkably fast. Is he ready? Did his father and I sufficiently prepare him for what comes next? Was our time together well spent?
Is there a way to ever truly know? Or, maybe a means to just slow down the clock?