Never in my life have I ever used the word “rejoice,” other than as a Christmas carol or hymn lyric. It hasn’t been in my vocabulary. Yet, when I stepped into the shower yesterday and the water temperature was ideal, when my skin, which had been completely drenched in sweat during a 75 minute hot yoga class then cooled to a chilly dry in the fresh air, practically sighed in bliss, it was the first word that flew to my lips: rejoice.
I started thinking of all things that have recently created a response in me that can only be expressed with that word, rejoice, and realized again what a wonderful life I have. Here are a few of the experiences and impressions that have moved me just this June.
- The rain that fell during Sunday’s run. It was the perfect density, starting as a haphazard spit growing to a steady, light drizzle. Exactly what I needed to propel me forward.
- Two moments at my son’s commencement. The first when my youngest son expressed that he identified with the tall graduate who walked on to the stage to accept his history award. “There’s me,” he said. Goal set. The second, when the young woman, whose situation I know nothing of other than she typically doesn’t seem to walk, walked across the stage with support at each elbow, to receive her diploma. Her accomplishment earned the day’s loudest applause. Humanity affirming.
- The smell of fresh strawberries, basil and tomatoes.
- Watching the photos from my phone load into my iTunes like a slideshow of my life and being blown away by all the smiling faces, scenery and memories.
- Listening to the birds chirp their appreciation for being fed.
Maybe I’m simple for finding so much joy in such seemingly trivial places. That’s ok. I like feeling simply happy.
They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, however that hasn’t been my experience. When you don’t meet your first relative (other than your mother and brother) until you’re 22 years-old, having family is very much a choice. With complete honesty, I can say that finding and getting to know my family has been without exception the most personally gratifying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I think that’s why I’m so devastated by the loss of my uncle, the man I’ll always think of as the burgermeister
From the very first time we met, me an undergraduate student and the daughter of one of his oldest sisters kicking around Europe, he, in his midthirties and a father to two young children, he always made me know I was family. There was never an instant that wasn’t apparent in the subsequent years and the times we shared.
Between that initial introduction and his recent death we probably were together on a dozen different occasions. He and his wife visited Albany, we met in NYC on the very day my own cancer was determined to require additional treatment, we traveled together in Europe. Three of my last four trips to Europe involved spending time with him and those are some memories that I’ll take out and shine until they gleam gold.
We stayed in the town where he lived twice in recent years and it was truly wonderful to witness the affection with which he was greeted everywhere we went. It was so obvious that he was a beloved member of his community – from the bakery to the Italian restaurant where he still occasionally worked when they needed a hand, he was met with humor and warmth and I was honored to claim him as my uncle. I always felt safe with him and I’m convinced there was nothing in this world with which he couldn’t contend. Except cancer.
As I was proud of him, he was proud of the life he had created. He had been a competitive athlete representing his country in the biathlon. Since learning that part of his history, I’ve loved cross country skiing even more, like it’s our family’s sport. During our visit in April he shared the medals he had won and his unabating love for winter sports was apparent. His home actually overlooks a ski jump used in international competitions, (which he helped with, of course) and we toured a local museum dedicated to the history of Nordic skiing.
My uncle, the unofficial burgermeister, was a great man and the loss of him, despite the thousands of miles between us, feels almost unbearable. How incredibly lucky was I to have seen him so recently? How kind of the universe to have cooperated by putting so much of my family in one place to celebrate Easter just two months ago. I know the ache in my heart will dull and the tears will dry but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. As the marker on his final resting place states, he was a gift from Heaven.
Hug your dads, uncles, husbands and sons and know how fortunate you are.
I closed out the month of April with a weekend of low key chores. I got some stuff done around the house that leaves me feeling organized and ready for what’s next. You know, washing the winter bedding and tucking it away until fall and transitioning the sheets completely from flannel to cotton. I love a fresh spring bed with crisp sheets and two layers of light cotton quilts. I slept better last night than I have in weeks.
My cold weather running gear is back down in the basement, UnderArmour replaced with shorts, t-shirts and tanks. I spun my two sided garment rack around and suddenly spring is present in my wardrobe. I’ve still got to deal with getting to the dry cleaner with a couple of items, but most of the work has been done and I feel on top of things.
Speaking of work, I addressed a month’s work of paid invoices and sorted the pile that they were into their respective folders. THAT was an accomplishment and will help as we start our final month as Lark + Lily. I’m excited for May and the events I have planned. We’re going out in a blaze of glory, I tell you!
Early this morning I heard a pretty fierce wind blowing outside. It was loud and penetrated my sleep, even with the windows closed to the chilly and damp air. I’d like to think that breeze took negativity and stress with it as it blew through town. I’ve got some hopes for this new month.
This kid has flow like a river. Maybe that’s what you get when you give a child a middle name like Hudson. He’s got such a wonderful warmth to him, always generous with the hugs, and people simply like him. It’s charm at its most essential.
In a hundred ways he reminds me of me, but I just keep thinking he has things so much easier, so much better. There’s a security in his life that I never knew at his age. That probably doesn’t matter, though, when you’re a senior in high school and on the verge of what’s next. Cusp is a four-letter word.
Out of all my children, he’s the one I worry about the most, at least these days. They take me on their emotional journeys individually, just like the Mom & Me trips I take with them. There are turns. Fair enough, I suppose.
As a mom, I want my children to live truthful lives. The sooner they learn that being honest and direct works best most of the time, the happier we’ll all be. It’s a milestone just like learning to walk, which Griffin did at 9.5 months. Some things he gets quicker than others, but he’s always loved.
If you see him today, wish him a happy birthday. Then tell him to go home. He’s grounded.
The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.
Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.
As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.
Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.
There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.
*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.
• When the 14th of February falls on a Tuesday.
• Speaking of falling – no additional snow falling.
• A great menu created and executed by a professional kitchen – thanks, John & Zach & Ben.
• Competent and attentive front of the house staff – I’m talking about you, Jackie, Jammella & Trudy.
• A tightly mapped seating chart with 2 hour turns for every table.
• Appreciative walk ins who are grateful and work with what you can offer them.
• Solo diners who are comfortable enough to dine with you on the biggest couple night of the year.
• Guests who span the spectrum – white, black, brown, straight and gay. I’m really proud of the diverse clientele we have at Lark + Lily.
• Music that set the mood beautifully – thanks, Trudy!
• Friends stopping in for dessert.
• Mild weather and cozy fireplaces.
• A sense of relaxed pleasure wafting through the dining rooms.
• Finding the perfect card for your honey at Elissa Halloran’s.
• A steady stream of pleasant people populating our bar.
• Guests thanking you for providing them with a place they love to visit.
• Having the prettiest Valentine’s menus ever! Thanks, Lori Hansen & Laura Glazer.
• Finishing the night with something bubbly and pink.
And one thing not to love – please, please, please have the decency to call and cancel your reservation if your plans change. Having an empty table that might have been filled by someone looking to celebrate is really frustrating. On a related note, if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late for your reservation, I’d suggest calling to let the restaurant know. After 20 minutes (without a phone call), your table becomes mine again.
Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Food, holidays, Local, love, Observations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wine, winter
As is usual for me and television, I’m more than a little late to the game on one of the buzziest new series, This is Us. I needed something to follow an embarrassing number of binge watched seasons of Project Runway and was pleased to see that TiU was available on Hulu. A single episode in and I was hooked. Talk about rich. What characters! Such dialogue! The soundtrack! I’m obsessed.
Episode 2 reached into my head and my heart simultaneously and I haven’t been able to shake it yet. There were two scenes involving Mandy Moore’s character, Rebecca, that have stuck with me and they’ve been both inspiring and grounding. The first was a conversation between Rebecca’s husband, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and his best friend, Miguel (Jon Huertas). Miguel tells Jack that Rebecca is “…like the gold standard of wives. She’s smart, funny, beautiful, great personality…”
It was a line that made me want to be Rebecca. That’s the kind of woman who I want to be.
The other scene was between Jack and Rebecca. As they sat on the floor next to each other, after a night of sleeping apart, Jack said that when he first met her he finally knew what he wanted to be when he grew up – the man to make her happy. Ugh. Shot to the solar plexus.
That’s the kind of man who I want.
This is Us feels, to me, something like who we hope for.