Tag Archives: marriage

Becoming Purnomo

Circa 1988

When I first moved to Albany in 1988, I got a job working split doubles at PD. Ladd’s, currently Dove and Deer. My apartment was just around the corner on Washington Avenue and, since I was carless, I needed to work within walking distance. The Ladopolous brother were very kind to me and, while I really enjoyed working there, I wanted to work someplace that was more renowned for their food than their proximity to the Capitol for the political types who regularly filled the bar.

At my 50th birthday party.

I read a story about Yono Purnomo, and his recognition as  Chef of the Year, and set my sights on working at Yono’s in Robinson Square never imagining the impact that decision would have on my life. Thirty years later, my relationship with the Purnomo family continues to affect my life frequently. For instance, yesterday I enjoyed lunch with a friend who I originally met at Yono’s where she was a guest and I a server. Today, I will bring my tax documents to a preparer whose office is next door to the original Yono’s location. Back in the day I would deliver happy hour cocktails to his office, cutting across our rear shared parking lot. My dermatologist, veterinarian practice and optician all were selected upon Donna’s recommendation and I’m still loyal to each of them decades later.

Dinner with the ladies!

Because of this family, on some level, I have a family. My boys’ dad and I met working at Yono’s and we held our pre-wedding fete at the restaurant. When my boys were born, there was bakmi delivered to satisfy the intense hunger caused by birthing babies. Through the Purnomos I’ve met countless hospitality professionals and have enjoyed some terrific industry perks and courtesies. I realized recently that the very first time I ever shared a piece of my writing (some thoughts I had when we lost our resident curmudgeon, John Radley) publicly, was at Yono’s. The response and support I received was encouraging and more than likely influenced me to write and share more.

Is there a word for sister-daughter-niece? Maybe in Italian?

My life has been enriched by this hard-working and gracious family, and the experiences we’ve shared, and I am so glad they allowed me to become part of their extended clan 30 years ago. Happy anniversary, Donna, Yono, Nick & Sis.

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(The) freedom of obligation

Wow, January! You were really something. During your calendar page time, I made my way home from California, spent an evening with friends in New Paltz and had a quick getaway to Miami Beach. There were numerous runs, some yoga, lots of golf course walks with Jeter and the first ski of the season. It was a month full of living life and spending time with people whose company I enjoy. 2019, I think you’re going to be a good one…

As I spent a little time reflecting on the past month, I couldn’t help but recognize that it didn’t matter where I physically was,  wherever I was I felt happy. I guess this internal happiness I’ve been working to cultivate travels well. It really is true, you know, wherever you go, that’s where you are.

It didn’t matter if I was traveling alone or with someone else, if the sun was shining or the wind blowing, or where I physically was – my general state of emotional being was positive. I felt lucky to be wherever I happened to be, even when it wasn’t a place with a scenic view or the warmth of sun on my face. I’m alive. I have family and friends and people with whom I enjoy sharing my time. I have a home and a job. My health is good and my body (mostly) does what I ask it to do. And, there isn’t a single day that I don’t appreciate every single one of those things.

One of the best gifts about growing older is learning new lessons about life and oneself, and how those two things relate. I think the happiness I’m currently experiencing comes in part to my recent realization that beyond my children, the only one I’m obligated to is myself. I’ve known for a long time that I alone am responsible for my own happiness and security, but I’m starting to have a different understanding about what that means. To me, at least.

The commitment I have to being happy, to living my best life, comes with an emotional independence that I hadn’t previously considered. While I most certainly owe honesty to any romantic partner I am with, I’m not obligated to sacrifice my needs to a relationship which may not fill my soul in the manner in which I desire. This is, to me, a rather radical understanding of myself and the state of being linked emotionally with another. I don’t have to stifle my feelings or longings because my ultimate commitment is to me. I only get to do this life thing once and I’m unwilling to experience it as an observer. I want to live it. All of it.

How is the new year treating you? What are you doing to make your life one that is well lived? Are you living your best life?

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Black lace forever

Look at this top….

isn’t it amazing? It’s been mine for the last 24 years, but it’s time for me to pass it on to someone else. Even though that breaks my heart a little. I still love it and think it’s beautifully unique and well made, but it doesn’t fit me right and I know someone else can wear this far better than I.

I bought this blouse on my honeymoon. We were in our last destination and had been traveling more than a month. The weather had been mixed, but Amsterdam was hot. We had been forced to pry open the sliding glass door in our hotel room because there was no air conditioning and it was absolutely sweltering in our room. It gave us a more direct view into Tina’s House of Pain just across the brick sidewalk from our hotel.

Amsterdam has a great flea market and I’ve done well there with clothing. I saw this blouse hanging on a rod loaded with vintage clothing and immediately wanted it. I tried to dicker the price down without success. Our budget was tight and it was an indulgence, particularly during our fifth week in Europe. But, after initially walking away from the blouse, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Later in the afternoon, I returned to the vendor along the canal and gave him his requested price of 30 guilder. I don’t remember the conversion rate, but I do know it was the most expensive article of clothing I had purchased at that point in my life, Frye boots aside.

It’s been an honor to own this garment but it’s time to get it out of my closet and into someone else’s. So, I’ll be bringing this blouse to an upcoming clothing swap. I’ll just keep the memories.

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Being a better love-r

Despite having returned in recent months to therapy, I still find running solo to be the best way to stretch my brain (and legs) while exploring my world, both inner and outer. It’s when I feel most able to release the leash I at times hold on my thoughts.

I’ve been reflecting, as one does this time of year, and I’ve been thinking specifically about the men I’ve loved over the years and how those relationships changed me and impacted my life. Without a doubt, each one has been unique. It seems that love, like snowflakes to go with a nearly-winter theme, is never quite the same twice. That’s probably what keeps us coming back for more – we often don’t immediately recognize it because it sneaks up on us just as often as it sweeps us off of our feet.

Some of the lasting reminders of a love affair are obvious (hello, children!) while others are only revealed cryptically to those beyond IRL friends. While there have been gifts and lessons and disappointments along the way, I’m starting to realize that the greatest impact on me from my romantic history hasn’t really been on me at all.

No, instead, it’s about how I’ve learned from each relationship, each love, how to be a better love-r the next time. I have an improved understanding of humans and how we each have our own unique needs, needs which aren’t always easily or clearly expressed. I’ve become more patient with another’s flaws because I can more clearly see my own. Instead of immediately thinking that someone’s behavior is directed at me, I’ve finally grasped that it just might be who they are without really having anything to do with me at all. I’ve certainly learned what I want from a relationship but, just as importantly, I’ve realized that being willing to learn what another wants, and finding happiness in being able to provide that to them, comes with its own measure of satisfaction.

Being someone’s girlfriend, partner, wife or lover has maximized my capacity to fill those roles. Understanding that love doesn’t necessarily come with a guarantee of happily ever after can be daunting, but knowing that there’s always another chance to be the best love-r you’ve ever been is its own reward. I’ll just keep trying. How about you?

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Someday, somewhere

It happens so slowly that I don’t know if it’s truly even possible for us to see it. Or maybe I should “me?” I probably shouldn’t assume this is a universal thing…

Anyway, it seems to me, when we’re in a relationship we often lose sight of ourselves as individuals – what makes us happy or laugh, how we want to spend our time, and what we want from, and bring to, being part of a couple. The wonder of getting to know another’s heart and soul, and what you are together as a unit, often nudges aside your own sense of who you are on your own.

When it’s a long-term relationship things you begin to accept as normal may work to dull your other senses. Your judgement falls victim to another’s manipulation of the truth and there’s no one you can really talk to about it because your last gasp of logical thinking reminds you that you can’t share all with your friends. They may not won’t be quite as generous as you are about swallowing some of the explanations, or accepting how far you’ve lowered your expectations.

Every once in a while you have a moment when you think to yourself – who am I and why am I tolerating this? Not only is the situation not what you want, but you yourself are becoming a person you don’t really know, much less want to be. Instead of feeling joyful and confident you start to feel brittle, sucked dry until at last you remember that being independent doesn’t mean being alone and that the most valuable thing you possess is your time and you’ve already burned through enough of that in this situation.

Finally, you get it together enough – the disappointment, the hurt, the anger and the refusal to settle for another day, much less another year, all come together and combine to create a parachute from the anchor they had previously been. You close your heart to that person and, with lots of head shaking, open your eyes and firmly direct them forward.

You won’t forget (at least not the same way), who you are, what you want and what you won’t accept again.

I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

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I never imagined

imageOn 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.”

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Looking for patterns

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I knew that pattern felt familiar…

If you were to look in my closet, you’d notice a number of similar items, like these two dresses, for instance.  My tendency to gravitate to a certain style of shoe (chunky Mary Janes, preferably black), boots (knee-high, brown lace-ups) and sweaters (oversize and loosely woven) is easily discernible.  I’ve got a thing for purple dresses, polka dots and wrap dresses, a predilection I’m aware of and actively trying to work on.  “Step away from that darling amethyst ruched dress, Silvia!  You already have one!”

My penchant for familiar designs, patterns and colors is apparent to those beyond me.  On a shopping trip with my middle son, I was discouraged from buying a(nother) pair of cute black shoes because, as he said, I already had a pair just like that at home.  He was right.

What is that attracts us to things we already have?  Is it comfort?  A sense of assurance that that particular style or color or shape “works” for us?  And, more importantly, does this tendency to continuously replicate what we already know extend beyond the boundaries of our closets to our broader existences?  Specifically – what patterns do we have in our personal lives and are they as flattering on us as a draped jersey wrap dress?

I’ve been divorced for a couple of years now, long enough to have gained some perspective about what did and did not work within what was the longest relationship of my life.  While I valued my husband’s comfort with my desire to travel, both with family and solo, I did not appreciate feeling as if my independence was an easy excuse for my having to shoulder (in my eyes) a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for organizing all of our lives.  It became a vicious cycle of trying to yield control and then being disappointed by the poor (as perceived by me) management of the task at hand.  Naturally, I stopped asking for help.  I definitely don’t want this pattern to be replicated in future years.

In a number of my previous romantic relationships, I’ve been inclined to be bossy.  It’s simple –  I like to take charge and make things happen.  You know what, though?  I’m tired of driving the bus all of the time and I am hoping to learn to be comfortable in the passenger seat.  It’s time to allow someone else to take the wheel for a change.  I want to look out the window a little more and not feel as if I always need to focus on what comes next.

I’ve got a pretty good view right now of the garment rack where much of my wardrobe hangs.  I see something pink peeking through the purple dress section.  There’s also a length of madras nearly brushing the hardwood floor with its eagerness to be worn.  If I look closely, I can just barely make out a gorgeous floral print which is almost audible with its promise to show me a wonderful time, if I’ll only take it out on the town for an evening.

Patterns can be broken.

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