The Truth Is Out There

When I think about the laughter and the fun times and the joys shared over nearly nine years, I feel deep sadness and a sense of loss that is so profound it feels more like a death than a break up…I am in every sense of the word “mourning,” but it really is, when I think about all of the lies of this summer, a loss of a dream…If a person says “I love you” but then on the same day, or in the same week, or during the same month, or over the worst summer of your life, lies to you, in person, right in front of you, to your face, looking right into your sad green eyes, which is the lie?? The love?? Was it ever true?? It’s all a loss of the imagining, the ideas of what we were creating together, and the thoughts we shared about the kind of future we thought we wanted together, the family we had blended, the bonds we had forged…It turns out it’s a loss of what never was…

If like me you are a very trusting person, to find out you have been lied to, right to your face, multiple times over many weeks or months, by someone you love, someone looking right into your teary green eyes, or via text message or over a phone call, the truth becomes something that you question so fully you start to wonder, “was that a lie too?” when thinking about past events, or frankly the whole past of the relationship…you start to question things that you never questioned before…it’s exhausting, and sad, and serves no purpose but to make you feel worse than you already do… I have begun to recognize there is a before and there is an after…simple as that. Before I was lied to and after I found out I was lied to…and the woman who experienced that betrayal, the woman who trusted fully with her whole heart and was deceived, is not the woman writing this evening. The woman writing this evening feels empty and angry and sometimes it is hard for her to imagine she could have been so misled, so fooled, so foolish…I want to think not…I want to think that it was only this terrible summer, this terrible summer of terrible choices and terrible decisions that the lies began, and the life we were imagining together started to unravel and spiral out of control. I want to think it was only this summer, but now I simply don’t know…

I would like to believe that the honesty and the trust that I thought we had for each other, and together, was sound and real for the thousands of days we were in love, before all of the mess. I started to make a timeline for myself last month, trying to find out when it started, the ending, the unraveling, but now I think it’s rather pointless, as is has not made me feel any better at all, because what I think now is that it does not matter when things turned so bad and so ugly and so full of lies, only that they did. Maybe I was too busy to notice, maybe it all started much earlier in the spring, maybe it’s been more than a year, maybe it’s been most of the relationship…maybe I was too naive and trusting to even realize things were going bad at all, and that things were happening right under my nose and under this roof and before my eyes, but I was not seeing what was real, I was seeing what I wanted to see.

I believed a truth, that we had a plan to share a life together, and were both working hard so that someday in the future we would not have to work so hard, and we could find a different place to live together, with lower property taxes and no greenheads. We talked a lot about it, that instead of having a B&B we would open a D&D and call it *dinners and dreams* and I would clean and he would cook and we could have a home and business on a lake somewhere…it was the conversation on countless nights when we sat down to amazing meals we prepared. So many times over many years, we talked of where we might want to go, someday…So sometime in the early summer one of us stopped thinking about THAT, and started to think instead only about himself, and what he wanted, and not about a future together at all…one of us began to behave as if there was no “us” at all and the only future ahead was one that did not include me, and did not include trust, and did not include shared goals or dreams, and certainly did not include plans of sharing a life together on a lake, in a tidy home with crisp white linens and a fabulous kitchen with a butler’s pantry…

There are many things that happened this summer that have shaken me up and spun me around and made me question so much of the last nine years that I sometimes have to just stop myself from thinking at all…why bother?? says the smart part of my brain…why bother dissecting the past, why bother dwelling on the big question, “HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT THIS WAS HAPPENING???” Because the truth of the matter is it did happen, the truth of the matter is I had it happen right under my nose, the truth of the matter is I no longer know what was true and what was real and what was a lie or what was made up…nothing is certain anymore, and yet for many years the one thing that I thought was the truest truth, was that we had total trust in one another, that we never had to wonder, that we were honest, of that we were once certain, or so I thought…that is all gone now, it is cloudy and cracked like an old broken mirror tossed in the dump…it was once crystal clear and bright and crisp, and reflected so much that was beautiful, and now it’s garbage…The truth is out there, but now I think I don’t even want to know…

Pleas of “please…”

…and so this story is starting at the ending…

Am I heartbroken?  Heart sick??  Heart weary???

Yes, I am all of these things.

Am I sad?  Disappointed??  Confused???

Yes, I am all of these things.

Am I terribly angry, am I deeply betrayed, am I unquestionably deceived?

Yes, I am all of these things.

Just so you know, before you read any further, this will not end happily…This does not have a “When Harry Met Sally” grinning couple at the end talking about their wedding cake, or a “You’ve Got Mail”  *somewhere over the rainbow playing* ‘I wanted it to be you so badly’ ending.  This ending will break your heart.  This ending will make you cry. This writer is writing these words right now, crying, because she is living the ending as she types, but she will gather her thoughts to get back to the start to tell this story from the beginning, and share the unfolding, and the unraveling, and the undoing of what was, for a time, the greatest love she had known, until it wasn’t. 

Just so you know, I am writing a bit every day as a healing process. I am writing a bit every day because it is free and gets the hurts out of my head no differently than if I were speaking to a therapist. Just so you know, I will probably keep writing until my heart stops hurting and I do not know how long that might take…the way I hurt right now, this morning, I might write until I take my last breath on this earth, or perhaps for some inexplicable reason, I will one day soon wake up and feel better and know that I literally did everything I could and there is simply nothing within my power that could have made this ending a happy one.

When you fell in love quickly, looking back now it was obviously ridiculous, AND TOO QUICKLY, there is so much of the, “should I have paid more attention to the red flags?”  questioning and self-exploration as the relationship is ending, and ending badly, and sadly…should I have paid more attention to the red flags than I paid to his gorgeous boyish face??  Yes.  Was his face literally the most handsome one that had ever been in my face asking, “would it be okay if I kissed you?”  on the night we first met, yes.  Yes I should have paid more attention to many things, rather than paying attention to his face,  yes.  His face was the most beautiful face I had ever seen and it wanted my face, my attention, and my laughter, and wanted so much my love…until it didn’t.  It was the most fun relationship and the deepest love I had ever experienced in my life, until it wasn’t…

When you are first suffering from the initial shock of the breakup there is, in my case anyway, a great deal of crying…heaving sobs of sadness and confusion…how is THIS person, the person who not so long ago was MY person, becoming a person I no longer know, and how did things change so quickly???  Sometimes I feel so confident that I will just  get on with my day with my head held high and with the understanding that  this is much like a divorce, just with no wedding, but then I hear a song on the radio or think of a memory and I lose all my confidence that I will be able to take my next breath…but then I do.

As of this morning’s write we have been “broken up” for more than three weeks, but if I am honest with myself, AND when the goal is to be healed, being honest with oneself is absolutely necessary, and to be clear it is sometimes hard to do, what was “we” was “broken” much earlier in the summer, and despite my almost daily efforts to regroup and reboot and re-do all that was coming undone, my pleas of “please” fell on deaf ears…

Service and a smile?

“Thank you, please come again” in my mind is what servers might say to a table when they bring the check at a restaurant.  It seems that what he or she might utter under their breath is “Why the *** would you come out to dinner if you are going to be rude and leave a BAD tip??!!  Stay home jerk!” 

A friend of ours is in the bar and restaurant business and shared a terrible story on Friday night; that a big group of patrons at one table was rude, demanding, and difficult, and proceeded to leave a ONE DOLLAR $ tip on a $230 bill.  This saddened me in such a big way…here at the Jersey shore, while it is true MANY contractors and service workers and “essential” people have had one of the best seasons in years, service workers in bars and restaurants were out of work for a long time, and I had hoped, truly deeply believed, that after pretty much a year of self-reflection, and watching so much sickness and death and ruin play out in towns and states and countries around our planet, humans would come out better on the other side…That people would think, how lucky that I did not get Covid or how lucky that I did not lose my job or how lucky that my town had so little virus spread…or something, something good, better than before…it was perhaps just a silly wish…

We went out to dinner on Saturday night and our server was not very good, at all.  She might have been new, the restaurant is new, so perhaps she did not know the menu well, however it was a VERY small menu, literally one side of one piece of paper (that kind of restaurant, where the chef knows what he wants to make and here are your five choices…it was one page that included appetizer, salad, and entrée, and she did have one special to tell us about) but anyway, she was not a very good server in that she did not bring us water, did not offer to open our wine (but we have not had alcohol in 103 days so it was twist off Welch’s sparkling grape) she did not take our used utensils away after our salad, she did not seem to know the menu at all, and was slow…BUT we were kind to her, and friendly, and when the bill came we left a $30 tip on an $89 bill because WE ARE FINALLY OUT OF THE WOE OF A PANDEMIC SITUATION WHERE MANY PEOPLE WERE SCARED TO GO OUT AND IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, TO BE KIND TO PEOPLE, EVEN IF IT WAS NOT JUST A YEAR OF NEAR LOCK-DOWN AND my PSA is this, DO NOT GO OUT TO DINNER IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A JERK.

If you and those at your table wish to be cruel and difficult to a server doing his job, or obnoxious and demanding to a bartender trying to keep her station organized and all of her customers served, don’t go out, stay home and be miserable in your own house!!  Don’t bring your meanness out into the world! The world is hard enough for some people, why add to it by being an awful human?? I guess my point, if there is one, which honestly there often isn’t one that is clear, is that one should elevate people, rather than deflate them. The server we had could have said to herself, they were so nice to me, even though I know I should have done ___ blank…or wow, I am glad I was so friendly, they left a nice tip…if she went home that night feeling good and happy then her confidence might improve for the next night she works and she will get better and better…if like those jerks at my friend’s business, we left a rude and hurtful $1 tip, she might have gone home feeling so low and blue and that NEVER MAKES ANYONE BETTER!

Our “jobs” when we are out in public should be to bring goodness and light and kindness into the world…if people want to be awful under their own roof, so be it, but when you are OUT in the space occupied by others, be nice, just be nice. How is that hard to do??

Wages for not dying

For some reason a “living wage,” or the idea of implementing one, is horrifying to about half of the population of our country. If we called them ‘wages so people don’t die’ or ‘wages so people have a roof’ would that make $15 an hour more palatable to these people? In my town, the price for a one bedroom apartment is about $1210 a month. When my dad married my mom in June of 1966 he made $100 a week working as a carpenter and his rent was $100 a month for their apartment on Long Beach Island. My dad was 24 and my mom was 22 and one week of my dad’s pay was their rent for the month. My mom had a job too. They were a two income household and only one paycheck, of the eight that came in each month, was needed for the rent. By this math, a 24 year old man getting married in June to his 22 year old girlfriend would have to make $30.50 an hour for one of his paychecks a month to be their rent right here right now in south Jersey. Do you know any local young carpenters making $30.50 an hour? I don’t.

Why was it “okay” for a 24 year old to make a paycheck in 1966 that was in keeping with the expenses of living, but now in 2021 it is not okay for a 24 year old to make a paycheck that is in keeping with the expenses of living?? My nephew just turned 24. My dad had turned 24 in February and married my mom that June. My nephew works at a local apartment complex and has a good job doing appliance repair and property maintenance. He works for a well respected company and even with having a great employer and even making at present well over the current minimum wage, he would need TWO and a Half Paychecks to pay one month of rent if he chose to rent one of the apartments in which he works! I am not an economist and I don’t study labor or income statistics, but what I do know is the math of my life…why was it “fair” that in the time of my mom and dad’s start of life together one week of pay paid for one month of rent for a young couple starting out and for some reason, it now is “outrageous” to some that one month of rent would be paid by one week’s pay for a young couple starting out now???? WHERE did it go wrong?? WHEN did it change?? WHY is it some sort of flighty fantasy that wages should grow with expenses in a civil and just society??

When I have tried to talk to some people about why I think a minimum wage of $15 an hour is reasonable in this time, I have been told “it’s ridiculous that somebody working at Burger King would make $15 an hour.” When I then ask why, I never get an answer. Someone has to make the food and serve the food…someone has to scan the celery at Aldi, someone has to sweep the floor at the mall, there are jobs that are done every single day in every single town by people who never miss a day of work and those very same people can’t live where they work and can’t have the kind of life my mom and dad were able to have…If a person has a full time job at Burger King, or Aldi, or the mall, where should that person live? Where could that person live? If they were a 24 year old recently married man, if he lived in my town, two full weeks of pay would still not be enough to pay for one month of rent of his apartment. When my mom and dad got married they had a car, car insurance, fuel for the car, food, electricity, and money enough left over every month to start making a life together, and money enough left over each month to start SAVING MONEY TO BUY A HOUSE. If you have to use two full paychecks to make your rent, then that leaves less than two full paychecks for car insurance, fuel for the car, food, electricity, and THERE IS NEVER ANY MONEY LEFT OVER TO START SAVING FOR ANYTHING…well, you see where I am going with this…why do people think it was fine for young couples to make a living wage in 1966, by this I mean, wages were such that they were in keeping with the expenses of life, so that a young couple in their twenties could get married, afford their rent, afford to then buy a house, and then afford to have babies, and then keep on moving “up in the world” but that young couples today should not make wages that would afford them those same life experiences and opportunities?? To be able to live in this world now, and have money left over each month to save to keep moving up in the world, should not be seen as extreme. There is nothing “fair” about an entire generation that has to work just as hard as their grandparents but can never, and will never, be able to afford the kind of life their grandparents did.

I think it is fantastic that Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, his company literally has changed all of our lives for the better, but what good is it to be the richest man in the world if the people who pack orders in your warehouses can’t afford to live in the town where they work?? There is an Amazon fulfillment center out near Trenton and a one bedroom apartment is about $1600 a month there, so you can work there in Florence, NJ but can you really live there if you work in a warehouse for Amazon? Why is it perfectly acceptable for Jeff Bezos to make $33,000 a week, but not okay for Jim Smith or Jane Jones to make at least $600?? I don’t see how we the people are ever going to be less divided if the gap between the haves and the have nots does not narrow some.

I took enough classes in college in economics, statistics, history, criminal justice, feminist theory, and accounting, to understand that there will always be poor people and always be rich people and that there will always be a huge gap between the richest and the poorest but what is wrong with the middle, the in-between, the regular people, being able to earn a wage that makes a life that is livable? Should a person have to spend their whole adult life struggling even when they work full time?? Should hard working people have to worry every single month of their entire adult lives that they will have enough money to pay all of their expenses every month, month after month until they die??? That is what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck…some months taking from your right hand to pay your left hand, AND for many millions of adults RIGHT NOW IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD ON YOUR OWN STREET, people who have never been out of work are out of work…people who have never been to a food pantry or collected unemployment are getting food from local food pantries and collecting unemployment. Now is not a time for greed, now is a time for humanity, civility, and a desire to see hard working people thriving in this country and not suffering. I am making a sweeping generalization here, but I think that there is no thriving to be had when one is worried every single day about living. If one works full time and still does not earn or have enough money to live, I imagine there is little to look forward to, when it is so glaringly obvious that life can’t seem to get better, when it appears that there is not any way to ever get ahead, life is terrifying. Where is there any joy to grow as a person when there is fear and worry day in and day out???

Should the man who helps to bathe your father in the hospital, or the woman who helps get him to his lung scan in the radiology department have to work all day and then go work at a night job just to afford rent and a car and basic items for living?? It seems cruel, for someone to work so hard and have no way whatsoever to get ahead. In New Jersey right now a certified nurse assistant makes an average of $29,700 a year and by that math three paychecks a month are needed to pay one month of rent. This is not a person sitting around the house all day watching crap television or playing video games…this is a person who went to school for training for a job to work in a hospital and care for our sick and dying family and neighbors and working in that hospital full time does not even afford her the opportunity to go home after work to get a shower and rest her feet and maybe share a meal or laugh with her kids…I don’t know how to change the world and I don’t know how to make the world better but I believe in my heart that a person who works full time should not have to be terrified of homelessness.

I well understand that in a society there will always been wealthy people and there will always be poor people. There will always be drug addicts sleeping under overpasses, and there will always be mentally disturbed people who are homeless, and there will always be criminals in and out of the prison system. I am well aware that there are always going to be folks on the fringe of society, but what is a society when the hard working people who make up more than half of it work and work and work and never get ahead??? I am more than willing to pay $0.50 cents more for a gallon of Tide if it meant that the person stocking the shelf at Target did not have to work two full time jobs just to afford his rent. I am more than willing to pay $1.00 a month more in car insurance so that person doing the data entry work at Allstate doesn’t have to then go to her night job at Wawa just to afford her rent. I am more than willing to pay another $0.10 cents a cup for coffee if it means that the person making the coffee can work full time at her job and have a stable home. These are very small changes in a society, in an economy, that benefit everybody. Wouldn’t you feel better at night knowing that most of your neighbors were okay?? Wouldn’t you feel better at night knowing that the bank teller who does your deposit on Friday and the young man pumping your gas on Saturday are thriving in the community in which you all live??

I don’t write any of this because I have any answers at all, but I do write this because we as a society need answers, and we as a society should care, a lot about the people in our neighborhoods, and I truly believe that if at least we ask the questions we can discuss options, and find ways to make a place that is more fair for all. There has to be a way for the majority to thrive and prosper, and if we have to pay a little bit more for Tide and car insurance, bread and Netflix, then so be it. SOMEWHERE there has to be a kink in the chain that we can smooth out, so that 30 year olds don’t have to live in the basement of their childhood home, and so that families can eat dinner together and not have one or both parents working two full time jobs just to keep a roof over them all. I do not have a magic wand to fix what I think needs fixing, but I think that if qualified and capable people put their heads together, in an effort to make life better for the bulk of the people, all of us people will benefit. Failure to thrive doesn’t do any good to anybody.

Purple People

It is only right that purple is my favorite color. It is the mix of red and blue, hot and cold, fire and rain. I am a blue woman from a red family who lives in a red town in a red county in a blue state, purple is me. Long before the orange one, as I will forever now call him, I wrote and said that it is very hard being a liberal when you grow up in a conservative family and community. My ideas and concerns were often mocked, and I was teased at times that I was a “pinko commie” and while it was sometimes funny, it was most of the time not funny at all, because my ideas and concerns did not feel, or seem radical in any way whatsoever. My ideas and concerns seemed to always come from a deep well of kindness to others and an empathy for those who did not have what I had.

We all, well 81,283,485 of us, are in agreement that wanting justice for all, and quality affordable healthcare for all, and equal opportunities for all, and not to want to be an embarrassment to the rest of the modern world is not radical, it is human, it is decent. We all, well 81,283,485 of us, are in agreement that empathy and compassion for those less fortunate, or for those who did not have the same opportunities we did, and a desire to help them in basic, civil, humanitarian ways is not radical, it is human. We all, well 81,283,485 of us, think that “people are people” and that lying to them day after day, and convincing them to believe provably false information does not a lick of good for any of us or any of them.

I had the television on at the house where I was working last week, so I listened in real time as the son of the orange one tried to get an angry crowd angrier. He told many lies in a revved up way and even through a television screen, 200 miles away, I could feel the tension growing…then later I watched and listened to the orange one tell lots of angry people more lies to make them more angry, and then he told them to fight…if you tell a person a lie, over and over and over, and they begin to believe the lie, it is my opinion that they will do anything to continue to believe it, even when there is plenty of evidence to prove it untrue.

It is sort of like a bad husband; if he cheats on his wife, over and over and over, but swears that he didn’t, and brings her flowers and keeps her in a nice house and tells her she is imagining things, and that he loves her and would never hurt her, she will allow herself to believe that even when her AT&T text log on her bill shows her otherwise…she wants to believe that he loves her and is true to her. It is exactly this, in my opinion, that has happened to 74,223,744 registered voters in the United States…They were told that brown people were taking their jobs and raping their daughters and were criminals costing them money, and they were told that black people were ruining their neighborhoods and bringing down their real estate appraisals, and they were told that he was great, and was going to make the country great and that he had tremendous ideas because he was a tremendous business man and was going to make them all winners…AND SO EVEN WHEN THEIR OWN EYES AND OWN EARS SHOWED THEM EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, THEY BELIEVED HIM.

I have felt, over these last four years, that “it” could not get much worse, and then, sometimes daily it felt exactly that; worse than the day before. I have felt, over these last four years, that people I deeply cared about and liked very much, neighbors, friends, and family, would read what I read, heard what I heard, and saw what I saw and realize that they were being bamboozled…but that is not what happened. Every day to and from work I saw more bumper stickers and flags and signs in my red town in my red county in my blue state, telling me that these neighbors, friends, and family were not reading what I was reading nor hearing what I was hearing and definitely were not seeing what I was seeing…how could they?? If they were, they could not possibly still be thinking that the orange one was great, or that he was doing a tremendous job, or that he cared at all about them in any way whatsoever. To write that I have felt sad these last years is terribly understated. It is totally fine to live in a family where I like mint chocolate chip and everybody else likes vanilla, or I like bar-b-q pork and they all only like chicken…those are differences that don’t matter in the scheme of things, but when your ideas and beliefs are in such total opposition really, it means that you don’t talk about current events together, you don’t laugh about a news story together, you don’t discuss policy or laws or court cases together, and as a purple person for whom these things matter, this has been very sad to me.

Today starts the last weekend of the administration of the orange one and I believe in my heart and soul that all of the world will be better off without the full-of-himself liar in the white house. I believe in my heart and soul that all of the world will be better off with the husband of a bright and smart and educated woman, who seems to be genuinely happy and in love with her and their family. I believe in my heart and soul that the world will be better off with a man who truly seems to have empathy for people less fortunate or who have suffered loss or hardships, and who can articulate a clear plan for a path forward out of the mess that has been these last four years. These are character traits one would look for in a mate. Would YOU WANT a husband who is a known cheater, liar, and bankrupted multiple times?? Would you want a husband who thinks that white supremacy isn’t a problem?? Would you want a husband who makes fun of a disabled reporter and who has had multiple charges or sexual misconduct spoken against him?? Call me too picky, but I would not want that man as my husband and I absolutely would not want him as my president…yet many people did…so what does that say about people?? I will move forward the only way I know how…I will know in my heart that my assessment of this person was spot on from the beginning, and I will hope that the next four years are bright and healthy for us all, and I will forgive those who were so misguided and duped because people are people and we all have flaws and I will simply hope that they choose better next time…purple people are like that…we want a mix of blue and red that makes the world more beautiful.

People are people, so why should it be, You and I should get along so awfully? So we’re different colours and we’re different creeds, And different people have different needs. It’s obvious you hate me though I’ve done nothing wrong & I’ve never even met you, so what could I have done? I can’t understand
What makes a man Hate another man Help me understand…And now you’re punching and you’re kicking and you’re shouting at me, I’m relying on your common decency, So far, it hasn’t surfaced but I’m sure it exists, It just take a while to travel from your head to your fist…People are people, so why should it be You and I should get along so awfully?

” Nous sommes nos cicatrices ” We are our scars…

“I’d never want to fully erase what makes me me.”  I read this sentence recently and realized the writer truly expressed, albeit briefly, what I have been blogging about for the last 13 years…I neither speak French nor read it, but she shared this phrase that spoke to me and I love the truth of it, …Nous sommes nos cicatricesI have many scars, countless really if you added them all up as I am now a 53 year old woman.  Many scars, most probably, are because of terrible decision making on my part, several are indeed from unfortunate events, a few, thank goodness,  from the hand of another…  2020 seems to have scarred many people in many different ways and some of those scars are so deep they will become wounds that never heal…regardless of the scar; emotional, financial, physical, we own them forever and it sometimes can take more than our lifetime allows to heal them, but we all still try, don’t we?  To heal…

I know many scarred people.  I know many scarred people who have deeper scars than I do.  The depth of their wounds does not diminish the pain of mine, and the lightness of mine does not make theirs any worse, we can’t compare pain and suffering really, it’s too subjective.  What hurts my boyfriend is not what hurts me.  What hurts my mother or my sister or my daughter is not necessarily what hurts me, but all of our scars and pain are valid and they shape, like it or not, the person we ARE, and too often, the person we spend our life trying to get away from or not to be.  Some people wear masks and costumes to hide them…the flawless diamond wedding band and the big house with the wrap around porch and the shiny Jaguar in the driveway and the Louboutin heels in the walk-in-closet can be good cover for a crappy marriage to a cheating husband who is a jerk and a liar …the jacked up truck loaded with flags and bumper stickers, oh “don’t tread on me” can be a cover up for feelings leftover from a verbally abusive and emasculating father…masks come in many forms.   “Masks” are like a band-aid, & the wound is still there and the scar will never go away…but people still try.

I feel like in this new year ahead, knowing full well that so many people are suffering, it is as good a time as any to give our own selves a break.  It feels awful to think this, “well look at his life, gosh mine doesn’t seem so bad now”  however, when it is time to go easy on yourself, sometimes that sort of compare and contrast is needed.  Come to terms with the scars we have, accept that everybody we know has them too, and be okay with all of them.  They have formed us over time to be THE PEOPLE WE NOW ARE.  If you are happy with yourself, your choices, your behaviors, your beliefs and ideologies by all means, keep doing what you are doing, but if like many of us, there are things you do not like about your self, your person, or your life, well, what better time than a new year to make the changes that you wish to make. 

There are children suffering so terribly right now that I can’t even think too hard about it without crying…there are families terrified right this second that because they have not been able to pay their rent for months on end they are about to be planning to live in their car, and there are families right now who have been fighting and arguing over money every day for nine months now that their kids can’t remember the last time anybody laughed or smiled…there is so much that is amiss in the country around us that if you have the good fortune to be employed, housed, fed, and secure in your life, you should not be thinking about any of your scars right now at all…you should be just feeling lucky and happy and try as hard as you can to spread those positive feelings because I swear there is somebody who needs them desperately.  Yes, we are our scars, but we are also our healing, and if you are not suffering right now I beg of you to spread some joy and some light and some peace, in any way that you can, because it spreads and it grows and there are people all around whose scars are making their lives so terribly dark, your little ray of light might truly make a difference, how ever so small, and help them to heal…

When hope becomes a love story…

“You make loving fun” might be a lyric from a Fleetwood Mac, song but it could be the anthem for the last eight years of my life…the universe tossed me a Filet Mignon, when really I might have been happy with a Stouffer’s salisbury steak tv dinner!!  I was “done” with relationships, and thought that it would be fine if I was not again ever part of a couple, but then, suddenly, my heart was all aflutter.  When you say “I’m done,” when referring to relationships, you don’t always mean you are done…perhaps you mean that you are done with the months long debacle of gas-lighting that you had recently ended.  Or perhaps you mean you are done with the long term relationship that you ended before that, that was filled with kindness and friendship, but was not the kind of love you had always imagined for yourself or believed you deserved…Perhaps saying “I’m done,” one early summer night, full of woeful contemplation, sitting on your favorite south facing step and counting stars, is really pleading, praying if you will,  “Please universe, show me something…throw me a bone here!”  I sometimes like to think about the spell that the girls make in Practical Magic…I sometimes like to think that I had anything to do with the magic man who came into my life, but really, I don’t think I did anything but hope…

I was done, and to be honest with myself, I had been less than happy for a long time.  For years I wanted someone to look at me like Edward looked at Bella.  For years I wanted someone to help me be the fullest version of myself like Felipe did for Elizabeth.  For years I wanted someone to make me feel like I had found my true match like Mr. Ferrars did to Elinor.  When reading has been a great pleasure of your life, there becomes a strange craving if you will,  for real life to be like something you’ve read…I would sometimes grin while reading and think; if a character exists in these pages, he could exist in real life…magic happened for me, with the spark and butterflies, just like in a love story, where unexpectedly a woman whose soul needs to be unfurled meets a handsome, high-energy drummer, with a smile that lights up her spine and makes her toes tingle, as he arrives for a first date that simply never ends…when hope becomes a love story IS my story, our story, the story…

This handsome and fun musician will tell you that I chickened out three times on planned meetings.  It is harsh to write that I stood him up, but that is what I did, three times, yes I was sorry, but maybe another time…he could have thought me too much trouble but yet, he persisted, and it still makes me smile to think that he did not give up on me, give up on the potential for an ‘us.’  I had said I was done but it seems that I didn’t mean it after all.  This handsome and fun musician will agree that we’ve had our ups and downs, both of us have our share of Mea Culpa moments, but both of us will say that we feel that we’ve created a friendship, and romantic relationship, that is solid, and that the good times have been 99% and the bad times only one…We might very well grow old together, or we might not be together by next July, both things are possible.  We might get to travel in our later years, or I might be run over by a pie wagon this weekend, both things are possible.  Everything we might have ever hoped for is possible.  AND also none of it could happen.  Every day together we hope for another day together tomorrow.  When you do not give up hope, anything is possible.

 

 

 

Is this love?

My mom and dad had their 54th wedding anniversary yesterday.  There are things and people I liked five, 10, and 15 years ago, that I don’t like now…I think it’s fabulous that my mom and dad have loved each other for 54 years…how did they do it??  I am SOoooo different in so many ways now at 52 than I was at 25, and I can not imagine how life would have been had I fell in love with a boy and got married at 21, as my mom was, and at 75 was still married to him and still loved him deeply as my mom is…This is a poorly constructed thought, but I have been having a terrible time trying to get my brain and the thoughts and the words to all sync up.  I simply find it marvelous, and also believe it mighty difficult to achieve; to want to keep loving a person for 54 years, because really, it’s a gargantuan feat, what my parents did, are doing, will be doing, until death parts them…

A handful of my friends from high school are still married to their teenage sweethearts, and a handful of my friends from high school still have parents who are still married…both groups of people are rather small…it’s big, to have love that lasts isn’t it??  I think about that song by Van Halen, “I want the best of both worlds”…in the beginning couples want fun and laughter, and physical attraction, but later they also want stability and security and peace of mind…I feel like having the best of both worlds is what is so unattainable for most of us…the boys who I found attractive were never the ones who would be good husbands or fathers or “providers,” and I have heard many men woefully lament that the “hot chicks” were good to look at but they could not hold a significantly meaningful conversation and were not good cooks…These are indeed sweeping generalizations, and totally gender stereotypes which I don’t like to perpetuate, but the fact is, lasting relationships are not easy to create and nurture and I suspect they are not at all common…I feel like most people I know have been divorced, which I suppose is the norm, and figuring out HOW to make love last, and HOW to continue to care about a person as you both change and age, and HOW to handle the stumbles and errors of being human, AND at the end of the day STILL CHOOSE THIS ONE PERSON, is a life trick that not many of us know…

I am certain that there are things about my mother that drive my dad crazy, but you would not ever know of it…his eyes sparkle when he laughs with her and he has never said an unkind word to her.  He STILL chuckles and says, “she’s the best wife I ever had” whenever I make a snarky remark about something that irked me…he fell in love with her and he chose her and he promised to love her for all of his life and he has done so…what woman would not feel blessed and lucky to have that in a father.  My mother has said for all of the years of my life that she was friends with all the local guys but they all went to the bars on Friday after work with their paychecks and cursed, and they were not what she wanted in a husband…I know enough women who grew up with terrible fathers to know that my gratitude is not misplaced;  that my mother had the good sense to choose a good man to create a family with IS A GIFT.  My sister and I do not agree on very much, but on this, I would guess we are in complete harmony.

I have said it to them and to others, that no two people seem more perfect for each other than my mom and dad. I find being around fussy eaters VERY ANNOYING but my parents are both fussy eaters and literally eat the same food every day, at the same time.  THIS would be a total deal breaker for me in a relationship but for them, it is just another thing that makes their relationship seem easy.  They both love their house and their yard and the same music, they are both homebodies, and seem perfectly content with their lifestyle. My love of home is a characteristic that I do get from them, but I also love to go out to dinner, or to dinner parties, or to try new things for dinner, or to meet new people at a dinner party or to chat up a couple at a bar, or go to a concert, or to…or to…or to…which is not at all like either of my parents.  We used to have a sign in our house, in the hallway, when I was a teenager that read, The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother, and even though I am going to be 53 years old this fall, I can tell you, it is probably the truest statement…the love that my parents have for each other is one of the greatest gifts they ever gave me…to be part of a loving family for all of my life, Yes, that is love.

 

Any day, or every day, is Mother’s Day

I have a friend who is grieving, her mother died three weeks ago.  I have many friends who have been missing their mothers for many years.  I live with a man who has missed his mother since he was only 15, and yet my father had his mother until he was 75.  Some of my friends miss their mothers with the rawness and ache now, years later, that they felt initially when their mothers died, it has not eased for them, the missing…It is a rare day for me to go 24 hours without talking to, or texting with, mine.  I know women who wanted to be mothers but couldn’t make it happen.  I know women who did not want to be mothers and were diligent to never let it happen.  I know women who had good, generous, loving mothers, and I know women who had cruel, harsh, and hard mothers.  I have known men who were, or are,  practically best friends with their mothers, and I have known men whose relationships with their mothers were minimal, or required formality at best. I know many women my age who are well aware that their time with their mothers is coming to an end, sooner rather than later…that’s a hard pill to swallow, the knowing, but we do all know that we do all die, sometime, someway… I didn’t want to be a mother, at the time it was happening to me, it’s painful to be honest, but nothing was “right” about any of it, but when I heard the words, “it’s a girl,’ it’s what I wanted most in the world…to be this girl’s mother.  It is still, all these decades later, one of the greatest joys of my life; knowing her, this woman, my neighbor, my daughter, my dearest one…

There are so many different kinds of mothers and ways in which they perform the job of mothering, and when you really think about it, we all just end up with the one we get…some have been very lucky and some have not.  I have heard stories over the years, as I know people who are teachers and nurses, about children who desperately needed a good mother, but didn’t have one.  I have also heard stories about mothers who are so good at the “job” that they should, or could, offer classes!  Not every woman who becomes a mother should be one, this is a fact that we all well know.  Some learn by doing from the first hour, their animal instinct kicks in, and some have learned by doing from the time they were ten and started babysitting, or had helped with a younger sibling.  Some women are cut out for it and some just find their way through it.  It is, just like as in life, different for everyone.

I don’t know one woman who is a good mother who has not exasperatedly wailed in wonder, “what did I get myself into?” and I don’t know one woman who is a good mother who has not looked upon the sleeping face of her child and sighed in gratitude, “what did I do to deserve this level of love?”  My heart hurts this time of year for those who are missing their mothers, or who wished to be mothers, or had bad ones…I am not any of these people.  I have a mom, I got to be a mom, and my mom and I navigated life pretty well and my daughter and I navigated life pretty well, and she is navigating life pretty well with her own girls…Like most “holidays” I think they are profit related, created for the economy, because a day like Mother’s Day is a bit silly…when you are one, you ARE ONE EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  When you have a good mother, you appreciate it for every single day of your life, and I suspect, if you’ve had a bad one you care not to think of her on mother’s day, or most days for that matter.

My mom and I disagree about a lot of things.  We agree about a lot of things too.  I think that finding the balance, as I always say, finding common ground, is how we best get through life now, now that she is a great-grandmother, their GG, and I am a Nana, as we watch my daughter start to manage the rough years, as we both remember all too well.  My daughter’s girls are soon to be 15 and 13; to keep loving them hard and raising them with love and rules, and yet letting them explore living and growing on their own, making their own mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions and their choices, picking them up and dusting them off when they stumble, oh it is so hard…the hardest bits of motherhood, as most any mother will tell you, are for my daughter, coming now…it is really hard to love a person so much when you don’t like a lot of things that they do, or that they say, but still we keep loving them, and if you are lucky, like we were…you end up someplace where there is an ease, as we have found in our own family…my mom and I get along quite well now, we don’t talk much about that which divides us and I focus on what I love about her, and she focuses on what she loves about me, and we try not to let the “other stuff” color our world too much.  My daughter is one of my favorite people and her daughters are the sunshine of my life.  Every day is mother’s day in our family because “mothering” is a ‘job’ that never gets a day off, never has a vacation, never has closed office hours, never too busy to be bothered, never not available…we are FOR EACH OTHER, for every minute of every day for the rest of our breaths.  That is just the way it is.  Mother’s Day is every single day when you love the women who are your women.

Out of my mind and also mindful

Some things have changed for EVERY single one of us, and EVERYthing has changed for some of us.  I have had so much on my mind since the end of February, and so much to say, but have tried to keep from going out of my mind and just tried to remain mindful.  I listened to doctors and government officials from China in January and I listened to doctors and government officials from Italy in February.  I listened for weeks as most of the whole world paid attention to what was happening on the planet, yet far from here and wondered, time after time, when “here” was going to pay attention.  I am a devoted listener to NPR and I contribute annually to WHYY in Philadelphia, my local NPR station, and count on BBC World News as one of my many sources of information.  I like facts and data and then try, very hard at times, to form my own opinion about the facts and the data that have been presented to me.  I formed many opinions in February about what seemed to be happening, and my significant other and I had many conversations about world news and world happenings over the many weeks before mid March.  And then in mid March everything changed.

Anyone who follows my blog, or read any of my writings back in 2016, knows full well how I feel about the current president and administration in the United States.  I am thankful that purple is my favorite color as I am a blue woman from a red family who lives in a red town in a blue state…my whole life seems to be filled with differences of opinion which is why, in general, and with the people to whom I am related in particular, I seldom talk about things that make me separate from the people I know.  A friend of mine wrote the other day, about the current president, “I hate him with the white hot hate of 1,000 burning suns” and that is a sufficient summation for me to share here.  I have neither the energy nor the interest in reiterating that which is already known…BUT what is unknown is “what now?”  Where do we go from here?  This place, this scenario, none of us wanted to be in, and yet are experiencing every day…what happens now is the question that makes me go both out of my mind and keeps me mindful every single day.

How much longer do I have to wait to wrap my arms around my granddaughters??  How much longer do I have to wait to sit at my dining room table and share a bottle of wine with my daughter??  How much longer do I have to wait to be on my yoga mat in the yoga studio that I love??  How much longer do I have to wait to share a meal at a table with our friends??  THESE are the questions that I have right now…but you know what keeps me mindful??  “How much longer will my husband be on the ventilator?”  “How many more days of half a meal a day do my kids have to have before I get my first unemployment check?”  “How high does my grandmother’s temperature have to get before she calls an ambulance?”  “How many days will my brother have to wait to see if his test comes back positive?” …those questions that OTHERS are asking…so many people are scared and so many people are suffering.  At present I am not one of them, and for that I feel both grateful and guilty.  EVERY day I say to myself, “if I had gotten my dream job in the prosecutor’s office back in the 90’s I would be unemployed now”  EVERY day I ask myself, ‘what would I do if I was a single waitress and had three school aged children’  …my effort to give thanks every day is grounded by the knowledge that I know people who have tested positive for this virus, and I know people who know people who have died from this virus, and I know people who are terrified about what the next weeks will be like because of all the changes in our work and social lives that have come to be from this virus.  AND EVERY day I wonder how it has come to be that the universe sees fit, thus far, that I have no suffering, no upset, and no worry from this virus…yet.

I tried to donate money multiple times to the NJ relief fund, during and after the concert on Wednesday and the web site and the phone lines were jammed up each time I tried, so I went to ACME instead and bought $100 worth of food that I am going to drop off to a local food bank on Monday morning.  I put together two days worth of breakfast/lunch/ and dinner for a family of four.  I feel like it is the least I could do, for somebody who is suffering when I am not suffering.  I ordered masks from my neighbor’s nephew in Baltimore who put his business on hold to make them.  I feel like it is the least I could do, for somebody who had to stop doing their job when I didn’t have to stop doing mine.  My daughter is a school teacher and her husband is a builder, her ex-husband is a mail carrier and his wife works for a law office, all four of them are still able to do their jobs, and get paid and feel that sense of security that so many, too many, have lost.  My parents and my aunt and uncle, all nearing age 80 and all retired and all so far healthy; the four closest members of my family are so far avoiding all of the worry that many older people have.  They may vote for republicans, which I hate, but they are not unwell, which I love.  I don’t know how I’ll feel later today about anything…I do know that right now how I feel is thankful, that so little in my life has changed, and I guess I just want to let the world know how sad I am, and mindful of that, while so many are going out of their minds with terrible uncertainty.  Many people have said and written, we are in this together, but we are not…some of us are inexplicably lucky and some of us are devastatingly suffering.  I guess mostly I just want to write that we should try, harder when necessary, to be kind to those who need it, because the truth is, tomorrow could change everything for every single one of us…