somehow i’d like to think of myself as anything but wilty. only i’d know it wasn’t so. i am. wilty. so is he. we are both wilty. not quite the same as the wilty kale we put out next to the garage for the mama bunny and bunbun, but most definitely wilty.
and so, as we drove away, with our cut-in-half halos for the off-trail “ammals” (thank you, jaxon, for this most-adorable non-wilty pronunciation), d said – in his i’m-enlightened-now-and-want-to-share-it voice, “that’s it!! they’d hire us if we weren’t so wilty!!!”
we laughed and he guffawed at his wit and utter sidesplitting jocularity and then we looked at each other – we neeeed to write that down!! so i grabbed my iphone and summoned siri, the great goddess of handless note-taking.
“what would you like it to say?” she politely asked. i answered and she dutifully jotted our note.
and then we looked at it.
“they’d hire us if we weren’t so wealthy,” she transcribed.
goddess-schmoddess. siri has her own unique wilty sense of humor.
on this day – ten years ago – i was in anticipation. after about six months of letters via email, we were about to meet in person. we talked about it over glasses of wine on bar stools in a real bistro last night.
i can remember wondering. what this guy – who i had virtually shared my days with – would be like. would he be sincere in person…would he be fun…would he be as easy to talk to side by side as he was in writing and, the big one, what he would look like, what i would see in his eyes. i had seen the tiniest of tiny photographs – a thumbprint size – and that was it. i was looking for a man in the great big baggage claim of o’hare airport who, in all likelihood, i would not recognize.
there he was, jeans, boots, black shirt, backpack, rollybag. i knew him right away.
it hasn’t been a piece-o-cake ten years. there have been roiling rapids in the river and hidden boulders of challenge. we have faced down storms and weather systems. we have had our share of loss. we have gone from truly-middle-middle-age to a-wee-past-middle-middle-age. our bodies show it. our priorities show it. we haven’t the shared luggage of a journey before this decade together; instead we have separate baggage of tens-of-years long before we met. we have learned the skills of listening to all these stories, to generously entertain redundancy, to compassionately help each other sort. we have learned the complexities of a middle-age relationship, for there are many. you arrive where you are and that is a little further down the road. we have learned that dancing in the kitchen is tantamount to happy-making. we have learned that cooking – together – is affirming and feeds us in more ways than we realized. we have learned that walking arm in arm – with a skip every now and again – centers us.
time will continue to fly by. our dogga will soon be ten and we all miss our babycat. together we have seen my sweet momma on to the next and we have seen his dad on. we have moved children and criss-crossed the country to see them. there will be loss and there will be elation. the ribbon we carry in our pocket ties us to gossamer reminders of each and of our capacity to adjust.
there are those of you out there – who are trying this all on for size. trying on middle-age relationship, trying on new relationship at any age. there are times that it may seem insurmountable, maybe even sooo-not-worth-it.
i wear one contact. in my left eye. though i can actually see distance, it helps me see cleeearly – you know, defines the lines a little bit more, makes all the signs crisp. my right eye – sans contact – sees up close. and somehow, for the most part, my brain figures this out.
so i can usually see. most stuff.
but there are times. and – even with the great squint – the greatest squinty squint – i can’t read. like the ingredients on the bbq sauce at the grocery store or the directions for use on the new cleaning product. or the dang menu. in the tiniest font ever is printed all the potential meals we could ever desire…if only we could read them.
there’s always a pair of readers – the cheap kind that came from the dollar-and-a-quarter-store-that-used-to-be-the-dollar-store (does ANYthing EVER stay the same???). but they could be 1.25s. or maybe 1.5s. and there are fonts out there in the world that require flippin’ 2.5s. i know you can relate.
we have this clay bowl in our sunroom. in it are about thirteen pairs of readers. a baker’s dozen. and we have readers tucked into the side doors of littlebabyscion and big red. and we have readers right outside the kitchen hanging on the same hook as the key basket. and we have readers upstairs on the drafting table in the office. and there are readers – yes, yes – next to the bed.
we went into a newly revamped shop in our town a few days ago. lovely. so many nice products. and the proverbial rounder – the one with all the fancypants readers. they are cute-cute-cute!! i was tempted to try some on. but instead, i passed by. $24.99 was pricier than readers-to-add-to-the-bowl can be for me.
besides, i kind of think menus should come with readers attached. or maybe a magnifying glass. a little less ego-bruising.
this is david’s year. the year that his grass (aka our grass) might – just might – even a tad – a smidge – a skosh – a teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini-bit – look like dan’s.
dan is The GrassKing. his lawn is manicured and beautiful. it feels lovely beneath your feet and, crosshatch-cut, looks lovely as well. tidy and healthy and green – all the things all those brochures tout – the ones that arrive in our mailbox, tucked into our front door, rubberbanded onto the doorknob of the screen, stuffed under the welcome mat. there are many-many-many companies out there that believe we need their help.
we don’t need their help.
we just need dan.
and so, we wait for instructions. he swings by to examine our poor front yard, post-demolition by the company that eradicated the lead water pipes and everything else in its excavation. he texts, “looks pretty good.” we breathe a sigh. luckily, he also texts, “call me.” he is our grass-hero and we love him for it.
you might think that you know all the special devices and products for lawncare. all kinds of spreaders and seeders and sprinklers and milorganite mixes and shade/sun helpers and weed and feed and lawnmowers and edgers. goodness!
the one thing you might not be aware of? the meat thermometer.
the soil must be exactly right for overseeding. and the only way to know is to set those grilling steaks aside.
with plates spinning, spinning, spinning – all up in the air at once – women carry on, living in many parallel planes, doing life. i had an email conversation with a young woman yesterday who has a 15 year old, a 5 year old and a 1 year old. she was taking them to school – high school, elementary school, daycare – meeting many distinctly different needs, not to mention her own getting-ready and go-to-work necessities. she wrote that by the time she gets them all where they are supposed to be – first thing in the morning – she is already exhausted. she also wrote that she requires little sleep.
i remember writing albums and talking to retail outlets and concert venues and packing boxes of cds and practicing and doing laundry and reading golden books on the rug and playing barbies or matchbox cars and making grilled cheese sandwiches and grocery shopping and planning birthday parties and holiday shopping and overseeing homework and whipping up paper mache and washing the floor and running children to lessons or soccer or baseball or cross country or ballet and….
d is singularly focused. he pokes fun at me being “circular”. uh-huh. it’s called multi-tasking, my dear.
it would not surprise me in the least to leave him drawing at his drafting table for several hours and to come back to find him still there with little to no awareness that i had left. it must be a guy thing.
“i won the lottery,” i tease him, this artist poised over his work. “the big one. zillions.”
it’s a no-win. the classic rock-and-a-hard-place. a lose-lose. a pickle. a crunch. a conundrum. a double-bind. a dilemma.
yup. there is no truly right response here for that man.
i have learned to preface things i talk about – for instance, “i just want to tell you this. i want to go on and on. i want to _________ (choose: rant/think/ponder/ruminate) aloud. please do not try to solve this. please just listen.”
but sometimes, yes, indeedy, sometimes i just talk. with no preface. and then, in the way of conversation, especially in the middle of the night pillow-talking, he talks after i talk. and – whammo! – that’s where he makes his mistake.
we each have our strengths. and, on the flip side, we each have our weaknesses. i am a detail person. he is a big picture person. sometimes that equates to a lovely full-length view of the world. sometimes it’s a total pain in the ass.
most of the time david is kind of mushy, endearingly compassionate and not all male-blustery-like. this is a good thing. we tend to be on the same page a lot – until we are not. and then, those are the moments the dog senses that his best laying-down-spot is in the bathroom. we aren’t really yellers, but, since our dog is as empathic as we are, he just knows that our tone is changing and someone is miffed and he is going to get out of the way. soon, he checks back in to see how things are going and is generally relieved when – even before leaving – we turn to him in miff-middle and reassure him, “it’s ok, dogga,” anticipating his departure.
there have been a few times that d has done the guy thing…you know, the well-it’s-not-working-for-you-so-let-me-do-it. i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that it is royally annoying. i also wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that i feel total vindication when the whatever-it-was-that-wasn’t-working doesn’t work for him either. empowering. somehow i think you know what i’m talking about.
it’s in those exact moments – either way – on either side of the miffmobile – we all need to remember it’s good to laugh.
he’s the lock screen on my phone. that babycat. every morning i tell him “good morning”. every morning, still, i get a pang looking at his green eyes and the white stripe on his black-fur-face. he is sooo missed.
i made the bed the other day and found tiny white hairs scattered on the comforter. it made me wonder if he had stopped by. i know dogga misses him too, and babycat was dedicated to his dog, so maybe he did come by, just to reassure him.
these pets of ours. vital parts of our hearts, they enhance life, entertaining us, grounding us, loving us unconditionally.
as empty-nesters they are what receive our daily attention, our daily nurturing, our daily worrying. their absence is profound. though gigantic statement of love, it is a great loss felt each day when a furred member of our family is gone.
i would like to believe that babycat is somehow still around. i’d like to believe that he knows – that he’s still adored, that we pine for him, that dogdog sometimes still seems to be waiting for his return. that his life – absolutely – changed mine and, for that, i will evermore be grateful.
lusting over brochures is kind of my thing. there is nothing quite like the dreamy four-color-magazine-quality-glossy-coated-silk-card-stock intrigue that beckons me, inviting imaginative adventure and exploring. a good brochure will take you there, place you there, let you sink in and never want to leave. i am clearly the targeted recipient of their magic. and i am – ahem – a collector.
like my relationship with catalogs, i can immerse in the story of the place, the action…it’s deeply satisfying.
sometimes we stop at the welcome center and i load up with all the possibilities of our destination, never to crack them open. it’s like having a treasure chest, knowing you have the treasure chest, not-knowing what’s in the treasure chest but knowing it’s enough you have it. a back pocket full of shiny coins, should you need them.
and sometimes we stop at the welcome center and i find something in a brochure that will not let go. i wonder and ponder and strategize and scheme how to get there, how to experience it, how to afford it. i’m a little overwhelmed by the draw of whatever the thing/place/action is, but i know the likelihood of it is relatively dim.
we clicked on an article on the-island-phone the other day. like shiny card stock, it beautifully featured a resort in utah: amangiri. there was nothing about this resort that wasn’t stunning.
i’ve never stayed in a resort, nonetheless one where your pillow-piled-down-comfortered-bed was out under the stars in the desert, your space open to remote canyonlands of red rock. my breathing got more rapid as i showed david. i clicked on “make a reservation”.
$12,000 a night.
deeper reservation diving revealed a range of pricing, verbose reviews, glamorous indeed, this place.
a little fancy.
clearly we won’t be staying there.
but, in the way that catalogs and brochures also function for me, i saved it and looked at it a few more times. i’ll probably glance a time or two more at this wildly expensive place to stay. and then i’ll delete it. because, by then, i’ll be satisfied.
and besides, the tiny blue airbnb house on one of the side streets in the mountain town in north carolina is also magical. it will afford us a chance to unplug, to hike unfamiliar trails, to cook and eat out on the front porch watching traffic go by, to immerse in a new place, a getaway.
we do love to read together. we’ve hiked the appalachian trail, the salt path, treacherous trails in iceland. we’ve read deeply moving novels like the shack, the best of us, factual accounts like 102 minutes, the 33….. we read mary oliver and rumi and john o’donohue and the book of joy and lyrics of songs and pablo neruda. it’s actually pretty magical to read aloud to each other.
romantic poetry is the stuff of friday night date nights. we haven’t read poetry on a friday night lately, but it sure sounds like a good plan – a fire out back, the gurgling pond, a fan gently keeping the pesky mosquitoes at bay, a glass of wine, a book of poetry and an itty-bitty-book-light to illuminate the pages.
our newest pablo neruda book asks questions – in spanish and in english. it is my preference to read them to david in spanish (neither of us having had any spanish instruction). we stare at each other – no, no, gaze adoringly at each other – and he tries to sort out what i asked. eventually, i give in and read the question in english. there are no answers in the book. only questions. and they are truly sink-your-teeth-into-them questions. we ponder and pull on them like taffy.
maybe tonight. a saturday night date night. glass of wine. firepit (though it will be about 80 degrees). if the lights strung across the yard aren’t enough, the itty-bitty will be nearby. and we will read delicious words of love and promises of bluebells and dark hazels. i won’t expect the bluebells or the dark hazels or gifts to be bestowed at the door, arriving through david’s remarkable ability to order them via AI or siri sending them as we read aloud (which may not be far from reality some day). unexpected gifts are rare these days, for many reasons. as we go through and declutter and clear out, we see we need little.
because, truth is, the sitting together is actually the gift.