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.
there is often a need to step away – these days. for us, that mostly means a hike at the end of the day or a longer hike on the weekends. sometimes it means getting in littlebabyscion and just driving.
we are a little limited by lake michigan – we cannot mosey east from here. but we can mosey north and south and west.
mostly, we go west. a little north or south thrown in for good measure and to shake it all up a bit, but west. east would mean up and over the u.p. or down and around – through gary, indiana – which is no one’s idea of a good mosey. so. west.
it doesn’t take much for us to decide. our days are filled with trying to sort to optimism, to wishing wishes and dreaming dreams. we work on finding ways and places we can contribute all we have learned and worked at in these last decades. sometimes that is easier said than done. and so, there is often a need to step away, yup.
the wander women – amazing and truly inspiring thru-hikers – have a QR code on their youtube channel. when you point your phone camera at it, it brings you to a place where, in multiples of $5, you can express appreciation, channel sisu, buy them a cup of coffee (or multiple cups, for that matter).
it’s been suggested manyatime to us that maybe we should have a QR code. our very own. i know that we are pretty verbose – lotsa words – maybe more words than anyone wants to read, but you can pick and choose, like from those overburdened menus at tgif’s. but they’ve encouraged us, adding very generous words like “we love to read your posts” or “this would be a way we could say thank you for something that touches us”. their thoughts – QR trail magic – we could use it for coffee or maybe a glass of apothic or…if you wish, it could be thought of as gifting us with miles. miles of thru-hiking middle age. and so anytime we just needed to step away – go find zen in the country outaways west from our home – we could use those miles. to keep going and going and going, thanks to you and you and you.
and then, we could maybe – just maybe – stop and get a coffee or a piece of flourless chocolate cake on our way. if coffee and flourless chocolate cake and red silos and gravel roads don’t help, nothing will.
and so, with the pompoms of people we are grateful for, our QR code is born. we’re gonna name himherthem “qrky”.
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.”
we grocery shop at woodman’s. on purpose. charlie says that – even years ago when he shopped there – he figured out that every third time his shopping was essentially free (as compared to other stores). i would tend to agree. they do have the best prices.
but we don’t buy everything there. we do, however, buy many plant-based and gluten-free foods there and all our non-perishables there and all our paper goods there and all our pet supplies there and all our drinks there and our wine there and and and….
even so, i checked out the other day – with nary a gargantuan list anywhere around – and noted the total: $196. 68. whattheheck??!!! this was not a big shop!!! it wasn’t like we had groceries for now till kingdom-come, as my sweet momma used to say. goodness!
every single thing we purchased had gone up. 20 cents, 50 cents, a dollar, two dollars. every single thing. in each case this was as much as a 20-30% hike in price. it was disturbing. this has happened each time we have shopped. i mean, black beans used to be 99 cents. they are now $1.19. garbanzo beans used to be 99 cents. they are now $1.29. that’s a thirty percent increase! the olive oil increase was off the charts and the gluten free pasta $2.39 from $1.99. in even bigger news, the laundry detergent isn’t even available in the larger – more economical – container.
we have noticed.
and we are worried. if things keep escalating at this rate, we will be out-priced at the grocery store. it is shocking.
we got our gas/electric bill the other day. we used significantly less natural gas and electric, yet our bill went up $45. monthly! that’s not even to mention healthcare, internet and cable, cellphones, insurance, vehicle expenses, real estate taxes…
we are really really good at stretching…meals, leftovers, budgets. we are really good at wearing layers and keeping the thermostat down, way down. but there comes a point when we look at each other and say, “what if?”
quiet guitar, a little flute, an oboe line weaving in and out.
i know – without a doubt – that they are trying to keep me calm while on hold. having just gotten off the phone with a billing department, it is not a far reach for me to imagine one falling fast asleep during this interminable period of time. the age of technology and customer service have taken a turn to the worse if they are programming music specifically to slow down our rapidly-beating hearts and blood pressure when we call.
from a personal standpoint, were i to be accessing this music – this particular track – through a mindful practice app or a guided imagery site, it would be pretty helpful. but the use of background music on loop – a composer’s nightmare – to soothe my billingbrain is trying.
and then there was this moment i had on hold one day when i called an insurance company. paperwork strewn in front of me, pencil and notebook at the ready, a list of questions in my head, i was ready to take them on. i was instantly put on hold the moment i selected “speak to a representative”.
the music started.
piano, strings, a cello line weaving in and out…
it did take my mind off the insurance debacle.
instead, i just kept wondering if they were paying royalties.
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.