So much to do, so little time

I have got to make the most of my day off today. I’ve still got a little bit of shopping to do, I’ve got presents to wrap, cookies to bake (or at least make the dough so Kacey can make them… Yeah. .. That’s a good idea… Kacey loves to bake.)

Remember me last year at this time?…

IMG_5980 by you.

Don’t expect any of that this year. Of course I say that now but in a few days I’ll be complaining because I stayed up past my bed time baking Christmas cookies. You just wait.

Brad comes home on Friday (YAY!) and on Sunday we’ll be hosting my family Christmas celebration. It’s just not the same with my parents in Arizona and my sister and her family in Illinois, but it’s still fun to spend time with my brothers and their families. We got the neice and nephews some pretty cool gifts so I’m looking forward to watching the excitement as they open their presents. I’m going to make a big pot of cheesy wildrice soup and I’m going to try some of Beej’s pepperoni bread too. (Beej was kind enough to share her recipe with me. Thanks Beej!) We’ll just have a smorgasbord of hors doevres and things and eat until we’re too full to move.

It’s been hideously cold and snowing off and on since last Sunday. But first it had to rain all day Sunday so we could get a nice sheet of ice underneath our snow. Temperatures have been below zero and driving anywhere requires at least doubling the drive time. We’re finally starting to head in a warmer direction today. It was one degree when I woke up but there was no windchill so I went for a run. Can you believe it? I just had to. I hadn’t run since Saturday and I’ve reached the point where I’m almost afraid of falling out of the running habit. I put on an extra layer of clothing and actually wore a hat. (You know it’s cold when I wear a hat. Usually it’s just one of those ear bands.) I feel like my head is back in order and I’m ready to get on with the day. Wish me luck and productivity!

Rude Awakening – Part IV

This very long story begins with part I, here

And continues with part II, here

And then on to part III, here. (But if you want to read part III, you need to request a password here) before catching up to the fourth and final installment which is where we are now…

*****

In the spring of 1986, my sister’s wedding preparations were being finalized as she and my future brother-in-law looked forward to their big day on June 14th. I had managed to get through my first year of college and was relieved to be on break from classes. Ben and I had weathered yet another tumultuous year of our unhealthy relationship, but we were, at that time, experiencing a period of calm.

The day of the wedding arrived and it was perfect. The temperature was comfortably warm, the sky was clear and the sun shone brilliantly. I had a gorgeous, red, off-the-shoulder dress to wear and I felt like a princess that day. As a member of the bridal party, I was immersed in all the happy chaos that took place as we neared the time of the ceremony. I was relaxed and having fun, chatting and laughing with the others as the photographer posed us for picture after picture. Ben hung out in the church, waiting patiently and watching the goings on with mild curiosity.

The wedding was picture perfect and afterwards there were more photos for the wedding party. We took a trip down to Stillwater, Minnesota; a historic tourist hot spot that showed off the St. Croix River as a backdrop.

Finally the formal photos were completed and the wedding party strolled to one of the many bars in Stillwater for a celebratory drink before heading back to town for the reception where Ben had been hanging out with my brothers and waiting patiently for me. I was happy for my sister and enjoying being among family and friends for such a special occasion. Ben and I were on the same page for a change and I looked forward to enjoying an evening with him, without strain. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so content and at ease.

After dinner was served to all of the guests, the band began to play. We watched my sister and her new husband dance their first dance as husband and wife. As that first dance came to an end, the band rolled right into another song and invited the bridal party to come join the bride and groom on the dance floor before the dancing would be opened up to the rest of the guests. Each member of the bridal party paired up with their partner from the wedding ceremony. My partner, my brother-in-law’s younger brother met me on the dance floor and we danced along with all the others. My sister and her new husband looked so happy together and I wondered if Ben and I would ever arrive at that same place in life.

Soon the song came to an end and all of the guests were invited to come and celebrate with the happy couple. I thanked my partner for the dance and went in search of Ben to invite him to come enjoy the music and dance with me. When I arrived back at the table where he was sitting, I could see that his face had turned to stone in the time that I had been away.

“What’s the matter,” I asked him, frustrated and worried all at the same time. I didn’t want our issues to surface on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my sister’s life. It was one thing for him to mess with me, but I’d be damned if he was going to make a scene on her day.

“You were dancing with another guy,” he sulked. He had a way of pouting and a habit of refusing to be brought out of it once the mood had set in.

I tried to explain to him. “Ben, it’s a tradition for there to be a wedding party dance. You heard the leader of the band say it. You saw the rest of the wedding party dancing with each other. It’s all a part of the tradition. It doesn’t mean anything!”

“Well, I didn’t like it,” he continued to sulk, glaring sideways at me.

One too many times I had tried, unsuccessfully to pull Ben out of one of his moods. I knew exactly where we were headed and any other time I would have allowed myself to get sucked in. Any other time I would have foolishly believed that this would be the time it would be different. This would be the time I would figure out how to head off the anger and resentment. But on that day something snapped. I had no more energy for this losing battle that Ben and I constantly engaged in.

“Let’s go outside,” I suggested.

Ben followed me, his mouth a tight line across his face. When we stepped outside the reception hall, he stood in front of me in silent anger.

“I don’t want to do this tonight,” I said.

“Maybe I should just leave then,” he retorted.

“Maybe you should.” He glared at me for a moment, looking for some sign of surrender, but I gave him nothing.

“Fine. I’m going then,” he huffed and stomped off to his car. I watched him go, and then pulled the door to the hall open and returned to the reception, determined not to let this ruin my night. I forced myself to forget about Ben for the evening and spent my time socializing with relatives and friends of the family. More than once, my brother-in-law’s brother came and invited me to come dance with him. I was thinking about nothing but enjoying each moment. We talked and laughed, had a few drinks and enjoyed each others’ company.

During one dance, Howie, a friend of the groom’s family walked past as my partner and I were dancing and stopped. He looked at my partner and suggested, “You two look good together. You should take her out on a date.”

My partner looked a little embarrassed, but agreed, “We should go out some time. Do you want to maybe go out to dinner with me?”

“I think I’d like that,” I smiled and he smiled back at me.

The wedding reception came to an end all too soon. In the days that followed, I went about my business. I thought about calling Ben and trying to talk with him about what had transpired between us but I was just tired of it all. I didn’t plan on ignoring him forever, but as each day went by I had less and less desire to get in touch with him. Finally, after three days had passed, he called me.

“So are you still mad at me,” he asked?

“You know, I think I’m just tired of the whole routine,” I told him. “I just don’t think I want to do this any more.”

He was shocked. He wasn’t used to me taking a stand. He was used to having me cajole him out of his moods. He was used to me thinking I couldn’t live without him. He was accustomed to me walking on eggshells and doing whatever it took to try to make him happy for whatever short amount of time I could achieve it. This… this new found strength in me… he didn’t know what to do with it.

Suddenly he was remorseful. “I just thought you’d be mad for a few days and get over it like you usually do. I’m sorry. Don’t be mad,” he pleaded.

“I can’t do it anymore, Ben. I’m done.”

It was the hardest conversation I’d ever had in my life but I’d never felt more full of hope, never seen so much promise in the future as I did at that moment. It hurt like hell but I’d never been more confident that I’d done the right thing than at that moment.

The weeks that followed were a  roller coaster of emotion. Ben hadn’t taken the break-up lying down. I had changed my role in our relationship and he was no longer sure of his own. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He made a few visits to me at work and spit words at me in anger. He called and begged me to reconsider, but I stood my ground. His friends even caught up with me to report that Ben had made a (mostly for show) suicide attempt and had spent a night in jail after being confronted by a police officer and taking a swing at him. These facts were presented to me in the hopes that I would take Ben back and make it all better again. But somehow I knew that if I tried to rescue him, I would only lose myself in the process. It was over for good.

Ben’s life did go on. Ironically enough, I never saw him again after those first weeks after our break-up. I didn’t stay in touch with any of his friends and didn’t know what might have happened to him. A few years ago, I saw his mother’s obituary in the local newspaper. I didn’t go to her wake or funeral. It just didn’t seem right, but I wondered about him at that time. Even more recently, a good friend of mine who had known me during the “Ben years” asked me what Ben’s last name was. I reminded her and asked what made her think of him.

“His wife runs a daycare and takes care of my sister’s baby,” she told me. It seems he was living in the city right next to the one where I live. How ironic. But I smiled at the news. So… he could live without me after all!

As for me, the months following my sister’s wedding were spent forging a new relationship with my brother-in-law’s brother. We got along great and I learned what it was like to exist in a give and take relationship. We had a great time for a few months and truly enjoyed each others’ company until the inevitable happened.

*

*

*

He asked me to marry him and we lived happily ever after.

The End!

Password

If you’d like to read Rude Awakening III, please leave a comment here and I’ll email you the password asap. Sorry, I know it’s kind of a pain, but there are some things my kids don’t need to learn about me from my blog.

Rude Awakening – Part II

(Part I can be found here.)

As soon as possible after Ben asked me to hang out with him I called Kendra to find out for certain what, if anything, was the status of their relationship.

“Do you like him?”

“Noooo,” she said with that “what are you thinking” tone of voice. “We’re just friends. Besides, I like Steve.” Steve was the younger brother of Kendra’s brother’s college roommate. That’s how we did things back then. We just chose someone to like and pursued him. Sometimes things worked out, sometimes they didn’t. Kendra was a lot better and more experienced at the game than I was. I wasn’t surprised by her admission at all.  

So, ok then! I wasn’t stepping on any toes by becoming friends with Ben and for the next several weeks he, Kendra and I were like the three musketeers. Ben would pick us up in his old, brown Chevy Nova and we’d just cruise around, hang out at the mall or go eat at one of the many fast food places over on Suburban Avenue which was sort of our “strip” back then. Ben had a mischievous side to his personality and he was always telling tales of his escapades with his buddies and flashing his grin. His smile was wide and was innocent and devious all at the same time. He had a habit of ducking his chin and looking up at me from under his reddish-blond hair when he smiled. Nothing seemed to intimidate or embarrass him and I felt more free than I ever had when I was around him. At that age, I was extremely shy, totally insecure and constantly worried what other people thought. Spending time with Ben allowed me to relax and let loose a little myself. I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me because I was accepted by Ben and that’s all that seemed to matter. He was good looking, muscular and self confident. I loved being friends with him.

It wasn’t long before Kendra and Steve were officially dating. The two of them were spending more time together and she was spending less time with Ben and me. It felt a little strange to me to be just friends with Ben, but he helped fill the void left in Kendra’s more frequent absences. My friends to this point were only girls, but I was having fun and just going with the flow. Ben hadn’t been lying when he said he and Larry weren’t really very good friends. He introduced me to his circle of friends and it didn’t include Larry. How Ben ended up on that double date the first night I was with Larry, I’ll never know.

Ben began spending time at my house after his football practices and was comfortable just watching t.v. with my brothers and me in the evenings. When I had to work at the bakery, he’d stop in to see me and talk with me while the slow afternoon hours passed. My parents loved him right off the bat. He was very charming and put everyone at ease. We were becoming known as a pair. Terri and Ben. Wherever one was, the other was likely to be found.

Once in a while Ben and I would do things with Kendra and Steve. Things were getting serious between those two and I missed hanging out with her, so we did things as a group. I remember going go-karting and Ben breaking the track rules. He bumped Kendra’s car with his and made her spin out. We laughed uncontrollably while the guy in charge chewed Ben out. Nothing seemed to bother him. Even while being kicked off the track, he looked at me with that mischievous grin and strolled off without a care. Since Ben was no longer welcome on the go-kart track, we headed off for some fast food. Ben parked his car in the parking lot of the restaurant and after we all piled out, announced we were going to order from the drive-thru. I looked at him, and then at the parked car, confused. That’s when he motioned for me to jump up on his back. Kendra and Steve followed suit and we girls rode piggyback on the guys through the drive-thru. I couldn’t stop laughing as the employee at the window impatiently explained that the drive-thru was for CARS, not pedestrians! Without Ben, I would never in a million years pull a stupid stunt like that, but with him everything was an adventure.

It seemed like whenever Ben wasn’t working at his job at the service station, whenever he wasn’t at football practice or one of his games, he was hanging out with me. We were growing closer and he would show signs of affection, like putting his arm across my shoulders and he had taken to calling me “Buddy.” I was Ben’s buddy and he was mine. He was getting to know me and my family pretty well, but I realized I knew very little of him. He had mentioned his two younger sisters a couple of times and I knew his parents were divorced, but that’s about all I knew. I started asking questions and he started to open up to me more. Finally, he brought me to his home.

Ben lived with his dad in a two bedroom apartment about five miles from where I lived. It was very sparse. There was nothing on the walls. No school pictures of Ben and no family pictures anywhere. There were no prints to brighten any room and the furniture was minimal. There were no curtains on the windows; only shades. The kitchen was narrow and opened to a tiny dining area with a small table and just two chairs. The dining area was open to the living room which held only a couch, a chair and a television on a small stand. Even Ben’s bedroom didn’t seem typical of an average teenager. There was a twin bed which was never made up in all the years I knew him. There was an old, worn-out desk and a dresser. There was nothing on the walls other than a calendar above the desk. There were a few items of clothing strewn about the floor but there was nothing to make it seem personal.

I felt strange being in Ben’s bedroom. It was so different from my own which was plastered with posters of my favorite music artists and movie stars. My room was cluttered with books and school pennants, lip glosses, stuffed animals, clothing and make-up. Ben’s looked like nothing more than a place to sleep at night. Even the clothing in his closet was minimal.

I don’t think I fully grasped it at the time, but Ben’s family was poor. Ben’s dad provided him the basic necessities like personal hygiene products, food (he survived on hot dogs and baked potatoes) and school supplies. I think if  Ben needed clothing, he had to buy it with his own money. The fact that he bought his own clothes wasn’t odd to me. I was in the same position. Being a boy, clothing wasn’t high on Ben’s priority list like it was mine. He had a few basic items and made do with what he had.

Ben’s parents had divorced years before. He had two sisters, one eleven months younger than him and another a couple years younger. Lori and Barb lived with Ben’s mom in an old duplex about 10 miles away, in the inner city. The duplex was old and somewhat run down. It was not in a good neighborhood, but it definitely had more of a homey feeling than the apartment where Ben lived.

I wondered why Ben lived with his dad and his sisters with his mom. I asked him and he told me, “When I was ten years old my mom told me I was too much trouble. She didn’t want me anymore. She wanted my sisters but she didn’t want me.” He stated it as a matter of fact. He didn’t seem resentful. As much as that fact must have hurt deep down inside, he just seemed to accept it. I later came to realize that Ben’s mom was a serious alcoholic and that her problems negatively affected all of the kids in various ways.  I’m sure that the alcoholism contributed to the sense of neediness I would later come to know in Ben.

I’m surprised at the little things I’ve begun to remember about my relationship with Ben, but as much as I’ve wracked my brain, for the life of me I can’t remember the exact moment when we crossed over the bridge from friendship to something more. I can still almost remember what he smelled like. I can picture his long fingers and how his skin was always slightly dry. I can see the way his face would light up when he would come pick me up from work and I stepped into his car. I can hear the affection in his voice in the way he took to simply calling me “Buddy.” I remember that I had no intentions of being Ben’s girlfriend, but in the early winter of that year, something changed between us. It wasn’t so much a joint decision as it was a change in him. I was surprised at the change and not at all sure what my feelings for him were. I just followed his lead. It seemed like all my friends were dating someone and I figured I might as well give this a try. I had no idea how I was supposed to feel, but I was sure some sort of certainty would come with time.

During those early days of our new relationship, we found ourselves in Ben’s bedroom more often. His dad expressed no opposition even though most parents I knew would have made the bedroom off limits to a teenage boy and girl. We would lie on the bed with our legs intertwined, arms wrapped around each other and kissing for what seemed like hours. I was feeling things I’d never felt before and thought I might be in love. My friends were doing things with their boyfriends that Catholic girls like us knew they shouldn’t be doing  so when Ben started pushing me for more than just kissing, I wasn’t surprised but I wasn’t ready and told him so. He seemed slightly frustrated but he respected my feelings for the time being.

Beautiful Saturday

It was a gorgeous thirty-one degrees when I got up at six o’clock today. Thirty one is perfect for a run and a welcome change from the two degree start we had yesterday. My run was peaceful and quiet. Early mornings are definitely the best time for me to run and I both cleared my head and did a lot of thinking.

I thought about how drastically my outlook about work was able to change in the span of just a few short minutes yesterday. There was an all-company meeting announced yesterday. We were only given about thirty minutes notice and my heart sank when I saw the meeting invitation. I’m sure everyone else’s did too. We have been living in fear of what comes next. Many of us were thinking layoffs, but the meeting turned out to be good news. My company has always risen above the norm and taken phenomenally good care of its employees. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the news was enough to create a buoyant atmosphere around the office yesterday afternoon.

The other thing I thought about while running was how to continue the Rude Awakenings story I began a couple days ago. Writing the portion that I did seems to have opened up the floodgates of memories from that time of my life and I’m thinking there will be at least a couple more parts (or one very long continuation!) I was trying to figure out if some details would be better left unsaid when I discovered WordPress offers the option to password protect a post. If I understand it correctly, anyone who wants to read it would have to request the password to login and read. I’ll have to find out more about how that works and I may take advantage of that option for some of the story.

I am still doing a lot of reading about writing and still bouncing back and forth between believing I could be serious about writing and believing I’m being ridiculous to think I could make such a leap at this point in my life. Yesterday I began reading yet another book. It’s called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. In the first chapter, the author explains how she feels we are all born creative, imaginative and talented. Unfortunately, that drive to fuel our creativity is stomped out at an early age by the criticisms of everyone around us. Well meaning teachers and parents, mean spirited siblings and peers have the ability to snuff out our creativity and most of us just let it go and move on. BUT…If we really and truly want to write (or dance or sing or paint or build a bridge or be a photographer…) we have to find that creativity inside ourselves again and set it loose like we were able to when we were young and uninhibited. All of my insecurities were erased by a particular passage from the beginning of chapter two.

(William) Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.

That passage made me realize that no matter how old, no matter how insecure we might be, when we find that thing that we feel passionate about… even if we are in our forties and only for the first time realizing a deep and driven passion for something… then nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s silly. It doesn’t matter if that passion ever brings profit. We should just do it because we love it and that’s all. Any other benefit that arises from that passion is just that. A bonus. I no longer feel pressured to do something “expected” because I announced that I love to write. If I end up writing something significant, so be it. If what I write turns out to be only what I write here on this blog, then so be it. The only important thing is that I’m doing something I love.

And with that, I’m off to shower and get on with this beautiful day…

Life is Good – December 12, 2008

It doesn’t always seem that life is good. Sometimes it’s hard to find the good when on a daily basis we are assaulted with bad news. It feels like we’ll never see the end of this staggering economy. There have been so many job cuts and so many people left to worry about how to continue providing for a family on a day to day basis.

Crime is never-ending. Our society can seem so callous and cold at times. People are insensitive, thinking only of their own needs and considering no one else. We live in a world that seems rampant with destruction, greed and selfishness.

Our loved ones suffer with illness and disease. They are often taken from us much too soon. There is too much pain and hurt. And it can be easy to want to admit defeat.

Too often, it can be difficult for me to see anything but the pain and frustration of the world. It becomes overwhelming. Sometimes I just want to crawl inside of myself and quit trying to deal with this awful and unfair place. Why bother caring? Where does it get you?

Other times, this time of year especially, I see evidence of hope. It’s hard not to notice people reaching out to those in need. We are given so much opportunity to share our abundance with those who don’t have enough. Even online, people are reaching out to one another. So often, those that we call friends here on the internet are people we have never actually met in person. Yet I see people reaching out, taking charge, inviting others to extend a helping hand and doing what is in their power to make life a little easier for one of  their blog friends who is down on their luck.

It astounds me and it gives me hope. My perspective shifts for the better and once again, I remember, life is what you make of it. And life IS good.

Rude Awakening

I have to give credit to MTAE for getting me thinking about the following events. Unintentionally, this post seems to have come out in his style of writing.

At sixteen years old I had my first job in a family owned bakery. The bakery was located in a little strip mall that had been the height of shopping luxury in its day. By the time I began working there, real malls had made an appearance and our customers consisted mainly of loyal old timers and those who lived within walking distance. The bakery owners, a husband and wife team, started their days somewhere around 4:00 am, so by the time us high school girls came in for the afternoon shift, they were long gone for the day and we were usually left in charge of the place.

Two doors down from the bakery was the grocery store. The grocery store employed several high school boys who were paid to collect carts from the store parking lot. We would spy on them from the front windows of the bakery as they did their work and they were prone to spending their breaks inside the bakery, mooching free donuts and flirting. This is how I first met Larry.

Actually, I knew of Larry long before our paths crossed at the bakery. I had noticed him a few times in church, sitting with his family in the pew ahead of the one my family always sat in. Larry and I never attended the same schools so I never really knew him. I just knew who he was and stared at the back of his head on those occasions his family came to church.

The more I saw Larry at work, the more I looked forward to seeing him. I began to develop a “thing” for him. I had had a couple of boyfriends by this point in my life, but nothing serious and I was too insecure to flirt with him much. So my best friend, Kendra, (who worked at the bakery too) made it a point to tell Larry about my crush. After Kendra’s revelation, Larry’s bakery visits grew more regular and soon he asked me out on a date.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but the date became a double date. Kendra joined us and so did Larry’s friend, Ben. We all went to the Majestic ballroom where the Rockin’ Hollywoods were playing. The Rockin’ Hollywoods were an energetic band that played fifties music and they were local celebrities at that time.

We were underage, but even though alcohol was served there, the Majestic allowed everyone in. One half of the room held the bar and only those of legal drinking age could sit on that side of the room. Everyone who was too young to drink sat on the other side, but everyone danced. The music was loud and fast and I remember laughing and having a great time. I danced all night with Larry while Kendra and Ben danced nearby. I kept an eye on Kendra, making sure she was enjoying her date with Ben and they seemed to have hit it off. When a fast song ended and a slow one began, Larry pulled me up against him and I felt my head spin. I was vaguely aware of Kendra and Ben dancing at a more respectable distance from each other, but Larry was gazing into my eyes and it was suddenly hard to breathe. His arms were wrapped around me and he held my body tight against his. I felt my heart racing. The next thing I knew we were standing on the dance floor kissing. When the song came to an end, the band moved right into another fast one but Larry and I were still wrapped around each other, still kissing and oblivious to anything else.

When we finally pulled apart and made our way back to the table, Kendra and Ben teased us, but I didn’t care. Larry’s arm stayed wrapped around me the rest of the night and I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe I was out with him. He was so nice, so CUTE, so confident and he made me feel incredible. I didn’t want the night to end, but of course it eventually had to. When Larry dropped me off at home late that night, he asked if he could see me the next night and I was elated. Of course I said yes.

The following night, Larry picked me up and took me back to his house. Several of his friends were there, as was Ben. It was a mellow evening and I don’t remember much of the events of that night except that Larry’s parents were gone, I got to spend all evening sitting close to him and we all just hung out. I felt a little out of place though. The only person I knew besides Larry was Ben. Once in a while Ben would catch my eye and smile reassuringly.

During the week after our date I waited to hear from Larry, sure that we would be spending time together on a much more regular basis. I waited for him to stop in the bakery but I didn’t see him. I just figured his work schedule didn’t match mine. That would explain why I didn’t see him at all. He called me one evening late in the week, and I felt myself wondering why he had bothered. He seemed uncomfortable and made no mention of seeing each other again. I didn’t know what to think, but I kept hoping I would see him again. I obviously had no pride.

Kendra and Ben had gotten together another time or two since the night we all went dancing. She told me she had fun with Ben but it was nothing serious. A couple of weeks after my date with Larry, while I was still hoping there was some good reason for his lack of contact, Ben stopped into the bakery while I was working.

“Kendra’s not working today,” I mentioned.

“I know. That’s ok. I just came to say hi.”

It was a slow afternoon and he hung around and talked with me for a long while. I asked him what Larry was up to and he gave me a reply that didn’t make sense. “Larry and I aren’t really all that good of friends, you know.”

I wasn’t sure why he felt the need to tell me that, but I didn’t want to offend him by admitting that I thought it was an odd thing to say, so I let it go. Then he surprised me and asked if I wanted to get together one night that week. “We could go have some pizza or just drive around. Hang out, you know,” he asked?

I asked if Kendra would be going with. “She can,” he said casually. “I haven’t actually asked her. You can ask her if you want.”

“Aren’t you like, dating her,” I asked?

“Nah. We’re just friends,” he told me.

“Do you think Larry might want to go,” I asked? (Like I said, I had no pride.)

“Ter,” he said gently, “Larry has a girlfriend.”

I swallowed hard. It couldn’t be true.

“He’s been dating her for like, two years. She happened to be out of town the weekend you went out with Larry.”

I felt my heart sink. For the first time, I understood what it felt like to be used. Even though we had only seen each other twice, I couldn’t believe Larry could do that to me. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt.

I told Ben, “Yeah. I’ll hang out with you this week. You’ll come pick me up then?”

Ben had a huge, sweet grin and I saw it for the first time at that moment. I had no idea that day about the amount of time I would eventually end up spending with Ben over the next few years and and no idea how much one person can negatively impact another’s self esteem.

…to be continued…eventually…

Magic…

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Clouds of snow drift lazily from the sky, the wind pushing them downward in diagonal gusts. Sometimes the flakes are heavy and wet. Not this time. This storm brings crystal grains of ice that sprinkle the road like a layer of sugar. The wind creates a whirlpool of frozen snow and it dances, fog-like across the roads. Like magic…

The first measurable snowfall of the season wipes the earth clean, erasing the gray that washes over this part of the world after the colors of fall have faded away. As it blankets the neighborhood, it quiets the sounds of suburbia making me feel as if I’ve been transported to the solitude of the country.

A blanket of snow soothes my mind and my soul. It slows the hectic pace of the world and for a time, nothing feels rushed. If only for a little while, the world becomes simple and painless again. The skies provide a brilliant show of frozen beauty right outside my living room window and I feel as if I could sit  staring at the slowly drifting flakes for hours.

My thoughts return to a time when I saw the snow as my playground. I remember wearing bread bags inside my boots to keep my feet dry; mittens inside of mittens to keep my hands warm; hand-made stocking caps and scarves, crafted with love by my grandmother’s hands. Time stood still when I played in the snow. How many snowmen were born in the little yard of my childhood? Snow forts built block by block, too many to count. I can still feel the sting of the cold on my face which left a blush on my cheeks long after returning to the warmth of the house.

Now it’s my own children, still not too grown up to find adventure in a new fallen snow. Out come the boots and the jackets, the snowpants and gloves. Snowboards, sleds and snow tubes are resurrected from the back-yard shed. Hours pass as they fling themselves down a snowy hill, racing down the hard packed snow, trying to be the first to reach the bottom. Snowballs are launched in a friendly fight. Ice skates get sharpened so their feet can glide across a frozen lake. Just as it did me, the snow beckons them to come exploring. 

This snow…it has the power to turn back the hands of time, to take away burdens, to dissolve rivalries. Like magic…

 

Ignorance is bliss

The current temperature here is six degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good thing I didn’t know that before I went out for a run this morning. Six degrees definitely would have scared me off. I do however think I am ready to invest in some Under Armour Cold Gear. I think I deserve that much. And socks. See full size imageI only own the no-show socks; the kind that sit inside the shoe and don’t come up over my ankle. I think at six degrees I should have my own socks to cover my ankles. (I stole a pair of Mark’s this morning. I’ll be kind and wash them before returning them to his drawer. Because I’m a nice wife and sometimes do considerate things like that.)

I had intended to run yesterday morning but there was a significant amount of snow on the roads that had fallen overnight. Much of it hadn’t been cleared yet. I knew I didn’t have the stamina to mush through the snow and was also worried about it being too slippery to get very far. My alternate plan was to walk the block over to my parents’ empty house and use the treadmill. Unfortunately, there seems to be something wrong with the tension on it and it kept sputtering. I got mad and kicked it. Thankfully, I seemed to need a tissue just at that point and walked into the bathroom to grab one. I realized the throw rug I had just crossed had made an odd sound when I walked on it and I turned to see that I had left footprints on the rug. WET, SQUISHY footprints. I came home to tell Mark about it. He had turned the shut-off valves to the faucet earlier in the week and I figured he’d know what was wrong. He discovered a leak and was able to fix things up and get our dehumidifier over there to dry things up. I hate to think what might have happened if I hadn’t gone over. It could have been weeks before anyone checked on the house and probably even then wouldn’t have had a reason to go in the bathroom and find the floor all wet.

So I gave outdoor running another try this morning and found the paths and roads had been cleared enough to run. As of last week I was going 2 and 3/4 miles per run. I reached the three mile mark today. YAY ME! I am rather impressed with myself for running in the cold and still reaching my goal.  I shall celebrate with Under Armour and new socks!

James had asked if I tried any of the tricks that were suggested for those times when I start losing steam.  I actually did try a few of them but didn’t find some of them to be much help. Music, at least at this point, is out of the question. The tunes I put on my mp3 are too energetic and I found that it gets me off my pace. I’m not ready for speed at this point. I’m only going for distance and consistency. Imagining a big hand pushing me along, or a big hook lifting me and carrying me didn’t do much for me either. I found what works best is a combination of avoiding thinking about the fatigue and pain and instead giving myself little mental motivational talks. I have to tell myself not to let my complaining body win. I give myself short term goals. “Just get to the corner. Just a few more yards until you’re on a downhill slope. As soon as you hit the next corner the wind will be at your back…” Probably the best tactic of all is to think of things completely unrelated to the run. Before I know it, much of the time has passed without me even realizing it.

And as long as I stay ignorant of the temperature, I think I’ll continue to do just fine!

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