Home Again, Home Again, Jigitty Jig

March 5th, 2014

Roads that have been known to me for nearly all my life seem a little different now, or have I changed? In fifty years, so much has changed for sure but South Pasadena, a never ending sea of non-conformist we won’t change; San Marino much the same; and the part of Pasadena that collides with both communities, it all seems a blur.

Hooray, hooray I did manage to find Lacy Park and the good old Huntington Library. But the old Huntington Sheraton has alluded me. Yes, yes, I know it’s not been the Sheraton for a very long time but still, where the hell is it? That’s a giant piece of property to go around losing. Or is it me? Have I really spent so much time away from here that I can’t find something as simple as a giant sized hotel property? Finally, I pull out my cell phone and turn on the GPS. GPS. I need the @#**@*!!!!! GPS to find my way around home. I want to cry. Suddenly, there it is, the hotel of my youth, although that’s changed too.

Oak Knoll is not a stranger to me, but it is. So is El Molino and Monterey, Virginia, man. Familiar streets yet foreign. Known but no longer living here, therefore, their names and directions slip away a little more each time I return.

I am always so comforted when I come home. And yet, less so now as I watch my step-mom in the hospital struggle to breathe, see my poor father’s anguish; and listen to my step sisters as we talk about moving forward. She’s better now and wants to come home which of course delights all of us, Dad in particular.

My sister told me recently that maybe I should consider moving back down here. I do love it here I’ll admit. But home is up north for me, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and for now, it’ll have to do. But leaving, leaving here every time I come to visit is harder and harder. What am I looking for? Why am I so wistful? And where the hell is Arden Street?

 

Time Passages….

October 17th, 2013

My nephew is thirty-four. Astounding. I remember when he was a newborn in my arms, the first great-grand child for my, or should I say, of my, grandparents. My grandparents are long since gone, and the first great-grandchild is now the (really new) father of yet another, and the first, great-grandchild for/of my folks.

New life, old times revisited through my sister’s eyes.

I held the little bundle of joy in my arms today. She was born one hour and forty-five minutes after they rushed to the hospital-it is in fact a hospital record for labor to delivery. Matt’s beaming face, his tired, lovely wife, my sister (grandma), my former brother-in-law (grandpa) and his wife, and of course me-the great-aunt. We left them after little one made it vocally clear that nursing was a demand.

My dad is now a great-granddad and so we have come full circle. He has just turned ninety-three (yes that’s 93) and yes, I’m writing this yet again, after the fact – (Sheesh!! You’d think I’d get it by now-good news, birth was only six weeks ago so I am getting better…) – and yes, yes, yes, it’s a thrill to have a grand-niece.

My dad is so thrilled. He held the little lamb recently at a family birthday gathering for him. Best of all, he was recently fitted, finally, with a much needed long overdue hearing aid. Now he can hear everything. When I called to wish him happy birthday, he could hear me plain as day. It was great. I can speak to him in a normal tone. He can hear his wife, and the volume on the TV is low once again.

 

Well, this was written nearly a year ago, shelved and virtually forgotten, that is until I looked at the draft menu and clicked. GADS!! There are a few drafts here just waiting for me to finish them off and send them out. Hmmm…. The irony of the title here is not lost on me. Time passages, or really, time passes by in a blink. Since I wrote about the joy of becoming a great-aunt, my grand niece has turned one year old. The pictures my nephew and niece-in-law send are completely wonderful. I am so thrilled. New life. It never gets old.

Funny Thing

October 10th, 2013

It’s a funny thing being a writer and not knowing what to say. Happens all the time. Even novelists stare at their works on the computer screen and wonder, now what? I know the feeling.

Really?

February 1st, 2013

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d find myself here, in this place called loneliness. I always thought lonely was a place for single people – there’s a cruel irony in that even as I say it – but really here’s my logic.

Unmarried was a word/term used to define your life before marriage ie; single as in after college, during career, before death. So imagine then my shock to realize that the married life I yearned for was no longer the marriage I had. For years, leaving was not an option until finally, staying was no longer the option at all. I thought I knew what I was doing when I said “enough.” Really?

Sorry to say that, in fact, I’m really kinda lonely. So what am I missing? Well, in marriage, there’s the insta-friend aka the spouse. Then there are his friends and yours. And what’s true in marriage is that many friendships are  with couples. Basically, that’s all you meet are other couples. We met so many lovely people almost all of whom are couples. But now, as I look around myself, I wonder what did I miss?

One thing that has really hit home for me, in looking back on my marriage, is that my husband was not (from my point-of-view) invested in having much of a social life outside of home. In looking back, I did not then, cater to/feed/nurture that life for myself. The ugly (yet surreal) truth is, when it comes right down to it,  I did nothing to feed my outside life:building on the trusted friendships that I had, and building new friendships all along the way. While I still have these wonderful people in my life, it’s not as easy as it once was.

Dare I say it? I’ve lost my touch. I’m not the friend I wish I was so that I can so enjoy the friends I have, be a better friend to them,  and of course, to myself.

Of the many journeys I take this lifetime, the journey of self-friend is not as easy as I would have thought. Self-love, perhaps but self-friend? Hmmm. Really? There’s more to ponder on this but right now, I have to go to the bank, then go home, throw a frozen dinner in the ole’ microwave and wash my hair. Oh God, really?

Write, right?

November 23rd, 2012

WOW! What a long time in between writes, right? I seriously think that I should get better at this time wise. In the many writer’s conferences I’ve attended, I learned the same thing: write every day. The blog is no exception. Someday, I’ll get around to that.

Away

November 23rd, 2012

Thanksgiving has officially ended and while many people wished me a happy one, it didn’t feel quite the same. When I get home of course I’ll “stuff” myself with turkey, gravy, cranberry something, yams and so forth, but clearly it won’t be the same.

Being out of the country during a holiday that is not a tradition elsewhere, you loose your sense of time-forgetting dates and the like as there is nothing to remind you. There are no Thanksgiving sales-ads, no Safeway ads to tell you to buy the meal all prepared for your harried life, no day before sales ads; the only thing that resonates over here are the Black Friday sales and ads that go with them. Now those are everywhere. And of course, all the Christmas ads which, last year, seemed to be less invasive. Now they’re everywhere too. Alas.

My sister sent me an email in response to my family email wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. She was not amused. Okay, she was sweet in her words about missing me, but not amused at the thought of me spending another holiday away.

Last year was the best Christmas I’ve had in years – a shout out to my wonderful friends/family in Southern California – as we laughed the days away. I needed that. I needed to be with people I truly loved with out any reminder of the recent days behind me.

Away.

Never in my life did I think or believe even that I would want to be away from family for the holidays. I grew up believing that I’d be a mom now, doing the holidays to the hilt and loving every minute of it. Even in thinking of myself as single, I always knew that my holidays would be spent with family. It wasn’t a blip on my radar in any way that the holidays, by choice, would be spent away from home, away from family.

I have spent nearly twenty years in Northern California with my sister and her family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. When the opportunity arose to be with my aging folks for Thanksgiving in 2010, I jumped at it. It was their first Thanksgiving in Southern California in over thirty years as they too did the holiday thing with her kids up in Washington. So, our small dinner that I picked up from the club, was great. It was also a revelation. I can actually choose where I want to be.

I don’t know what’s changed or what in me has shed that desperate need to be with my family for the holidays; but there is something that has pulled me away from that. The need was especially desperate while my mother was still alive. More like an ache. Maybe I was trying to recapture those long ago days of Christmases past. Maybe, and most recently, it was the demise of my marriage. Maybe it was the need for something more like Christmas last year and all that laughter with other family and friends.

Away, a word I feared in thinking about holidays from home. Now, not so bad.

My sister wants me to miss family too much so that I will want to be around more for the holidays…like this Christmas. She doesn’t want me to “…pull a lot more of these holidays-away tricks.” Too funny. What she doesn’t know is that I’ve already planned my Christmas get-away. Oops.

Travels with myself.

September 3rd, 2012

My stay in France has been truly liberating. I have a whole new love for the Eiffel Tower, in particular, and Paris in general. My ex proposed to me on top of the Eiffel tower back in 1998. It was a our first time in Europe together, with France the destination and place to be. I have not ever been here without him, except of course in college but that was different. I admit, coming here this time seemed daunting at first-alone and filled with so many memories of us here. But then, I found myself doing things I could never do when traveling with him-taxis, car and driver from and back to CDG (Charles de Gaulle Airport) and so many other little things that really added up for me. Then of course, there is the Eiffel tower.

Loving friends treated me to a meal (last night) at the first restaurant I went to w/my ex so many years ago. Amazing food, new memories….I am truly blessed.

 

AHHH memories. That was the adventure of a lifetime for me. It’s September 2012 now and in reading this, it feels like yesterday. It was actually November of last year. I was on my way to Spain and I just had to do Paris first. A very close friend of mine turned 50 last year and I spent time with him, and close friends, at his parent’s home just outside of Paris. It was an absolute delight. The only thing I’d change about that trip is more time. The Musee d’Orsay was spectacular. So was the Rodin. The problem with Paris is that there are way to many museums and never enough time…I love that problem.

 

Angels Among Us….

March 20th, 2012

Over a year ago, maybe two or so, I thought about starting a page on my blog called “Angels Among Us.” Accidental encounters of the kindest led me to this thought. We just never know how a chance meeting with a stranger will bless us if only in the moment. I would’ve dated each entry and chronicled these encounters with gratitude, putting them on this page.

The kind woman behind the ticket counter at the airport in Tuscon; the joker in (a very long) line at the bank; the countless and now I’m sorry to say, faceless numbers of humanity who, when I chanced upon them, touched me in some profound way, however brief the time spent. And not just here but overseas as well.

We just never know how our daily lives will be touched in this way. Nor will we ever know how we effect others. Many of these said encounters are either too brief, but mostly, they are just a moment in time that we don’t really think will have a lasting influence beyond our own kindness. But really though that is all it takes. So here’s my story…..

Today, a man reached out to me through Facebook wondering if I was the person he met briefly over twenty years ago. In truth, I had to wrack my brain. Who was this guy? But everything he said did in fact add up. What stood out most was that I did indeed live on Balboa Island. This man remembered that and other things so I knew he was talking about me. What struck me though, was his story about our brief blind date.

He said that he was in a very difficult place at that time. “I’m sure she found the whole experience awkward, if not disturbing.” Those were his (Facebook) words. He went on to say that he was grateful to have someone to talk to and that I had a “tremendous gift for listening.” He went even further to say that he needed to thank the angel that God had sent to him at just the right time.

Reading his story of our chance date, that small window of time so, so long ago has really humbled me because truly, all I remember is walking around the island with a guy, drinking a soda. That he remembered our short time together as more than that, humbles me greatly.

What did I say? What else, besides listening, did I do that was so helpful? And yet, isn’t that angel work? We never know what our chance encounters in life will leave on others. At that point in time I was as lost, and confused about myself or my path as he ever was. At least, that’s how I recall myself back then.  And yet, I did what I always did: listen, and in listening, I felt compassion. Whatever words of wisdom were his take away, whatever actions seemed to help him, I’ll never entirely know. His kind recollection about that tiny moment in time, all those years ago, that led him to find me on Facebook and thank me will stay with me forever.

Hints/Icebergs/Transition

February 25th, 2012

I’m looking at boxes on the floor of my former married life and wonder is that it? Is that all there is or was? It shocks me to this day that I am divorced, even though I was the one who left. But in truth, my ex left first. But it was I who left the house. The hints were there, so were the icebergs, and I really never wished for this transition…

The safe harbor of our marriage started, like many marriages, with a great honeymoon.  We traveled well together and I have always said that the couple that travels together, stays together…go figure. But even then little hints began to surface, like my husband not wanting to use a bell-man for our luggage. This was something I always took for granted. Shaking it off, it was no big deal, just go with it, said I. Little did I know that the many more little hints which surfaced would begin to sway against the hull of our marriage-ship.

Eventually, it was the rolling open sea that crept into our marriage-ship. First, he announced that we should not have children-iceberg. And I knew that once it was baby overboard, so too went everything else about my life, my hopes and dreams..more icebergs still.

In spite of everything, I was in love and carried on. I was married after all. (Divorce? Me?!!? Never.) As we continued to sail on the not-as-good-as-it-was marriage-ship, more little things-those pesky hints-rose up to meet us. Waves of grief began to engulf me night after lonely night as I discovered with shock, his demanding fears of no child-or should I say his overwhelming fear of me getting pregnant-meant very little coupling, just to make the point clear. This then spilled over into other areas of our lives.

Soon after, we, no I, really became a lonely house bound wife with no where to turn, and no husband to comfort me. We never spoke about our feelings. Correction, I got tired of hearing my own voice, tired of talking to a man whose only words of comfort were, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” These were the only words he knew and it did nothing to help us at all. We were who I loved when we traveled or left the house even. Years began to slip away.

The lifeboats of couples therapy were equal in their comings and goings. Years and years of that could do nothing to help right our now slowly sinking ship. I wanted so desperately to be a happily ever-after married couple. Daily, I looked around for him to help me save our ship, but he had already cast adrift and was headed so far from me to even know which way to steer our vessel. I was desperate to keep from running aground.

I kept steering, instead, to the good times and there were plenty, and actually, it was those times that helped us to stay afloat. But even those good times could not counterbalance the sinking of our marriage-ship. Taking on more water than I could possibly bail out with my teaspoon, there were just too many icebergs to navigate, and the waves of sorrow that greeted me everyday were beyond me. I finally had to find the  strength to open my mouth and utter those God-awful words.

A friend told me recently that my ex is devastated by my leaving. Devastated. Funny. I spent over ten years in devastation without a life jacket or anything to help me stay buoyant in a sea of hints and bergs. I stayed too long, I stayed for all the wrong reasons-to not hurt him, to not hurt his feelings, to protect him at all costs-to the ruination of my heart, the absolute sinking of my dreams of a happily ever after.

So, the ship sank. Now, here I am, sailing off in my own boat and there he goes in his. As we cried together over the shock of ending things, he told me that he knew he had pushed me away from him, away from his heart. Why did he wait for us to be setting off from each other before saying that? Had I known, maybe our ship could have been righted after all.

New waves of grief pound me at times and I marvel at the little vessel that stays afloat. My home is my harbor, lovely, safe. But only time can quell the sorrow that insists upon rising up in me. I am my own lifeboat, and those boxes, well…only a few to take away with me. After all, my little vessel can only hold so much, and I don’t want to sink again.

 

 

 

Childhood friends….

December 25th, 2011

I miss Jan. She won’t be able to see this and comment like she always did. I can’t imagine the feeling of having lost someone you were so close to from childhood. I leave for San Diego tomorrow, to have a reunion of sorts with two childhood friends of mine. Tracy and I haven’t seen each other in nearly thirty years. I have always remained close to June and she kept me in touch with Tracy. June and I were next door neighbors, met at four, maybe five, and were joined at the hip. Tracy, a block a away, also joined us. Then there were Debbie and Donna Ingledew, they lived around the block from us, but I digress.  They know me like no other. They know what’s in my heart, who I am and support where I’m going in life…not that I’m entirely sure where that is myself. Still though, there they are cheering me on as we all have for each other. One time, June asked me (while we were still in college) if she should be a doctor or a physical therapist. I told her to shoot for the moon, that she’d be a great doctor and she is.

Where would we be without our childhood friends? These are the ones that know us inside and out. These are the ones that correct us on the way as we seek to know ourselves. These are the ones who reflect back to us who we were, who we are and hopefully, who we will become. These are the friends who can, and do, call us on the carpet whether we like it or not because they know the truth of us. In our childhood friends there are the joys and tears of growing up, holding on, learning, and growing more. More often than not, these are the friends we turn to first with a problem, a crisis even, to help us understand the different ways to get through it, or at the very least, hold us while we weep.

My heart goes out to my dear friends Lyl and Diane who mourn the loss of Jan on a level I can’t begin to comprehend. Diane knew Jan as a toddler (I think that’s right) and Lyl met her in first grade. Jan is the sister they never had, the friend who teased them, and the creative genius behind videos she made of them and their families, and travels. Mostly, she was their friend who knew their hearts, helped to reflect back who they were, and always keep them in stitches. Many long conversations on the phone ensued over the years and of course, with unflagging joy, Jan just loved her friends because they breathe. What a blessing that is for those sadly left behind.

It’s Christmas night here in quiet Irvine (Newport Beach) and I look forward with anticipation to see my childhood friends in San Diego tomorrow. June’s working a lot this week but that’s ok, Tracy and I will come up with something to do, just like before, all those years ago.