Crystal Clear

Someone recently called me “transparent” in my writing. I thought about it and the question came to mind, if not here, then where? I obviously can’t show my true feelings in the workplace. Aren’t we taught to leave our problems at home? And it has been proven many times that dragging my work issues home only upsets the dynamics of my family. My husband, like most men, can’t just listen and let me vent. He has to solve the problem and fix things; one, because he’s a man, and two because he hates to see me unhappy.

When my dog was around, I could tell him anything. He didn’t judge me or try to solve the world’s problems and then go back to his nap. He just napped right through them. I miss him.

A while back, my life took a turn, for a long time, where I had isolated myself, and there were not many friends to whom I could vent. As a result, I created a cocoon for myself and the end result is that I now have very few people in my life to talk to, openly and honestly.

So, I talk to myself. In my blog and in my shower; on a walk or while on the treadmill; while doing computer work or gardening; while mixing up a cake batter or watching a baseball game. There’s a pattern here. All of these things are done alone. And if you know me, you know that I’m lying about the treadmill.

I noticed just recently that I had more followers on this blog than I realized, so being so transparent is probably not such a good idea. Or maybe it is. Maybe I’m not so alone.

Meltdown at 30,000 Feet

Don’t know whether it was a drop in cabin pressure, sheer exhaustion, the realization that I truly was going home to an empty nest, or the fact that I was just getting too old to to do so much in such a short time, with little rest, lousy eating habits, too many cigarettes and a medication imbalance. Could be that I was suffering from claustrophobia because the guy next to me was huge, not to mention wreaking of body odor and bad breath. I just wanted to scream. My first flight was late, landing after the second flight was already boarding, at two opposite ends of two diametrically opposed terminals, and if it wasn’t politically incorrect to say so, I would tell you that I ran through the airport like O.J., made it to board in time, only to sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes waiting to take off.

The meltdown actually began long before I ever reached the airport. In fact, its genesis wasn’t even revealed to me until the next day, when a physician explained to me that I was in a full-blown, acute relapse of my fibromyalgia. That explained a lot.

It explained why I abruptly attempted to give notice at my job ten days prior, when I needed to be working, and didn’t really want to resign. I had been unhappy about several things, though none of them, insurmountable. It explained why the recent several weeks found me weeping over television commercials or stories on Facebook™ or the news. It certainly was the reason I had difficulty getting out of bed or bending over or sitting for longer than fifteen minutes, or even keeping the covers over me during the night.

Granted, my life had been full of emotional challenges in the past two weeks. I had to put the dog to sleep… my best friend. I found myself moving my daughter to a city one thousand miles away to start a new job and a new life. And if those challenges weren’t enough emotionally, I encountered significant financial trials as a result of those things and unexpected major household repairs. Isn’t that always the way? Financial pressure always wreaks havoc on one’s emotions. So do termites… and I didn’t even know that until after my meltdown.

So I sat between Mutt and Jeff (or The Odd Couple), in the seats that seem to get tighter and tighter each time I fly, and wept. No, it wasn’t weeping, it was absolute convulsive crying. I was never a very good flyer. I usually succumb to white-knuckled anxiety. This time, however, I didn’t even notice the take-off.

Suddenly, just after the pilot announced that we had reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, I blurted out, “I need chocolate.” The lovely man sitting next to the window handed me a granola bar. “It has a few chocolate chips, if that will help.” Nice to know there are some people that just get it.

The three of us flew silently back to south Florida. When I got in the car, and kissed my husband hello, I immediately talked about planning a trip back to visit our daughter, and that we needed to make the reservations soon if we were going to travel on a holiday weekend. (I’ll pack chocolate with me this time.)

My Best Friend

We made a pact. He promised to tell me when it was time, and I promised not to make him stay any longer than that. Well, its time.

He has stopped eating. Well, he’s stopped eating what he’s supposed to eat, anyway. He still shows great interest in what I’m eating. He hasn’t played in about two weeks. He’s losing control of his bodily functions. I’m not really sure if that’s true, but he has to strain so much to get to a standing position, I think he just can’t help himself.

Promises weren’t made to be broken. I know that, logically. They’re not always easy to keep, though, either. We’ve already made the appointment, but I know I can’t be a part of it. In my head I know it’s the right thing to do. It’s just that my heart can’t seem to get in line with that thinking.

You see, he’s my best friend. That sounds like a cliché, because it is. He saved my life. That’s probably a platitude that’s been a bit overused as well. When I lost a job I held for thirteen years, he was there to console me. For the ten months I was unemployed, we did everything together. Almost everything. (He did visit me when I was in the bathroom, and he did try to climb in the shower with me, so when I say almost everything, I mean it).

When I was weepy, he snuggled and lapped away the tears. When I was somber, he would drop a toy at my feet. When I was introspective, he would curl up and sleep on the floor next to me, as if he knew I just needed to be alone with my thoughts.

I could tell him anything. I could trust him with my deepest secrets. I could be catty and venomous about people and situations, and he would never tell. I could tell him my hopes and my dreams and he would never discourage me or dampen my spirit with reality. He never changed the channel.

When I finally got a job, he was the only one that came running, happy to see me, when I got home after a long day at work. He had his place on the couch, but he would get up, tail wagging, to come greet me.

He had more respect for me than my own kids did. He learned to put his toys away when he was finished playing with them. People balk when I say that, but it’s true. Before he lost his hearing, I could tell him which toy to get, and he would put whatever he was playing with away, in his toy box, and go rooting through it to pull out just the toy I had asked him to get. My kids never put their toys away unless I threatened to give them to less fortunate children. That sounded remarkably like my mother.

The one thing I won’t miss is the hair. Oh, the hair. I can sweep the entire house and within an hour, hairballs are scheming to form under the dining room table or the piano. They line up along the hallway even while I’m in the midst of sweeping, and just when I put the broom away, they scurry out plant themselves in noticeable places, making it look I did nothing at all.

 Goyo

And so it is time.  He is the third rescue dog our family has loved. Part of me wants the freedom from the responsibility of taking care of an animal. That’s mostly my eyelids at 5:30 in the morning when he wants to go for a walk. The biggest part of me, my heart, will likely find myself at a shelter or the Humane Society within a month. But, if you made it to read this far, you will know, there will never be another Goyo.

On Friendship

When I sat down to write this, I didn’t know if it was going to be  a discourse on friendship, a definition of friendship or just another dejected disapproval of how I am feeling right now.  You see, I had to break the news to my mother this morning, that her life-long closest friend had passed away, (although in my heart I’m sure she already knew). I had spent a lot of time thinking not only about her friendship with Margie, but about a lot of my friendships throughout my lifetime.

Partly because I am a very loyal person, I can boast friendships of nearly 50 years duration.  Some people may just feel that I’m clingy that way.  I have friends that I’ve rediscovered (I’ll admit I had the help of Facebook), and friends that I’ve kept all along; friends from nursery school and summer camp; friends from Junior High and High School; friends from college and summer jobs; friends from my first job fresh out of college and people that just met at my most current place of employment.  I’ve even found people on Facebook who were total strangers and live in faraway places whom I consider close friends.

I can call my friend Susan, whom I see maybe twice a year, and whom I’ve known since 9th grade, and it is as if no time has passed.  She lives halfway across the country but she knows me better than I know myself.  I can text my maid of honor, Abbe, whom I met in college, who probably knows MORE about me than anybody else, and who also can go a year without seeing me, and pick right where we left off.  I can comment on a photo or congratulate my friend Jamie on her son’s wedding, even though we haven’t heard each other’s voices in 40 years, because we went to camp together and went through a few rites of passage together.  Or Sally from college, who I reconnected with after 20 years.

Then there’s Irene and Jackie… with whom we celebrate Superbowl Sunday.  That’s it.  Just that.  And it has been that way for 16 years, since our sons all played little league together.  But if any one of us needed something, the other would be there in a flash.

Or Katie and Shelly, for the Hanukah party or Andrea or Beth from pre-school or kindergarten days or Norma, Ricki and Beth, or, or, or… or the new friends I’ve made… or old neighbors.   I met close friend Val playing Slingo on the internet.  I think that was long before Facebook even existed!

All that I’m trying to say, is that I value each and every one of them, in their own way.  As I said, I’ve been learning from my mother all my life.  You should know, that mom was my very first friend, and she taught me that loyalty.  You should also know that every day, I hope and pray that I will be lucky enough to have and maintain that relationship with my daughter as well.

I share the following poem on friendship because it’s so true…

 

Friends Who Sail Together by Mary Dawson Hughes

There are friends who pass like ships in the night,

Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight,

With never a backward glance of regret;

Friends we know briefly, and quickly forget.

 

There are other friends who sail together,

Through quiet waters and stormy weather,

Helping each other through joy and through strife.

And they are the kind who give meaning to life.

 

Treat your friends well.  Remember to tell them how you feel.  Be there when they need you.  Cling to them.

 

The Blue Thumb

Have you ever heard the expression, “every time someone gets a new hammer, everything around them looks like a nail?”

I know someone like that.  Everything this person gets started with becomes not only a passion, but an obsession.  It doesn’t matter if it’s something to eat or a hobby or a philosophy.  This person has to nail it to the wall.

For me, it has been so hard to watch, because nothing ever really sticks.  It has been a constant search to find the right hammer.  I used to hold the nails in place while the hammer was wielded.  I was just trying to be supportive and helpful.  Somehow, the nails would get wobbly and we’d go on to the next project, find a new hammer, and begin again.

Lately, somebody else handed my friend a hammer.  In fact, the hammer had a sticky resin on the handle.  Suddenly, my friend became, once again, passionate and obsessive.  The only difficulty I had with this new hammer was that the project itself was very self-limiting, and my friend began to forget the lessons learned from all of the other “projects” along the way.  I tried to hold the nails in place, but in an effort to swing so hard with this new hammer, my friend actually missed the whole point, and instead of hitting the nail on the head, hit my thumb instead.  It really hurt me, in so many ways.

I had to stop trying to work on this project.  I had to let go of the hammer and my friend, lest I wind up with a blue thumb… or a black and blue thumb.

Over the Speed Limit

Well, it has finally happened.  I’ve done it.  I have passed the speed limit.  Tomorrow marks my 56th birthday, and since most highways (except for maybe the turnpike system) have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, I think it’s finally time for me to slow down.

Not that sitting in my car for nearly three hours every day, travelling at an average speed of 27 miles per hour is going fast.  I know that because my car can tell me my average speed.  It can also tell me my average miles per gallon, an approximation of how many miles are left in the current tank of gas, who is texting or calling me, and what color underwear I have on.  This is part of what I’m talking about.  Life is going too fast.  Information is flying in and out of my world as fast as best friends did when I was seven.

I’m tired.  I have done my time.  I’ve raised two children to adulthood.  I have been working full time since I was twenty-one.  I’ve maintained a home, the finances, the health, the kitchen (including a table full of teenagers every night for a span of about six years), and a not-so-demanding husband.

I am often reminded of Rose, in the story of Gypsy.  The consummate stage mother, wife, etc.  When she was left alone in the end, which is what we, today, refer to as the “empty-nest” part of her life, unlike me, she sped up.  She sang about how it was “Mama’s turn.”

When I first felt the very painful effects of an empty house, less errands, laundry and cooking, and an eerie quiet all of the time, except for maybe the drone of television sports emanating from the man-cave, I suffered a deep depression.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Everyone around me said I should find something to do.

Not me.  Not now.  For me, it’s time to slow down.  It won’t be long before I’m looking through the steering wheel rather than over it.  I’ve got to make the morning last.

Now What?

Hello old friend.  Its been awhile.  I have discovered that I need to be at one extreme or the other to be able to write with any lucidity.  Words don’t come to me in a stream of consciousness that makes any sense when I’m on an even keel and caught up in my every life.  They only seem to flow when I am extremely high or extremely low, because I am usually self-centered during those times, and that’s when I write best.  A conundrum, indeed, for me right now.  I think I am happier than I’ve been in a very long time, yet more fearful of tomorrow.

WP_000944My son took a bride on Saturday night.  I am thrilled, as I have loved her as my own for many years now.  The anticipation and excitement leading up to this day, since the announcement of their engagement on New Year’s Eve, has provided an awesome array of emotions.  Their meticulous planning resulted in an exquisite affair, elegant and understated, charming and sweet.  Their love was almost palpable during the ceremony, and the celebration that followed was classic, and as the mother of the bride stated, one of the true special moments in a parent’s life.

Therein lies my “conundrum.”  Now what?  I already promised not to pressure them for grandchildren.  My daughter has her own agenda, and while we will celebrate her earning her masters degree in December, it may be awhile before we start planning a wedding.   I have spent a lifetime “marking time,” and anticipating the next big thing to which I can look forward.

My son’s answer was simple, as he agreed with my therapist, but then again, he is becoming a seasoned mental health professional, himself.  They both said, “Make something up.”

So I’m writing again.