Sorry I disappeared this summer.
I was on the biggest Joy Project of them all.
This is where I went.
Bear in mind that you are the Chosen One, and so is everyone else.
I was having lunch the other day with two lady co-workers who are both my age-ish, and both in committed, but unmarried, relationships. And they were talking about how they wish their boyfriends would hurry up and propose already. Because that’s what ladies my age-ish talk about at lunch. Unless of course, their boyfriends have already proposed and they’re married and pregnant and then they talk about placentas. Which is gross. So of the two choices, I prefer marriage lunch talk.
And then, because I was nodding my head and making eye contact, and saying “me too”, which all indicated a safe environment for sharing, my lady lunch friends admitted that even though they really want to get married, they are also scared. Scared of the marriage ending, of being hurt, because the men change, or the men refuse to move back to Wisconsin so they can have babies near their mom, or what if their husbands leave them for young pretty blondes who aren’t in non-profit, and look good in skinny jeans.
And then, because they also were making eye contact, and nodding their heads, I felt safe and vulnerable. And I said I was scared too of failed marriages. But not scared for the same reasons they were.
I took a deep breath and revealed my greatest fear to my lady lunch friends. I admitted, “I’m scared I might be the asshole.”
You see, the scary part about marriage isn’t that I might get left behind because marriage was just too tedious for my partner, or that my partner will someday turn into some icy cold version of themselves who says cruel things and no longer thinks my Tina Fey impersonation is funny, or that one day the person I love most will hurt me in the most painful way because they know exactly where my most vulnerable spots are.
What is scary about marriage to me, is that I might, one day, do all those things terrible things to the person I love most.
I might be the asshole.
When I hear stories about marriages ending and the terrible things people do to each other, I never would have thought that those people had such nasty things hiding inside of them. What if it’s hiding in me too?
Do I have what it takes to be true and generous and loving and committed and vulnerable and altruistic and steadfast and interesting for the rest of my life, so help me God, amen, to the same person who will also be changing and growing and imperfect and scared? What if I get bored, or lonely, or weak? Will I still be kind?
Sometimes when my cat is annoying and wakes me up too early in the morning, I have fantasies that he would run away and never come back. And he’s basically just a chubby, hairy, hug who loves me unconditionally.
I fear I might be the asshole.
So I say all this to my lady co-worker friends over lunch, because I thought they might understand.
But they don’t.
And they stop nodding their heads and it’s suddenly very quiet and I am keenly aware of the birds chirping and the traffic in the parking lot. And they stare at me unblinking and my hands flap around awkwardly and now they know me. The real me. And they don’t like what they’ve learned.
And then I am certain I am the asshole. And now I am also alone.
But then a few nights later I had wine with my real, good, long-term girlfriends, who know me and are honest and funny and gusty and happily married.
And I take a deep breath and I try one more time.
I admit that I am scared that I might be the one who does the hurting. And then I hold my breath and wait.
And immediately my girlfriends nod their heads and make eye contact and say “me too”. And they tell me that already in their marriages they have been the asshole. They have hurt and been hurt. And have been forgiven, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a long period of time. And that they are always trying to be a better person in their relationships. To keep the asshole at bay.
And then I feel understood. And I feel better. I’m still scared. But I feel better. Because they know me and they still love me.
Even the part that might be the asshole.
Hey, know what’s better than doing a loooooong hike to an alpine lake and then eating all-you-can-eat Indian buffet with good friends?
Doing a loooooong hike to an alpine lake and then eating all-you-can-eat Indian buffet with good friends and having the tiny Nepali waitress check your ID and say “wow, you look really young”.
Granted, that means you have to be kinda old so that when the tiny-doll waitress looks at your real age on your ID she is surprised by how young you look comparatively. But I’ll take it. I almost asked her to admire my flawless and youthful looking eye skin (I’ve been using a fancy cream) but I thought that might be pushing it.
So I just high-fived her and told her to bring me a beer.
Do you know what is less cool than enjoying a long day at work at a golf tournament to raise money for the youth of Denver while eating delicious chips and salsa?
Enjoying a long day at work at a golf tournament to raise money for the youth of Denver while eating delicious chips and salsa and then having your new staff that you just hired point out how incredibly awkward you are on four separate occasions and having her be completely right.
I just high-fived her and told her to bring me a beer.
Lately I have been feeling like I am a series of walking clichés.
And if it weren’t so wonderful and exciting I might find myself borderline annoying.
In the past few weeks some lovely people have passed away unexpectedly. People’s spouses are asking for divorces. And a loved one has aggressive cancer and at the age of 34 has found out she won’t able to have anymore children. Such deep, deep sadness.
But at the same time new babies have been born into our family and brought such joy and love to our lives. More blessings are on the way. Unexpected happiness is happening all over the place.
And I keep thinking; “Life is Short”, “Plan like you’ll live forever but live like you’ll die tomorrow”…and mostly I keep wondering “is this how I want to be living my life?” If today was a day of reckoning would I be proud of where I stand?
And then the great authors of the world roll over in their graves for my terribly trite thoughts.
But it gets worse…
I am seeing someone. And it is going really well. And in the past few weeks I have said “I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone” and “this time it just feels different” and several other naive and sweet observations.
I keep seeing butterflies.
A lot of times life is murky, unclear, requires cynicism and caution. Right now is not one of those times.
I feel like Bambi. Though it is a little embarrassing to be living in a Disney movie, it feels wonderful to see life so clearly, in technicolor. The sadness makes me want to live a bolder, more intentional life, the joy makes me want to sing.
Have I made you throw up in your mouth yet?
It’s been said that no man is an island. I tend to disagree.
But then I got some bad news the other night and fell apart all over the best friend. The next day I apologized profusely and expected that she should chide me for acting all uncivilized and blubbery, and perhaps for getting snot on her car seat. But instead she thanked me for letting her into the inner workings of my heart.
(I’m so happy she is my friend.)
The next day my bonus Dad, mom and kid-sister’s boyfriend spent their whole Sunday vacuuming rotted leaves and prehistoric worms out of my pond, chopping wood, reaching things that were taller than me and other general homesteading acts as assigned. It was like a modern-day barn raising.
(I am so happy they are my family.)
And today I asked my posse for rides to and from the airport and they said yes. They said yes to a round trip drive to the airport when they could spend that precious time doing something else infinitely more interesting.
(I am so happy they are my posse.)
I’m known for keeping people at arms’ length (anything closer than that feels all stiflely and scary) and trusting or asking for help is really, really difficult for me. But lately I’ve got this amazing group of people who make me want to move off the island and consider a time share in their safety nets.
I really loved the story on NPR about Warren Buffett’s son Peter and his new book, Life is What You Make it.
Warren has publically stated that he his giving away his billions of dollars to charity and his family, including Peter, won’t inherit any of the money. And his children are happy about it! How stable and well-adjusted do you have to be to happy about not inheriting billions of dollars?! We need more people like the Buffett family in the world.
You should listen here and be inspired.
Met a friend for breakfast this morning before work.
We both work in bit of a dodgy part of town and met at the local diner; from the outside it looks like it has been boarded up since 1972 but apparently it is in fact a fully functioning restaurant.
The retirees where out in full effect. I think they must dine there every morning as they all sat in a large group and joked with each other. It was like watching my high school students eat lunch only fast-forwarded 60 years and at 7:30am.
At one point a gal in the middle of the group started talking loudly about sex on the beach.
I really hope she was talking about the drink…but either way it made me really excited for retirement..
People are surprising.
Sometimes they forget your birthday. Or they remember it and they bring you a special treat that you didn’t expect.
Sometimes you work really hard on a relationship and the other person doesn’t even notice. Or an old friend gets back in touch because you worked really hard on the relationship and they noticed but had to go away for awhile.
Sometimes you hurt another’s feelings for no good reason. Or you hurt another’s feelings and they forgive you gracefully without making you feel like a choice idiot.
Sometimes you finally, seriously, write off a person because well, they deserve it, and that is the exact moment they decide to pop back up. To test your resolve? To test your compassion?
The universe doesn’t work according to my timeline. And people are beautiful and funny and capable of big love and big hurt. And to be in the world means I need to love people where they’re at, not where I wish they would be.
Because the story isn’t finished and maybe where they’re at is even better than where I wished they would be?
People are surprising.
I came home from work this evening to find one last birthday present:
My Bonus Dad had trimmed all my ornamental grasses in the yard.
Very exciting; especially since I still don’t know what the heck I am doing as a new home owner and gardener.
But also a little disconcerting to come home and find all your grasses bald with no obvious note or explanation; was this a prank? Did I piss my neighbors off and they retaliated by removing three feet of growth from all my grasses? Is this the equivalent of when you fall asleep too early at a slumber party and someone shaves off one eyebrow?
Turns out it’s just the way men show you that they love and care for you.
No need to put into words what you can cut into the ornamental grass.