Thursday, July 14, 2016

First thing up, last thing down

I have a little ritual when I move.  Ok, in reality I have a whole bunch of rituals, but I'm only going to share this one.  I learned long ago that if I do not put my keys in exactly the same spot each and every time I enter the house, I will never, ever remember where they are. This led to me buying a cute little key rack that hangs near my front door. Which then led to me buying an even cuter little sister key rack to hang by the back door. The very minute I enter the house, my keys go immediately to one of the hooks on the closest rack. It's such an automatic move for me, that, upon arriving at someone else's house, I look to see where their rack is and am vaguely disappointed when there isn't one. I am a little worried that one day, I will enter a friend's house, see no key hook nearby, and by virtue of old age dissolving the filter between my brain and my mouth, I will shout out WHERE IS THE KEY RACK, YOU IDIOTS? I will be so appalled at myself that I will immediately add I BROUGHT WINE! Because a nice bottle of wine says "I am happy to be here" whereas a shouted key rack rant perhaps does not. Just in case that dissolving thing kicks in before my 80s, I never arrive at anyone's house without wine.

Whenever I move out of an apartment, one of the little racks is the last thing off the wall. It travels with me in the car, because yes, I will even lose my keys in a virtually empty apartment. Once in my new digs, one of the very first things I do is hang the rack on the wall. I'm not saying I am OCD about this, but yeah, I kind of am. It's the last thing down, first thing up. I also travel with my favorite coffee cup and 2 wine glasses, but in a pinch those can be packed. Because Starbucks has cups and wine goes down quite nicely when drunk (drank? guzzled?) from a plastic Solo cup. I suppose that if worse came to worse, I could just hammer in a nail and call it good, but that seems so uncivilized in a concrete block bookcase, bare bulb hanging from the ceiling way.

It's a little ritual that might not make sense to anyone else but me, and one that is definitely not important to anyone else but me, but it's my little ritual and I'm keeping it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The person I was always meant to be

Like many women my age, my life doesn't look quite like I thought it would. Growing up my world was pretty simple, filled with playing baseball in the street, day dreaming, Trixie Belden books, skate keys and comic books. When I took the time to think about what the future held, which frankly wasn't often, I imagined a life that was pretty much more of the same. I would marry a fabulous man, raise some fabulous kids, work at a job I loved (which was fabulous), then happily retire at 55 with plenty of money, and grandkids running around my perfectly manicured, fabulously landscaped yard. I married at 20, had my first child at 25, bought a house, two dogs and a station wagon and was headed down the suburban road. Any glitches or hitches in that perfectly imagined and well executed life were smoothed over or smothered, buried deep where they could not see the light of day. Life was good, wasn't it?  Until one day when I looked around and realized, it was not. Don't worry, this isn't one of those stories where the mom runs off and leaves her babies in the care of others while she moves to a commune in Oregon where they throw pots and weave clothing from corn silk. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, but no, that's not what happened.

What happened is this. After almost 30 years of living the life I had planned (or perhaps had fallen into) I looked around one day and realized that this life was not the life I wanted. You might say I woke up, wondering how did I get here living a life that I don't like the looks of? It was not a bad life by any stretch of the imagination. But it didn't I had outgrown my life and I was finished pretending that I hadn't.

So at the age of 51, after nearly 30 years of marriage, I hitched up my courage and asked very politely if I could please find the exit. I agonized over the confrontation, imagining different scenarios with varying degrees of angst. That's something I do all the time.  Not a confrontational person by nature, I find it very useful to run thru scenes, if you will, where I say this and you say that and then I say and then you say, etc. That way, hopefully, I am not flummoxed by a response I am not expecting. That's the theory, anyway, but it doesn't always turn out how I think it will. Without getting too deeply into the TMI area, there was no agonizing or wailing or moaning or gnashing of teeth.  I didn't really expect that last one, but you never know. Although he didn't or couldn't articulate it at the time, my ex was feeling much the same way...trapped by 30 years of life where his ideas and my ideas and his values and my values just did not mesh.  Frankly, I am not sure they ever did, but I'm a little stubborn and having decided on that long ago day in 70s that my life and his life intersected nicely and therefore should be forever joined, I was determined that I would not admit defeat. It took me 30 years to understand that changing my life was not admitting defeat, it was thoughtfully choosing a different life than the one I was living.

My ex and I remained friends thru the dissolution (or what Gwenyth Paltrow called the conscious uncoupling!) of our life together. There was no name calling, no casting of blame, no asking our grown children to take sides, because we are just not that kind of people and because, frankly, not living together was and is a big relief to each of us. We got along so well, in fact, that several years after the Big D, one friend asked facetiously when we were getting remarried. I believe we decided on the 12th of Never.

This past Mother's Day, when my daughter and her husband, my ex and I all found ourselves in the same state for the first time in years, we all spent the day together at my ex's sister's house. My mom and his mom even came, and I am happy to report that no blood was shed by either of them. We had, of course, all been together at my daughter's wedding where there was also no bloodshed, but there was just something about gathering around a table sharing a delicious dinner (with plenty of wine), that made me feel...this is good.  This is how things are supposed to be. This is the very essence of family.

We may not be together any more but we are still family. We share memories and kids. We knew each other as teenagers, young adults, struggling first time parents and beyond to middle age. We were friends when we began this journey and we are friends now. I feel as though both my former husband (sounds better than 'my ex', doesn't it!) and I are now the people we were supposed to be. The future is mine...and it looks pretty good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Going to the movies with my mom

I don't often go to movies any more. I find I much prefer to watch them in my pajamas and slippers, and theaters frown on that. I also like the option of pausing for sufficient bathroom breaks. The fact that I like my movies accompanied by a glass of wine may also play a part. But last weekend my mom (who also does not go to movies) texted me and said "I haven't been to the movies in eons. Why don't we go to a matinee". Of course, being my mom, she then had to text "You probably go all the time and don't want to go with me and that's ok". Yes, that's an exact quote. After assuring her that no, I don't go all the time and yes, I'd love to go with her, I had to search for something she might like to see. No scifi, no horror, no movies based on comic books, no animated features, nothing with nudity or a lot of 'bad' language, no movies that are part of a series, and absolutely nothing with a lot of blood.  So what did that leave?  The Meddler with Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne.

First, the venue. We went to a multiplex near her that had been recently remodeled, adding reclining seats. Wow, what a nice feature! The key is to not recline them all the way, otherwise it is way too easy to nod off...which my mom did midway thru the movie. She had thought she wanted popcorn until she saw the ridiculous price of $6.59 for a small! Really? Popcorn has got to be one of the cheapest foods there is and they charge more than a 6 piece Chick-fil-A meal. More than a bottle of Rex Goliath cabernet wine. More than 5 hot dogs at Der Weinerschnitzel. Yes, I know they dropped the 'der' years ago, but at our house it always includes the 'der'. In fact, that's what we call it on those very rare occasions when a cheap hot dog is necessary...Der. So, no to the popcorn. Also no to the overpriced water, the silly expensive candy and a definite no to the pawn-your-jewelry nachos. Fortunately for my mom, who absolutely cannot watch any movie without food, she had a bag Hershey's kisses and Tootsie Rolls in her purse. I was a little surprised that she didn't pull out a bottle of water, but she had only taken her small purse and what with her Bible, address book and ginormous container of pills/Tylenol/vitamin E capsules, there was just no room. I made her leave her iPhone in the car and you would have thought I had asked her to cough up her liver.

Now, the movie. I. Loved. It. It was funny and sweet and true and incredibly well acted. Even the smaller parts had name actors, like Michael McKean (who I have loved since LaVerne and Shirley days) and Jason Ritter (who has his daddy's smile and a ton of talent) and Cecily Strong (my favorite gal on SNL). There was even a cameo by Harry Hamlin...and can I just say Yowza? But the hunk of the movie was JK Simmons of the deep and sexy voice and the dimples you just want to dive into. I am reading a book right now with a character named Pendergast whose voice in the book is described as 'bourbon and buttermilk'. Oh, yes, that is JK Simmons all day. My mom was similarly smitten and remarked out loud more than once...ok, a lot more than once..."he's so cute!" Yes, he was, and paired with Susan Sarandon, he moved right into adorable. I won't spoil the movie for you, because I hope you'll see it and it needs to unfold for you the way it unfolded for me. You won't be sorry.

Finally, the previews.  Good heavens, were there ever previews!  Just when you thought they were over, they rolled out yet another one. Normally I like previews, the more the better.  But when you watch them with my mom, they become painful. She comments on all of them. All. Of. Them. "Who is that? That's a weird one. Who is in that movie? What else is she in? Why on earth would they make a movie about that? I'm not going to see that one...or that one...or that one...and definitely not that one!" The only way to respond is by saying 'not sure'. I've tried ignoring her comments, responding to her comments, and shushing her. But a 'not sure' stops her questions...until the next preview.

And finally finally, the fun. Because it was. More fun than I expected. Despite the sticker shock snacks, the plethora of coming attractions, and falling asleep in the middle, my mom had so much fun watching the movie and, I hope, being with me, and I had a delightful time watching her have fun. We enjoyed the evening and each other so much we went out to dinner and had even more fun. So much more fun, I think I'll save that for another blog. Because eating out with my mom is ridiculous and annoying be continued.

This may have been the first time we had been to movies together in eons, as she put it, but it won't be the last. Time laughing with my mother is precious...and I need more precious in my life.