The Day I Fell More in Love With My Husband

It was 17 degrees out.  It was once again blowing snow and the sky hung above us with an angry gray color.  We were dressed warmly head to toe, the Husband and I, and we had a long day of work in our yard ahead of us.  It was my idea to have the trees cleaned up in this winter dread and my idea to do our own yard clean up instead of paying the guy to do it.  This horrible morning was supposed to turn to blue skies and 50 degrees, which it would but in the start of that morning it didn’t feel that way.

We lined our trucks up next to one another and the Husband started the chainsaw while I started loading my truck bed with limbs.  My hands were already frozen but he wasn’t going to let me leave him to it alone, we didn’t work that way.  We got into a groove, cutting and loading, trying not to slip on the ice patches in the driveway or on the side of the house, minding the dog underfoot.  We hauled to the dump, unloaded and retraced our tracks back home.  Over and over again and mostly in silence.

It was well past noon and we hadn’t eaten anything.  I stopped to give my back a break and shake some life into my tired arms.  I realized the sun had in fact come out and I was actually sweating.  I stripped off a few layers and looked over at my Husband.  For some reason I really noticed him.  I saw the guy sitting across from me at our first date discussing his recent deployment to Iraq.  We sat with such manners lost in conversation for three hours that night but what we didn’t discuss was how we would spend a Saturday three years from then in the cold.  That man took a few dates to hug me and more to kiss me for the first time.  This Saturday he rolled his eyes because I struggled with unloading my truck as fast as him so he came over to help and gave me a quick peck on the cheek as he jumped in my truck.

I remember the first time I jumped into that truck of his on our second date and found a box of cigarettes in the center console.  He quit smoking a week later when I told him there was no way I could date him if he kept it up.  On this Saturday he accidentally backed that truck into a tree and busted his tail light and bumper up.  This time I kept my mouth shut and let him cuss and rant. We didn’t know three years later how many bumps and bruises that truck of his would get.  And I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut a bit more.

By the end of the day we were covered in mud, leaves, snow and sweat.  We hosed off our pickups and sat on our truck beds facing each other trying to decide on how much energy we had to go out for dinner.  All those late nights on the phone when we first met didn’t cover who would wipe the dog shit off the floor mats before going inside to shower.

When I noticed my Husband that day I was stuck on the man I met just a little over three years ago.  The things you don’t talk about when you are on those first dates.  All the unknowns of a life and marriage still ahead of you. The man I slowly, hesitantly, fell in love with was working his ass off next to me and somehow over three short years we became this team.  I stared at him for a few minutes and realized how much more I love him today than I did the day I married him.  Sometimes life gets complicated and we rush through the days but in this day, at the oddest time, I fell in love with my Husband and our marriage even more.  I took pause, I slowed down, and let life sink in around me a bit.  It wasn’t during a trip, it wasn’t a life changing event, it wasn’t romantic but it was the best feeling of happiness and contentment and for that I am grateful.

My Sister.

There are those people who go on and on about their sisters and how they grew up being best friends, telling one another everything.  Then there is the story of me and my sister.  We did not grow up being best friends nor did we tell each other secrets late into the night.  I had other friends for that.  We shared a room in which we drew literal lines down the middle of the floor and often beat the crap out of each other.  Ok, she beat the crap out of me because I was really little but I tried to swing my fists when I could.  In fact we didn’t even start working on any type of a friendship until I was divorced. Who says good things can’t come out of a divorce?  Take that another step when my sister started on her own divorce journey and here we sit today.  While we aren’t sharing every deep dark secret, we do have a strong relationship now.

I remember going on a couple of trips after/during my divorce that were life changing for me.  The kind that open your eyes, change your perspective and restore your faith in the human race.  Just what my sister needs on the heels of learning she is officially divorced.  Time to move on and forward.  Which brings us to today and my quest for living better in the year 2014.  Through a series of events, that proves everything happens for a reason, I found myself booking a ticket to England without my husband but then realizing I could take my sister.  She deserved a break.

I broke it to her carefully.

Text to my sister: Is your passport valid?

Sister: Do we need bail money?  I can get an alibi.

This is how we have built a friendship that most are born with as siblings.

So in less than a month I’m “dragging” my sister with me to England to visit my best friend.  The best friend who has been my “sister” all these years.

This isn’t just any trip over the pond.  This is a trip that will change our relationship even more.  There is something about becoming older, realizing how precious these memories can be and being so grateful for the opportunity to spend this time together.  I’m happy to give my sister a chance that friends, bloggers, and strangers gave to me after/during my divorce.  The chance to get away and see the world again.  The chance to have that relationship that we weren’t born with.  We are even going to share a room and I don’t think we’ll need to draw a line down it.

Life doesn’t always stay tucked away

I’ve moved on in my life in such a way that my past is happily tucked away where it belongs.  In the past.  I didn’t shove it there and ignore it.  No, I dealt with it and moved on to not just the next chapter but the next book.  I tucked the other book nicely on the shelf and went in a forward motion.

The funny thing about this new job of mine, with old friends, is they have all these memories and old stories that mingle with my old memories that have been tucked away in that book.  There really aren’t a whole lot of other people in my current life that know much about the old life.  The old life that had other friends, a different husband, a different job and a different me for the most part. I’m not ashamed of that old and different part of me, it is just the fact that I’m not used to an old story being mentioned about that one night out at the bar that I had left tucked away.  And that day at the office we gave up on work and spent the afternoon drinking martinis.  Do you remember that meeting where we all just about gave up?  Suddenly a past that never runs into the present is no longer black and white.  There are grey areas.

I’m slowly getting used to this grey area that they give me.  I always knew the past with its stories, memories and even people were going to sneak out of that book and accidentally be standing in my present whether in my office or elsewhere.  They are good memories that, shockingly, I can look at now and smile and see the good in them without my brain going to all the pain that eventually came.  The good parts outweigh the bad parts.  I can say that when those pieces fall out of the book I am reminded of just how far I’ve come and it makes me want to kiss my husband one more time before I tell him goodnight because I am one lucky woman.

I’m going to drink this glass of wine, not make a baby tonight

I was just pouring my wine for the Super Bowl party.  Friends and family were tucked into the corners of my home balancing chips and dip with their drink.  The TV volume was turned up too high and everyone was trying to be heard in their own conversation while waiting for the game to start.  A friend of mine leaned in close to me and mentioned she couldn’t wait till I had some baby news to share with her.  I poured more wine into my glass than normal.  I ignored her comment.  She suggested that when everyone leaves then my Husband and I should go in and make a Super Bowl baby.  I nod my head and take a big ass gulp of Chardonnay.

This isn’t the first time she has made these comments.  Always while I’m pouring a glass of wine, she will mention that I obviously don’t have the big news yet.  She’ll make them again next week and the week after and so will others.

I walked away with my glass of wine and stepped over her kids who were trying to kill one another.  I found a seat and eyed the husband across the room until we made eye contact and I could exchange a look with him.  Every couple has those looks they can share. The entire conversation in one stare.  He glanced from me to the other woman and knew.  He offered me a smile because what else is there to say or do.  In the room full of people there was only one other couple that had somewhat of an idea of how the comments sting.

I later sat with the woman who would understand and we whispered about her recent appointments so others would not hear.  But not the advice filled woman.  No, she came over to pipe in again.  Offering up her opinion and making it into this cute, happy, just get drunk and fuck process.  Well, that may have worked for her but here was me and another woman and we are beyond the basics of what they taught us in sex ed, thank you very much.

It was much later in the night after people started heading home and I had too much wine in me.  The girl was also a little drunk and offered up another bit of advice about going on in to make a baby.  Without hesitation or care for anyone around me I offered back a retort that tonight I don’t want to make a Super Bowl baby.  I don’t even want to have sex with my Husband tonight.  I don’t want to go make a baby to make you fucking happy.  I don’t want to pee on sticks or worry about how our appointment is going to go at the end of the month. I want to drink a glass of wine, enjoy the company of everyone and just live right now without you throwing in my face, daily, that I’m not fucking pregnant.

I’m sorry, was that rude?  There is support and there is not having manners.  I’m tired of making everyone else comfortable with me not getting pregnant.

Everyone left and I sat, exhausted, with my Husband on the couch.  He grabbed my hand.  I closed my eyes and lingered in my buzzed state of mind.  I let go of the anger.  Took another deep breath and let that one go.  A few more deep breaths later I calmed down and let it all go.  The comments will come again but what happens behind our closed doors at night and how we handle this is for us.

30 Hours with my Dad

My Mom needed a break and her best friend called me to help.  She needed me to stay with my Dad so my Mom could go to a lodge in the middle of no where and learn to quilt with her.  I called upon my sister and she couldn’t come with me so I was on my own.  Sure, my brother would be 15 minutes away at his house if I needed help but he was always helping.  He already took time out of his day that he didn’t always have because Dad listens to him.  And Dad knows him.

I rearranged my schedule, I packed up, I drove two hours through a snow storm and walked in the door.  I sat and talked with my brother for a while before he headed to his own home.  That left me standing in my parents living room with my Dad.  This was only for 30 hours.  We could handle this, right?  He attempted to tell me to change the channel to a certain show.  He couldn’t remember what it was called and was struggling to find the name.  “Pawn Stars?”  I asked him.  “Yes!” I know this because this is literally the only show he will watch.  My Mom has 132 shows saved on the DVR.

I settle in knowing this is all we will do for the next 30 hours.  He asks me if I have ever watched the show before.  I tell him yes.  He ends up asking me this 14 times in the course of those 30 hours.

I glance over at him and see what has changed.  There is always a change and I just saw him 3 weeks ago.  He is just shy of 54 but looks 70.  Three years of Alzheimer’s is taking its toll.  He looks like an old man and smells like one too.  He hardly lets Mom bathe him but once a week.  He refuses to eat anything but M&M’s and ham balls.  The ham balls he picks apart, declares they taste like shit and dumps them in the trash.  The M&M’s he carries in his pockets and then asks if someone stole them.  There are trails all over the house of the colored candy.  Trails around the kitchen, blue ones kicked under the cabinets, yellow and orange ones on the bathroom floor leading to the toilet, one of every color around his chair in the living room and on the side table.

I notice he eyes me funny out of the corner of his eyes every now and then.  “How did you get picked to come sit with me?”  He asks.  He has two normal care providers during the week, he knows I am not one of them.  “I wanted to come hang out with you Dad.”  He has no idea who I am.  I can see it on his face.  They are selling a mini bike on Pawn Stars and he begins to tell me, in great detail, about a mini bike he had as a kid.  He later asks me if I want a tour of the house.

He spends his day chasing M&M’s.  I keep the fire going.  He gets up, wanders in a circle, sits back down like he has worked a 15 hour shift.  Pawn Stars ends and the DVR asks if we would like to delete the show.  If I’m in the other room he yells “Oh, Shit!  The TV broke.  The show wasn’t over!  It is asking to delete the TV.”  I go out and tell him I can fix it and I start the next episode on the long list.  Lord, please don’t let Direct TV go out on me.

I have a friend, that lives in town, come over that night with a bottle of wine.  I’m beginning to feel like I have been cut off from civilization and need some company.  So many hours of Pawn Stars and Pinterest and I’m losing it.  My Dad eyes her suspiciously when she walks in the door.  He used to love seeing her.  Her and I met when we were 10 and lived two houses apart.  For the first time you can tell he has no idea who she is.  He takes a sip of my wine, declares it shit and goes back to Pawn Stars. Her kids are not phased by his current state and seem to be entertaining him while we catch up in the other room.

Later that night I go through the bedtime routine my Mom instructed me to do.  His bed is located on one side of the living room and my Mom has been sleeping on the couch for months because he refuses to go to their bedroom.  He sees too many dead people in there.  After a lot of haggling and up and down I get him settled into bed and I settle myself on the couch.  I turn off the lights and tell him goodnight.  He answers back with a goodnight.  I’m exhausted but I know I won’t sleep much.

10 seconds later….goodnight.

Me: Goodnight.

Him: Goodnight.

Me: Goodnight (I feel like John Boy should chime in now.)

30 seconds go by. Maybe he is asleep.

Him: Goodnight.

Me: Dad, close your eyes and go to sleep.

Him: Ok…..Goodnight.

Three minutes more of goodnight and I hear him snoring.  I wonder where his mind goes.  It isn’t even here during the days as it is.  I try and recall the last time my Dad even told me goodnight in my life.  We just haven’t gotten along in so many years.  I hardly sleep all night.

The morning comes and he eyes me funny again.  He is in a shit mood and demands that show be turned on.  We sit and I begin the countdown in my head for my Mom to come back.  I have no idea how she does it.  The cats kick around the M&M’s that are littering the floor and I realize the huge bag of them is almost empty.  That could be a disaster.  I bring in more firewood, clean up the kitchen and walk around collecting lost M&M’s.  I put my stuff next to the door like it will make Mom come home sooner.  I text my brother and sister that we are still alive.

12 episodes of Pawn Stars later my Mom happily comes back in the door looking a bit more refreshed.  I was never so relieved to see her in my life.  We made it.  30 hours together and I can now go back to my own world.  He looks at my Mom like he thinks he might now who she is and she gives him a hug and kiss.  She goes about the kitchen like normal and starts showing me what she bought and the pictures she took.  This is her life now.  A husband with Alzheimer’s who knows who she is at times but most of the times these days he doesn’t.

Later that night the two will get ready for bed and she tells me they have a Notebook moment.  He grabs her face and says “Oh, there you are.  I’ve been looking for you.”  He calls her by name which happens few and far between now.  She said that look comes over his face where for a few minutes he is fully there and she tells him goodnight.

What I learned from giving up Facebook for a month

Along with my many goals for 2014, I decided to give up Facebook for the month of January.  By giving myself just one month I didn’t feel like it was forever so the commitment to such a change wasn’t very scary.  New Year’s Eve, when the clock struck midnight I promptly deleted the app from my phone and said no more. I can honestly say I didn’t have any slip ups but did go on twice to answer private messages that were sent by a friend.  Several things came from this little experience.  Some I wasn’t surprised by and some I was.

  • The first few days I realized just how much I clicked on FB and I honestly didn’t think I had done that so much in a day.  I would grab for my phone waiting in line some place or go to click on it on my desktop when bored at work but I would have to stop myself.  What would I do while standing in line now?  I spent much more time noticing my surroundings once I shoved my phone back in my purse.  Or I spent much more time accomplishing the task at hand without getting so sidetracked.  Suddenly I was gaining all these little minutes back in the day that I was previously throwing away.
  • I had some friends that were promptly annoyed and unsure how to handle me NOT being on FB.  “Can I tag you?”  “What if I send you an invite?”  “How will you know what is going on?” The list of concerns went on and on.  I would shake my head thinking this was the exact reason I needed a break from it all.  People really do have friendships without FB in this world and I certainly could.  Could my friends though?  Apparently, yes.  People would send me texts or (shock!) pick up the phone and just call me.  There were words of “Miss seeing you on FB! Wanted to see what you were up to.”   “I know you won’t see this pic on FB so I’m texting it to you.”  And let me tell you how much more I appreciated that picture of their kid that was sent via text instead of in a rolling scroll of FB updates.  I knew giving up FB would change how I approached things but I didn’t think it would do the same for my friends. How cool.
  • I went out and bought Thank You cards.  Did you know there is still a whole aisle of options of them at Target? I sent hand written thank you’s and grabbed Hallmark cards for upcoming birthday’s for that month.  There was no easy route of throwing up a comment on someone’s wall and calling it good.  No, I wanted to do more because who doesn’t like something fun in the mail? You know what that prompted?  More actual phone calls of “How cool, you sent a card! How are you?”  Much better than a notification saying they liked my comment!
  • Being FB free truly helped me clear the clutter and noise that was in my life which was my main purpose.  I’m really trying to focus on positivity this year and living in the moment.  It is no secret to anyone these days that if you unplug your life, then you find a bit more happiness. I didn’t miss the passive aggressive status updates, the lunch updates, the tagging in at some exotic destination or anything else.  When I got rid of the noise from a person I knew back in High School, I just felt calmer. We all know that there are a lot of positive statuses on FB but there is a lot of downright meanness and negativity.  I just wanted to worry about myself in that moment.
  • The thing I missed the most from FB was the pictures.  Which made me realize the obvious reason I like being on Facebook and I don’t know if I knew that prior to this experiment. The picture from a first birthday cake attack or from a vacation that had long been planned.  I have an Instagram account that I love but so many friends are not on it.  If they were all on there then I would honestly not feel the need to be on FB anymore.  I know I have family that lives far away wanting to see pictures of my dog with her cone of shame because it is too funny NOT to see.  Facebook is just the only means to share that with everyone.

So, what have I done with myself now that January is over?  While I wish I could say I didn’t re-install the Facebook app back on my phone when the end of the month hit, I did.  Mainly to update pictures.  I can say that first day back on it I scrolled for about 15 seconds before I realized I didn’t want to waste my time and logged back off.  There it was still… the clutter, the noise, the competition.  I did go through my friend’s list and deleted quite a few people.  The ones that made me roll my eyes often or the ones that I met once 8 years ago didn’t need to bring clutter to my life.  The good thing is now I don’t reach for my phone to check for updates and I’m limiting myself to looking at it just once a day.  Old habits are easy to fall back into and I just don’t want to go back there. I like the change.

We all have a love/hate relationship with social media in general and it isn’t going away.  It is a great means of communication but you have to find a balance with it in your life and this was my chance to do so.  I was still on Twitter and Instagram  during this time but I have a different relationship with those two apps.  I don’t get the same negative emotion from them like I do Facebook.  And when you aren’t checking one app then you tend to not check the others as much, which means much more looking up and around at the life happening right there in front of you.  No matter how many more forms of communication come about, living life in the moment will always win.