28 January 2012

We Are Not Alone

I've come to realise just what a unique position I was in.

My husband travelled for his job, leaving every week before the sun rose on Monday morning and returning usually after midnight on Friday. For nine years, I was 'home alone' for four days each week, and then on Fridays from 7am-7pm while he was in the office. I was alone on birthdays - but thankfully not on birth days. I was alone on holidays. I was alone on anniversaries. And, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary - including my own upbringing, for most of those nine years I thought everyone lived like this.

I thought everyone was vigilant and wakeful at night. Everyone with children, at least. I thought everyone was scheduled and structured and spent their time always on, always busy, unable to relax. I thought everyone kept calm and carried on.

And I knew lots of people had it worse than I did.
 So I didn't complain. Not overtly. Outgoing introverts seek other outlets.

I busied myself, as you do, with the goings-on of my children. With the forced friendships of 'Mommy-and-Me' classes at the pool. With the friends who hadn't abandoned us when we left the city for the suburbs. With overseeing the maintenance of a first house. With scheduling visits and roadtrips and long walks and meals. And in all of this scheduling, I lost myself. Literally. I lost the ability to see clearly the situation I lived in. The incessant busyness of cleaning and decluttering and surfing the web, and sourcing and researching and volunteering built a wall between my life and 'the rest of the world.'

And so I became a bystander. Where once I had carried giant balloons in festival parades for the World Cup, I was now carrying Red Robin balloons tethered to Vera Bradley bags. Where I once had hopped a plane to Seattle 'just because', I was now drinking 'Pete's Blend' on a bench surrounded by prairie grass. Gloriously, I had turned my life into a role I longed to play but with a script I couldn't read. And I seemed, like a voyeur, to be watching it all happen from the cheap seats.

I remember the day I first thought: "I did this to survive." It was five months after my younger son was born and I was planning the daily 'afternoon outing'. Recalling both the freedom of my own youth and the memories of long days spent in offices with windows that wouldn't open, I wanted my children to spend as much time outdoors as possible regardless the weather. As I was planning where to go on that bitterly cold day, my best friend phoned to cancel her plans to join us. Her oldest was sick the day before and it was travelling through the family at breakneck speed. I made plans with her to get food and drink on her table that night when she said something that threw me: "I keep thinking that I just have to make it until 6pm and then he'll be home and I can relax."

I have no idea how many times she'd uttered this phrase previously. A dozen times? Perhaps a hundred times. But it was like reading a verse or hearing a song that you've heard so many times before and only now really understanding what it means. She only had hours to wait until she could relax. She only had hours. I had days. It was just Tuesday, after all. I had days. Days before I felt like I might be able to relax. Days, actually just a precious 48 hours, that would be chewed up and spit out and then Monday would come again. And then I would have more days. And I realised that not everyone lived like this.

I went through the afternoon focused on getting the meal prepared for her. I piled the children in the station wagon and drove the 30 minutes to her house. After setting the table, getting the oven prepped, and cleaning up what messes I could, I made the reverse trip with both the rush hour traffic and the realization that I was in a new place emotionally closing in on me. Later that night, when the boys had been lovingly sanitized from our trip into that familiar but infected home, I sat on my sofa in front of 'Location, Location, Location' on the DVR and sobbed.

I didn't answer the phone when my husband called that night. I listened to the voice mail he'd left with a numbness spreading through me. I remember ringing him back, cognizant of the distance in both my heart and my voice. I remember thinking how unfair I was being. How removed. How cold. He told me I was. And I remember thinking "I did this to survive. I did it to survive being alone and what it feels like to be alone. I am alone and I don't want to be. You made me be alone."

We are made to be in relationships. We are not made to be alone. That we have to or that we believe that it's OK if we are is a lie. No one earns points for being alone in a world that is full of harmonies and dissonances and complements and contrasts.

Two years ago, I asked to not be alone anymore. He said, "I never meant for you to feel alone. Because you never seemed like you were."

Today's conundrum:
If we pay to have something installed 'within 48 hours', are weekends included in that 48-hour window?

Future conundrum:
Do fish really gotta swim and birds really gotta fly?

Thanks for perusing the blog. Speak again soon.   tIO x

27 January 2012

Something Has to be Said

I've been fighting with Gossip for awhile now. We are not on speaking terms at the moment - and for good reason. It's maligned my friends and family, torn groups of once happy people apart, and fanned the flames of individual insecurities creating firestorms and leaving swathes of destruction in its path.

Gossip says it serves a purpose, that it can actually be 'productive' and 'helpful.' I say 'balderdash.' But then, Gossip does tend to talk a lot of nonsense. Often we don't notice just what nonsense it is until it's too late. And when we do, by then it's moved on to a new topic and we're left feeling lost and perturbed and a little bit scared. We chase after it then (which is what it expects), trying to catch up and get back to where we were in the conversation, back to whatever we've lost in the translation. But Gossip loves to keep us guessing. That's how it works. Will it come back to us - either to include us or to make us the center of its attention? After all of this bait-and-switch hither-and-yon will-you-or-won't-you, I've grown tired of Gossip. I asked it to leave.

It just doesn't take the hint though, does it? It won't go away politely when asked, and has a terrible habit of showing up at just the wrong time. Sometimes it lulls you into a false sense of security, believing that it's not too bad and that hanging around for the occasional perk-me-up is fine really. Sometimes it simply changes clothes in an attempt to disguise itself as something else less innocuous. Or worse - important.

Then there are the times when you think you've out-run it and banished it altogether. That it's taken up shop in other circles - ones that you don't move in or care about or touch. But then you hear something about someone that you used to know or know someone who knows that someone, and, just like that, Gossip is back.

Now what? Do you stand farther out on the sidelines this time, back turned defiantly, determined to let Gossip walk right past? To not say a word and ignore the unbearable lightness and laughter beaming happily from Gossip? Do you wait to see what will happen? To whom it will happen? What Gossip will wear when it does happen? If it has on that Tom Ford lipstick you love?

The sidelines might feel safer, but you can never go too far to get away from Gossip. My advice: do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. And keep up the fight. Gossip gets tired just like the rest of us.

Today's conundrum:
Have we been able to sufficiently prove that every snowflake is unique? That no two are alike?

Future conundrum:
With all of the leaks and 'makings-of', will the SuperBowl Ferris be a hit? Or will VW reign supreme again this year?

Thanks for stopping by blogger on a snowy evening. See you again soon.
tIO x

14 January 2012

All Keyed Up

Via Contentedly >> From Bottega Veneta to Topshop, a key edit:
All Keyed Up

1.  Ebano Intrecciato Nappa Key Ring $190 - bottegaveneta.com
2.  Kim Seybert Greek Key Napkin $30 - barneys.com
3. Dune flat heel shoes £40 - houseoffraser.co.uk
4. ASOS metal jewelry $15 - asos.com
5. Tassel jewelry $75 - reissonline.com
6. Key No.2 Cross Stitch Kit £25 - liberty.co.uk
7. Isabel de Pedro printed top £115 - julesb.co.uk
FRIENDLY HUNTING square scarve €349 - veryeickhoff.com
9. Dogeared 14k jewelry $58 - neimanmarcus.com
10. TopShop round frame sunglasses £16 - topshop.com


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