We present herein the second of the planned monthly love letters. This letter has been slightly delayed due to the hubbub of end-of-school-year and holiday activities. And so, without further ado, Herself speaks:
Today I am thinking about this past year. More so than ever before, it seems, the year has been filled with trials and tribulations, worries and concerns, missteps and failed attempts and starting-overs. At the same time, interspersed within the hard parts, there have also been joys; we have also had hopes and goals that have been dreamed and achieved.
Throughout it all, you have been my companion, my motivation, and my shelter. You have listened to me when I am unable to let things go, and you have forgiven me my moments even when you do not understand. You have provided me many opportunities -- sometimes intentionally, sometimes not -- to improve as a person, and have forced me to look within and to understand myself, you, and other people better.
Thank you for helping me to be the person I am today, for allowing me the space and the time to grow into myself, and for growing alongside me. We will get there someday. Where "there" is, I do not yet know, but as long as we are journeying together, that is all that matters.
Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?" And he answered saying: You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
- Kahlil Gibran
Santa Claus has brought Herself her very own wand. She had suspected it - the scent of the wood varnish, barely detectable through the tissue paper of the wrappings, provided her that clue. She was hesitant to believe it, though, because that would have been too good to be true. And yet, it was.
It is rare that Herself is unable to communicate her thoughts and feelings; much more commonly, she uses an excess of words. This time, though, she is silent, both in voice and in writing. She carries her wand about the house with her as she does her chores, and it makes her inexpressibly happy.
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
~ Norman Vincent Peale
Herself received a lovely book from her pea-in-a-pod friend. It is Herself's favorite kind of book, with witty aphorisms and complex words. One of the quotes, marked thoughtfully by her friend, sums up quite nicely how Herself feels about this friend:
It is so rare in this world to meet a trustworthy person who truly wants to help you, and finding such a person can make you feel warm and safe, even if you are in the middle of a windy valley high up in the mountains.
- Lemony Snicket
We extend our love and all the blessings of the season to this wonderful woman, who has enriched Herself's life so very much. Thank you.
Found a great blog: zenemu.com. It has well-written entries that help explain the point of view of an individual with Aspergers. The topics are varied and include, for example, discussions on vulnerability, on relationships, and on pain perception.
When she was in her mid-thirties, Herself expressed a desire for a guitar, and a lovely instrument was obtained for her. She began teaching herself to play it, slowly. Oh, so slowly. One day, a string broke, and the guitar was put aside for the moment; and the moment somehow turned into several years. Alas.
Several weeks ago, Herself mentioned to her Beloved that for Christmas, she would like to have her guitar re-strung. Much to her delight and surprise, he took it upon himself to fetch out the guitar from the closet and arrange for the re-stringing. It is back home now, ready to be played. She must begin all over again, for she has forgotten the small amount that she once knew. We are both looking forward to the effort, though.
Another excellent desert excursion with Herself's Beloved and her cherished friend yesterday. This time, Percha Box, in southern New Mexico. Hiking. A cave. Fascinating rocks. Not another soul. Blissful quiet. She is quite delighted by these adventures.
Oh, the last week of school before winter break, so filled with to-ing and fro-ing. I have only barely caught up with myself. At last all of the Offspring are home, relaxing and enjoying a few moments of sloth. Relief, coupled with anticipation of Christmas - it's a happy sort of feeling.
Herself was feeling slightly out of sorts yesterday; it was one of those occasions when she could see the beginnings of a dark cloud on the horizon. Her Beloved has had several pressing work projects and has been working very long hours, and she has missed his company. All the irritations and frustrations that she usually manages to keep at bay have been looming larger of late. Her cup was half empty.
And then, a few brief e-mail exchanges with two of her local friends dispelled the gloom. To know that they have thought of her and taken the time to write a message, whether profound or inconsequential, to share something with her, warms her heart and makes her smile. Her friends are a cool drink in the dry desert.
On this, the twelvth anniversary of Offspring the third's arrival into this world, we rejoice. His kindness, his wisdom beyond his years, and his tender heart are a blessing to all whom he meets. It is bittersweet, sweeing him evolve into the young man he is today. Where has all the time gone?
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Herself is a trifle on the morbid side at times. While she fully intends to be here on this planet well into old age, she tries to plan ahead for all contingencies to ensure that life is as smooth and care-free as possible for those about whom she cares. In line with this train of thought, Herself periodically reminds her Beloved that if she should meet an untimely demise, he should in due course find a new wife.
It’s actually quite important to her that he knows he has her blessing to do so. She knows what he is like: how hard he works; how much he relies on her for so many of life’s necessities, including care of the children, maintenance of the household, and much more; and how much he needs a warm heart to listen to him, to laugh with him, and to scratch his head on occasion. It pains her to think of him without the consolation of a companion.
All that she asks is that he find someone who cares deeply for the Offspring, and for him. She does not want him to be held captive by her memory or feel any continuing obligation towards her. She hopes only that she is remembered fondly, and that the memory of her inspires those whom she has loved to reach out and love others. She says:
We are putting up the Christmas tree. Remarkably and mercifully, this effort has not generated any of the gnashing of teeth or squabbling as it has in years past. The lights are on, the tinsel garland has been arranged, and the musical bears (loved by Offspring the third, although they set Herself's teeth on edge) have been installed amidst multiple reminders that permission must be gained before turning them on.
I have found Herself's very first ornament. The angel is missing one wing, but she still happily rides her green sleigh with her presents. A red thread helps to display her on the tree. She will be high up in the safety of the unreachable branches, and will gaze down upon us all.
Alas, my stalwart readers, computer difficulties have rendered posting relatively sparse. My heartfelt apologies. There has been much gnashing of teeth, attempts at repair/reboot/re-something which has led to nothing more than remorse for having purchased the wretched machine from a company that shall not be named, but whose name rhymes with Hell. Appropriate, no?
Never fear, hope is on the horizon. Bear with us as we resolve and conquer!
Last weekend, Herself had the pleasure of another desert adventure with her Beloved and her cherished friend. It was the maiden voyage for the Suzuki Samurai, too. It performed well and Herself's Beloved was quite pleased. She is very happy for him.
The three of them went out to Aden Crater, New Mexico, also known as the "Sloth Hole" because the remains of an ancient ground sloth were found at the botttom of a fumarole hole in the crater. Although they had first thought it would be similar to Kilbourne Hole, it was, in fact, vastly different. The landscape was moonlike, with lava rocks, crevasses, holes, and fascinating geologic formations. It was quite windy. The three of them hiked about, poked in corners and pits, and looked under and around and through lava tubes and cracks. There was one small cave-like crack in particular that they explored more thoroughly. Though it was not terribly deep, it descended under the surface and required a flashlight and some squeezing through narrow passageways to access it.
Herself has difficulty with enclosed spaces. Though she is not quite phobic, the idea of crawling through tight rock formations is frightening to her. The thought of getting stuck positively nauseates her. Nevertheless, that day she stepped out of her comfort zone, and crawled down into the depths of that little cave.
She was not going to miss the opportunity to investigate such an interesting place, particularly when her two companions appeared to be enjoying it so much. She saw that they were at ease and could get in and out without difficulty. So, with the security of knowing that her Beloved and her friend were there, one below-ground and one above-ground, she ventured forth. And she was not afraid.
It pleases her enormously to have had this adventure. To be so very ALIVE. She is grateful.
Now that we are all satiated, and are ensconced on various couches feeling the tightness of our belts and yet still eyeing that delicious pie over there, let us pause and give thanks for the very many blessings in our lives. Herself speaks:
So many blessings, where to begin?
I am thankful for my Beloved. He loves me deeply despite my many flaws, insecurities, and failings. He is my joy, my comfort, my consolation, and my companion. I am the person I am today because of him. I cannot imagine my life any other way than with him.
I am thankful for my Offspring. They are lovely, witty, kindhearted individuals, so caring and thoughtful. Wise beyond their years at times. It is quite a miracle that I somehow brought such delightful people into the world.
I am thankful for my in-laws, who bestowed my Beloved upon the world, and also welcomed me with open arms and loving hearts from the very first day they met me. It is a blessing to be considered part of their family.
I am thankful for my parents, who gave me life, and made every effort while raising me to make all opportunities possible for me. They are still here for me at the drop of a hat, should I ever ask.
I am thankful for my brother and sister, who shaped my childhood and who remain my steadfast supporters and friends in my adulthood. Though we live far apart from one another, we are always close in heart.
I am thankful for my internet friends, who are a valuable source of humor, support, and care, even though we have never laid eyes upon one another. The miracle of technology, bringing people together in this way.
I am thankful for my old friends with whom I have reconnected because of FaceBook. Another miracle of technology, enabling me to eliminate time and distance and to enjoy them once more.
I am thankful for my El Paso friends. They are an endless source of joy for me. Their companionship, their support, and their kindness bolster me when I struggle. They entertain, enlighten, and enliven me. They provide me opportunities to care for them and to help them, and I feel useful and valuable. We talk together. We work through difficulties together. We have adventures together. We laugh together.
I am a lucky woman, to have so many individuals as blessings in my life. The Universe is kind, and I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.
The Captain's wife played the harp; she had very long arms, silvery as eels on those nights, and armpits as dark and mysterious as sea urchins; and the sound of the harp was sweet and piercing, so sweet and piercing it was almost unbearable, and we were forced to let out long cries, not so much to accompany the music as to protect our hearing from it.
- Italo Calvino, The Distance of the Moon, Cosmicomics
Let's talk for a few minutes about our favorite sport of tae kwon do.
Herself is now a red belt. Two more steps remain, if all progresses as hoped: testing for red belt/black stripe in December, and then testing for black belt next July. It seems hard to believe that she is so close now.
Lately, she has been attending the red/black belt classes twice a week, in addition to her regular classes. The primary population of these classes consists of the teenage black belt and red belt/black stripe students, with the occasional "mature" student besides Herself. She wants to attend these classes, and yet, they test her mental and physical endurance to the very limits.
She is often frustrated by her inability to perform certain kicks or other movements. She understands in theory how things are supposed to work, and yet is unable to force her body to do what should be done. It's "comprehension vs. compliance." She feels old, slow, stupid. Inept.
It would be easier not to attend the classes, to excuse herself as being physically unable. And sometimes that seems a reasonable excuse - her hips pop, her knees hurt, her old ankle injury flares. But is she hiding behind fear and age? If she only tries harder, could she perform properly? How much must she push? Shouldn't she be more protective of her body? What if she injures herself? Is it truly physically impossible for her, or has she just not tried hard enough yet? Will she ever succeed?
It has been a long journey. Some days she forgets that it is a miracle that she is able to do tae kwon do at all, that a few years ago, such a physical challenge was an impossibility. She would do well to remember. She does the very best she can. Ultimately, that will have to be enough.
And once more, my minions, we delve into slightly adult matters. Those of you who are squeamish about functional body parts should go poke about in other parts of the Internets.
Herself woke up exhausted this morning, and explained to me that she spent much of the night dreaming about having newborn twins. One boy, one girl. Quite cute, she said. The girl was wearing the little one-piece suit that all of the Offspring had worn home from the hospital.
The crux of the dream was nursing the babies. She dreamt vividly about positioning the baby correctly, tickling the little chin so the tiny mouth would open enough, helping the baby latch on properly. Burping the baby afterwards and seeing a bit of milk trickle out of the corner of a gassy smile.
When the Offspring were little, Herself was one of those mothers. Not a militant breastfeeder, mind you, but one of those perceived-as-slightly-crazy women who nursed beyond each child's first year. She can't explain why it was so very important to her to nurse the babies. Part of it was a touch of guilt in having to leave them to go to work, I'm sure. Another greater part, though, was her visceral desire (practically a need) to give of herself to these tiny human beings that Nature had seen fit to bestow upon her. Besides, she muses in retrospect, isn't that truly what breasts are for? We know they can be decorative. They are also quite functional.
She struggled through poor latch, mastitis multiple times, leaking at inopportune moments, pumping at work, and other associated difficulties and indignities in order to ensure that the nursing process was successful for each of the Offspring. She poured her heart into the effort. And it paid off.
Each child weaned in his/her own good time, after their respective first birthdays but before they reached a scandalous-in-the-eyes-of-the-general-public age. Herself was, in fact, relieved (though slightly wistful) when they were each finished. There. A job well done.
How cruel the psyche, to dredge up such vivid dreams at this time. Is she sad? Nostalgic? Longing? I cannot tell. She may not know, even, herself.
Herself has realized that as she has waded through her own sorrows and frustrations of late, that her patience for others -- even for her Beloved, who is closest and most dear to her -- has been quite short. She is bereft to think that she has treated him with anything less than the unmitigated kindness that he so deserves. She asks for his forgiveness and understanding, and vows to try harder to act and speak with the patience that is so warranted.
Grasshopper, seek first to know your own journeys beginning and end. Seek then the other journeys of which you are a close part. But in this seeking, know patience. Wear that travelers cloak, which shelters and permits you to endure.
Herself was thinking back this morning to those long, long years when she and her Beloved lived in separate states. It was a nearly every-day ritual to compose a letter, whether short or long, to her Beloved. She truly enjoyed taking that moment to let him know she was thinking about him, missing him and looking forward to their time together. Although her letter-writing abated once they were finally married and together, she still thinks quite fondly of those days when words on paper would bridge the distance between them.
Now in the present, so busy they are, and so mired in the daily grind of LIFE, that oftentimes she feels like she does not have adequate moments to remind him that he is loved, treasured, admired, desired, and needed. In an effort to ensure he knows the depth of her feelings for him, she has asked that I allow her periodic space in the blog for an electronic letter to him. It is not enough, she states, to tell him in person; she wants the the Internet, with its eternal and wide-ranging presence, to hear as well. Only by shouting from the electronic rooftops, she says, can she begin to explain how she feels.
And without further ado, her letter today.
Today I am thinking about the very first month that we spent apart. You'll remember, I was sweltering in the northeastern humidity, and you were home in the dry southwest. My coworkers that long, hot summer would periodically ask me questions like, How can you be so *sure that he is The One? You only dated him a month - how do you know he feels about you the way you feel about him? How can long distance possibly work? It was so difficult to listen to negative comments; and yet despite hearing them, there was never any doubt in my mind.
For I knew, from the moment I met you, that there was something different about you. Something special, something important. Something I needed to learn. I knew then that you would be a shining light on my path of life, providing me hope and guidance even when I was at my most despairing and most lost. And so you have been, day after day, no matter how near or how far apart we are. I am so grateful. I owe you more than I can ever repay. Thank you, my Beloved.
The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through eternity. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It's that time of year again! One of my most favorite holidays. We were fortunate enough to obtain several large pumpkins this year. We plan to disembowel them on Saturday and carve them Sunday morning. I am not sure what design I will use yet, though I have several ideas. We hope to be frightening!
Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With a tiny bit of encouragement, Herself's Beloved made her not one, but two, omelets this weekend, and followed that up with a stir-fry yesterday evening. Herself is quite delighted with this turn of events and is very happy that he has taken an interest in cooking with, and for, her. While Herself regularly prepares food for others, it is extremely rare that someone prepare a meal for her, and it truly pleases her when someone else takes an interest in feeding her for a change.
We look forward to many further culinary adventures with him.
Herself's cherished friend has started down a new path very recently. It is an avenue that belongs solely to her friend, and not to Herself, and so it is not Herself's place to provide any details upon it. Nevertheless, Herself is delighted to be witness as events unfold. It warms her heart, fills her with hope, and brings her joy to see her friend happy upon this journey. Herself's greatest wish is that this pathway will unfold exactly as her friend wishes it to do.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. - Lao Tzu
WARNING: this post has some slightly adult theme and content. All those who are squeamish or underage should find something better to read. Or go watch videos on wimp.com.
Herself was slightly amused to find a particular message in her e-mail this morning. It began:
Your baby is finally here! The Fisher-Price® Family extends our congratulations and warmest wishes to your new—or growing—family. We hope the prenatal e-mails we sent over the last nine months or so were interesting and informative as your pregnancy progressed.
On the one hand, it is quite entertaining that a woman who acquired a medically-necessary divorce from her uterus just over a year ago would receive this advertisement. "A medical miracle!" Herself quips. "Call Oprah! I can sell my story and retire a wealthy woman!"
On the other hand, it's really not funny to her at all.
Herself still has not come to terms with the fact that she can no longer bear children. Not that she would want another baby. There is just something that pains her deeply about knowing that door is permanently closed.
Is it a sense of somehow not being as much of a woman, now that she is incapable of pregnancy? Is it a reminder that she has reached the age when men do not look at her as an attractive woman, but only as a mother of nearly-adult children? Is it the loss of the heart-opening vulnerability when lovemaking might result in a baby? Is it nostalgia for days when a colorful cloth diaper covered a sleeping infant's behind, or for times when a comfortable toddler curled up to her in the baby sling?
All this, and more. Is this some kind of mid-life crisis? I think not; it is more of a time of evolution of the spirit. It is quite painful. I know, though, that she will bring herself through in time.
We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. - Kenji Miyazawa
This past weekend, Herself's Beloved purchased a Suzuki Samurai. This transaction was, in short, quite discombobulating for Herself. Nevertheless, it inspired some quite creative work. I present to you, the story as described by Herself, in haiku format, complete with a preface couplet.
It was a desperate struggle. She contended with things she did not understand, with feelings previously unknown, with thoughts dark and furious. She wept bitter tears, and yet found no relief in the crying. There was no resolution in sight. Agony. She despaired.
And then, through the void, a glimmer of light. She was brought backwards in memory to the times when she felt the guidance of the invisible hand. How she has missed those flashes of understanding of the path before her. This is, she now understands, but another waypoint on the journey.
She has embraced and taken the darkness into herself, and in doing so, has calmed the tempest within. The night sky is clear and starry. The path stretches out in view once more.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
When I was but a tender young Ninja, I kept most of my emotions to myself. Happiness, sadness, frustration, love, longing, anger, fear, disappointment, all bottled up inside. I didn't show how I felt - for to do so was to make myself vulnerable. With my sentiments safely locked away, I could protect myself from heartache, heartbreak. So I thought.
Now that I am greater in years, I have come to realize that to protect myself is to shield myself not only from sorrow, but also from joy, for they go hand in hand. Without the one, the other cannot fully exist.
I learned this when I discovered that my heart had quietly escaped the confines in which I had placed it. It now roams freely over the earth, seeking experience and wisdom. It trips and falls; it is bruised; it is hardened; it is warmed by the glow of one individual and cooled by the callousness of another; it is shattered by a harsh word, or by a silence; and it is nursed back to health by a soothing word or a tender touch.
I cry more, and I laugh more. I make a greater effort to reach out to people. Even though I embarrass myself and make conversational mistakes more frequently, I nevertheless succeed in bridging the gap between myself and others more often. The abyss of loneliness does not yawn before me as it once did. There is warmth, and light, and hope.
I tell the people I love, how much they mean to me. I say, "thank you," and I truly mean it. I am grateful for all the small moments in which I can lend a listening ear, provide a gentle hug, offer a muffin, or give consolation. And it is only because I have survived the bitter sorrows and failures of the past, that I can truly appreciate these joys now.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
- Kahlil Gibran
On the one hand, to write about yesterday's adventure would diminish it, since any penned description will be quite inadequate. On the other hand, not to write about it would also cause some of its splendour to be lost as well. I will try, fruitlessly, to capture its essence in words.
Herself, her Beloved, her cherished friend, and I drove out to a geologic point of interest - Kilbourne Hole, New Mexico. The roads were rough but the Jeep handled them effortlessly. The volcanic rock and the sandy soil were weathered into various interesting shapes and held small colorful stones. There was silence broken only by the sound of the flies and an occasional vehicle passing by. They poked about in the rocks, had lunch, sat comfortably in the shade.
It was a glorious reprieve from It All. All ordinary thoughts and worries were displaced by the quiet and the tranquil landscape. Only the movement of the shadow of the tarp showed that time was passing. Herself wished for profound and meaningful things to say, inspired by such a serene environment, but could not muster a single complex thought, for her brain was resting.
It was a much-needed respite. Blissful. Peaceful. Comforting.
We returned refreshed, but with a sense of loss for having left the Hole.
We'll go back someday.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.... We need silence to be able to touch souls. - Mother Teresa
In the past week, two of the three Offspring have suffered heartbreak. While they are learning the vital skills of interpersonal relationships that are so important to adolescent children, it is nonetheless a painful process. We do what we can to offer solace. They will learn, and grow, from their experiences.
How shall my heart be unsealed, unless it be broken?
- Kahlil Gibran
Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.
Tonight is the Homecoming Dance for Offspring the first -- her final Homecoming, as she is a senior in high school now. She chose her dress carefully, and selected the perfect accessories and shoes. She spent much time on beautification and preparation, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. She looks lovely. How did she grow up so quickly? I do not know.
Herself is wistful. Where did the time go, she wonders, that she should be here at this unexpected milestone so quickly? How did she come to be so firmly middle-aged, she asks, trapped in work and family and house and bills and pets and daily grind, with some dreams lost (though other dreams found) and moments passed, never to return again?
She says, "My daughter, so beautiful and youthful - and I am neither." My heart breaks for her, for I know not how to comfort her. She must find for herself some new dreams for her own future, and only she can determine what shape those dreams will take.
Today, I turn the blog over to Herself.
I have written an essay that has been brewing in my head ever since I went to my high school reunion. It's a part of the tapestry that is my personal history. I know you have heard all of the pieces at one time or another; I have finally woven them into a cohesive story, carefully and plainly.
It is a love story.
You can easily imagine what I was like when I was young: rather nerdy, fond of science and words, socially awkward. Like most teenage girls, I was interested in those elusive creatures so significantly absent from my all-girls' high school: BOYS. Some of the adult women I knew, including my mother, periodically informed me that all men (except perhaps my father) were pigs; nevertheless, I aspired to spend time with males of my species.
To this end, I participated in the theater projects that my school had with our brother school. Disliking any kind of spotlight, I usually worked props or costumes rather than being onstage myself. My senior year, I gathered up my courage, and auditioned for and obtained a part in the chorus for the spring musical. Nothing spectacular, but it enabled me to interact occasionally with the boys at the rehearsals.
The vast majority of the boys gave me no more than a cursory hello on occasion. Imagine my surprise and delight when the lead actor in the musical, "Bobby," began to pay me some attention. Ooo! I, who was nobody, attracting the notice of the sought-after Bobby. I was SPECIAL.
We dated for three weeks. He stopped by my house at the end of the third week, which was one week before the prom, to break up with me. Why? Because he and I had a clear-cut difference of opinion: he felt that three weeks was sufficient dating time for me to sleep with him, and I disagreed. It turned out I wasn't special after all; I was just what he had thought would be an easy lay.
His parting shot began with, Let me give you some advice. He then informed me that no guy would be interested in me in college unless I "put out," so I'd better think about doing so. Oh, and he'd already invited someone else to the prom, so he and I would not be going to the prom just as friends, either.
Dark and angry were my thoughts about Bobby. I vowed that I would prove him wrong when I went to college.
Much to my chagrin, it oftentimes appeared that Bobby was right. Guys who espoused Bobby's point of view were plentiful in college. Furthermore, while making female friends was difficult enough, making a male friend was a near impossibility. It wasn't until midway through my junior year that I made what I considered to be my first male friend.
I was dating someone else at the time, yet this guy still went out of his way to say hello, to ask how I was, to invite me to sit with him at meals on occasion, and to always be friendly to me. He talked to me, listened to me, and though he flirted with me on occasion, was always respectful of my personal boundaries. I was drawn to him.
He was an extremely rare man, one who understood that my acts of kindness towards him were neither an indication of my willingness to put out, nor an attempt to indebt him to me, but were gestures of caring that implied nothing else and required nothing specific in return. His company refreshed and renewed my soul. It was as though I had been buffeted by a strong wind for years, and his sheltering presence brought me quiet and tranquility at last.
He singlehandedly proved both Bobby and the naysaying women wrong: not all men were pigs.
The course of my friendship with him subsequently changed one August morning nearly twenty years ago, when we exchanged vows to become husband and wife. Had we not been friends first, though, we would not be where we are today. The foundation of our friendship has sustained and fortified our marriage during the most trying of times, and has brought increased joy during the happiest of times. Thank you, my Beloved, for extending the hand of friendship to me, so long ago.
Herself is concerned about her friends. They are, at the moment, variously overburdened, worried, frustrated, and distressed about a variety of issues, both large and small. How she wishes she could help ease their struggles. The best she can do is listen to them, and love them.
What do we do when we suffer a wounding of the heart?
We can think ill of the person who has hurt us. We can drown our sorrows in carbohydrates. We can rage, we can storm, we can scream.
In time, we can also arise anew.
Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time. - Sara Paddison
I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living. - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Herself has begun writing a story. She has worked on it at length for several days now. She tells me that she is not certain, at this juncture, whether it will ever be seen by anyone's eyes other than her own. Nevertheless, she is quite happy working on it, for it has allowed her to weave multiple threads of her personal history into a cohesive and tidy picture. It pleases her.
I do hope that one day she will have the courage to share the story with us.
He was a senior; she, a junior. They had met and become casual friends that year; they talked pleasantly, flirted occasionally. To her, he seemed so different from the other college boys: he wore jeans and shoes, rather than sweatpants and sneakers; he had a leather jacket and tinted glasses; he carried a handkerchief. He was hard working, mature, confident in himself. He had a flock of female friends and admirers. She was too shy of him to try to get to know him better, and envied the girls who would visit him in the architecture studio. She had a crush on him. She knew she never had a chance.
They sat at the same table during lunch one afternoon. It was near the end of the school year and their idle conversation turned to a school-wide party being held that evening. She inquired, "Are you going?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Oh? Why not?"
"Well, Paulina isn't going, Colleen isn't going...." He rattled off the names of four or five girls who weren't attending. She cringed inwardly, saddened and jealous of the lucky girls with whom he would have considered going to the party.
She had a sudden realization. Opportunity was knocking.
She carefully questioned: "Is the problem that you have no one to go with?"
Her heart skipped a beat. Time stood still. The door was open. Did she dare step through? A lifetime passed. Two lifetimes. An eternity. Three seconds.
"Would you like to go with me?"
Thus began the journey of Herself and her Beloved.
Yesterday, Herself took Offspring the first shopping for a dress for the homecoming dance. Though Herself has formerly dreaded such expeditions, this time the trip was surprisingly pleasant. Offspring the first has grown just enough that she now fits comfortaby into junior sized clothing, which has eliminated the wails of "everything is TOOOOO BIG" that had occurred in previous years. In the first (and only necessary) store, there were at least a dozen interesting dresses of assorted colors and degrees of sparkliness, all of which were tried on happily, and a selection was easily made. Huzzah!
As Herself roamed among the racks of beaded, sparkly, and silky garments, she was wistful. She remembers days of yore when she had her own opportunities for going out. The excitement of a new dress; the rituals of makeup; the fixing-up of hair; the application of toenail polish and fancy shoes; the spritz of just a bit of perfume. So rare now. Evenings nowaways are awash in the mundane pieces of family life: work, homework, laundry, cooking, cleaning, trying to watch a movie on TV and falling asleep. Alas.
Herself realizes she is like a pair of jeans: practical and comfortable, a bit worn in places, and not particularly glamorous. She would like an opportunity to be a party dress for a night. We must find a chance soon.
Yesterday Herself and her Beloved ran errands together. The place where they had hoped to have Herself's watch repaired was unfortunately closed for the long weekend; the gun shop adjacent to it was open, though, so they moseyed on in to take a look around.
When Herself was younger, she was vehemently anti-gun. Her Beloved slowly acclimated her to the idea of guns in the house - first bringing home his childhood rifle that had been stored at his parents' house; then purchasing another rifle; and finally, this past Christmas, presenting her with a Ruger Mark III pistol as a gift.
At first she scoffed. She jokingly suggested that his thought process had been: "What gift do I get for my beloved wife, who does so much and yet asks for so little? Oh, I know. Firearms!"
A few trips to the range later, she has learned how to shoot her gun. She is inwardly pleased that she has stepped out of her comfort zone sufficiently to be able to handle her gun and not make (too much) of an ass of herself. It is empowering.
Nevertheless, she feels extremely awkward when she visits the gun shop. It is quite the Man's Domain. Each time, she is the only woman in the shop, and feels as though all eyes are upon her, questioning why she is there. She is afraid of demonstrating her ignorance. Her knowledge of firearms is quite limited, and one casual question would be enough to expose her nescience. She fears glances among the staff that would indicate they know she is just a dimwitted woman tagging along with her Man. The staff at every gun shop, however, have always been unfailingly polite and professional; it is solely her own insecurities at play.
I think that I should find her some informative reading materials, so that she can be better prepared and more confident the next time she sets foot in the gun shop. Besides, as I tell her, what is more attractive than Girls With Guns? She rolls her eyeballs dismissively at me.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.