Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘being single’

There are pluses and minuses to living alone. At times it can be a solitary existence, but if you spin that correctly it can also mean time spent doing things you enjoy, when you want to enjoy them. Simple pleasures such as picking up a good book at three in the afternoon in your most lived in sweats, and wiling away a couple of hours, or having a bowl of Cheerios and bananas for dinner. It also gives you the latitude to decorate your nest as you please without having to ask “do you like this chair” or “what do you think of this color for the living room wall”? Rick and I shared a lot of things, our taste in decorating wasn’t one of them. Where Rick leaned toward sleek clean lines and modern decor, I bent much more in the direction of cozy country chic designs, making picking out artwork, furniture, and even dishes a matter of initiating compromise on both sides. In our first house, the decor was much more Rick’s style than mine. As it was his house, that should not be surprising. However, when we moved in our first house together his style sort of blended with mine creating an interesting, but not unappealing (at least to us) eclectic mix.

In a recent blog, I mentioned my current pining for ocean breezes and salty air. I also mentioned I had finally purchased a new bed. Both came together as I began to rethink the room once the new furniture was in place. As the ideas flowed and the design ideas progressed, I brought the sea to the room and love, love, love the end result. Was I left to my own devices and didn’t have a life to live, I would climb up on that oh so comfy mattress, sink into my bank of pillows, and simply “be” for the next five years. Unfortunately, I would be doing my “be-ing” on the street before long so feel I need to do more with my time than wallow about swathed in cotton all day.

A friend of mine called this morning. She was telling me her granddaughter, a recent high school graduate, is headed to UC Santa Barbara this fall along with her childhood best buddy. The girls drove up from the LA area last weekend with their parents to sign a lease on an off campus apartment where they will make their home during their first year at school. How exciting. I have to admit as she was filling me in on the details of the girls college plans, I felt a pang or two of envy. The whole college experience is something I missed out on. Not because it wasn’t available to me, but rather because I chose another option. Though I believe you should be grateful for what you have, and not spend time lamenting what you do not, I have always wondered what going off to college might have looked like. I managed to jam nearly a full year of college credits in between raising two toddlers and a full time job, but that is not the same as heading off to school with no outside encumbrances. For me there were no late night parties, sorority sisters, or football games. I was all about diapers, bills and a husband.

Part of having children early in life is it will likely leave you an empty nester at a relatively young age. Now, this may be far less true nowadays, particularly here in California. The cost of housing has become so prohibitive and housing availability so tight, a lot of adult children are still living under their parent’s roof just to make ends meet. Both my children were out on their own by the time I celebrated my fortieth birthday, with my first grandchild arriving on the scene the year I turned forty-two. That was a red letter year for me. I got married that year, yes again, and was living in West Virginia when my sweet little granddaughter was born. At around the time she turned six weeks old, I could no longer wait for our first introduction. I purchased a ticket, and hopped on a plane at Yeager Airport in Charleston and flew non-stop to San Jose. For me this was a big event in several ways. Since moving from Alabama to West Virginia I had inexplicably been suffering from anxiety attacks. I had never dealt with them before, and once they abated, thankfully, never have since. At the time, however, they were a driving power in my life. When I would shop at a large box store such as Sam’s Club, for example, being inside that cavernous warehouse brought about an immediate claustrophobic reaction in me. As I went further into the belly of the beast, my heart would begin to pound, my ears take to ringing, and my forehead would develop lines of sweat. Suddenly, I would get the overwhelming urge to run out of the building, and would have to find an exit in order to gather my breath. These annoying responses went on for about two years before I finally got a grip on them and was able to pack them away in my memory chest. Once, when visiting my kids in California I joined them on a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland, as you can imagine, is not the ideal place to find yourself when dealing with claustrophobia. Being inside in the dark on rides is sort of their claim to fame. For those of you who have been there and gone on Space Mountain you will understand exactly what I am saying here. Somehow I muddled through. At the time they were featuring the 3-D movie Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson, in their Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland. The theater itself was massive on the inside. We were handed 3-D glasses on entering the building, and were seated in the middle of the center row with people stretched out on either side. When the doors shut and the dark was absolute. Mommy. The movie started, and I could feel my heart rate moving up the scale with the music. Using all the tools my doctor had given me, I worked on taking my mind off what my body was doing and concentrating on what was going on on the screen. The 3-D glasses allow the viewer to capture all the amazing effects giving the impression images are right in front of your face. For me, this was the last straw. Dark closed in, and glasses off, gasping like a wide mouth bass in the bottom of the boat, I stood up and told my son-in-law I had to leave. “Leave, now?”, he said, but I was already saying “excuse, me. pardon, me”, all the way across the aisle. An employee grabbed me y the arm asking what in a whisper exactly what I thought I was doing. Unable to explain myself, but after seeing my face, she just guided me to an exit. A bit embarrassing to say the least. Outside people were staring at me as red faced I sucked at the air hoping to grab a little oxygen. For any of you who have ever had an anxiety attack, you will understand the feelings I am describing. It is a fight or flight reaction your body goes into when faced with danger. Though Captain EO posed no danger at all to my psyche, the closing doors triggered my body into action. After a while, I learned to manage the anxiety. First, you have to acknowledge to yourself that you are having a panic attack, then remind yourself there is actually no imminent danger. Next, you have to breathe in and out slowly to calm yourself down. It really is amazing the power of the mind. Probably says a lot as to why it is said a positive attitude can effect a cancer outcome, or how negative thoughts can create illness.

At any rate, after that long detour into my psyche, when my granddaughter was born this is what I was managing. Getting on a plane, basically a long tube where you are closed in and hermetically sealed, was a problem for me. When the doors were closed and the cheerful flight attendant was robotically reciting the safety rules, the pounding in my chest once again resumed, sounding like a kettle drum inside my ears. Oh-oh. All I could think about is imagining myself standing at the door to the cockpit, beating loudly, and screaming, “OUT, I NEED TO GET OUT”! Thankfully, they serve liquor on planes so I managed to survive the flight without total public humiliation, well at least with the panic attacks. By the time I arrived in San Jose my tongue and lips had agreed they could no longer form words and I could no longer feel my feet. When I got up to get my carry on bag out of the overhead bin, I had to be accosted by the flight attendant two seats down the aisle to be informed the bag I had retrieved belonged to the lady in the seat across from me and mine was still up in the compartment Whoops. Could have been worse, I could have borrowed her husband or somebody’s child. Probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Ach.

It was grand to be there once I sobered up. Seeing your grandchildren for the first time is nearly the event greeting your own is, though with less participation and less responsibility on your part. I have to say being part of the audience rather than one of the key players, can prove far less stressful. On my arrival at my daughter’s house, a sweet little pink bundle was placed in my arms. A tiny girl with a serious head of dark hair stared up at me as if to say, “Hi, Nana” and I was hooked. Always I have loved children. Their innate ability to accept the most ludicrous of scenarios as full of possibilities and adventures, their unchecked honestly (no matter how painful), and their wide eyed fascination with anything and everything populating their world. Like my cat, who always seems to find her way into my blogs, you can give a child a cardboard box and they will see a fort, a suit of armor, or perhaps even a sled gliding down an icy hill. As we get older and decorum and proper adult behavior become expected of us, we lose that childish innocence and overt joy. Too bad we couldn’t pack it away like a cloud of fireflies in a Mason jar to be pulled out of reserve for darker days.

We do survive things, we humans. Crises come and crises go. People float into our lives, some sticking like jelly to the wall, and others slipping away after a while and disappearing from sight. There are so many mysteries yet to unfold. I wonder at times what life will look like forty years in the future, or even a century away. I will not be here to write about it, but would love to be a fly on the wall to see what state the world is in as time marches along. I hope we open our eyes to climate change and start seriously taking responsibility for our part in keeping this world safe for our children, and grandchildren and theirs. Each of us has a hand in how we impact our environment and hopefully we can reverse some of the damage already done or at the very least prevent further damage in the future.

Have a safe and productive day. TGIF!!

Read Full Post »

videoblocks-woman-putting-hand-on-window-in-front-of-rain-sad-slow-motion_sduwbzxum_thumbnail-full11

Rain is sheeting down my windows, my Christmas trees are twinkling, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is curled by my feet, steam is rising from my coffee and all is right with the world. I’m enjoying one of my “near perfect moments”. They happen here and there when the stars align with the moon and the planets and everything, in spite of the strife and hard angles involved in existing on this earth, falls into perfect alignment. For just that moment in time life is totally, undeniably, beautiful.  If I could bottle this precious commodity therapists would be taking down their shingles and looking for another line of work and Boo and I would be languishing on a gloriously warm white sandy beach somewhere drinking Mai Tai’s and watching buffed, tanned young men arrange the lawn furniture.

I know I experience these soul touching snippets of time but wonder if others do.  Perhaps when a parent watches their deaf child react to hearing their voice for the first time, or a tired driver turns a corner on a rural road to find fields of lavender spread out before them, or standing at a window watching the first light snowflakes of the season drift slowly down to earth. Whatever your idea of perfection, I would be interested to know.

More and more of these special moments have been revealing themselves as I begin to come up out of the fog of the last year or two and look towards the future. As I’ve mentioned there is a coring out associated with losing someone dear to you that clears the road for a new and different version of yourself to emerge. Possibilities for what could come to be as time unfolds began to take form.

People ask me so often if I have met anyone, or if I am interested in exploring a new relationship. My best answer to the former “too soon”, and to the latter, “I don’t know”. Right now I am trying to discover who I am. If I don’t know who I am how can someone else hope to get to know me? This got to me wondering what type of person I would want to meet. Over the years I may not have zoned in on exactly what I needed in a partner, but I certainly have crossed off a lot of what I did not need.

Partnering is not for sissies. It is difficult enough just to be you but to be “us” with someone else takes patience, compromise, and perseverance. How do you know what type of person is the best fit for you? Do you choose a person with like interests and tastes? Possibly. However, for all that we humans seem alike, we are all so vastly different.  Watching a ballet troupe perform Swan Lake might move one person to tears while at the same time leave the person next to them longing for a No-Doz. Where our physical construction remains basically the same our emotional makeup is so much more complicated and unique. Often I question whether relationships with two like people work better than those where the pair are polar opposites. In my case someone just like me might either cause sparks to fly or snoring to ensue. I might be less than stimulated to have a partner who agreed with every premise I supported rather than offering me opposing views to mull over and consider.

So, will I have another serious relationship in my life? This remains to reveal itself. Certainly I have had my share of relationships. Being somewhat of a nester, I seem to naturally gravitate to setting two places at the table. I hear opposing views on the subject. Though I have many happily attached friends, I also have single friends who would rather cut off their own foot than immerse themselves in another serious relationship. These friends prefer their own company cherishing the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it.  I have to admit there is a sort of heady feeling to being able to move about unencumbered. However, I do so miss having Rick at home waiting for me with a smile when I arrived at the door or worrying about me if I was running late. I like sharing my day with someone interested in hearing about it, and settling in for a cuddle and a little TV before getting ready for bed.

There are a lot of activities I find more fun with a companion. This does not mean I can’t have fun alone, I most certainly can. However, there is also something special about sharing the experience with someone who I enjoy spending time with. Travel, for example. I prefer to travel with someone, though traveling alone is not alien or frightening to me. Part of my job description in my last job in the Bay Area was being flown about the U.S. orchestrating trade show details for the product our company manufactured.  Usually first on the scene, my job was to secure a hospitality suite where I would set up shop as home base for our executives to do business with and entertain prospective clients and investors. This would include ordering lavish spreads, preparing giveaway bags, and selecting high end wines. Often these rooms were pricey units on secured floors with all the amenities afforded those who can foot the bill. Though there was lots of work involved in promoting these shows, certainly it was not a difficult perk to swallow that I went back after a long day to an exquisite suite and was provided a carte blanche room service agreement. Where some would have been dining on the deck enjoying pate or lobster bisque washed down with a fine pinot noir, I could often be found bouncing on the bed, ordering a cheeseburger and fries with a beer, and stuffing all the little toiletries in my suitcase to add to my collection at home.

Traveling is high on my list of things I would love to do more of with or without someone to hit the road with. Greece and Italy beckon me all the time, and though I have seen Paris and London there is so much more of Europe I would like to leave a footprint on. A return trip to Nova Scotia is definitely on my “Things I Must Do Before I Can’t” list. No matter how many years spread out between my last visit there, I still yearn to see it again. Home, after all, will always be home no matter where you hang your hat. Also, I am looking forward to meeting my dad’s tribe, many of which I have never met, sometime next year. Deep down below these brown roots I will always be Canadian with a healthy mix of American now thrown in for good measure.

With the new year about to arrive I have begun thinking seriously about how to use 2020. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? I believe, again referring to my heritage, after living so many years in the U.S. it is time to apply for dual citizenship. With the present atmosphere around citizenship in this country I don’t want to be waving at my family from the back of a truck headed north of the dividing line. I do wish it wasn’t so expensive to get this done. I just paid nearly $1000 to get my Canadian paperwork up-to-date. I’m told this could take upwards of fifteen months due to the high volume of applicants. Whew.

Also my thoughts have turned to reeducating myself perhaps in a different field. You are never too long in the tooth to learn something new. I know I have some snow on the roof but I’m still capable of putting words together in a sentence and having a cogent thought from time to time. Surely I can still be retrained? I think older adults should be given life credit for lasting this long. Hopefully, unless you cruised through your life with your eyes and eyes on mute you have picked up some knowledge along the way. I like to think I have, though there are probably some out there who might argue this point. I have fallen on my face on many occasions but managed to pick myself up and take a lesson from why I tripped in the first place. Having been married four times one might say I was a slow learner, but I prefer to think of myself as optimistic about love. Makes it easier to sleep at night.

So as I ponder my world and what is to come, I am happy to report almost all my holiday shopping is done. I have made an early resolution that next year I will not do this amount of shopping. Instead I will try to pick out something small but meaningful or make something for each of my loved ones. Most of my friends have opted to tuck a check in their Christmas cards to those relatives they give to, but I needed one more year of shopping and wrapping under my belt before I handed over the baton. It was most fun and my tree skirt is happily covered with brightly wrapped gifts. Boo, who believes everything in this house is actually hers only being on loan to me as long as I feed her, works on undermining this effort every day.

Have a great one. Learn a new word, try a new food, say hi to someone who looks like they might not say hi back. Make it count.

644c26d3625d24a0c7c61dbc63a921be

 

 

Read Full Post »

Having lost Rick, my partner for twenty years to cancer last September, I am adjusting to being “single” once again. One of the first things I noticed when finding myself on my own was the sensation of “uncoupling”. Essentially, being single in a world originally designed for couples, (even the ark only offered accommodations for two). Being on one’s own offers up it’s unique set of challenges. Uncomfortable moments specifically reserved for the unattached. For example, walking into a nice restaurant to have a meal. Before your eyes have adjusted you are greeted by the hostess inquiring, “How many in your party”? Looking around you lean in towards her ear and whisper, “I am the party”. When it has been established no one is with you, nor anyone expected, you are guided to an available table almost always in the center of the room. Once seated, the bus staff swoops in to remove any extra place settings so guests at adjacent tables are fully aware you are bereft of partner and only to be pitied. Since it might be considered rude in nice surroundings to retrieve the book in your purse, you instead sit there memorizing the pattern on the tablecloth or examining your silverware for spots until something arrives on a plate you can devote your full attention to. I have friends, some single for many years, who do eat out regularly without feeling awkward. As you might have sensed, I am not there yet.

Another difficult situation for me is a party populated solely by couples. When you arrive to discover yourself the only “one”, the hosts toss you about like a hot potato at a barbecue. People just don’t know what to do with you. Tables are often set up for pairs so you end up being part of a threesome who would really prefer to be a twosome, or an extra chair is added at the head of the table so it is patently obvious no one has accompanied you. Worse, if you strike up a conversation with someone’s husband you could be considered poaching on their territory. The last barbecue I went to where I was the only one among twos I ended up having a stimulating  conversation about the state of our union with the schnauzer lying by the fireplace who also appeared to have shown up for the evening stag. Sigh.

Couples suddenly seem to emerge from every nook and cranny. You see them cuddling in the theater, taking turns tossing things in the grocery cart at the market, and walking along chatting and laughing everywhere you go. Friends and family begin to ask what you are doing to encourage a new relationship in your life. Please, let me grieve the old one first.  I am sure at some point I may welcome someone new into my life, but I am not ready for romance at this stage of the game. I have, however, picked up some tips along the way for ladies who are actively searching for a mate. Go to the grocery store around dinner time. Secure a place in the line forming around the hot food kiosks. Single men seem to gravitate in this area like ants around a sugar cube. I have to admit I have found myself there on more than one occasion, not casting my line but rather filling one of the boxes with something to take home for dinner. While standing there you might toss about a couple of compelling opening lines like, “my fried chicken certainly puts this to shame”, or “thank God my parents sent me to culinary school”.

Another testosterone filled event, at least in our town, is held the local K-Mart parking lot on Saturday mornings. From 8 to 11 the shopping center is bustling with men washing down bear claws with steaming cups of coffee while showing off souped up muscle cars from their salad days. They huddle together avidly discussing the pros and cons of this engine or that piston brand, kicking tires and admiring one another’s sparkling engines. So if you’re single and looking ladies, it wouldn’t hurt to bone up on manifolds and cam belts and take a walk over and wander around looking fascinated should such an event be happening near you.

Cooking for one has far less allure than preparing a meal for two or more. Again, packaging is done with couples or families in mind. Costco becomes a less attractive shopping venue. What am I going to do with a five pound chub of Jarlsberg? By the time I’ve celebrated the half way mark and consumed cheese on everything from corn flakes to banana pudding the other half looks like a science experiment. Also, having downsized my living quarters, I don’t have enough freezer space to store large packages of food.

Eating alone at home also takes a bit of getting used to. When you dine with someone you exchange your day with them, or talk about what’s going on in the world (at the moment a topic more likely to give you indigestion) but when you are left to your own devices it is often the TV anchorman for company or sorting through that pile of unopened mail you’ve been systematically avoiding.

On the plus side, being on my own allows me to eat what I want to when I want to. Should I choose to have Lucky Charms with bananas with a side of cookies and cream topped with chocolate syrup at three in the afternoon and call it dinner, so be it. When Rick and I shared meals, dinner was an event. Exceptions were Sunday’s during football season where KFC catered our meals, or on super busy days when a burger or tacos from a local fast food restaurant might suffice, but most nights something healthy and appealing appeared on our plates.

So, there are things to learn and take from every life situation, at least this has been true in my lifetime. The path you are on does not always continue in the direction it originally was headed. Change is part of being and you either adapt or end up frustrated and unhappy, neither a state of being I find I enjoy.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: