Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy 23rd Anniversary to My One and Only

So the truth is, I never meant to fall in love. Not in happily-ever-after-till-death-do-us-part love, anyway. I had this idea, at the ripe old age of 18, that a woman didn’t need marriage… didn’t need a man… didn’t need any relationship that might stand in the way of a career and an exciting, fun-filled live of travel and accomplishment. It’s funny how I still believe that, yet I’m glad I found mine. Whatever the hurdles, the trial and error, the ups and downs, I would spend the last 23 years the very same way if given the chance.

I didn’t think of him as “the one” for several years. Certainly not the summer we met. He was fun. He was new and exciting. With him, I had a voice I was not accustomed to using, except perhaps at the tail end of parties, when I was past drunk and still upright and the mood of adolescent debauchery had turned philosophical. We talked about things; ideas that were deep and wide and it was nice that it didn’t require an abundance of alcohol to get myself to speak my thoughts out loud as words.

I liked that about him.

Being with him was a little bit like doing drugs… all of the buzz, none of the day-after hangover.

I didn’t think of him as “the one” those first few years… weekend drives between two colleges, countless letters written on spiral notebook paper, our first apartment together in Lawrence… somewhere along the line we decided to get married. I loved him. At least per my limited understanding of love at the time. It seemed the practical thing to do, get married. It assured our future together in some very real and tangible ways and that somehow frightened me less than the idea of us growing in different directions and eventually apart. We were moving forward, most definitely, as a couple, rather than as two individuals who just happened to enjoy spending time together.

I’m not even sure I thought of him as “the one” when we got married on December 29, 1990. It was the coldest day in Dodge City, Kansas in something like 50 years. I don’t remember much about the cold. Only that it is the first thing people talked about for many years when they talked about our wedding. Several family members did not make it to the event. It was that kind of cold; the kind of where cars wouldn’t start and people were afraid of being stranded, even for short road trips, because of the deepness of the chill.

The sky is blue in our wedding photographs. The ground is white, but not freshly so. The oreos were stuck to the windshield of our car so solidly that they required multiple blasts from a carwash hose on the way to Wichita to clear the window enough that we could see. We added ice, but at least we had visibility.

The whole experience of meeting him and falling in love and getting married a short two and a half years later still feels like something of an out-of-body experience for me. The wedding, especially; I was never a center-stage kind of girl. I never dreamed of tiaras and princess gowns and spotlights. I was still operating under the assumption that I should do what was expected of me. I grew past that, eventually. We both did. And I have to give him at least half the credit for what we’ve become.

Authentic. Real. Both perfect and imperfect in our made-for-each-other ways. Yin and yang in some respects; oil and water in others.

Ultimately, we have both grown stronger in our visions of ourselves, both individually and together, and after 23 years the fact that we are still speaking—still each other’s first choice for company and entertainment— would seem to be a good sign.

Sometimes, looking back on my life with him, it feels more like we blundered into a relationship and were just lucky it turned out to be a good thing. We grew up together, in many ways. We had disagreements. We made some mistakes. Hell, we are likely still making new ones.

More often I think of it in terms of what we deserve, because we worked for it. Some days it came easy; some days it felt like a never-ending chore, this act of living together in happiness and harmony.

Somewhere along the line—likely years after marrying him, believe it or not—I decided he was “the one” and I guess he must have made that decision, too. Perhaps earlier than me. I really couldn’t say for sure. But the commitment that feels real and binding was made long after the out-of-body-experience of the early years of our dating and eventual marriage had taken place. My memories of us as a couple at some point grow more solid. The fairy tale divisions that made up my understanding of a modern woman versus my mother’s generation had blurred by then and I understood that we were building our own life to be what we wanted it to be.

I was never one to dwell on doubts, but was always well aware that I had choices. And the fact was that I kept choosing him, over and over again. One might think that after 23 years it’s simply habit. But I think it is not. It remains a choice. And I pick him again, to be “the one”… and only.

Let’s see where the next 23 years takes us, Bubs.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Year to Come...

Image from www.

Once upon a time I was the self-proclaimed Queen of New Year's resolutions. Actually, I think a friend first called me that, but I latched on to the title and did not forget it. I not only made resolutions, sometimes spending the entire month of December analyzing and planning them, I stuck fast to them...




Those were the days of always learning something new, trying on new hats, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone... Perhaps I had a lot of becoming to accomplish.

Somewhere along the way I started slowing down. The need to create checklists of goals and accomplishments started feeling less urgent. On my list of goals for each year, "spend more time in the moment" became a common theme. I found myself skipping a year, or declaring something like "more of the same" and calling it good.

I have no desire to make a resolution these days. At least, not a year-long commitment. Not one that requires me to plot my path farther than a few steps or so ahead. I prefer the wiggle room these days. I prefer the luxury of feeling no pressure when I wake up in the morning; maybe I will accomplish a lot, maybe I will just sit with my cup of coffee and absorb every aspect of the moment. Stillness can be awesome, too.

While this means that I can't tell you when the next book will be finished and I can't even tell you which of my works-in-progress is my focus for the moment, it doesn't mean I won't continue to be industrious... writing and otherwise.

Somewhere inside my head there is a younger, more idealistic me who is a bit disappointed in my current approach to progress. She might even be accusing me of being a bit too lackadaisical. Her approach certainly served its purpose during its time. She calls now and then and I find myself pulling out my planning notebook again... but then I look up and see that the sun is shining, an interesting conversation is taking place, or a new idea for a new story has just hit me and I'm off to follow it for a while. For now, I feel the moment calling me. I don't want to be so busy looking to the future that I forget to take advantage of what the day is offering.

I am looking forward to 2014 -- all 365 glorious, unknown days of it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Project Table

The table in our dining room is more often called the project table than the dining room table. This is because we aren't often a family of diners. Rarely all together, anyway. At the moment, the project table is covered with four laptops, two cell phones, a 3-hole punch, 2 kindles, a notebook with a story-in-progress of mine in it, a 4-H notebook, a shoebox filled with 5 crocheted octopi, a jar of honey, an almost new package of toilet paper, two travel journals from my daughters' trip to Chicago, and my calendar/organizer thing.

It may look like a mess, and I think there is a good chance it will be cleared and emptied before the day is over, but we've spent a rather pleasant morning and afternoon, the kids and I, working on our various projects individually, but together, at the table.

My day has included backing up and cleaning off my hard drive. I've gotten two loads of dishes washed and at least as many loads of laundry. I've reviewed, proofread, advised, and helped to brainstorm on projects that the kids are working on. I've spent the entire day functioning without a checklist, and yet feel entirely satisfied about all that has been accomplished. Mostly, It's been nice to sit here at the project table, sharing creative, work-filled space with my favorite people in the world.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This seems to be the way my year has gone...

I look up and see that another page on the calendar has turned. There have been moments, this past year, when I have scolded myself for being too busy. But at the moment I'm quite content with the pace of things. I'm following my bliss, moment by moment. Putting the to-do lists aside for long stretches at a time and going whereever my mind takes me. Sometimes writing, lots of reading, photo albums are caught up through July (that's the closest to current I've been in years), more time in the kitchen (cooler weather always makes me want meals that are way more involved)...

Spent a leisurely 5+ days in western Kansas for Thanksgiving. Enjoyed the time with my dad and sister and brothers. My lovely nieces and my nephew are all so grown up. Today the kids put up our tree. Sadly, old Saint Nick has developed a bit of a lean, and so he had been replaced...

The blue box on top of the tree. Ah, the many ways these kids have expanded my horizons.

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