I Hope He Grabs This In the Event of a Fire

I assumed you’d always be there.

My first contact as soon as I open my eyes.  The first good morning from my lips or fingers, depending on whether I wake up next to you.  The last I love you long after the sun surrenders to the dark.  The point to my counterpoint.

My steadfast companion in weekend shenanigans.  My sounding board for daily struggles and minutia, an audience for my long, waxing stories, puns and jokes.  My kitchen dancing partner.  The one with whom I (badly, most times very badly) try to harmonize in the car, hoping you don’t hear or judge too harshly when it’s (usually) awful.

My workout partner.  My hand holder, and forehead kisser.

Yesterday, my mind stumbled into a scary, sad place.  One without you in it.

I was driving.  We talked on the phone.  (Handsfree.  Huzzah, bluetooth!)  I had both hands on the wheel, steadily guiding myself into my driveway, yet felt like we were careening at top speed off a cliff.  I told you I thought something was wrong.  That I can’t be things I’m not.  That maybe I wasn’t the girl for you.

I felt sick.

I hung up the phone, and sat in my car.  Sobbing.  Heaving.  Already missing your scent and the scruff of your beard on my neck when you snuggled in behind me as I brushed my teeth.

I went in the house.  Threw on the mask of being Mom and strong and happy for my little audience of two who needed dinner and hugs and kisses and help with homework.  I hoped we could talk later and resolve things, but I hated that I couldn’t see your face.  Responsibilities meant that just wasn’t possible.  

Like clockwork, I messaged you when the house was quiet.  And we could talk.  You said you’d be there in 3 minutes.

And then, you walked in the door.

I hadn’t heard you open the garage, or pull in the driveway, or your footsteps on the stairs.  But, there you were.  With open arms and more red roses than I’d ever seen gathered together in a beautiful bouquet.

You showed up.

We talked.  And I could see your face.  Your eyes said it all.  You were scared, too.  You held me, and assured me, and listened, and offered a hand that hoisted me out of that horrible, terrifying, solitary space, and back on the path where I belonged, with you.

We need to be brave.  And stay soft.  With our eyes and hearts open to whatever comes next.  Because I know, there’s Game of Thrones episodes to watch together, and silly dances in the grocery store, and nights at the arcade with our kids, and trips to the batting cages, and stupid selfies, and snowmobiling weekends, and a million other things in store for us.

I’ll never just assume you’ll be there.  But, I’ll fight like hell to be there, too…because there is where you are.  And that’s where I want to be.

Go Sanitize Your Phone, Pukey Phone People.

I’m a bit of a logistical nightmare.

By nature, I plan.  No, not just plan, I PLANNNNNNNNNNNNN to the Nth degree.  I plan the shit out of plans.  I attempt to accommodate for any and all scenarios, and those scenarios have understudy scenarios that need to be prepped and readied in the event that the star of the show comes down with unexpected (unplanned, you say???) norovirus and surprise!!  THEY’RE ON.  This level of planning involves a great number of moving parts, acquisitoning of all the things, and cooperative participants in Current Plan, the Musical!  In which I’d be played by Kristen Chenoweth.

Logistical.  Nightmare.  Fo sho.

Last week, Unicorn Boyfriend invited me up north to partake in some weekend Snowmobiling shenanigans.  Which, can we talk about the absolute ridiculous toll this particular motor sport takes on a woman’s body?  And by a woman’s body, I mean boobs.  Jiminy Cripes on a salted Cracker, the bumps.  Imagine riding a bike over ski moguls.  FOR HOURS.  Like, five. Sports bra be damned, those bumps were BRUTAL.  And, the guys who sled, in response to my comments about bouncy boob pain, are all, “When you hit the bumps just stand up.”  Oh, well ALRIGHTY THEN.  Sure!  I’ve commandeered a 1,000 pound piece of machinery and am trying to navigate through trees and make drifty, slidey turns, and avoid other people and keep the throttle engaged and don’t hit the brake too much when going down a hill, and, now let me add STANDING UP to that list to spare my body the brunt of the bumps.

Don’t mistake my bitching for a dislike of the sport.  It’s actually super fun and I like it very much, in spite of all the immense bumpiness.

I especially enjoy the tandemness of riding with Unicorn BF, and we’ve added this activity to the many things we already like doing together, like working out and cooking and drinking wine and negating all the working out we’ve done.  Synergy, people.  That’s what this is.

Anyhoo, the timeline of this getaway was tight.  Super tight.  We were trying to leave early enough to avoid some snowy stormy weather rolling into our path to snowmobile land, and we’d have to leave Vermont early enough for me to start my shift at work on Sunday night at 6pm.  The drive to and fro is approximately 5 hours under ideal conditions.  The amount of gear one needs to pack for such an outing is immense.  (Jacket, snow pants, boots, gloves, head wrappy thing that goes under a helmet, helmet…)

Here’s the kicker…no actual decision about going on this trip was made until all the info sources were consulted and it was determined snow was in adequate supply, which happened late Friday night.

Last Summer, not long after UBF and I met, we accepted an invitation to have dinner with my friend in NYC on a Saturday night.  On Friday, she excitedly texted me many emojis and said, “See you guys tonight!!”  Wait.  What?  Dinner was TOMORROW, right?  Nope.  She’d inadvertantly got her dates wrong and the dinner was that night.  I received her texts at work, where I was expected until 3pm, leaving what I thought was no time to make it to the city in time for dinner.  I contacted UBF to let him know the change in plans and make alternate arrangements.  The conversation that followed looked a little like this:

Me:  I’m sorry, but dinner is tonight in NYC, not tomorrow, and there’s not enough time to get there by 7, so what else should we do tonight?
Him: Why isn’t there enough time?
Me: Too hard.  So…plans?
Him: Not too hard.  Lots of trains on a Friday night.  Let’s figure this out.
Me: WHAT IS THIS PATIENT COOPERATION AND LOGISTICAL PROWESS YOU POSSESS???
Him: ???
Me: Uh, nevermind.  Anyhoo! You were saying???
Him: You get out of work around 3. Run home, change, pick me up by 430, we can make a train around 5ish, and make it to the restaurant by 7.
Me: Oh goodness.  Your organizational skills are on point.  Also?  HOT.
Him: Go get ready, crazypants.  See you soon.

I’m paraphrasing, of course.  But you get the idea.  He pays attention to details.  He’s calm.  He’s a good mix of planner and fly by the seat of his pantser, which does wonders to placate my OCD and nudges my rigid side to LET THINGS GO, ALREADY.

We had a fantastic time in NYC that night, thanks in no small part to his level head and my low maintenance habits that allowed me to rush home, change into acceptable attire and arrive on his doorstep in record time.  It became pretty obvious that day that not only did we have a tremendous amount of interests in common, and we found fun in one another, but we seemed to make a damn, fine set of partners in making shit happen.

This weekend proved no different.  We worked in concert to make this trip a huge success.  From coordinating pick ups, to organizing a car friendly dinner, to his hand holding through learning this new crazy sport he loves so much, to us packing early and heading back with enough extra time to spare that we stole a few moments alone and rested before I had to leave for work.

I can hear half of you reading this collectively saying, awwwwwwwwww…and the other half projectile vomiting onto your phones because GROSS SWOONY SWEETNESS, BLECH.

Whatever, lame pukey phone people.

Hashtag, bliss.

No Unicorns Were Hurt In the Making of This Blog Post

I’d grown weary of assholes, and then…and then.

unicorn6I had grown weary of assholes.

For a while, my dating life read like a Buzzfeed article, “20 Blind Date Horror Stories Sure to Make You Cry Until You Laugh So Hard You’ll Cry Again”.  Time after insufferable time, I’d meet a guy who, by all appearances, seemed worthy of my time, only to prove very early on just how little time he spent in line when the universe handed out manners and social skills.  After my summer fling flung itself out the window, I’d decided to give the whole online dating thing one last shot before placing myself on the shelf for a much needed sabbatical.

And then, I got a message.  From him.

There’s an art to the delicate dance of exchanging messages when engaging potential dates online.  Say too much and you’re written off as a crazy over sharer.  Too little and you’re left wondering perhaps there’s a red room, or worse, a parole officer and hidden bodies behind all that mystery.

His note was short, but proved he’d consumed my entire profile beginning to end, and his assertiveness in contacting me first oozed just the right amount of confidence to prompt a a click over and see what he was all about.

At first glance, he was everything that intimidated me in a man; attractive, outgoing, smart, and funny.  His lengthy profile (and it was lonnnnnng…that’s what she said…ha!) established some pretty high standards and lofty goals for himself and his potential partner.  The site we used featured a compatibility score based on questions covering a variety of subjects. Ours was something ludicrous, above 90%, which seemed simultaneously ridiculous and intriguing. I’d just begun the process of getting my mojo back, or finding it for the first time ever?  Either way,  I had a good gut feeling about this guy, and with a year post divorce under my belt, the typical, bubbling insecure voice that usually screamed “THEY’RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU” stayed at bay, so…I responded.

Many, many, many messages later, we were still talking.  Then he asked me to dinner.

Ho.  Lee.  Shitballs.

Here’s the part where I tell you about how I’m not a girl who generally rattles easily.  Blood?  Puke?  Slasher movies?  Not even a blink of an eye.  Granted, I cry at those stupid Folgers commercials at Christmas time, the ones with the son who returns home from some far off land, and starts a pot of coffee the second he walks into the house, instead of, I don’t know, TAKING A SHOWER, which, how selfless of him, right?  Coffee?  That’s some thoughtful shit right there, and now I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING, nope, I’m crying.  Anyway.  Aside from sappy commercials (damn you ASPCA, TAKE ALL MY DOLLARS), I’m pretty even keeled.

The exception?  Sushi with THIS GUY.

It was July, and the day of our date (a Friday…the 22nd…but who’s counting) was icky, sticky, and hot.  I decided to forego my usual first date uniform of something black, and injected a little color because why not just buck the system from all angles?  Blue dress, white sweater, strappy wedge sandals (these were both an awful and fantastic choice…more on that in a bit).  Normally, I’d have worn something more casual, but he was meeting me after work, and was coming from NYC, so I upped my outfit game a smidge to keep up.

We agreed to meet at a spot near his local train station, and I spent the almost 40 minute drive there uncharacteristically, excitedly nervous.  What was this crazy flippy feeling in my stomach?  So odd.  I arrived first, parked, and texted him something that I normally would NEVER say in real life, letting him know I was there, and that I was the cutie in the white SUV.

Cutie?  WHO SAYS THAT?  The writer in me still feels shame for using that term, all these months later.  If nothing else, and in my defense, it proves just how nervous I was.

I watched as his car pulled in, and he stepped out.  He was tall.  And very well dressed, in a crisp white shirt and green dress pants.  I slid out of my car and as I walked towards him, he smiled…I was about to say he smiled at me, but that’s not accurate.  It was more than that.  He had these beautiful, sky blue eyes, and he smiled through me.  I remember it gave me chills.  Then we hugged.  It was tight, and enveloping.

This was about to be…something.

In the interest of time, and because I could wax poetic for pages and pages about how our conversation flowed flawlessly, and how he didn’t even bat an eye when he spilled a tiny bit of soy sauce on his shirt, and how we discovered we had SO many things in common, and how I tried gauging his interest level and couldn’t get a good read, even when he asked to continue our outing at another venue for a drink, (duh, if you’re relocating, it’s a safe bet it’s on like Donkey Kong) I’ll fast forward to the end of the evening, as we walked back to our cars, and I was pretty sure things were going well, until…remember those strappy sandals?  How about a little first date math!

Strappy wedge sandals + swanky town cobblestone sidewalks + stupid weak ankles = Sherry almost biting it.

But, he caught me before I splayed out on the ground, with my dress over my head, which honestly would’ve been best case scenario.  It could’ve been ugly, but he grabbed my arm and we carried on.

He escorted me to my car, and we stood there for a moment or three, recapping what a great time we’d had, but all I could think about was, “Is this dude gonna kiss me OR WHAT?”

Now, I need to stress just how important a first kiss is.  It sets the tone for whatever comes next.  It’s EVERYTHING.  A bad first kiss is a deal breaker and bad kissers are bad FOREVER.  There’s no recovering from a disastrous first kiss, ever, and it ruins everything that might have been. Every time there’s a bad kiss, a unicorn dies. It’s mostly pressure on the man (sorry, guys) to pull out all the stops and make an impression.  When it’s good, the sky’s the limit.  When it’s bad, it’s a screeching halt to everything.  And then, the unicorn.

This freaking guy, pulls me in and kisses me.

Wait.  That wasn’t it at all.  *clears throat*  Let me try that again…

We stood there, close, in the warm, heavy air of the evening, full from amazing food and riveting conversation and obvious chemistry.  I thanked him for a fabulous time, and he thanked me, too.  He smiled that crazy bright smile before slipping his arm around my waist and pulling me so close it startled me to gasp, but in a way that felt safe and just right.  My hands instinctively found his broad shoulders, and he finally kissed me.  The kiss startled me, too, in the best way possible.  We said our goodnights, again, and went our separate ways.

It was the best first kiss I ever had.

That was six months ago.

Since then, he’s showed up time and time again, in all different ways, ready to embark on whatever shenanigans I throw his way.  Hell, I suggested on our 3rd date we drive go karts.  Two grown adults, squeezing into tiny vehicles powered by lawn mower motors, in the dead of summer, clad in huge helmets looks about as ridiculous as it sounds, and yet?  Our sweaty asses had the time of our lives.  He makes me dinner, and makes me think about life, and the future, and politics, and if I’ve locked my doors, goddamnit, LOCK YOUR DOORS, Sherry, and worries about me, and whether I got home late at night, or if I got decent financing on my new car, and teaches me new things, like how to operate a snowmobile, or drive stick in the snow, and besides listening to my daughter sing her little heart out to the YouTube video du jour, or hearing my son explain the inner workings of his Lego Technic set that he’s using to rewire our garage door opener, seeing this guy is the best part of my week.

I mean, he’s out awesomed Taco Tuesday.  THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING.

The Should Has Hit the Fan

Back when I was married, and battling infertility to realize my dream of
spending 18 hours in labor, and popping out two kids consecutively, the first without pain medication JUST FOR FUN, people felt compelled to shove well intentioned advice in my general direction at every turn.  In the nosupermarket, at restaurants, especially at Target.  Anyone ever ask you about the state of your vagina in the purse department of your favorite department store?  No?  YOU HAVEN’T LIVED.

Many theorized on why I couldn’t get pregnant, and opined on what we “should” be doing instead.  You should relax, you should take a vacation, you should stop trying so hard, you should try harder, you should see an acupuncturist, you should take this as a sign from God that you should just stop trying because maybe you’re not meant to be a parent. I stepped in giant, stank piles of should everywhere I went. Then, when I finally DID get pregnant, and subsequently miscarried…let’s just say, if I had a nickel for every time someone alluded to the universe weeding out my baby because of some defect, that I SHOULD be thankful because the alternative would be awful, I’d have a pretty healthy pile of nickels to dump in a sock and smack people upside the head who found new and ingenious ways to should all over my life decisions.

Let us not speak of the diarrheatic flow of shoulds when one is blessed with healthy twin babies.

Now that I’m divorced, I find myself back in a giant minefield of smelly should pies. I should be thankful I had a husband to begin with.  I should take solace that I have the company of my children.  I should not be dating.  I should enjoy my alone time.  I should just stop being so sad and miserable.  I should pray for a new boyfriend (yes, that’s a real thing actually said to me, a human being, by another living person, with a pulse, and no, we’re no longer acquainted), I should just be alone for awhile (awhile is apparently a vast, vague, indiscriminate amount of time), I should just date a 20 year old, I should try speed dating, I should stay OFF Tinder (wise advice), I should stop trying so hard to find a relationship, I should know, like when I was trying to get pregnant, that when you relax a bit, THINGS HAPPEN.  What are these coveted THINGS I’m missing?  Are they parties?  Will Jon Hamm be there?  Can I dress up?  Should I wear heels?  Is Jon Hamm tall?  Because, those are things I really SHOULD be tending to.  Otherwise?  Bugger off, y’all.

When a well meaning should-er takes a should on my life, he is basically saying, “Hey. I see there what you’re doing.  It’s shit.  But!  I know better, and here’s a better idea of what to do, so you go do that and we’ll both feel better, mmmmkay?”

You’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “But! That all sounds so harsh! My advice that you SHOULD move to a yurt in the Mongolian mountains to raise your kids and never text another man ever again because penises are trouble WAS good! And sound! And well intentioned!”

Like the road to hell, you say?

Listen.  We all should our pants at some point or another.  Occasionally, those shoulds spill over onto our friends and family or other innocent bystanders.  I get that.  But, being on the receiving end of as much should as I have SUCKS DOG BALLS.  Regardless of how well meaning your intent, it inevitably leaves the should-ee feeling really bad.  How about not doing that, or at least making a concerted effort to do that less.  Which will free up so much time!  To do more productive things!  Like, learning the Ukelele! Or, watching videos of babies getting glasses and smiling at new found vision! Or eating delicious Popeyes biscuits!

Tl;dr, when in doubt, MIND YO BUSINESS.

Things I Learned Today

 

  • Having a penis gives you a 70% chance of being a colossal dick.
  • I’m yet to stumble onto much of the 30% of penis havers who don’t fall into the above category.
  • The Dap is a dance that mimics sneezing into your elbow.
  • When someone texts you, “Yes!  We’re on for dinner tonight!  But, WOW, things are crazy at work!”, that directly translates to, “Ready yourself, I’m about to cancel plans shortly, and will use work as an excuse.”
  • The time between those two texts takes approximately 16 minutes.
  • Mozzarella sticks, homemade sauce for dipping, and a fancy hard cider is my new favorite meal.
  • The lady who waxed my eyebrows is a slow plucker. Slow plucking hurts like a mother plucker.
  • My hard limit on iced coffees per day is 3.
  • If you do one of those crazy Facebook quizzes where it tells you which friends will be on your next road trip, or bank heist, or taking your underwater basket weaving class, I’ll ALWAYS be the one falling down or eating.  Because, REFLECTION of LIFE.

The Kids Will be Alright

xmas pic 3 2013.jpgThere were lots of things we fucked up in our divorce.

Like, for example, I don’t think either of us really, fully grasped the financial impact of running two complete households.  Or, filing taxes.  (Am I the head of household now?  And why does that conjure up visions of a reality show rather than adulting things like a tax form?) Or, the logistics of sharing the responsibilities of a dog.  You get the idea.  The nuances of getting divorced go on infinitely.  It’s been a learning curve, no doubt.  And, admittedly, some things we, singularly or collectively, have done poorly.

But.  When it comes to our kids?  I gotta say, we’re rockstars.

We’ve never been typical parents.  Individually, our parenting styles couldn’t BE more different.  He’s a talker.  Negotiator.  He’s the doer of tasks, and the getter of items. You need an analysis?  He’s your guy.  Me?  I’m the feeler.  The one who wipes the tears and cracks a joke.  The hand holder, the pusher, and simultaneously, the worrier.  I swear.  I make them laugh, and hopefully teach a lesson at the same time.

Somehow, our two halves couldn’t make a whole marriage, but damn if we haven’t crafted a damn fine life for our kiddos.

Even in our darkest times, and I do mean DARK, scary times when neither of us knew how we’d even wake up in the morning and take a breath, let alone put one foot in front of the other and care for two kids who needed nothing more than stability and reassurance and love, we managed.  Not always well, but in spite of fighting and screaming at each other like banshees, at some point, we’d always come back to the same idea, that we needed to keep our shit together and be a team for our kids.  They were the sun and the moon and the stars and they never asked for any of the adult stuff we’d fallen into.  They were everything.  They are everything, and always will be to us.

This past month, our son’s teacher called a conference to discuss his work this year.  My immediate assumption was, I would have a conversation with a lovely woman who was about to tell me how our divorce so negatively impacted his work, he was sure to fail 5th grade, ensuring his academic ruin.  On the contrary, we spoke at length about how he thrived this year.  How he found his writing voice, and adjusted well to the responsibilities of more work, and how his sensitive, quirky little personality crept its way into the hearts of his classmates, and his teacher.  How she adored him, and said she’d very likely shed a few tears when the year was done and he’d move on to a new school, and she’d excitedly look for his name in the paper, certain of a bright future of honor rolls, and deans lists, and doing great things.

I sat there and cried, a little.  I kept it together until I returned to my car, but then, yeah.  Heaving sobs.

Our biggest fear, quelled.  We hadn’t ruined him at all.  In fact, we’d somehow kept him in the light.

Today, our daughter embarks on a new, exciting adventure of her own.  She, too, has blossomed this year, despite so many other challenges aside from her parents getting divorced.  She’s like me, a risk taker, and is trying a new sport for the first time, something she’s never really done before, and I’m in awe of her bravery and overall not-giving-a-shitness.  My tiny bad ass.  I adore her, and I can’t wait to pick her up and hear her gush to her brother and I about how amazing it all was, or how much it sucked, and who was there and wearing what and whether she forgot her water bottle and…all of it.

And, I’ll call my ex later tonight, and I’ll give him the run down of everything that happened, and we’ll have a good laugh and figure out logistics, and do whatever needs to be done.  We’ll stumble and trip and splay on to the floor, but we’ll always be the rockstar parents our kids need, no matter what, as best we can.  And we feel really good about that.

 

Bea Would be Proud

asphalt road in Tuscany, Italy

Let’s just get one thing straight.

Life is too goddamned short NOT to be stupidly, ridiculously, obscenely happy.

Got it?

About three years ago, I resigned myself to keeping the life I had. Working in a job I disliked, living in a home I hated, floundering in a failing marriage, I came to terms with spending my forever being miserable because, as they say, it can always be worse. Changing things seemed impossible, so I accepted the unhappiness and chose to live my life in a way I believed provided some stability for my kids, despite recognizing the once bright light of my soul had dwindled to a mere flicker.

At the time, I lived a distance away from my family, so I’d established a good support system of friends in town. One in particular, we’ll call her Bea, transcended friendship and we became so much more than that. She was about my Mom’s age. Everyone in town knew and loved her. She was sarcastic, and honest, a larger than life figure who gave until it hurt because she knew no other way. I’d often stop by Bea’s house, and we’d sit on her porch for hours just chatting and laughing and watching the world go by, and she’d opine on life and gossip about town goings on and gush about my beautiful babies. She’d get wind of a lemonade stand in my driveway, and pop over in her big, blue sedan, happily hand my kids a twenty dollar bill, sip her cool beverage, oogle over how delicious it was, then insist the kids keep the change. She loved us, and never let an opportunity pass to tell us just that. I can hear her yelling to me as I left her house. “LOOOOOOOVVEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! Now, don’t go fucking anything up between here and home, ok?”

One day, Bea was gone.

I like to think she gave so much to everyone else that it left no time to care for herself. Maybe that’s true, maybe not, but that’s the story to which I stick.

She didn’t want a funeral, but in true Bea fashion, she wanted a party. Always a supporter of the city’s football program, her fans filled the bleachers looking out over the field, the skies parted after days of rain and storms, and Bea wowed us with a spectacular sunset. Grown men wept as speaker after speaker waxed on about Bea and her crazy, loving antics. The boys, the big, tough football players she loved and cheered on, and fed every week before their Friday night games, wiped tears shed for the loss of this incredible woman.

If this force of nature, this institution, this fixture and pillar of strength could be taken away, then surely nothing was certain, ever. I’m sure I’m butchering the quote, but it’s something like, tomorrow is a gift? It’s so much more than that. It’s a storm that might blow out to sea. It’s winning the lottery. It’s getting drafted and playing in the NFL. It’s something we hope for, never something that just comes.

I desperately wanted to be happy. So, what the hell was I waiting for? I began concocting a plan on my way home from Bea’s memorial that night, and never looked back. I’ve had more tomorrows to continue my work, and I have zero regrets about the decisions I’ve made. The journey has been colorful, and wraught with mistakes and downfalls and excitement and hilarity, but it’s genuine and I’m happy. Can’t ask for much more than that, although I’d give anything for one more porch sit with Bea, to hear her tell me, “Good for you, kid.  GOOD.  FOR.  YOU.”

Bottom line is, you only get one chance to live life, and tomorrow is never, ever a given, so why hold back? Take the day off. Smile at a stranger and start a conversation. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Kiss the girl. Write the book. Say I love you, everyday, to someone.

Be fearless and have a life of living, or play it safe, and be regretful. You have a choice. Always.

Got it?