Stranger Than Fiction…

I recently read a Mark Twain quote that said something to the effect of, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” It would appear that I am living proof of that adage.

It has been a long few months since I last posted anything to this space. It has taken me a while to decide if and what to write. I want to be honest in reporting my experiences, while still being sensitive to the feelings of others in the process. Hopefully I have accomplished both in what you are about to read.

The path I’ve traveled since leaving my home and deciding to end my marriage has been circuitous and interesting. Going from living with calm security and absolute certainty that every new day would be like the one before, to not having a clue as to where, how, or with whom I might be living has taught me a lot. My level of patience for the process rather than rushing to the end result has increased (though not as much as I’d like), as has my gratitude for things I might have previously assumed would always exist and no longer do, like my house, my lifestyle, most of my stuff and of course my marriage.

Still, in spite of hearing from many people that the grass was not greener and that there were a lot more toads than princes out there, I maintained the thought that my life was going to head in a relatively smooth direction, and ultimately be a happy one. After all, it wasn’t necessarily the wish to be with a different man that brought my marriage to an end; it was that I wanted the opportunity to be fully myself, something I had not previously been able to accomplish, a state for which I took and continue to retain full responsibility.

My fate may have been to remain a single woman and I was willing to be in that space, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in exploring the eventuality of life with a new partner. In the interest of that possibility I tentatively signed up for a thirty-day trial on a dating site for people over fifty. My reasoning was that it might be prudent to experiment with dipping a non-committal toe into the dating pool. Before doing so I made a list of characteristics I wanted in my new partner, as well as those I most definitely did not want. I tried to get as specific as possible to try and ward off Fate’s fickle sense of humor. I filled out my profile and listed my interests, talents and what I hoped to find in a relationship. Almost immediately I was inundated with messages and requests for meetings, or at least more information. What I quickly realized was that most of my potential suitors hadn’t made it much past my photos because if they had, they’d certainly have noticed that men who were five foot five inches or shorter, smokers, deeply religious, politically ultra conservative, over seventy or lived in Montana, Kansas, Ohio or South Dakota were not exactly on my list of must haves.

On a side note guys, and let me just preface this by saying I do not, by any stretch of the imagination consider myself God’s own gift, but if you’re considering joining one of these sites, do yourself a favor and get a buddy or maybe even your sister to possibly proofread or edit your writing, dress you in something other than that wife beater and boxers, comb your hair, take a decent photo of you, and talk you out of positing that bathroom selfie. The lighting in there isn’t doing you any favors and you’ll end up looking more like a serial killer than anybody’s idea of a dream date. Also, photos of you with other women, or those taken twenty or more years previous aren’t your best bet either, just saying.

But I digress…

After about a week of this terrifying experiment I was ready to hit the convent, so overwhelming was the lack of dating opportunity. I did have one gentleman ask to meet me for a drink, which I reluctantly agreed to. He seemed ok, but I just got a weird vibe from him. Three days before our appointed meeting I got cold feet, apologized profusely and politely canceled the meeting. He kinda freaked out and said some not so pleasant things, only serving to confirm my hunch that he was not going to be a good choice. After that and a few other overwhelmingly not so fabulous people insisting that I meet them, or chastising me for daring to post what I actually desired in a partner, because you know, who the hell am I to ask for what I want, I decided to pull the plug on the site.  Again, I’m not claiming to be the answer to everyone’s prayers either, but I knew who I was and what I wanted and these guys were not ticking any of my boxes.

Interestingly enough it turned out to be a whole lot easier to join than quit. As in, every time I went to the site to see if they had complied with my request to be dropped, it automatically signed me back up again. About the sixth time I’d gone through this insane and massively frustrating ritual, I happened to notice a message from a new man. It was pleasant and not creepy, so, out of curiosity I clicked over to his profile. There I found a funny, well written and maybe just a tad snarky diatribe on the travails of Internet dating. Further investigation uncovered photos of a very nice looking man my exact age who was of requisite height, intelligence, fitness and apparent fiscal responsibility. Sadly, a reality check quickly ensued in the form of his location, Las Vegas, Nevada. Well, crap. If you listed a thousand places I might NEVER consider moving to, much less visiting for more than a long weekend, Las Vegas would be at or near the top.

On a whim I wrote back mentioning that I found him intriguing but considered the geographical challenge greater than I was willing to undertake. He responded (almost immediately) that one of my listed interests was travel and what the hell, for all I knew he might just be the man of my dreams, or something equally cocky and amusing. His retort made me laugh and began a flurry of back and forth exchanges all of which further piqued my interest.

Eventually the written communication led to phone conversations that were most entertaining. In spite of some small political, philosophical and spiritual differences (and those were mostly semantic in nature), there was an undeniable and burgeoning mutual interest. Now what?

Already hatching was my plan to head west to our house in Utah in order to have a place to call my own for a while. I wasn’t relishing the idea of starting over in a rented place, buying a house was definitely not on my radar, and as much as I appreciated the offers from various friends to host me till I figured out my next move, I really wanted to unpack for a while and spread out. As the plan grew to fruition I started to consider the relative proximity of Las Vegas to Salt Lake City.

I made a plane reservation for Salt Lake City to leave after Thanksgiving. In the mean time it became clear to me that in spite of being somewhat hopeful that my marriage might be able to continue, that was no longer a viable option for me. Plan A had been to decamp to Utah till February and by then I certainly would have decided one way or the other about my future. As it happened, a combination of factors told me that my decision had arrived much sooner than February. After a few visits with my therapist it was decided not to put off communicating that I had come to a conclusion. I asked to meet with my soon to be ex for the purpose of telling him goodbye. We shared a very cordial conversation and yes, a few tears. After that it seemed silly and awkward to wait till after Thanksgiving to head west.

In the mean time, Mr. Las Vegas and I continued to write each other. He had been divorced for a while and could certainly relate to the alternatively exhilarating and dark mindsets I was now finding myself alternating between. Letters eventually led to phone calls that were equally enlightening and entertaining. Everything in my head was screaming at me to stop, that it was too soon, that I wasn’t out of one situation, how could I possibly even consider hopping into a new one? But then there was this: I’m not eighteen, or twenty-eight, or any other the other eights, I’m fifty-eight, and realistically, how many more opportunities were out there waiting for me? What if this guy were the real deal? Or as just likely, what if he weren’t? What was I going to lose either way? If it went well, I’d be happy and in a positive and uplifting relationship. If it went badly, I might be embarrassed or lose some dignity points, but really, no harm, no foul.

It was with these thoughts that I altered my destination; no more Salt Lake City, I was now heading to Las Vegas. I committed to going there for three days; then it was on to Utah. I would stay in a hotel, this man and I would meet, and if there was mutual interest, great. If not, fine, we’d part as friends. Besides, either way, how bad could three days in Las Vegas be? I had only visited once before, for a mere 36 hours, and had barely scratched the surface of the place.

OK, here’s where the hard stuff starts. No, I could not exactly gather my friends and family members and share my new plans. I had no idea how things would turn out, and it had not occurred to me that there was even a possibility that I might stay longer than the agreed upon three days, but knew that either way, my marriage was over and I wasn’t going to be in Florida for a while. I told myself that the rest of the details didn’t matter. Also, I justified my position to myself, thinking that I was practically, if not legally single and it was no one’s business where I went or with whom.  Yes, I didn’t actually know this man, nor had I ever physically met him, but I did some Internet research and determined he was who he claimed to be, and yes, I did confide in a friend so just in case things got weird, someone would know where and with whom I was.

Off I flew with some trepidation and much excitement. I would never claim that this was the best possible plan for me or for anyone else, for any number of obvious reasons, but I did it. Ultimately this decision confused and hurt some people and for that I am truly sorry. Was it selfish? Absolutely. Was it rash? Of course it was. Did it turn out to be worth it? Well, I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out, that is if you don’t already know the answer…

 

 

 

The beginning of the end

Today the decision appeared, unbidden. I wondered if it would ever arrive, what it might look and feel like when it did, and now I know. For whatever reason, or reasons, it came to me in a blinding flash that my marriage was over. Also surprising was the certainty with which it arrived. However, as the saying goes, it ended more with a whimper than a bang.

Now begins the process of unraveling a thirty eight year old relationship. As long as it might take for strangers to be come acquaintances, then friends, then lovers, then husband and wife, how long does it take for the process to reverse itself? How does one begin to compartmentalize and shed years of shared thoughts, laughs, language shortcuts, intimacies, and experiences? Who gets the photos, dishes, artwork and various other collected items, and how does one ever separate the items from the memories they engender? Can two people who once vowed to love each other forever manage to find their way to friendship, or at least peaceful detente in the face of the damage they did to each other on the way to breaking that vow? Who were these people, who did they become and why?

I used to hear about couples in long-term relationships who after thirty years or longer up and divorced. How ridiculous, I smugly thought, if you’ve made it that far, why not just suck it up and hang on till the end? I suppose now I am no longer smug and know the sad answer to that question.

As I have previously mentioned, support for me and my journey has been broad and so very comforting. Of course not everyone jumped on that bandwagon and I suspect that now that I’ve come to the end of my decision making process, there will be more who cast me in a less than flattering light. As a person who is used to caring a lot about what others think, as well as wanting to please more than anger, this will be hard. Not long ago my impulse might have been to rethink my decision based on the fear of upsetting them.  Now I know that denying and suppressing my needs and desires for others, ultimately people serves no one.

Still, if these last few months have brought me anything, it is a previously un-experienced sense of self, strength and resolve. I have grown up and become the ‘me’ I had lost, forgotten or maybe had never experienced.

Yes, there will be many uncomfortable days ahead, but if finally becoming the me I always wanted to be is the reward for the pain and suffering, well, I am convinced it will not have been in vain.

Best Laid Plans…

When one is faced with a birthday that commemorates an unpleasant number, one could react in a couple of ways. First, one could retreat to the cave of a darkened room, wallowing in misery over the road not taken, lost opportunities, and the waning days of one’s existence, or second, one could don a slinky black dress, bright red shoes, grab a good pal, and venture out into the unknown, defying reality to intercede. Guess which one I chose last weekend?

In the past I would most likely have chosen option (A), eschewing any talk of excessive or showy celebration. But this year, in spite of the fact that I’m barreling headlong toward sixty, I am pretty darn happy with myself, and the hard work I have done to feel and look my best. Besides, if you’re gonna get old anyway, and who among us isn’t, might as well have fun getting there.

The plan first began taking shape with me considering certain practicalities. I knew my compatriot and I would be consuming adult beverages and possibly finding ourselves a fair distance from home base, so a safe ride was going to be called for. After some Internet research, I found a reasonably priced car service. They would send a nice car with a professional driver to ferry us wherever we wanted to go in the span of a specific number of hours. I called the company to book, and we discussed the time frame I was considering, from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am, with an option to go longer should the need arise. That problem resolved, I moved on to where to eat and drink.

There are many restaurants in the greater Tampa Bay area from which to choose, a fair number of which I have been to at least once. I wasn’t opposed to revisiting one of these establishments, but if it was going to be a repeat visit, I wanted to make sure it was a place I’d really liked for both their food and their atmosphere. Weighing the options and consulting my companion brought us to settling on a place I’d been to several times, but not in a few years. Reservations made, we moved on to the after dinner activity. This took more research. We wanted music, and possibly dancing, but not a meat market, or place full of twenty-somethings or electronic music. On a local venue website I came across a club that purported to cater to an over forty crowd offering both jazz and top-40s music. Bingo, we had a winner. Now all that was left was for the scheduled day to arrive.

I decided to treat myself to a salon do. The young girl made my hair a little curlier than necessary, but some light brushing and hairspray at home calmed both the hair and myself down. Dressed, made-up and coiffed, we enjoyed a quick cocktail waiting for the car to arrive.

Hmm, while I had not specified, I was the tiniest bit disappointed when our driver turned out to be female. It seemed a touch more exciting and more in line with my Cinderella fantasy to be squired by a gentleman driver, but no biggie, we carried on. Until we got into the lovely white Cadillac, only to be greeted by a not so faint odor of stale cigarette smoke. Eww…and hmm…

We got to the restaurant a few minutes before our reservation time and were told the table was not quite ready, so we headed to the bar. Now, it was 7:45 on a Friday evening so imagine our surprise to find the bar totally empty, as in devoid of any human occupants, in downtown Tampa, and did I mention it was a Friday night? That seemed odd, but we didn’t think too much about it as we settled in. The bartender was gracious and friendly, patiently waiting for us to decide. Well, it wasn’t like he had anyone else to attend to, but still. We each ordered a glass of red wine and looked around. Also odd was the fact that the restaurant, like the bar, had few of its tables filled. It wasn’t that long ago that getting a table in the place at all was a challenge, now here we were on a weekend night and it was over half empty? Very odd indeed. The bartender asked if we wanted to order dinner at the bar but we told him we’d reserved a table. Right about then the host came to show us to our table. And that is when we began to understand why the place was less than bustling.

We looked over the menu for a minute or two when our server approached. I started to ask a question about something but he cut me off. We were going to do things his way, and his way was to get the serious issue of water settled. I could go on to list his many transgressions, but suffice it to say he appeared highly un-amused at getting stuck with us. When I asked for a substitution or at least for something I don’t eat to be left off of the plate (Ok, it was potatoes. So kill me…), he rolled his eyes. Seriously? Did you REALLY just do that??? Let us also mention that the food we ordered was definitely not as good as I’d remembered the restaurant serving in the past. So yeah, so far the car thing and the dinner thing was not what I’d hoped for. But hey, we still had the club thing to look forward to, didn’t we? Hell, yes we did!

Yeah, about that…

Off we went in our smelly ride to our next phase. The parking lot was fairly full, so we figured at least there were people inside having fun. That part was true enough. What we hadn’t counted on was that those people would appear to have been inside having fun, for YEARS. As in, had been there drinking and being very drunk for days on end. We grabbed the last two seats at the bar while deciding whether we were going to stay or not. I’m all for people having a good time, after all, that is exactly what we were there to accomplish, but this was a way beyond fun and onto countdown to bar fight situation. Trying to laugh off our string of misadventures, I didn’t notice anyone behind me till I felt hot alcohol being breathed on my neck. I turned around to see a Tom Arnold looking guy wobbling in front of me, asking me to dance. About that same time another guy asked my friend to dance as well so we thought, why not, and headed to the floor. The music was good, though later we recalled that the band didn’t exactly know the right words to the songs. The dancing was fun, until I felt an unwelcome hand on my ass. I moved in another direction and Tom Arnold quickly apologized, but by then I was over it, as was my partner in crime, so we took our leave.

At this point it was around 11:30. Should we try another club or admit defeat and head home? I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the fantasy so suggested we hit one more place. But wait. The driver interrupted our conversation, saying we had only contracted for the car till midnight, which was about how much time it would take to return us to our original location. I politely countered with the news that I’d been told we had the car till 1:00 am with the option to extend for more money. Well, it seemed nobody had informed the driver of that possibility and see, her kid had a basketball game early in the morning so she really had to get home.

By now we were almost hysterical with laughter at what a weird nightmare our dream evening had become. Out of options, we headed home congratulating ourselves at rolling with the punches and making the best of a less than ideal set of circumstances.

Yes, I was disappointed in how things turned out, but in the grand scheme of things it was one night that went south, out of a million of them I’ve had in my life that have gone amazingly well. And I still went out with a good friend, had some laughs, confirmed my growing suspicion that planning every detail solves everything, and got to rock my sweet little black dress and killer red shoes. And sometimes, in spite of all your best -laid plans, that’s as good as you’re going to get.

Floating…

It’s been a little over six weeks since I moved out and I’m still…floating. I am taking each day as it comes expecting little, deciding nothing, wanting nothing in particular, while remaining open to new experiences, feelings, and adventures. Some of these things are turning out to feel great, affirming and/or rewarding and some of them have made me want to MapQuest the nearest and highest bridges.

Being this way is very new technology for me. My normal bent is to plan every second of every day till forever, for both myself and others. No grey area, no questions unanswered, not much left to chance, is more or less how I’ve conducted my life. Suddenly I no longer have the ability nor the will to live that way, which is curious to me, and concerning to some around me. People know me as, to quote a former president, “a decider.” If friends or family are in a quandary about something they will often ask my opinion, knowing that I abhor a vacuum in thought or action, and that I will throw my brain into gear to help them toward a quick and appropriate solution, a behavior that feels laughable to me now. As if one could make decisions such that life would remain smooth and uncomplicated. Though if I’m being honest, and why be otherwise, I not only had straightforward plans for most situations, but contingency plans too.

Which is not to say I have completely thrown caution to the wind, I still make restaurant, hotel and airline reservations, I mean I’m not stupid. I just don’t seem to be motivated to quickly tie everything up in a neat little package the way I used to.

As I previously mentioned, this is turning out to be a problem for some of those close to me. When people are used to you being or acting a certain way it can make them uncomfortable. Say for instance you have always been a tad on the heavy side. If you suddenly, or even not so suddenly lose a bunch of weight, some of your friends and family members are going to struggle with that, as now they maybe are forced to look at their own relationship with eating and exercise and that is not so much fun. That and more importantly they have lost you as an eating/drinking buddy so they must face that unhappy reality as well.

While I’d like to be able to reassure all my loved ones that I am fine, that no doubt soon I will eat more, or at least less healthily, and begin to work toward making some concrete decisions about my life, it also occurs to me that those things may not actually be true, and also that it may well no longer be my job (if it ever WAS my job…) to reassure anyone of anything. What I might like to tell them instead is that I AM fine, and will continue to be fine, as well as to be essentially myself, whatever I choose to eat, or not eat, drink or not drink, decide, or not decide, and that I still love and care about them, even if I can no longer be the person they had gotten used to me being, and that hopefully they can continue to love the new me as they did the old one. There are probably some people who will not be able to accept who I am becoming and though that makes me sad, and I will miss them if they go, I am not willing or able to make myself be something that is not me, just to make them happy. Sorry if that sounds mean or selfish, but really what good does it do either of us for me to mold myself to someone else’s needs rather than my own? Eventually that would surely make both of us unhappy.

Fortunately, most people I am in contact with are at least outwardly supportive of me even if inwardly they are scratching their heads at what a hopeless nut job I have become.

For the foreseeable future the floating will continue. I anticipate at some point being on the receiving end of some sort of “AHA” moment, or at least I’m hoping I will. In the name of that hope, I am giving myself permission to do something I have never thought about or even wanted to do, to travel and stay by myself somewhere for an extended period of time. My current plan is to leave Florida in early December for around two month’s time in Utah. And yes, this time period will include Christmas and New Year’s. And yes, thinking about holidays without my kids or as an unattached woman is very uncomfortable. And yes, it may not work out as well as I’m hoping. But then again it might turn out to be a very good thing for us all and that is the direction this currently directionless human is looking.

Ups and Downs…

Ok, it’s out there. I wrote and posted a piece about leaving my marriage. In the days since writing it I have had occasion to say out loud the words, “My husband and I are separated.” several times. Each time I hear it, it shocks me, and I half expect to laugh quickly after and then say, “nah, just kidding.” But I don’t, because I’m not.

In spite of telling myself that I will live in the moment, not obsess over all the possibilities and decisions that lie ahead, I am finding that I can think or speak of little else beyond the looming fate of my marriage. Reading, movies, television, all my customary go to distractions are failing to work their magic. Sleep eludes me and eating no longer holds great appeal. I foresee, in the very near future, friends and loved ones seeing me walking toward them and beating a retreat in the opposite direction. Well, maybe I’m not being quite that bad and mostly the person I am obsessing with is me, so capable am I in having two part conversations with myself these days. They’re pretty good ones too and not nearly as abusive as they once were. I am being uncharacteristically gentle and generous with myself, and that is a good feeling.

Leaving my husband has engendered all sorts of reactions from various members of my friends and family. Some I would have expected, others I would not. A common response has been surprise, at the timing if not the concept. A few have expressed this in the face of seeing my husband and I at our son’s recent wedding. “But you looked so happy and loving toward each other!” was one report. There were others in a similar vein. Funny but I don’t remember feeling or behaving in any particular way towards him that weekend, but if I appeared that way to others then I may well have done just that. And why wouldn’t I have? It was a most happy occasion during which it felt right to celebrate the work both of us had done in raising our wonderful boy.

Quite possibly no one is more shocked than I that the separation occurred at all, much less when and how it came about. Yes, I hadn’t been happy in my marriage for a while, but I’d almost gotten used feeling that way, and anyway who is happy in their relationship all the time? The thing that sent me over the edge, that got me up and out the door was, as I explained to a friend who asked, an almost physical sensation that overtook me. In that surreal moment it was as if someone had come up behind me and propelled me toward the nearest exit. There was no plan, no goal, no end game, just: Get. Out. Now. It wasn’t until I walked through the door of my friend’s house that I even stopped long enough to think, “oh crap, now what?” A question I am still considering.

There have been very good days, during which I see sunshine and daisies and a bright exciting future full of friends, travel, personal fulfillment and happiness. There are other, horrible days full of terror and tears at what I’ve done, and the people I have and will continue to hurt with my decision. People who have meant important things to me all of my adult life are probably not going to be part of my world anymore. There are lots of great things I would give up by leaving, should I ultimately choose to make my exit permanent. These are not things that I can brush off without thought, lots of sad and scary thought.

Still, another friend asked me what I hoped to achieve, long term, from leaving. Without hesitation I responded that I hoped for autonomy, as well as a feeling of success and contentment in my own right, not as a function of another person. Sounds simple enough, but upon reflection, it felt pretty huge to express those desires as well as to consider the possibility that they could ever come to fruition. Now it feels like my job is to push forward and make these lofty goals actually occur, a very exciting proposition.

There are many decisions ahead of me and no they won’t be easy, and though I need be respectful of others, I don’t have to make them in any particular time frame. It occurred to me today that there are no inherently good or bad decisions, and many of them once made can still be revised or at least revisited. Also true is what I used to tell my kids when they were in their formative years. And that is, go out into the world and make any decisions you want, just be sure you are prepared to live with the consequences of them. And so I will.

 

 

 

Oh god, now what…

Relationships are a complicated dance requiring commitment, vigilance and massive amounts of energy. Time, events and acts committed or omitted by both parties can do damage to the strongest of bonds, to say nothing of those that are more tenuous. Who among us are the same dewy eyed innocents we might have been at the beginning of our now decades old relationship?

Many factors go into our choice of mates including current circumstances, how and by whom we were raised, and are complicated by our making this life altering decision in our not fully formed youth. The dynamics of new relationships are often set in place early, whether consciously or not, and once done, one or both of the partners may be reluctant or unable to change them, regardless of whether or not they continue to serve either party. Not to over generalize, but that has certainly been the case in my marriage.

A wise person once said that the tragedy of marriage is that a woman thinks a man will change and he doesn’t, while a man thinks a woman will never change and she does. Amen to that.

I have been in my current relationship for thirty-eight years, thirty-three of them married. There have been wild highs, devastating lows and lots of everything in between. We have friends, families and two grown sons we are both devoted to.

From almost our first meeting, at the ripe old age of nineteen, I focused everything I had on capturing the heart of this handsome, interesting, quirky, funny, intelligent, driven, irreverent, ill-behaved rogue of a man. It took some time, but I accomplished that lofty goal, in spite of his resistance to being domesticated. I admitted defeat and tried to leave a few times along the way, but he, while claiming a disdain for commitment, never quite let me go. I knew of his reservations but pressed on in my quest for marriage and family.

My personal insecurities overrode my ability to admit the problems I knew existed. Marry me and give me babies and I’ll behave any way and be or do anything you want, was my unspoken commitment to him. And so he did. And so I did. For a while… Any time I chafed at my ill-conceived promise I was quickly reminded that it was I who had designed the program. And on it went as my love for him faltered but remained.

Suffice it to say that over the years we each lobbed our share of poison tipped arrows, but somehow managed to keep our marriage together. He was successful in his work, which afforded us a very comfortable life. We often met other men in the same line of work and their wives pretty much reported the same complaints as had I. We all admitted that it was not easy, but ultimately a fair tradeoff for the perks.

As my children grew my restlessness grew along with them. I had curiosities, passions and interests, and even some talents that I did little to pursue, in the name of being the supportive parent and spouse. For this I take full responsibility. My needs never seemed as pressing as those of others. Instead of respecting them I denied them, replacing satisfaction with frustration and anger. I forgot my need and love for my husband and began to see him primarily as my oppressor. We did years of counseling and some if it helped, or at least gave me an opportunity to vent, but ultimately the dynamic remained intact. He was who he was, and the factors that ran him, as well as the ones that ran me, did not change. Nor did my level of dissatisfaction.

Ten years ago we separated. I defiantly announced that I had rented a condo near by and would be living there till further notice. Every aspect of my once coveted life, the house, the trips, the stuff, felt more like anchors than wings. I loved my simple, monastic existence. Sort of… Still unsure of myself, or my direction, I succumbed to his full court press of attention, gifts and promises. Three short months later I surrendered and moved back home and our usual dynamic soon reappeared. I convinced myself that it was as good as anyone got in life and squashed the voices insisting otherwise.

Life went on, as life will do. The boys went to college, then on into their lives. We bought a vacation second home, a concept I’d resisted for years as I believed once you did that you’d never go anywhere else, which turned out to be true but not a problem because I ended up loving the place as much as he did. My freeform restlessness and discontent continued and I did nothing to quench it.

A couple of years ago, my older son tired of seeing me unhappy. He began to suggest solutions, all of which I summarily dismissed. Eventually his suggestions grew more insistent and he committed to setting up a blog site for me that I could post random thoughts and writings to at will. I was sure it wouldn’t work or solve anything but tentatively wrote the first one. My son posted it, along with some photos and it was well received by the family members and friends who read it. This spurred me on to more of them and I noticed how happy it made me to write and get feedback on them. It didn’t seem so scary anymore and filled in some of the tiny holes of my discontent. I talked to people I met about writing, went to author events, and corresponded with published writers whenever possible, always noticing that I lit from within when doing so, a feeling that remained for days afterward.

More and more I turned outward to my burgeoning passion and away from my marriage. He had always had passionate interests that consumed him and left me feeling alone. There seemed to be little overlap in our lives and we came together less and less, or that was my experience anyway.

In late spring, my younger son’s wedding looming, I made some decisions, which I have addressed in earlier blog posts. I wanted to feel lighter, freer, and more fun. In the name of all that I did something I had been unable to accomplish for years. I completely revamped my diet and exercise programs and began to lose weight, quickly. One, five, ten and eventually thirty pounds, each milestone urging me onward. I stopped blaming my husband for my unhappiness and dissatisfaction and rarely admonished or complained to him. He was shocked and reported this new behavior to our son who only half in jest suggested I be checked for signs of a stroke.

The happier I got, the happier I got. Except…

Those nagging voices that unbidden kept insisting that life might be sweeter with a real equal partner who shared my interests and respected me and my talents the way I might respect him and his continued. I pushed them away again, deciding to concentrate on the upcoming happy event.

And now that event has come and gone and with its completion, a return to that which will no longer be denied. I am not happy in nor fulfilled by my marriage. There, I said it. I place no blame for this feeling. As I said, I am as much or more responsible for the dynamic and my dissatisfaction in it and with it as anyone. Either way, something needed be done about the situation.

A few days after the wedding, my husband’s fledgling business venture necessitated him being out of town for four days. This afforded me lots of time to reflect. Once more I thought I had it all worked out in my head to remain in my marriage and just keep dancing. Until the night he returned. From the moment he walked in the door I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. He began to talk about his experience of the previous four days, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything he was saying. Eventually he noticed my discomfort and commented on it. I couldn’t hold it back any longer and blurted out my need for some time and space to contemplate my future and his place in it.

Sleep that night eluded both of us and we talked around all the same old issues. Ultimately, I called a friend and asked if I could stay with her for a while, length of time unknown, and she agreed.

It was with no great mirth or satisfaction that I packed a small bag. My husband walked me to my car and I broke down. The last time I had left I was so angry, this time it was great sadness that overtook me. He is sad too, and I’m sure also hurt, and confused and anxious.

So this is where I currently find myself, floating in a river of uncertainty, waiting to see where it takes me, yet for the first time in a long time, or maybe ever, confident in my ability to move forward, whether married or alone.

Happily Ever After…

IMG_5528My youngest son’s wedding was almost two weeks ago.  I am still reveling in and recovering from it. What is it about weddings that cause such strong thoughts, both positive and negative to surface? Or is it just me? I don’t think so, as several of my friends who attended the wedding reported similar feelings shortly after the event. Which is not to say the only effects were negative. Far from it, it’s just that it engendered many thoughts and feelings across the spectrum.

Also, not to hijack my son’s special day or negate the happiness that he feels or I hope will continue to feel, but this is my blog and my space to report and explore experiences, so in the name of that all’s fair. OK, end of disclaimer.

Let’s discuss.

First off, let us go with the good stuff. It was a beautiful and love filled weekend. So many friends and relatives traveled from near and far to celebrate with us. There is certainly something about having so many of the people you love show up in support of such an important day. I want to confirm that there is no hesitancy in my happiness at my son having found this incredible and beautiful young woman with whom to share his life. As I have said many times, if I could have designed a woman for my son I couldn’t have done a better job. IMG_5548Further, everything went so smoothly and effortlessly it was almost unsettling. Such is the outcome when you have a daughter in law who considers and covers every detail. I did what and as much as I could, but the lion’s share of the responsibility goes to her. And of course, to her parents, who spared no expense to make the day a fairy tale come true. And yeah, we spent a couple of bucks too…

Who could hate three days, or for some even longer, of nonstop celebrating? I felt bathed in adrenaline and endorphins born of the excitement. I had worked hard and sacrificed a fair amount to feel and look good for the wedding and it paid off. And if I do say so myself I felt and looked great. IMG_5532Tiny fortunes were spent on new clothes to wear for each of the parties.

Best of all, my son, my adored second born, and I managed to have, in my mind, two of the kind of moments that a mother lives for. He and I have not always been as close as I’d like, and I often felt I simply wasn’t the kind of mother he needed. I was the only kind I knew how to be and we did the best we could to work around our differences in style and theory but our relationship often was more adversarial than conspiratorial. A fundamental shift in this dynamic occurred the morning of the wedding. I had been instructed to be in his hotel room for photos before heading to the church. The groomsmen were all there and the photographer was snapping candid and staged shots. He requested that I pose as if adjusting my son’s tie. As I did so, I was instructed to look up (my son is six feet six inches tall) into his eyes. In that moment the most overwhelmingly powerful rush of pure love for him hit me like a wave and I thought I might crumble under its force. I managed to tell him how much I loved him before dissolving into body wracking sobs. To my great surprise, my always stalwart boy was crying too, and reached out to envelop me in a bone crushing embrace. I felt as if I could spend the rest of my life in that clutch and that he finally was able to intuit and accept my imperfect love for him. Whatever else happened that day, I would cherish and carry that moment with me forever. IMG_5535

The second time that day that elation found me was during our Mother/Son dance. I had agonized over the song choice looking for one that captured the right mix of my feelings for him and yet kept a playful, not too heavy tone. The one I chose, “A Song For You”, the Leon Russell version, fit the bill perfectly. We twirled, swung and laughed our way through the whole thing. At four minutes and four seconds long, it was the perfect amount of time for me to revel in our newfound connection. My son laughed that it was the longest song in the history of music and I responded that for me it wasn’t nearly long enough. A more blissful four plus minutes I had rarely spent.

So, you may rightfully ask, what could the downside possibly be? The not so simple answer is, nothing specific to this particular wedding, more just weddings in general. Most women have wedding fantasies installed at the factory. It is buried in our DNA. If you are female and escaped this fate, more power to you. IMG_5542I however did not. Along with the fantasies come impossibly high expectations and unrealistic visions of happily ever after-ing here in Camelot. As a result the attending fall to reality can be far and swift. Sweet beginnings fall prey to all too real middles and often, painful endings. Even perfectly fine lives can be negatively impacted by the silly and unattainable goals we often set for ourselves.

Still, I seriously doubt that however our own personal fairy tales turn out, we will allow our enthusiasm for the bright beginnings of our children to dull. Our best hope is that their starry eyes are tempered with a healthy dose of both commitment and reality.

Thanks again to all who had a part in our family’s special day and all my love forever to my wonderful son and my new and beloved daughter.

IMG_5549

 

The Prequel…

IMG_5287OK, we have discussed the after math; now let us visit the incident itself. It’s taken me a while to work up to this because even though most of you already know this about me; it is not easy to admit what a dork I actually am.

IMG_5271 It was a beautiful warm day and my new fun self was thrilled to be with good friends and heading to a scenic place for a hike. Yes, I was a little nervous about my ability to actually do the hike, as exertion at altitude is not usually my strong suit. Well that and a certain member of the group has historically, shall we say, bent the facts regarding the difficulty and severity of hikes so as to keep me onboard. That thought was keeping me on my toes as well.

Further motivating me to undertake the trail in the first place was a gorgeous waterfall at the top as well as the spot where my son had proposed to his soon to be wife  (15 more days, whoop!!!). So off and up we went.IMG_5278

I had water with me, but no doubt not enough, and in my pre-wedding weight loss mode had eaten very little that morning. And did I mention altitude is not my friend? Anyway, the climb was steady but not extreme and though somewhat technical, not anything I couldn’t handle. I may have been going faster than legally necessary, so excited was I to be able to do the hike at all. I never felt dizzy or barely even winded. It was very hot in the direct sunshine, but vey comfortable in the shady spots. I pulled over every so often to cool off and sip my water.

It took about an hour but we finally reached the top. I couldn’t believe I’d actually made it. It was pretty crowded with other hikers but we hung around and watched kids and dogs play in the stream and pond under the waterfall. My water was now gone but I didn’t think anything about that.

We started back down and decided to take a side trail that lead to pavement figuring that downhill paved road had to be easier to navigate than downhill dirt, roots and rocks. The road went into a sort of neighborhood, and yeah, there may have been a sign that said, “THIS IS A NEIGHBORHOOD, YOU IDIOT, DON’T WALK THROUGH HERE” or something to that affect.

But walk there we did and were captivated by the tall trees and adorable little houses and log cabins that dotted the way. Oddly, the road was also bisected by strangely tall and unmarked speed bumps, as though anyone would want to tear down that windy steep road. I was particularly drawn to one cabin with two Adirondack style rocking chairs on its porch. The windows were framed in gingham curtains, like the perfect little doll’s house that it was. I could just picture myself sitting on that porch after cooking a great meal and just enjoying being in such a beautiful place. What I failed to picture, in my moment of reverie, was watching where I was going. In my excitement, I turned to share my cabin in the woods fantasy with my friend. She was speaking to me but I didn’t quite make out what she was saying, which turned out to be, “LOOK OUT YOU IDIOT, THERE’S A HUGE SPEED BUMP RIGHT THERE” or something to that effect…

As we all now know, I neither heard nor heeded her warning and the next thing I knew I was airborne. It was a slow motion calamity during which I attempted and failed to correct or ward off what was quickly becoming inevitable. When the hits finally quit coming I carefully lay still assessing the damage. Not that I had a lot of choice in the matter, any movement at all resulted in pain somewhere. My three companions rushed over to attend to me.  My husband arrived first and was asking me to get up. The other two of my friends were adamant that I not move, which was a good thing because though I wanted to, I really couldn’t. Both of my knees were skinned and bleeding, my left hand was scuffed up and sore, there was a bump on my forehead where my hat stopped my head from banging on the pavement, no doubt a good thing, and last but not least, my right wrist was looking somewhat Z shaped and was swelling like crazy. Linear thought was becoming a challenge and I felt very close to passing out. I did manage to roll from my side onto my back then lean against a rock to sit up.

Unfortunately, we were still quite a ways from the bottom of the hill and even further from anyplace to get medical help. The two guys took off down the hill with the dogs to get our car, and my friend stayed behind with me. A couple of minutes later, a large SUV came around the corner. They saw us sitting there, in obvious distress and stopped. Very slowly and carefully we loaded me into their car. The pain in my wrist was bad but it wasn’t as hard to manage as the concentration it took to remain conscious.
The nice woman in the SUV dropped us at the first aid station, a small room with a desk and chair, not the mini-ER I had hoped for. A man came out, helped me sit in the chair, placed a splint under my wrist and wrapped my arm in a bandage. I wanted to lie down but there was nowhere to do so. Finally the paramedics arrived. They were asking me questions that my husband attempted to answer, incorrectly, but I couldn’t find it within myself to object. One of the guys tried to start an IV going but was unsuccessful. I knew this because I heard my friend gasp at the blood spurting from my arm that I did not feel. He tried several more times and then gave up. It was at this point that my husband suggested that he put me in the car and drive me to a hospital. My feeling was that that was a bad plan. I wanted to get, in no particular order; prone, oxygenated, hydrated, and knocked the hell out and figured I had a much greater shot at many or all of those in an ambulance than in the back of a nasty old SUV with three other humans and two big dogs. With these thoughts in mind I summoned the energy to beckon the hotter of the two paramedics (and they were both smokin’…) toward me. I asked him his name and he responded, “Kenny.” I said, “You mean as in, they killed Kenny?” (semi-obscure South Park reference…). Kenny nodded his head and smiled. I then asked my new friend Kenny to please not let that crazy old man put me in the back of the car and rattle me all the way down the mountain. He nodded again and turned back toward the others. Again, my husband reiterated his desire to take me himself. Kenny countered that the indicator would be my blood pressure. If it weren’t too off the mark either up or down from normal, I’d be free to go. This I knew, even in my altered state, was my ticket to an ambulance ride. On my best day my blood pressure barely registers and I felt fairly confident that in this case it would be all kinds of headed in the wrong direction. The cuff did not disappoint and off we went in that big shiny red truck.
It was a long thirty-minute jaunt during which my new boyfriend Kenny tried twice more to get an IV going, and failing yet again. He then hit me in the arm with a shot of anti-nausea medicine, which I enjoyed, and some type of alleged pain reliever administered nasally, which I did not.
We made it to the hospital and they wheeled me in. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by even more ridiculously attractive medical personnel. I recall thinking, don’t they have/hire fat ugly people in Utah? Anyway, now we had more folks asking questions and more opportunities for my husband to answer incorrectly. With the benefit of some meds, I began to find this amusing rather than irritating. The new nurse got an IV in me effortlessly and immediately started some fluids, which helped. Nurse number two asked about my pain and suggested morphine. Something in my experience bank told me that morphine was a substance I did not enjoy. I politely declined, but she wasn’t having it and bang, in it went. As predicted, all kinds of bad feelings overwhelmed me and yet did nothing for the pain. As if by magic, I remembered the name Dilaudid, and asked very kindly for some of that, please. Oh sure, and in that went. Now I was cooking with gas. They could have flipped me on my head and I wouldn’t have cared.
X-rays were taken and returned and the ER doctor with the soft voice, warm hands, blue eyes, naturally curly black hair, and requisite gorgeous face delivered the not so surprising news that my wrist was both broken and dislocated. The short term resolution of which was to knock me out, relocate things, wrap it tightly and hope things held. If they didn’t, a metal plate and screws would be installed by an orthopedic surgeon a day or two later.get-attachment
Off we went to another room to do the thing. Yet another nurse explained that they would be hitting the IV with Propofol, so as to chill me out. She said they would ask me questions and when I couldn’t answer, they’d know I’d had enough and they’d begin the relocation. Good plan, but somehow I never did shut up, though I remember nothing. When I did come to, the nurse was laughing and told me that not only did I crack jokes the whole time, but that I also sang Whitney Houston’s famous song, “I Will Always Love You”. Hey, for all the hard work they were doing, the least I could do was keep them entertained.
IMG_5323
As we all know, the procedure was not a success and surgery was called for, or at least highly recommended. So that happened and though it was not a totally pleasant experience, the thing that got me there, that amazing hike, was still worth doing. I guess what I’m trying to say is, bad stuff is going to happen from time to time, but don’t let that keep you from shooting for the good stuff. Besides, how else would I have met all those amazing, helpful and incredibly beautiful people.

get-attachment-1IMG_5278

Recovery…

Four weeks today since the surgery to realign and set my broken wrist. One plate and five screws later, I am slowly healing.

The surgery itself was absolutely no fun at all.  As seductive as the medical community can be with its clean, well artificially lit spaces, and soft spoken, helpful staff who continually assure you of things you know better than to believe, there are always plenty of things that can and do go wrong. There was no shortage of those things in my situation. Nothing life threatening, as far as I know, but a few things that definitely afforded me a less than pleasant couple of days. Good for stories maybe, but very much not so good for experiencing.

First there was the three-hour delay before the procedure began. If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing you enjoy more than cooling your jets in a hospital holding area feeling cold, alone and starving with plenty of time to contemplate what is about to happen. It seemed like they’d emptied the entire hospital before finally coming to fetch me.

Next was the consultation with the anesthesiologist. It was my goal to have as little sedation as was medically practical. I am pretty sensitive to that stuff and know that my body is not a fan. He agreed to do a nerve block to deaden my arm and what he termed, “light sedation.” The nerve block was an interesting experience, and by interesting I mean relatively terrifying. Suffice it to say that a large needle jammed quickly and roughly into a vein in your neck, forcing a substance that feels like napalm down and back up your arm is nobody’s idea of a good time. They then wheeled me into the OR with my now hot, dead log of an arm lying heavily across my chest. Bright lights, loud music, some discussion that did not include me, and I don’t remember anything after that.

My first sensation upon awakening, if you can call it that, was feeling as though some evil person had fed me a DRANO milkshake. Which is to say, my throat was quite raw and dry. This was my indication that the agreement to not heavily sedate, and therefore not intubate me, had not been honored. Damn. A nurse was getting in my face asking me questions I was in no position to appropriately answer. I’m not sure what she asked or how I responded, but it resulted in her administering some form of medication that quickly took me from uncomfortably woozy to, OH MY GOD KILL ME NOW.  The sensation was somewhat akin to being inches from black out drunk, complete with horrible whir-lies, but you can neither pass out, throw up, nor regain consciousness. So I had that going for me…

The nurses kept talking and suggesting things that might improve the situation but nothing did, especially the talking at me part. It felt like if they would just shut up I could either get better or die, and I was way past caring which it was going to be. Eventually, a very buff, bald and scary male nurse said that whatever was happening was not going to resolve itself for four hours. I’m sure there was a logical explanation for that assessment but I can’t recall what that might have been. Either way, it was decided that my outpatient surgery had suddenly morphed into inpatient as there was no way I was going to survive an hour car ride home.

Let me be clear that at no point was any nurse, either then or going forward, anything other than doing the very best they could with the tools at their disposal. Be that as it may, it was beyond miserable.

They wheeled me upstairs and installed me in a room. By the time all that was arranged it had been approximately four hours and ten minutes since the Iron Man nurse guy had predicted my eventual miraculous recovery. Damned if he wasn’t right. By the time I was safely in my little cubby of a room, the veil of misery had begun to lift and life seemed worth continuing.

A new nurse arrived with a most welcome suggestion of food. As it was after 9:00 pm, the options were limited. I told her I trusted her judgment and bring me whatever she could scrounge up. This was a hospital after all so the pickings were pretty grim, though after 30+ hours with no food she could have brought me an old boot and I’d have been delighted. As it was, no boot, but instead a dry turkey sandwich on white bread, Lay’s potato chips, an apple and a cup of mixed fruit magically appeared on my tray. It was quite possibly the finest meal I’d ever eaten. Took me about four hours to get it all down, but consume it I did, gratefully so.

The anesthesiologist said that my arm, now known as the hot, dead log, would remain so for at least 24 hours, possibly longer, therefore allowing the post-surgical pain to remain at bay for a good long time. The indication that the block was wearing off would be a tingling sensation in my fingers. He said as soon as that began to occur, I was to start on the pain meds immediately to head off serious discomfort. Fair enough. Imagine my surprise when roughly eleven hours after surgery I felt the telltale tingling begin. What the what? I buzzed the nurse to request the magic pills. Unfortunately, the doctor ordered a medication I knew did not work for me, a situation I had discussed with him that I assumed he’d understood. Guess not. One pill, an hour later another, and the level of my ‘discomfort’ was rising exponentially. There was no position in which the hot, now closer to on fire log was comfortable. Hard to get any sleep. Maybe due to the pain I was experiencing, and then again maybe not, but my blood pressure was dropping to an impressive level. I wasn’t sure what the solution to that problem was, but was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it. I asked the nurse to help me walk to the bathroom thinking that a bit of exertion might raise my blood pressure enough, assuming I didn’t pass out in the process. I put all my focus into remaining upright and managed to accomplish both my goal of getting to the bathroom and raising my numbers just enough to let me off the hook. Unfortunately, the pain remained. After a couple of hours, the doctor finally called in the pain medication I knew worked and shortly after that sweet relief arrived. Counting the minutes until you can take the next pill is no way to live but in the next 24 hours I certainly came to understand that mindset.

By morning everything was more or less regulated and going home seemed like a pretty good idea. Not that I was having much fun once I got there, but at least I could begin to eat real food, walk around a little bit, and get on with the process of healing.

Fast forward four weeks and the brace is gone, the steri-strips have fallen off, with ok, more than a little help from me, and physical therapy is in full swing. There are more things I can do every day, though of course things aren’t progressing anywhere near as quickly as I’d like. Rumor has it I will get relatively normal wrist function back, but no one is saying when that might occur. All in all, though it would have been much wiser to avoid breaking it in the first place, it definitely could have gone a lot worse than it did and I am most grateful for how well I am progressing, well mostly…

Junkies Are Us…

More than once someone has told me that I think too much. And they’re right. I once had a licensed, professional therapist tell me that there was nothing wrong with me that a partial lobotomy wouldn’t cure, and he was only half kidding. Though it’s something to work on, it isn’t always easy to stop the process or reverse the train once it has left the station. Whether this habit is due to nature or nurture I could not say, but it is something I have dealt with for a long time.

There have been situations where over thinking, and obsessive planning have stood me well. Take travel for instance. Ask anyone who has ever traveled with me and they will most likely tell you that the trip was interesting, entertaining and effortless (for them…) due in no small part to my behind the scenes obsession with anticipating and solving any possible problems in advance. If something does go wrong, because I have most likely foreseen it, I will have a contingency plan in place. Makes it nice for my traveling companions and is possibly the reason I mostly prefer solo travel; fewer people for me to worry about.

Quite often though, the over thinking thing is a pain for all concerned. Big surprise, but if you are worried about what might go wrong you are far more likely to miss what’s going right. This is the thought process that has occurred to me more often these days since my momentous decision to have my life be more fun.

One of my biggest ongoing struggles is that of being a slave to technology. If I was someone who was concerned with solving, in advance, all of life’s possible pitfalls in my youth, what was I going to be like in the age of the lap top, tablet, and worst of all, an iPhone? Wait, I can answer that. A hopeless junkie, that’s what. A person who was never more than three clicks from an answer to or relief from just about any challenge life tossed my way. Wait again, you might ask, isn’t that a problem in itself? Yes, grasshopper, it is.

Ask my family or friends what my average response time is to a text or email. Most of them would reply that if they don’t hear back from me in a matter of minutes they seriously consider alerting the authorities. My husband and children are constantly chiding me for my addiction to being connected to the world at large at the expense of actual human interaction with them. I can’t sit through a traffic light, a restaurant meal, or a television show of any interest or length without being hyper alert for any squeaks, beeps or hums my gadgets might emit. It is annoying, it is distraction and it is downright rude. I mean seriously, who am I, the damn President? Do I really need to be alert and ready to scramble my forces against the darkness at a second’s notice? What would happen if a friend or, god forbid, a kid needed something from me?

It was with these thoughts, and the ongoing harassment from friends and family, that I considered some things this morning. As a result, I made a conscious decision to spend a day without technology. Not a week, or a month, as some have done, but a matter of hours (five to be exact), to be fully present in the lives of myself and others. To be where I was and enjoy what was happening as it did. What a concept. A few years back I had an opportunity to watch a space shuttle lift off. As it was going to be one of the last of those to ever happen, I wanted to take some photographs by which to remember the experience. Guess what I learned? Hold on, this was a biggie; you can either photograph an experience or experience an experience, but not both. So how messed up is it that I chose the former rather than the latter? Yeah, I know, a lot.

Back to this morning. I was with three other people and we all decided we were going to have a Sunday adventure. It took shape as a decision to drive to a beautiful place and take a hike. Normally over the course of a drive I would check my email, read from facebook, or possibly twitter, or maybe play a game. I am a renowned multi-tasker but even with that talent, there was always something missing from my interactions with others. Today would be different. Today I would disconnect. I informed my companions of my decision to unplug and requested their patience and support. They thought it was a great idea.

My first challenge came when traffic on route came to a standstill. It was impossible to discern why we were stopped, or for how long we might be sitting there. My first impulse was to distract myself from the boredom of waiting by playing on my phone. But, no. Thought two was to use my phone to research the cause or possible resolution to our situation. Also no. Instead, we made each other laugh. I got out of the car and initiated contact with some other drivers who were just as stuck as we were. We traded theories for a while till we saw a car approaching in the oncoming lane. I waved my arm and when he slowed down he informed us that a semi had hit a wall somewhere down the road and that nobody was going to be going anywhere for at least a few hours. We thanked him, shared the information with drivers nearby, and turned around. We had made it through a situation without technology!

Plan A was no longer possible, but we weren’t ready to call it a day. A decision was made to do a scenic drive in a different direction and then stop at a café we knew about with a gorgeous vista. No hike, but an experience worth having. We got there and were seated on the beautiful deck. Perfect day, great friends, fun atmosphere. Still, my usual habit would be to quickly peruse the menu, decide what to order and turn my attention to my phone. Not today. My decision was making me feel anxious, like a person who’d recently given up smoking or drinking and suddenly found themselves in a bar. My companions noticed my discomfort and we laughed and joked about it.

The thing is, no big shock, it was a lovely day, made more so for me by my actual participation in it. I made it the full five + hours and though it wasn’t effortless, I proved to myself that I could do it and as far as I know, no one was the worse for it.

Questions remain. Can I hang on to my epiphany? Can I keep my resolve to be less connected, available and obsessive? Will there be repercussions if I can? All of that remains to be seen but I have definitely experienced the possibility and the upside.