Not A Pink Girl

Lessons learned from a short life

September 14, 2008
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My friend Nancy died on August 30. Her family did not have a funeral for her. They aren’t including Nancy’s friends in the arrangements for her memorial service which her mother vaguely said would be sometime in the spring in Seattle (where Nancy was born).

So about 13 months after her diagnosis of cancer, she is dead.

I still haven’t quite digested all this. I just got back from a cruise to Bermuda, a trip that came up suddenly & turned out to be a dream come true. I thought a lot about Nancy, our friendship, & her life (its accomplishments & missed opportunities) while I was gazing out at the beautiful ocean. 56 years old is just too young to leave this crazy life (& 56 seems quite young to me, the older I get).

I am having dinner with mutual friends of Nancy’s & mine this week. We haven’t gathered since January & I’m looking forward to sharing some memories of her with them. I’ll check in later in the week. I also want to tell you all about Bermuda.

My queendom for a weekend alone!

June 6, 2008
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This weekend my husband & son are going canoeing with the Boy Scouts. *insert Hallelujah Chorus here* I have been looking forward to a weekend without my fellas for months. I can’t believe how fast the time flies by when I’m puttering around my house when no one else is here but me.

The last time I had the house to myself was November 2006. How do I remember that right off the top of my head, you ask? Let’s just say the otherworldly-heavenly-ness of the weekend made an impression on me.

My front stoop (or porch, depending on where you\'re from)One Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago when my guys were camping, I worked in the garden. I live in a townhouse & have a postage-stamp-sized front- & backyard. I mow the lawn & do weeding, yes; but my real joy is gardening. Although my garden is small, I am a firm believer in vertical– & container gardening. I like to plant seeds in little peat pots in spring.Low-tech seedling labels much? A few years, I can remember planting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost (isn’t that how it’s always worded on the seed packet?). But I don’t have a lot of counter space indoors so it’s difficult to find somewhere to store the pots as the seeds are trying to germinate.

So now I pretty much wait until spring fever has struck me full-force (usually around the second week of April) & then I go outside & start some seeds. So far this year I have little seedlings of marigold (tagetes) French Vanilla & butterfly weed (asclepias). I’ve planted Shasta daisies (Alaska), dwarf sunflower, Love Lies Bleeding (amaranthus caudatus), & florist’s verbena (do you believe that the verbena seeds need complete darkness to germinate? Sounds like my sex life after 45).

I can remember mowing the lawn that weekend a few years go when I was on my own. I puttered in the garden, deadheaded some flowering perennials, planted some more seeds (cosmos, I think, & others), & generally avoided anything high-tech like a ringing telephone, cell or otherwise. Suddenly I realized the streetlights were coming on. I was incredulous! How could 5 hours have sped by like that?

Just knowing I don’t have anyone in the house I need to “look after” makes me so much more relaxed & “myself.” I’ve never lived alone, not in my whole life! That always stuns me when I think about it. I had 4 siblings, a mother, father, & grandmother that lived with me until the day I turned 18. That day I left to marry my first husband. We got married in Maryland, & there you have to wait three days to be married after you take your oath to get your marriage license (it’s 48 hours now).  So I swore my oath at the courthouse in Upper Marlboro, Maryland on my 18th birthday. Three days later we were married at the same courthouse. I stayed with my best friend Nancy for the 3 days I had to wait to get married.

Me & Wendy in the Atlantis (Ocean City MD) pool, 1982When my ex-husband & I separated, I had a 6-month-old daughter, so I didn’t live alone after my marriage ended either. It was right back into the lion’s den, otherwise known as my parents’ house where I grew up (with an exceedingly unhappy childhood).

Me in 1967 in the backyard of my house in New Carrollton MDSo now, when I’m alone, it is blissful. I know that’s not what wives & mothers are supposed to say when their husbands & children go away temporarily. But knowing I don’t have to make sure there’s a hot meal on the table or someone’s favorite tee-shirt is laid out for the next day just gives me a certain serenity I don’t feel when I have a houseful.

It’s difficult for me to even go out to a restaurant & order what I want. Honestly! I look at the menu & it’s just second-nature for me to gravitate towards a dish that will leave me with leftovers that my son & husband would want to eat. So instead of ordering a personal pizza with mushrooms, roasted red peppers & basil, I’ll order one with bacon & ground beef. That way, I’ll be able to satisfy those wistful guys at home that sigh with envy when I tell them I ate at their favorite pizza place – without them.

When I eat at home when my guys are away, it’s sublime. I’ll have something I consider decadent for dinner, like scrambled eggs on toast with plenty of ketchup (no one around to saw “Eeew! Ger-OSS!”). Then I’ll make myself some camomile tea & take it upstairs to my bedroom to drink while watching a Poirot DVD or a rerun of Will & Grace (again, without having to hear a male voice groan, “GROSS!”).

I was laughing the other night when I heard David Beckham tell Jay Leno that he & Vickers (Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, his wife) eat baked beans on toast all the time & that it’s one of their favorite foods. Okay Becks, I can believe that maybe you indulge every so often, but Vicks? If she ever ate a whole plate of anything (at least during the last 10 years), I’ll eat my hat (admittedly not a hat filled with baked beans though if you don’t mind). But it just goes to show you that even celebrities need their comfort food every once in a while.

I will make sure I don’t schedule any social events for when my guys are going to be gone from the house overnight. I don’t want to go out with friends or have anyone over. I just want to be. I don’t want to have to be on or to have to impress anyone. I don’t want to have to make sure my legs are shaved & my eyebrows are plucked, or that I remembered to put on my deodorant or changed my shirt to something more presentable.

I once had a “friend” who had to be in control of all my free time. Oh Lord that was the most gawdawful relationship. This was a woman that I had broken up with twice (at the time). Have you ever broken up with a friend? This woman was the first person I’d ever broken off a friendship with, & that was when I was 30. What a laugh: I thought I’d put all my years as a doormat (with the footprints on my back to prove it) behind me. But I was wrong. I got back together with this terror twice more after our first breakup. I will tell you all about her as this blog goes on.

I broke up with her – let’s call her Jez – almost a year ago. I feel like it was another Independence Day! When Jez would find out that I was going to be alone for the weekend, she would literally descend on my house. I got to the point that I would turn off the living room lights (I have matchstick blinds on my bay window, so you can see in) & go either downstairs in the basement or upstairs to my room to get some peace & escape from Jez. I got better – with help from a professional – at “setting boundaries” (do you think I even knew what that meant before I got counseling?).

I’ll talk more about Crezzy Jez in a future blog post.

So this weekend I’ll be meditating on the bliss of peace & quiet. & I’ll be listening intently in the silence in case a higher power wants to give me a little friendly advice.



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