Saturday, February 25, 2012

As Good As It Ever Was

This week I surprised my cynical husband.  He is a man that is never surprised.  He has a gift for making you feel like a jackass during a who done it movie and is impossible to shop for.  We literally never exchange gifts because there is nothing you could ever buy him that he would want or would surprise him. He'll say, 
"How about you return this and get rid of our second mortgage for my birthday?" 
Obnoxious.  You know that guy.
If you know any cynics, it is a rare treat to catch him/ her off guard.  I am the guileless, gullible one in this house.  I am about as cunning as Bambi.  And my three year old actually lies better than me.  Do not tell me something is a secret if you want it kept.  It will burn a hole in my mouth.  
So when I paid cash for two plane tickets for my in-laws to arrive on hubby's birthday, I thought for sure that I'd spill the beans.  My Mom and Dad- in law arrived Thursday night and I forced them into a corner of our darkened, junk filled playroom when I heard my hubby arrive home from work.  I whisper shouted the code word, "scarecrow! scarecrow!" (so empowering!) and they bolted into their hiding places.  
I put on my best "I'm pissy and it's about damn time you got home" face and greeted him at the door.   This was not a stretch for me as an actor.  
I told him that there was yet another problem with our poorly constructed new house, and led him upstairs.  I started to get really into it, saying, "That's it!! I've had it! Prepare yourself.  It's disgusting!"
Then we walked in as my two kids and in-laws sprung up, shouting, "Surprise!!"
And he was.  My little cynic was genuinely and happily surprised.
The next day we had a quickly thrown together birthday party for hubby, including dollar store decor and cold pizza from yet another pizza joint that refuses to deliver to us out here in Deliverance country.  
It was perfectly wonderful!  My cousin and her lovely family joined us for the celebration and we laughed over cold pizza and gourmet birthday cake (yum!) from Cecilia's of Athens.  
Oh, did we laugh!  We laughed about escorts at office Christmas parties, the early days of marriage, bad ex-girlfriends, and why my father-in-law believes it is not necessary to say, "I love you," ever.  He may be the only man that can actually get away with arguing that point.  He had me convinced for awhile there!  
I had an eye opening moment that has happened to me so often in my new life here, down South.  As I looked around the table at the beautiful people seated in my dining room, I thought, "It just doesn't get much better than this."  
It doesn't.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be celebrating my husband's birthday in Georgia, with his parents and my cousin's family, I never would have believed it.  If you had told me that hubby would have left everything he had ever known to relocate to Georgia, which might as well have been another planet, I would have shook my head in disbelief.  If you had told me that it would be possible for my wonderful in-laws to laugh again, until tears welled up in their eyes, I would have denied it.  
But here we are.  Together.  Happy.
Sadly, they have to home to the boatload of troubles that we've left behind (at least geographically).  They are still plagued with worries that would make Lindsay Lohan's parents feel just peachy in comparison.  But for this week, right now, they are just grandparents.  They are "Babo" and "Dedo".  They play with apps on my Kindle, and snuggle, and try new recipes, and go see stupid romantic comedies.  They push little girls at the park and have push up contests with my five year old.  They even talk to the dog like he is part of the family.  
And who knows?  I learned long ago that God's dreams are way bigger than mine.  I wouldn't put it past the Guy to move the whole family to Georgia in a year's time.  He tends to surprise us with small miracles when we need them most.  
Here's hoping.  

My mother-in-law and my cuz

Me and the old man cookin'

The three little ladies at their table.

The delicious cake that originally said, "Happy Birthday, Doris."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hunk of Burning Love

I know what you are thinking. 
What a couple of pretty, young things!  Holy Moly...they are hot!! I mean sexy!
Maybe not.  But, in comparison to today...we were lookin' good.  My husband and I have been a couple for sixteen years, officially on Valentine's Day.  That is quite an accomplishment for us, considering we have just about been together for half of our time on this earth.  This was only supposed to be my starter marriage.  And now look at us!!
When I look at this picture of us leaving for our Hawaii honeymoon, twenty two year old babies, with no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, with only the knowledge that we were in love and little else going for us...dramatic pause...I sigh.  
Actually that is not true.  I blush!  I remember how it all started back when I was a girl of sixteen.  Seemingly overnight, I had sprouted boobs and hips, and had absolutely no idea what to do with them.  But, I figured they gave me license to have a boyfriend, so I went lookin' for one.  Picture this: across a crowded intersection,  my girlfriends and I see a florescent purple pickup truck with what looked like a lot of trouble sitting in the back and waving us over.  (Side note: when we told my girlfriend's mom that we had met boys who were riding in the back of a pickup truck, she asked if we would be seeing the "lawn care workers" again.  Nice.) 
I instantly pulled my mom's Volvo over to the Taco Bell parking lot and we met.  It was the usual parking lot exchange.  He told me his name was B.J. (it's not) and we made awkward conversation.  My friends flirted with his friends and the guys handed out their pager numbers (so badass).  I thought 16 year old B.J. was...nice.  
So a friendship ensued!  He was patient.  He bided his time and was a perfect gentleman, always listening to my teenage troubles and when necessary, providing shoulder to cry on.  One day, we decided to meet up in the fated parking lot where it all began.  We had not seen each other in a few months but had stayed in touch over the phone.  I remember seeing a gorgeous guy step out of a red muscle car across the parking lot.  I turned to my friend and said, "Who is that?"
What I was thinking was, "Break me off a piece of that!" or maybe "Can I get some fries with that shake?" What can I say? The man has a great butt.  
She laughed, and said, "That's B.J.!" 
He was tan, a lot taller, and gorgeous.  From that moment on, I was all in.  I worked for that first date.  And when we had our first official date on Valentine's Day of 1996, we kissed through the whole horribly inappropriate first date movie ("Leaving Los Vegas"- barf).  I actually had bruised lips the next day.  
This was not typical behavior for teenaged Kate.  I was pretty scared of boys.  And they were scared of me.  I was melodramatic and fell "in love" at the drop of a hat.  Teenage boys tend to not like this so much.  I didn't particularly want to kiss them.  Just poke them with a stick from afar (like an insect).  They really did not like that.
But I can honestly say that from our Valentine's Date 16 years ago,  I was fearlessly in love and he was with me.  B.J. never ran when the going got tough. He already knew me and bought the whole package of hormones and emotions.  We were both terribly flawed and dysfunctional and together we just fit. He taught me how to speak the truth to the person you love, and we still do today. 
Since then, our relationship has survived 4 years of long distance romance, financial disasters, and tragedy that would sent a lot of people running.  But not us.  My brave husband is a fighter, like none I've ever seen.    I am so proud of the man that he has grown up to be and I do not tell him nearly often enough.  He is my first love and my last.  I would not change a second of our years together.  And just in case he is wondering, I do know that I am the lucky one. 

And most importantly, I still think that man is sexier than socks on a rooster.   Hmmm... I wonder if he would trade in his Lexus for a purple pick up truck.

Friday, February 10, 2012

May the Circle be Unbroken

I specifically don't want this to be a tribute blog about all the people I love (there are too many to count, thank you Jesus!).  It would get rather...redundant for the readers, I mean.  But I just gotta do this!  I just gotta devote a minute to my sister-friend-cousin.  
Isn't she lovely?  She would hate her picture being posted up here!   Why?? (I know, right? She's gorgeous.) Because she is one of those people who doesn't know how beautiful she is, which makes her even more lovely.  And just when you are thinking...bitch! She's also the most considerate person I've ever known, and has a heart the size of Texas.  You meet her and you love her.  There is no other choice.
I fell in love with my surrogate big sister when I was about two.  Our Dad's were brothers and the best of friends for as long as anyone can remember.  So when we relocated from Boston to Atlanta, it was just a given that we would be spending a great deal of time with my Auntie, Uncle, and two cousins, Kip and Annie.  My mother decided to pursue her master's degree at UGA (go dawgs!) and she needed child care for little me to do this.  Auntie Mary took on the task of watching me daily with all the Italian Mama love she could muster.  Annie, who was 8 at the time, remembers seeing me curled up on the couch with her Mama, and felt a pang of jealousy.  She sat down on the couch and grabbed her Mom's hand saying, "that's my Mama." I calmly took the other hand and said, "It's okay, we can share her."  From then on Auntie was referred to as my "nudder mudder" and Annie and I became sisters.  
What I remember best about my time in Georgia was the knowledge that I was utterly loved.  It has occurred to me over the years that when I was three and Annie was a popular 10 year old with plenty of neighborhood girls to hang with, it must have put a real cramp in her style to always include the toddler in their Barbie dramas.  What a drag! 
But she swears not.  She says that she loved me to pieces.  Even though by five I was a major pain in the ass tattle tale, who would rat out my surrogate brother and sister at the drop of a hat.  
Today, God has seen fit to miraculously scoop me up out of my Yankee residence and bring this Southern girl home again.  And by God's grace, the sibling relationship has been passed down to another set of cousins.  Once the dust on our moving truck had settled, it became apparent that the five cousins, our children, would be the best of friends, as we are. Sweet, sweet memories surface as I watch Annie teach my children the rhymes she once taught me, as I listen quietly to the two three year old cousins playing prince and princess together for hours at a time.  And I am humbled.  I whisper a thank you to the One who is listening.  
Annie is still the person today that I loved as a toddler.  She is a woman who protects those she loves ferociously.  She will stand by her friends when they are wrong and encourage them until they get it right.  She will swoop in when you haven't showered in three days because you've been taking care of sick kids and leave dollar store treasures and hot tortilla soup on your doorstep.  She is a rock and a soft place to fall at the same time.
Alas, this is by definition a tribute!  But, I will not apologize to you who are reading.  Because this life is short and hard.  When you love someone, I think you should shout it from the rooftops!  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dropped My Basket

There are two or three happy topics that I would have liked to blog about this week.  But I think a blog should be about keeping it real, yo.  So I am gonna do just that.  Last week after the incredible birth of sweet baby Mason, whose Mama I attended (much more about this exciting event later), I was riding high.  Then something unexpected happened.  A dark corner of my life, long put away all neat and tidy in a picnic basket, and placed on a shelf, popped out to say "hello...I'm baaaaaack!"  
Has this ever happened to you friends?  Maybe you are blessed to not have any life altering events from your childhood.   If so, you are lucky indeed.  Maybe your whole childhood was a series of unfortunate events and you are fortunate that they have never caught up with you in adulthood.  Maybe you did some time in therapy, and said "peace be with you" to those bad memories and pushed them out the door.  But here is what I've discovered.  Those memories are sneaky little buggers.  They like to wait until you are basking in the joy of your happy life, and then they make themselves known.  
I have a dear friend who went through a terrible bout of postpartum depression after the birth of her child.   I think the thing that initially attracted me to her as a friend was her strength.  She went through trauma as a child, her parents divorced, and she lost both of them at a young age.  Amazingly, she waded her way through the muck of grief without therapy or SSRI's!  But after that sweet baby was born, she was crippled by anxiety that left her panting in the middle of the night, heart racing, crying, and wondering if she would ever be herself again. 
She had dropped her basket.  
This week, I dropped my basket.  Thanks to the efficiency of the internet, I was able to find a face that I thought I had forgiven a loooooong time ago.  By all logic, I should have been through with this chapter of my life. I did the work; boy, did I ever!  I did my forgiveness exercise, yelling at an empty chair (awkward for the poor chair).  I gave myself permission to be loved and to be happy.  I stopped punishing the girl who did not deserve punishment in the first place.   I deserve a gold star for what I have overcome.  
But forgiving a chair and forgiving an actual face on a computer screen are two TOTALLY different things, my friend.  I am learning that once those unpleasant psychic doors have been opened, they do not slam shut easily.  Trust me, I tried!! I have been waking up in the morning, face flushed, heart racing, fighting mad.  Why do I have the uncanny desire to punch a whole in the wall of my pretty new house, I wonder?  Why does my head feel like its going to explode all day?  I will spare you the rest of the details.  I kicked and shoved those doors pretty damn hard, and when that failed I tried to pretend they weren't there. 
Last night, I realized that I must stop trying to shut those damn doors.  So I will do the work.  I will pray with friends.  I will seek council.  And I will figure out what to do with that face.  But make no mistake, I will be okay.  Because I am no little girl. I am a strong, wise woman and I am not alone.  

If you are a survivor I would love to hear your voice!