Seeking Paradise OR Grieving Does Not Have A Time Schedule

Vegetables in a grocery store, Paris, France.

Vegetables in a grocery store, Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m lying in my bed, still in my pajamas, it’s almost three o’clock in the afternoon. My husband and I had planned to go out to dinner tonight but there is no way in hell I’m going. He thinks I will change my mind. He tries guilt “but I’ m going to be disappointed….” Apparently he doesn’t know me as well as he thinks he does. I do not like to go out when I  feel blue.  I will not step out of my house today unless there is a fire, even then, I would find a cozy corner for me and my red dog that seemed safe enough. I would protect her.

Sometimes I get delayed reactions to things, things that I THOUGHT I had handed well, or maybe this is just a blip in the radar. I used all the right buzz words, “when one door closes another opens” I was practically playing Mother Abbess role singing out loud to “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music.” Not now. I’m stuck in mud, not the kind that you can joyfully wade through and play in but the one you feel where you feel trapped in cement and cannot move. Yes, it will change eventually, Patience is not one of my virtues.

This is too familiar we’ve gone through this before. My husband got laid off from his job, I know it’s not his fault, the state of the economy is horrific. His age, doesn’t help, I’m quite sure. He is probably competing with 22-year-old youngsters, bright and bushy-tailed. that will accept less money. It’s those of us who are in-between that suffer the most.

Call us “Baby Boomers,” call us “Empty Nesters” but pretty much, call us what we are: F—ed. We’re taking care of or worrying about our remaining living parents, we have children in college, and we have no idea what to do ourselves. Where should we live? Should we stay, move twice, do nothing? Stress! I live in a town whose school systems excel, one that my kids both graduated from. The taxes are high but the thought of moving twice makes my blood curdle at the thought. I like a town that is peaeful, not divisive, where we help each other, not fight.

The only good thing for my husband and me is that we ARE open to moving, anywhere. If my husband got a job offer in California we would definitely consider it.(Sorry, kids) But, what are the chances?  Right now not very high at all. Besides, no matter where we end up, our children will ALWAYS  have a home. That’s one thing they never, EVER, have to worry about.

The days now are dreary, cold and grey. Wind is chilly and goes right through my winter jacket. I despise going out when the sun sets around four pm, even the grocery store is dull with its flat vegetables and fruit. I miss plums and peaches, cherries and magnificently bright-colored fruit that made summer so cheery. The ripe taste, juice dribbling down your chin, laughing. I’m stuck, we’re stuck and there really is nothing we can do about it.

I know, I’m procrastinating on writing my book. True. That is one thing I SHOULD do. It’s one thing I COULD do and have in my control. That, and what I eat. Food you can also control. I don’t have an eating disorder but it feels good to be able to control something. Yes, things will change, I need to be patient but it is okay to be sad. Dwelling on it, that’s a whole other story, I don’t want to go there. Tonight, I dearly miss my children, I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks, even when they make fun of me, especially when they make fun of me. At least, I will laugh.

Plinky Prompt: Traveling

The final TWA logo

The final TWA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home. Down Under.
    • Up, Up And Away….
    • Being the daughter of an airline employee we flew often and for free. We were young and of course, we didn’t appreciate flying to other countries. We went to see Oma and Opa in Vienna, Austria or our (wicked) step-grandmother in Israel. Didn’t everybody visit their grandparents during Spring break?
      Airline employees lived a different life, we flew stand-by, so we never knew if we would get on a flight until the very last moment. My father would cross his arms into a triangle and we knew that was the meaning for “a cliff hanger” or a very close call, a “a very flight.” We had been thrown off planes or “bumped” before.
      My father worked for TWA and his best friend for Pan Am, and the rivalry was fun and real. We flew to France, Israel, the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Rome, Italy, an island off of Greece, a fishing village in Portugal.
      Years later, when I met my husband, we traveled too, some on frequent flyer miles to Hawaii and to Australia, and later on to France for our miserable, cold and rainy honeymoon.
      We were so lucky, as children, to have had those experiences in the days when flying was actually fun.
      Now, flying is a brutal experience, if we have to fly, we go. But, it is not like the old days where you would get excited to fly and look forward to the trip. In the old days, my sister and I HAD to wear matching sweater and skirt sets. I remember the buttons on them were like ceramic balls. The suits were identical, except for the color. We were NEVER allowed to wear anything less fancy, it just wasn’t done. Back then, you also got dressed up to go to the theater.
      We appreciated the traveling we did back when we were children and teenagers, because once we were 21 and the free tickets abruptly stopped, we missed them even more.

    11fp - Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N8...

    11fp – Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N84357@FLL;30.01.1998 (Photo credit: Aero Icarus)

     

Haiku Heights- Lunch

Crying alone. Lunch.

fruit and cheese plate

fruit and cheese plate (Photo credit: kungfu_kc)

Eyes stab, silver blades ready

Adolescence s***s.

***********************

A bite of cracker

juicy pear, cheese, almonds, dates

Forever in France.

Carry on Tuesday: Rain, rain, go away

Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds (Photo credit: freefotouk)

Scott and Sarah were days away from their honeymoon, excited to be going to Paris, France after their  sunny and warm wedding reception in Boston, MA. They couldn’t think of a more romantic place to go than Paris. To be in love and to be in Paris, enchanting and delightful, they imagined long walks, holding hands on the small, cobbled streets and kissing furtively behind hidden doorways. They couldn’t wait for the chocolate croissants, standing in the sunshine,  many cups of lush, thick coffee with cream, a different apple or pear pastry for every meal…..the intoxicating smell of freshly baked bread wafting on the side streets.

They arrived two days after their wedding reception, having spent one night in a luxurious room overlooking the Boston Harbor, a gift from their friends. They had been driven there from the reception, Sarah, still in her wedding dress and white sneakers, Scott in his immaculate dark blue suit and maroon tie. Sarah refused to change into another dress, it was her wedding after all and she delighted in seeing other people point at her and gasp: “a bride!” When little girls with pigtails looked at her in awe she smiled and waved at them. Watching a bride, when she was a girl, was always magical.

Their plane left in the evening and they flew on TWA straight to Paris. They arrived, excited, happy, in love, dreams dancing in their eyes. The weather the first day was colder than they thought it would be. Sarah, secretly thanked her mother who had insisted she bring a raincoat in her luggage.

The sky was gray and dark, winds were chilly and it rained within the hour. They made their way to their tiny hotel, dragging their suitcases through city streets until they finally reached their destination. Sarah was not happy about that, there were no rolling suitcases back then and she was tired, cranky and hungry and just wanted to close her eyes. Scott refused to take a taxi, absolutely refused, Sarah was furious and thus their honeymoon started.

Every day of their vacation in France was cold and it rained every single day. “Rain, rain, go away” Sarah sang out loud but she only got angrier when the rain did not let up. To try to get away from the weather they decided to rent a car and head South, they would salvage their honeymoon. However, wherever they went, the rain followed, the winds blew freezing air and the skies were dark gray.

Sarah was there over her birthday and they had eaten lunch in a rest stop on a toll road. They both ate chicken with rice pilaf. It tasted fine, but within an hour, Sarah was throwing up violently, over and over again. It was the worst case of food poisoning she had ever had. “Happy Birthday, ME” she muttered to herself, swishing her mouth out with Coke. They cautiously drove to a quaint, old town in the country where they stayed in a beautiful, old castle. From the outside it looked like a movie set but once inside it was eery and dark. There was no light in the hallways and in their room except for one hanging bulb, swinging from a thin rope.

They called it “the honeymoon from hell”, they couldn’t wait to get back to the US and their apartment. It was the worst vacation they had ever taken. Once home, Sarah, who had packed only one warm, black sweater as an after thought, ended up wearing it every day for two solid weeks. The first time they lit a fire in their fireplace, she tossed the black sweater in the fireplace, along with their memories and happily watched them burn up in flames.

Daytime Dreaming, Hell Yes, It’s Weird

Scones with butter, jam and clotted cream.

Scones with butter, jam and clotted cream. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m supposed to write about oranges, sliced oranges in circles, thick peels attached and I’m not sure why. Also, sunshine hiding somewhere behind the thunderous rain clouds that have attacked us for days on end. You can’t see the sun, you don’t hear about it on the long-range, extended forecast but you have to believe it’s going to come back sometime. I don’t know when, I’ve stopped counting the days, the weeks, it will show up one day, probably when I stop waiting for it.

I see old-fashioned carriages, black with wide-spoked wheels driving crookedly on cobble stoned streets; maybe I lived here in a past life. This could be France. I see a friend, Delia, beside me laughing; I don’t know her but I guess we are experiencing the same thing together.  With Delia by my side I feel happy, we have always had adventures like this one, we have moved on and now we are in England. (in real life I think Delia is my friend Denise-before she got married.) I’m the one, of course, who is looking for a place for afternoon tea and scones with Devonshire cream. You can’t forget that creamy, sweet, delicious taste in any time period.

On some random, indoor, faded pink carpet there are small spots of dog poop stains (stains only, no poop.) Listen, I haven’t taken any drugs or smoked anything or am having any flashbacks or swallowed ANY alcoholic beverages. This is what is coming out of my weird, psychedelic mind. I don’t even know a Delia.

What does it mean? I have no idea. I just know that I’m supposed to write this gibberish down and I am doing that. Call it crazy, though the word scares me now, call it quirky, silliness, call it free-form writing. Call it what it is, commercials of junk in my mind, or artistic ramblings of a very tired woman. You never know, this could end up in a novel one day or a biography, in a junk pile, or a shredder. Who is to say?

Living in Other Countries

A 4 x 1 segment panorama of the Toledo Skyline...

Image via Wikipedia

Invite Us, Please.

If the opportunity presented itself to my husband and I we would definitely go. Where? England, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands….etc. we are really open. I always thought it would be wonderful to live in another country for a year. Maybe two….

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I’d Be Lost Without You

2008-10-22 - 010 - Kona, Hawaii, snorkeling, f...

Image by cfinke via Flickr

Every morning I am greeted with a smile, a hug and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. He even sniffs the milk before he pours, knowing I have a super-sensitive nose and will gag if I even think something has gone sour. Today there was a small fruit cup with blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe, sliced with love from a steady, beautiful hand. My hands shake so he carries the full cup of coffee to me, so I don’t feel bad and so there will be no spills on our fake linoleum Spanish tiles in the kitchen. In the middle of the night our feet or hands search for each other for reassurance and comfort. I don’t even mind when he snores loudly, though I do punch him lightly in the arm. Without protest he turns over. I used to say “turn over” but with our marriage code I have shortened the phrase to “apple” as in apple turnover and he knows exactly what I mean.

We have our own language, he and I, built on twenty-five years of togetherness, love and friendship. We are each others’ best friend.  I am not saying we have always had the perfect marriage because no marriage is perfect. We have had our rough years, our tough times but we struggle through it together, knowing that home is not just a place but a feeling. I sat through a Gordon Lightfoot concert for him, he came to see Neil Diamond for me. Sometimes he blurt things out that are supposed to be secret; sometimes I reveal my feelings when I shouldn’t. Sam Adams for him, Diet Coke for me. His Scotch is my Yoo-hoo, his dark chocolate is my milk chocolate.

I want our children to see that our marriage is strong, loving, yet not without flaws. I want them to know that marriage, like any relationship, needs work, a strong commitment and loving companionship. We help each other when difficult situations arise, and in life, they always do. When we were first married, we went through the infertility process together; it breaks many couples apart yet it brought us closer together. We share pain and joy, I am more emotional, he is more practical. We balance each other like a delicate balancing toy, sometimes tipping over, always able to right itself to startling precision.We try to laugh even during hard times. He has taught me to be less pessimistic; I have taught him that it is okay to be vulnerable.

Through the 25 years of our relationship we have grown closer together even after we have grown apart. He likes skiing, I like sunshine, he plays racquetball, I need to write. For a little while we thought it was odd that we did not share activities in common but we adjusted and compromised. We trust each other so that if he wants to go skiing, he goes with a friend. If I need sunshine in the middle of a gray, cold winter, I have flown to Florida for a few days. We can be independent of each other yet always happy to reconnect. We share the joy of traveling together, France, Australia, Amsterdam,  Aruba, Rhode Island. We held hands when we snorkeling on our engagement trip in Hawaii, my most favorite memory. While he would prefer to stomp through old ruins, I would rather walk on the beach finding seashells; we compromise.

He is an atheist, I believe in G-d. We have two amazing children, a boy, 18 and a girl, 16. We share their triumphs and their pain; we help each other deal with our ever-changing reality. If the children attack us, as teenagers often do, we immediately look at each other. The silent language of marriage is a subtle one, but we speak it fluently.

I fear the day that one of us is left alone. I pray it won’t be for a very long time yet thinking about it frightens me. He is the one person that I trust with my life, that I can count on without question. He feels the same way about me. We know the best and the worst of each other and accept and acknowledge both. If I had to, I know deep down, that I could survive without him; I just don’t want to.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

Running Away: My “Rachel Green” (Friends) Moment

Friends Season 2

Image by IvanTortuga via Flickr

It’s no secret that being an adult can be very stressful at times for a variety of reasons. It could be parenting, it could be employment or unemployment,  marriage, illness or a combination of the above.  Parenting, to me, is utterly delicious but not always easy especially when you have two teenagers in High School at the same time.  Adulthood in itself can also be extremely overwhelming; you are older and things are not as easy as they used to be.  Everything is harder and more difficult however, if you live with a chronic illness. Your energy level is low, you feel weak, you feel pain, tiredness and sometimes sad and discouraged. That is the world I live in.

My husband and I had agreed to meet for lunch in the city where he was working.  I was coming from one of  many doctor appointments and feeling very discouraged. I think I had been to my  Opthamologist who had to relaser my eyes for the umpteenth time for my narrow- angled glaucoma. Or,  It could have been to see my Rheumatologist who is in charge of auto -immune diseases for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It could have been both.

We ordered our food and then I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Once I got inside I saw a big, wide open window,   leading to the street. Yes, I admit it,  I had a moment. I had a Rachel Green moment ( for those of you who don’t know the tv episode of Friends, she climbs out of the window at her wedding and runs away). For a few seconds I pictured myself climbing out that window;  I was absolutely stunned. Shocked. Eerily quiet.  For a split second I thought to myself, “I could just leave through this window and escape.”   I saw myself in  France or Italy,  eating warm, dense, freshly baked bread, pulling it apart and dunking it in olive oil.  I laid in the soft green velvet grass surrounded by leafy, gorgeous trees and rolling hills. There were wildflowers of every color, purple, yellow, pink and white.  I was alone. I was another person and, I was happy, feeling marvelous and buoyant and free. Free of illness, free of worry, I had just stepped into the colorized version of my life; I had entered into my own personal  Wizard of Oz.

No one could have been more shocked than me!  I shook my head quickly at the notion, but as I was returning to the table (and confessing to my husband) I still saw that image in my mind.  The sweetest thing was the feedback my husband gave me which was “I don’t blame you!!” I would NEVER do it,  would NEVER leave my family, but the fact that the thought popped into my mind was absolutely startling.

My husband and I finished our lunch and my husband led me to the train, the pain in my eyes like sharp, steel wires under attack, unable to see clearly and with a severe headache that pounded  the entire right side of my face. I stumbled to  Starbucks and bought a cup of coffee and a densely rich, moist,  brown sugar and molasses cookie for the ride. As  the train doors shut, I settled in, seated next to a window, in a chair facing my home and away from the city. Taking small, sugary bites from my molasses cookie I tried to relax.  My back nestled in the old, worn, smelly quilted chair. I sat quietly, listening to the  slow, chug-chug beat of the train like a song that was stuck on only one phrase, repeatedly. I sat in the train, the 2:48  that was delivering me back home.