It’s not like me to insert a period in titles. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done it. To me, a period represents finality, permanency – the end of a story. For this reason, I found it fitting to do so today. I hope everyone ‘gets’ my wording this post as if I were having a conversation with David – it’s just something I need to do. Somehow, some way… I feel he will see this. I do hope I’m right, because I never got to say goodbye to him.
The last time we spoke was mid-July, this abominable year of 2020. It was then you told me your arthritis was so bad you had to leave your job for good. I feel in my soul that this killed a big part of you, though you didn’t say it at the time.
We’d first met in junior high school and became friends. Later in adulthood, fate made us family by way of us each marrying a sister and brother. “Small world”, as they say. We went through much in life while being there for each other. Funerals, weddings, lifes ups and downs. Now your own funeral will be in a few days. As the tears fall, I try to come to grips with the fact I’ll never have you in my life down here anymore.
If there were a destiny meant for you down here – it was you being a Father. Brittany and Leanne, your two beautiful daughters, were your everlasting sunshine in an often bleak and gray world. You relished and appreciated both, spending every spare second with them. I often told you your smile was never bigger than when you had them with you. “Dad Day!!”, you would call it. I can’t imagine two daughters having a better dad. I am so glad they had YOU.
Although not related by blood, you were the closest thing to a brother I ever had in this life down here. Each being ‘only children’, I issued you that rightful Brother title shortly after the ending of my 21-year marriage. You often laughed at me for it, but knew deep down it’s what I considered you. We went from being ‘in-laws’ to just brother and sister. Many conversations of what we both endured over the course of each of our marriages strengthened our bond throughout the years. I confided in you with 100% trust – knowing you understood, empathized, and would never share any of my secrets. I will SO miss this, David. I already do.
We used to talk about wishing for a sibling in life, which I suppose many ‘only children’ do. I knew losing your Mom and Dad early in life had to be very hard on you, you’d tell me often how much you missed them. I’ll never forget the day you called me at work a couple years back, I immediately thought something was wrong since you never called me there. Through tears, you told me you’d just found out you had a sister you never knew about. I was thinking, I’d never heard you cry before. Those were tears of joy, of course! You were so very happy… a sister you never knew about. You’d said you instinctively called ME to share the news. I now have to admit David, there was a twinge of jealousy there. Perhaps you realized this when at the end of the conversation I said, “I’M still your sister, always remember that”. I do think you picked up on that little green factor.
You constantly reminded me of how lucky Keith and I were to have found each other. I can tell you, he loved you too – very much. Guys don’t make a habit of telling each other that, so I want to make sure you know. Life isn’t always fair. As your sister, I was always trying to find you a ‘forever mate’. God knows, you didn’t need any help in that area. But, I never stopped trying. I wanted that “forever” for you that I knew in my heart you wanted, too. So, please forgive me for my antics in that area. Especially for some of the heartbreak it brought you along the way.
Lord, how you loved my sausage gravy biscuits. When you and Brandy would stay over with Keith and I, I’d make sure you had some to take home for later. I’m sure your faithful brown lab Brandy got some too. You also loved my chili (hope those weren’t just your kind words). Due to some constraints, I’d struggled with true home cooking until later in life, but you always made me feel like I was good at it.
I don’t want to close this. Dammit, David. I miss you… already.
Our dear friend Angie will forgive me for this – you loved Angie so. After her Mama’s funeral which we’d both gotten lost en route to, at your insistence I followed you back to Charlotte. We talked on the phone while listening to our favorite tunes, flying down the country roads. Back in town, we drag raced via interstate for over twenty miles at completely foolish speeds. I’d never driven that fast in my life… I wonder if you had, as well. You told me later that was the most free you’d felt in your entire life. I felt it too. Guess adrenaline’ll do that to you, especially us old farts.
Go and be free, brother. Until that beautiful reunion. Know that your sister loves you so. Forever.
Fathers Day is right around the corner. My father left this world for the Good Place a year and a half ago. Although certain parts are foggy, other parts seem so fresh, still.
He lived in a little house across town, quite spacious to be considered a duplex. It was an older ranch style, brick, well-built and had a nice yard. The road he lived on was called “Circles End Circle” and it was just that… a large circle. How Dad loved walking his dog around that large circle, which was made more attractive by way of the entire center being a well-kept grassy field. As I remember, the inside of that circle measured larger than a football field. The continuous view of the grassy field made for well more than a leisurely stroll, and you certainly could say you got your steps in with just one trip around it.
Dad and I really weren’t close until after the ending of my 20+ year marriage. After my separation, he stepped into his father role as well as any man ever has. Heck, I guess you could even call us best buds. After a lifetime of not having him around, I relished the attention from him. That should not suggest that I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of that attention… which is, Dad loved me. For the first time in my adult life, I truly understood that. I wasn’t just a black sheep any longer, at least not to him. He couldn’t wait to talk to me on the phone at night, to describe new events that happened throughout his day. He would go out of his way to let me know he loved me – and each occasion meant the world to me. One day he showed up at my work with a fresh-baked banana bread loaf (my God, he made the best banana bread). We’d go to the farmers market together, church, and events happening uptown. It was everything I’d ever wanted but never really knew I needed from my father. He knew it, I knew it… and we were both thankful.
Yep, I grew to know that house of his pretty well.
Years later, when routine hospital visits for his failing health became the norm, he would always want me there. Each time I’d walk in the room, his smile would grow as big as Disney. One of his favorite stories to tell was of how hot he was in the ER, and I’d fanned him. Something so very simple. On more than one occasion he told me I kept him calm. I still feel this is probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever been given.
Enter dementia. That big, awful, damned demon unleashed it’s wrath. Like cancer, I hate dementia with every fiber of my being. Those who have never had to witness a loved one battle dementia will never understand the toll it takes on a family. Dad withstood it for a while at home, until it started biting its ugly teeth deep into his brain. Soon came the walks outside during the wee hours. Then his phone calls telling me the painters were invading his home, he was afraid of them. Finally phone calls from the police asking me to please come over to try and coax him out of his bedroom.
That last call from the police ushered in the last time he would ever physically reside in his house. As I walked though the living room to his closed bedroom door, I knocked softly and said “Dad, it’s Bonnie”. He opened the door immediately, blue eyes welling up with tears and hugged me tight. Now, Dad couldn’t hug tight because of the lung removal a decade earlier, and he was always mindful of that. But the dementia had made him forget about all that. That hug was probably the tightest one I’d ever had from him. To say I’ll always cherish it is an understatement… the tears flow as I write about it.
Many things happened after he left that house, which I won’t go into since it’s really a moot point. The memory remains of him and how his soul was just larger than life. Even though we joined forces later in life rather than earlier, I wouldn’t trade a single thing. Not a one.
Happy Heavenly Fathers Day, Dad. I sure miss you.
It’s funny how much we change as we get older. If you really think about the whole thing – it’s just downright weird.
In our youth, it’s easy to go with the default belief that certain things will always stay the same. I remember thinking there’s no way on earth I would ever love any type of music other than heavy metal. I adored it, almost likening that love to the point of being in a relationship. I immersed myself in it, attended concerts, adorned my walls with posters… I just couldn’t and wouldn’t allow myself to imagine it any other way.
As the majority of us age, I believe our minds expand. It’s pretty amazing, really. We become more open to try new things, to advance ourselves in ways we never contemplated possible. This has indeed been the sum of my lifes experiences. When I reflect back on all the chapters of my book, it makes me both happy and sad – with some shades of gray in-between, of course.
Whether or not we want to admit it… we become more emotional as the aging process progresses. Instances that would normally roll off our shoulder earlier in life will now have an overwhelming affect on our emotions, which can often add confusion to an already delicate situation.
The maturity process also ushers in less patience for the asshats of the world – a statement that needs no further explanation.
I now appreciate the finer things in life more than ever before. Just as strong though, is the realization that these finer things will not be traveling with me when I leave this earth.
Probably my favorite thing about ongoing maturity is not giving a shit what others think. This shouldn’t suggest certain values which we hold dear to our own character; such as honesty, integrity, causing distress to others, and the like. I used to be what’s known as a people-pleaser, would go out of my way to accommodate someone who was unreliable at best. Now, largely – I don’t care what judgement others may hold against me for my actions. As long as I’m going about life to the best of my ability, obeying the law and not harming others – I really couldn’t care any less about what others think of me. Past or present.
There’s more to come, I hear… as long as the Good Lord allows me breath.
As the sun up high
touches each point
upon the crystal water
Diamonds are born
Blanketing the river, their attempt to
guide me to an alternate existence
is an ever smooth transition
where must this beauty lead
Brilliance is peaking, I’m
feeling the embracing trance
Their glistening tranquil beauty
I pray, I may stay
enveloped in this distraction
~Life of Bon, 2018
Even with the passage of many years… I guess there are some things that really don’t change.
Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out.
I absolutely love my sleep – even more so the older I get. Isn’t it funny how sleep seemed like punishment when we were kids, but all the sudden changes to a gift as we get older? Life’s just weird like that.
When I was younger I always slept IN something. During the era I grew up, young girls always wore gowns. I loved my gowns. Through the years I had many of them, some of which my mother even made for me. One of my fondest childhood memories involved such a nightgown. Courtesy of my uncle – my mother, grandmother and I had a week in a private oceanfront house at the end of the beach. While under her watchful eye, my mother let me walk around the big low-tide beach under a big bright full moon. The beach was very private and I was the only one on it that night. The moon was huge and full, and it felt like daylight on the beach – only with the moon instead. To this very day, the moon has never been more beautiful to me than it was that night.
From my teenage years on, it was usually just an oversized t-shirt and shorts that I slept in. If it was really cold out, pajama pants would probably come into play. I guess the point of all this is… I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t wear some form of clothing to bed. The mindset I had just couldn’t fathom not wearing clothing to bed.
If it were ever considered a hangup of mine – let’s just say that little ditty is out the window now. For the past 5-6 years, nothing has ever felt more natural than sleeping naked. I don’t know if I can explain why exactly, but I’ll give it a whirl.
It just feels healthy. My skin feels cool all night, as opposed to being oppressed with outerwear. Since I take my showers at night, it feels even better getting into bed clean. Sleeping naked feels natural… and free. More than anything else, that’s what it is – I feel free. I actually sleep better and more soundly than I ever have before. I believe there to be a multitude of other advantages to sleeping naked, suffice it to say I won’t list them here. 🙂 Let’s just say everything I’ve referenced so far has to do with flying solo. If you have a significant other, there are many added benefits of sleeping bare.
I guess the only drawbacks would be a break-in, fire, or other such sort of calamity – for these, I like to think I’ve planned ahead as much as possible and taken some necessary precautions. I can report I’ve sneaked around in the dark naked with a loaded weapon before when I heard something outside… but that’s a whole other post altogether. All things considered, as I look back it kinda makes me sad that I’ve missed out on sleeping naked my entire adult life. Looks like I’ve got some lost time to make up for.
Let me preface this by saying I’m no expert. I mean seriously, I’m no expert by a huge landslide. With that said, I recently had the need to purchase a new car – and thought I’d share my experience and findings with all of you.
I have to give credit to my boss for my prize of getting the most car for my money. I’d considered myself fairly savvy before when it came to big purchases, but apparently I wasn’t. Without his valuable advice, I’d have likely been taken advantage of.
So… here we go.
First, know the vehicle you’re looking for, as well as the highest-end budget you are willing to go. These are two very important steps you need to have already decided. Once you know these two things, schedule a test drive at a dealership. Let them know up front you’re not talking numbers on the day of your test drive, and hold fast to this. They’ll try to make a deal with you that day anyway, but hold your ground and repeat this out loud to them as many times as needed. It’s just a test-drive, after all.
When it comes to a car purchase, the less personal info you divulge to the salesman prior to getting your best price – the better for you. You ‘don’t know’ if you’re trading in when asked. You’re ‘not sure’ about the money you’ll put down. Do make sure they’re aware you’re in absolutely no hurry to make a purchase (even if you are). Never tell them the highest you’re willing to go in price – they’ll run with this number until the end if you do. Constantly put it out there that the best bottom line price is the winner, regardless of which dealership. Make all these things part of your religion and stick with it.
Okay, so you’ve test driven the car you want, and hopefully love it. If not – keep doing your research until you find ‘the one’. Next, go to www.cars.com – a simple, user-friendly site that lets you key in the make, model and year vehicle you’re looking for. It even allows you to do an advanced search to include options on the car that are important to you.
This website really is a handy little tool. Expand your radius as large as you’re comfortable with, I chose 100 miles. As you begin your search, it will bring up all the available vehicles at the dealerships within that radius, also listing their price. This is where it can get a little tricky. Once you nail down a group of a couple to several cars, make note of the dealership the vehicle is listed at. You can use a new tab to go to that dealership, leaving the previous cars.com one up for reference.
I personally made the decision to handle everything online, and only visit the dealership twice. My first visit was for the initial test-drive… the last visit happened when I sealed the deal. That second and final visit would only happen once I had my bottom-line and OTD (out the door) price. You should request two prices… the lowest bottom line without taxes, etc., and the total with taxes etc. (OTD) price. Again, explore all your options – do not commit or ‘side’ with one single dealership. Remember it’s the lowest price that wins your business.
Know your rebate options. You don’t have to discuss them immediately, but it’s a good idea to research them and have the info in your back pocket to pull out once you start getting bottom-line pricing. Oftentimes the dealership will apply these rebates to get your bottom line price, so it’s good to know them beforehand as well as the price you’re expecting.
Just like dating, when it comes to dealerships you’re probably gonna kiss a lot of frogs. I did give most of them my cell number, but remained adamant about the majority of communication being done via email. Know in advance there will be some dealerships who simply refuse to do this. These dealerships don’t want you to have anything in writing for reference later. Can’t say it loud enough – DUMP THESE DEALERSHIPS. And if you don’t like the feeling you’re getting from a salesman, or feel they’re being rude or condescending, DUMP THEM. It’s totally your right.
Wait it out. Seriously. The more time you have, the better. After a month of working on it (a little under a week with this particular dealership), one Saturday evening my deal finally came. If you’ve done your homework and put the time in on your purchase, all I can say is you’ll know your deal when you see it. My stomach started doing little flips inside because I knew I couldn’t leave this one sitting. And, I had it all in writing.
I got a Ford Escape Titanium. It’s way more car than I ever expected, at far below the cost of others out there like it. A salesman at another dealership kept telling me I had to give up options to get a lower price. By then I knew what I wanted, and this left me feeling cheated. He would never give me a bottom-line price, either – just danced around it. So guess what? I dumped him. This baby is L-O-A-D-E-D. Leather, heated seats, auto-start, double moonroof, rearview camera, larger wheels, dual exhaust turbo-boosted, intelligent access display, premium Sony sound system – heck y’all, tons more I won’t bore you with. It’s more than I need for sure, but for the price… what would you do?
I’ve gotta give props to Keith Hawthorne Ford of Belmont, who went above and beyond to do what a lot of other dealerships loudly proclaim they wish to do – which is earn my business. Just like anything else in life though, words mean very little to me. Actions, however, mean everything.
And, there’s an unmatched satisfaction that comes from having to work for those extras. ☺️
It’s Spring. And I’m starting to feel alive again.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the depression that ails certain people when the depths of winter befalls us. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or more appropriately termed, SAD. A few years ago I started tracking when my own symptoms start and stop. Turns out I meet pretty much every criteria for the diagnosis of SAD. Some day I hope to relocate to a place where the sun warms it year-round. I need sunlight. And heat.
Summer makes me happy.
It’s just easy. Less clothing, less laundry. No clunky coats to hunt down and keep track of. Shoes don’t hurt my feet anymore because I’m wearing flip-flops, which I’d wear year-round if I could. No more getting up ½ hour earlier to pre-crank and de-ice my car. Oh and if your car is anything like mine, the doors often freeze shut so I have to play ice-melt detective before I’m able to even climb in and crank it. Once-barren tree limbs look stunning with their brand-spanking-new green growth. It seems every piece of our surroundings breathes new life.
We’ll see our neighbors again for cookouts and socializing. Before long our pool will be open and weekends will be full of love, laughter and longer days… the songs of frogs and insects will ring late into the sultry hot nights. Fresh avocados, strawberries and tomatoes will be abundant for outdoor enjoyment. And the colors, the colors, the beautiful colors.
Heat. Pure bliss. It’s coming. Wait for it.
Old mama bear is waking up from her long winter’s hibernation. And the weather outside… well, it’s just perfect.
A loved one in my life has been going through a lot lately. Honestly, so much has come to light the past week that my head is still spinning. Not only was I unaware of just how bad her own situation was, I was also in the dark about the toxicity of the conditions under which she has had to live. The everyday home life that’s supposed to be a safe place… a refuge.
This morning, I ran across an article I can only describe as one of the best published articles I’ve ever read. Not only is it well-written – it delves deep down into the crevices of certain ‘toxic environments’ we sometimes find ourselves in, exposing unspoken facets of unhealthy and even hellish habitats. After reading it (twice), I simply couldn’t continue on with my day without sharing it with all of you.
Escaping a Toxic Environment – Written by Natalie Thomas
(Published in Huffington Post Healthy Living, 10/27/12)
We’ve all been in them. Situations so dire we lose hope, becoming the very person we pitied, dreaded, swore we’d never become. We talk of an exit like a dream scenario: a child running away with the circus, an adult winning the lotto and immediately quitting their job (not to mention the detailed disbursement of riches: 10 percent to charity, 10 to parents, 10 to splurge, 20 for dream home, 50 in savings). But somehow, we can’t seem to envision a world in which we get there. Capable, otherwise strong, able-bodied beings paralyzed by fear, believing the hype, fearing the backlash.
I’ve been in quite a few dysfunctional situations in my life: bad relationships, unhealthy work environments. And no matter the category, the symptoms are similar: broken-down self-esteem, misery-loves-company companionship, excuses like rain drops.
But while unhealthy intimate unions can wreak havoc on the psyche and may inform the way in which we treat others, it’s usually an insular thing. Group dysfunction, however, is far-reaching and often much more dangerous. They say there’s safety in numbers, but there’s also destruction.
My first experience with toxic circles began like most — in middle school. Her name was “Shannon.” Up until she arrived, we were a blissful, naïve little bunch. Most of us had grown up together, performed in dance recitals, shared many a sleepover and were on track to ride out our middle and high school years together, tight as ever. Then she showed up.
Within weeks, we turned on each other. Shannon decided who was in and who was out. One day you were popular and pretty, the next you were a pariah, with no warning, no bearing on your behavior or actions, simply her whim. She had the power and she abused it. Heavily. If you didn’t agree with her, didn’t laugh at her jokes at the expense of others or talk trash about your friends, you were her next target, and God bless you, because her bad side was everyone else’s backside. You were ostracized. No one would face or acknowledge you despite it having been done to them the week before — how horrific it felt, how they were raised, how much they knew it was wrong. They were just thrilled to be accepted again and did whatever it took to stay there, in her good — albeit evil — graces. Shannon transferred before high school, but it was too late. The damage was done. She came, she terrorized, she left. We were never the same.
It began in middle school. It should have ended there too. But we all know, sadly, that’s often not the case. I had a few more experiences through college and post but, thankfully, I was experienced enough to avoid the drama, speak up for my friends and myself and maintain some shred of dignity. Since Shannon, I’ve made a conscious effort to surround myself with trustworthy, unconditional, loyal and uneasily-influenced friends, so it wasn’t until I entered the working world that the toxicity returned.
Despite the professional setting, those with power and plenty on their plates, those who know better are often caught up in office drama, choosing sides and spewing names. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They also manifest in all ages and professions. Just like middle school, in the corporate world there is a cool crowd with a penchant for hazing. And although the behavior is similar, the ability to remove oneself from it is likely harder. After all, beyond your reputation, your paycheck, career and livelihood are also at stake.
As a newbie, you’re tested, humiliated and alienated, but you suck it up and trudge on. Eventually you earn your place as newer souls are indoctrinated. There’s a level of pride and confidence that comes with seniority, being a veteran. You’re finally accepted and, initially, that’s enough for you. But eventually that too wanes, and you realize how silly it all is. You realize who you’ve become and, disgusted with yourself, start to break away from the group and forge your own identity. But it doesn’t come without a price.
As soon as they smell indifference, independence, you’re a target again. To blend in, strike a balance between individual and included, you laugh at the occasional joke, roll the obligatory eye, knowing it’s wrong. With each disparaging remark you champion, a bit of you erodes. This is not who you are, who you want to be. You are better than this. Better than them.
In winemaking, there’s something called bunch rot, in which one bad grape infects the group. Toxic friend and work situations are no different. By definition, toxicity is the degree to which something can damage. Make no mistake, these are damaged people — once smart, free-thinking, well-respected individuals now broken down to think and act like a vicious, rotten herd.
These cultish environments lead you to believe you are fortunate to be where you are, can never do better, there’s another waiting to take your place. Those that leave are ingrates, “depressives” — no matter how many years you gave, how hard you tried, how amicable you think you left, you are the enemy. Others are encouraged to shun you, engage in the shit-talking. The ringleader feels more secure — and less inclined to lash out — the louder the laughs. And so you do it; you laugh at what you know is wrong. You contribute in the ripping apart of your friend, your former colleague. It’s just easier. Knowing, hoping one day you too will be a refugee, doing all you can to better your situation in the meantime, adopting the mantras, lying to others and yourself. You are happy. It’s just temporary. Everyone else is doing it. It’s not that bad.
Until it’s finally your time. You’ve woken up, gathered the strength, gotten a better offer, had a life-changing experience… Whatever it is that is propelling you forward, upward, past the muck, the insipid and incestuous clone-like clique, you do it. You — gasp — leave.
You’re filled with a rush of emotions: elation, paranoia, sadness, relief. You seek shelter with other survivors, celebrate with drinks, commiserating about how bad it had gotten, exchanging war stories, your scars like badges of honor.
Away from the brainwashing and the negative influence, you realize how self-consumed you’d become, how jaded, how bitter. And, little by little, each moment without your toxic crutch, you become you again, realizing just how crippling your situation had been. You start to think like an independent, no longer part of a petty pack. You become kinder, lighter, sunnier. And soon it all starts to feel like a dream. A beautiful, shameful, fucked up dream.
You move on. You work on and better yourself. And you wait. You wait for the next embattled soul to wise up and join your fray. And you welcome them with outstretched arms and a cold beer. No “I told you sos,” no “What took you so long?” not even a “How could you do that to me?” because they know and, with one look, you do too. It wasn’t them. It was the atmosphere, the influence. After all, you once were there too. And you don’t “get it” until you’re gone. And once you are is when you really start living again.
For more by Natalie Thomas, click here.
What a whirlwind of a year 2014 has been. It does seem now that every year goes by quicker than the last, and as time marches on I find myself saying it more and more.
My ‘word of the year’ usually comes pretty easy for me. As this year drew to a close, I found myself still searching for one. 2013’s was Persistence, 2012 was Disclosure, 2011 was Transitional, 2010 was Serene, 2009 was Colorful, and of course my inaugural word of the year for 2008 was Monumental. So how do I compete with any or all of those?
Personally I’m ready to put 2014 behind me. In this particular year, my father was diagnosed with dementia, and my mother with breast cancer. I’ve actually contemplated the word tumultuous to describe the year, but I find that an extremely negative description to mark an entire year with. Can’t say I didn’t think about it for a minute, though.
The word Endurance seems fitting. Because no matter what life throws our way, we’re pretty much forced to steel our resolve and keep moving forward. The only other choice would be to lie down and give up, and that’s just not a choice I’ll make.
Yep, Endurance. It’s got a nice little ring to it.
And hey, 2014 – don’t let the back door knick your heels too hard on the way out.
I’ve grown comfortably accustomed to my husband working out of town. Would I rather have him working locally? Of course. But we both realize sometimes sacrifices must be made in order to earn a living. We’ve been blessed in more ways than I can begin to count, this would include us both having successful careers as well as remaining gainfully employed.
For a while now, I’ve felt like my one life has been split into two different realms of existence. I don’t know quite how to describe this feeling; it’s just weird. I really had gotten used to these different realms – because at the end of every week, my husband would be back home. Each week I would morph from my single-life-working-girl realm back into my ‘whole’ realm which includes my husband on the weekends. Oh how I cherish the whole realm… I anticipate it’s arrival the entire week.
Last month Keith was given notice that his new job site was not only much further from home, but also mandated overtime hours – meaning no more coming home time for a good while. It’s so strange. Now I can see these two familiar realms being transformed into a new third existence. An existence where I just… am. Literally, I’m just there. Not sure what to really do. Yeah, it’s pretty tough to explain, obviously.
I miss him. Badly.
I do realize he could be deployed overseas for many months at a time. I am grateful that’s not the case. While I don’t whine out loud much about the situation (doesn’t do any good and no one really wants to hear about it anyway), I can and will write about it. That much at least helps.
I’m not afraid, quite the contrary. It’s the loneliness factor that comes into play… that empty hole feeling inside my gut. This is in addition to feeling like I’m thrown into this third identity. It’s not the same as living alone as I’ve done in the past. It’s quite different than living alone, because I actually know what I’m missing… and, what we both are missing out on.
This weekend, most of us will get back that hour we lost in the Spring for Daylight Savings time. If you happen to still be in denial of the fall season (like me) – the time change could very well serve as an alarm clock to fall’s arrival.
The subject got me thinking this morning about time, and change, and how we change as we get older. My thinking time during the drive in to work will sometimes get me in trouble.
In the past I never really considered how much a person changes over time. Guess I figured you just travel through life keeping whatever preferences you always had. Now that my 46-going-on-26 year-old self is finding out that’s not the case, it’s got my attention. Here are a few things that come to mind when I consider these changes.
My taste in music. As far back as my adolescent years, I’d never listen to anything but rock. The heavier, the better. Now, country music has my heart. It actually soothes my soul and brings me peace.
My driving. I admit I used to be an aggressive driver, where even simple things set me off. Because of this I would experience cases of road rage at the drop of a hat. Now, my motto is ‘just get there safely’. I now look at operating an automobile through an entirely different set of eyes.
My taste in food. When I was young, there weren’t many things I would eat. I hated mac & cheese (any cheese, actually), pizza, seafood, cole slaw, and many others. The only fruit I would eat was a banana. From my 20’s to my 40’s, my ex was a picky eater. In this era, everything I cooked had to be bland – there was no ‘slipping in’ of an onion, tomato, cheese, mustard, etc. – lest he refuse to eat it. Fast forward to now – I love so many different foods and enjoy cooking new recipes with no restrictions as to the ingredients. I actually welcome opportunities to try foods from different ethnicities.
Life in general. I have found simplicity is the better way. This was not always the case for me. The older I get though, the more I search for an easier way to do things. This can range anywhere from household chores down to how I style my hair or what I wear. I’m constantly looking for better ways to save time. Maybe this is because with each new day we have less time left. We live in a world now where everything is complicated – government issues, terrorism, religious wars and a short-staffed workplace just to name a few. I yearn deeply for a world where everything is simple.
I never thought I’d see the day where my sweet Mom watches football games, y’all. If none of the above convinces you of people changing with time, maybe this one will. She inspires ME to watch more.
Time changes, all right. It’s become clear to me this will likely be an ongoing venture with many more changes to come. And, I’m okay with that.
It is to me, at least.
My circle of friends is small, and that’s by choice. Once you’ve been burnt by a select few throughout the course of a lifetime, it becomes pretty easy to build up that old retaining wall – to keep the nicely filtered water safe inside and disastrous tidal waves out. The quality level of my true friends is nothing short of stellar now – that’s what is important to me. I love having a friend I know so well that half the time we actually finish each other’s sentences. With most every subject, Lou and I end up having the same opinion. On the rare occasions we don’t agree on something, we still respect each others opinions. Neither of us have ever tried to change each other, nor persuade the other into doing something we’re uncomfortable with. Because a ‘real’ friend would never do that.
Lou and I have joked for years now about how we would be perfectly content to drive home from work on Friday and not leave out again until Monday rolls around. Once home from work on a weekday, we won’t start our car and go out again until the next workday. Doesn’t matter if we’re in need of something, it has to wait. You’d literally have to light a fire under both our asses to get us back out. Like many others, we both have a dog waiting for us to get home. Fact is, any type of errand after work requires careful prioritizing because of our pets – but I don’t know a pet-lover out there that begrudges this. I wouldn’t trade a thing.
I’m not complaining about any of this – quite the contrary. It makes me happy going straight home and and staying home. I’m not a socially active person by nature, never have been. Once in a while Keith and I will have a family event to attend over the weekend which we enjoy. I just find joy in weekends which have no plans whatsoever – aside from the rare impromptu day trip with him.
Speaking of my husband. He’s a hard-working man who works out of state all week and only comes home on the weekends. After so long it became routine like anything else – I just got used to it. I am not afraid. I’ve got my fearless boy Mojo, a fully loaded S&W and a quite sophisticated home security system. All that said, when the weekend finally does get here I relish my time with him. Since the weekend is all we have, we definitely make the most of every moment together. Hey, I realize it could always be worse – he could be deployed overseas for months or even years. I’m thankful for the time I do have with him and everything else we’ve been blessed with.
I’ve never been a bar person by choice. Ever. There’s something very sad to me about bars. Again, just my personal preference and opinion. We do enjoy having dinner with our parents on occasion. I don’t socialize with friends on a ‘regular’ basis aside from maybe a couple times a year, then it’s usually just for dinner or when someone is moving away or some life-changing event like that. I do not enjoy shopping – while I know this is weird for a woman, trust me when I say I’m totally okay with it. I guess the most social I’ve been in my entire life was last summer while I was busy planning our wedding, which I’ll admit about killed me. Literally had to be somewhere or meet up with someone 3-4 times a week. My stress and anxiety levels were off the charts. It was during this time that my friend Lou even sacrificed her own after-work time (something we both hold sacred, remember?) to plod the hot summer streets with me to help search for a wedding dress. I remember that after the wedding was over, I couldn’t wait to get back to my old ‘rut’. And so I did. I didn’t walk… I literally RAN back to it.
Ah… the aroma of sweet familiarity. Mmmm – smells SO so good. Just. Breathe. It. In. And Relax.
So what’s the point of all this, Bon? This is getting a little monotonous.
Apparently there are some out there bearing a false impression that I have a moral obligation to restructure my time to deligate more of my after-work hours to socialize. This has even included pressured attempts during the weekend when Keith comes home from working out of town all week. Needless to say, my patience level has bottomed out on this.
It’s not like I’ve been silent about my stand on the subject. It’s not a hidden secret on a game show being held for a big reveal later to floor everyone. I’ve expressly stated on several occasions that I’m a homebody and choose to spend my time after work at home, and my weekend time with my husband – but it’s all been blatently ignored.
My question is this… having made this a wide-open fact, why on earth would someone push the envelope, again and again? And if you do find yourself attempting to change or reroute how a person thinks – what kind of friend does that make you? And why would a person want to spend more time with you if you’re trying so hard to inflict your preferred method of thinking on them? Why would any real friend do that?
My reasoning is, a real friend wouldn’t.
I will not change the way I choose to spend my time, and I refuse to be bullied into it. Of course I realize there are exceptions to every rule. But if dire circumstances ever did warrant a change, my family and close friends would be those who took precedence. This 46 year-old broad has worked 40+ hours a week my entire adult life (attending several years of college during that), and traveled from one side of hell to the other in an attempt to start a new life. I have earned my right to spend my time after work however I damn well please. So I’m gonna clear something up real quick-like, once and for all. If you have a problem with how I spend MY time – weeknights or weekends – I strongly suggest that you start keeping it to yourself.
I will not apologize to anyone for being a homebody. It’s who I am, and I won’t apologize for being me. So quit right now trying to change me.
That is all.
Now if you’ll excuse me – I’m home for the evening. So I’m gonna fix myself something to eat and watch Dr. Phil.
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~Maya Angelou
If we allow ourselves to admit it, we are all constantly learning new things about ourselves. In reality, perhaps it’s only the realization of some already existing traits; or where certain events have led us. Through spurts of time, I enjoy compiling certain findings to peruse at a later date – thought I’d share my most recent ones.
• Unlike the majority of the population, I do not trust cruise control – therefore I don’t use it. And I’ve tried. When enabled, I experience the most profound sense of loss of control ever. For this reason I must maintain control of the brake and gas with my own foot – just my own personal preference.
• I have found that you can learn a lot about a person simply by watching how they treat a stranger. I’ll go so far to say that it speaks volumes.
• I cannot understand why someone would purposely choose to stay in a relationship without a strong sense of commitment from each side. Of course, I’m aware there exists an entire rainbow of exceptions on this little finding.
• I can sit with the insides of my thighs, calves and ankles flat on the floor like a frog. When I was younger, I secretly enjoyed the looks of horror from others when I did it. I kinda still do.
• I’ve never broken a bone, had stitches or been in the hospital (with the exception of having my daughter, and a hysterectomy some twenty years later).
• I have found that under most conditions, I drive better with one hand instead of two.
• The $5 taco bell ‘box deal’ will generally be a disappointment due to a lot of dough. It’s better to just order what you like.
• I’ve abhorred any type of seafood my entire life, but 2 years ago found I love sushi. Not the veggie stuff, but good reputable sushi with raw fish. I have it at least once or twice a week.
• I dated Clyde Pickler (Kelli Pickler’s father) back when I was 17 and living in Albemarle, NC. This was long before he had Kelli. He was a nice guy and a gentleman – and of course we thought the whole ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ thing was treacherous. Back then, treacherous was the word Albemarlinians substituted for cool.
• I have a scar on the back of my right hand that looks exactly like the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek. It happened when I was washing dishes while swirling my hand inside a glass and the glass decided to bust. Thus, the ‘Scarship Enterprise’ serves as a daily reminder never to stick my hand in a glass again.
• Certain dreams have much significance to me, so I pay close attention to them. One such recent incident occurred two nights before Keith hit that deer. My mother has a very strong hold on this ‘gift’, and apparently my daughter as well – as she dreamed of the tragic 2005 tsunami two days before it happened. Unfortunately, with dreams you sometimes have to read between the lines and figure the details out.
• The power of certain words continually amaze me. Like a man who opts to use the word ‘dear’ condescendingly on a female. You can always spot it – I’ve found it’s almost always used in a persuasion effort. ‘Here here!! SEE THINGS MY WAY… NOW.’ Guys, you gotta know we don’t like that shit. So am I one of those females that will call you on it? Damn straight, every time. And for the record, it’s not my husband who does this. He’s a smart one, he is.
This past weekend we packed our bags and headed up to Blowing Rock in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains for an overnight trip. Normally being a day trip, it amazes me the intense coordination and planning it takes for us to ‘get away’ for just one night. The house sitter for our baby boy Mojo, food and drink shopping for said house sitter, coordinating the alarm system, etc. Of course, it does help knowing the house sitter is non other than my baby girl and her robust boyfriend. So at least there’s no huge guesswork on food choices there.
We stayed in this same place March of last year, a week after Keith proposed – so this return trip was very special to us. Originally built in 1874, the adorable hotel is called The Hemlock Inn. Today, the original inn has been completely refurbished with additional rooms having been added. Each of the beautifully decorated historic rooms offer individual rustic mountain settings complete with hardwood floors and antique decor. Each room having it’s own unique decor, we opt to stay in a different room each time. This was our room last weekend:
Here’s a couple shots from their website showing what’s in store once our beautiful warm summer weather decides to arrive (and stay).
Knowing the shops on Main Street so well, I was surprised we’d never been in the Six Pence Pub. Then I remembered neither of us are bar people, never have been! But since this place came highly recommended, we decided to pop in after we were checked and settled in our room. It did not disappoint. Though I didn’t get them in the picture, I’ll have to admit the fried pickles here are probably the best I’ve ever had.
Of course the trip would not have been complete without a leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway before we left on Sunday. It’s my dream to someday drive the entire Parkway from start to finish. We always gravitate to ‘our’ overlook… Big Bear overlook. This overlook has 360º scenic views and is very near Price Lake. It was disappointing to see that someone had stolen the rustic sign that’s resided there since we started coming – I guess this tells me it’s not just ‘our’ favorite overlook.
Here’s another panoram of the luxurious mountain laurel.
As usual, I found a t-shirt in a local store that I just couldn’t leave without. This shirt might as well have come preprinted with my name on it…
So I guess I’ll save my story of walking around naked in the dark with a gun for another time.
My, how I’ve missed my little weblog. The last time I posted, Keith had hit a deer with his truck. He thankfully escaped injury to his self, but his truck (and the deer) was a hot mess.
What I failed to mention was the very next day was to be our 5th annual New Years beach trip. I was honestly ready to cancel any out of town plans at this point, but he seemed intent on going and rented an SUV so that we could still accommodate Mojo. Our first full day there, a small tornado touched down and ripped the roof smack off our condo. I was sitting on the couch against the wall and actually felt myself being lifted when it hit. Soon after, we discovered a large piece of the roof missed hitting our rental car by mere feet. Although it doesn’t show the extent of the damage from everything that fell (roof lights, concrete bags, etc.) here’s a photo of the aftermath.
Parts of the roof are visible on top of the adjacent restaurant and under the palms on the asphalt. Keith had just walked Mojo in this same area 10 minutes prior to it happening. What is it they say again about those silver linings?
Aside from a lot of cleanup noise including chainsaws, a crane and lots of workerbees – the rest of the trip was awesome. One of my favorite memories would be our farewell balloons. We each assigned a few private hells from our past, then sent them out to sea forever. The picture’s pretty poor, but believe me when I say it’s very therapeutic to watch these babies go until you can’t see them anymore. Then they’re just… gone.
I so enjoy watching the souls of the surfers… had to share this shot.
Flash forward to now. Other than a few sushi dinners, a winter storm, watching my fellow southerners make national news with their stupid driving, a dog that wouldn’t allow us to build a snowman, an extreme gum-popper at work, a few dozen Twilight movie reruns, a couple nice unplanned car repairs and vet visits, and a sick husband diagnosed with pneumonia at the urgent care today – life has been pretty typical since the first of the year. Aside from the temporary pneumonia bit, we’re still on our honeymoon and we don’t see that ending anytime in the near future. 😀 But I’ve definitely got my nurse Bon hat on, the poor guy.
Have I mentioned I’m stoked for full-time flip-flop wear again?
Two days ago on Christmas night, I had a disturbing dream. I was driving Keith’s truck with my mother in the passenger seat. It was very dark. As dreams often have their way, time passed and it became more and more difficult to see. Finally, I became all but blinded and was forced to pull over. We pulled off the road and sat in the dark, not knowing what to do or where to go next.
The dream ended as quickly as it began. I told both Keith and my mother about it and described how vivid it was. It’s a horrible feeling to realize (even in a dream) that you no longer have control of a moving vehicle.
That next morning on my way to work, I discovered the heat in my car had decided to fly south for the winter. Last night Keith asked me to drive his truck in today so he could look into the reason why. Although I’ve driven his truck many times, I told him this time I’d rather just drive my car in since that dream was still so fresh in my head. He said he understood, and if I’d like, he would drive me in and pick me up since he really wanted to fix my heat. So that’s what we did.
When my cell phone rang here at work, I knew that he hadn’t had enough time to make it home yet. I noticed the voice on the other end didn’t coincide with that of my deep-voiced husband with a mild manner and gentle demeanor. I immediately knew something was wrong when
‘Oh my God baby, I just hit a deer!! My truck is f****d!! Destroyed the whole front end – oh my God!!’ Insert a few more expletives in there, just use your imagination.
Both lights busted, chrome grill GONE, bumper and fenders all hanging, the radiator was even busted so he had to get it towed.
Though shook up, Keith says he’s okay. Far as the truck goes, he’s right – it’s f****d. So is the deer. But the truck can be fixed. That’s the thing about material things, they can be replaced – my sweet man cannot. Later on this morning, I told him I was so sorry it happened to him with his new truck. His response: ‘I’m just glad it happened to me and not to you.’ If at this moment I had to paint a mental picture of what love looks like, his response is what I would envision.
The past few months, there have been a few local fatalities involving deer colliding with vehicles. These things can kill you, I know this.
I’m so very thankful that my husband is okay.
2013 – time just keeps ticking on by, doesn’t it? Jerry Garcia once wrote into a song, ‘Lately it occurs to me… what a long strange trip it’s been.’ This is surely the truth.
It’s hard for me to believe the series of events that have been jam-packed into one lone year. Honestly, I’d never have believed it even if someone had forewarned me. A lot of things stand out, too many to mention really. If you follow my blog, you know them already anyway.
Every year, I pick one word in an attempt to describe the year. 2008 was Monumental. 2009 was Colorful. 2010 was Serene. 2011 was Transitional.
2012 was Disclosure. That one just looks so out of place with the others, I figured it deserved it’s own paragraph.
I hadn’t even thought about a word for this year, until my husband started monkeying around with our dog while using the word on him. Only then did it hit me – BAM… there’s my word.
My word of 2013 is Persistence. Maybe I should say it’s Keith’s word instead, since it was his own persistent efforts that played out in both our favors. In any case, I’m forced to use it just because it fits better than a glove.
Continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Donning your suit of armour, setting forth a plan of action for something you feel you can’t live without, never accepting defeat – making something so worthwhile to you actually happen.
Gotta admit I admire your persistence, baby. And at least Mojo’s pronunciation of the word is considerably different than our own… Per·thith·tenth.