San Francisco – Raw and Uncut

icon 10 years

Last May I paused for reflection. Reflecting is something I immensely enjoy once I’m doing it, but don’t do often enough because I tell myself too much is happening right this very moment to spend even a few moments thinking actively about the past. We live in fear of falling behind or missing out, and so we go, go, go until something happens to bring us to our knees, and it’s in that position we are finally inert long enough to notice where we’ve been. The peaks, the valleys, the plateaus. Some of it’s black and brittle, scorched by pain and charred with brokenness, but there, just beyond and up a little ways, is growth, healing. The past is no place to buy a home and raise a family, but it is a great place to drive by once in a while, especially during milestones.

When I consider some of the things that can be achieved over the course of a decade — graduating from the fourth grade, a decent bottle of Cabernet, hundreds of books read, the sheer number of toilet-paper squares and Q-tips — I’m more than a little awed by the fact that, in that time, Michael and I have never spent a night apart. Not a single one. But the substantially better reflection-worthy truth is that every single day for roughly three thousand, six hundred and fifty days, we have said Yes to each other.

Sometimes saying yes is easy, like for example when someone asks, “Would you like another piece of cake?” Yes, the answer is always yes.

And sometimes saying yes is incredibly difficult and makes your sphincter clench. “Can I borrow your (brand spanking new, never been opened) copy of Outlander?” . . .  yes; but which child will you be offering as collateral?

A great many of us are blessed and so fortunate to live in this part of the world that is constantly providing for us. Our haves largely outnumber our have nots. But it gets tricky where Love is concerned. The world gently thumps us on the back the way a mother coaxes a burp from her engorged infant, encouraging attitudes such as Mine, Me First, I Need. We look around – through windows, in magazines, at each other – and see that in order to be happy, we must always be acquiring the newest look or thing. Change is glamorized. Options are healthy. But what I’m noticing, in myself most of all, is that we are being taught to despise boredom. To fear it, even. If we are bored, if we are anything less than fully entertained, then it must be time for something new. Cut your hair, get a tattoo, buy a new outfit, purchase a new phone, renovate your kitchen, move to another state, fall in love with someone other than the one you’re dating/married to. I am guilty of all of these except two.

Once you decide to make another human being your forever person, saying Yes to them becomes a little harder to do each day. Their needs – which used to be a delight and honor to fill – become a nuisance, a bother, a bore. We struggle and we strain, because right over there is something fresh and green and affordable. I wonder it feels like, tastes like?

We do not have a perfect score. Our marriage is blotted and blemished with many Nos. There have been and are still times when I choose my comfort over Michael’s need. At night, when he is craving intimacy, and I am craving my body pillow and a book. Michael has put his shyness and dislike of confrontation before the protection of my heart. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. But a happy one looks like saying Yes to each other when the world offers up alternative arrangements.

So, my darling, Michael, I dedicate this post to you, to our ten years, and to a thousand upon thousand more yeses.

 

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Won’t Stop Me

First, let me clear the air of any misinterpretations or possible confusion.

I spend about 0.01 percent of my time in the kitchen cooking meals. That culinary gene – I didn’t get it. Before tying the knot with Michael, I sat him down for extensive questioning (I think some people call this “a date”) and immediately after asking if he intended to pursue a college degree, which he would use to provide for his family — don’t worry, I had already received the results of his criminal background check — the next question was “Can you cook?” When he said yes, pretty much the deal was done. Kind, Intelligent, Handsome, and he cooks? Well, I tell you: it took all my restraint not to throw him over my shoulder and carry him back to my lair where no woman other than me could ever lay eyes on him.

Unfortunately, in order to get that college degree, he had to go to college, which took place on a campus, where there was a dangerous surplus of intelligent, ambitious, beautiful young women. Again, please don’t worry for me. Indeed the ladies looked, and for that I could not begrudge them; however, whenever I felt one of their ganders at Michael was nearing that acutely speculative glance every woman, married or single, recognizes as “Hm, marriage material?” I literally rained on her parade using my squirt-gun. Then, as sweetly and as graciously as I could manage, I said, “Cool your jets, lassie. He be mine.”

But ya’ll, can you blame me?

(P.S. as of late, Michael is sprouting more and more gray hairs, which means – YES! – sooner than later I’m going to have myself a silver fox. Yum.)

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Back to other important things:

But when I laid eyes on Jenn’s – from Jars & Buttons – mustard and flower-flocked apron, right then and there I vowed and determined to find a place in my life to accommodate this adorable garment; even if it meant I would wear it only while walking my dog each afternoon, which I did, that very afternoon following its arrival. You know how some clothes affect you? This apron makes me feel woozy with ardor, intoxicated with purpose. I slip it over my neck, secure it around my waist, and I’m confident I can conquer the world while dusting off mountain peaks, look cute doing it, and still be home in time for the supper I won’t be cooking.

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There’s little else that delights me more than receiving a gift, surprise or expected, in the mail. The presentation made me want to order something else from Jenn, just so she would send me another pretty package scented with rosemary. Don’t believe me? Look!

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Jenn, you’re a gem, thank you.

Shop Jenn’s Store

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Happy Sunday!

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The One That Will Never Get Away

10 Years. Ten of them – IN A ROW. It’s not a little mind boggling when I really stop to think about it. Other than exist, I’ve never done anything for 10 years straight. Well, all right; I’ve brushed my teeth and shaved my legs, but only to avoid the unfortunate consequences caused by not doing those things. Which are, of course, wookie legs and gingivitis.

On May 22nd of this year my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. He came home with a bouquet roses, a juicy fillet and asparagus, and a bottle of champagne I sucked on until the very last drop slithered down my gullet. He also got me a little something, which turned out to be a lottle something, because I am easily delighted and slightly manic and tend to get excited and make a VERY BIG deal about little things. Done well, they’re better than big things, I think.

He bought a dozen bags of Skittles, in a variety of flavors, then separated them – one by one – into mason jars, creating his own “special blends.”

I’m not going to lie. He knocked this one outta the friggin’ park. Not only are they pretty to look at, a confection of color, jars of art, but — SKITTLES. Yum.

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We celebrated the day by staying home, drinking the whole bottle of champagne, and watching Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube. It was fabulous. We will do BIG celebrating this summer when we road-trip-it to San Francisco for TEN days! One for every year. That wasn’t intentional, but I rather like it; it’s fitting and feels right.

But to be honest, a decade ago, as I waited for the pastor come collect me and my entourage, Canon in D Minor wafting up the staircase, I wasn’t sure I would ever see ten years. Most brides are blushing and glowing and flicking scepters are their poor indentured bridesmaids doing everything from blotting spackled lips to waving thuribles to ward off evil spirits. I was calm, serene even. Frigid as my feet were, I knew I would say “I do.” It’s true I love a good spectacle every now and again, but my wedding, a 15k affair, wasn’t the time for one. I would marry my husband because I told him I would, and because he was a good man that would love me and take care of me. And I would do the same. For how long – that was the question. My heart was a mess and there were tears in my eyes; tears my guests mistook for tears of joy, as I glided down the staircase, smiling on cue, aware of the camera capturing what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I dutifully took my place beside my fiancé. A broken girl in a stunning white dress, I took his hands.

“We are gathered here today . . .”

The next thing I knew, ten years had passed. I decided to write my husband, Michael, a letter.

 

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It’s so hard that a pickle jar lid ain’t got nothin’ on writing.

This morning almost sent me back to bed. It was hard enough that I said some really naughty words in my head and a few tears dribbled out of my eyes. But I decided giving up would hurt more than to keep trying. So I sat at my computer and pressed letters until something like a chapter happened. When I finished, I copied what I had written and pasted it into a blank document. Then I held my breath.

My goal for each day is 1,000 words. Today I wrote 1,188.

I raised both arms into the air, made two fists, and shouted “DONE, Beee-otch!”

Thank you for listening. God is Good. Cara out.

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