Monday, August 25, 2008

Another long one - better get that beverage

Hello all,

I felt a strong need to sit down and write an entry. After the last few days, and after watching the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, there are many things I need to put to “paper”, so to speak. I hope you’ll bear with me, because I think this will be an entry very reminiscent of the old journal entries that I used to write when I kept such a thing.

Over the last two weekends, I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend time, and in many ways reconnect, with my dearest Christopher. Over the years, because of the distance and our own individual circumstances, we have not spent one-on-one time together. That was at the crux of why I went to So Cal this weekend – to step back in time a little and enjoy something that I have really missed. Oh, and there was the high school reunion thing he wanted to go to. I’ll save that for another time.

I asked him last weekend what he thought was my biggest regret and he encapsulated it so well – risks not taken. He was absolutely right.

We spent this weekend just talking about anything and everything – dredging up feelings and memories that I’m sure will help with healing some wounds, but perhaps, more importantly, trying to put them in perspective and put them to rest. In many ways, that is easier said than done, because it’s hard for us to let go and not obsess. We are very apt to keep saying why, even when there is no immediate answer.

He also said that our lives have been running parallel, with ups and downs, but at opposites. When things have been going well for me, he has struggled, and the same has happened to me in turn. We both would really love being at the same place – satisfied with both our personal and professional lives and being able to share those successes simultaneously. I’ve got work to do in both areas.

I had the opportunity to stop by and see his parents this weekend. They still live in the same home they had when we were in high school. The last time I was there was 3 days before I left for Norway. His mom still has a dog that was bound and determined to trip me up and stay underfoot. His folks are obviously older, and the furniture has changed, but as I sat down at the breakfast counter, it felt as if the last 20 or so years had slipped away and I was 19 again waiting for Chris to get ready. It was very strange, but still comforting. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I needed to get my head back in line. I’ve felt scattered and a little lost the last few months. In many ways struggling to remember who I am, what I can be. As I sat at that counter, I remembered some of the thoughts I had on that weekday afternoon back in May 1985. As scared as I was of the prospect of leaving everything and everyone I knew, I was also excited about the opportunity to get to know my family overseas, understand my heritage and the culture my parents raised me with. Chris remembers that I was very excited. What he failed to realize back then was that I was putting up a fairly good front – I didn’t want to loose those weekday afternoons talking to him about anything and everything, I really didn’t want to leave him. Thankfully, it lasted less than a year. But that trip was full of promise of exploration and education. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone home and walked my path alone for awhile.

When we were 19, we were full of expectations and anticipation. The future was ours, and we were going to take full advantage of it. I don’t think either of us could have imagined then where our paths would have taken us, and we probably would have made some drastic changes if we had had a clue. But, then again, we wouldn’t be the people we are today.

As I mentioned, I’ve been watching the convention. I was very moved by Teddy Kennedy’s speech, and the tribute prepared by Ken Burns. You forget what he has done over the years, the tragedies that he has experienced, the strength he gained from those circumstances. Even now, as he battles brain cancer, he still felt the need to be present, to remind those of us listening that the dream still lives. The speech given by Michelle Obama was well prepared and presented. I am thankful that I decided to sit through this first evening, because I did learn something, and oddly enough, was comforted by it.

I haven’t been hesitant about making some politically charged statements on this blog. It is something that I am quite passionate about. However, in the last several presidential elections, I have become disenfranchised and tired of the partisanship. It seems the only way someone can win an election is to tear down the opponent by whatever means necessary, including smear campaigns and lies.

The network pundits think that the Democrats made a mistake by not attacking McCain. I found it refreshing. I used to like McCain, and may have voted for him in 2000. Not anymore. Every time I see McCain it’s all about how Obama is wrong for the job or that McCain was a POW. When Jay Leno jokingly asked McCain how many homes he owned he launched into when he was a POW he didn’t have a house, or a kitchen or a bedroom. Lighten up, John.

This evening restored some faith I had in the political process. I won’t jump on the band wagon yet, because I also want to see what the rest of the week holds, and I will be watching the Republican Convention. I want to hear what each candidate will be proposing. I don’t want to hear how the opponent will be leading us down the rabbit hole to guaranteed disaster. How much worse could it get? Don’t answer that.

So what does my personal journey of rediscovery this weekend have to do with the Democratic Convention? Change. Hope. Promise.

I also took a step this weekend that goes hand in hand with risks not taken. I’m not too old for that. And it’s a change.

After I left Chris, I was passing the exit that would lead back to the old neighborhood. I just kept saying, “you can do this”. I drove by the old house, took in the changes in the neighborhood. I pulled up in front of the house of an old friend, and hoped her parents still lived there. Lo and behold they did.

The last time I saw Becki was my wedding day to my ex – way back in 1988. She was moving to a new home with her husband, and I was a newlywed. I didn’t try to contact her for a while, and I didn’t hear from her. Because my life was being poisoned by a man that wanted to control every thought and action I had (no, I’m not bitter), I assumed I had done something to drive her away. That wasn’t the case, I found out, but because of my own insecurity and obsessing on the negatives in life it took 2 decades to find that out.

Yes, Becki was fine, remarried with two beautiful boys. Just as I did, when her first marriage ended, she left the OC, but she headed south. We talked briefly Sunday afternoon and then again earlier today. I spent a few hours with her mother, trying to catch up on what had happened to us over the years. I also found that she is a preserver of stash as well! She spins! She grows cotton in her backyard! She knits and does needlework and I had no idea.

Our families had shared a back fence from 1978 to 1985. Becki and I would get chased off the phone and it would be too late to go around the corner to the other’s house, so we stood on chairs talking over the fence and star gaze and dream of the future. Becki was one of the first friends I made when we moved to Orange County – even before Chris. Though a year younger, we were still fast friends, and stayed that way through high school and in the years after graduation. When I needed to move away from my parents, she opened her home to me. When I had “boy” problems, she is the one I went to. When we needed a cover story for our parents, we were each others alibi. As Becki’s mom put it, we were thick as thieves.

We’ve taken the first steps in rediscovering each other, which is exciting and scary, but at least I can say that I took the risk and I can move forward with exercising that regret from my life. It’s a change, with hope for the future and potentially the promise of having an old friend back in my life.

So what does this have to do with politics? Hope for the future. A change for the better. An improved economy, that will mean monetary improvement. A better job market and the ability to recover financially. That’s a lot to hope for, but I want to have more things to look forward to instead of looking back and dwell on the things I should have done to put me in a better situation now.

One of my favorite albums when I was in high school was Pat Benatar’s Get Nervous. There was one song on there that I always associated with Chris, and now it seems that it really speaks to how we both have handled things over the years. Bear with me – here are the lyrics:

I heard you say you’re feelin’ like a change now
Maybe, baby this could be arranged now
But I warn you that no exotic scenery
Will solve your problems or make you feel easy
You say you’re happy, but I see apprehension
That little laugh of yours doesn’t hide the tension
The precious book you clutch so tightly in your hands
Won’t help you sleep at night, won’t iron out your plans

You ask advice, then resent my observations
If I didn’t care, then I wouldn’t make them
Can’t change the past, so why let it haunt you
Can paint the future, but first you have to want to

You gotta fight it out with your heart
You got to fight it, though it tears you apart
You got fight it out, my friend
You got to do it for yourself
You got to say when

I can see how much you hurt inside
I know all about the tears you hide

You know that the lonely pay the price for the love in the end.

This was never what I considered “our song”. That’s not something I think most people typically have for a friendship, but in my mind, we had two songs that were, and still are, our songs. The first one was “Shadows of the Night”, also off the Get Nervous album, and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago, the latter being a self-fulfilling prophecy over the years. As to the former, I guess Chris has always been my Midnight Angel. The lyrics above still mean something after all these years, and now reflect back to me and my own struggles. If I want to be happy, and insure that my husband and marriage stay strong, I need to fight my own inner demons and let the past be the past. I also have to have faith in myself again, my strengths and abilities. I will succeed – I will be successful again.

Christ, I’m getting maudlin. I have had but one small glass of Muscato, and it takes more than that to get me “I love you man” drunk.

So back to risks not taken and the promise of the future - I guess I chose a new path to follow over the weekend. I hope it works.

For those of you that managed to stay through this sorry excuse of wool gathering/navel gazing, I promise that I will get back to the knitting soon. I have pictures I need to upload and I want to share!

Thanks for staying in there with me.

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