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Archive for March, 2011

Why Is The Grass Always Greener?

Warning: this is not another feel-good post. But, I know it will make me feel better, so here goes.

It happened to me again this week, that thing that happens to me All. The. Time. Someone looked at me and uttered a variation of the following: “I am so envious of how much you travel. If I didn’t have kids………….”

I know I was curt in my reply. When I’m ninety and alone, I may wish I’d made different choices, and that’s what I shot back. I don’t think I will have regrets. That’s not how I choose to live my life.

Regardless of how much of myself I display in this blog, there are things I don’t write about. However, I’m going to break my silence on this issue, because it needs to be done.

Until I was 31 or 32, I was largely still a baby. I didn’t know who I was. I look at ladies who are younger than that now, running businesses and pulling it all together, and I am in happy awe of them. Who knows where I’d be now if I had been that smart back then? Again, no regrets, but it’s a fact that I am a late bloomer. I didn’t really figure myself out until I was almost 40, and I’m okay with that.

I spent a lot of my life trying to please: my parents; my ex-husband (though he would surely disagree); a long-term ex-boyfriend I aimed to marry; my various bosses; my assortment of friends. Sometimes, I want to go back to that girl and scream at her to grow a pair, to stop living her life to please everybody else, hacking away at her spirit in the process.

I’ve walked through valleys and pits and disasters and will surely see more before I’m done. But, I will say this with certainty: I am sick of people telling me they envy my life. Until you’ve walked all the way through every dip and disappointment of it – the whole preponderance, not just the here-and-now – you have no idea what you’re saying.

Mostly, these comments come from people with kids, and I have some special words just for you. Children are wonderful. They are gifts. In almost every instance of people I know who have them, they chose to do it. Sometimes, they struggled and spent thousands of dollars and cried rivers of tears to attain what they wanted.

I don’t know whether this applies to me, because I’ve never tried to have a child, but it’s worth pondering in general because it does describe some woman out there. When someone says they envy another’s life and then launches into talking about what they could do if they didn’t have kids, do they ever stop to think that the woman sitting in front of them may not be able to have them? That she may choose to live her life the way she does as a consolation prize?

Don’t envy the life of another. There’s always more underneath the surface we see, and few people plumb the depths to discover more than the veneer. The grass isn’t greener someplace else, and the happiest people in the world know it.

Too Much is Just Enough: Contentment

Once in a Blue Moon, Revisited (a guest post by MTM)

Was she there before she was here, she asks? Well, let me tell ya….

Every day we live passes methodically and in most cases unremarkably. Sure, there are the landmark dates; the birthdays, the anniversaries, the varied special or Hallmark dates that we feel inspired or compelled to take note of. May 22, 1997 was not one of those ‘important’ dates. Maybe its significance came as it marked the transition when the warmth of the Spring day finally triumphed and carried over into the night.

It was the night that I remember. I was living in one of a long string of easy sublets that I habituated in my time in Chicago; this one was a three-month stint in a three-lobed tower at the south end of the Loop. Restless and rootless, I went to see a film–don’t recall what film–at the Fine Arts Theater in the old Studebaker Building on Michigan Avenue. Afterwards I found myself wandering about the city, a flaneur with the flat patois of the upper midwest.

I recall seeing a girl waiting to cross the street. In the bright moonlight she struck me as cute, at least from my distance. The light changed and she crossed. For a moment I thought of following her. But I didn’t; then she was gone. I headed off into Grant Park, eluding the aim of Bowman and Spearman, the two Indian Warriors that guard the entrance on Congress Ave. Once ensconced in the darkness of the park, the soundtrack of the night rose in my ears.

I knew this was more than a simple full moon; in honor of the occasion, the haunting sound of the Cowboy JunkiesBlue Moon Revisited” had been echoing off the bare walls in my apartment earlier that night.  Now, shrouded in the lonesome night, I was no longer listening to it. It was speaking to me. Painfully.

Who was it that caught my eye that night, then disappeared? Was the girl even real? All I know is that when I saw her again, five years later at a little cafe in Charleston, I did not hesitate.

Too Much is Just Enough: Remembering the signs and realizing they were true.

Was I There Before I Was Here?

For those of you who didn’t know it, MTM once lived in a little town called Chicago, Illinois. For six years, he ran his own architecture practice. He competed in worldwide architecture competitions, resulting in skyscrapers in Korea that he’s never seen. He was even a finalist in the Oklahoma City Memorial Competition and ended up on CNN.

Last weekend, he took me past a visible remnant of himself by showing me something he designed. On the front of a building in downtown Chicago, an entryway blared out MTM’s signature sensibilities, his clean lines and minimalist style. It was a piece of him that I could reach out and touch, from a time when I didn’t know him.

As we shivered our way around the city, I would catch our reflection, walking side-by-side in a random window glass. And, I wondered: did he ever walk this way and glimpse me? The two of us, together? When he ate fish and chips at his favorite pub, did a girl turn her head and conjure my image in her wake? Give him some clue of who he was seeking before he found me? Before he said hello?

I’ve studied photos of MTM from that time, scanning his younger face for the certainty of me. My favorite one of him from that era wasn’t taken in Chicago, though. It was shot in Japan. He is sitting alone in front of a glassy pond, broken by circular stepping stones, cherry blossoms dropping around him like pink-and-white confetti.

Somehow, I know I was there, too.

I just know it.

Too Much is Just Enough: Seeing the signs and knowing they are true.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

During pollen season, rain (or kicking drugs) is the only way to be happy. For two weeks, I have been doing a rain dance several times a day, spinning my arms toward heaven and begging, with itching, streaming eyes, for some wet relief from on high.

Note to self: I suck at rain dancing. Obviously. I had to leave town to stir up any threatening clouds at all.

Still, I took credit for the fact that I came home to find a yellow ring on the asphalt all around my car, washed there by rain the night before. I was elated to be able to stand in the back yard and find blossoms on the orange tree without sneezing. Never mind that a couple of big rain drops fell into one eye when I tried to look up.

My favorite thing about our house is the sound the rain makes on the metal roof. Curling up in bed, I left the door open and let the pattering drum of the raindrops lull me into an afternoon of slumber. The staccato of sound varied as the rain fell harder and then more gently, but it was always there, tinging my dreams with its comforting music.

Assuring me that, when I woke up, I would not have to pry my encrusted eyes apart with my fingers. Yes, this time of year, I’m only happy when it rains.

Too Much is Just Enough: A Pollen Cleansing Rain

 

I’m Not Trashy

Okay, I will be the first person to admit it: I deplore shopping. I cannot stand to peruse aisles of stuff on offer or spend more than two minutes trying on clothing. Or shoes. Even shoes do not get much time from me.

This is all my mother’s fault.

When I was growing up, we would go to the Florence Belk (or way back even Coker’s), and I would be trapped in a dressing room with everything in the store that was her size. She would put every single piece of it on, one at a time, and study herself from every conceivable angle.

This took HOURS. And HOURS.

She never bought any of it, always saying she would return another day to buy the one or two things that haunted her. All that torture, I mean, effort, and we would almost always walk away from the stores empty handed.

Fast forward to this weekend, the first time I realized that I am married to my mother. At least, when it comes to shopping. The only thing I wanted this weekend was a trash can.

I walked into Alessi, found it in 60 seconds flat, wanted it, nagged and nagged and nagged about it at every opportunity because we did not buy it on the spot, and now I have it.

Compare me to MTM.

We went into the New Balance store. Remember, Dear Reader, when I told you that one of his athletic shoes fell apart last week? Well, New Balance is the only shoe that fits his as-wide-as-it-is-long foot. He tried on a pair that fit. Actually, he tried on several pairs even after he found the pair that fit. And, I planted my hiney in a chair and refused to leave the store until he bought them. He thought he would find them cheaper online or discover a hidden clearance sale.

Or something.

I knew from experience with my mother this Would. Not. Happen. I held out and made a scene. And, he has the shoes.

It was annoying that my mother was too picky. And, it is my just reward that my husband is too picky. The only time I’ve ever been really picky was in choosing him. Some of my friends at the time questioned my reasoning.

They said I was too picky. And too old to be too picky.

Well, screw them. Sometimes, being picky is the only way to be.

Too Much is Just Enough: Being……Selective

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