Buttons and Birthdays

If I read (and believe) correctly, Ron and I have an exceptionally low risk for divorce.  We did not live together before marriage.  We are white.  We are very close in age.  We are college educated.  Our parents were never divorced.  Our child was born after we were married (way after, 7 years), and our income is over $50,000 per year.

Good for us.

Forty to fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce.  I read it on the internet, so it must be true.  This percentage has hung around for at least 28.75 years, which is the length of time I began thinking about sustaining a marriage.

My brother, Dan, married us.  “Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not count wrongs,” I heard Dan say.

And, in a blink, we were married.

And I would really be tested on the patient and counting wrongs part.

Now, I am not kidding, when a family member marries you, it will often be in the back of your mind that you owe them a success, too.  If my marriage was failing, I feel I would owe my brother an explanation.  To me this seems like it would be an uncomfortable conversation, best to be avoided, if at all possible.

So, I have worked hard on being patient, kind and not counting things.  And, while I am sure I am practically perfect in every way, I am fairly certain Ron has worked hard, too.

Ron and I have developed an on-going saying:  “Anything for you, dear.”  We laugh as we say it.  Some times we are more sincere than other times.  It is a twenty-eight year old  tongue-in-cheek nod to compromise and understanding.

“Anything for you, dear,” because we are better together.

Arguments about Christmas lights are better.
Jokes about how awful you speak French are better.
Movies about time travel are better.
Dog walks in the dark are better.
$700 car repairs are (almost) better.
Breakfasts watching the cardinals and chickadees on the deck are better.

“Anything for you, dear,” because surely I will sew that teeny tiny button on the collar of your favorite dress shirt at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Because surely you will text and call me at least 5 times before I board that plane by myself.

Because surely I will bake you a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing for your birthday every July.

Because surely you possess, and probably always will, the ability to admit you were wrong much easier than I ever will.

“Anything for you, dear,” because I often still see you as 23, not 53.  You are strong and vulnerable, devoted and optimistic, and still way too responsible.

Good for us.

 

November 30, 2016

 

The house creaks in the wind.

I wonder what the rafters feel.

One night during a fierce storm, lightning all around, Ron shares his observation that our house is the tallest house in the neighborhood.

It is not the largest house square footage-wise, but undoubtedly has the tallest peaks.  This fact is not exactly comforting during a lightning storm.

Our conformist, suburban, white brick house has, however, up to this point anyway, provided shelter.

The wind travels down the road and buffets the facade.  Yet, the house seems to lean in, at the very least, stand resolutely.  And the rafters creak.

The dog and I look at each other.  Alone inside, like the wind outside.

*****

The house creaks in wind
Wonder what the rafters feel
Alone like the wind

Wind storm all around
Not exactly comforting
And the rafters creak

Conformist brick house
Lean in  Stand resolutely
Alone like the wind

Suburban white brick
Undoubtedly the tallest
And the rafters creak

Provide a shelter
Not exactly comforting
Like the wind outside

Worried dog looks up
Spirit companions at home
Alone like the wind

 

Nancy Drew Could Run A Marathon

 

My 10 year runniversary is late April 2017.  I do not know the exact date.

My first 5K was August 18, 2007.  I won first place in my age group.  I was the only runner in my age group.  I was, in fact, completely, walloping, way, way last in the entire event.  Yet, I was so proud.  Uh huh, I was hooked on this running thing.  I mean, “how hard could it be?”  I mused, “I came in last and still won a trophy.”

My 43 year writeaversary has come and gone, I suppose.  I do not know the exact date.

I have written poems, essays, stories and letters since fourth grade.  When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I was reading Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene.  Like many girls my age, I kept track of the numbers on the books to see how many I read.  I had an entire dresser drawer full of those yellow spined books, all in numerical order.  #43 was “The Mystery of the 99 Steps,” my favorite.

Those covers still look spooky and mysterious.  They draw me in, and with a smile, I remember a little girl who could not wait to start a new book about her heroine.  Nancy Drew was glamorous, tenacious, independent and confident–  all the things my ten year old self longed to be.

Running helped develop these traits.  Well, except for the glamorous part.  Uh, I can not find too much glamor in being so drenched in sweat it takes a contortionist to pull your bra over your head.  But the other traits, being tenacious and confident, yep, running has helped me be both.  Nancy showed me what being tenacious and confident looked like, but running helped me be both of them.

I found I could set a goal and slowly, methodically work toward achieving it.  First, the goal was to run around the block without walking.  Second, the goal was to run a 5K before my forty-fourth birthday.  For a couple of years I was running at least a race a month.  Distance did not matter.  I ran 5K’s, 10K’s, half and full marathons.  (Have not run an ultra yet, but not to worry…).

Each completed race gave me confidence, and the finisher’s medal was concrete proof I could set a goal and achieve it.  Whatever the race distance was, that experience, was all mine.  No one can finish a race for you.

I have two older brothers, fourteen and fifteen years older than me.  My brothers were outstanding high school and college athletes.  They played football, basketball and were offered baseball scholarships.  You name it, they could play it.  My brothers were popular, athletic and good looking.

By the time I came around, I think my parents were tired!  Tired of all the traveling, sitting on bleachers, and for my mother, doing laundry, athletics was not a topic even introduced, let alone promoted, to me.  Besides, I was a girl, not competitive by nature, but bookish and introverted.

“The parents we had are not the same ones you had,” my brothers tell me.

But my oldest brother gave me a gift one day.  He does not even know it.  After I completed my first marathon, he said, “Well, you have done something no one else in the family has done.  You have the right temperament (read stubborn) to run a marathon.”

finally did something (athletic) my brothers did not do.  It still makes me happy.

I loved Nancy Drew so much, I started writing Patty Colbrook mysteries.  I remember sitting at the dining room table trying meticulously to fashion Patty into a Nancy, as much as a fourth grader could, I suppose.

I grew.  Patty left me, of course, but writing did not.  This summer I submitted an essay on running to a writing contest.  The piece fit the “rules,” but did not fit the audience.  I knew the mismatch when I pressed “send.”  Rule no. 1 (or so), know your audience, but the words came out of me, and I guess I did not care enough about the contest to change them.

I am grateful for Nancy and Patty.  I am grateful for my parents not promoting sport to me as I was able to, in my own way and time, find myself and the sport for me.  I am grateful for words and brothers and all that carries me most assuredly forward to another run.