When my husband proposed to me, I was 49 and never married. He was 57 and a widower. While the content of our lives would fuse, mingle and blend, one thing would remain the same: my name.
I always thought there was something a bit mutton-dressed-up-as-lamb about a middle-aged woman who takes her husband’s name — like wearing a mini-skirt and pigtails at 50.
On more occasions than I care to admit, I was the wedding guest who rolled her eyes when the 40-year-old bride was presented with her husband’s last name. …
Today I’m fully vaccinated. Watch out world, here I come!….
(I wish you could hear how loudly my husband is laughing at this.)
As it turns out, I’m putting my toe very tentatively, slowly, warily back into . . . what exactly? — normal life? No. Gathering with people indoors? Not ready! Going out to eat? I’m good. So WHAT exactly?
For starters, it’s been nice to share a few hugs with friends. My mom is visiting next week, so that will be our merge back into indoor meals that include more than two people — my husband and me.
When I was about five, I’d sit in front of a mirror and stare at myself. Stare and stare and stare at a small brunette body sitting on the floor in front of a full-length mirror that ran the length of a bedroom door. I focused on myself unblinkingly, until I hit a daze-y, hazy state, and felt a lift-off, a separation that took me from inhabiting my body to being on the outside and observing.
We’re all the same person, walking and wandering home —
look, the eaves how they slope into the cracked streets of
our neighborhoods. Cars drive over them — honk honk —
to hospitals and offices, to restaurants and airports.
Small bodies slip into the world; more bodies roar out
while we sit on the corner of our beds removing
one sock at a time, wondering What’s for dinner —
wondering when we can put our sad bodies down at night.
Our hearts sing a bruised song, yet they’re made for breaking:
Crack, snap, ping, pong — hear that, how we…
Consider, for a moment, these ordinary British phrases:
“Fancy a coffee?”
“Fancy dinner this weekend?”
“Fancy a run?”
Here in America, where I live, these questions would be posed differently. Watch the leads:
“Would you like to get coffee this week?”
“Are you free to have dinner on Thursday?”
“Interested in going for a run?”
What you might not be able to discern from each invitation is how much I think through the lead of these sentence s— especially when texting or emailing. I consider, for example:
Should I write “Would you like to ….”, …
The second time I lived in New York City was short. Seven months compared to the previous seven years. I left for good in 1996. Between those two residencies, I spent three years living in Seattle, with all those trees, lakes, mountains, and accessible recreation. Being back in the urban jungle of Manhattan was, well, difficult.
On the subway ride home from work during that seven-month stint, I remember this: being crunched in among bodies, holding on to a chrome handrail and hearing this repeating chant in my head: “Civil people shouldn’t live like this. …
If I could just accept myself for who I am. If I could just accept him/her/they for who they are.
Oh, the longing to be someone better — but consider:
What do we really want from a state of acceptance?
What does not accepting give us that is so hard to let go of?
What does “acceptance” mean to you, beyond its dictionary definition; beyond what you have come to think of as “acceptance?”
We’re told that accepting others starts with self-acceptance. Before I can accept you for who and what and where you are, I have to begin here…
In my mid-40s, when I was still single after many years of being single; when I continued to hold a Never Married status in a society where people pair up and marry, I often turned to the big scratchy question of Why?
Why was I single? Was I not circulating enough? Was it something I did or didn’t do? Something in my psychology? My choices? Was it carelessness, like the person who didn’t hear the music stop during a game of musical chairs, and found herself the last person standing — no chair?
Finally, after turning over endless rocks, talking…
It starts like this: a sunny Monday morning, the birds chirping, the air crisp, a fun weekend over my shoulder, a day filled with promise.
Then I go and ruin it.
Why? Because I spend too many hours wondering:
What to do? What should I do right now? Next? Writing an essay or submitting one? Returning emails or watching a training video? Swim or run? This or that?
I am a system in motion, rife with indecision, running into each corner of the room every five minutes to see if there’s something there. I’m filled with an idea of “getting…
My chin wakes over the sky of your shoulder,
already you cry as the mountains shed their white.
And we have the usual problems. Making love we are lost
in separate dreams while the ocean unravels wave over
wave. You are a teenager isolated behind his bedroom
door; I am the seafoam boiling over us.
You wade into the surf, wade until the tide stops moving.
I lay out blankets and dig my joints into the sand, watch your body
ride the swells. We live at times roughly, like debris spinning
inside a quiet galaxy. …