For Andy

Although our anniversary isn’t until the 15th, we’re heading back to the mountains tomorrow to look at some real estate and see if there’s a weekend getaway home in our future.  As you know, the connectivity up there isn’t perfect, so I’m posting this early.

We met because of children, had children of our own and have held onto our own immaturity for more than twenty years.  Tess and Amanda –  two of the most edible four-year olds in the universe became friends, their moms (our sisters) started talking about their siblings and a blind date (did I tell you I swore I would never go on a blind date, marry again, or risk more than required by serial monogamy?).  We met at the harbor in Georgetown (I was waiting inside so I could see him before he could see me – moi?  self protective?).  I walked up to him and say “Hi, it’s me”.  Andy insists he knew right away.  I just knew he was very cute and interviewed me more thoroughly than any candidate I had ever spoken with in my HR career.  Before we were done with drinks, he had gone through his checklist; I was just getting giddy.  I was being interviewed!  And I laughed – a lot.  I still am.

Andy made plans – not just namby-pamby plans – concerts, trips to B&Bs, romantic restaurants.  I was blown away.  His generosity was unequivocal; he took notes the first time I was upset because he wanted to make sure he heard all I was saying.  Honestly?  That did it for me.  No one had ever tried to listen that hard.  Ironically, it’s not his strong point – but a lot is forgiven when you realize that this is the only person in the world who is going to make sense for you.

In twenty-one years you don’t have a tale that just offers giggles.  We’ve had our share of challenges, distances and silences, days of doubt and frustration.  Loss and anger, fear and uncertainty.  My health issues have certainly thrown us for a loop on occasion.  Me with my sneakers;  Andy with his games.  I read and escape in books;  Andy plays pinball and darts.  I was a parent driven by the word ‘yes';  Andy needed reasons to answer in the affirmative.  I’m always early; he’s always late.  We can make each other crazy and we will always have each other’s back.  I have said before that he is the anchor to my kite – my tendency to fly away is far less precarious knowing that he is holding the string while he waits for me to come back to earth – so I will never get stuck somewhere from which I can’t return.

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So after twenty-one years – which have flown in more ways than they have crept, I am beyond grateful and acutely aware of blessings, as corny as that may sound.  I looked at him this morning and thought “my guy” – a thought I have had on more mornings than not.  I’m still having  a pajama party with my best friend – even if we are on different sleep schedules.  We played impromptu charades in the driveway yesterday and ended up in hysterics.  Whatever he maintains he knew  when we first met, I was slower to embrace.  But there is no doubt that we were brought together by familial love and have grown together with a bond that is cherished – both for its fragility and unbreakability.  It’s a wonderful life, and a wonderful love.  I love you Andy…

 

The Returning Conqueror

Today the Prince returns – victorious from his infamous weeklong battle against the baseball diamond.  But for a mild muscle pull here and an inexplicable ache there, he emerges unscathed with the loving attention of the locker room trainers still warming his skin.  His feats will soon become the stuff of legend – his remarkable batting and fielding stats, his control of the lands around second base.  There is no need for a moat when the Prince is there to protect the kingdom of baseball.

With a visit to see his parents before camp started, it’s been ten days since I’ve seen the Prince – and it’s time for him to come home.  I need no proof that I enjoy my own company, no test to see whether or not I can manage.  Been there, done that – and it was fine thank you very much.  But in order for this house to feel at peace, it needs the Prince.  This is where he belongs – whether he’s zoning out playing some game on his iPad or napping on the couch.  He needs to be here so I can make him laugh so hard he snorts.  So he can dance with me in the kitchen.  So he can reach the top of the garage door, because it’s stuck.  Because I miss hearing, “Hi doll girl” in the way that only the Prince can say it.  I will not go so far to say that I miss hearing his a cappella “King Of The Road” (but thinking about it makes me smile).

And I want him to go back next year if that’s what he wants to do.  This annual flight of fantasy gives him feelings of delighted anticipation, and the reality has yet to be less than all he imagined.  So go ahead Andy, sign up for 2014 – you are well on your way to being a legend in your own time.

And On Deck…My Husband

It may be winter here in the US, but it’s already baseball season in my husband’s heart.  Truth be told, it’s never not baseball season in Andy’s heart.  He has been a Yankee fan since he was in utero (his mother is an avid fan and I have no doubt he was listening to Yankee games long before he ever greeted the world).  This is no fickle affection – you can say whatever you want about the team many people love to hate – there is no logic to this love, there is no reason to this rhyme.  He is besotted.  Retrospectively, I clearly was a contender for his marital intentions because I’m from New York and as such an unlikely enemy to the team.  I am no longer jealous; I am amused.  I have met my competition and our understanding is mutually acceptable.

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The Yankees can have him.

Honestly, they can – and they will – starting next Sunday when Andy heads to Yankee Fantasy Camp.  This will be his third trip to sleep-away camp, and the excitement in our house is getting a little out of control.  He’s been hitting the gym with brio, practicing his swing at the batting cages, and yesterday he got a new glove (he will be prepping it appropriately over the next few days).  The Yankee swag is re-appearing as the anticipation of packing begins.  Later this week, I will also make sure he has ice packs, the newest in knee braces and an appropriate complement of ace bandages and Tylenol.

I visited Fantasy Camp last year, met some aging icons of the team – most of whom are bloated, arthritic, charming and well past their prime.  That said, on the last day when the ‘pros’ play the ‘campers’ at Steinbrenner Field, they can still impress.  True, each amateur team only plays two innings against the pros, but that’s still about ten innings for the pros.  David Wells was one of the coaches for Andy’s team – funny guy with a belly that prevents him from seeing his toes anymore – who can still throw heat and intimidate by his sheer size.  He quickly surmised that I was the ‘wiseguy’ in the family, and spoke of my husband as if he was a cute little boy who was giving it his all.  Andy was beaming – and for one moment I thought I was attending a parent/teacher conference.  He also wasn’t alone – all these boys/men gazed upon their idols with a sense of proprietary adoration, each hoped to hear an ‘atta boy’.  By the end of the week they were all thisclose.

There’s lots of bonding that goes on – from comparing pulled muscles and experiences with the trainers to shouting support and butt-patting.  Spitting in the dirt.  It gets a little infectious.  I yelled out “Go Two!” (Andy had chosen the number 2 for his jersey) and as all these men looked over in my direction,  my father-in-law gently pointed out that such encouragement could be directed to half the team, since a lot of them were also thinking of Derek Jeter when they selected their number of choice.  Ok, my bad.  I just thought that shouting “Go honey” was a little lame.

By the end of the week, all of these middle-aged men have lived their most replayed childhood fantasy.  They’re playing with the pros.  In Yankee uniforms, on Yankee turf.  Their names announced over the loudspeaker – not by someone’s dad – but by a legitimate-sounding announcer. It all gets pretty heady I think.  I wonder whether there are emotional group hugs as the buses prepare to head for the airport, with promises to write every day and strains of “See You In September” playing overhead.  I do know that the only pictures on Andy’s Facebook page are of his athletic prowess as a pseudo-Yankee.

At the end of the day, there’s little I enjoy more than seeing my husband and/or kids happy.  That kind of happy that makes you smile from the inside out, prompted by a sensation that is impossible to describe but feels a little like bubbles.  And there is little if anything that makes Andy happier than getting to play ball with icons from his youth.  To hang out with guys who totally ‘get it’ and still have the capacity to delight the kid within.  I hope we’ve all been there and continue to go there whenever possible – I have and I do.  When I screamed “I LOVE YOU JAMES” at the Garden a few years back when James Taylor and Carole King were on their ‘Live At The Troubadour’ tour (I say with all humility that I’m sure he heard me and was looking directly at me while he performed. My row and seat number?  Is that really relevant??).   Or when I pretend I’m Ray Lewis entering a football stadium (it is f-i-e-r-c-e let me tell you) or ‘Vogue’ in the kitchen a la Madonna.  It just kind of bubbles up inside and you have to just play.

So, put him in Coach – he’s beyond ready.

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So Much Love

My in-laws celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary yesterday.  What do you say about two people who have successfully navigated the tricky waters of marriage and have spent  far more time together in their union than as single people alone?  My mom used to say you never really understood another couple’s relationship unless you slept under their bed.  I have no intention of crawling under anybody’s bed –  least of all my in-laws.  So, I can tell you what I see.  I see two people with a profound abiding love, who memorized the steps to their dance and have never tired of the music.  I see a man who will go to the ends of the earth for the girl he fell for only yesterday, who protects her with a stoic dignity that requires no bluster or bellow.  You don’t cross Pop when it comes to his wife.  And why would you – seeing and celebrating their love teaches more than most life lessons – and without the pain it usually takes to learn something once and for all.  I’m not going to pretend to understand the chapters of their story, the private moments that define their relationship, the challenges they have faced.  I can marvel and applaud their love, their devotion and their unity.

Next Wednesday I go into the hospital so the surgeon can remove one of these little gremlins that has taken up residence in my jaw.  Though we know it’s benign, we still don’t know what they are, or frankly why the hell they’re there.  All will be well.  I know this – it’s not a Pollyanna thing.  I’m not saying that I have no anxiety – that’s just disingenuous.  But as long as we can keep this to one procedure, I’m good.   I’m good because of my small constellation of friends who have been circling me like the angels that they are.  My friends who don’t ask me to let them know what they can do, they just somehow know what to do.  My daughter-in-law who just checks in with a  concern that leaves me weepy (there’s nothing that can make me weepier than my children).  I’m good because of Andy, though sometimes his sensitivity chip is disengaged.  Because even when he misses the cue, or waits for guidance I can’t provide because I’m groping around in the dark, he really loves me very hard.  And in that way, he’s like his dad.  And in that way, I’m a very lucky woman.

In these chilling days with winds that blow in personal moments of uncertainty, we gravitate to those elements that warm us, anchor us to the ground so that we don’t fly away on the breeze.  I look at my in-laws and know that together they are in the most loving of hands.  I look at my husband and I know I am home.

Karma Gets It Right Again

This morning, I’m raising a mimosa to Karma – acknowledging that once again, the truck rolled up the right driveway and gave back to two people what they have so generously put out into the world.  Salut!  L’chaim! Cheers!  Down In One! (oh..never mind the last one – I was having a throwback moment to my freshman year in college.  Note to David – this is not what Eric is doing – he is studying assiduously.

You see, yesterday an incredibly wonderful, warm, beautiful, generous, fantastic friend of mine got married.  My own personal experience tells me that the act of marriage is not always the great big hug from the universe you think you’re receiving.  Sometimes it is a painful, difficult and hurtful lesson that you have got to learn, intentionally masked by flowers, good food and music.  But this is different.  Yesterday the karma truck rolled up my friend’s driveway to celebrate the kind of love that the universe offers as its finest gift to those who are richly deserving.  Their lessons have been hard and emotionally painful, requiring that identities get rebuilt later in life than one might prefer.  Teardowns and subsequent reconstruction is hard work – projects ideally not taken on during one’s renaissance (so much nicer than ‘middle age’). Ironically, the effort that was required resulted in the emergence of two remarkable people with a dawning understanding that this was who they were before they kept adding to their exteriors (which was done to protect what was inside).

And they are amazing people.  I can ‘feel’ her essence from hundreds of miles away.  She knows what I am thinking though she has never met me.  Our emails are prescient and eerie, as if we are connected by some invisible cord that tugs when the other may be in need.  But this isn’t about how special she is to me.  Rather she brings her heart – open and huge – to the world around her.  In her writing, her spirited commitment to others, the magnificent love that just emanates from her whether she wants it to or not.  She is not perfect – that’s not what good karma is all about.  She brings her best self into the kitchen each morning and makes sure that it is reflected onto the day’s canvas.  And if her best self isn’t feeling all the great, she puts on a sweater to limit what others may see until she is ready and treats it gently, tiptoeing into the day, lowering the risk that she could do any harm (she couldn’t).

What she and her husband (she has to practice saying that I think) have is a bond that is so strong and unbreakable that it still surprises them after many years together.  He is her grounding when she flies too close to the sun; she is his ardent fan and passionate supporter should the crowds not fill the stands.  They understand that the magnificence of love is in the giving – and they give to each other without hesitation, caveat or limitation.  They have received what they so richly deserve, for I don’t know anyone other than my friend who begins the day thinking first about others, with almost too little regard for herself.

So I’m lovin’ the karma truck today.  And I couldn’t let a momentous occasion go without my own little wedding reception.  When it’s time for the toast, I hope everyone raises their glass and asks that Love smile on them and be good to them from now until forever.  May laughter and light fill their home.  Enjoy good health, great wine and best friendship.  And know always how much you are loved – by many.  We are  honored to be your friends.