If I’m going to give some insight into me, I feel I need to begin before I began, so to speak. Being pregnant and being calm aren’t two things that I would consider to go hand in hand, and yet when you’ve already been through it twice before I imagine calm is a distinct possibility. At least it was for my mother. Pregnant with me and going into labor, my father frantically trying to get everything ready for the trip to the hospital, my mother made a decision. People do strange things when they are pregnant, something I hope to learn first hand at some point (okay…..second hand I guess). With my dad trying to rush her out the door, my mother, my stubborn, commanding and wonderful mother decided that since she would be in the hospital for a couple days she needed to do something first. What did she need to do that was so important? She wanted to have a shower. She knew she wouldn’t be able to in the hospital and calmly decided, while in labor with me, that she was going to have a nice relaxing shower while my dad patiently waited. So she did…..and so he waited.
I wasn’t even born yet but, I almost feel as though this is my first memory….the first thing that shaped me. Made me the stubborn, calm and patient person that I’d eventually become. The person who can patiently wait for someone they care about, wait without question, without judgment. I wasn’t told this story until I was around 14 but, even when it was first revealed to me it almost felt like I already knew it. I was somehow aware of it. A sort of deja-vu feeling.
I doubt there is such a thing as a ‘normal’ family but, mine was nothing out of the ordinary to me. My parents were married young, and had three kids, with me being the baby. I was what you would call a pouter, as opposed to a crier. I guess I still am now even to this day. If there is anything abnormal about my family I suppose it’s that everyone in my family who got married stayed married. They stayed married not because they had to, not ‘for the kids sake’ and not because they didn’t want to be alone. They stayed married because they were happy, they loved and were loved, they couldn’t imagine being apart. All of them! I don’t know anyone, aunts, uncles, grand-parents, who ever got divorced, or separated. In this day and age I would imagine that staying in love, while wonderful, amazing and…….lovely, isn’t all that normal. Who wants to be normal anyway? Certainly not me.
I know I myself have now been with the same beautiful, kind, generous and loving person for 15 years. 15 Years! It’s strange to write that down…..to see it staring back at me from this computer screen……….it feels like its been 15 days and yet its been nearly half my life that she has loved me. If I live to be a hundred we will have been together for 83 years, I believe without any doubt that we will still be married, still tell the other we love them every night before we go to bed, every time we hang up the phone. I notice I say still even though we are not married, yet. I believe it with the same confidence that I believe the sun will rise tomorrow. That is the faith I have in love, the faith in nothing in life being as important as love…..love trumps all. This is the gift my family has passed to me, a gift that I’m thankful for every day. They didn’t always say “I love you”, or for that matter express it in any visible way now that I think about it. But it was there, it was always there, hiding under the surface. I’ve become the same way, my emotions are often hidden away, even from myself, certainly from others. And yet, I am emotional, I am loving, I am everything that my family was….everything they still are.
When I was growing up there was kindness, love, and generosity. But there was also pain, cruelty and hurt. I, for reasons I’m still trying to find, don’t remember a lot of my childhood, not the way other people seem to. I could give you some reason, some excuse….the same reasons and excuses I’ve given myself over the years. But they would be just that, excuses. The truth is I haven’t admitted, even to myself, why I don’t remember……I want to remember though. That is part of this journey for me, part of writing again, to discover me, to admit things to myself that I haven’t been able to admit even in the privacy of my own head.
I used to write when I was young, I’d write love letters to my girlfriend, letters which she’s kept for almost 15 years. Letters where I was so in touch with me, letters where I wasn’t afraid of what I had to say. I lost that somewhere along the line I think, put it away and didn’t look back for a long time. I’m looking now, searching to bring that part of myself back. Desperately trying to wake up from the sleep I’ve been in…..and I’ve been in it for years, I’m not afraid to admit that. Its been a while since I allowed myself to feel joy……or pain. I don’t want to live that way anymore…..the safe way. I’m certainly not there yet, I don’t know if I will ever get there but I want to………more importantly I want to enjoy, feel and live the journey along the way. I think I woke up a few months ago. I decided to start this blog…..on a whim really. I didn’t know what I would write about, or how often I would write. I certainly had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I have in these last couple months. No idea I would need it the way I do. Love it the way I do.
I long for creativity now, like I never have before. I don’t come from a family that espoused being creative, I don’t know many people who are. No one ever encouraged me to write, no one I know writes. I come from a family that works hard, working for factories, working with computers. Finite, measurable things. That is not me though, I know that now, it took me a while but I know now. I tried their route, the factories, computers…..it all left me feeling a little empty.
One thing that I’ve discovered about the family I grew up in is that I long for approval, recognition of some sort. Which is why my wonderfully talented and kind friends that I’ve met through this blog are such a blessing. Praise was never something that was handed out in my family. Not to me anyway. I graduated from college and don’t remember hearing how proud anyone was of me. Neither my brother nor my sister graduated high school, but still I wasn’t made to feel particularly proud about my accomplishment by anyone other than me. I mean heck, I was on the honor roll! I started working when I was 14, unless you count the paper route I had at age 7. I worked full-time from age 16, enjoying it because……well……because they told me how good I was at it…..and I was. I knew I was, but it felt good to hear it from someone……anyone. I didn’t love it though, it wasn’t a job that meant something to me. Not the way that I believe writing means something to me. So the praise didn’t mean what it should have, what I needed it to. I want to be doing something I love and be praised for it…….otherwise what’s the point? The way I’m just starting to see how much getting to be creative and how much expressing myself has brought something back, something that I miss. “I’m so proud of you!”, those are words I don’t remember hearing much, if at all, not from anyone other than my girlfriend. And when she says it I know she means it, really feels it. I can just tell.
I have done many things I’m not particularly proud of in my life but, looking back I’m glad I did them, if I could go back and change them………….I wouldn’t. They have made me what I am today, made me what I will become someday. Many of these things I wouldn’t do today, not a chance, but when they happened it was……..well, meant to happen I guess. I was talking about movies the other day, and how I will watch almost any movie once. My reason was that you never know what you will find, you never know what will ‘touch’ you. Often the movies I expect the least from are the ones I enjoy the most. Even the ones I don’t enjoy have something, a moving performance by a young actress I’ve never seen, as the horrible movie I watched last night did. I think life is like that. Everywhere we go, everything we do, there is always something there worth seeing, worth feeling, worth connecting with. It’s all a question of whether we are open to finding those moments. I’ve made a decision to be open now, open to seeing them in my life the way I see them in movies.
It’s not that I ignored them before…..its just that I didn’t give them the attention they deserved. I want more things that make me smile…..things that make me laugh, really laugh from deep down inside. I’m a pretty simple person, whatever that means, I know everyone seems to say that. I like being around joy, love. I can’t handle being around tension, bickering or arguing. It bothers me, makes me want to go somewhere that I can’t hear it, somewhere I don’t have to witness it. Little things in life give me joy, make me smile. Seeing geese on my way home from work, squirrels scampering across the road as I drive by. An elderly couple walking, holding hands. The mischievous smile my girlfriend gives me when she’s done something I wouldn’t have done. Simple.
As I said, we’ve been together 15 years and I love her more than I ever did, I appreciate her more. We are, for all intents and purposes, opposites. Not just where we are from, or how we were raised, but how we act. I am quiet, careful and shy. She is anything but, which keeps me honest and I hope will rub off on me a little. I know I’ve rubbed off on her, I can see it more everyday. Her love and concern for animals, her being able to enjoy doing nothing as long as she’s with me. Ten years ago she would never sit still, never enjoy silence, never stop and breathe….just breathe. I can see it now, see her slowing her thoughts, enjoying the little things. I’m not sure if I’ve taken on her traits as much but, there’s still time for that, lots of time. Perhaps 60 years from now we will have more in common, perhaps not, it’s not important though…..not to me. Love is…..and love I have, it’s not going anywhere, the rest is just details.
There’s more that I have to say, but for now I’ll leave it at that. I thank you for this Roger. For pushing me in this direction, for suggesting this. Its one of the things that I’ve been meaning to do. When I first asked you to pick something I was excited, intrigued to see what you would ask of me. Which, not long after turned to worry…..not so much worry about what you would ask but, worry about what I’d be faced with….worry about what….no…..how I would write about it. How uncomfortable it may make me. I’m discovering that uncomfortable can be good though, uncomfortable may even be necessary. Necessary for me to get to where I want to be. Which is why I stopped myself from worrying. I can write about anything, even about myself, even about things that I haven’t thought about for years. I can. I will. I need to.