Home again?

The loneliness you get by the sea is personal and alive. It
doesn’t subdue you and make you feel abject. It’s stimulating
loneliness. (Anne Morrow Lindberg)

Rich’s plane came back to Florida, I kissed him hello and goodbye and got on the same plane and flew back to Chicago. Although it’s 8 AM in St. Petersburg and sunny and time to sit out on the porch and read the paper with my love, here it’s early and gray and snowing and cold. I’m going to let the Small Green Heron sit on my sidebar rather than switch to the courtyard brick wall picture for this weekend; I’m not sure I’m really all here. I haven’t been up to the zoo yet and that will probably help and I also haven’t caught up with my neighbors who I enjoy. I’d like to be sleepy enough to sleep another couple of hours but sleeping late seems to be a thing of the past. Dan is here and he is still young enough to sleep late.

I picked Dan up at the train station last evening because he has to train back to NYC rather than fly and the train leaves from here rather than Ann Arbor. It’s 18 hours of drudge travel but with 5 instruments and his computer plus personal belongings-well, he doesn’t trust airline baggage handlers with his life’s blood. That makes sense to me.

We went for a light snack of sushi at SushiSamba and managed to keep the tab down to something I could swallow for dessert. I won’t describe it to you beyond saying it is, hands down, the best I’ve ever had. It is, however, one of those places that separates the haves from the have nots and I’ve been twice now and I leave feeling like a have not who sneaked in when the host wasn’t looking. A mixed pleasure. Dan enjoys all the really exotic stuff of sushi- urchin and eel and other slimy things- so he really enjoyed it and that was good enough for me. I’m not likely to see him again for a number of months.

I sorted all the mail when I got here. We can’t have it forwarded to Florida because a) they are barely forwarding it from Ann Arbor as it is and b) mail delivery is, as I’ve noted previously, optional here in Chicago. I don’t want to aggravate the mailman; he has enough power over my life that I’m afraid of him. Anyway, there were fully 50 pounds of wasted trees and that made me sad and and then some mail from home that left me, umm, bittersweet sad and happy.

I typed that last sentence without even thinking about it and now, when I look at it, I find the theme for this post. Mail from home. Where’s that?  Where my heart is?

My friend writes, "I’ve been reading your blog over the past few weeks. You are a very talented and witty writer- I’m quite impressed. But I also sense a certain melancholy, a sense that life has been hard these past 6 months, the realization that your babies have flown out on their own and maybe don’t need you in the same way anymore. I can share those feelings so much and have found this phase of my life more challenging than I ever expected. After a lifetime of having a preset agenda of raising kids and working, those roles are quickly fading. The question is, what next? Know that you have many friends who love and care about you."

Because she is one of my oldest and dearest friends she knows exactly what kind of message I need to find in that giant mess of junk mail. And she hits at least one of the nails on the head. Another is that my friends are, of course, back at some other "home" of my past. Rich is at our house in Florida and right now that place, with all the light and green and sun and the sea has much to recommend it. I’m fairly sure that neither Florida nor Chicago are my "home" yet.

Rich is my home. But can I be brutally honest with you here? He is still a relatively new home, too. Less than five years. Those of you who have been married for decades now- well, there may be some worn out and frayed-edge qualities about the place, but your marriage has all the comforts of home. "It takes a heap of living to make a house a home," you know. (If I ever quote Edgar Guest again, shoot me. Please.). Rich and I still have the pleasures- and some dismay- of new discoveries but mostly we’re in that in-between phase. We are no longer infatuated with one another. Now we alternate between frustration at not being able to live life as we please without consideration of one another (because, after all, we were both on our own, raising families and working as single parents for many, many years) and startled, pure unbridled joy.  Joy that we have found someone to love and be with for the rest of our time. Startled, when we realize that we have the capacity to stick with marriage and make it work, despite age and history and personalities and frailties. So, yes, Rich is my home. I guess you could call him my dream home.

But let me tell you, "unbridled joy" doesn’t look the same at 55 as it does at 25. It doesn’t act the same either. A hot time for us, as likely as not, involves him chortling when we go to the movies and he says, "Two tickets, please. One regular, one senior."  Because we are of like mind (cheap and needing our own way) we get a great deal of pleasure out of buying one large popcorn and asking for a cardboard tray so we can split it, "butter" it as we please and not share. We sneak in drinks from home. We hold hands and when necessary he covers my ears and holds my head close to his stomach for the violent or scary bits. Then we go home and, much of the time, we are so tired we just spoon up together and go to sleep. That is unbridled joy at 55, so brace yourselves.

β€œPerhaps middle-age is, or should be, a period of
shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material
accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.”
(Anne Morrow Lindberg)

I wrote in a comment at Mary’s the other night-it was actually the wee hours of the morning and my defenses were down- that I miss my friends at home with every fiber of my being, every single day. We know each other. When I was in the same town, they were like the familiar and happy background noise of birds at the feeder. If I wanted to see them or hear them all I needed to do was move a few steps.

One of my friends decided about eight months ago she was going to lose weight, once and for all. To us, she wasn’t overweight; she was our beautiful friend. But she had been suffering with it and decided to do something, so she joined an overeaters group and got serious. At first, like good friends, we all said, " Silly you. You look great!"  Eventually, like better friends, we listened as she explained the boundaries she had set for herself and we changed the sorts of places where we ate out and we made sure that we had food that was good tasting but still on her very limited menu when we got together. Some, we tried not to indulge ourselves in front of her- I, personally, should have done that more- and, in the end, some of us picked up better eating habits and a general feeling of can-do inspiration from her. She has succeeded in losing a lot of weight- I think 40 pounds or more- and she looks healthy and fit and radiant. If I were there I would know exactly how many pounds.

If I were there I would be having a SuperBowl party next week with poker and  a giant kettle of etoufee. Audrey would bring cloud cake but we would have plenty of low calorie good food on hand, too. This past couple of weeks I’ve missed out on knee surgery, hernia surgery, a difficult anniversary and a colonoscopy. (And you know how much fun colonoscopy commiseration is among friends.) I miss all that, desperately.

So, where is this all going? I’m not sure.  It’s sort of a cold, gray, Sunday ramble but be sure that it is not going to, "woe is me." If you leave sympathy comments I’ll come ’round and smack you. I don’t feel that way for one minute. I’m not unhappy with my life and I’m quite certain that I’ve been blessed with far more than I need or deserve- and I appreciate that. I am surrounded by beauty and love and the children are doing what they oughta and I have a house with a palm tree and a house by a wonderful city zoo, the best of husbands and the best of friends. What I am experiencing is a common theme among many of my close friends and family. So, I guess it’s nothing more than idle reflection on our human condition, yes?

"I feel we are all islands – in a common sea." (Anne Morrow Lindberg)Maui

29 responses to “Home again?

  1. I sat here reading this post, trying to figure out what it is about your writing that makes me feel so comforted and calm and touched even when you are writing about the most heart-wrenching stuff.

    I’m not always good at finding words.

    Anyway, hug, Vicki. I am jealous that your friends had you so near to them for that many years and I wasn’t a part of it.

    I am grateful that you share your life with us as often as you do.

  2. Part of what you’re feeling has to be “January”…. winter, Christmas let down, New Year’s let down, that gray time that even the sun of Florida can’t completely drive away. It is that foggy, hazy, sleepy time of year when bears hibernate…when you feel you could crawl into a cave somewhere, spread limbs and leaves to hide the entrance, curl up in a warm pile of blankets and stay till the crocus and hyacinth and daffodil and dogwood return with their bursts of color.

    I am happy that you have Rich, a little envious too… I always wanted a comfortable relationship, that chance to be yourself and have someone that loved you anyway. Something I may never experience but your words help me know how it would feel…. It’s ok. As a preacher’s kid and moving and leaving friends so much I think it made my “skin” a little thicker (now made a bit thinner by fluctuating hormones though) and gave me a bit of a gypsy spirit. I start getting antsy after five years in one place.

    The strangest thing is that I never really felt “at home” in Mississippi, though living there for 15 years; except in my house. I was at home with the world shut out in my house, Nyssa was there and it was home. Now the concept of “home” has to be rethought, reworked, revised. Ongoing process. More fluctuating hormones.

    Guess what… this wasn’t a feel sorry for you comment… I think it turned into.. well something weird. It’s the snow. Yes, it is snowing… er… well, not exactly snowing… sort of sleeting… a little bit…. if you look hard enough… Nyssa says it is snowing in Williamsburg…I see another “kissing the snowman” picture in her future.

    Have fun with the animals… you lucky duck…

  3. In the interest of not getting smacked, may I suggest that your present malaise is nothing that a few warrior and triangle poses wouldn’t cure?

    I’d rather swoon
    Than simply spoon.
    For playing the sax should certainly be
    As exciting as ever when pre-60.

  4. We eat our share of molasses cookies, Ms. B. It’s merely that late nights seem to come earlier and earlier. But considering the energetic source, I’ll take your advice and strike a pose.

  5. Oh… how sweet of your anon comment. πŸ˜‰ *sigh* As for YOU, Ms. B… I’m with Raehan on every word written. I come here and melt into the screen as I read. And when I comment? The tears pretty much pour down my face because I do not know what to say to you but I feel so very much… kinship? Someday I would like to go and spend days (weeks? months?) with you in your St. Pete home. Walk the beach. Watch the sun rising or setting (I’m more of a night person myself but I will adjust to whatever you prefer to be able to spend some time just talking or sitting quietly listening to the rhythm of the ocean or of life…) and letting life just happen around us.

    A lot of life has happened for each of us this past year. Endings and beginnings of different sorts. The past several years. I think this is the kinship that I feel. This and the honesty that you pour out. Thank you for sharing yourself so that others (me) may benefit. I cannot wait for our meetup. I will have to wrangle that durango-driving crazy woman soon.

  6. Who is anonymous? I am certainly not.
    A molasses cookie, now, would really hit the spot.
    But I’m not where I wanna
    So, I’ll settle for Bakasana
    And wait until I’m back-and hot.

    (I can’t believe you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to comment on “Gerundii”, especially given your way with rhyming. Miss you. Give us a treat- update.

  7. St. Petersburg-ite wannabe...

    Boy can I agree with srp. It is snowing lightly here too. The day is dark and gray and I am longing for some sunshine. The snow is small tiny flakes, not the big, fat, fluffy ones that I love. But if it snows enough it may cover some of the ugly blah stubble in everyone’s yard.
    But I have Vicki’s wonderful blog to read and many of her friends great blogs,(Vicki, if it looks like I visit your blog twenty zillion times a day, it it because I use it as a launch pad to venture into other joyful realms.)
    PS Thanks for your sweet comment on Mary’s blog re: moi.
    I have read a great deal of Anne Morrow Lindberg too. So inspiring. “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” AML

  8. Words from my favorite book at just the right time. See? That was the purpose for this very post. If it matters, you are an inspiration to me.

  9. St. Petersburg-ite wannabe...

    Oops, I meant Raehan, gee, I do lurk way too much and cannot keep my lurkees organized…”:^)

  10. With all the kind words about the love of your life, I think this is more of an “idol reflection.”

    This sort of reminds me of that old political slogan: “You never go back to Pocatello.”

  11. I was cupidus currendi
    regarding your gerundi.


  12. Vicki, I love the sentence, “Rich is my home.” That’s all. (I love all the other stuff too. How I wish I had a flow of language like you do.)

  13. Is Bonnie some kind of a sex maniac? Did you know that she has ELEVEN children?

  14. This post and all the comments are great reading, Vicki. I’m with Raehan. It is completely understandable that you would be in this state of mind now; look at how many life-changing events you have had in the last 6-8 months.

    I love the line “Rich is my home”. It is too bad that you and he have had to be apart so much recently. I have no doubt that once the fresh pain of losing your mom (and Wit’s End and Ann Arbor) subsides, you will indeed find a home in your mind, a place to exist both physically and emotionally.

  15. Larry’s Supermarket reopened, so we have a sun to orbit around again. Although now it’s not Larry’s market, it’s HT, and it’s 75% asian fare and 25% everything else. It’s as if the changing demographics of the west coast were compressed into one weekend. I’m kind of happy because asian candy is so fun and creative. We struggled to find our white man’s staples: milk, bread, mayonnaise, yogurt; we stocked up on the “Mid-Life Crisis” chocolate bars sold at the check-out lane that have a picture of a May-December couple riding in a red Mustang convertible. The chocolate wasn’t that good but I’m making a refrigerator magnet out of the wrapper.

  16. I spent the day training a 15 year old to drive a JEEP with manual transmission. I know where my home is and I was glad to make it back!
    I enjoyed your sweet reflection.

  17. I think the Human Condition describes it greatly–and the fact that you have had much upheaval(physical, emotional, and spiritual) in the past year. Give yourself a chance to adjust to these new places, while holding onto the old through letters, e-mails, phone calls, etc…Last night, we were playing a game with friends where a question was asked, and we had to write an answer to it. Then whoever had the turn had to try to figure out who answered what. The last question was, “How would you describe the person to your right?” It turned out that my husband wrote, “Complex” about me. I was offended at first, but I guess it is true. I really would have preferred sexy, brilliant, beautiful, interesting, etc…

  18. Vicki, do you know how gifted you are? Your writings are humorous and heart felt. You are not alone, left dealing with chapters in your life that end. But there are new ones to enjoy! A few months ago, when I was a new blogger, I sat at my keyboard and talked about where I am. I’ve been married to the same man for more than 30 years but I have missed chapters that ended, i.e neighbors and friends. We are content to snore near the TV, at our age, but find new adventures to make us laugh. Just like you. Here’s a paragraph I wrote in October when I was feeling lonely and missing the life I had after moving two times in four years, away from where I lived my whole life, in Maryland:

    “I am at a time in my life where the chapters are ending too quickly for me and there are times I feel I can’t keep up with it all. During the past several years, health problems plagued my parents. Mom died 5 months ago and my Dad is on his way to be with her. In 2000, Gina left us in Maryland to attend college in Wilmington, NC. That was a long chapter that ended…a life-changing and sometimes difficult time when you are suddenly an empty nester and no longer referred to as “Gina’s Mom” and swim team organizer, and your “too busy schedule” comes to a halt. Two years later, Michael’s job took us to Delaware and I left long-time friends and neighbors in Maryland, started a new life, new job, and made new friends. Three years after that, a repeat in North Carolina. Military families do it all the time, so why am I complaining? No, I’m not complaining. I’m venting on a day I am stuck without a fresh idea because I don’t know who in the hell I am anymore. So I guess I’ll just shut up about it take comfort in knowing that life changing experiences build a well-rounded character, and get on with this simple post.”

    Life goes on and the trip can be as fun as you make it! :o)

  19. Your life looks pretty blessed to me, Vicki. And I don’t say that to deny the hardships of a losing a parent, or the realities of having homes (or a husband and daughter) on opposite ends of the country. The bumps in the road are what make it memorable.

  20. See, now I’m worried… because that’s what bliss looks like at 30 something. πŸ˜€

    Lovely, lovely post, Vicki. As you know I’ve been thinking a lot about these themes and it’s nice to see inside someone else’s process.

    And your photos… amazing. I love clam like things… I should know what they are considering where I live. πŸ˜‰

  21. Vicki, that comment made me laugh. You would not believe how messed up this photo collection is! At present, it is housed in 4 or 5 boxes (some plastic bins and some ribbon boxes) and I say I am going to sort them, but somehow they always end up back in the boxes. At least this time, some of them are in ziplock bags which are labelled with the person to whom I am going to mail them as soon as they are all sorted out.

    That part doesn’t even count the many small photo albums I have collected since my grandchildren started coming. I may never get them all organized as I would like – but I talk a good game!

  22. I don’t see my life changing all that much from the current 34 to the someday 55. Except Geoff and I don’t spoon…that went out the door during my first pregnancy.
    “Don’t TOUCH me!!!”

    Gifts. That is what you have, Vicki dear.

  23. What a beautifully written post! I think it touches what many of us feel at various points in our lives. I have lived here in St. Pete for 11 years now, and even though I’m happy here (My God,I love this town!), it doesn’t feel like home to me. Home is such an internal and personal feeling, isn’t it?
    Rich must have a real sense of humor, “Two tickets, please. One regular, one senior.” I burst out laughing over that one. My hub will probably say something like that in years to come, as I’m older than him by a year’s time.
    I hope the two of you find more time to be together this year. It does sound like you miss him as well as your friends. πŸ™‚

    May I add, I LOVED the pics and the quotes by Lindberg.

  24. Well everybody else has already written the mushy stuff so I’ll just be content to add, “Nice pictures.”

    And, “Never had you pegged for a movie drink-sneaker kind of a gal!” πŸ™‚

  25. I think it’s the January talking, another two months of winter (at least) and the post-holiday letdown, and the weather seldom makes any effort to cheer us up this time of year. I think what you need is COLOR! I suggest you pop on over ot Elemmaciltur’s blog (http://numenna.blogspot.com/) and look at the beautiful pictures he took of the Wollmeise yarn we keep rhapsodizing about. Knitting is comfort and cure.

  26. All weekend I fretted over my aching left ankle.
    Monday I twisted the right one.
    There’s a liquor store right down the street: I may go visit.

  27. I love how you write Vicki. Your ruminations take me on familiar journeys. I feel like a friend inside your skin. It’s a good place to be. Your life has changed so much in the past few months, it would be hard to imagine no repercussions somewhere in the psyche, wondering when all the dust will finally settle down. I’ll be 55 in May. I always thought I’d know more than I do, thought I’d get here more gracefully than I have, and I’d be a lot more active than I am. What a surprise, I’m just getting to be a goofy old lady! Spooning is my favorite elixir for whatever ails me.

  28. Can’t think of another thing to add to the above comments except – more, please. The quotes from Anne Morrow Lindberg are as lovely as your blog is entertaining. Oh! There is one thing more. My husband and I went to a movie this week. A sign at the ticket counter said ‘Seniors – sixty and over – $6.00.’ When my husband looked at me and then back through the window and said “Two seniors please,” our shared incredulity morphed into eye-rolling and chuckles as the implications of this milestone settled over us.

  29. You know, Vicki, speaking of home, when I come here it is comfortable and warm and feels like a home. I like that. As for your real life home. I have been in that inbetween place and still now I call Georgia “back home” when I talk. I, too, am new at all of this. (I have been married coming up on 3 years this summer.) You write beautifully. You are able to articulate your feelings in such a way it is peaceful to come here and read them. Please never stop writing. I need to read you.

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