Tag Archive: love

A Life in Black and White


I’ve spent a ridiculous portion of my life watching and rewatching the same old films. You know the ones: everyone talks super-fast and they’re all clever and articulate and occasionally scathing, but they always have exactly the right words.

I am the way I am because I love those films. Usually that would be fine, but I’ve found a reason all that exposure may have been dangerous: I am always wishing my life could be more like some amalgam of His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, and The Philadelphia Story.

I want the big, banter-filled romance that overcomes all the obstacles. I want the tall, dark, handsome, intelligent leading man who will fight with me or for me and isn’t afraid to make sweeping romantic gestures and sincere declarations of love. I want the quirky, loud family with qualities one can’t help but find endearing. I want the friends who are the respite when the drama gets too intense; they can be comic relief or the voices of reason to balance my own craziness and keep me from going off the deep end.

I am lucky enough to have most of those things. The trouble comes when a piece is missing or broken. I notice. Suddenly, that is all I can think about and my brain begins running laps around the realization that my life is very uncomfortable without that piece and that I shouldn’t have to bury the desire for it.

You see, there are really only two types of leading women: the ones who take action, and the ones who wait for action to be taken. I am far more comfortable being the former but certain situations are better suited to the latter.

Life isn’t as black and white as the movies. The good guys don’t always win and true love doesn’t conquer all.

I hate that.


My Gram

When I was little, Gram always said things like, “You better eat something! You’ll shrivel up and blow away!” When I was a vegetarian Gram, bless her heart, would try to convince me to eat the potatoes and carrots she’d cooked in with the roast because, “They’re vegetables, aren’t they?!” It didn’t matter how many of us showed up for Sunday dinner, nobody would ever go hungry in her house. She was always feeding people– which was no small feat in a family of 6 kids, 20-odd grandkids, great and great-great grandkids and, now, even one triple-great grandbaby.

Uncle R and I were talking the other day about when exactly it was that Gram was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure; it was 1993, the year after we lost Grandpa. Her first heart attack was three years after that and I was at the hospital with her when the doctor told her that she would get to a point where she’d only be able to sit in a chair and wouldn’t have the energy for anything else. That was 16 years ago and, until recent years, she’d barely slowed down!

Grandpa always said that Gram was the most stubborn woman he’d ever met and I don’t think most of us saw quite what he meant by that until he wasn’t around anymore.

She held on to every plastic container and glass jar that anything ever came in– probably an effect of surviving the Great Depression and knowing what it is like to truly have nothing. She’d get really, really upset if we tried to get rid of any of those things, however, she’d eventually forgive us and just begin collecting more.

I can’t count the number of times we all had to warn her that the basement stairs probably weren’t safe for her anymore. She never even stopped climbing up into the barn loft until we took away the ladder– and that wasn’t very long ago!

I know that quite a few of us inherited that stubbornness and without it we wouldn’t be as strong as we are today. It was that stubborn spirit, that force of will, that gave us all 20 more years with her than we had with Grandpa. And we all loved her and were so thankful for it.

The last time I sat in her kitchen and talked with her, Gram told me she wasn’t having any more birthdays; she didn’t want them. When I rose to leave I told her I loved her and, like all the times before, she exclaimed, “Oh! I love you too!” and she hugged me as tightly as she could, pressed her soft, wrinkled face to mine, and kissed my cheek.

And, in the hospital on August 28th, she did the same thing. I had spent the whole day before holding her hand and talking to her, wondering if she knew I was there because she hadn’t really acknowledged anyone. But that day I said, “I love you, Gram!” and she said, “I love you too!” as clear as anything!

That was the real secret about Gram: her capacity for love was infinite and the force with which she loved us all was just as stubborn and tenacious as everything else about her.

So, if you believe in an afterlife, you have to believe that there will be one hell of a Sunday dinner waiting for all of us when we get there…and that there will always, always be containers for leftovers.

In loving memory of M.E.R. September 19, 1912 – September 11, 2012

The Vastness of Space

The most successful relationships are a balance of time together and time apart. The time together allows you to be a couple and the time apart allows you to be individuals. All the best couples I know are made of really interesting individuals whose company is easily enjoyed with or without their significant others. If, however, you are not half of one of those perfectly balanced couples, there is something potentially unnerving about giving space to someone you care about.

I’m not talking about a few hours away. I mean real distance; the kind of space in which you don’t see each other for several days and it is ok to ignore text messages and send calls to voicemail; that cavernous, echoing kind of space that shows the gaps you’d leave in each other’s lives.

If you’re lucky there are gaps to be shown.

But that isn’t always the case, is it?

I think it must require faith or, perhaps, just a general sense that things will eventually be ok… Personally, I’ve never been good at either. As a result, I have never been very good at the whole space thing. I can give it, but I rarely ask for it, and I don’t like the silence that accompanies it.

I want meaningful glances and sincere notes and I want to be told that someone loves me. That doesn’t make me needy or weak; it makes me a romantic.

Even when I am away from someone I love—especially when I am away— he is still the first person I want to tell about everything that happens. I always worry he will believe silence means I don’t care or that he must not be missed; not wanted; that I must be happier alone. I know these thoughts are driven by my own fear that, if I don’t hear from him, he must not be thinking of me.

Distill it down and that is the true essence of what makes “space” feel so excruciatingly uncertain: We all want to be missed, but none of us wants to be forgotten.

Spending Time

We have to earn what we spend; time is no different from money in that and neither is unlimited.

There is something about mortality that I don’t think people can understand until they have, themselves, confronted their own. It has a way of making one feel tremendously insignificant and as if the need to do things right now is amplified. Sometimes it makes people want to get a tattoo or jump out of a plane or have a baby; it’s different for everyone. Confronting mortality twice in two years has made me want to be more certain and to feel like my time is being spent, consciously, instead of wasted.

My Gram (on my mom’s side) will be one hundred years old in September. She has no patience and I am just now beginning to truly understand the why of that. It feels impossible to wait when you’re suddenly aware that you may not wake up tomorrow.

Life is just a flicker, a flash, a moment… I want my moment to mean something.

I know that MJ felt like I was in some big rush to get married. I don’t need to get married. I just need to know that the man I am with might actually like to spend his life with me someday. Nobody wants to feel like a placeholder. Tell me you don’t want to lose me.

This week MJ said exactly that. He doesn’t want to lose me. Hearing that felt really good.

The catch is, in our relationship, MJ always seemed most comfortable in the week or two following a big fight. It was exhausting for both of us and just reinforced my idea that as soon as we’d reach any point in which a decision needed to be made about moving forward, we’d move backward instead. There is no incentive to move forward if you spend all your time just trying to earn your way back to what you had before.

This time, I’ve decided to handle things a little bit differently. It wasn’t just a fight– we broke up; that is fact. I told him that he can’t just un-break-up with me.

As I mentioned in my last blog, things change because people change them; it’s not a passive process. If we want our relationship to be different, we’ll have to make it different. So, I took all my things out of MJ’s house; I even gave his key back to him.

We really are starting over and if we’re going to spend time together, we’ll both have to earn it first.