Taking Care of Myself (and Others).

So much of my effort this year has been about taking care of myself. I hope it hasn’t been selfish. I don’t think it has. I just feel like there is so much aggression out in the world that I have to be extra diligent about both preparing myself for it and shielding myself from it. For me, that’s meant really looking at what improves my life and what doesn’t. Continue reading

The Girl in the Empty House.

Dave was on a business trip last week when I flew out to Boston. He returned while I was gone, and then left again before I came back. When I arrived home on Sunday evening, I saw evidence of his having been here – a polished kitchen sink, the washer dial turned to hot, and tongs in the salad bowl in the refrigerator. Initially, I felt a tinge of sadness knowing he wouldn’t be home for another five days. But now, on Wednesday, still two full days away from his return, I’m having to be intentional to avoid being downright despondent.  Continue reading

Out of Gas.

I ran out of gas today. I don’t mean that my energy fizzled and I took a nap or that I went running and couldn’t take another step. I mean that I ran out of gas driving down the highway. After a fun Green Bean Casserole Run and a lovely visit with two of my Kilimanjaro friends, I was driving home, and my car suddenly lost power. I could feel it coasting, so I turned on my hazards and navigated over to the right in the hopes that I could get to the shoulder before the car died completely. I did, but just barely. My driver side tires were pretty much on the line on the side of the road, so I crawled out the passenger side door and called for help. Then I waited. For over an hour, I waited. Continue reading

No More Going Solo For Me.

This week, I made the decision to join a masters swim program. I swam in different programs years ago when I lived in Austin, and I did really well in them.  I became a strong swimmer, especially during my years training at the Courtyard when I would swim four days a week. It wasn’t the frequent swimming, but the swimming with others that really made me strong. When I moved from far northwest Austin to the country far southwest of town, I abandoned my masters program because my old facility was miles and miles away, and there was no good option nearby. That’s now changed.

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Better Together.

This weekend, Dave and I went to a marriage seminar organized by some friends of mine from the Church at Lake Travis. A pastor friend of theirs from Alabama spoke about marriage. It’s hard to summarize all that he said, but what I walked away with is that marriage is an opportunity and an obligation to love another unconditionally. Marriages work when people decide to stick with them. That second statement seems obvious, but it’s true, right? If people quit, the marriage is done. But if they stick with it, even when it’s hard, then there’s a chance that things will get better. This workshop really hit home with me in a way that convicted me to apologize to Dave about various things I’d said and done or not done in the last month. Continue reading

Wednesday List #32 – The Challenges of Life With Another

Dave’s been in town for just over a month. It’s lovely – absolutely lovely – to have him here, but I can’t pretend that it’s all easy. It’s not. It’s been a long time since I did anything other than have a long-distance relationship. Long-distance is easy. You have wonderful visits when you’re together, and you get regular life and lots of alone time when you aren’t. That always worked well for me. Life with someone – really with someone – is very different and much harder. Continue reading

A Shared Space.

Last night, I had a girlfriend over for dinner. I live out in the country, exactly 23 miles from downtown Austin. One of my dear friends jokes that I live so far out that she needs a passport to come visit. It’s obviously not that far, but the drive does keep people from just stopping by and often even from coming over at all. But this friend wanted to come. I think she has a thing for Bread, which I totally understand! He is a handsome little guy.

For nearly four hours, we talked at my kitchen table, nibbling on food much of the time. For the last hour, we began the process of saying goodnight and wandered my house and talked about different things. Alison admired my vast collection of books. I got to show her the Christmas cards from friends around the country that cover my refrigerator. I got to show her the blinds that Bread or Butter or perhaps both mutilated. As I showed her my piano room, she noticed a picture of my friend Jeff, who died in 2006, and that gave me an opportunity to tell her about what a special guy he was and what a beautiful relationship he had with a woman who loved him long before he realized it (though it was clear as day to me, silly boy) and who continues to love him more and more with each passing day. She even noticed the little Saint Gertrude statue that my friend Catherine gave me years ago. Saint Gertrude is, among other things, the patron saint of cats, so she lives high up on a shelf in my living room where she can keep a watchful eye on Bread and Butter for me.

I got to have conversations with Alison that could only happen in my space. And I loved every minute of it. I think Alison had fun too, at least in part because Bread warmed up to her incredibly quickly and even sat on her lap for a bit. That’s unusual for him. He’s a total love bug with me but incredibly shy around strangers.

When she left, not because we ran out of things to say but because it was nearly midnight, I walked back into my house, started to do the dishes, and caught myself smiling. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed having someone in my home.

I’ve spent much of the last year telling myself that I’m better off alone than with someone who is able to walk away from me – someone who is willing to do life without me. That’s true, I think. But I also think I’d started to warp my own message. I’d started to tell myself that I should be alone.

Last night, I was reminded how much I enjoy the company of another, how much I enjoy sharing space with another, and how much I do not desire to be alone, even if it’s easier than dealing with disappointment, even if it’s safer than trusting another completely, even if it’s less scary than trying again.

I’m grateful to Alison for making the drive, for being genuinely interested in who I am and how I am, and for helping me remember how wonderful it feels to share my home with another person. I needed that reminder.