Old Men, New Cars and a Crush

In January I was headed home from a friend’s birthday party when my beloved Santa Fe gave up the ghost after 12 years. It made a clunking sound, stopped accelerating, and then that was it. I rolled to the side of the road and waited for a tow truck.

January was an exciting month. My divorce was final on the 21st, I bought a new car, and hiked 15+ miles one day. The day of the Big D I arrived at the courthouse and I sat in a typical ‘People’s Court’ or ‘Judge Judy’ style courtroom with several other individuals seeking the same thing. One by one we were called up by a young woman with Bettie Page bangs and handed her our paperwork. The judge asked a few questions and that was it. I was back to work in a few hours. That evening while I was still at work, the ex called and in the midst of our conversation I let him know that we were a done deal. He responded, “Oh, okay,” as if I had told him I had a ham sandwich for dinner. Surprisingly enough I received a Valentines Day card from him with lots of apologies. He told me he sent it in advance and with extra postage to make sure I received it in time for Valentines Day. Unfortunately I don’t check my mail every day so it wasn’t until this past Tuesday I received it. It was kind of him. I’m not sure how to feel at this point. There’s still so much hurt there and while a part of me will always love him, I don’t think the damage that was done can ever be reversed.

So, I purchased a used car about a month ago. It’s fairly new with low miles. I do miss having the SUV though. There’s something about being a little higher up while driving. I have found myself hitting curbs more often now because I simply can’t see them, being so low to the ground. Actually purchasing the car was a challenge. I dealt with this little old man with a foreign accent. He tried to sell me the car at a much higher rate than what was listed on the Internet. When I tried to pull up the Internet listing for that dealership, it would flash on my phone for a second and go blank. Those stinkers. I was able to pull it up briefly enough for him to see that yes, indeed, the car was listed online for $3k less than what they were telling me it was. Nice try. Anyway, I’m now the proud new broke owner of a shiny blue car with XM Radio (bonus!).

At the end of January I did the National Trail Trek which is a monster hike over South Mountain and the Estrellas here in Phoenix. I didn’t stick with my hiking group because I knew I’d be taking it slow due to a knee injury from December. It took six hours but I finished. Man, I was ready to drop! I ended up finishing before the group did and I saw a few members while I waited for the shuttle to take me back to the car. I waved from a distance but just needed to sit after that. That evening I had to meet the tow truck driver outside my house to receive the Santa Fe back into my driveway. It’s hard to trade in a vehicle that has a dead engine so it is sitting in my driveway until I figure out what I want to do with it (or the HOA gives me hell). The tow truck driver seemed a bit flirtatious. He asked why I was limping and I explained that I had just hiked a distance. He blew out a puff of smoke from his cigarette and said, “Yeah, I hike.” I made an excuse to go back into the house. Clearly what’s looking for me and what I’m looking for are two different things.

Speaking of which, I just gave up on someone I had a crush on for months. Oh my gosh, I somehow lost my head and turned into a 14 year old girl for a while there. Not very becoming at 45. I met D. at an 80s party back in October. We have some mutual friends that I had been speaking with and I noticed that there was this tall man in an 80s rocker wig dressed in a black concert t-shirt and jeans. He started telling me about the country he was born in and how he had lived in Boston when he first came here as a teenager. He has a slight accent which I learned was Mandarin Chinese. As he stood there talking to me I kept looking at him. He is quite possibly the most beautiful man I have ever set eyes on. To make a long story short, we probably hang out once a month or so and it’s always with mutual friends. Seeing it’s now February and things have not progressed much more than that, I’ve had to let it go.

But wait! There’s more. . .

Two weeks ago I joined a pub crawl with friends. Yes, D. was there. This was no ordinary pub crawl. We all wore white t-shirts and brought markers to write on each other’s shirts. D. wrote something in Chinese on my back in blue marker which I’m now assuming meant ‘I’m just not that into you.’ I didn’t get a full glimpse of it until I got home. It was written right next to the words ‘I want to tap that’ that some mystery attendee thought would be cute to add. So, yes, I walked around all night with that on my back. Another friend who doesn’t know D. asked who he was because ‘he seems so into you’. Well, this is how it has been for months. We show up at the same events and are each other’s impromptu date. Outside of a few comments or likes on Facebook, I never hear from him unless I’ve initiated a text first. He stood behind me at one of the stops on the crawl. I watched him chatting with friends and then I decided this was it. I was done. He walked me to my car at the end of the night and in a bold move I pulled him towards me and kissed him. He didn’t go screaming away from me in the parking lot. I backed up a few steps and I think we both stood there in shock for a moment. Then I pulled him back towards me and kissed him again. I wondered for months what that would be like or what that beautiful face would feel like. Now I know. I got in my car and drove home. Then I promptly bowed out of any mutual events we were signed up for.

Last night I hung out with my hiker friends, who I haven’t been keeping up with much. It hit me how much I’ve missed them and just how much I’ve let hiking fall by the wayside. It brings me so much peace. It seems like this year has just been crazy with obligations and things that just need to be taken care of. I’ve spent way too much time on Facebook and way too much time hanging out in places that don’t offer the same peace as being outdoors does. While I love to dance, I’ve spent way too much time around the drinking crowd, which, don’t get me wrong. I know some great people, but there isn’t the same fulfilling feeling in say, a bar, as I get from being on the mountains, laughing and hiking with friends. That point was brought home yesterday while hiking in Sedona with several friends I know well.

Well, off to walk the dog.

Dream Big

Okay, so it’s been over a year since I posted.  It’s really started to hit me that I need to get back.  For the past year I’ve been in deep thought but didn’t feel the need to record those thoughts.  Sometimes you just have to let it be.  So here I am.  I’m back.  Hopefully to stay this time.

A little over two weeks ago I finally made the decision to end my marriage for good.  I had been separated for almost two years and in that time I kept waiting to see what he’d do.  Of course nothing changed.  It’s funny how we can fool ourselves into thinking that if we give it enough time that it will work out.  When I was done being angry about the situation I grew very sad.  Maybe these were the so-called phases of acceptance of the situation.  After all, no one goes into a marriage with expectations of things ending several years later.  I sometimes wonder if there were things I could have done differently.  I’m not sure.  He had an addiction problem.  I can’t fix that although, my gosh, I tried.  I often told him that it was no different than my trying to wrestle a knife out of his hands so he wouldn’t hurt himself.

When I first moved to Arizona 12 years ago, I remember passing a billboard for a sign that made a divorce look like it was so easy you could go out and get one as if you were running to the store for milk and bread.  I thought it was insulting to marriage in general.  How disposable our society has become!  But here I was, in the same business 12 years later, and it was as easy as it sounded.  Just a few signatures later and voila!  Over.  A girlfriend came with me that day.  We entered the building that looked like it hadn’t had an update since 1987.  I gave the pertinent information and they advised me to return the next day once the paperwork was printed up.  I went on my lunch break the next day with the same girlfriend.  We sat in a room in front of desk that showed no sign of any personal aspects.  Just a cold plain room with an old newspaper clipping from 1996 mounted on a faded frame exulting the business to be made off of divorces.  I found it a bit insulting.

After realizing the paperwork printed was incorrect and waiting for the correct paperwork to be printed, I sat in the room and had this feeling of dread.  There was a deja vu feeling.  When had I felt this way before?  I remembered bringing Monsoon to the vet for the final time a little over two years ago.  I remember holding her precious ill body to my heart for the last time knowing that at any moment the vet tech was going to come in and take her from me for the last time.  That is how it felt.  In moments a woman was going to arrive with the correct paperwork and would end my marriage.  Ironically enough, on the day of the vets the ex couldn’t be there because he was working.  So he said.  Finding a charge on the bank statement a few months later revealed where he really was that day.  Heartless.

The door finally opened and a too cheerful of a woman arrived and set the paperwork in front of me to review and sign.  She commented on our handbags.  When she left I told my friend that they were way too happy for this.  She agreed.  In tears I signed the paperwork.  My heart felt so broken but on the way back to work I started to feel like a weight was taken off my shoulders.  He received the papers this past week and he took it better than I thought.

Anyway, in these past two years I have discovered so much about myself.  I’ve become an avid hiker and kayaker.  My attitude is so much healthier and I have met some wonderful people.  I’ve also weeded out some negative ones as well.  It was time.  Perhaps beyond time.  I talked to my Dad this past week.  He told me he was proud of me and that it was time I dream BIG.  Sound advice.

I look forward to getting back to blogging and reading blogs.

Cruising the Past, Propelling Into the Future

Two posts in two days?  Hey, I am on a roll!  I so miss this!

In yesterday’s post I briefly mentioned my new bike which I picked up on my birthday after months of lay away.

 It had been at least 20 years since I had ridden a bike.  I was a bit frightened at the thought of trying to ride again after all these years.  Would I forget?  Heck, would I need training wheels?  On that first hot Saturday in April I took a deep breath, clamored onto this pink metal contraption complete with bell and basket and pushed myself into the street away from the safe harbor of the driveway.  I pedaled about and practiced going in circles in the cul-de-sac until the neighbors thought I had gone mad.

I was doing it!  After all these years I was doing it!  In an instant I went from 44 to about 7.  Suddenly all these memories of riding a bike as a child came back to me in a solid rush.  My first bike was a Huffy.  I believe it was purple with a flowered banana seat.  I had a bell and basket then, too.  Some things you never outgrow, nor should you.  I remembered my Dad removing the training wheels one summer night.  “Pedal, pedal,” he shouted to me.   Okay, I did end up losing control and crashing into a wagon full of youngster being pulled by their parents.  I sometimes wonder if those former children in my Boston neighborhood remember that incident (or have spent years in counseling).

Having a bike meant freedom.  Sweet freedom.  I raced around the neighborhood with my best friend (she is still my best friend after all these years) and we searched for the ice cream man.  We didn’t wear helmets.  That was unheard of in that time.  Somehow we survived into adulthood.

Back to that hot birthday night. . .

I road down to the canals and went up and down until the sun was only a faint memory in the sky.  As it got darker I headed back to my neighborhood and road near the local park.  A group played volleyball in the greenway and there was just this certain sense of peace over the whole neighborhood, over the whole evening.  A slight breeze blew my hair back and rinsed over my skin.  My gosh, I had forgotten how that felt!  Who would have thought something so simple as a bike ride would conjure up memories and thoughts.  Even the sound of the chain churning as I pedaled drew out a certain deja vu from the depths of my memory.

Earlier in the week my boss, who is about my age, asked me if life in my 40s is what I thought about in my 20s.  This was a very interesting question. During that bike ride that birthday evening I started compiling a list in my mind of the things I’ve done in my 40s.  I never thought that far ahead in my 20s, truth be told.  Here’s what I came up with.

I never thought I would:

  • live in Arizona
  • ride a bike
  • run races
  • be a blonde!
  • speak Spanish (not as well as I used to  –I’ll never be fluent)
  • lift weights
  • have the same amazing people in my life as I did back in my 20s
  • have a job I absolutely adore
  • do 50 guy push-ups (let alone 1 push up!)
  • own a cute little stucco house with a Spanish tiled roof
  • wear a bikini
  • blog (4 years now)
  • be this happy on my own

So that’s it.  If I sat here long enough I could probably think of more things.  What about you?  What are some of the things in your life that you are doing/have done that you would have never thought you’d do in your younger years?  Do tell!

Witnessing A Comeback and Some Other Stuff

Last Saturday afternoon I took my mother-in-law to lunch.  Let me tell you that she has made an incredible bounce back from the death of her husband of almost 50 years this past June.  I arrived to find that the house and surrounding walls had been painted a bright cheerful yellow.  While my MIL got ready I sat and chatted with SIL1 who has been living there for the past several weeks.  Apparently they are headed to San Diego next week for a few days to get out of the heat.   SIL1 also let me know that MIL had purchased a bathing suit so that she could start taking water aerobic classes at the YMCA.  She is also going to be involved in a Silver Sneakers group which is exercise for the elderly.  I was so happy for her!  Later on in the day I mentioned to hubby that his Mom had purchased the bathing suit and he couldn’t believe it.  Even throughout the day he kept asking, “My Mom really purchased a bathing suit?”

Once at the restaurant MIL said she wanted to order a salad.  Where salads are all SIL1 is eating these days to meet her weight loss goals, I asked MIL  if she was trying to lose weight, too.  No, she said, I am perfect the way I am.   Indeed she is.

Hubby and I had talked about bringing MIL to Boston at some point.  When I brought it up to her, her only questions was, when?  So next spring/summer sometime I may bring her back with me.  She has never traveled that far north.  She asked if we could go to the beach.  I said we could go wherever she wants.  We are really seeing a side to MIL that we haven’t seen before and inside I couldn’t help but think, “You go girl!”

Saturday night was the birthday party that I had written about before where there was an issue with tickets being purchased before anyone knew there were tickets, etc…  Well, hubby ended up having to work so I went and met Athletica there.  We had all agreed to meet at 8pm in order to grab a free table.  I arrived about 7:45pm and Athletica arrived shortly thereafter.  As it turns out there were no tables to be had as they had already been reserved.  We each got a drink and then waited for the birthday girl to arrive.  8pm turned into 9pm and still no birthday girl.  We decided to head down to the hotel lounge and get another drink and an appetizer.  At 10pm I still hadn’t heard from the birthday girl.  I texted her that we were waiting over at the lounge.  At 10:40pm I got a text back from her saying she had just arrived at the party.  ???? 

After finishing our drinks, appetizers and a huge honking piece of chocolate cake, Athletica decided to call it a night.  I can’t say that I blame her.  I went back into the party and searched both ballrooms to see if I could find the birthday girl and her entourage.  I was just about to leave when I spotted her on the dance floor.  I stayed for about a half hour and left.  Between the misunderstanding with the ticket costs and also the waiting around I was really disappointed.  However, the place was beautiful.  I will say that.  There are some great resorts out here that I never frequent out of the simple fact that I live here.  The lounge was gorgeous, too, with a carved mahogany bar and all.  I wouldn’t mind going back there for drinks again.

Work has been going well.  I was able to hire two new contractors and one has already done some work for a client.  He is amazing.  The contractor that quit is finishing up projects from a few clients from a while back and then that should be the end of it.  He has been emailing my boss any of his completed work and has also kept me out of any conversations with our clients as well which makes it a bit difficult when a client calls with a question or a concern and I have no idea what they are talking about.  My boss has been forwarding me the correspondence which all seems kind of juvenile.  It makes me think of when my two sisters and I would be angry at each other while growing up and one would tell the other to tell me something even though I was right there.  I asked my boss if the contractor in question was upset about something else now and he said he didn’t think so.  Luckily this contractor only has three more clients to complete work for and he’ll be out of my hair forever.  

Last week I completed my first writing assignment and sent it off to the client.  I’m really excited about this.  Getting paid for it, too, was even more exciting.  I’ve been waiting for feedback from this client but he has been out of town.  I can hardly wait for the next.

In Remembrance. . .

My father-in-law was born in a small Texas mining town that is no longer in existence.  He was one of 17 children.  Shortly after his birth in 1935 his family moved back to Juarez, Mexico where they were originally from.
At 17 years old he and a cousin decided to come to the United States to work.  In those days there was no border patrol.  Right before he was about to reach the US border, his father caught up with him and it was then that he found out that he was already a US citizen.  His father gave him the proper papers for proof. 
He established a life for himself in El Paso, TX and then returned to Mexico to marry his long time sweetheart who then accompanied him back to El Paso where they raised a family of 5 children.
He was ordained a minister at their church and later on became an elder at the same church.  He avoided the limelight and was not comfortable with preaching in front of a large crowd.  His faith was unprecedented.  He was accepting and loving to all.
He was an uneducated man, having completed only up to the third grade but he had a PhD in common sense.  His childhood years were spent mainly working in concrete with his father and brothers. 
While they lived in Texas, they were very involved in providing refuge to those that were experiencing the turmoil of South America in the 1970s and 80s.  It was not uncommon for their simple adobe house to have up to 40 people sleeping on floors and wherever they could find room.  My father-in-law felt that it was his duty to protect these people despite that fact that he could have easily been arrested for doing so.  He was a courageous man and took many risks to help those in need.
Throughout the years he raised horses and other farm animals.  Many of the horses were purchased by the local police department after he had broken in and trained them.    
While there are conflicting stories of how they came to be in Phoenix, one of them is that they were driving back to Texas after visiting family in California and the car broke down along I-10.  They thought Phoenix looked like a nice place to live so they stayed. 
In addition to his wife of almost 50 years, he leaves behind two sons and three daughters, twelve grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  He was a blessing to all that knew him and he touched many many lives throughout his own life.  Some of those lives he may have even saved at this risk of his own life.  He is and will forever be greatly missed.

Hubby's Family - Idaho, 1969



Saturday afternoon I was sitting with my family watching my niece’s softball game taking place somewhere in southern Ohio when something told me to check my cellphone.  My husband had texted me and I also had a missed call.  His father was not going to make it.  The family was all gathered at the hospital to say their goodbyes.  I called my husband and he tearfully told me what was going on.  He was waiting his turn to talk to his Dad for the final time.  I told him to tell his Dad thank you from me.  Later in the evening when I called back my father-in-law had passed.  Although he didn’t appear conscious I was told that after each person came into the room for the final time he would squeeze their hand in acknowledgement.  My husband took a cellphone picture of his mother sitting by the hospital bed holding his Dad’s hand.  I’m not sure what compelled him to take a picture at such an intimate moment but regardless he did and sent it to me in Ohio.  It was beautiful and sad at the same time.  His Mom clearly did not know this was taken and I caught a glimpse of a woman whose face was filled with love and sadness as she held the hand of the man she has been married to for nearly 50 years.

My husband has been holding up okay.  The funeral is this Friday and I can’t imagine this will be an easy day for anyone.  My in-law’s church has been very helpful in visiting my mother-in-law and preparing meals.   Yesterday morning she had visitors at the house also from the church.  There is a family friend who was over with his wife.  The man started to talk about how after three months that grief going to hit her hard because that is what happened to him after the loss of a parent.  I could see her chin start to quiver and I really wanted to tell this guy to keep quiet.  While I’m sure his intentions were true, she is overwhelmed as it is.  She doesn’t need that right now as she is going to have to get used to life without her partner.  I suppose people don’t really know what to say at these times.  When my bestfriend’s husband died a few years ago I remember her telling me that a co-worker of hers told her that she knew exactly what she was going through.  When my friend inquired the co-worker told her she had been through a divorce.  I told her that the person probably just didn’t want her to feel alone in her grief.  That of course, could be a complete guess on my part.  In truth, no one knows what to say. 

So, its been a busy week here.  Family is coming up from Mexico and Texas, and a few members will be staying at our house.  Next week some time I will right about my father-in-law and his life.  He was such an interesting person and I could not have asked for a better father-in-law.  He had complete faith in God and had no fears whatsoever when it came to his life ending.  He will be greatly missed.  Vaya con Dios.



Facing the Twilight

Hubby with his Dad – El Paso, TX – 1974

This past Sunday hubby’s Dad was admitted into the hospital.  He has lost the use of his arms and legs, and had fallen the night before. 

While we’ve known that his condition has gradually been deteriorating over this past year, we are losing hope that he will make it out this time.  Over the past couple of days he has lost his ability to swallow and he has had a feeding tube inserted.  Things are not looking good.
Hubby seems to be handling things okay but is really struggling with all of this.  He told me the other night that he just didn’t know how to be or how to feel. 
He’s never been through this before. 
At this point it may only be a few days before he passes.  He is 76.  In spite of everything though he has not lost his sense of humor and even joked with the family about them just strapping a steak to his butt to heal him.  Just like applying a steak to a black eye I suppose. 
Well, he is surrounded by so many people who love him.  He has many grandchildren and now several great grandchildren.  We will miss him terribly.
My question though is this: how do you help a grieving spouse?  Men grieve so much more differently than woman do.  I’m trying to just take my queues from Hubby’s reactions to this.  For instance, give him space when he needs it and then back away when he needs it, etc…  I know Flamingo Dancer went through this not too long ago with her father-in-law.  Anybody have any advice?
Hubby’s birthday is this weekend and then next weekend of course is Father’s Day.  Although the timing stinks, is there ever really a time that is right?