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.

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Update on Thursday

Its been somewhat of a whirlwind around these parts since returning from Florida almost a month ago.  I have found myself to be incredibly busy both at work and at home.  Although it does make the days go by incredibly fast I’m hoping that things will slow down a bit going forward.

We have a camping trip planned soon and I’m really starting to look forward to that.  My MIL is coming with us again so I hope she will enjoy herself just as much as she did when she came for the big Labor Day weekend trip.  We will be heading up to the mountains where the highs during the day will be in the 50s and the lows will be in the 20s.  Brrrr!  This will also be Smokey’s first camping trip.  I hope she will do okay.  My main concern is that she is warm enough.  I did find a ferret jacket (yeah, they do make and sell them believe or not) but I’m not sure if she would keep it on.

  Here it is.  It’s kind of cute but I admit feeling kind of silly.  I mean, come on.  A jacket for a ferret?  Anyway, shipping cost almost as much as the jacket itself so I think I might just take an old sock and cut some holes for her front legs and head.  And of course she won’t care what all the ferrets in Paris are wearing this Fall.  She’s kind of like her Mom that way.

Recently I read online about a girl who takes her ferrets everywhere.  She had been on vacation at a lake somewhere and she had pictures of her ferrets out and about on the lawn and running beside the lake.  She was also in a little row-boat with her husband and ferrets when the ferrets decided to jump in for a swim.  She jumped in after them and they all swam the rest of the way to the shore (not sure how far away from the shore they were).  People had asked her if she was concerned for her animals.  There are predators in the sky and just so many things ferrets can get into.  She said that she felt that she needed to take some risks with them because they can’t be cooped up in the house all day.  Their lives are so short that they need to get out. 

This really stuck with me.  Monsoon was very sheltered.  I don’t think I have ever kept such a close careful eye on any of my pets like I did with Monsoon.  Smokey has started accompanying us on our early morning weekend walks.  The first weekend I tried it with her she kept slipping out of her harness so I had to hold her most of the way.  This past weekend I found a harness that fits well around her skinny little body and that seem to do the trick.  She would follow behind me until she heard a dog bark or a rooster crow.  Then she would freeze and I’d have to carry her for a while.  I’m excited that she is going to experience camping.  While I will still keep a close eye on her I feel good about bringing her out to different places for her to explore.  I want her to experience different smells and to be able to dig in the dirt if she chooses.

Out For A Walk

This Saturday there is another 5k race which will be the first of the season.  The last one I did was down in Tucson on a crazy hot night back in early June.  I don’t feel particularly prepared for this one so we’ll see how it goes.  This one I did a year ago and a part of it is uphill.  Athletica has been training like mad for all these upcoming races.  She has been getting up at 4am to run 8 miles each morning before work. 

While I absolutely love my job, I seem to have entered into a strange phase.  There has been a lot of back tracking lately on certain things.  A few weeks ago I transposed a number in a client’s phone number that was listed on at least 100+ pages of documentation I had given him.  This resulted in having to have the client come back in with all his paperwork while I restapled the page with the corrected number back into the packet.  Luckily this error was only on the last page and not somewhere in the middle.  Another client wanted changes to a document but I was able to talk her out of it luckily as it was in her best interest to leave things ‘as is’.  And yet another client wanted extensive changes to a document that our contractor wasn’t happy about.  In this case the client was in the right.  These are all normal things that happen.  It just seems like lately there have been lots of fires to put out.  It’s definitely keeping me on my toes!

The weather here has been beautiful.  The days are still warm, with temps hovering around 100 degrees, but the nights are just gorgeous.  The winter comforter hasn’t made its way back to the bed yet but I have had to throw an extra blanket on to feel comfortable.  One thing I notice is that in October the light really starts to change.  While we don’t have many trees here to witness Fall foliage on, the evening sun casts an orange glow on the mountains surrounding the city and everything for a few glorious moments appears to be golden.  So beautiful and so different.  It can only be Fall in the desert.

Two girlfriends of mine will be visiting in a few weeks from back east.  One is coming to attend a conference and the other heard we were getting together and wanted to come, too.  The first one is the same friend I met in Florida a few weeks ago.  We’ve been friends since second grade.  It’s kind of funny that we hadn’t seen each other in 4 years and now we will have seen each other twice in a matter of months.  The other girlfriend I have known since highschool.  She is flying in from Boston. 

The plan is to go down to Tombstone and Bisbee, AZ for sightseeing, and then head over to Sonoita for the wine tastings.  We will most likely do a ghost tour in Tombstone which is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the US.  While the paranormal aspect of it is interesting, what I like about these tours is learning the history of a place and also some of the local folklore.   

Halloween is right around the corner.  We have no plans for any parties.  Most of our friends have kids so the concentration tends to be more on kid related activities.  I am,  however, sitting outside with my next-door neighbor to pass out candy to the kids.  We may dress up.  We haven’t decided yet.  Last year we forewent our yearly Halloween activity because she was working.  The tradition is that we set up a table for snacks for us and whatever adult wants to join us, and then we drink pumpkin beer out of plastic cups (we want to at least give the impression that we are responsible adults).  In the early days of our Halloween get togethers in her driveway, we didn’t disguise our beer bottles.  One year a parent grabbed his kid’s pillow case and held it open in hopes we would drop a beer in it.  We all got a good laugh over that.  In later years we thought it best to place it in plastic cups so kids coming over for candy would have a hopefully better image of their neighbor ladies. 

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.

Friday Update

Things have finally settled down and we are getting ourselves back to normal.  Work has settled down, too which is always good.  I can’t really complain.  I work in a very peaceful setting with not a whole heck of a lot of people so I suppose a small upheaval helps to keep one on their toes.  The up side of all of this is that I was able to take on a separate writing job at my current workplace which is just great.  I will be paid by each document completed and where I love to write anyways it’ll be a bonus.  So that is the silver lining there.  🙂

Today I learned an important lesson on being clear with people.  A girlfriend of mine mentioned early last month that she was having a party for her birthday.  She asked a few of my friends to go and at that time they agreed.  So. . . a few weeks later the same friend having the party calls and says she has purchased tickets for all of us.  I was perplexed by this.  As it turns out she had decided to have her party at a hotel that was already hosting an event.  This part was left out.  Now two of the friends that were going to go have backed out.  I had no idea that this would be a paying event and neither did the friends she had me invite.  So now the friends have backed out and although I have a taker for one of the tickets she has made it clear that I am expected to pay for the extra one.  Luckily it is only $15 and not, say, $60.  So my friends, my lesson for the day is to be very clear and upfront about my understanding of the details of any event.  I will not let a mere $15 get between a friendship and I will let it slide.  This is a lesson learned. 

Well, I booked a ticket today to go to Florida to see my best friend in September.  We have not seen each in over three years now.  I am flying into the Tampa area and then we are driving to the Atlantic side to stay at my aunt’s condo on the beach near St. Augustine.  I cannot wait!  St. Augustine is just the perfect place for a girl’s weekend.  There’s a place for wine tasting plus just some great bars and restaurants.  Last time I visited I got a tattoo.  Who knows?  Maybe its time for another one.  (hubby may have something to say about that!)

  The other night I did a little bit of shopping with another girlfriend of mine who needed an outfit for the same party I wrote about above.  I’ve been on the hunt for a new bathing suit as the one I have is almost a decade old and is stretched out and fading.  I’ve been avoiding this task for a while but where I had arrived 30 minutes early to the store I thought, what the heck.  I’ll take my chances and try one on.  Well, it was a success.  I haven’t worn a 2-piece since my 20s and it was quite rewarding to put that sucker on and actually feel good in it (after driving all the way to the other side of town with no a/c in my car it also felt good to be semi-naked, truth be told).  When you’ve gone from a BMI (body mass index) of obese to a BMI of normal it is definitely an accomplishment.

Well, that is it in a nutshell.  Have a great weekend!

Dilemma

I have to write to get this off my chest.  I have a very good friend who has been quite generous the past couple years when my husband was laid off from his job.  While I know I’ll never be able to repay her for her kindness, I feel like I should be giving more back now.  At Christmastime she gave me a beautiful new jacket that I had my eye on.  I had mentioned to her in the Fall that for Christmas I would like to treat us both to massages.  As we came into December my husband announced that he would not be getting paid for the two weeks around the holidays.  In an effort to budget things I asked my friend if she would mind if we did the massages after the holidays.  She was fine with that.

I scheduled the massages for the latter part of last month.  During this month we had several unexpected things come up.  Both hubby’s and my vehicles needed repair and then the Weasel got sick.  Her vet bills were astronomically high.  It hit me a few days before the massages that I couldn’t pay for both.  I called the therapist and canceled mine but paid in advance for my friend.  I was relieved and disappointed at the same time.  I’m not the type to back out of things once planned but I knew I couldn’t do it.  Besides, it was a gift to her that I wanted her to have.   I did have a feeling though that if I backed out that she would too. 

On the day of the massages I emailed her and said that I wouldn’t be able to make it but she was all set to go.  I had prepaid with tip so all she had to do was show up.  She wrote back and asked what was wrong.  Did I want to reschedule for a day we both could do it, etc…  I said nothing was wrong and I said I just needed to wait before I treated myself.  That’s all.  Well, she did cancel.  I just felt so bad.  Maybe I shouldn’t but this person has helped me out so much that I’ve actually had to tell her that I was starting to feel like I was taking advantage of her.  This was something I wanted to do for her.  Here it is February and where is her Christmas gift? 

Anyways, maybe I’m overreacting.  I feel like she has been way more generous to me than I have to her the past couple of years.  That’s what I feel guilty about.

Some People’s Children

Today I drove to work like I usually do.  I was stopped at a light when I heard the car next to me beep and the driver, a man in his mid-50s or so, motioned for me to roll down the window.  I was expecting to be told that my blinker or brake lights were out or something.  Instead this is what he said:

“Do you want to keep your car?”

I’m thinking, is this an offer to buy my car?  I’ve had my eye on one of those cool new numbers that are built to look like the classic muscle cars.  So then I repeat back his words in my most ‘what in tarnation are you talking about’ voice:

“Do I want to keep my car?”

Then he asks why I jumped in front of him.  I clearly have no idea what he is talking about but at some point en route I must have cut him off and now he is letting me know.  He wasn’t mean about it.  He was actually quite calm which may have thrown me at first.  I said I was sorry but I had no idea that I had even done that.  It certainly wasn’t my intent.  He nodded his head and rolled his window up.  “Sorry sir,” I threw in for good measure.

So now it has me wondering if I really almost caused a catastrophe on the street or if I just had a run in with someone who really needed coffee.  I noticed he was driving a white car and I have to ask dear friends, if any of you have ever had issues with seeing white cars.   For some reason I just don’t notice them.  My depth perception is off.  It’s like a reverse color blindness.  Does this happen to any of you? 

This called to mind a cartoon character from my youth, Mr Magoo.  Anybody remember him?  😉

The Evolution of Friendship

 The past couple years have been interesting.  Its like there is a revolving door with some people entering while others exit.  My husband and I have been married for almost five years.  In the early years of our marriage we often had friends over for barbecues in the backyard.  These were rather large affairs with our last guests sometimes departing at 3am or later (or earlier, depending on how you look at it).  

We’ve both been through so many changes between our work life during the past two years.  I was always the girl that had to be doing something.  Hubby likes to stay in.  I like to go out.  I used to always be the one to plan the office get togethers.  It had even earned me the title ‘Queen Bee’.  People actually  started coming to me to find out what was going on after work at one point.

As my husband and I entered our 40s, something definitely changed.  There seems to be more of a craving for solitude these days than anything else.  I do believe the change came when the economy took a downturn.  Our efforts went from ‘who will we have over for drinks this weekend’ to ‘lets develop a game plan on how we’ll pay the mortgage this month.’  I don’t think I realized how dependent I was, or how whole I felt when I was surrounded by people.  Little did I realize then that time alone was really was what I needed –not necessarily wanted.

Lately though I’ve been in really deep thought about how friendships evolve.  I have a few best friends from childhood that I know we will always be a part of each other’s lives for as long as we live.  Then there are those that you meet randomly through other friends or through a job.  These seem to be the friends that are only there for a season.  I still have a framed picture of myself with two girlfriends on a trip to Mexico during the summer of 2002.  That was one of the last times I had seen either.  Then, new job and new friends.  The cycle repeats.  Looking back makes me feel like an archeologist excavating layers of my life and friendships.  I don’t know why some stay while others go.  And yet it works both ways; why do I hold onto some while others I let float away? 

I have a friend who is generous and kind.  She really has helped out with some kind words and advice and just all around good deeds the past year while my husband was laid off from work several times.  However, now that things are getting better, I noticed that the distance between she and I seems to be growing.  We used to email each other several times during the day and now I’m lucky if I get a response.  I have found a few times when I talk about something positive that’s happened then she retorts with something negative.   I don’t get that.  Is it possible that my vulnerability in the first place is what made me seem like an attractive friend to her?  Or is it that people come into our lives for a reason and for a season?  Maybe this season is turning.

In my late 20s I met a man named Robert.  Robert and I became instant best friends.  It was a strictly plutonic relationship.  He still lives in Boston, where I’m from originally, too, and although we hadn’t talked like we used to, we are the type of friends that can pick up where we left off.  My husband met Robert a few years ago over Guinesses on a visit back east.  Much to my happiness, they hit it off like they too were old friends.  Last Friday Robert called while I was at work.  We started in on a conversation that we both were quite familiar with; his love life.  There was a deju vu to this conversation.  A different woman but the same problem.  Suddenly I am back in that three-decker Boston apartment, haunted as all get out, with my feet propped up against the old farmer’s chair.  The familiarity, the whole volley of our speech, is like it is engrained to every thread of my being.  These friends are the types of people that hold lives together.  

Last week I went into my Facebook account and took inventory.  Anyone local who I had not spoken to outside of a computer in more than a year I cut lose.  It was beginning to get a bit awkward.  So do I still comment on their status even if we don’t talk?  I just cut the cord.  It took a long time to do because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the end it just felt right.  I was beginning to feel like a stranger observing the lives of others I used to know who were now becoming strangers themselves.

Tuesday evening Robert called again.  He was actually crying this time.  Another old friend of ours has been battling cancer.  Although I hadn’t seen this friend as well in years, I still could never bring myself to delete his number out of my cell.  I broke down and cried, too.  “Why is it we let go of a good friend,” Robert cried.  “Why do we let this happen and lose touch?  Can’t we just pick up the phone?” 

“You’re right,” I said, through my tears.  “We are all guilty of it.” 

The next day I texted Robert to see how he was.  He had a date scheduled with a girl he just met and promised to let me know how things work out.  I started thinking again about how some friends were moving out and some were now moving in, and I felt this hole that was beginning to form in the fabric of my friendships close again.  When I opened up Facebook that afternoon, I saw that Robert had joined and had sent me a ‘Friend Request.’ 

I gladly accepted.