Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waffle House Love

Our first date was at a Waffle House. After he drove 2,829 miles to reach me, I figured that buying him some waffles and hash browns--scattered, smothered, and covered--was the least I could do.

As far as first dates go, ours was pretty unique. We’d known each other for less than four months and only through phone conversations and emails. This was the first time we’d met face to face, and despite what should have been an awkward situation, everything about that moment felt just right.
The smell of bacon and stale coffee punctuated our conversation, and the only thing that interrupted our focus on each other was the occasional visit from our waitress. I think we were both in shock that we were together, in shock that we’d gone through with what any rational person would have called crazy.
We met online. We hadn’t been looking for each other, but you always seem to find the things you need even when you’re not looking. He lived in California; me in Georgia. But little things like distance weren’t going to keep us apart.
Our unique courtship was fast, too fast by some standards, but for us, it was perfect.  For four months, we spent nearly every waking moment talking to each other, learning each other’s quirks, falling in love even before we had the chance to lay eyes on one another.
Concerned friends desperately tried to talk me out of love, citing any number of very good and rational reasons why our relationship wouldn’t work. They worried that he was playing a game with me, that he was using me, that he was some random murderer bent on killing me. I listened patiently to their concerns; if the shoe had been on the other foot, I would have been the one voicing those concerns…but this was different. This was real, and I knew that in my heart.
I’m probably the least impulsive person you’ll ever meet. I always overanalyze and overthink every situation in my life. I always look before I leap. Every time, except this time. This time I let my heart do the thinking. I trusted that we were meant to be. Because we were. What other explanation could possibly be found for a typically cautious, withdrawn woman to throw away rational thought and do something so out-of-character and insane?
There is none, except that it was meant to be….much like that first date at the Waffle House was meant to be.
It wasn’t fancy, but it was us. I remember just how the sunlight filtered in on our table, how the engagement ring that he’d slipped on my finger the moment we met glinted in that brilliant light. I remember tilting my hand this way and that just to watch it sparkle. I remember thinking that this was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. I remember the happiness consuming me.
Happiness still consumes me nearly six years later. Jeremy and I are married now. We celebrate our fifth anniversary in October. We’re not perfect, by any means. We fight. We get on each other’s nerves. But we’re deliriously happy, and we love our life together with all of its quirks, the four cats that surround us, and those lovely dates at Waffle House. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Me and My Shadow

Daddy and Me
His boots would be sitting by the door; a day's work of sawdust and clay settled on them like the dusting of a first snow. They always fascinated me, those boots. I would silently watch him put them on sometimes, deft, weathered hands moving in a muscle memory dance that would always conquer that complex system of laces and hooks.

But he wouldn't have them on tonight. They would be sitting by the door, a reminder of obligation and worry that held no place in this nightly ritual.

He would have on a pair of boat shoes, shoes that I'd slipped my own small feet into a thousand times, and if his boots represented work and obligation, those boat shoes represented freedom and happiness.

After scooping up some kibble and tossing it into a bucket, we'd make our nightly trek through the backyard, up to the hill where Barney the basset hound would be waiting patiently for his meal. Our journey there would not be ordinary, and it would always be ours.

I'd follow beside him, my smaller steps matching his larger ones in a perfect rhythm, a Daddy-and-Daughter dance always with the same soundtrack.

He'd sing, "Me and my shadow, strolling down the avenue, do de do, do de do."

Every night. Just the same. The sun would be setting, and our shadows would stretch before us, tall and silly, as silly as he and I, singing and strolling and sharing that time together when boat shoes and a basset hound could chase our worries away.

I'm still my Daddy's shadow, always following in his much larger footsteps and remembering that no matter how old I get that will always be true.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Too Much

Crying in the Lowe's parking lot for fifteen minutes over a dead goose will really make you reassess your sensitivity levels. I didn't know the goose. I didn't know her family. And yet, there I sat, body wracking with uncontrollable sobs, overcome with emotion and unable to stop picturing that damn, dead goose.

I figure she had a family. She and her little suburban flock have long been a part of my local landscape. Their lake is a small one that's cut in half by a four-lane highway and surrounded by perfect little subdivision houses.

She and her flock made daily (sometimes hourly) pilgrimages from one side of the lake to the other, defying death and speeding Volkswagens for God only knows what reason. A flock of geese waddling across a four-lane highway has its way of slowing down traffic, but every now and then, when driving past the lake, you'll see a poor soul who has been mowed down by some careless driver.

The poor soul I saw this last time when driving by the lake threw me for quite a loop.

The tears didn't start immediately. No, we were well on our way to Lowe's and nearly to the other side of town when the dam finally broke. I kept picturing the goose and her family. I kept remembering that Canada geese mate for life. I kept wondering what her poor mate would do when he realized she was gone.

I don't know why but that solitary goose nearly broke my heart.

I realize that I felt too much in those moments in the parking lot, husband awkwardly patting my leg and telling me it would be alright, Lowe's customers curiously peering into our car at the sobbing crazy lady.

I realize that I feel too much in a lot of situations.

Whenever I think of my hypersensitivity to situations and people, I always think of that scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch's heart grows three sizes. It becomes so big that it nearly bursts out of the frame.

                                                                             Source: google.com via Tifanie on Pinterest

Yeah, that's my heart. It's too big, too soft, and I feel too much. Too much pain. Too much sadness. Too much passion. Too much anger. Too much everything.

This is both good and bad.

Good, when I need to throw my entire heart into something.

Bad, when I cry over a dead goose.

Sometimes I really do wish I didn't always feel too much, especially when the pain is nearly unbearable, but in spite of that, I don't think I'd change my big, soft heart for anything in the world, because even though it's sometimes strange, even though it's usually oversensitive, even though it causes me plenty of trouble, I kind of think it's pretty special.

Hanging out with the pretty special folks at yeah write; won't you join us?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gone with the Rain

"Please, please, please don't go out there." 

Jeremy was doing a fine job of ignoring my pleas or maybe he couldn't hear them. In fact, it was raining so hard that he literally may not have been able to hear them.

That must be it. 

So, naturally I turned up the volume. "You're crazy for going out there! You're either going to get struck by lightning or blown away by a huge gust of wind. This is not a smart move."

He was busy putting on his shoes at this point, but he did take a moment to glance up at me, give me "that look" (you know, the one that says, 'you're being ridiculous'), and tried to appease me with a hasty, "Oh, I'll be fine."

I was not to be appeased. He got up from the couch, picked up his jacket, and headed for the door. And of course, I did what any level-headed, reasonable woman would do; I grabbed hold of his arm and clung like a burr. 

He sighed. "Katie, I'll be fine."

But I had a feeling that he wouldn't. Just one of those gut feelings. 

It was just a summer downpour. I knew that. I knew that probably the worst that could happen was that he would get drenched and track puddles of water all over the house. 

Or that he could get struck by lightning. Or blown away. 

Reluctantly, I loosened my hold on his arm, and just like that, he was gone. Out into the thunderstorm. Risking life and limb. All in the name of...

...a tomato plant. 

Our little garden was taking a beating from the summer storm. One of the tomato plants had collapsed with a particularly strong gust of wind. And Jeremy, my foolish hero, was charging into the breach to save it. 

As I waited for him to either return or drown in the rain, I paced back and forth, rang my hands, twisted my hair. Minutes seemed to pass, then hours. My entire life was moving in slow motion. 

He was back in less than five minutes, looking smug and completely soaked. We both went to look out the back window at his handy work, and it took everything I had to keep from laughing when we saw the tomato had already collapsed again. 

Poor, smug, drenched Jeremy. 

He had defied death, and his efforts had been in vain. He couldn't just listen to his wife and wait for the storm to pass. Nope, he had to save it then, in the middle of a monsoon, just to watch it fall over again. 

After fighting the urge to tell him "I told you so" a couple of dozen times, we settled back onto the couch to watch television and enjoy the rain from inside. Ten minutes hadn't even passed since our short-lived afternoon drama, when Jeremy said, "Huh."

Still focused on the TV, I absentmindedly asked him what was up, to which he replied:

"My ring is gone."

Which was the cue for scene two of our increasingly dramatic performance to begin. 

Yep, Jeremy's wedding ring was missing. It had come off when he was failing to save that poor, little tomato plant. It was now probably floating down the river that had replaced my backyard, never to be seen nor heard from again. 

Now, in addition to being a bit of a drama queen, I also happen to be very superstitious, especially when it comes to symbols, especially when it comes to symbols that were supposed to represent the unending circle of our love, especially when it comes to symbols that cost a whole lot of money. 

Logically, I knew a ring could easily be replaced, with a layaway plan and a good chunk of our savings, but I couldn't help but keep picturing that ring as the ring I slipped on his finger on our wedding day, the ring that meant so much to both of us. 

After some cursory panic, some tossing of couch pillows and bed sheets to make sure the ring wasn’t inside the house, Jeremy rushed back into the storm to look for it.

He made two trips.

Nothing. And so, I did what any level-headed, reasonable woman who knows her husband stinks at looking for anything would do, I threw on a rain jacket and bravely tracked down that missing ring…after the rain slacked.

And sure enough, after five seconds of real searching, I located it amongst some blades of grass, waiting patiently to be found.

Next time, I feel sure that Jeremy will wait for the storm to pass before rushing out to save a tomato plant. Next time, I feel sure that he’ll listen to his wife.


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Friendship Oak

Probably a maple tree but the closest thing I had in my picture album.
From beneath the shade of the ancient oak tree, the child separated herself from the world around her. In some ways, it was a self-exile, a way of escaping a world that was often cruel and hard to understand, but in truth, the truth that lay in the darkest corners of the child’s heart, the separation was a painful one.

For some, friendship came easy. Girls with perfect pink dresses and overflowing wells of self-confidence skipped along the playground, chatting and giggling and owning recess with their entire beings.

For her, friendship was a constant battle. She latched on to those popular girls with their perfect pink dresses, worshiping them as princesses and fueling their already secure self-esteem. Some days, the days when they needed her around, they would welcome her into their inner-circle, make her feel a part of their secret world. Other days, as if she were a pesky fly, they would swat her away, uninterested in her shy, bookish ways, unconcerned about her feelings and her paper-thin heart.

And so, she made friends with the squirrels and the occasional stray cat…and of course, the ancient oak with its loving branches and its reassuring shade.

The gnarled roots of the tree reached up from the ground and provided not only a cradle for the child but also an imaginary world where she could cook acorn stews and dance with magical fairies. From its comforting embrace, she would watch the other children and wish for someone to come by and steal away her loneliness.

And sometimes, someone would. A fellow loner, or a girl in a perfect pink dress looking for a side-kick. They would flit in and out of her life and her solitary playground world, but none of them lasted as long as the oak.

The oak saw her through happiness, sadness, good days and bad. The oak was her friend, her confidant, her source of joy and comfort.

The oak still stands in that quiet spot beside the playground, still sheltering shy and lonely children, still bringing a sense of friendship to those who may not otherwise feel it.

The child who loved the oak eventually grew up, leaving behind the playground and the ghosts who haunted it.

But she still lives within my heart. She still struggles with her shy nature. She still befriends the confident, popular girls in need of a sidekick. She still climbs trees and loves animals. In many ways, she’s still that same child who played beneath the oak, longing for friendship and struggling with insecurity.

Sometimes, I still feel trapped on that playground, playing amongst the roots of that ancient oak. Maybe, to some extent, I’ll always feel that way. Maybe we all feel that pang of loneliness from time to time, as we fumble our way through life seeking connection, friendship, and the comforting arms of an old oak tree.

Great reading and writing to be found at the wonderful place known at yeahwrite. Check it out, meet new friends, and improve your own writing! read to be read at yeahwrite.me
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