Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love Makes Coffee

Seventeen years ago today, I thought I had a plan. Finish the papers, take the exams, graduate, find a job, plan a wedding… It was the last half of my last semester in college and I was trying hard to focus. The workload was overwhelming and I used it as an excuse, as a protective cover to hide behind rather than face my doubts and fears about the future.

When my long-distance boyfriend (let’s refer to him as Christopher) would call, I would whine, “I can’t talk right now, I have two papers due tomorrow.” But he’d want to know what I was doing and with whom. I was feeling suffocated by his constant need for reassurance. It turns out, he had good reason to be worried.

Seventeen years ago today, I liked the idea of having a plan. The plan was sensible. The plan meant security. If I could just focus and stick to the plan… But I was distracted by some nagging emotions. Christopher was having a career crisis of his own so he was coping with his own doubts. When we talked about them, he would describe his dreams and goals. In one pivotal conversation, I pointed out to him that when he spoke of his future, he neglected to mention where our prospective children and me might fit in. He was stunned by his own omission and admitted that he wasn’t sure he wanted to have children. The plan was cracking.

And then there was Luke. Luke lived downstairs and visited my room often to see my roommate. A few weeks prior, they had gone out on a date leaving me inexplicably jealous. I was confused by this emotion. I had no right to be interested in Luke since he obviously liked my roommate and especially since I had Christopher. So I tried to ignore those twinges. I tried not to notice how the party was more fun when Luke was there, the card game was more interesting when he was playing, that dinner tasted better when he sat at my table. Instead, I always had a project to research and a paper to write.

Seventeen years ago today, I wished out loud that I could spend St. Patrick’s Day properly, in a pub or cafĂ© with a mug of Irish coffee. But there was no pub and no time.

Seventeen years ago today, Luke knocked on the door and asked me what he needed to make Irish coffee. With the typewriter in one hand and Christopher on the phone in the other, I shut the door with my foot and grumped that at least someone would be enjoying the night. A couple of hours later, Luke knocked on the door again - this time with a coffee maker and a bottle of Jameson Whiskey. Other friends joined us after we had already consumed a few mugs. I finished my paper with shaky fingers as a party built around me. Time sort of suspended after that. It’s needless to say that I was up all night, what with all the coffee and a steady stream of visitors. We played card games, had intense conversations, drank and I read James Joyce out loud. Aided and abetted by caffeine and alcohol, I allowed my heart to take the lead.

Seventeen years ago today, I wasn’t looking for love. That was not the part of the plan. But love doesn’t make plans - love makes coffee. And he’s been making me coffee ever since.

May all your St. Patrick’s Days be as lucky as mine and Luke’s have been.

*photo credit to Flickr.com

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lunch With The Ex?

In the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother, the crew was discussing what happens when you have lunch with your ex. Barney, as he is the authority on the subject of dating, states there are only four reasons to meet an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend for lunch: 1. He/She wants to get back together, 2: He/she wants to kill you, 3: He/she wants to return your stuff, and 4: He/She wants to rub your face in the fact that they are better off without you. Being that Barney has not had a relationship that has lasted more than a few hours, it’s understandable why he wouldn’t consider a fifth reason to have lunch. May I propose Lunch Date Reason #5: He/she wants to simply catch up?

When you are in a serious relationship, that person is the first person you think of in the morning and the one you call first when you want to share good or bad news. You know their friends, their family, their coworkers and their pets. And when you break up, you can’t help but miss the friendship part of the relationship. There is no “But we can still be friends…” not that I know of, anyway. Even when a break-up is for the best, there are pieces of that other person that you will miss. It’s a simple fact.

My first real boyfriend and I dated for three years. We were a part of each other’s families calling each other’s parents “Mom” and “Dad.” Together we attended many weddings (seven in one summer), family dinners, vacations and school reunions. We made dreams and plans. We chose the names of our future children and where we would live when we retired. Our lives were intertwined. Opting to end the relationship meant having to let go of all of that and while I knew it was the right decision, it was a huge loss just the same.

I don’t often ponder what might have been if we had stayed together. I just know what wouldn’t have been – life as I know it now with all my boys and their joyful chaos. I chose to go with the unknown over the already decided. I chose passion over familiarity. I followed my heart and am so glad I did. I have no regrets but I do think of him – the same way I wonder about What If Marty and those other friends that I haven’t found on FaceBook.

But if I did find myself in New York and invited my ex out to lunch, #5 would be my reason. I’d want to hear about his work, his wife and child. I’d ask about his parents, his nieces and nephews who are all adults by now, his friends that used to be my friends. I’d get caught up on all that I’ve missed these last seventeen years. And in the process, I’ll be reassured that he is doing well and that breaking up was truly best for both of us, not just me. Perhaps that is the 6th reason to have lunch, but this I knew already.

Now it’s your turn. Pretend you have set up a date with your Ex. Which reason would it be? What would you and your ex talk about over lunch?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking Back The Girl, Revisited

Ordinarily, being trapped at a Starbucks with only my laptop in tow would be a dream come true. I’m living my own fantasy right at this moment. But in true Susie fashion, not even this is enough. I am antsy – worried about all those other things I should be accomplishing. I brought work with me but I am missing the papers I actually need. There is no free Wi-Fi (Starbuck’s, WTF?) so I can’t do the research I thought I might do and I don’t actually have enough time to drive home and regroup.

Added to my over-caffeinated nervousness, is the fact that I left one very despondent toddler at preschool. He’s been having really hard goodbyes lately, so much so that my husband can’t bear to be the one to drop him off. So at the last minute, I stuffed my laptop in a bag, my hair in a ponytail holder and Logan in his car seat and here I am - sitting here, oozing with mommy guilt and coffee fumes.

I know not to take the crying child too personally. He’s having separation anxiety, a phase that will probably pass and even if doesn’t, can’t really be helped. Scooping him up and bringing him home would only have made the situation worse next time. He has hopefully pulled himself together shortly after I have left. As a seasoned professional, I know this. As a parent in desperate need for a moment alone, I can’t help but feel awful. Leaving him feels selfish and indulgent.

What’s a mommy blogger to do? Well blog, of course! Which brings me to my next thought. Did you know that last week was my blogiversary? Me neither. Looking over the last year of posts, there are so many thoughts that I would have liked to share, or started to share and not finished. Some posts I have started but was not able to give them the time I needed to make them complete and convey what I wanted. Some deal with difficult subjects and some just seemed like old news because some other fabulous blogger scooped me. So I had been pondering my anniversary post but went and folded some laundry instead. It seems that blogging has gone the same way as getting my hair cut and my closet organized – pushed to the list of Things I’d Really Like/Need To Do But Can’t Because I Don’t Have Time. I suppose the more appropriate term would be “Don’t Make Time” because time for myself is never a priority. This is not good, I know. Really, I’m working on it. Remember this post? Well who will join me in recommitting to making a little time for ourselves as people? Going to the grocery store does not count. Nor does picking up dry cleaning or taking the dog to the vet.

What are you going to do for yourself today or this week? Tell us in the comments or post on your blog. Let us know how you will Take Back the Girl. And me? I think I’ll take a breath, relax and enjoy my childfree Starbucks moment (even without the Wi-Fi).