This is Joe looking especially handsome in Yard House.
Sometimes I think I have a really solid idea of what I look like. On the outside. It’s been days. Weeks. Months. I haven’t really looked at myself hard in the mirror, granted, but I’ve lost a number of pounds and gone down a number of clothing sizes and I’m feeling more than adequate. I’m feeling good.
Pretty. More than pretty? Yes, when my husband looks at me a certain way, I feel more than pretty. And I guess I’m looking at myself through his eyes more than my own. Which has severe disadvantages when he’s having an off day. Judging yourself by how someone else sees you is always a trap and completely unfair to both people.
I’m working on gathering how I see myself back under my own purview, being more self-reliant. Really looking at myself. Part of what’s so scary about it, is really seeing myself and being ok with what I see. Letting go of what I think I’m supposed to look like and being fine with what I actually look like. Because let’s face it – I look like I look, whether I’m fine with it or not.
Friends, riddle me this: How many times does a girl have to eat the perfect three bites out of the center of a delicious buttermilk pancake to learn that even those three mouth-watering, delectable bites will probably send her on emergent trips to the restroom a scant few hours later while the Target pharmacist is trying to talk to her about getting all her meds to auto-refill on the same day of the month? I eat Paleo for a reason. And yet. Every. Single. Time.
Here’s what I love about this picture:
1. I haven’t yet eaten 3 bites of a pancake that are going to make me ill.
2. Joe’s hair. I mean, really.
Here are our shoes while we wait for a table.
I assure you, Joe does have another shoe attached to another leg just to the right, off frame.
And then, and I know this is really exciting for you all, I changed shoes a few hours later and put on these before we went out with friends:
You guys, I love these shoes. I really, really, do. They are orange. They are cork. My husband says they are sexy. Most importantly, I can walk in them and not fall down.
The evening ended at Top of the Hyatt with friends where we imbibed cocktails and talked for hours and stared at the view. I love being able to see Emerald Plaza from up there (green rings far right in the image below).
This is what I see in the morning when I fire up my computer. This guy. I mean, I also see the live version walking around the house, so in that respect, whatever, but when the live version is at work, it’s nice to have this version on my screen.
Me: If you tell me the problem is with me and not with my machine, we’re going to have a big problem.
Joe: What do you want me to say?
Me: Tell me the problem is with my hardware. Or my software. Whatever. I don’t care.
Joe: So, just not with you.
Joe: You’ve done nothing wrong.
Me: Right. Exactly. Say that.
Joe: You’ve made no mistakes.
Me: Thanks. Yes. I’ve made no mistakes. Nothing is my fault. As far as you know, every goddamn thing I’ve done up until this point has been exemplary and I’ve done every single thing P.E.R.F.E.C.T.
Me: What. What!
Me: Why are you looking at me like that? Is it so hard to imagine that I haven’t done anything wrong and the problem is really with my laptop and not with me? Because it-
Joe: I was pretty sure the next thing out of your mouth was going to be, “By the way, I also invented WordPress.”
Me: I did. I invented WordPress.
Joe: *sigh* And that’s why I married you.
i looked up and you were staring at me,
your eyes were a little too wide,
your lashes long and dark.
i love you like crazy, i said,
and you suddenly smiled, looked down.
you packed at the last minute
throwing things in a duffel
it’s your way, it’s a good way.
i love you like mad, i whispered,
and you squeezed my hand, grabbed your toothbrush.
you wrapped me up in warm
kissed me hard, again, then again
the airport doors shwapped open and ate you whole.
i love you so hard, i said, you’re my favorite
but you were already gone.
Take me to the beach, I whispered, silky soft in his ear.
He wrapped me in his warmth beneath the covers.
I need to see the waves in every shade of green and blue and frothy white, I told his mind without uttering a sound.
He padded down the hall, got his sandals, keys.
We drove five miles, wind whistling through the vent, the heater waking up.
Ocean water swirled and raced, bubbled, then calmed and went away.
Surfers danced on ten foot waves through the pilings, praying their religion under the pier.
Grit between my toes, pulling my sweater close, I took a breath and then another.
He took my hand, pointed out evidence of birds, busy as on every other day, beaking mites from the sand.
Today is different, I told them as we walked. Today I’m in remission.
The wind whipped my words away before they heard me.
They wouldn’t care, even if they knew.
We went for eggs, forked avocado and endless coffee.
Across the table, he smiled, wrapping me in the warmth of his eyes.
I smiled back.
Something caught my eye. I looked up and to the right and saw a woman in her late forties trying to help her aging mom down the stadium steps. Her mother was petrified. She was shaking her head no and holding on to the safety banister for dear life. The daughter pulled her mother’s arms, trying to get her to budge.
It was her feet. I couldn’t stop looking at her feet. Pink Keds with white laces folded around white ankle socks. The way the foot tapped around looking for some safe place to be, the feet of someone older, someone less steady. I saw Grandma Jean in those feet.
Joe turned to me and asked, “Should I help?” “Yes! Do it now!” I replied.
I remembered how Grandma Jean had been scared to fall. How Joe and his aunts and uncles had at first helped her move from chair to walker, walker to car. One person in front, one on the side and someone in back so she would feel safe. Then it was chair to walker to bed. And then there wasn’t a lot of moving anywhere anymore.
I heard the older woman murmuring in a small voice and I wondered if she had dementia. Something about how she didn’t seem to recognize her daughter or the place or what they were doing. She was just afraid to the exclusion of everything else.
I thought about my dad. His dementia has made it nearly impossible to carry on a phone conversation. I miss him. I miss the old him that would get into a lively discussion about pretty much anything and told the corniest jokes in the universe. The kind that made you groan so deep you could cause an earthquake. I love this latest version of him, this softer, gentler version, I will always love however he is, but I hate the disease that makes him unsure of how to speak to someone in case he just asked that question a minute ago or makes him forget who those nice people are in his home, my kids. I hate the uncertainty on his face knowing he’s worried on the inside and aware enough to feel scared or stupid or ashamed.
In an instant Joe jumped up and went behind the older woman, grasping her around the waist and telling her in her ear, “I’ve got you. I’ve got you. You won’t fall. I’ve got you.” And I watched my husband help support her weight and walk her down those steps to sit by her husband, who this entire time had been standing in the row, waiting for his wife, with a look of frustration and love on his face, having been told to stay put by the daughter, realizing his older body wasn’t going to be of much help getting his wife down the stairs, but being unable to sit down and relax until she was next to him, his fists clenching and unclenching.
It was awkward, that walking down the steps all together, the daughter in front showing her mom the way and Joe in back supporting her weight. They jerked down one step at a time. People were starting to stare. Joe kept encouraging her, never stopped talking in her ear. Slowly the procession made it to the row and there was profuse thanks from the daughter and her father to Joe as they all sat down.
I was overcome with so many feelings and started to weep a little. I saw Grandma Jean, my dad, myself in 40 years, and even Phyllis who was loved by everyone but especially her family, just as this woman was.
And I fell deeply in love with my husband all over again.