Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pining for the Young Me


Yesterday was my 19th wedding anniversary - and 24 years together.

We met in law school when I was 24 (yes, yes, honey, you are still a year younger).

He was way different than the guys I was dating and, in truth, I can't tell you what first attracted me to him. I mean, clearly he is cute, but I tended to date older, more sophisticated, more ambitious and self-assured guys.

But, something about him called to me (which is funny, because he was really a bit of a mess back then). He was smart, and funny sure, but something else: he was genuine. In truth, I was head over heels with him. There was tons and tons of chemistry.

We went through a few big bumps before we got married (including several break ups) and a few big bumps afterwards. Did I mention big?

And, yet, here we are.

Marriage isn't easy. And it isn't always exactly what I want. I imagine he feels the same.

But I still love the guy. I still admire him. I still want more than anything for him to be happy.

But here's the thing: I don't know where the fuck those 24 years went. And I'm pissed about it. And i want them back.

And, while you're at it, I want that waist and neck back.

I want that perfect, smooth skin, and my future stretched out ahead of me . . . even though, I am actually the happiest I've ever been at this particular point in my life. I want my future stretched out FROM HERE.

If only we could keep those lovely superficial externals as we gain the wisdom and contentedness that comes with middle age.

But we don't, and we can't, and I see this photo and pine for that external youth so badly it physically hurts.

I look in the mirror and see only the sags and the lines and find myself calculating the costs and risks of Botox and eye lifts and such.

I'm about to turn 48.

If I don't get a grip, what will I do ten years from now?

Twenty- five?


I should be so lucky, I KNOW.

Norah, you will be missed.
The talented, funny and beautiful Nora Ephron died this week. In her book, I Feel Badly About my Neck, she wrote:

"At the age of fifty-five you will get a saggy roll just above your waist even if you are painfully thin.
This saggy roll just above your waist will be especially visible from the back and will force you to reevaluate half the clothes in your closet, especially the white shirts."

I bet you're all thinking how, faced with death, she probably didn't worry about such things.

But I bet you she did. And, I bet you I would.

Even after surgeries and during illnesses, women want to look good. We may feel too sick to try, there may be a level where we say, "fuck it," but it doesn't leave our mind.

It's not vanity. It's what we know. So much of our identity -- of feeling loved and wanted -- is tied to being attractive and young.

I want to be bigger than this. I want not to pine for that old waist and smooth neck, but I do.

I want to toss out the white shirts instead of fretting that my back fat will show.

But, I'm not there yet. I'm not there.

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Even though my internal life is as happy as it can be.

Even though, aches and pains aside, I am stronger physically now, than I've ever been.

Even though I feel lucky and blessed.

Maybe, instead of botox and tucks,

I just need to have faith that the internal truth of this shines through, bigger than the wrinkles and folds.

Or better yet, really figure out how not to care.

- gae

Sunday, June 10, 2012


There's a chalkboard that hangs in my kitchen that I bought for the quote scrawled on it:

"Marriage should be a duet. When one sings, the other claps."

I can't tell you how true I think this is.

But, there's a flip side of that quote, too. I think it needs a sister board that reads:

"Always give your spouse something fresh and new to clap about."

My hubby and I have been through some really crappy times in our marriage... times we were hanging on by a thread. But I think one of the things that keeps us together is that we do give the other something to clap about from time to time, and when we do, the other is there, obliging.

Us, at my sister's 30th surprise party...

I married David for many reasons (here, honey, I'll list some: he's kind, gentle, loyal, funny and really smart), but one of them was because of how beautifully he sings.

He wasn't a singer per se, but he sang in the car, and in the shower, and he left long (long!) singing messages on my answering machine.

Sometimes, just when I thought the long (long!) message was finally over, it turned out he was merely taking a breath. Sometimes, he had to call back to finish the song. :)

Over the past few years, my hubby has had a lot of opportunities to need to rise to the occasion of our blackboard.

Us, the first time we spotted my book in the wild.

With the release of my first book, and the attendant, if quiet, recognition that has come with that, David has spent a decent amount of time in the audience, clapping for me.

But, over the past decade, I've also had the lucky opportunity to clap for him, as he's pushed himself to step out of the car and shower and perform on stage, and my accolades still come from a place of genuine excitement, admiration and sincerity.

I am truly his biggest fan.

Of course, there are those rare, rare hours (okay, sometimes days) when I don't know how I've stayed married to him (and I remind myself there are days when he feels this way about me).

But most days, I'm utterly happy to have found him.

He's definitely where the love is . . . and when he stands on that stage, smiles like that, and opens his mouth to sing, I'd marry him all over again.

I'm still clapping, baby, and still grateful I get to go home with you after the show. 

- gae

Monday, June 4, 2012

Limitations and Distractions

Yesterday, I swam 2.25 miles, the last 3/4 miles alone.

Compared to what some people do this is nothing.

Seriously, why is this the first place my brain always goes? Why must I point this out to myself?

Or, maybe it's what keeps me striving -- maybe it's what stops me from being afraid?

Even for me, yesterday's swim wasn't exactly a milestone. I've swum over 3 miles before, though not completely alone, and not in yesterday's conditions: full moon tide, wicked current, some fairly roiling waves.

We had a two-mile swim planned as a group, but the others decided to cut the swim short, due to the conditions,

A post by Carol Moore on the West Neck Pod facebook page
Carol is one of the strongest female swimmers in the pod...
and way faster than I am.
but I needed to push myself. To keep proving I can.

I was tired but (momentarily) satisfied when I got back.

There are days like yesterday, when I feel so strong and capable, and days (like today) where I feel my age endlessly honing in.

I try to kid myself that 48 year old me (soon, soon) is the same as 30 year old me, and the truth is, in some ways I'm stronger, but in others... shit, how the body is cruel. . .

On other fronts, I am endlessly distracted these days by the usual "shiny" things -- facebooktwitter, trying to keep up with blog posts,

the endless lure of the open water

or a lounge chair by my pool.

I keep thinking how happy I am that I wasn't computer savvy (and that some of these things didn't exist) when my boys were little. . . how I truly and happily gave them my undivided attention.

I did. I gave them my undivided attention and I'm grateful.

They truly were my only shiny things and I tried to soak in every mommy moment.

And, still,

and still,

the moments are gone,

and those undivided days have

flown by.

- gae