Friday, February 12, 2010

Learning To Fish

I had a dream the other day. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking down at my feet, slowly swishing them back and forth in the water that was my floor. Inches below the surface my toes rubbed on butterscotch colored rocks, each one smooth and as perfect as the one next to it. Then, ever so slowly, I lowered my feet onto the rocks, putting my weight on one foot, then the other, and stood up. For an eternity, I stared down at my feet and watched the water turn around them, gliding silently over each curve of flesh and stone. When I raised my head, I was fully submerged, and woke up in a panic.
And it snowed. Snowed like mad, for those of you that don't live around here. It snows more in other places, but other places are ready for it. It's like catering in that way. I had a dinner last Friday for 350 people that we could have done in our sleep. It was simple food, a simple set up, and since we had the right people, space, and equipment, I didn't even start working on it till Thursday afternoon. On the other hand, if the party came up out of nowhere, I would have been scrambling like mad... like everyone did around here (myself included) when we got about four feet of snow in less than a week. We ran out of plows, salt, shovels, manpower, and time. So what might have been any other winter in Colorado or Ontario, stopped time in Philadelphia. With the snow came some moments of panic for me too. We watched roads close down as they became impassable, watched it pile up outside, and watched the news of towns around us lose electricity one after the other. During the blizzard in 1996 we holed up in our apartment with a stack of wood for the fireplace and a case of wine, and it was easy. Everything shut down, and we rode it out without a care in the world. This year, things are a bit more complicated. When our lights flickered, I thought about the kids, and wondered where in the world we could take them if the house got too cold. Sara's place in my life, apparently, is to remind me that this isn't the end of the world, and we'll see the other side of this winter when the time comes. What we haven't seen in weeks, is the grass. We're still buried, and the new storm is here, quietly filling in the patches we've managed to clear.
We've managed too, managed to carve our way out and focus on bigger things. We crammed in birthdays, rescheduled some, and put out enough of life's little fires to keep my mind occupied for most of the past few weeks. And then this morning while I was driving Lily to school, I turned a corner onto a street I've seen a thousand times before, and noticed for the first time how the fresh snow in still air rested on every single branch and twig as far as I could see to form a perfect white canopy over the road... and the same drive I take almost every day was for the first time, breathtaking. As trite as it may sound, for just a minute it made all of the hassles of the last few weeks worthwhile. Because no matter how much I would like things to be easy, the easy days are rarely worth my time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Blogging As A Thirtysomething

For the past few months, I've been waiting for my midlife crisis. Hoping, even. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy a Ferrari even if I wanted to... but I thought at the very least I would freak out at some point and wake up hours later in the middle of a pile of KFC buckets. So far, nothing. I've thought a lot about turning forty though. For those of you who are past it, it probably doesn't seem like that remarkable of an occasion, like turning thirty seems to me now - just another day. For me, at this moment in time - with or without my midlife crisis - turning forty seems huge. But for the life of me, I haven't quite figured out why.
In retrospect, my thirties were like one long class in college - as they zipped by I learned a few things, towards the end I was cramming, and the past few weeks have been like an all-nighter. Maybe, in a way, this is what my midlife crisis is supposed to be. The past few weeks have been filled to the brim with work problems, kid worries, a few surprises, and just life in general... and a week ago, a friend of ours gave us some news (that I won't talk about here) that shook me to the core. For a few days, Sara and I circled the wagons. We stayed up after the kids went to bed and talked - about us. About how we started things twenty years ago, about how we've changed and stayed the same. About where we've been, where we're going, and why we're going there... and since then I've been trying to focus on the fact that whatever happens, sometimes the grass is greener on our side of the fence. But trying to keep a lid on everything has made me feel remarkably old... because, I guess, I am.
One of the things that suffers, as you may have noticed, is this blog. I promised myself that I'd write a new post before I turned forty - and here I am, only hours away, completely spent. I had planned to go out and spend my last night as a 39 year old pretending I was 21 again so I would have something worth writing about, but by the time the day started to wind down what I wanted to do most was just be here, with everyone safe at home. I know, I'm old. But at the moment there is nothing I'd rather do than be right here... and when all is said and done, when I wake up in my forties, I'll be the same. Bone, blood, and name. What I hope does change, with a little bit of sleep, is my ability to write a post worth reading...
Oh, and one last thing - a long overdue note to my wife's co-workers who read this blog. You're right, and don't let her fool you into thinking otherwise by telling you how grouchy I am in real life. I love her more than anything. To borrow a line - for the past twenty years, the best part of me has always been her.
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