Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17, 2008

For those who struggled with math as I did, that date was four years ago.  Wow.  And it was a day very  like this although, fortunately, today isn't as humid as August 17, 2008 was. 

On that morning, I awoke to the alarm at 5:00 a.m.  Yes, it was a Sunday and crazy early to get up, BUT it was also my (ok, OUR) wedding day.  However, as I tried to arise, I was weighed down by the oppressive humidity that morning.  'Swell,' I remember thinking, 'great day to be indoors.' 

I remember struggling with my hair that morning for a number of reasons, the first being the poorly- executed haircut I sported before I let Jasmin take over and make my hair fabulous.  The second, and probably more critical, was that my hair doesn't like humidity; it gets fuzzy.  Is this one of those great benefits of post-menopause or just evolving hair?  The answer is still elusive.  In any event, plans called for us to meet kids/siblings at the venue for our wedding reception, the site of our first date and the restaurant in which Art tried to proppse to me, Vino Paradiso.  The limo was waiting and all, I think the final headcount was 15, piled in for the drive to Cana's Feast Winery in beautiful downtown Carlton.

It was a beautiful time.  The cleric we'd hired to do the deed wore three hats: he performed the legal function, he played the guitar AND he sang.  Lots of bang for the buck.  Really.  Better still, he sang well.

Art and I stood - ok, our cleric did too - in the searing heat during the 7 minutes, 23 seconds it took to get hitched.  Yes, yes, I know the others were in the sunshine too, but, YIKES!  I was wearing taffeta and at the insistence of the designer of my dress, shapeware.  Hot, hot, hot.  We held hands as we exchanged vows and made promises which was probably a good thing; it kept me from swatting at the fly checking out my now-fuzzy hair, but the fly also distracted me from the rivulets of sweat trickling down my back.  (Not very lady like, but there you have it.)

The caterer at Cana's Feast had been a bit freaked out earlier in the week at the ever-increasing head count for our wedding lunch.  I'd thought, maybe 10, but the final number came in at 22.  (Who were those people?  Did I know them?)

Married and fed, we returned to VP for the reception which, I think was slated to start at 2:00 p.m.  (If I'm wrong and anybody's reading this, will you let me know what the correct time was?)  Within an hour I was begging Tom, the manager at VP, to please, please, puh-leeze turn up the air.  He sighed and explained to me the venue was rated for 65 people.  Last time he began counting, he said, he got to 200, was scared, so stopped counting.  He suggested we ask people to leave.  (Really?  "Great to have you all come eat and drink on our dime, but you've been here 45 minutes already.  Time for the second shift.  Thanks for coming.")    I couldn't see that happening, but we did manage to move the party out to the sidewalk, which was wonderful.  Hot and humid but wonderful.

Art was bowled over by the appearance of his sister, brother-in-law and his mother.  They'd told him they wouldn't be able to make it, but had arranged with me to surprise him.  As I type these words and recall Art's expression, four years later, I'm crying again at the wonderfully generous gesture my now-brother-in-law made. 

Speaking of generous brother-in-law, after hours and hours of half-glasses of champagne/half-eaten plates of food/cake icing that slid down Art's neck/cake that fell into my decollete, it was finally time to go.  (gee, it sounds as if I didn't enjoy it.  But I absolutely did.  It was the best party we/I've ever had.  It was just a very long,  highly emotional day.)  Nasser and Debbie, my new brother-and sister-in-law explained they'd made dinner reservations for all the family/stragglers remaining.  (Very gracious, Nasser, but what I really want to do is take off my shoes and this bloody 'shapewear' and slid into the rooftop hot tub in our suite at the Vintage Plaza.)  But, to dinner we went.  It WAS lovely, but then, since Art, most of life has been lovely.  (Note, I said 'most.'  I'm difficult to live with, remember?)

Four years later, we've seen so many changes.  Wonderful changes, exciting changes and some not-so-exciting changes.  We've seen the birth of two beautiful granddaughters.  We've watched Conor grow from his six-month old infant self into a handsome (he says he's cute) super smart, curious, active boy.  Financially 'fat' times and financially 'skinny' times.  (Trust me, in this, fat is better.  Just sayin'.)  I watch each day for whatever new wonder God has for me.  Somedays I see it; other days I'm too busy being grumpy to see anything.

In closing, I'm married to the most wonderful man.  He's not perfect, I understand, but he's perfect for me.  We work hard to make sure our marriage continues to grow...he's stuck with me for a long time!  Thank you, Art.  I'm such a very happy and richly blessed woman because of that fateful February Saturday.  And it only took you "two-and-a-half-years!"  I love you, Arthur.  Happy anniversary, baby.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Hitchhiker

She was clad in a heavy-appearing black robe and flowing head-covering which trailed behind her as she ran, RAN, along Capital Highway.  The thermometer in the car indicated it was 93 outside, and she was running in a full-length black dress.  "Are you stopping for me?" her American-English-accented voice asked.  I reached across the car, opened the passenger door in the Mini and turned on the air conditioning.  (Yes, the top was down, but I fancied she'd at least appreciate the cold air on her face.)  "Why are you stopping for me" she asked.  "People don't pick up hitchhikers anymore, do they?" she continued.  I explained to her I'd not picked up a hitchhiker since 1976 but, and why I couldn't explain, the car had forced itself to the side of the road.  She fell into the passenger seat and explained she had missed her bus and had to be home before...in time for...Her hesitation weighed on me.  I've been there; that relationship in which I had to explain each and every move I made during the day and account for my time - and pay the price when I couldn't account for those lost minutes.

I'd been in the ER Monday night.  As I lay on a gurney waiting for the tech to conduct the EKG, the Triage nurse asked me if I'd come to the hospital of my own accord, if I felt safe at home, if anyone was hurting me or keeping me from eating or sleeping.  I quickly responded I was in a very safe place.

Settled in the front of the Mini, I asked her where she was going, why she was running, if she was ok.  She was going, she said, to the library on Capital Hill, just up from the grade school.  Initially I said I would drop her at 99W and Capital.  "Oh, thank you" she gushed.  But what did I have to do?  I was going to order a new pair of prescription sunglasses - and I was peeved that owing to the vagaries of our economy, I had to opt for the lowest-cost-provider I could find, instead of the most convenient.  I noticed then that the temples on her glasses were taped together.  (seriously, I can't imagine they could fold for all the tape on them.)  "You know what?" I asked, "I'm not going anywhere time-critical.  I'll take you to the library."  "Really?"  She couldn't impose on me, she said.  No problem, I assured her, it's my  pleasure. I went on to tell her of the time I was stuck with a crappy car which broke down on the side of the road on a hot summer afternoon.  My daughters were with me and, because we were without cell phones in 1984, I put a baby girl on each hip and began walking down Walker Road (yes, in my heels and nylons for it was 1984.)  A car, a navy 1967 Mustang, pulled to the side of the road and asked if we needed a ride.  I found myself thinking I didn't care if he was the grandson of Jack the Ripper, I'd be off the road at least.  As he buckled Erin and Kristen into the back seat (with after-market seat belts, to be sure) and fired up his after-market air conditioning, I asked why he'd picked us up.  He explained he had a wife and kids about the same ages as my kids.  He hoped someone would help them if they needed it.  That stuck with me - obviously.  I can tell you the name of the Beaverton-based dentist today if you want to know.  (Thank you, Gordon Hoversland.)

As we neared my mystery passenger's destination, ("oh, that's it. No, don't  pull into the driveway.  You can let me out here") I asked her the same questions I received in the hospital.  "Are you ok?" I asked.  "Is anyone hurting  you?  Is anyone keeping  you from sleeping or eating."  "No, no, I'm fine," she assured me.  As she alighted from the car, I wondered.  Was she, is she, safe?

I don't know why I turned left on Capital this afternoon for, had I turned right, I would have missed her completely,  nor do I know why I stopped.  The car pulled itself to the shoulder, I know.  I know I was led. As I sit here tonight, less than a mile from her destination, I find myself prayful.  Prayful for her, her safety, those of any children she might have.   And it's not just HER.  I'm praying for all those mothers who are afraid and scared.  How can I reach out to them?

I'm troubled by my lack of resources.