Academy of What?

 

It is amazing what my mind can do when left unsupervised.  Some of the things I think should and will remain unspoken, or at least unwritten.  But some random thoughts deserve to be aired, or at least it seems so to me.

I was driving down the road and saw a large sign on a building.  It was one of those moments when you just see the sign in passing out of the corner of your eye because of course you are watching the road. And what I saw, or what my brain thought it saw was: Academy of Marital Arts. I’m sure you can figure out what it actually said.

Now imagine what an academy of marital arts might be.  Listening lessons on one floor, sex on another, how to find common interests in one classroom, compromise in another.  The possibilities are pretty numerous.  And speaking as someone who has ended less than successful marriages, I think such an academy could be very useful.

In fact, I suspect that academies of marital arts might better equip our young for the future. Now understand that I have great respect for academies of martial arts and I completely understand the values they teach; discipline, respect, physical health and so on. But there are many places in our culture that teach, or purport to teach, these or similar values; little league, Boy Scouts, pop warner to name a few.

But just think, did your parents tell you how to be married? Mine surely didn’t.  My father was never married more than, I think, about 6 or 7 years; twice. My mother was able to sustain a little more longevity but has been married four times.  And, sad to say, I am coming up on her fast. But what matters is this: did anyone ever tell you to consider your lover’s needs when enumerating your own, did anyone ever articulate what day to day compromise really looks like, or true and genuine communication?  For most of us, no.

I grant that there are those of you that had wonderful parental or grand parental role models for how to be married. But even for those of you that lucky, it is likely that the world and cultural norms and expectations have shifted so significantly that those models quickly become passé. An educational institution could keep up, maybe.  So despite the usefulness of martial arts, I will continue to hope that somewhere there is an academy of martial arts.

Home ~ What Is

There are many, many versions of “what is home”.  It is where you hang your hat; where your heart is; where your dog is; where they have to take you in (thank you Robert Frost). And so on and so forth.  If you were to google quotes for “home”, I am sure there would be a whole lot of them.  But what is it really, beyond the trite cliches; whatever seed of truth they may have.

[tweetshare tweet=”I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be” username=”TrienahM”]

I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be when my college student son, who is getting ready to leave home for good, was gone for about ten days.  The background here is that I separated/divorced about two and a half years ago, after roughly twenty seven years.  At that time my son had come back home to finish college after having left for two or so years.  His presence was and has been a blessing as I have travelled through this weird and unexpected transition.  But when he was gone for those ten days, the emptiness of my home struck me, hard.

As I worked through the feelings I realized that home, for a long time was the place I created for others.  Now mind you I am a nestbuilder, having lived almost nowhere for more than five years in my entire life, but that is an analysis for another time.  For twenty five years give or take, home is the place I created for my son, for my husband, for a family.  Now the son is leaving (and taking the dog), the husband is gone.  So home has to be what I create for myself.

Home is about habits and routines.  And for just me, the habits and routines are very different than they were for family.  I eat at different times, I sleep at different times, I do laundry at different times, I grocery shop at different times.  My life is no longer circumscribed by family life, only by work and my own wants and needs.

But that realization wasn’t immediate.  What was immediate was the awful feeling of coming home, for the first time in almost 30 years, to a dark and empty house.  No other car in the drive, the outside lights not on to welcome me home, no dog wagging a stump so happy to see me, no other living soul.  The house had a very different feel despite the fact that I have lived here longer than anywhere ever and it is very familiar.  I cried.  Not sure why or for what.  And each day it got a little easier, a little more “normal”.  I could park in the middle of the driveway, not worrying about leaving space.  I remembered to put out the trash.  I grocery shopped for just me.  And each day it got a little easier.

My son is back, but working on his own transition and will soon be gone.  I am thankful for the crazy cats, they still greet me and are happy to see me, mostly.  But I know when he goes this time, it will be a little easier, a little more familiar, a little more “normal”.  I know that home, now, is what I create for myself, finally.

Memory and Mending

I sat in my humid garage opening boxes packed years ago.  A collection of mugs primarily assembled by my ex husband.  27 years of marriage, 30 years of history.  I unwrapped each cup, acquired either at an event or gifted to him from a friend’s attendance at an event, wiped it clean, tossed the aging, crinkled newspaper and wrote it’s provenance on a fresh box.

They are being donated to an organization that can auction them to good use.  As I read them off, I was flooded with memory like the scent in Proust’s famous passage, the feel of each cup and the inscription of where it came from brought me to many moments in my life.  The mug from the event in Stamford, Connecticut where my then 11 month old came down with pneumonia and we had to stay over in a hospital with no PICU, shuttling in shifts to sleep with him in the hospital room.  The mug from the event in Martha’s Vineyard where a late spring ensured that we would sleep with our coats on and meet the wonderful Dj who later played music for our wedding.  The mug from the event at which I was stalked by my not yet husband.  The event at which everyone wanted to hold our brand new adopted baby son.   The first event with some special women still, or again, in my life.

Mother’s day weekend, and I spent it on a garden stool in my steamy garage re wrapping my history in clean packing paper.  And I spent most of the weekend crying, descending back into regret.  The way in which my marriage ended broke something in me, and although I have come a long way, I am not entirely mended yet.  Being willing to let go of these material things that evoke so much memory and regret is a big step in mending the cracks; in me – the broken cups went to the trash.

And to end on a happy note, my son made Mother’s Day special and brilliant  and full of the present.

Singularity ~ Pun Intended

So over the last year and half or so, I have been doing and going and showing up at all manner of things by myself.  Having ended a marriage of over 25 years, I am re-learning the joys of doing things “single”.   People often speak of the joys of partnerhood, and I will come back to that later, but rarely do you hear people speak of the joys of singlehood.  So here goes.

I find that I am much more able to make space in my busy life for solitary prayer and for meditation practices.  Now mind you I don’t often find a 30 minute block of time, but I do find short spaces for meditation and I feel much more centered and at peace for those short spaces.  By solitary prayer I mean prayer that is not in a ritual or congregational setting.  There is nobody here to think I am weird if I just sit up in bed, close my eyes and talk to G-d.  Who, by the way, does not mind if I drink coffee during these prayer conversations.

I do not have to ask what anyone else wants to watch on tv, what movies they like or what kind of music to see.  I happily have gone to symphony, american folk, several types of jazz, blues, musical theatre and gospel without needing to find out if any of those are acceptable to a partner.  It is not easy to find folks with broadly eclectic tastes to share these things with.

I do not have to explain that I rehearse twice or three times a week because music is everything, with books, teaching and live performances close behind.  I am free to stand out on my front porch and contemplate the moon and stars or sit out on my lanai and watch the raccoons and listen to the frogs whenever the mood strikes me.  There is nobody to think I am crazy.

But then, there is that moment when you turn to the partner who is not there to say “look at that beautiful moon” or “listen to that frog choir”.  There is nobody to bring the coffee in bed.  There is nobody to talk about the music, and the joy it brings, with.  There is nobody to put your feet on while you watch a movie at home.

[tweetshare tweet=”I have learned, this past 30 months or so, how singular I am and that I can be joyful alone, and that I am not alone.  I have amazing people in my life.  But I have also come to understand that singularity makes you difficult in ways that are hard to explain.  And so, I am not only singular, I am single and, for the moment good with it.” username=”@trienahm”]

Things I Want My Son To Know #21 ~ Love With All Your Might

I didn’t know it at the time, but my parents were my first loves. As I get older I realize how much I love them, how much I have taken their presence in my life for granted. In facing the proximity of loss, I understand how much I will be losing.

I have come to love my friends. Learn this soon and remember it. Hold your friends close, cherish them, stay in touch with them and don’t let them go. Your friends will tell you the truth even if you don’t like it, your friends will bail you out, your friends will cover your butt and keep you company when you need it. You will tell your friends things you may not tell your wife, and that’s ok. Love your friends back.

When I was young I didn’t know anything about faith. Now I do. Having faith is about loving the God of your own understanding; believing that you are not alone. Love God with all your might by striving for great faith; with it life is much easier. You can talk to God when you can’t tell things to your friends or your wife. Treat this relationship with the same love you give to all your relationships.

And then I learned about perfect love, the day you were born. You will be stunned by how much you love your children. You will think you have never loved so much when you meet the person you decide to marry and you will be floored to discover the extent to which that love pales in the reflection of how you feel about your children. You will never understand how much we love you until you have children of your own. Love your children with all your might, and tell them often how much you love them.

When you forget about unconditional love, remember your pets. Your cats and dogs love you unconditionally, asking only in return that you do what they can’t do for themselves. you forget to feed them, they still love you. You accidentally lock them in a closet, they still love you. You step on a tail, its forgetten in seconds. Take a leaf out of their book and remember to love the people you love without question and without expectation.

And then there were all those “first” loves. Even having had two prior husbands, I don’t really remember being “in love”, but every one felt wonderful at the time. And I have learned from every relationship I have ever been in. No matter how much the end of a relationship hurts, no matter how afraid you are of failing, or having it end, you have to love with all your might. If you don’t you will miss knowing how wonderful it is to be in love, you will miss the feeling of that first kiss, and you may miss finding the one person you were meant to be with. You know your dad and I have had our ups and downs, but I know that he is my “meant to be”. Even when I want to kill him, I can’t imagine my life without him. You will never know how that feels if you don’t love with all your might.

Love is risky; all kinds of love. Our prayerbook says that “it is a terrible thing to love what death can touch” and that is true indeed. When you open your heart, it can get hurt. But you have to love with all your might, you have to keep your heart open, otherwise how will all those people find their way in?