Yesterday I stopped at Barnes and Noble for coffee and quiche – not exactly a nourishing lunch, but I like sitting amongst all those sweet books.
And there was a man there – not old, not young – he could have been 40 or 60 – one of those men who are not timeless, but of no particular era at all. And this man, sitting at the little unfancy cafe was singing. He was not paid entertainment. He was not even a busker, trying to make a few dollars with his voice.
No, he was not even singing well. He was not even carrying a tune. I sort of recognized the some of the words of the song he was singing, but I couldn’t quite even decide what song it was. Just some vaguely familiar words with no particular melody at all.
He was not loud. But the tune (if you could call it that) was more than just mumbling to himself.
He had coffee and a laptop computer on the table. He might have been singing along to a video.
He might have been crazy.
Two weeks ago, I wrote that I was feeling melancholoy.
I was sad thinking about how I might be forgotten after I am dead. That I would leave no mark on the world. I want to be remembered. I want my life to have meaning.
But I’ve had a few weeks now to think about what such insignificance might really mean.
And here is the answer:
If no one will remember me in twenty-five years, or even five years, or perhaps even five minutes now …
then what difference does it make…
If I cry during Hallmark commercials?
If my knees creak in Yoga?
If I’m bored by Star Wars?
If I don’t bother to balance my checkbook?
If I wear the same outfit three days in a row?
If I never read War And Peace?
If I put ketchup on my fish?
If I stop putting up a Christmas tree?
If I spend too much money on makeup?
If I write mediocre poetry?
If I sing in Barnes and Noble?
Do you ever find yourself in this situation? … (Oh, please say you do… I do not want to feel like the weirdest person in the room) …
You are getting a bit low on some product – it could be toothpaste or hair spray or even salad dressing, so the next time you are shopping, you pick up a replacement. But because it’s on sale, or it catches your attention, or you are just a fickle brat, you don’t buy the same brand. You try something new.
And then you are so keen to try the new product, you break it out right away. You start using the new toothpaste. You open the new salad dressing.
And the old product, which was just fine, sits there with 10% left in the tube, bottle, can, jar, vial, bag, envelope, box, tub.
And in the fridge, and under the sink, and in the bathroom cabinet are multiple, almost-empty tubes, bottles, cans, jars, vials, bags, envelopes, boxes and tubs. All these lonely vessels abandoned in your eagerness to try something new. Your eagerness, your passion, your obsession to get to the next thing.
Is this an American compulsion? An illness of Western civilization? Or is it part of the universal human experience?
(Or am I alone nuts?)
I am beginning to believe all the nearly-but-not-quite empty containers are indicative of a distinctly American phenomenon:
The Glorification of ‘Moving On’
I believe in Forgiveness. I believe in it with all my heart.
But I also believe there is something wrong with our inability to hold an emotion (or an idea) for any length of time without people thinking we are fixated. That we should just “get over it” – whatever “it” is.
Sometimes it is appropriate to be sad or angry or afraid. And okay to stay that way for a while.
I know people who are considered overwrought because they grieve for a loved one for what is considered “too long”.
I know people who are considered fantatics because they recognize injustice and make it their lives’ work to right that wrong.
I know people who are considered hysterical because insist on answers to questions and will not stop asking those questions.
And all these people are told to “Get Over It” – they should just “Move On”.
It’s as if a short attention span is an admirable state.
And yes, maybe we are happier if we just go on the the next thing, and don’t dwell on anything for very long.
But wouldn’t that also mean that love doesn’t last, and lies don’t matter? And people can hurt us without consequences?
It may not matter if the old jar of moisturizer hangs around in the cabinet because I am distracted by the shiny new one.
But it may matter if I don’t hold my government officials accountable for unethical behavior because I am too distracted by shiny new promises to remember the broken ones.
I for one am resolving to do my part:
I am finishing the Colgate before I open the Crest.
I am finishing the muenster before I open the provolone.
And I am reconsidering all my half-used makeup –
To decide –
which ones are worth keeping
which ones were mistakes I made and need to admit
which ones have clearly gone bad.
Maybe there is an analogy here?
Summer’s here – or just about.
I wore my parka to walk the dog this morning. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 90.
In celebration of almost summer – here’s a post from five years ago.
TAKING MY OWN ADVICE
Time to go to the beach.
In my bathing suit.
Saturday was hot and clear, and so my husband and I got up early. I blew off my Zumba class and put on my new bathing suit. (This is tricky -I need the class in order to wear the swimsuit, but if I go to the class, it will be too late in the day to wear the swimsuit.)
We put the top down on the convertible and went to the beach.
Our little sportscar has a miniscule trunk but we managed to fit: one umbrella, two beach chairs, blanket, cooler, and one big duffel with towels, a change of clothes, sunscreen, and books and magazines. None of the stuff in the duffel will my husband ever use. He won’t go in the water, so doesn’t need the towel. Since he won’t get wet, he won’t need a change of clothes either. He’ll say “Later” on the sunscreen and then fall asleep before he opens his magazine. And of course he’ll come home sunburned (because he will put up the umbrella but won’t lie under it). But it makes him feel better to have all that stuff. Just in case.
All this shit has to be schlepped from the car to the beach, but we’re good at it. Especially because we stop every thirty feet and rest.
Then there’s big decision. What spot on the beach do we take? Being childless, we tend to enjoy watching kids play, but on the other hand, the little monsters can be so LOUD. But if we pick a spot with no kids, then for sure within the hour a family of screamers will park next to us. The best thing to do is to try and fit in between people who have just one kid. Kids don’t yell too much without brothers and sisters.
So my husband spears the umbrella down like Columbus claiming the sand for Spain. I look around. I like what I see. Middle-aged people.
“Perfect,” I say.
I wrote a serious essay two weeks ago – reminding women that they need to enjoy life. “Put on your swimsuit.” I said. “You’ll never be younger or more beautiful than you are right now.”
And these words rang especially true as we all lost wonderful Nora Ephron this week. Nora said, “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”
Thank you, Nora. I believe that and I said so.
But practicing what I preach is not always easy.
I want to wear my bathing suit no matter what I look like. But what I want to look like is: GOOD.
This is hard to do amid all the young tan slim beauties in bikinis.
So I don’t want to be near any. (My husband may feel differently.)
I feel much better amongst lumpy thighs and loose upper arms and round bellies. I am glad that the beach is full of imperfect bodies. I’m glad that women are taking my advice and donning their bathing suits and enjoying the beach. But I confess that the petty side of me is glad only if it makes me look better. On the outside, I rejoice when women of all sizes celebrate their bodies. On the inside, I am glad that some of those bodies are older and chubbier than mine.
Mean-spirited it may be, but I felt so good, I walked down to the water. No cover up. And to the bathroom. That pretty much means that I was seen by everyone on the beach. I was tempted however to stop at every blanket and say “I’m sixty-one,” to put my body in context, so to speak.
But then the inevitable happened. A family plunked down their stuff just in front of ours. Mom, teenage daughter, and two young children.
They spoke Russian. I recognize this language well – I’ve watched a lot of Russian mob episodes of “Law and Order.”
My guess – and I always make up a history for everyone I observe – Mom from Russia was one of those mail-order brides. She was now in her mid 40’s. Still attractive, but a little pudgy all around. This is not an ethnic stereotype – just a typical mom stereotype. The teenage daughter was about 18. She was from Mom’s first marriage. The other two kids – a boy around seven and a girl around five – were progeny from Marriage #2. Both husbands are now gone. Mom likes it this way.
It was the eighteen-year-old who caught my attention. Although now that I think about it, she was most probably seventeen. If she were eighteen, she would have had at least one decal…er, tattoo. Navel piercings don’t count in judging age – I think you can have one as soon as you give up your Dora The Explorer beach towel.
Natasha (as I had already named her) was skinny. Really skinny. She showed up in a short ruffled skirt and her baby sister’s undershirt. I was also wearing a little skirt (my tankini is skirted, as befits my age, but no flounce, also befitting my age) and I thought for a moment that she had a tankini too. Then she peeled off her outer layer.
Underneath was the tiniest of bikinis like clear merlot. And beautiful, perfect skin. Lightly tanned.
She was gorgeous. And sullen. But then again she was a teenager. I don’t understand Russian, but I am quite sure she was rude to her mother.
Full of herself, I thought. Out to flaunt her loveliness to all of us ordinary humans. God, I hate young people.
But then the weirdest thing happened.
Natasha turned to lie on her back and I saw that the highest part of her was her jutting hips.
I know someone who had hips like that. Me. I had hips like that. Bony hips.
And I remembered that at seventeen, I had a bikini too. But I wasn’t flaunting my youth. I was trying to seem like a normal teenager. When what I really thought I was… was: Hideous.
If I want women to celebrate their bodies, why wouldn’t I want this girl to rejoice in her loveliness? I wish I had known back then how beautiful I was. I was suddenly certain that Natasha was as self-conscious and insecure now as I was back then.
And I said a little apology to Natasha.
In my mind, of course… why would I ever apologize to a teenager?
I get a little sad sometimes, thinking about how most of my life is already behind me.
Maybe if I’m lucky I’ve got 30% left to live. And maybe only 20%. Maybe less.
I don’t have children. There will not be grandchildren or great-grandchildren. And yet I want to be remembered.
So I write. And I hope some – a few – of my words might last.
I have nieces and nephews. And grandnieces and nephews. They might remember me – their silly, vain, old Aunt Nancy.
I suppose the advantage to being old today is that I will die before the planet does. It may be a blessing that I have no grandchildren or great-grandchildren who will suffer as the planet deteriorates.
But I do love those nieces and nephews and their children. And their children’s children, even though I don’t know them yet. I love them already.
So this week is especially sad.
I want all those future children – the ones who might rememeber me and the ones who don’t – to see and hear and feel the wondrous things I had the privilege of experiencing while on this earth.
I wish for my great-great grandnephews and nieces:
The squawk of a seagull as it swoops along the shoreline
Warm summer mornings when the dew rises as steam off green blades of grass
Snow swirling in the streetlights in the middle of the night and in the morning, icicles so heavy the door won’t open.
A little fox stopping by a puddle for a drink. Chipmunks stealing the strawberries. Deer at the birdfeeders.
Fields of daffodils at the end of April
Skies so blue that artists cry for the beauty and their ultimate inadequacy
Proud mamas and new babies
The diligent superhero of an ant carrying a crumb three times its size.
The thick lush carpet of autumn leaves.
Hiding in the cool silence under the branches of an ancient weeping birch.
I will not be here.
I may not be remembered.
But it may be enough if our beautiful earth is still here.
No one likes to pay taxes.
Holy cow, my husband and I say a lot worse that “holy cow” every Spring. And now of course, it’s nearly summer and that can mean only one thing – semi-annual property tax time. Our local government likes to make me cry not once, but twice, a year.
But I don’t really cry a lot.
There are many people like me. I don’t mean folks that are honest and hard-working, and yet don’t complain too much about giving the government a portion of their money…. I don’t mean those folks because the word “many” doesn’t quite describe us. I think “hundreds of millions” might be closer.
I was referring to people like me that don’t have any children. Some of us childless people can get overwrought (a kind word) about paying their local taxes when most of the money goes to support the schools. Why don’t they tax people who have kids in the school system? they ask. The more kids, the more you should pay. If you don’t use the school, you should be exempt.
I strongly (also a kind word) disagree. The public school system only works if we all chip in. And saying that I don’t use the school is completely short-sighted. Of course I use the school. I need kids to get an education. I’m old now, and in 20 years I will be very old. The kids in school now will be making decisions about the world – and so my life – when I am really old. I need them to make smart and ethical decisions. I need them to know something.
And you could make the same argument about roads and other infrastructure maintenance. I know some people who are proponents of increasing toll roads. Why should you pay for a road unless you use it? they ask. Well, everytime I think I have never used a certain road, I wonder if maybe the truck that delivered my potato chips used that road. Then I know I need to help keep that road in good repair.
Last Fall, I was walking with friends along the beach in Hammonasset State Park, a state beach in Madison Connecticut. (This beach plays a prominent role in my next book, by the way… I can’t wait to share it with you.) But anyway, on this particular day, a friend walking with us pointed out the new Nature Center that the State of Connecticut recently built.
“Look at that big building. Totally unnecessary. A waste of money. That’s where your tax dollars went.”
I regarded the building, looking so nice in the autumn sun. I said, “Well, I guess if the State is going to waste money, I’m glad they wasted it on a nice science center that everyone can enjoy.”
So yes, I know that the government wastes a lot of money. But since I can’t sort it all out myself, I like to concentrate on the nice stuff they spend money on.
If you look at your cell phone bill, for example, you will see lots of different taxes. Most of them aren’t direct taxes – they are the service providers attempt to recoup the taxes they pay. They could build them into the rate, but they’d rather add them separately, so you can complain about the government and not them. One of those taxes you may see is the “Federal Universal Service Fund.” This is a surcharge that helps keep local phone service affordable in rural areas, and also provides discounts to schools and libraries. Well, that’s ok by me.
I don’t mind chipping in to help other people.
The big controversy right now in front of Congress is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – what used to be called Food Stamps. The US Government spends about $75 billion annually on SNAP. This sounds enormous but it is 2% of the budget. It helps about 45 million people a year – half of which are seniors, children, and disabled people. Many politicians want to cut this program dramatically – a 25% cut.
I am not being political here. I am just saying that I don’t mind that some of my tax dollars go to help people buy food. There’s a lot worse stuff the government could (and does) spend my money on.
Are there some people who cheat and don’t deserve the SNAP money they get?
Well, of course there are.
But since I can’t find the cheaters myself, I don’t want to hurt the many millions of people who need financial assistance to eat.
And how do I justify that my tax dollars may fund a few people who are gaming the system?
I know I wouldn’t want to change places with them.
When I was a teenager, full of morose and moronic but perfectly normal teenage angst, there was one thing I completely loved
Not the in-the-ground Jimmy Carter kind. (Although I did love them and still do.)
The comic strip.
I had books and books of Peanuts strips, and often clipped the big Sunday color edition to save.
There was something about Charlie Brown and Lucy and Schroeder and Linus and Snoopy that just made me feel that all those guys really understood me. Charlie Brown understood my awkwardness and fear of failure. Lucy understood my uncontrollable know-it-all-ness. Schroeder my artistic passion. Linus my insecurity and the sweeter side of my nature. And Snoopy of course caught my shameless imagination and desire to write great novels.
To my family, though, I was Lucy.
One morning, I woke up and found that this cartoon had been taped to my bedroom door:
You’d think that being such a crabby person, I would have been livid at the anonymous prank, but I was not insulted. I was delighted. I WAS Lucy.
And no one understands us crabby people.
I left the cartoon on my door for years.
But it did not reside there alone.
About a year later, this Peanuts strip was added. I added it myself:
I did have a little brother. And he did love me.
And with all my adolescent misery, I needed to remind myself. That Life was not so bad. And that my family loved me. They knew I was a crabby person and they loved me anyway.
And I was reminded of this cartoon this week. not just because my family loves me – though they still do.
No, it was the last line.
Every now and then I say the right thing.
Several years ago my husband faced a dilemma. A close friend had called him to ask for a favor. It was a pretty big favor – it entailed a lot of difficult work. The dilemma was that my husband had asked this same friend for some help not that long before. And the friend had refused. The guy didn’t have some great reason for saying no; he just said, “Sorry, I’m busy.”
So my husband was conflicted.
“Why should I help the guy when he didn’t help me when I needed him?” he asked.
I thought it over for quite a while. And that evening I said,
“Maybe this is not about what kind of friend that guy is. Maybe this is about what kind of friend YOU are.”
My husband got up from the table and phoned his friend and offered his help.
And I was reminded of this a few days ago because someone posted the following image on Facebook:
I’m happy for the reminder.
I don’t always say the right thing…
but once in while….
All through our lives, we have to do stuff we really don’t want to do.
We all pay bills and taxes, and that really sucks. I wish my Grandma was here with her little change purse, giving me a quarter right now.
We all obey laws – stopping at red lights and picking up dog poop – although not at the same time of course.
We also obey people that we don’t necessarily agree with or respect. I have several bosses that come to mind right now. There are lots of people in the world telling us what to do all our lives and we just grit our teeth and get it done.
Most of us have worked at jobs we hated at some point in our lives – and we stuck it out because of the economy or other pressures. Lack of options is the nastiest boss of all.
But sometimes we do stuff we dislike for no reason at all.
I’m here to tell you: STOP DOING THAT!
That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get to work on time or vacuum the house or tolerate the kids when they are at their most intolerable.
But here are just a few things you might want to chuck:
Finishing a book you aren’t enjoying. Boring? Annoying? If you are no longer in school, put it down. Give it away. There are so many good things to read, don’t waste another minute on something that isn’t pleasing you. Right now I am exactly 56% (thank you for the precise stat, Kindle) into a book by a writer I greatly admire. But it’s just not working for me. I love her tweets; I love her blog. I do not like this book. I’m going to abandon it and read something I like.
Going to a party you’d rather skip. Skip it. I have spent 66 years going places I didn’t want to go. Sometimes – still – I have no choice. Family stuff is important, whether I feel like it or not. And sometimes I make the sacrifice because my husband wants to go – and I should do stuff that he likes once in a while. But not always. Like Larry David, I love cancelled plans. And although I don’t like to be rude by cancelling on a friend – it is not rude and it is not even cancelling if you say NO in the first place. New Year’s Eve? No thank you.
Speaking of Holidays – here’s something I am slowly abandoning: Christmas decorations. I love Christmas. But I hate pulling all of the accoutrements (I originally typed “crap”, but I will be nice) out of the attic and taking hours and hours putting them all over the house. And then spending the next few weeks policing the dog and the cats – “Don’t touch that!” If they are not supposed to knock over the Nativity or climb the tree – what is it doing there all shiny and interesting? And worse – far worse – taking down the tree, and putting all the
crap beautiful decorations back in the attic. So I am scaling back. This year I had a small tabletop tree in my living room and my best glass ornaments on my dining room sideboard.
Stop being mad at the person you are mad at right now. I’ll bet at this very moment you are aggravated at someone. Your spouse. Your kid. Your father. Your boss. Just stop being mad. Is that possible? Yes. Yes, it is. You don’t have to agree with whoever you are fighting with. But your anger isn’t really hurting anyone but yourself. Just tell yourself that you are moving on – and then move on. Give that person a call, a hug, a compliment. If your relationship is just horrible with that person, end it. But if it’s not so bad, then like them again. It’s that simple. Just decide.
And most important of all –
Comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone richer or prettier or more successful. Always. Don’t try to measure yourself against what you think other people’s lives are like. Because that is just your imagination looking at the outside of someone’s life. You don’t really know. Keep striving to make yourself into the person you really want to be. The person you want to love. In the meantime, like yourself at least as much as you like everyone else.
You may think your life is not as good as someone else’s. But unless you are living on the streets of Mumbai, you are probably okay.
Sometimes… for some of us… Mother’s Day is really hard.
Like when we go to a restaurant – just my husband and me – and we get a table right away, because all the other people in line are waiting for a table for four or for six or more. Because all the children grown and small are there to celebrate with Mom.
A table for two may be wonderful almost every day of the year. But on Mother’s Day, a table for two is so hard.
Sometimes the restaurant gives all the women a rose. “Happy Mother’s Day,” the waiter says.
I want to give the rose back. I want to throw it on the floor.
I say, “Thank you so much.”
But after the meal I leave the rose on the table.
I tell myself two things:
– That Mother’s Day is just a made-up holiday to sell cards.
– That I’m grateful to celebrate my own mother, whom I have been fortunate enough to have loved for 66 years.
And I smile and endure another Mother’s Day.
But to all of those women who disguise their anguish today –
– Those who have lost their mothers or never had one
– Those whose mothers were less than loving
– Those who have lost their children
– Those who wanted children and were unable to have them –
You are not alone. I am with you today.
I see you when you watch other women accepting their roses.
I feel you when you wonder why your pain doesn’t lessen with the passing of the years.
I hear you when you cry alone in the shower, and then dress and smile and get through the day.
And to everyone – mothers or not:
Let me say this:
Try to know the difference between what you want and what you need.
What you want can give you pleasure. But what you need restores your soul. Gives meaning to your life.
When I was young, I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to be successful, I wanted to please everyone. But what I needed was a child.
I worked dilligently for what I wanted. I did not work hard enough for what I needed.
My mistake. My terrible mistake.
Some needs are never fulfilled. I know that much is true.
And Life can be full of regrets.
But I regret most that I didn’t try hard enough to give myself what I needed. I thought that if it was my destiny it would happen.
I think I could accept that I failed to give myself what I needed, if I knew that I had tried as hard as I could. But I am faced with the knowledge that I was afraid to try. I waited to receive my fate. I didn’t go get it.
And then it was too late.
So this is what I have learned – too late for me.
If you need a change in your relationship, or feel that your heart lies in different work, or there is a place where you should live, or, like me, that you need to give a mother’s love to a child – work with all your heart and all your soul to give yourself what you truly need.
Do not tell yourself that if it was meant to be, it will happen.
Maybe it is only meant to be if you strive with your whole being.
When people talk about “Attitude.” they are usually referring to a bad one.
I know what that means. I was told often enough that I had a “Bad Attitude.” Usually by a boss because I showed a lack of tolerance for a stupid decision. But that was early in my career, and it was quite true. But I learned. I learned that I couldn’t make every decision for my company, and even decisions that I disagreed with may actually work out. And I learned that my co-workers were mostly just like me, trying to pay their bills and make it through the week. So I kept my bad attitude for big stuff – immoral or unfair behavior – both at work and in my personal life. Which meant that, overwhelmingly, my attitude was tolerant and happy. My attitude was kind.
And so I became my mother.
I cannot be more fortunate.
My mother is all ATTITUDE. The good kind.
There is not sufficient room in one blog to discuss all the ways my mother’s attitude is outstanding. For instance, she doesn’t complain about her health – even though she’s got issues with her 93-year-old body. She enjoys her life – and accepts with good humor her limitations.
And she looks for the best in people. She doesn’t gossip. She doesn’t gloat over other peoples’ failings.
I could continue for thousands of words on all the ways Mom’s attitude inspires me.
But here’s just one of they ways:
Mom was reminiscing recently and she said, “We had so much fun when you kids were little!” And we did. But we didn’t have many vacations; we didn’t travel the world; we didn’t eat out. We went to the park. We went skating in winter and swimming in summer. We played in the yard. We went to the library. We spent time with our cousins.
We had so much fun.
And Mom searched the sofa cushions for dimes so we could have an ice cream cone.
We didn’t have much money when I was a kid. I’m sure my father and mother worried about it a lot. But complain about it? NEVER.
They made the best of it when they had no money, and they appreciated it when they had some.
My mother’s attitude never changed. She always believed (and still does) that being happy has very little to do with how much money you have.
She’s as happy with a hot dog as with filet mignon.
We went to the movies any time she could scrounge up enough change. We played cards when she didn’t.
We laughed a lot either way.
And we still do.
The only regret I ever heard her make about money is this:
My parents had three girls in a row (I am the youngest of the three), and then several years later, my little brother.
When us girls were young, and Mom and Dad would take us to the ice cream parlor, we would ask, “What can I have?”
And Mom would always say to each of us, “You can have a small cone – one scoop.”
And we were delighted to have an ice cream cone of whatever flavor we wanted. What a great treat!
When my brother was growing up, finances had improved for Mom and Dad. Which was a good thing, because my parents wanted us all to go to college, and we did.
But my mother has told me this story more than once… so it weighs on her, I think –
When my brother was still a kid, but us girls were already on our own, my parents would go to the ice cream parlor with just my brother.
And he would ask, “What can I have?”
And Mom would say, “Anything you want.”
And my sweet mother always ends this story by saying, “I still feel bad that I never really had a chance to say that to you.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom
I still love a single scoop.
I am one of those fortunate people who is not moving through life feeling unloved.
But I have had times when I felt unnoticed. I think it can be very difficult to be invisible, and yet so many of us are. Older people, average people, single people – we who don’t make waves.
And yet it is because of our very nature of being the shy ones, the acquiescent ones – that as much as we need acknowledgment, we cannot be the person who shouts “Notice ME!”
Perhaps one way to cope with our invisibility is to reverse our perspective.
To not fret about being unnoticed. But to be the one who notices.
We sometimes need to pay attention to the small moments when we are recognized. And to realize that in those moments, we are accepted. We are loved.
There have been some small – and some significant – moments in my life where I could have missed the sign. Missed noticing that I was being noticed. Being loved.
Small Moments like:
– When I visit my mother, and she has a bag of potato chips on the table, because she knows I love them.
– When my husband drops me off at the restaurant, and then parks the car and has to run through the rain to join me.
– When I am in a meeting, and someone turns to me and asks, “What do you think?”
– When my best friend remembers some little thing we did together twenty years ago that I had forgotten.
– When a stranger holds the door for me.
– When I finally get the Zumba step I have been screwing up for weeks, and the instructor gives me that little nod.
– When a friend emails me an article or joke, and it is exactly the kind of thing that interests me or makes me laugh.
– When someone waiting in line says – “Go ahead, you were here first.”
– When my hairdresser gives me an extra long shampoo, massaging my temples in the spot that makes me go limp with pleasure.
– When the waitress puts my plate down in front of me without asking who ordered the lemon sole.
– When my niece says a certain song reminds her of me, and she is spot on.
– When my dog gets off the couch to follow me to the bathroom. Every time.
All those tiny moments remind me that I am noticed. I am not invisible.
And then there are the BIG moments – the moments when I knew with all certainty that I was Noticed – that I Mattered – that I was Loved:
– When I collapsed at home one night years ago. It was a gall bladder attack but we didn’t know it at the time. My husband (and I too) thought I was having a heart attack. I was lying on the floor unable to move or speak. But I could hear. I heard my husband on the phone with 911. I heard in his voice the mix of authority and urgency – and panic. In exactly the right proportion.
– When I was leaving my family’s Christmas Eve party a few years ago, and my nephew – then 12 – told me that I couldn’t leave yet. He had something he needed to share with me. And I waited in the living room wearing my coat and gloves, while he stood beside me, leaning on me a bit, and read me a poem from a book he had received.
– And six years ago – when I was visiting my dying father at the nursing home. He had only one day left in his long and happy life. He could no longer speak, and as I sat by his side, he smiled at me, and silently put his hand to his heart.