January is the perfect month to search for sunshine. Literal and figurative. What has been saving your life during the long Winter months? (Me: effexor, exercise, reading books, and the constant search for silver linings in all things challenging).
I like sad songs. (Like a lot.) I'm never selected to be the DJ at the party. I usually choose to listen to sad songs instead of happy ones. I like that feeling of nostalgia and regret and hope and longing all swirled into one. So since sad songs make me feel happy, I guess they are not sad songs at all. I feel the same about my first Winter in the midwest after living in California for 24 years. Sometimes the cold can be a welcomed reprise from rainbows and butterflies.
Sometimes the California sun mocked me in the Winter. Get off your couch lazy ass. Open the blinds, carpe the diem, do the things. But now, I can lay around like a blob without regret. Well at least without too much regret. Some mornings when we leave for school now- it is almost dark still at 7:20am. It's comforting and much less judgemental, because dark out says, "You sweet thing you- go home, turn on your heating pad and read a book." I guess sad weather makes me happy too then.
I like a quick fix. Even if it's a grueling one. I'll push up my sleeves and do whatever it takes to make it happen. I'm a dog with a bone. Relentless. There are a lot of quick fix problems in life. (I know quick is relative, so let's assume anywhere from an hour to a week or even a month.)
Soon after we were married, Michael and I purchased our first home. It was a condo in Hermosa Beach California, and she was such a BEAUT.
And when I say beaut- I also mean dump. Like DUMP DUMP. Brown SHAG original 30 year carpet in the BATHROOM. ***THE STUFF OF STRANGER PUBE NIGHTMARES.*** The kitchen cabinets were a 90's orangey brown laquered mess. The counter tops were (once) white tiles with (once) white grout. Now this off white/gray mixture. The floor was orange and yellow linoluem. All the closets had huge mirrored doors with brass molding. We also had a view of the Pacific Ocean so I really don't deserve sympathy.
We gutted the entire place. I PERSONALLY tore up the pub rug all by myself, of course while wearing gloves, goggles and a n90 mask. My Type A self made a renovation binder, with contacts, suppliers, budgets, payments made, and wish boards illustrating the aesthetic we wanted. I was high on lists and plans and visions and purchases. I had my own work gloves and wearing them instantly turned me into a certified HGTV fixer upper bad ass (without strength, skills or talent). I had blisters on my hands and hope in my heart and I worked my ass off. Until about 3 weeks had passed and we were still demo'ing and now living there. We had no kitchen to speak of. Aesthetic wish boards were miles away. We needed stuff like drywall and paint and dumpsters and loading and unloading. Zero Glamor.This was not a quick fix, it was a loooooong and messy one.
I'm a great project starter. Good at ending them too. But the middle is where I struggle. The middle where you plant more than you sow, cry more than you cheer, where the finish line isn't even in sight. Where you have to learn to make one step at a time and focus on the act of doing, instead of the finished project.
Golly, but isn't that where all important lessons in life lie? Isn't that the marrow of life, and possibly even why we are here? We get to choose to stop or stretch. Pivot or plan. Quit or give it all we got. But sometimes it's hard to stay the course.
Right now I'm in what I assume will be the middle of project, Move to Missouri. I feel it in my bones. The plan has been executed. The stuff has been moved. The jobs changed (Michael's), schools toured and the boys enrolled. New hair dresser, new workout studio, new Botox giver, new pediatrician, check check check check.
But now what? I'm in the middle and there's no fast forward button. There's still a lot of checks to find and I'm realizing some will just take much longer than others. I'm seeing how many layers it takes to build a life. Finding YOUR places. Favorite stores and restaurants, driving routes and Starbucks. Finding your daily friends and even your every so often friends. We carve our own little version of life with the resources and wants we have. Sometimes going to the grocery store knowing I won't run into anyone I know is freeing. But sometimes it's lonely.
I don't have deep roots anywhere. There's been so many times in life that I've started over. First, my Senior year of high school- when days before school started my parents told me they could no longer afford to send me to St. Josephs's Academy. I ended up going to our local public school in Webster Groves. And it gave me the Diversity I craved at my Private, all girls, Catholic School- but it was really scary and hard. Especially when the very next year I started over in College.
Then again when I was 25 years old and moved to Los Angeles (for a boy- when someone moves to Los Angeles it's almost always for a boy or acting). Then when I was 27 years old, newly single and a on my own in LA. All the friends I made were his friends, so I had to start over. Luckily Los Angeles is a transplant mecca- no one is from there, so in some ways it's easier to find people. But the downside is- there are so many people- it's hard to find your people amongst the people. I had so many odd situations on my search for meaningful relationships. Let me tell you about one...
I had a stage 5 clinger. A girl I met in line at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Barrington Street in beautiful Brentwood California, on my daily stop to get coffee before work in the morning. This gal worked at a famous Spa. One day we got talking and she asked if I wanted her to bring me some products they sold to try out. Ummmmm-yes?! (But also- why didn't I start doing skin care then! I need a time machine to go back and tell young collagened skin me.)
She ended up bringing me a huge bag FILLED with products- thousands of dollars worth. As she handed me the bag, I felt uncomfortable- this was way too much and something about it felt very off. That day she started calling and leaving numerous messages for me at work - despite the fact that although I told her where I worked, I never gave her the phone number. I caught one of the calls live- "I just want to tell you about each product and how you should use it." she told me.
"Well, I'm at work"((( and I'm not really paid to talk about skin care))) "so can I call you back after work?!" I didn't call her that night and went to a different coffee shop the next morning. That night she called my home- "Is Chrissy there?" NO NO NO NO I mouthed to my boyfriend who answered the phone. "She's not here right now, can I take a message?" He asked. "I KNOW SHE'S THERE, I SEE HER CAR OUTSIDE OF YOUR APARTMENT BUILDING RIGHT NOW. I NEED TO TALK TO HER."
The next day, I went back to my Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf with the bag of skin care in hand. I let her know that it was too much for me to accept and said it would be better if she didn't contact me again. Between making new friends, and dating in Los Angeles, I have lots of stories.
Then again came another start over, when Michael and I moved from Hermosa Beach to Fresno California (about a 4 hour drive and lifetime away from Los Angeles). When we first moved, Greyson was a year old and Parker wasn't even invented yet. In many ways it's easier to find friends when your kids are little and gathering at the neighborhood playground. Fresno was a little harder, because like St. Louis, most people are not transplants and people have known each other most of their lives. I was lucky to end up finding an amazing group of girlfriends there.
And now I'm starting over again. Being back in my hometown- and driving past my old high schools feels nostalgic and a little icky if I'm being honest, and I'm trying to explore why. I didn't love high school, but I didn't hate it either. But suddenly, I feel like I've regressed. I feel like I'm no longer the grown up me with a lifetime of experiences, but instead am an insecure teenager who has no idea what her values are and who she wants to be when she grows up. I have to remind myself- not having friends yet to do stuff with on the weekends does not mean you aren't worthy of friendship. Do you too sometimes have that unwelcomed inside voice asshole who looks for proof that you aren't enough? But being seen, feeling known- it all matters so so much.
Like the theme song to Cheers says:
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
(PS- If you are 38 or younger you probably have no idea about the show Cheers.)
I remind myself, the middle is when the real stuff is just getting started. And like all hard walks I've walked before- I say out loud- I am open to the lessons this is phase of life is here to teach me. And until then, I'll keep searching for sunshine and silver linings.
PS- I love love love hearing from you here and on social media. You always make my day.