Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lisa Gets Lost at the Airport

"There's a lady who's sure, all that glitters is gold and she's buying a Stairway to Heaven."

What the...

The lyrics to the rock classic shattered the early morning calm of my cozy, pitch dark bedroom.  I immediately slapped my hand down on the snooze button, wanting to catch some more z's before Zeppelin played again.

Alas, t'was not meant to be.

"You should get up," mumbled my husband Bob from the depths of his slumber.

I groaned.

4:45 am on a Sunday morning.

I had to catch a 7:30 am flight.

Calculating the time increments involved in showering, covering up my blemished face with foundation, dressing and styling my hair to perfection (or at least as close to perfection as possible), I knew deep down I should follow Bob's whispered words of wisdom.

I threw off the covers and off I went.  The transformation from a sleep-deprived middle aged woman with straggly hair and sweat pants to a sleep-deprived presentable middle aged woman with new blonde highlights and a lovely pants suit had commenced.

The occasion?  My niece Jen's baby shower.

The location?  Buffalo, NY.

I rode with my chauffeur  Bob to Philadelphia International Airport in silence, save for the occasional grunt to ensure my driver Bob did not fall asleep.  Finally, safely tucked away in the terminal, coffee in hand, waiting for my flight to board, did excitement overtake exhaustion.

It had been nearly a year since I had seen the Buffalo wing of the Weinstein family, and I looked forward to the reunion with anticipation.  As it turned out, the day lived up to its promises!  After an uneventful flight, loving embraces eagerly awaited my arrival.  Following the all blue baby boy-themed shower, we returned to the house, where the family and I sat around the table and resumed our non-stop eat-n-chat in the comfort of the cozy kitchen.

All too soon, the clock inched closer to 7 pm, and the moment where I would be forced to bid farewell to Jen, my nephew Bryan, nephew Brad, niece Ashley, brother-in-law Bruce, sister-in-law Terry, mother-in-law Pearl, and my beautiful step-daughter Jessica, whose return flight to Washington, DC left two hours after mine.

Once again I found myself tucked away in the terminal, waiting to board the claustrophobic, 50 seat aircraft that would whisk me through the skies to my husband's loving arms.  Once again, I found myself battling exhaustion, as the early wake up call, coupled with the day's activities had begun to take its toll.

"A few more hours and you'll be in bed," I reminded myself, giving me the encouragement to go on.

Upon boarded the plane, I settled into my seat, secured the belt, and willfully closed my eyes, only to be startled out of my 10-second slumber by the the sounds of shouting and laughter.  A dozen or so teenager girls had hopped onto the plane and now surrounded me with the "enclosed space magnification" of their laughter.  I should tell you, I don't mind teenage girls.  In fact, I take frequent delight in spending time with my own teen, Melissa, 15, and her group of giggly girlfriends.  However, since I so desperately desired nothing more than total silence, a pillow and a blanket, the girls were not a welcome sight...nor sound.

Fortunately, empty seats at the front of the plane beckoned, and with the flight attendant's permission, there I went.  With my coat as a pillow, I settled into an unsettling sleep, and gladly welcomed the pilot's announcement of our descent into Philadelphia a short hour later.

I dragged my tired bones off the plane and eagerly whipped out my cell, alerting Bob to my arrival. He had been waiting patiently in a parking lot close by, and promised he'd be outside the terminal to pick me up in a matter of moments.

Relieved, I followed the signs to the exit, coasted down the escalator, and walked out the door, where a blast of bone-chilling late winter air smacked me in the face.  Still, I stood in the cold  rather than the indoor warmth of the terminal, lest Bob should drive by and not see me.

Five minutes passed.  No Bob.

Six minutes.  No Bob.

Eight minutes.  No Bob.


I calmly frantically dialed his cell.

"WHERE ARE YOU?" I demanded.

"I didn't see you," he explained in exasperation.  "I didn't see terminal F.  I must have driven right by it and now I'm leaving the airport."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE LEAVING THE AIRPORT?" I exclaimed, imaging he'd never come back and I'd live my remaining hours on Earth stranded in front of Terminal F at Philadelphia International Airport.

"It's all right," he said, attempting to reassure me.  "I'm turning around and coming back."

"How could you have missed me?  I am standing in front of Terminal F.  The signs are as clear as day!  How could you have missed me?" I whimpered.

"I don't know," he said, a bit defensively.  "But I'm entering the airport again.  I'm passing Terminal D...."

"Well drive really slowly," I instructed in a patronizing tone of voice.  "I don't want you to miss me, I am standing right outside."

"Ok, I am parked right outside of Terminal F but I don't see you," he replied.

"HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE ME?  I AM STANDING RIGHT HERE!" I shouted, thinking my husband had lost all of his brain cells.

"I am parking behind a rental car shuttle bus in Terminal F," he said.

"I DON'T SEE A SHUTTLE BUS," I shouted in total exasperation, convinced he had somehow ended up at the wrong location.

"Are you sure you are in the right location," he tentatively suggested, now starting to share in my frustration.

The idea that I could have been in the wrong location seemed preposterous.  After all, in this scenario, I had painted my husband as the idiot, not myself.  So how could I possibly be in the wrong location.  However, just to appease him, I marched back inside the terminal and asked a grumpy employee where I should go to meet my husband.

"You're in the wrong place," came her abrupt, unsympathetic response.  "You need to go up the stairs, walk across the hall, and take the elevator down again."

Feeling quite sheepish but still not yet willing to transfer the idiot title from my husband to myself, I embarked on the short journey which would hopefully lead me to the far away, out of reach, mystical location where my Bob sat waiting patiently for his dim-witted wife.

I entered the deserted corridor of the second floor of Terminal F, adding fear to the feelings of frustration and exhaustion that had overtaken my body since my flight landed nearly 45 minutes ago.  I stayed on the phone with Bob, all the while afraid that a stranger would jump out of the shadows and spotting his pray (a tired, stupid, irrational, emotional middle aged woman), would drag me away, never to be found again

When the elevator greeted me at the end of the corridor of doom, I tentatively stepped inside and pushed the button for the ground floor, hoping I'd see something familiar when the doors opened again.  Alas, t'was not meant to be.

I walked out into what appeared to be a parking garage....with no Bob in sight.

So at this point, I did what any normal, rational, intelligent person would do in this situation.

I started to cry.

Fortunately, my husband had parked a mere three feet away from where I stood, and within moments, I noticed the car and ran towards him.  I opened the door, threw my pocketbook inside (narrowly missing his head) and plopped my tired bones onto the passenger seat.

"Are you all right?" he gently asked.

"NO!" I sobbed, and I fell into his arms.

Gradually, the sobs evolved into laughter, as we both realized the ridiculousness of the situation.

"I'm sorry," I conceded, wiping my eyes.

"It's ok," he said, stroking my hair.  "I'm just glad you are home safe and sound."

And with that, we drove home, when, after hugging Melissa, I settled down in my welcoming bed, wrapped the covers close and tight, and fell into a long, wonderful sleep!

Ashley, Terry, Pearl, me, and Jessica
before I got lost at the airport!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Volleyball Game

By any stretch of the imagination, it had been an ordinary Saturday.  The morning started with my cat, not getting the concept of "the weekend", jumping onto my back and patting my head at the work day wake up time of 6:15 am, demanding to be fed.  I did not oblige!

Three  hours later, my husband Bob and I finally awakened from our slumber, ate breakfast, showered, dressed, and then, along with my 15-year old daughter Melissa, got in the car to run some errands.

After Bob found the printer cartridges he needed in the office supply store, we heard a strange noise, a sound which led us to believe that thousands of tiny pellets were pounding on the roof.  Curious, we peeked outside.  A rare mid-March hail storm had briefly gripped our southern New Jersey neighborhood.

Devoid of an umbrella, Melissa and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing.  No way were we going out in that unpleasant mess!  Cue Bob to the rescue!

"You stay here," he said.  "I'll go get the car and pull it up in front of the store."

My sweet Bob.

A little gesture like this may not seem significant, but for me, his wife of nearly 19 years, there is not a day that goes by where I don't appreciate all of the wonderful things Bob does to make my life easier.  He does these things, quite simply, because he loves me and wants me to feel special.

Before my husband came into my life, "special" did not seem like an adjective I would ever use to describe myself, and the guy I dated on and off for four years reinforced that belief.

"John" (not his real name) lived in an apartment complex which boasted a fairly large pool, complete with shuffle board, tennis courts, and a volleyball net placed firmly in a pit full of sand.  I occasionally joined John and his roommate at their pool, wearing an "I hope I don't look fat" bathing suit and longing for my boyfriend's attention, which he gave to everyone and everything but me.

When John and his roommate jumped up to join a game of volleyball, neither one of them invited me to play.  Driven by my low self-esteem and the illogical conclusion that if I followed John over to the sand pit,  he might actually take notice of me, I decided that I too, would go play.

Although I would describe my athletic skills as mediocre at best, I had played volleyball during the sun-drenched days of summer camp and I knew the basic technique.  If the ball flew over the net in your direction, you hit it.  How hard could it be?

So the "friendly" game began, and I found myself standing there, in a large t-shirt designed to hide my whale-sized suit, watching John and his roommate go play for the other team and generally being ignored by everyone else involved, guys and bikini-clad girls alike.

Then, it happened.

The ball soared high, high, high over the net...straight in my direction.  I looked up towards the sky and spotted my prey.  I held out both hands, preparing to hit the ball from here to oblivion.

Suddenly, one of the rather large guys playing on my side of the net, a man at least 15 years older and 90 pounds heavier than me, temporarily thought he was playing professional tackle football and that apparently the person standing next to him was, perhaps, a wide receiver and not a 23-year old young woman clad in an ugly t-shirt.

He yelled, "I GOT IT!" and he pushed me out of the way so hard that I fell to the ground.

Embarrassed, ashamed, furious, and near tears, I briefly acknowledged the idiot's feeble apology as I wiped the sand off my face and stumbled to my feet.  John, who had watched this encounter from the safety of the other side of the net...did not come over to me, did not help me, and did not console me.

He did absolutely nothing.


To this day I wish I had stormed off of the volleyball court, picked up my things and walked out of his life.  But I did nothing.  NOTHING.  Except allow the relationship to continue for two more years...until I met my Bob... and never looked back.

So on a rainy March Saturday filled with routine errands, I take stock of how much I have, and how much I am loved, and how much I love in return, and I take nothing for granted.


My sweet Bob, Melissa, and me!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thanks to a case of writer's block and a very busy schedule this week - I am re-running a post I wrote last April!  Enjoy!

The Lost Anniversary Band

A few days ago, I suffered a small cut on my finger.  I know, you are imagining pools of blood and frantic calls to 911, but alas, my life lacks that kind of drama.  The cut fell into the category of minor at best, however, it did cause my finger to swell a bit, making for a tight fit for the diamond anniversary band my husband Bob bestowed upon me many years ago.

Uncomfortable, I struggled to get the ring off and then placed it in a safe place in a small box in a drawer.  It felt strange not to wear the ring for a few days, as I had barely taken it off in over a decade.

I can still remember the day Bob presented me with this oh so unexpected present.  At the time we shared a modest, two-bedroom townhome with our then four-year old daughter Melissa, now 14.  Bob, like so many before him, had decided to chase the American dream by starting his own company.  A commission-based business, one sale seemed like a windfall, but that money had to last several months until the next paycheck came along.   If I had my way, I'd budget the exact amount we'd need for groceries, pre-school, clothes, gas, etc.   But Bob had other plans.  He took a big chunk of that windfall and spent it, quite unneccessarily at the time, on a diamond ring to celebrate our seventh anniversary.

When I tore open the wrapping, lifted the lid on the box, and stared down at this beautiful ring, a mixed menagerie of conflicting thoughts ran through my mind:

1. My husband is crazy.
2. We can't afford this, we have to make our money last, and we're barely getting by as it is.
3. It's beautiful.
4. My husband really loves me!
5. I really love him too!

I chose, through my delighted reaction, to only reveal numbers 3, 4, and 5 to him.  The ring proudly took its place on my finger, and I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

So back to my cut finger.  After a few days wrapped inside a Sponge Bob band aid (The first aid of choice for 14-year old daughters),  and a few drops of ointment, the tiny cut had, indeed, healed.  Determined to put the ring back where it belonged, I got out of the shower, wrapped my long hair in a towel, put on a robe, and looked in my drawer for the secret ring hiding place.  Ironically, as I moved years worth of clutter out of the way looking for the box where I stashed the ring, I began to worry. What if I can't find the box?  What if I find the box but the ring isn't there?  What if I put the ring some place else, but forgot where?   What if someone stole it?

My panic was for naught, as I opened the box and found the ring sitting exactly where I had left it, just patiently waiting for me to come back.  As I went through the motion of placing it on my finger, however, the ring slipped out of my hands, which were still a bit wet and slippery from the shower.  Then it bounced on the edge of my dresser, and "poof" simply vanished.

At first, pure logic took over.  Unless I lived at Hogwarts, objects didn't just magically dissappear.  The three dresser drawers were all slighly ajar, so more than likely, one of those drawers now played host to my ring.   Taking a deep breath to steady my mounting panic, I hurridly searched through drawer number one.  No luck.  Drawer number two, nothing but socks.  Drawer number three.  Nada, zilch, zippo, nothing.

I would not cry, I told myself.  I would not cry.  The ring had to be in the vacinity, I just had to look more carefully.  I glanced over at Bob who still had 15 more minutes of morning slumber before the alarm clock forced him to start his day.  I didn't want to disturb his precious few remaining moments of sleep, but desperate times called for desperate measures.   At the sound of my voice whispering his name, he rolled over and opened his eyes, only to find his wife standing there, tears streaming down her face.

He jumped out of bed, the reluctant hero, rushing to save the day.  With his help, a more thorough search ensued.  We lifted papers and bedcovers, looked in trashcans, combed the shower floor.  Still...nothing.

Could my anniversary gift of long ago be replaced?  Yes.

Would the sentiments born out of each day of my marriage come attached to the new model?  No.

I had to find that ring!

Finally, Bob and I had to give in to the clock, which firmly told us that unless time stood still, we would soon be late for work.  I went through the motions of my daily routine.  Tasks and requests usually met with a shrug caused anger and frustration, as my loss enveloped me in a dark cloud throughout the day.

I had to find that ring!

A few hours later I found myself back in my bedroom, with Bob by my side and a flashlight in hand to scour tiny nooks and crannies behind doors and dressers.   However, I soon realized that searching required strategy, and Bob had a different plan.  Although grateful for his help, I dismissed him from the bedroom, then set to work.

I pulled out the top dresser drawer and set it on the floor, staring at a culmination of years of "stuff" that at one time or another must have been deemed valuable.   Since I had to look anyway, I decided to use this time to organize and toss items no longer needed.

1. Underwear.  Save.
2. Bank deposit statements from 2007.  Toss.
3. Red lipstick I have never used.  Toss.  No wait, never know.
4. An expired American Express credit card.  Toss.
5. An expired health insurance card.  Toss.
6. A small picture frame given to me by Melissa five years ago.  Toss.  No wait, save for the sentimental value.
7. Four watches with broken batteries.  Toss.  No wait, save.  Even though I haven't worn them in years, maybe I'll get the batteries fixed.
8. An old diary from 1990, the year I met Bob.  Save.  Defintely save!
9. A note from Melissa to her mommy, written five or six years ago, love tucked inside every misspelled word.  Save. Save. Save. Save.

Momentarily forgetting about the ring, I picked up the diary and relived my emotions during those first few uncertain, whirlwind months of dating my new beau.  Then, picking up the note, I relived the innocence of a little girl who thought nothing of scribbling a handwritten note of affection to the woman who had not yet been placed in the category of "embarrassing".

I walked into Melissa's room and showed her the note.  She shook her head in disbelief and said in a voice of exasperation, "What the heck, I really didn't know how to spell?!"

Completely missing the point, I didn't try to explain.  Someday, when she has kids of her own, she too, will treasure every handwritten note, with misspelled words capturing a moment in time.  For once words are corrected and mistakes no longer grace the page, your children have moved on, grown older, leaving their innocence forever behind.

I tucked the diary, and the note, these precious pieces of my past, back inside the drawer and resumed my strategic search.  Picking up a pile of underwear now scattered all over the floor, I folded each pair and placed it neatly back where it belonged.   And there, sitting on the floor, hidden under the last pair of underwear, sat my ring.

In response to my shout of jubilation, Melissa and Bob came running into the bedroom.

"Don't ever take it off again mom," Melissa instructed.

I looked at my child happily and replied, "Don't worry, I won't."

And as my daughter and husband went back to doing whatever they were doing, I looked down at the ring, then thought of the diary and the note, and seriously wondered which item held more value.

The answer?  They're all priceless.

My wonderful hubs Bob and me celebrating our 18th anniversary in Annapolis, MD last April!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

A letter to my 15-year old self

During a recent trip to the book store, I found myself flipping through the pages of a hard cover  collection of letters by celebrities to their 15-year old selves.  Since then, I have often wondered what I would tell my 15-year old self.

I look at my own old daughter Melissa, well into her 15th year, and I see a young lady full of life and spirit.  Most evenings, when home work is complete, she'll sit on the couch and pick up her guitar and start strumming away, sometimes adding her sweet vocals to the mix.

My 15-year old self longed to be so much like the 15-year old young lady at marvel at now.  I longed to step into the spotlight and mesmerize audiences with my amazing talent.....but alas, my lack of said talent, along with an inability to sing on key, kept that dream at bay.  Instead, God blessed my beautiful girl with that ability.  Perhaps he just wanted to save it for the next generation, or perhaps the blessing is that I can now revel in my daughter's gifts from the perspective of a mother, and know that those gifts are also my own.

So as I watch my own daughter evolve into such a remarkable young woman, I try to remember how I perceived the world when I turned 15.  Shy, insecure, with a stream of never-ending crushes on boys whose names I no longer remember.  So full of wonder for my future.  Would I ever feel pretty, thin, or at least comfortable in my own body?  Would I ever find someone who would love me?  Would I ever experience the joy of becoming a mother?  Would I use my love of writing in a way where I actually might make money?   Would I go to college?  Make new friends?  Travel?

Of course, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES.  However, I would not reveal that to my 15-year old self, for I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, or run the risk that my words of comfort could cause actions that would change my future and the place of contentment and happiness that defines my world now.

So, to my 15-year old self, I write the following words.

Dear 15-year old Lisa,

You will experience joy and endless laughter.  You will find friendships so strong their bonds are unbreakable.  You will discover the love of a man only found in fairy tales.  You will also learn that, at times, life may throw challenges at you.  Tears and heartache will fill your heart...but it will pass, and you'll be better and stronger for it.  

Quite simply, please Lisa, just follow your heart and I promise, everything will be ok.

With love,
Your 47-year old self

And to my own daughter, who, despite her active life full of music, friends, laughter, and love, still asks herself some of the same questions that once plagued her mother, I write the following words.

Dear Melissa, 

I lack the ability to gaze into a crystal ball and reveal what awaits you in the years to come.  But I can say with near certainty, my words of wisdom to my 15-year old self are the same words I will share with you.  

Quite simply, my dear sweet girl, just follow your heart and I promise, everything will be ok.

With love, 
Your mommy

Mother and daughter bonding during a recent trip to Disney!

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