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If I Met Her Now

7-9-05 024Here we are, nearly 13 years into our relationship, and so much has changed throughout the years. In 13 years we went from “email associates,” to being in a relationship, to living together, to getting married, to becoming parents, and so much else in and around those milestones. When we were married the world was a simpler place because we had so few responsibilities, at least as compared to now. We spent a lot of our free time simply experiencing each other, watching Friends’ marathons, and getting to know each other.

Now here we are, nearly 13 years later, still enjoying each other, but in different ways. We know each other’s subtleties, the looks we have when we’re not pleased, and the shared silences that are comfortable because it’s us. We can’t quite always finish each other’s sentences, but we’re just as interested in spending private time together. What’s changed, though, is the amount of time we do get to spend one-on-one. That’s what having children does, of course, and we wouldn’t trade these little munchkins in for the world, but they do make things different.

Before we were parents, we were husband and wife. Before we were husband and wife we were destined to be. But before all of that, before we even met, we were individuals. And we still are. If I met her now, and none of the intervening stages had happened, what would life be like?

If I met her now, we would…

  • go on day trips to places as far away as we could get and still have time to explore and return home by nightfall
  • spend time pretending we were French, and sip our coffee together while reading fancy magazines
  • write a book together
  • play a weekly game of Trivial Pursuit and keep track of wins and losses
  • go dancing at social events
  • fall madly in love, but in stages
  • understand on a deeper level how important it is to treasure time
  • still be us, just in a different way

Yes, we would still be us, just without the memories we share now, but we would make new memories, and 13 years after right now we would hopefully have gotten married, had two lovely children, and ended up in someplace very similar to where we are now. But life would have moved along. So I’m glad we met when we did, and that we have been able to go through this time, and these stages, together, because that’s the way it was meant to be.

Sam

Divide and Conquer

school_houseTonight was officially “Parents Night” at our local elementary school, and for the first time we had two classrooms to visit at the same time, so we decided to divide and conquer, with one of us heading to third grade and the other off to kindergarten. My wife gave Alexa the choice of who she wanted to visit her classroom, and to my ultimate delight she chose me. I was a little surprised because I know how close she is with my wife, but it showed that she also values her relationship with me. Besides, I figured I’d get the slightly larger desks, and you know how long my legs are.

It turned out not to matter, though, because the desk was still mighty cramped, but anyone can fight through that kind of pain for 30 minutes… for their child. As I looked around the classroom I recognized several of the other parents there, as our children have grown up together in the same school system lo these four (and in some cases five) school years. I smiled at them and they at me. I introduced myself to the teacher, who I had never previously met.

“Welcome to third grade,” she told me as we shook hands.

“It’s good to be here,” I answered, glancing at the paperwork on the table.

“Alexa sits in the front, and she left a letter for you,” she said, pointing me towards the front row of desks.

“Now, how did you know Alexa was mine?” I asked, smiling at her.

I guess it was pretty obvious, considering she’s the only child of mixed race in the room, and I was the only African-American parent there, so it was a joke on my part, but it broke the ice. It made me glad she has a teacher with a sense of humor, or who at least humored me. I wondered how my wife was making out downstairs in Madeline’s class, but she’s a foot shorter than I am so I figured she was at least fitting in a bit better with the smaller desks.

You know, it all worked out too because my wife is the one who knows more about the therapies that Madeline receives, and knows the questions to ask on that front. It turns out she had just as good a time as I did, and was able to get the full experience without rushing from one room to the next like I saw some parents doing who have multiple children. When the third grade presentation was done, I wandered the classroom looking at all the wonderful things Alexa had already done that were all over the room, and talking with some of the other parents.

And I think it’s going to be a good year. When I met up with my wife afterwards downstairs we compared notes from the experience and we patted ourselves on the back for being able to pull off the old “divide and conquer” routine. Now, if we could only learn a few competitive dance moves…

Sam

Perfect Love

il_570xN.288498640Love is concrete
Poured smooth
Laid out flat
Hardened by time
It slides beneath
Singed in fire
Yet unscathed
Naked and afraid
It crawls forward
To be comforted
Safely ensconced
In angels’ wings
Transparently thin
Yet strong as iron
Clutched by hands
Scarred by time
And facsimile
By a near-love
A straight shot
That went astray
Love is perfect
In its imperfection
A salve that heals
As it cuts deeper
Exposing all sins
Then washing them clean
Like driving rain
In a dry season.

Skin Deep

a9038c2b4fa64e08d1da1add2ef408cb“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ~Khalil Gibran

Is beauty tied and twisted up with love, and if not, what ultimately drives the bus, beauty or love? It’s a contested point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We see what we wish to see, and all of that, but how do we give people a chance to prove their inherent beauty if we’re turned off by the exterior. If Khalil Gibran is in fact correct, will we recognize that light shining through if we aren’t attracted to the physical?

I met my wife online, and I had no clue what she looked like for the first whole month of our conversations. And yet I found myself drawn to her, feeling that she was beautiful throughout the series of our discourse. But that’s diametrically opposite from the way most relationships start. Let’s lay it out there. Boy meets girl and thinks, “Ooh, niiiiice,” meaning her face and/or body is high on our scale of desirability.

That makes sense because the first thing we notice about others is their appearance. We come in contact with that part of them first, at least usually. We see someone in a club, in a bar, in the Sav-a-Lot parking lot, and we can’t stop staring. Either we’re brave enough to approach them or we aren’t, but we definitely still recognize them as our “type.” That’s of course another story altogether, the idea of “diff’rent strokes for different folks,” and yet it’s been proven time and again to apply. We admire their outer beauty, so we want to get to know who they are inside.

So then, what is love? Is it that ability to appreciate someone for who they are on the inside, or is it some amalgamation of both outside and inside? If the other person has a bright enough inner light, it makes for a brilliant blaze on the outside. That’s how when you see one of the “beautiful people” with someone you think is less than attractive it still makes sense, because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, because they can see something you don’t. And that’s just fine.

With my wife, that first month was incredible because all I knew about her was what was inside, what came through her words on a screen, and it was enough for me. I knew I was in love with her before I even knew what she looked like, so when I finally did see her it was merely the icing on the cake, so to speak. She always has been beautiful to me because of who she is, inside, and adding the outside to the equation just made it even better. It never could have taken away from what I felt because beauty isn’t skin deep. It can’t be when looked at in the simplest of ways.

Through the eyes of the heart.

Sam

P.S. – If that’s true, then the opposite is accurate as well. An ugly personality, a dark heart, changes the way we view the physical as well. Or at least it should.

The Information

image00Is all this information an overload? Remember when all we had being input into us was from the boob tube, when the biggest disciplinary action by our parents was taking away our TV time? Now if you told your kids they can’t have TV time they might just laugh at you. There are so many other screen time options these days that to take all of them away would be nearly impossible. I’ll tell you this, though. My kids aren’t getting cell phones until they’re teenagers. At the earliest.

I’ll admit they both have iPads, but they’re wi-fi so they can’t connect everywhere, having to rely on educational apps instead of the glut of Netflix that would otherwise occupy their time. In fact, having the time limit on their screen time has proven a good tactic, because it makes them use their imaginations and enjoy each others’ company. My wife even said tonight that we are going to clean out the iPads of most of the non-educational apps so they can have the screens to learn and improve on their skills instead of just to watch Netflix and play Temple Run.

So is this wealth of  information at our fingertips a positive or a negative? For example, there was a time my wife asked me what the weather was. I was standing right at the window but instead of looking outside I pulled out my phone to check my weather app. That’s one of the issues with having so much at the ready, that we can sometimes overlook simple things. Will our nostalgia for this time period feature these obsolete tablets and phones because the future holds so much more in the way of information explosion?

I worry about that future if that’s the case.

Sam

Dear Journal: Judge Not

3D_Judges_GavelDear Journal,

I’ve been once again descended upon by people who feel they can judge, in whatever form those judgements take. And I don’t mean judging me, but judging others around me. It happens at work, in social situations, and even just in random overheard conversation. They judge their family members, coworkers, and famous people in equal measure. Although the judging of famous people has become a fever pitch in recent weeks.

“I am not a role model.” ~Charles Barkley

I’m reminded of this quote anytime people start jumping on the “holier than thou” bandwagon, soapbox, or whatever you want to call it. He who is without sin cast the first stone. Right? But it seems like anyone with a twitter account feels self-righteous enough to talk about how they would discipline Miley if she were their kid, or how they would chemically castrate Ray Rice for knocking his fiance out in an elevator. And I’ve heard and read a lot worse, believe me. If there’s one thing all this celebrity judging reminds me is that everyone is human. Everyone has issues. So how do we — the masses — have a right to judge them, these people we don’t even know?

And it gets even uglier when talking about people we know, people we are supposed to at the least have a little tact about. But there seems to be a dearth of tact anymore, at least around here anyway. I honestly don’t even care if people feel a certain way about others, but the loud nature of the gossip surrounding them, and the depth of the judgements against others, it’s a bit frightening. Back in the day (I can’t believe I’m legitimately using this phrase), it was all about being nice and keeping quiet, but today it’s all about being loud and abrasive.

“Judge not that ye be not judged.”

Now me, I don’t believe in judging people at all, not in your mind and certainly not vocalizing that judgement, but I will admit I struggle with judging in my mind. It’s hard when others do things that I wouldn’t do, but that’s them, and not me. I can only judge my own motivations, not theirs. Human nature is to judge, which also makes it difficult. But fighting that nature is one of the best things you can do because there is so much good in life you can miss by not giving people the benefit of the doubt.

I mean, doesn’t it mean more if you fight that nature and discover more beauty in the world than you imagined possible? I think it is.

Sam

Mall Benches

imageI’ve never really been a fan of the mall, even though each one has probably about five stores that I adore. Because for every Best Buy there are five ladies clothing stores, and for each five minutes spent in Kay B Toys there are two hours spent holding a purse while even more clothing gets tried on. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Just telling it like it is.

From the time I was a kid I got used to mall trips. When Sears was in the mall it was all about portraits. Now my family didn’t get portraits every single year, and sometimes they were taken in the back of Pathmark or Acme, but occasionally we would doll ourselves up for the Sears drill. That involved more money than was probably prudent but it produced better results than the back of Pathmark, at least my mother said so.

And I would see the boyfriends, husbands, and fathers sitting on benches outside of the food court, the men who always looked bored and lost, like they had just stumbled in and couldn’t find their way out again. They twiddled their thumbs or stretched their arms over the balcony behind them that led to lower floors that carried even more women’s clothing stores. These men would only stir to relieve their ladies of bags on their way to the next store.

I vowed never to be one of those bored, lost guys sitting on mall benches, waiting for the next bag to be dumped in their laps. Yet here I am, at the biggest mall in Syracuse, trailing behind my wife and children, waiting for that next bag. And it’s okay. I guess time does indeed change things because it’s 30 years later and I know young boys are passing me in the halls of the mall and are wondering how I can still be smiling while holding these bags.

image

It’s because I avoid those benches. Plain and simple. Those guys I remember from way back when, all they did was sit and stew about how they didn’t want to be in the mall, about how they’d rather be somewhere else. Well, they shouldn’t have come then. Don’t think that you’re doing your lady a favor by “being there” for her because you’re not. You’re being there for the bench. She could bring a rolling case to keep her bags in. She wanted to spend time with you as you support her in her retail therapy, not look for you on the nearest bench.

So I go into the stores, and I offer my honest opinion on her selections, and I blog about the experience while we wait in the Apple store for the “geniuses” to fix my daughter’s iPad. I enjoy my family time because that’s what it is, not my private time with a bench I may never see again. And I smile because this is what I signed on for 11 years ago when I married the woman of my dreams.

And yes, she lets me go to Best Buy every once in awhile too. I’m good.

Sam

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