The Countdown

As Bill and I count down to our 25th anniversary trip, I am going to reflect on some earlier anniversary celebrations. The following blog entry is one of my mom’s favorites.

Bill and Beth Celebrate 18 Years…..

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Saturday night, Bill and I went to a restaurant called “La Villa Rouge” to celebrate our anniversary.  It is set in quaint old house, which was once part of a recording company. A park has been created behind it, where the record factory once stood, and at this time of day is scattered with older women doing Tai Chi, and children volleying balls around. We had the place to ourselves, as we were having an early dinner, with a table by a large window facing the park. It was the kind of restaurant where kids are not commonly seen, and you get a little bit of very tasty food, at a very steep price.

We ordered a bottle of wine, with no worries about who would drink how much…..a benefit of having a driver, and the couple who hardly ever drinks, finished it off. That would be a first in 18 years. Now if you had been the waiter, or the other two gentlemen standing at the desk, you may have thought I was drunk on my way to the ladies room. This impression may have begun to develop when the American girl (that would be me) came down the stairs and missed a step at the bottom of the first landing. Our waiter, being the gentleman that he was, put his hands out to try to catch me if I continued to fall. He was, however, still a flight below me. I steadied myself as I walked across the landing and then promptly stumble down one…..”I’m fine”………two….”Whoops!”…….three……”Honestly, I’m not drunk!” …….more steps. All the while, our fine, young waiter is standing at the bottom with his arms out, trying to save my ass. Each time I stumble, he apologizes. “Oh, saury……saury…….oh, saury!” Just for the record, they were shallow steps, and the back of my heel kept catching on the last one. I was not drunk! Just very relaxed.

After dinner, we went to the beautiful Shanghai Oriental Arts Center to see a Yue Opera. We were two of what appeared to be five westerners in the whole place, and better dressed than all but the cast. Apparently dressing up is not what they do for the opera in China. They had screens with English translation to the sides of the stage, but you could get the basic story without them anyway. It was the story of an army general and his wife, and there were several other male characters in the show, however, in the tradition of the Yue Opera, every one of them was played by a female. It was a fun experience, and the costumes were gorgeous.

After a romantic, child-free evening together, we arrived home happy, relaxed, and in the mood, so we climbed into bed………….pulled out the fifth season of 24, and watched four episodes. Perfect. 18 years.

 

 

 

Blessings from Heaven- A Letter to my Friends

I have the most amazing friends. I am the luckiest lady alive. My life is far from perfect, but my friends are. They are perfect for me. I hope they know that.

I have a friend that I have known since the day she was born. She is one year younger than me.  Our families are very close. My earliest memory with her is riding tricycles in her driveway. We had dug a couple of old baby bottles out of the cupboard and had her mom fill them with juice for our “bike ride.” We were somewhere between 2 and 4 years old. We traded weekends at each other’s houses. Some of my best childhood memories.  She had to move away when I  was in middle school. I still remember the day we said goodbye.  We have never lived close to each other since, but we get together every few years, if even for a day while passing by on another trip. I hope she knows how often she is on my mind. I wish we could talk more, but when we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. We have so many memories together, she might as well be my sister. She is, really. I hope she knows I love her. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Yesterday, I went out to lunch with a friend I have known since seventh grade. She cracks me up. We always have a great time. She makes me smile until my face hurts. I hope she knows how much I appreciate that. We have taken very different paths in life, but we still have so much in common. We only see each other a few times each year, as she works, and I have kids going in all directions, all the time. But when she calls to tell me she has a day off and wants to get together, it makes my day. Occasionally, we are joined by another classmate. The three of us have a blast. We also happen to have worked together at a movie theater. The best first job ever.  All the more shared memories. I hope they know how much I cherish our time together.

When I joined the local moms’ club In 2001, I met a phenomenal group of women.  I hope they know how lucky I feel to have found them. Our kids are of varying ages, but when we gather as families, there are always a few who are close enough in age to hang out together. We used to have potluck dinners every month, but as the kids got older, they dwindled. Everyone’s schedules are full. Besides, us moms need a break too, so many times we go out on our own.  Last Friday night, a few of us got together for a birthday. Dinner, bowling, and karaoke at a local bar. Just the ladies. These girls are part of a select few who I would get up and sing in public for.  Turns out…..I kind of liked it. We may be back. I hope they know how long it took me to wipe the grin off of my face that night.  I hope they know they mean the world to me.

About 9 years ago, we put an addition on our house. That summer we spent a lot of time outside due to the clutter and noise. That was when I got to know the neighbor a few houses down. We had met before, through a moms’ group friend, but hadn’t had time to hang out much. I hope she knows I gained more than just a bigger house that year. We are opposites in many ways, but not the important ones. She is a strong woman who has dealt with many hardships in life. I hope she realizes how amazing she is. She moved from that house a few years ago, but I know she’s always just a quick trip away. If she’s not, I hope she knows I will hunt her down. She’s stuck with me. Forever.

As an expat for four years, I had the privilege of meeting people from all over the world. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to make friends from so many cultures, and even make new American friends, some from my home state, while living in Shanghai. I feel blessed that I still keep in contact with many of them online, meet up with a few that live nearby, and even vacation yearly with a Canadian family we met in China. I hope they know how honored I am that they are a part of my life. I hope they know how grateful I am for the ability to stay in contact through social media. I hope the women I was closest with, know how much I miss them.

Last year was a rough year in our family. We had several serious medical issues. As I sat in a hospital emergency room with one of my children, I chatted on a social media site with a high school classmate. We weren’t really friends in school, more of acquaintances who had a few classes together. I don’t know how we started the conversation, but I know that it helped calm me during a crisis. It was unexpected. I hope she knows how much that meant to me. Around the same time of year, I was also contacted by another classmate. In our school years, we occasionally talked on the bus, and our brothers were good friends, but we didn’t really know each other back then. I hope she realizes how much I appreciated her reaching out to me. I hope she knows how it touched me. I hope they both know how happy I am to call them friends.

I’ve recently started chatting online with, and getting together with a few of the younger relatives in my family. I didn’t really know them well, until the last few years. I hope they know how much I love seeing them grow up. What beautiful people they are becoming. How much I enjoy our conversations and messaging, giggling over old family photos, or whatever the topic of the day may be. Our breakfasts. Our spring break trip for a family wedding. I hope they know how much I love that I can call them a friend, as well as a sister or niece.

I hope all my friends, every single one of them, knows how rich my life is  just for having them in it. That I will always do my best to be there for them, as they have been for me. That they are irreplaceable. That they are perfect for me. That they are blessings from Heaven.

 

 

 

In the Beginning……

I grew up in a middle class family in Michigan. My parents are still married, and I have an older brother, and an older sister. When we were growing up, we always had what we needed, but not always what we wanted. We had the necessities plus a little extra though. Food, clothing, a beautiful home and the love of our parents. We usually took a summer trip to the east coast, and occasionally a trip to a new destination. We were a vocal family. Feelings were always known. By everyone. We muddled through life, doing what we had to do….school, work, chores, etc. We were well cared for. We didn’t get designer clothes, the trendy jeans, or latest styles. We didn’t always get to do the sports or after school activities we wanted to due to costs or transportation difficulties, but we did get to do some. We were a family that was comfortable in our little box. We didn’t venture out often, or at least not too far.

I met my husband when I was working at a movie theater at the age of 16. We were both from the same high school, but I didn’t know him then. I shared a locker with his sister in 7th grade, he graduated high school in the same year and from the same school as my brother and brother-in-law, and his father was our mailman for the first nine years of my life, but I didn’t know him. We got married when I was three months shy of 21, and he was 23. We were very young, even for 1990. He was in the Navy, and I was in college. We were stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. We continued to plug along in life, at a new, young couple level. Noticeably, leaner than I had been when living with my parents. No money for a honeymoon, sharing a car, and living in a tiny apartment. Our couch was a daybed, our side table a mini fridge, our coffee table a hope chest. Our bed was a mattress on the floor, with a milk crate bedside table.

When my husband got his honorable discharge from the Navy, we moved back to Michigan, and he started college, while I finished. After my graduation, I worked full time while he went to school, and worked a co-op job. He had three months of school, three months of work for five years.. We lived with his grandfather for 2 years, and then moved to a slightly larger apartment than the first. We moved up to real furniture. In the proper rooms. Four months before he finished his degree we had our first child, a year and a half later, we bought our first house. We said we would be there five years. We are still in that house today, almost 18 years later, but not because we have to be. Sometimes, bigger and better is not what is important…….