The Green Shall Rise Again

My love for the Southwest grew so much over these past 3 years, so much that I now call it home. I welcome new comers with the encouragement as if I’d lived here all my life… “I know it’s dry, but you get used to it and you’ll love it.” … “Really, it’s not always 11o degrees. It snowed this January!” … “You don’t have to hike to love Tucson.” And so it goes. I received this sort of encouragement when we first moved here, I was a hard shell to crack after leaving the salty air and pluff mud of the South, but they cracked me! Though it may be dry, dusty, prickly and sweltering hot at times, this place is gorgeous.

You want to know how gorgeous? So much so, that we just bought a home here! To the locals, our friends, and our bosses… We ain’t goin’ no where!

All this said, though, I still long for things I have left behind – weather and scenery kinds of things. We find ourselves obsessed over the doppler radar during Monsoon Season. Text message comes in from Hubby, “Look what’s cooomiiiinggg!…followed by a screenshot of the latest doppler reading. Tucson is being covered by a slow approaching cloud of green. Instant reply from Wifey, “Damn! I hope I don’t miss it.” We then find ourselves glued to the window after a huge bellow of thunder… bug eyed, waiting for the first lighting strike. We are like kids on Christmas during storms. (perhaps we should have pursued a dream of storm chasers?) We were so excited about the walnut size hail we got last month, that we barely thought about my Jeep getting peltered into dents. So, when you’re counting down the days to Monsoon Season, you know you’re missing something.

It’s not just seasonal change and the cries from the pit of 110 desert hell (I still love it), but it’s the colors too. Well, color, really. Green! I could recite poetry of, “oh! how I long to feel the dampness of blades of green beneath my bare feet.” I do, though. The joy of stepping out the front door straight onto a patch of greenery, swallowed by shrubs, I miss it. But, I fell so much in love with the desert of the Southwest, that I was willing to suppress my longings. Until the unthinkable happened…

Queue, Winterhaven.

The next chapter of our lives.

It took me too long

The sight of your Mom in a hospital bed, frail and unable to speak… that’s when you shed the shell of strength you swore you would wear. You can fool yourself in times like these – hype yourself up like a boxer outside the ring, but when you step into the ring, you’re facing the unknown and no matter how strong you thought you were, you can get knocked the eff out. Blindsided. So as I walked through the threshold of St. Mark’s Rehab-1 Room 2A and saw my Mom lying in a hospital bed, frail and unable to speak… I was blindsided, unable to fight back in the ring, and I shed my shell of strength as I fell onto the bed and into her arms. We said nothing, as a cried and she rubbed my back as any Mother would do for her child in need.

My Mom has always been a quiet lady, never loud or trying to steal the spotlight. In fact, she wasn’t much of a fan of the spotlight. Get her behind the curtain, and she would hold the most chatty, interesting conversation like even the most eloquent of public speakers would… actually better. She is quiet at the most appropriate times, because she is listening. Some may think she is so quiet because she doesn’t have much to say, but what they don’t know is that she is unselfishly listening to their unending chat. Quiet or not, I know my Mom, I know that she would be talking to me in that moment. She would be consoling her 29yr old daughter when, really, it is she who should be consoled. She would say, “Oh, my girl, what are you doing here? You didn’t have to come all the way here. Shame, girl. We didn’t expect this to happen, did we?” With these words, she would be crying with me. We know how to cry. And we do it well. So, we would be crying together. But that’s what would happen, in (what we call) normal days… these aren’t normal days anymore. Mom wasn’t talking, because she couldn’t, and the hardest to accept, Mom wasn’t crying… because she couldn’t. Whatever was going through her mind, it would not let her cry. It truly scared me. She just looked at me, like all was right in the world, and smiled. I wanted to shake her until her face was wet with tears. I wanted to cry with my Mom. But she couldn’t even give me one tear. Through my broken heart, I realized I was the odd one out in this moment – not counting Dad who was hiding in the hallway – I was bringing an emotional reaction to a situation that wasn’t accepting such a reaction. So, I dried my snotty face, took a deep breath and smiled right back at her, “Hey Mom! I’m sorry it took me so long.”

10 Days Outside of The World of Days

“When you live in a world where the day of the week means little to nothing it’s really damn hard to keep track.  But when the world without different days drifts along like a piece of flotsam on the trash line you do have to try to stay oriented in the days of that world.  Everybody around you knows what day it is and what will be different about this day compared to yesterday and they all look forward to Friday.  T.G.I.F.   I remember that from the World of Days;  “Thank Goodness It’s Friday.”  Most of the people around me here on the trash line will have a brighter expression and be somewhat more approachable because it’s Friday.  I cannot go about with a Tuesday face.” – DAD

It’s been 9 weeks since Dad contacted us to report that Mom was in ICU after suffering from a major stroke. She was admitted 4 days earlier for treatment for meningitis. She has yet to leave the hospital block. It has, without surprise, been one of the biggest shocks of our lives – as a family. Mom, the sweet and quiet lady, has undoubtedly been the rock of our family. To see her in pain, or unable to care for herself is one the hardest things I have seen or experienced.

The “massive stroke” that struck Mom out of nowhere, was a dense enough stroke to keep her unable to walk, talk, or care for herself. After weeks in rehab, she was walking with assistance, make audible sounds, smiling and feeding herself. At 9 weeks now, Mom is walking unassisted, she is able to complete physical exercises in therapy! The part of recovery that we are at right now is speech. Mom is unable to talk past certain words. Some days she will greet you, respond with yes or no, and randomly ask full questions, “What time is it?” But on most days, she cannot hold conversation or even understand questions or situations. She is mentally unstable. Dad has been going through this heartbreaking experience, alone. He has sat by Mom’s bedside every single day since she was admitted. He has cared for her, read for her, sang for her and cried for her. Dad found himself in the lowest of lows, the darkest of dark and the loneliest of alone. It was 7 weeks before I was able to join him and share the burden… to share the unspeakable, emotional journey. Support from afar is appreciated and wanted, but support within hugging distance is needed.

I spent countless nights of those 7 weeks crying and being so angry at the question of “why?” I felt unridden guilt, every single day, that I could not be there with her, and for him. I grew exhausted with emotion, and began to draw myself from all necessary tasks and needs in my everyday life… including being 100% present in my marriage. I needed to go home. I married a saint of a man, who will find a way for anything, no matter what. My husband put me on a plane for Africa and showed me the way to where I was needed at this time.

10 Days back home. 10 happy and heartbreaking Days with Dad. And 10 Days so close to, and so far away from Mom. There are so many details, moments and stories jam packed into those 10 Days, that one post will not cover it. I believe it will take me more than one post to deflate from the whirlwind of those 10 Days. Some speak of Cloud 9 and how they are not willing to come down. This is no Cloud 9, and I am begging to come down.

-L

Highlights

Highlights

We are celebrating our 3rd year in Arizona, and…

WE PURCHASED OUR FIRST HOME

We also celebrated 6 years of marriage

I’m still marketing, and he’s still coaching

We are truly, truly, very, very happy

We have made some wonderful friends

Discovered that Tucson is home to the most amazing pizza places

It’s still hot as hell

Yoga has become vital to my existence – even when I’m not doing it (?)

We’re about to be Aunt + Uncle for the 4th time

Nope, we still don’t have children

We have Jack.

He’s turning 4

Mom got sick

Mom had a stroke

I flew home for 10 days

Heartbroken, still can’t accept it.

I need to start writing again.

i think it was his laugh

Love at first sight? Not really… there was, I have to be honest, a little bit of lust. But most certainly not love.

It took a few weeks before I realized it wasn’t just my head that was in this… my heart was too. When did that happen, I asked myself? Now that I look back … I’m pretty sure it happened the moment he laughed.

Wow, even now, my heart skips a beat when I see his face mid-laugh. You should hear it, too. Sometimes it’s a sarcastic laugh … as much as those annoy me (because I’m usually the object of his sarcasm), I believe I would miss them if they weren’t there. Other times, it’s a lead-up laugh before it’s a laugh … these usually happen when he’s on the phone, more than likely with a guy on the other end … these lead-up laughs end up in a high pitched (rather surprising) laugh, which end with a “Sh*t, mayne!” But my favorite, is his laugh. The laugh that is truly from the depths of his belly … the ones he cannot control … the ones that make his face light up like a Christmas tree. These get me. Always. I can be so mad at him, so annoyed, so angry … but when he laughs, I want to punch him, because they always get me.

If it wasn’t when he laughed … then it must have been when I realized that this guy, in actual fact, was more than the arrogance I thought he was … he was a goober! Not the kind of goober that is forced, or the one that makes you feel awkward because they’re really awkward with being a goober and then it’s just, well, awkward. It’s the kind of goober that happens when you least expect it. The perfect moment goober. The “why do you have to be a goober when I’m mad at you, because now our conversation is completely pointless” kind of goober. The kind of goober who leaves me in hysterics in the middle of a phone call, because he is marching like a Nazi around the living room. The kind of goober who insists on tickling you while giggling (or cackling) like a possessed chicken when you’re clearly busy with something else. The kind of goober who dances like a banshee in front of the television during one of my shows, not his. The kind of goober you know that only you can appreciate.

Along with the mushy, romantic stuff … there was his unavoidable “swagger.” It got my attention when he walked into Francesca’s Collections on the first day I saw him, and great goodness, it still gets my attention now. Struttin’ down the stairs with his fresh kicks, fitted hat and smooth surfer style … filling the room with the scent of Chanel Bleu … acting like everything is normal, but meanwhile … Yeah! I get it, I’ve said too much already.

There is also the serious Coach side. The man who challenges young tennis players to be the best, and win Championships back-to-back. The accomplished. The wise. The “good at what he does” and simply “gets things done” side. This was something unexpected, but learned soon after our meeting. I learn later on, that this was his “dream come true” side. But that was only later … so it couldn’t be that.

Aaaah! The face for every picture. Clearly, “perturbed” by something … it must be documented once a camera is in his face. Funny thing is, when this face happens because he is seriously disgusted or shocked by someone else’s misfortune. No matter how serious the matter, or even how disgusting, this face always makes me giggle. I know it wasn’t this face that changed my heart’s mind … this was a face I could only appreciate over time.

The phone conversation face … I can’t get mad at him while on the phone at the dinner table. It’s just impossible. So many varying expressions come while watching him talk on the phone. Serious. Mad. Upset. Shocked. (the lead-up laugh mentioned above). The eye rolls when he clearly wants to get off the phone, but can’t. The pull the phone away from ear and hold in the air while pointing with the other to the phone in the air, and turning his lip up in disgust. (ha ha, I love those.) Seriously, can’t get mad at it. But, it really couldn’t be that either … the first time I witnessed him talk on the phone was when he was getting yelled at by a tennis parent gone fool (that’s a conversation for another time).

The Goober also arises from time to time during a phone conversation — those are just for me, not the talker on the other end. These are important to me, they make me feel like I’m not left out while he’s on the phone, they make me feel like he’s still thinking about me when he’s doing other things. I don’t know if he realizes how much I appreciate that.

There’s that laugh again. Maybe it was the laugh that convinced my heart?

If it wasn’t the laugh … then I give up.

golden gate

There’s a 1st for everything, and when you’re experiencing those 1sts with the one you love the most… those 1sts are a little more sweet.

I have always wanted to spend a moment or two in San Francisco, see the sights and such. I fell in love. That is all.

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PS. I think I “left my heart in San Francisco”…maybe two hearts?

heart & home

We have traveled, and moved. We have had many homes. We have said countless goodbyes and so many hellos. We have been on the move so many times, “home” can be a couple of different places. But, home… Home is where the heart is, blah blah blah. It’s so cliche, it kind of makes you cringe when you said it.But let me just tell you, it truly, truly is.

We have built a foundation together, grew a relationship, formed a marriage and found ourselves in each other. That is where I found my heart. In that man. And as long as I am with that man, well, I am home. So, screw it, Home is Where the Heart Is! Home is with him.

Once again, we have traveled and moved. We have said countless goodbyes and so many hellos, but we are always home.

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Orange Nike Shoeboxes

I am a collector, gatherer, keeper and what seems to be some kind of hoarder in remission. I keep (what some would call meaningless) things like receipts, ticket stubs, unwritten postcards (meant to be sent while on vacation, but never have been written and mailed, so now I have an album of blank postcards), ripped out pages of someone else’s magazine, wine labels (gingerly pulled off of an empty wine bottle at a restaurant table, because, “this was such a fun evening, I want something to remember it by”, invitations to events I never attended (but kept because I liked the stationary), wine corks from special occasions, maps of cities, boarding passes, and things like that.

Most of these “unnecessary” things end up in a scrapbook, a journal or The Shoebox. The Shoebox(es)! I can count 3 orange Nike (of whom my husband seems to be the official sponsor) shoeboxes, filled with these joyous collections. Every once in a while I will take time sorting through each to get rid of a thing or two. Two hours later, I have relived some wonderful memories and ultimately threw away some dried out rose petals and a token from Frankie’s Fun Park. Did someone say hoarder? Maybe, but at least I can fit mine in a shoe box tucked under the bed for no one to see but me. Granted, I may need a 4 bedroom house to have 4 beds to put these accumulating boxes of treasures under! I’m a hoarder that has everyone else’s best interests at heart – when I’m dead and gone, just pull out each box and throw it out – it has already been sorted and packed, trust me, you don’t need it! Although, admittedly I keep a few of these things for my future children to embrace the life I lived – the coffee I purchased on February 14th, the meal I ate on our 2nd anniversary, or the hundreds of movies I saw. People laugh, my husband being one of the loudest (don’t get me started on his drawer overflowing with ballpoint pens!), but I shit you not… who is the one handing me the movie ticket stubs, the airline serviette with a ring of red wine stained on it (this one’s a keeper, it has character!), or the coaster from the new bar we just visited. Yes, it is he, The Pen Collector – The Enabler! Shame, let me not be mean here. I know he only takes the time to do these things because he knows how much it warms my heart, and how he enjoys my response as if he had just presented me with a diamond ring.

So, who cares, maybe I am a boarder line hoarder! I have hopes to put these collections to use, to give them a home – in a scrapbook or even made into a memorable piece of art. But, those hopes have yet to be fulfilled. I’ll let you know if those orange Nike shoeboxes are every empty, then you will know I filled something else. As I said… HOPES!