Monday, February 14, 2011

My Love Story

Happy Valentine's Day.

I don't need big diamonds, fancy dinners, or weekend trips to romantic beaches (although I would not turn down any of these) to know how much my husband loves me. He shows me in a hundred different ways each day. Like when he makes a quick trip to the grocery store because he knows I hate grocery shopping. Or when he empties the dishwasher to surprise me. He has been the primary breadwinner in this household for nearly 27 years. Wait, I take that back. For three of those years, while he was in law school, I was. But I digress.

I know Valentine's Day is mostly inhabited by those of us in the throws of young, excited, blooming love. That is a wonderful time of life. I feel more deeply in love with David all the time, but it is not always that fluttering heart kind of love. It's a love that knows anger, heartbreak, hurt, sickness, depression, and pain. It's a love that has been forged in a fire of living. Raising three kids. Making dumb financial choices and having to dig ourselves out of it. Muddling along together as a team, as partners. The kind of love that "does not alter when alteration finds." (I hope I quoted that correctly. I'm too lazy to look it up right now. If you catch me in a mistake, please comment with a correction.)

So I feel compelled today to tell a little of the story of my love affair with David, the man I've loved for 33 years. (Yikes.) Just a little.

My first memory of David is from second grade. That's right. We grew up in the same tiny South Dakota town of Hot Springs. My first day of second grade, a new kid in school, I remember seeing him across the room. Then I don't remember him at all until sometime around middle school. Our families went to the same church, so we were in youth group together. He also played flute in band--poor little thing. He was not a very good flute player. And he had to compete with me!I remember jr. high youth group trips when he and his friend Doug Tinaglia would sit on the bus or the van or whatever we were in and recite Bill Cosby routines. (Reminds me of my son, Peter, who now does the same with today's comedians.) They would pull silly pranks in restaurants. And in general be typical middle school jerks.

Another good friend of David's was Al Twocrow. We were all in debate, band, and almost everything else together. When there's only 400 kids in your whole high school, everyone has to be in everything. So we knew each other very well before we ever dated. In sophomore biology class, I could tell David kind of liked me because he sat right behind me and he would tease me. How mature. But it worked. I took notice.

I remember our first date. It was a dance in the city auditorium. I had spent the day downhill skiing and was really tired and sore. Dancing was not really what I wanted to do. But we went. He was very nice and asked if it was okay if he danced with other girls since I was too tired. I said okay. But I really didn't want him to. Despite that rather lackluster beginning, we went to many more dances, movies, and whatever else one could find to do in Hot Springs--some of it not so wholesome.

We ended up being debate partners our junior and senior years. We made a really good team. And we won lots of tournaments. I think I first knew I loved David when we were at debate camp in Denver. Spending two solid weeks together, even if was in such an academic environment, was wonderful.

David and I have always liked to joke about who is smarter. I was a valedictorian of our high school class. I had straight A's. He had one B in all of high school --in shop class no less. I studied harder, but he probably was more genuinely brilliant. He became a National Merit Scholar.

We started out at separate colleges, but I ended up transferring to Carleton where he was. Yes, mostly because he was there. Sounds sappy and hopelessly romantic, but I've never been good at being apart from my other half. Carleton was a wonderful place where we got to be total academic geeks and theater nerds. We got married two weeks after graduation.

That was nearly 27 years ago. It's really unusual for high school sweethearts to still be married. Although I have to say, it is probably because David is a practical and reasonable person, while I am more ruled by my emotions. I wanted to get married after high school, but he wanted to wait. Obviously, he was right. Who knows if we would still be together had we married at 17 or 18? But here we are.

There is so much story that goes with our lives together, but the main one is this: I love David because he is an honorable, loving, kind, considerate, smart, and noble person. Heaven knows why he loves me. I feel very lucky. He always has a comment to lighten the moment with humor, and that has made a huge impact on our lives. If we can laugh at ourselves and our situation, then we can probably get through it.

Happy Valentine's Day to my adorable, funny, loving husband.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Random Musings

My mind is in a whirl the last few days, so I am going to unload here. If you want cogent, thoughtful commentary, I suggest you look elsewhere. However, if you want an insider's view of a crazy person's mind, keep reading.

Okay. For starters, 14 year olds are difficult to raise. I'm in the midst of that with Peter, who is usually an even-keel kind of person. But he IS 14. As such, he has his moments. The last few days have been one giant moment. As far as I can tell, there is nothing of any major catostrophic urgency that is wrong, but that doesn't matter when you're 14. It's ALL catostrophic at this age. Thank goodness he is my last child. I am getting too old for this. I am sympathetic, and at the same time annoyed. Patient, but agitated. My children don't seem to realize that long after their problems have resolved, a mother's heart still carries the hurt for a while. We will get through this and many other times ahead, I know. It just sucks when you're in the middle of it.

Speaking of sucking and being in the middle of things, we have officially become the sandwich generation. David's dad has been in the hospital for a month with pneumonia. He was in ICU for two weeks, and finally this week, things seem to be going in the right direction. His white blood count continues to fall, he has a little more energy every day. David and his siblings have taken turns flying out to Oregon to help out. David is on his second stint this week. I hate having him gone. I have been very lucky in life that my husband has not had a job requiring travel. He is almost always here. And even for mundane things like teacher conferences or dentist appointments, he has always been available. I hate having him gone. Did I say that already? Oh. It's because I hate having him gone. Oh, I manage okay and stuff, but we are such a team that it's very hard to lose half your team for a week. He will be home Sunday. And I don't begrudge his dad the attention and care of his children; certainly he needs to be with his dad.

So my dad's birthday is next week. Wow. (So is David's dad's birthday, actually. Their birthdays are two days apart.) Happy birthday!

Living in a very conservative state like Idaho can be tough when you're a liberal like me. Frequent letters to the editor will use the word communist or socialist to desribe anyone more to the left than the right. I don't care if you're a centrist, independent; in Idaho you are a commie. Which makes me realize that my opinions are confirmed; most people don't think. At its base concept, communism is just the idea that everybody puts into the pot and everyone gets out their fair share. It's not really intended to be a centralized form of government. It works better in small community situations--kind of like Jesus and his disciples. Feeding of the 5,000 was communism. Living in community strikes me as a great thing. Really, that's what a family is. Out of five of us, only one makes a livable wage. The rest of us throw into the communal pot what we have. But we all get out what we need. Very fair and rational.

When you think about it, what is the system we have now. We all pay in taxes, varying levels depending on our income. Those taxes go out to various places, often in the form of someone's level of need: medicare, medicaid, welfare, social security, education. I'm okay with that. What is so bad about us all chipping in to make all of society better?

Then I think about facism. In my understanding, that is where the corporate world pretty much owns the government. Hmmm. Think it's not how it is in the good ol' U S of A? Think again. Look at all the lobbies in Washington. Who's lobbying? Monsanto. Tobacco companies. Pharmaceutical companies. Look at how many former Monsanto employees now work in the agricultural agencies of the government. Coincidence? Not at all. Look at the votes congressmen and women are making, then look at who is contributing to their campaigns and try to tell me with a straight face that the government is not beholden to the corporate world. We in the US like to think of ourselves as so wonderful and advanced, but we're not. I think most of the rest of the westernized world has a better grip on things than we do. Of course, we have a huge country and they don't. But still. I would rather have individuals paying taxes to help out fellow citizens than have my government owned by the corporations. If that makes me a communist--why, then, hello comrades.

I don't even want to get started on our own state government. It is so messed up I have lost all hope. Our superintendent of public education, whose name I will not print here in order to keep a little dignity on my blog, is such a lunatic that he wants to force high school students to take two classes a year online--not by choice, but by mandate. He thinks this will improve education. Yikes. Guess who contributed to his campaign? Educational software and related companies. Hmmm.

Lest I come off as uber curmugdeonly, let me say that I am heartened almost every day by the spirit and effort, mostly of young people to make their world better. I am heartened by my dogs' tail wagging every time they see me. I am proud that my city gave us all enormous recycling bins so that I can fill it up and leave my own garbage can barely filled at all. I am heartened by the aborist who came out to tell me how he could make my trees healthier and his love for what he does. I am thrilled that Emily loves her gas-saving car. I like working for people who believe in small, local businesses and making connections in that community. And I am in awe of the farmers and local businesses who deliver me a bunch of delicious stuff every week and every month. People right here, down the road a ways, who I can talk to if I want. Real faces, not corporations. See, I'm not really that much of a downer, am I?

Of course, I haven't opened today's newspaper yet. Don't even get me started....