Saturday, July 21, 2012

First Loves - Mush Alert!

I spent some time with a 12 year old girl yesterday while getting my nails done.  She was deep in the throes of her first experience with love. Listening to her talk about her crush was adorable, her smile was ear to ear and her eyes were bright with loves light. Those of us in the salon were enjoying her youthful exuberance. A lady who was there getting her hair done (with some delightful bright red streaks) made the comment we have all heard before"you always remember your first love".  That statement began a lovely conversation between a bunch of middle aged women all anxious to tell each other about their own first love. 

I listened with a smile on my face. For once I chose to just soak in the stories and did not feel like I had to share my own. It was a lunch hour well spent and I came out of the salon with beautiful nails and a smile in my heart along with a head full of memories. It is true, you know, you really don't forget your first love, or your second, or even your fifth if you have been so lucky to have had that much love in your life.  Love is an emotion that fills us with wonder and lifts us so high our toes barely drag the ground. Love is wonderful. 

My first love (names have been changed, y'all might know him!) was a boy in our neighborhood.  Now, I had experienced crushes before, but this was different, this was the serious stuff.  I was lucky to grow up in a new subdivision in a small Kentucky town.  Everyone in the neighborhood pretty much knew everyone else and us kids owned the streets in droves.  Fabio (LOL) would walk the streets for hours and I used to sit on my porch waiting for him to pass.  He was about the coolest guy I had ever seen. Long hair, beautiful smile, tall and cute, cute, cute.  I would run out and walk with him for awhile or sometimes he would just stop and we would sit in the yard for hours and talk.  Our first and maybe our only real date was to a high school football game and his dad drove us.  I was thrilled! I would lie in my room at night and dream of our wedding, my dress would be tie dye, he would be barefoot...hey it was the early 70's after all.  Of course, our wedding day never came, situations changed and I met my first bad boy (who swept me off my feet and whom I also will never forget) in a string of bad boy relationships.  Fabio went his way and I went mine.

We have now known each other for for nearly 40 years.  We have remained in touch off and on for all those years and I am grateful for that friendship more than he probably knows.  I had dinner with him (my husband approved) several months ago and it was delightful.  I'm sure to those in the restaurant, we looked like the normal middle aged couple, a little gray, a bit fat, wrinkles around our eyes, our chins not quite as firm but obviously enjoying each others company.  In my minds eye though, the man across the table was still that boy of my youth, longish hair, beautiful smile, still standing tall and cute, cute, cute!  I think he may have still made my knees a bit weak.  Yes, you don't forget your first loves and I hope you are as lucky as I have been to actually still have them in your lives. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Memories of a Friend

Back in the carefree days of my youth, I bought a little bright blue Pinto station wagon.  I loved that car.  It had shiny spoke wheels and was just cute as a bug.  It was a great party car, too, because of the extra space in the back for coolers and whatever you may need.  Shortly after I bought it, my best friend Tracie, Ron, Tyra and I decided to load some beer in a cooler and take a drive through the country.  Yeah, we shouldn't have been drinking and driving, but this was small town Kentucky on a Saturday afternoon and it was just what we did.  We were tooling around somewhere out towards Morgantown and the need to pee was getting urgent.  We found a little country church with his and hers outhouses and I pulled in the drive.  Now rather than park in the lot and walk to the modest facilities, I thought I would be cool and drive down in the little ravine where they sat.  After we took care of business, we quickly discovered that the ground was soft there and we were stuck. Really stuck.  Pushing did nothing.  We were screwed.  This was long before cell phones and we were in the sticks on a little road with virtually no traffic.

After about an hour of waiting for someone to come by that we could flag down, Ron decided that he was going to walk back to town to get help.  Our hero! We watched him trek down the country road until he was out of sight hoping he would be back sooner than later with help to get us out. I always had a blanket in the back, so Tracie, Tyra and I spread it on the ground, popped some beers and made a meal of some Cheez Whiz.  We chatted away, not overly concerned about being rescued, because Ron was on the job.  After a bit some young guys on a tractor came up the road.  They saw us from the road and quickly assessed our situation.  They had a chain and in no time had the blue Pinto party wagon back on solid ground. After paying them with a couple of beers, we loaded back in the car and went down the road hoping to catch up to Ron.

We made it back to town without coming across him which did concern us a bit, but not so much that we skipped turning into Burger King for some real food before we continued our search for him.  Cheez Whiz wasn't tiding us over.  We ordered at the drive through window then drove around the back of the building towards the pick up window.  Standing in front of the window in the drive through lane was our hero, Ron!  Seems he needed some sustenance before having us rescued, too!  I will never forget the look on his face when he realized we were behind him while he was walking through the drive through.  It is one of my fondest memories of carefree youth when nothing much mattered beyond having a good time. 

Tyra died a few years back.  It made me sad to know that she wasn't in the world anymore, although we had not really been in touch for awhile.  I kept up with her through another friend who did talk with her often.  I was bothered that one of my "group" had passed.  Seemed like we were too young for that.  This morning I found out that Ron died a few days ago from a heart attack.  I am heartbroken.  Ron and I had reconnected a couple of years ago and just last night I was texting him to come out and have a drink with me because I was in BG visiting with Sonja.  I had no idea that he was gone.  The fact that two of the four of us that shared the fun of that Saturday afternoon are dead has really rocked me today.  I realize I am getting to that age where things happen to people, but it is so hard to accept.  I'm also so very heartbroken for Tracie who has lost probably the three most important people in her life in the last couple of years.  How much weight does she have to bear?  I feel so helpless.

We will go on, those of us who knew and loved Ron Fuller.  That is what we do after all.  Go on.  Today I am replaying many memories of Ron and weeping and laughing as I remember.  Thanks Ron, for telling me to put lipstick on my whole mouth because I apparently was missing the edges of my lips.  Thanks Ron for not laughing at me because I attempted to fry a pot pie because the munchies did not allow for the baking time.  Thanks Ron for the chats over the last couple of years and for helping me past some self esteem issues that I was having.  Rest in peace, and know you will always live in my heart. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hey, I Did That!

Here I go again, breaking another promise to myself. I swore I would never blog about weight or my personal struggles with it.  Really, this is more about a triumph than a struggle, so maybe I can cut myself a little slack on this post.

Long story short, like a lot of us I have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight as an adult.  I always carried a few extra pounds, but once I grew up and got a desk job, it really became an issue.  I'm not going to talk about years of failed attempts to lose the pounds, just know that I've been up and down lots of times and I am currently on what I hope will be the last downward trend. 

I am an emotional eater and last year when my dad got sick, I knew that I would put on weight.  I tried to be aware of my choices, but I also allowed myself the self medication that food gave me during one of my life's most difficult times.  The food didn't hurt me as much as the choice to stop moving did.  Even at my heaviest times I have pretty much always tried to exercise.  I walked, went to the Y, Curves, jogged, took up biking, went to aerobic classes, I always did something.  When daddy got sick, I just gave it up.  I barely had the energry to get through my days as it was and the thought of working out just made me sick.  So I didn't and I didn't for nearly a whole year. 

Last October a friend and I took an impromptu trip out to Wyoming to hook up with Rita & Debbie who were already there. Our flight out of Nashville was delayed and when we reached Denver, where we had a connection, they were paging us for our next flight as we deplaned the first.  Naturally our arriving flight and departing flight were at the opposite ends of the concourse and so we had to make a mad dash for it.  After just a few yards I was struggling to breathe and my legs were fatigued.  Stacy was so far ahead of me that I could barely see her.  When I finally made it to the gate, the attendant gave me the stink eye and I just knew she was judging my fat out of shape self.  I got to my middle seat and tried my best to not pant like a dog for the first 20 minutes of the flight.  I was embarassed and my self esteem was in the gutter.

While in Jackson, which is a bit above 6,000 feet in elevation, I struggled to keep up with my freinds on the shortest of a hike just a few yards into the Gros Ventre slide.  They wanted to hike to Inspiration Point the next day and I knew I would not be able to do it, so I stayed behind by myself.  I had a nice afternoon hanging out with a wildlife photographer taking pictures of a majestic bull moose and driving out behind the Elk Reserve to look for big horn sheep, but I missed being with my freinds.  I made a pact with myself right then that I would start exercising again just as soon as I got home. Well, I didn't.  It was late February of this year before I really got motivated. Kim and I took a week off and headed to Grayton Beach with the pups.  We took our bikes, which I had not been on in over a year.  Between walking the dogs several times a day and riding the bikes every day, by the end of the week I was feeling so good about doing something physical that I have worked out four or five times a week since.

I started Weight Watchers at the first of March with a goal of losing 20 pounds before my vacation back out to Wyoming in mid June.  I made the goal and when we got to Jackson, I was excited about doing some easy hiking.  I was still afraid of Inspiration Point, which is a climb up a mountain that I just didn't think I could do.  Rita kept at me about trying it, encouraging me with positive reinforcement that she thought I could do it.  Finally I gave in.  The morning we went over to Jenny Lake to catch the boat to the trail, I was scared.  I knew I was going to hold my friends back or have to sit on a rock and wait for them for a couple of hours.  The hike starts with an uphill climb and really doesn't let up until you reach the point.  I really struggled the first 200 yards or so, but once I relaxed into the pace a bit it was more comfortable.  Everyone struggles to breathe in that elevation and folks much more fit than me had to take breathing breaks.   Several times I left my group so that I could go at my own pace up the trail, knowing they would catch up with me soon.  I took a pretty good fall on a rocky part of the trail, broke 4 nails (those who know me well know that was quite a tragedy!) and hurt my right wrist, but I kept going.  I made it!  I made it about a mile beyond there, too until we decided to turn back. No one has any idea what a huge personal triumph tackling that hike was for me.  It was thrilling and has renewed my motivation to get healthier.  I can't thank Rita enough for pushing me!  I am deriving great personal satisfaction knowing that when folks talk about Inspiration Point I can say "Hey, I did that!"