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Friday, 28 June 2013

55. A Nice Boy

17 years ago, on the last Friday in June, my efforts to ‘set’ a nice boy up with one of my girlfriends spectacularly backfired.  Why do I say ‘boy’?  I guess because he was a few years younger than my late-20 and as I tended to avoid most guys in their 20s (because I thought they were flaky), at 23, he seemed like a boy – a nice one, ergo my decision to introduce him to one of my girlfriends over lunch.  Little did I know he had already decided I was THE one or that lunch was going to turn into an afternoon of shooting pool, drinks, easy conversation and lots of laughing – long after my girlfriend left!  Needless to say the long hard kiss he gave me when I gave him a lift home many hours later turned my matchmaking plans on its head!  Like all good stories however, it wasn’t smooth sailing for a long time -- and I was mostly to blame.

The morning after, I was determined to push away this boy because he didn’t ‘tick’ my ‘boxes’.  “Yes, he was nice but everyone is nice when you first meet” I rationalized.  “He’s too young and probably lacks direction and maturity!” I vindicated.  You see, up until then, I had registered that the 30-somethings and even 40-somethings I had gone on dates with were flaky or just dead boring and was beginning to wonder if I should just swear off men altogether or start dating 50-somethings instead.  No wonder when this ‘boy’ turned up, I was quick to brush off that first kiss – no matter how much I enjoyed it.  But in spite of myself, more dates followed and weeks passed, with the ‘boy’ spending most of his time at my place. I was in turmoil and on high alert, ready to catch him out!  When he borrowed my car, I wondered if he was out ‘cruising for chicks’ because each time he returned, the top of my convertible would be down and his shirt would be off!  “I knew it!” I would fume to myself!  I tested what I thought was his ability to ‘put me first’ by offering him the last prawn during one of our dates.  And when he wolfed it down, I dumped him.  When he asked why, I told him he was too selfish for my liking!  I still remember the puzzlement in his eyes and yes, we DO laugh about that prawn incident now.

Taking this walk down memory lane makes me cringe and shake my head at my 20-something self as I tried so hard to protect myself against any serious entanglement.  But of course, unbeknownst to me, I had already started falling.  Each time I tried to push him away, this boy dealt with me with a sense of humor and a grace that I wasn’t displaying.  And then, one day, instead of trying so hard to find differences between us, I started noticing the similarities.  Our work ethic, our sense of humor, our love of food, and so on.  The list started slowly building up and once it started, there was no turning back.  Even when I told him I was leaving Australia for work, and thought it best we broke up as I had learnt from past experience that long-distance relationships didn’t work, he surprised me by saying he would follow me.  And just like that, this ‘boy’ quit his job, sold his stuff – just to show he was committed and was ready to invest in me!  I was gobsmacked!  He was so quietly confident in himself and us as a couple that nothing was un-doable!  I couldn’t help thinking, “What a man!” 

And what a man indeed!  Over the years, I have come to realise what an honorable, kind, funny, smart, humble and inspiring person this ‘boy’ is.  The only one who calms me down when things are crazy, who cheers me on with gusto in all my ventures; the one who shoots from the hip when I need some straight-talking, who knows when to give me space so I can work through ‘stuff’ and importantly when to pull me back in so I don’t end building up walls around me.  He is the one who inspires me to be the best version of me I can possibly be and the one who makes me smile – sometimes in spite of myself.  I am lucky that this ‘boy’ was stubborn enough to ignore my protests so I could see him for the man he is.  My husband.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

54. Crossroads

I was chatting to a close girlfriend the other day and confessed that I sometimes felt like I had some sort of attention deficit disorder:  in conversations, I jump from one subject to another and my ‘everydays’ have been a juggling act since forever ie day job, studies, night job. But I confess motherhood has intensified this continuous necessity for multi-tasking – at 10, 11 and 14, the girls need me to be ‘present’ more than ever as they try to navigate through all sorts ‘rites of passage’ brought about by each stage of childhood; and my own girlhood memories dictate I cannot bear not to be there for them.  As such, I flit from one situation to another as I try to guide them the best I can, putting out numerous ‘fires’, whilst also attempting to ‘steer’ my own ‘mission’.  No wonder, as I write this, I have another nearly-finished piece occupying the same screen, alongside a window with emails, Facebook and the news – all open, and through which I keep ‘jumping’ to-and-fro whenever I have a mental block.  I find myself trying to remember to BREATHE whilst silently repeating my long-standing mantra that “everything WILL fall into place”… fingers crossed!

And then, I look around me at all my girlfriends who are all equally busy (if not more so with ‘proper’ careers or with younger children) and who seem so adroit at the juggling that I get this sinking feeling I am not doing enough to ‘conquer the world’. My desk AND my office is an explosion of filing (HIGH on my procrastination list), to-dos and visual reminders of stuff I need to remember; and to top off my mental, physical and emotional schizophrenia, we are about to embark on something the sane loathe: move houses and ALL that entails!  Lawyers, removalists, painters, electricians, etc.. oh, and a mushrooming dread at the many boxes of things I really should have thrown out or given away a decade ago!  BREATHE!

Meanwhile, I have a standing meeting with a friend to talk about the possibility of joining his band but that rendezvous keeps getting rescheduled;  there is the book-in-progress I have failed to scrawl in for the last six months;  AND this ongoing piece, a40somethinglife.  What started as an aim to write a disciplined average of 8 to 10 pieces per month has dribbled down to a pithy one – if I’m lucky.  I churn out lifestyle pieces for a website, but am in a constant state of panic that its not impressive enough; and STILL I am contemplating plucking up the courage to approach other editors about getting more writing work.  Denial?  Perhaps.  Insane?  Probably.  Why don’t I just give it all up and concentrate on my first priority: the girls and Matt?  Because I know in my deepest of hearts, the need to be more than just “Mom” and “wifey”.  Some may speculate I am going through a midlife crisis, but I find the older I get, the more important it is for me to be interesting to myself.   And so I buckle against any sort of ‘going through the motions’ as I acknowledge my need to feed the soul, ‘slay dragons’ (ie overcome fears), and try to walk a path that is aware, insightful and filled with joie de vivre.  

And so, armed with a firm knowledge of my priorities (Matt and the girls) as well as my needs and wants, I inch toward the approaching crossroads, and take a leap of faith – that EVERYTHING will ALWAYS fall into place.

***** end *****