Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Really Should Pay Better Attention

Right now, I am happily immersed in an e-course called Brave Journaling, offered by Jennifer Belthoff. When the course was announced, I jumped at it quickly because I gained so very much from a course she offered last year. A daily discussion and writing prompt arrives by email each morning, and the well-thought lesson makes me think of topics I rarely encounter, and frankly, a few I avoid. It is refreshing.

In the midst of this year's course, I returned to the pages I wrote in last year's offering, and stumbled upon a quirky memory I had already forgotten which reminded me to pay better attention to all parts of my life, even the ones that seem to be working well. In fact, especially to the parts that seem to be working well. Those will be the ones to sneak up and bite.

Many years ago I stretched myself to sheer exhaustion when I decided to go back to college. The first two years, I attended the local college to complete the foundation courses, knowing all the while I would have to transfer to the University to complete the last two years of my chosen degree. The University was 75 miles away and after a few other life changes occurred, the plan I settled into was to stay in my full-time job, take a full-load of courses, and commute between the two. I managed to schedule my courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays, thus limiting commuting days, while I worked Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and part of Saturday. Looking back, I don't know where I found the energy.

Of course, like I always say, when you decide you cannot go another day without something, you will find a way to make it happen.

The Tuesday-Thursday college scheduled worked up until my last semester. At that point, I needed to take whatever remaining courses I needed to complete the degree, and I was at the mercy of the college's schedule for those classes. That last semester had me commuting five days a week. I would work Monday morning, drive over an hour to the University, then attend classes Monday afternoon before driving back home. Tuesday morning saw me drive in the wee hours of the morning to the University, attend classes, drive over an hour back to work where I would spend the afternoon. That repeated for the next days, punctuated by work on Saturday morning before collapsing Saturday afternoon. Sunday always held studying and laundry. I was exhausted, but the light I could clearly see at the end of the tunnel kept me going.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I began a relationship. Yeah, like I had time for that. Hank* was supportive of my schedule and offered a mental break from the hectic schedule that dominated my life the previous few years.

I was the first woman Hank dated after his divorce, something I would not recommend (but that would fill an entire essay on its own), and we shared a few laughs. As my graduation approached, I planned a 10-day vacation to the beach in Florida as a reward for the achievement, and I invited Hank along, of course.

As the relaxation of the trip set in with classes, tests, and commutes in my rear view mirror, I had a chance for the first time to really see my relationship with Hank. I quickly realized that Hank is the relationship you get when you are too busy to pay attention to what is happening. He wasn't what I needed. Not even close.

The moment came when I rounded the corner to the kitchen in our vacation condominium to find him crying. Now, I do not have a problem with men crying. Grandma dies, dog is terminally ill, just witnessed the birth of a child -- knock yourself out with the tears. I do have a problem with men crying over iced tea. I don't mean crying into their tea, as one would cry into their beer at the local watering hole, but full-on sobbing over the fact that when he tried to make a pitcher of iced tea (and I quote), "It [sob] just [sob] didn't [sniff] turn out [whimper] like yours." Sob, sob, sob . . .

Now, being an emotional being, I realize that quite often tears are triggered by something on the surface when the real reason is something deeper. I asked these questions of Hank. There was nothing deeper. Nothing deeper than the iced tea to warrant this display of watery emotion.

It was in this moment when I realized he was not for me. A week later, it was over. It was easy for me to see that while I was burning the candle at both ends trying to work and go to college, I was too busy to see that this guy was not a good fit. A few days in Florida without distractions let me see the truth of the relationship. Let's face it, I wasn't a good fit for him either. After all, if I really wanted to share my life with him, I would have let him know the secret of adding a bit of baking soda to the  tea** which gave my tea that little somethin'-somethin' he was unable to duplicate.

I doubt the baking soda would have saved the relationship.

*Name changed, like you didn't already guess that if you have read some of my previous posts.
**Two Southern tips to good iced tea: real sugar (nothing artificial) and a teaspoon of baking soda, if making a gallon.

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  1. Love my Reeetah stories! They are always so good...and while some are sad and some make me laugh (out loud...with snorting), they all make me THINK and inspire me to pay attention to my own life. So, thank you!!!

    1. I wish I could figure out how to tell the Beaker story without risking a libel suit.

    2. I agree Sheila, well said. You do write a good story, Rita. Some sad, some funny but just as Sheila says, "they all make me THINK and inspire me to pay attention to my own life". That's exactly it and I thank you too.

  2. I enjoy your blog, Rita. I'm usually thinking, "Hey, I can identify with that!" Thanks for sharing your stories!


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