Mom Unattended

Zachary is at sleepover camp this week. Realizing I haven’t posted here in a really long time, I decided to share the letters I have been sending him each day. Poor kid …

Day 1 …

Dear Zachary,

4:00 pm
I just left you at camp. I’m missing you already. To celebrate… I mean commiserate … I decided to drown my sorrows in a glass of bubbly while sitting on the deck of a restaurant overlooking Lake George. Such mixed emotions knowing you, my favorite middle child named Zach, is somewhere along this very same lake … without me. (It also breaks my heart that the glass of bubbly is now empty and the waitress is taking too long to get me a refill…doesn’t she know who I am?)

7 pm
As I was walking back to my car I was lured into one of the arcades by all those flashing lights … and an incredible sense of freedom that I can spend all $20 playing games myself and wouldn’t have to sneak tokens out of your cup. So, I played skee ball, and that silly ball drop game and then hit the jackpot on the wheel of fortune. Everyone cheered … I felt so special. I used the 8000 tickets to buy two pixie sticks, a small rubber chicken and a super bouncy ball I will throw at my sister before losing it under the car seat for the next eight months.

9:00 pm
Home. It’s so quiet. Your door is closed. I just can’t take it.
I am going to walk down to Stewart’s and buy myself that extra scoop I never let you kids get.

It’s now 10 pm and that’s lights out for you in your cabin. I just turned up the music and am now singing along to Ed Sheeran in the kitchen while chasing that ice cream with one of your pop tarts and some root beer. (I know, I know … I never keep soda in the house … but sometimes it’s ok.)

I love you and miss you lots!

Love,
Mom Unattended

P.S.  Remember to change your underwear.

Day 2

Dearest Zachary,

Wow … that was a long first day and a half. I didn’t think I’d miss you this much but I do.
Yesterday, I ran out of laundry detergent. I yelled up the stairs for you because I was going to send you to the store to get more … but you didn’t answer. I suppose I could go myself but I think I’ll just wait and make you do it on Friday night.
When I first got home from work the deafening silence in the house was overwhelming. I panicked for a minute when I didn’t hear you yelling at a video game with those silly headphones on, wondering perhaps if you od’d on Mario Kart … and then I remembered you are at camp … device and game free … making friends.
I poured a glass of wine and started to look at your baby pictures. How time flies! A tear fell down my cheek…then another … then another. Then I realized I was really crying because the wine was empty so I poured another glass.
The camp posts pictures on their website everyday. You weren’t smiling in your group shot. Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.I think I saw one of you and Nate swimming … bravo for getting in the water!
Ok … I must go put my game face on and go to work. Someone has to make the $$$ to pay for this 5-star dream vacation you are on. (Yesterday my story took me to the Berkshires … I pretended I was on vacation, too, if just for a moment.)
I love you and hope you’re having fun … and if you’re not don’t ever tell me because you are there instead of me sitting on an island with bottomless drinks and pool boys named Juan and Sven.
Love,
Mom Unattended
P.S.
Brush your teeth. Girls don’t like boys without teeth.
Day 3
Hello Z …

Tuesday was rough. I drove to the airport for my story and my car died in the private jet terminal parking lot. I secretly hoped it wouldn’t be able to start again and some rich and handsome man would whisk me away to an exotic island in his plane … but that didn’t happen. The very friendly parking guys jumped the car and alas I’m now back on Tinder trying to find someone to buy me a burger and fries. FML.
The new car battery cost $125 so that means less presents at Christmas time.
When I got home there was a soccer ball lying in the middle of the yard. It wasn’t there in the morning. A ghost??? Reminders of happier times when the sounds of children could be heard all through the house??? (In reality the woman who takes care of the garden cleaned up the overgrown brush stuff and it must have been hiding in there … so no kids but it is kind of fun to say I have a gardener.)
I decided to be nice and clean your room like you asked me to. I went upstairs and then I remembered YOU didn’t clean YOUR room like I asked you to. So, I decided to flip all of your pants and shirts inside out and put them back in the drawers. Now, when you get home, you’ll know how absolutely insane it drives me to have to flip them right side out when I’m doing laundry.
I have a date tonight. He’s in the Navy. I like him. Since my last three relationships didn’t make it past the six month mark I figure this is a surefire way to break those records as he’s deploying next month until March. My new secret to success will be to be with someone I can’t be with! (And that means more time for quality me and you time….it’s a win for everyone.)
Ok … I’m off to start this day. I really do miss you. Lots. I didn’t see any pictures of you yesterday on the website so I’ll hope you’re having fun and not sulking in your cabin all day. The weathermen say it will be dry today and tomorrow … but they’re usually wrong … but in case they’re not remember to put on sunscreen.
Love always,
Mom Unattended
P.S.

Make sure you’re putting on deodorant … and reapply in the afternoon.

Up on the rooftop … click, click, click

It’s Christmas Eve morning and all through the house not a creature is stirring not even a … wait. I’m pretty sure there are spiders stirring in the basement and I’m sitting here typing so there’s that, too. There is also a fish in a bowl in the kitchen I am trying desperately not to kill while the kids are away. (So far so good but I make no promises …)

What is not stirring is my little people. They are not here. The house is a little too quiet and clean. I haven’t had to run the dishwasher or wipe pee off of a toilet seat in days. I haven’t tripped over a video game controller or stepped on Lego piece in what seems like forever.

This is my first Christmas in about 12 years where the innocent excitement of Santa isn’t in the house. Yesterday I finished wrapping gifts and the majority of them are already placed perfectly under the tree. When I get home from family time tonight I’ll stuff two stockings and bring the boys’ presents down as we still need a little Christmas magic and surprise.

The twins are off in California with their dad, the big boys come back to me today and will stay until tomorrow afternoon. So is the holiday season of a divorcee. I know I’m not alone in this journey … I have so many friends in similar situations although mine being across the country this year is a little different. Historically I have always had the kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning so this is a first as well.

It’s not all bad. This is first Christmas Eve since returning to CT that I don’t have to work. (I will be gracing the anchor desk tomorrow, though. I volunteered knowing the kids would be away.) There is also tremendous joy in knowing these changes mean my kids are growing up, we’re all still here, and part of the journey of life is going through these stages.

Let’s talk about Aidan. He will be 15 next month. He is sarcastic, witty, quick, smart and much more me than his father. Our bond has changed so much in the last couple of years … he’s the man of the house when it comes to reaching things off of high shelves, taking out the garbage, watching his siblings and looking after me. He’s protective, defensive and thus far doing a really phenomenal job of transitioning from child into man. (Don’t get me wrong, he is still often found sprawled out on the kitchen floor, flailing like a fish out of water, but instead of that being a temper tantrum it’s just being silly, a child and often some of our best conversations happen then.)

I digress … back to thoughts on Christmas as I have to hurry up and finish this so I can head up to mom’s to prep a turkey.

A few days ago I found myself with some one on one time with Aidan. We had attended an important event at his high school where he chose his course of study for the next 3 1/2 years. (It’s a technical school and he chose Information Systems Technology … earning the highest grade out of everyone and so I get bragging rights.) To celebrate I took him to Hooters because that is what your mom does when your mom is me.

He was animatedly talking about the holiday. Even at 14 the magic and excitement of the holiday is alive and well but the conversations are a little different. We had a very serious discussion about the right way to sneak presents quietly down the stairs so as not to wake the children and we also learned what pancake ass is. (Really …. the orange shorts/tights combination is not flattering.) Tis the season for important life lessons someday I hope he will pass on to his children.

He also wanted to know if I drank the milk and ate the cookies. I explained you never drink the milk … just pour it down the drain … and you take a bite or two out of the cookies and then bury the remnants deep into the garbage can so as not to let little eyes find the evidence. Then you strategically leave a few crumbs on the plate and call it a night. He seemed in awe and impressed with the level of dedication we parents put into keeping the Santa tradition alive.

Aidan then told me even though the twins are not here he still wants to leave out cookies and milk. I smiled, thankful for this amazing young man, his big heart and how much he makes me laugh. (And shake my head.) I then told him if he wants better presents he should consider leaving wine and cheese and crackers …

Cheers to new traditions and life moving forward!

I can make your hands clap …

I failed chemistry in high school. Twice. The first time I blame on getting mono as missing two weeks of school throws you for a loop.  The second time I blame on the fact they gave me the same teacher, which I’m pretty sure is against the rules, and she wrote me off before we even started. (And then I got pneumonia and missed almost 3 weeks of class… plus I just didn’t like the class.)

Clearly not a fan of the periodic table of elements there are other types of chemistry I have come to more than appreciate. (Yes, this is a dating story …. no, it isn’t a bad one … so far.)

I took a break from dating for a while, choosing to just spend time with my girlfriends and my family. After the holidays I decided to jump back in and while I’ve done pretty well at finding the time I’ve yet to find a person where the circumstances make sense or the chemistry is so off the charts it doesn’t matter if they’re not. I’ve dated older, I’ve dated younger, I’ve dated new and I’ve dated people I’ve dated before. I’ve come to enjoy dating just to date, not as something I’m ultimately hoping leads to a relationship. I believe that will happen when all of the pieces fall into place without being forced and when I’m ready to let it lead to that.

Recently I found myself on a date. It wasn’t necessarily planned although we both knew there was a mutual interest. Our first kiss was one of those that makes the world stop spinning, the choirs sing, takes your breath away and all that fun stuff. Chemistry … the good kind and the kind that is hard to come by.

At our last stop of the evening we found ourselves at a table by the window at Barcelona in New Haven.  I always prefer to sit at the bar, chairs turned towards each other, but in this case the bar and tables next to it were full. We didn’t mind our romantic little table for two.

We chatted, we sipped, we smiled a lot. About 30 minutes after getting there he excused himself to use the restroom. I took out my phone to check on the kids and as I looked up suddenly there was a woman in his seat. She had a smirk on her face and she looked at me mischievously and asked if he and I were on a date. Apparently she and her friends had been watching us intently trying to figure out the dynamic. (This is something we all do … people watch. I find I do it all the time, watching and trying to guess if a couple is on a first date .. I consider it a misery loves company thing.)

I told her it appeared I was on a date and gave a brief history of how we met and how the evening had progressed. I then went over to the table where she and her friends were sitting and asked what their dynamic was. I learned one of them is getting married soon so I passed along my condolences and we continued chatting about the chemistry these ladies were sensing coming from my table. As we chatted the table next to them started to listen in and seemingly the interest in what was going on on my date was growing.

Then came what might be the best dating moment of my life. A movie moment. Something you’d expect in a romantic comedy, possibly starring Cameron Diaz or Kate Hudson. (I once peed in the stall next to Cameron Diaz … on the set of There’s Something About Mary … and I sat in the room as Kate Hudson did a strip tease … but I digress.)

I walked back over to my table and told my date about how the woman had approached me and that they had taken an interest in us. I was standing in front of him, my back to everyone in the bar, when we leaned in for the kiss. As his lips touched mine the clapping started … then cheering … I think some people even stood up. (This is what he said as he was the one facing in their direction.) Instinctively I raised my arms to signal victory and the cheering got a little louder. We continued to kiss. Chemistry.

The extenuating circumstances are not ideal and we lead very different lives. Perhaps this was just a moment to remind me chemistry like that does still exist … perhaps it is more … I have no idea. I know I have made some new friends in the ladies at the table. Facebook brings us all closer together and I’ve learned more about what they felt they were witnessing that night. I know he and I will smile every time we think of that moment … be it together or apart.

I’ve been on dates where I wish someone would sweep in and save me. I’ve locked eyes with a girl who looked like she needed that, too. I’ve seen people hold hands for the first time, nervously laughing at the stranger they are studying and analyzing. I’ve had guys give me their numbers when their date goes to the bathroom. (At some point I might have even given my number to someone else when my date went to the bathroom.) Dating can be brutal. On this night it was momentarily amazing and I thank everyone in that bar for helping to restore my faith.

I took chemistry again as an adult when I lived in Vermont. I was a young-ish mother with two babies, a business to run, and another job on the side … and I got an A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxi …

It’s no secret I’ve always been drawn to the older man. My first husband was 5 years older, Andy 10 1/2. Since I’ve been “single” again beginning at the lovely age of 36 I’ve continued to date mostly older … mid to late 40’s. Is it a daddy issue?! No … it’s a Jacquie issue that dates back to 1996.

Summertime … San Francisco. One successful semester at the Academy of Art College behind me, I was living with my then boyfriend Brian. (Please refer to the blog post titled Inked …) Mom didn’t want me to cohabitate with a boy back then but as I lived 3000 miles from home there was a security in it and we would have done it anyway so she agreed to pay the rent.

I spent a couple of weeks back in Connecticut before heading back to the city by the bay and searching out employment. As a film student and sometimes wanna-be actress I applied to Planet Hollywood. They wouldn’t hire me to wait tables as I had only done so in a small pizza restaurant back in CT but they offered me a job working in the office in a position titled phone/cashier. I answered the phones and took in all the money from servers at the end of the night.

David was one of the managers. He was tall, handsome, ridiculously charming and flirty. We hit it off. He was 29 … I was 19. We often worked side by side at the end of the nights, counting money and chatting about life. I had a crush.

A handful of moments have stuck with me, times I knew he liked me, too. There was the time Andrew Shue, of Melrose Place fame, came in for an event and was in the office. I worked in a small room right at the entrance and another phone/cashier and I were a little giddy he was there. Mr. Shue had on a linen suit, it was wrinkled, and as he glanced into the room where we were sitting, seemingly checking us ladies out, David shut the door. I sometimes wonder if had he not, would I have been Mrs. Shue?!?!

Another evening, after a party, David brought back a bunch of appetizers to the office staff. He handed me what he said was a mozzarella stick and I took a bite. It was a jalapeno popper. As one of the whitest people to ever walk the earth spicy foods like that and I don’t get along. My eyes teared up, I couldn’t talk, and he laughed. I couldn’t handle the “phone” part of my job for at least 15 minutes so he had to fill in for me until I could speak again.

I remember not liking the nights he wasn’t there. I remember looking forward to the nights I knew he would be. I can recall his smile, the devilish sparkle in his eye, the way he looked at me. What I remember most is the taxi rides home …

San Fran is a big city. According to a survey I found online, in 2014 there were about 380,000 dwelling units in the city. I’m sure that number was a little lower back in the 90’s but you get the idea. As luck would have it David and I lived right across the street from each other in the Fillmore section. (If you know music you’ve heard of The Fillmore.)

At the end of nights we both worked, usually sometime after midnight, we would share a cab home. I was a poor college student, he was a successful twenty-something and so he always paid. It wasn’t a terribly long ride from downtown to home but I know I wished, more often than not, that it was longer. We would talk … about life, love, work, hopes and dreams. I don’t necessarily remember specifics but if I close my eyes I can be right back there, sitting beside him, the city lights rushing by.

In the three months I worked there the cab rides morphed a bit. We began to sit closer, the chats got deeper. He lived with his girlfriend, I had Brian. As the summer was winding down I knew I wanted to head back east and shared the why with David. Perhaps this was the beginning of my restless gypsy soul.

The rides would end with us standing on the corner, hesitant to end the evening but both knowing we had to. My memory, while slightly hazy, recalls the first brush of a hand in a cab, resting my tired head on his shoulder, and wishing many times he would have kissed me on that corner. He didn’t.

The day before I was moving home David called me. (Pre cell-phone, people … he had to call the house.) He was babysitting for another manager and asked me some silly questions about understanding toddlers and then asked if I could come over and help get the little bugger to sleep. Hmmmm.

I did. I remember the elevator up, the opening of the door, the nervousness. Conveniently the baby was asleep and David asked me if I wanted a glass of wine. I was 19. I didn’t drink wine. I said yes. It was white.

I remember the kiss. I remember what followed. I remember standing by the door afterwards and saying to him, “It’s weird to think I will never see you again.”

I was young. Naive. I looked to him for guidance in a situation I had never been in before.

He responded by saying, “Sometimes it’s better that way.”

I was devastated. That moment is one I will never forget.

Flash forward 20 years.

I searched for him several times when the internet came about. He was never far from my thoughts. When I think of San Francisco he is what comes to mind, not Brian. I didn’t find him until several years ago and when I did it was easy to speak freely, as we once did on those rides home. I have never seen David again but the intimacy of those cab rides lives on in a friendship that has matured with time.

He married that girlfriend, they had two kids and divorced. Our lives, while different, have similarities. I have turned to him for advice on parenting from afar, dating, marriage, divorce. He has shared with me his honesty in moments of doubt and devastation. He has always encouraged me to write and because of him I am, for the first time in nearly a year, and with his permission to share this story.

We do not know the impact someone will have on our life when we first meet them. We do not know the impact we might have on someone else. I always wondered if he thought of me, as I had of him, or if it was really as simple as saying “sometimes it’s better that way” …

I know now it wasn’t. He chalks up that statement to immaturity. (Even though I saw him as older and wiser.) He remembers specifics, just like I do, things I said that upon hearing them again let me see while I have changed over time I’ve always had certain traits. He remembers the moments when we knew we were more than just friends, he remembers jealousy. He describes me as the wide eyed girl in the back of a cab who knew I wanted more out of life and was trying to figure it all out.

I’m still that girl in so many ways. My gypsy soul is trying to stay put and be content with where and who I am. I just resigned my lease and am working hard to become engaged in my community, volunteering my time for good causes and being asked to emcee events. I’m being honored in my hometown as a distinguished alumni at a ceremony in May. My kids are healthy and happy and we have so much laughter and love in our lives.

Life is good. But still …

Taxi.

 

 

 

April 18, 1775 …

It’s been 241 years to the day since Paul Revere reportedly rode towards Lexington declaring, “The British are coming! The British are coming!”

There is some debate as to whether or not he actually said those words. I don’t know for sure and since it wasn’t live streamed on social media or captured on an iPhone we will just have to let the legend live on and live on it did a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night.

The kids and I were at home and they were anxiously awaiting the arrival of mom’s new boyfriend. (They’d met before, approval had already been given, and they had spent a good portion of the day arguing about who would get to play with him first….clearly I wasn’t the winner.) As Ian’s car pulled into the driveway Aidan started screaming, “The British are coming, the British are coming!”

The others quickly  joined in, the younger two most likely completely unaware of the comedy. They just wanted to join in the moment and out-shout their brothers while joining in the pre-Ian festivities. They yelled to duck and cover and plotted an attack. I was completely amused. I smiled, I laughed, I probably got butterflies because British was about to walk through my door.

I first saw Ian standing at a parking meter in a parking lot. Well, that is not the first time I saw him …  I’d seen him many times before but in that moment I didn’t know that. Perhaps it is better to say it was the first time I noticed him.

I was working and heading into a press conference. I did not want to be there. I had a shoot already set up for the day, an intimate one on one with a heroin addict entering recovery. An email informed me earlier that morning that we would have to cancel my shoot because we needed to cover a hearing with Sandy Hook families trying to sue a gun manufacturer. I’ve always found Sandy Hook stories to be difficult to cover, as I believe most reporters here in Connecticut do. Again, I did not want to be there.

But there I was and there he was. A handsome man paying for parking. Dark jacket, short salt and pepper hair.  There was something about him and I got lost in the moment, feeling like I needed to know more about him. As I headed into the building which had several floors, I found myself hoping I would see him inside. I thought,  “Please be a lawyer, please be a lawyer, please be lawyer…”

He’s not a lawyer. I didn’t really want him to be a lawyer. I’ve dated lawyers. I’m all set in that department. I just didn’t want him to be one of the families. He’s one of the families. As he walked into the room and I saw him again I got that same strange feeling of needing to know more. I was drawn to him for reasons I couldn’t understand at that time. (And I hadn’t even heard the accent yet.)

Falling in love at almost 40 is so much different from falling in love at 16, 19, 22, 29, or 36. (Yep … that about sums them up.) Falling in love at almost 40 has made me question whether or not I was in love at 36. (And I now know for sure love at 16 and 19 is young love which is not nearly the same as grown-up love, in any form.) I don’t think we can define it as loving someone more or loving someone less but I think for us to find it again after losing it, it has to be bigger. It has to be deeper. At 40 we bring so much more to the table and in our cases some of what we bring would be enough to make others turn and run. We aren’t running. Instead we are learning and embracing and experiencing someone new in ways unique only to us.

We’ve talked about the times we were so close to one another but our paths were not ready to collide. I have a photo of him from that day at the presser … he hates it because of where he was at that time and I love it because for me it was the start of us and not the continuation of something else.

On the way down I am learning that I am so glad he’s not a lawyer and I was brazen enough to pursue that moment and feeling in the parking lot.

Falling at almost 40 has been different for the kids as well. Maybe it is because they sense the difference in me this time around. Maybe it is because they are older. Maybe it is because of what we all bring to the table and hope to add to it. Maybe it’s because of his accent.

They seem excited. There is laughter, there are games. Zachary likes him. Zachary doesn’t like anyone. They all try to talk like Ian and we’re keeping tabs on British expressions that we learn everytime he is here. (My list is a little differerent than theirs …)

I’ve learned enough to know that nothing is guaranteed. I suppose everything could crumble apart at any moment but I promised myelf to write honestly and so I am. I hope it doesn’t. I’d like to think that life has taught us the key to falling is never to let yourself hit the bottom.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s tea time.

 

Once upon a pen …

My ex husband is moving. (The second one.) He’s off to California sometime in June and so I am forced with finally having to clean out my stuff from the basement that once was mine. Being such a nice man he actually started to do it for me and recently delivered three boxes of photos and memorabilia to me. One of them contained a box of notes from my high school days …

Note writing was an art … papers full of life altering data and top secret information folded into little squares begging to be opened. (Like who has a crush on who and how tight Mr. Marino’s pants were on any given day, complete with illustrations.) The bulk of mine come from a select few people.

There are the rambling exchanges between my first “love” and I …. 16 year old logic at its best usually composed in 5th period study hall. “No …. I just cannot be your girlfriend, it wouldn’t be right …. stay with your current girlfriend and someday, maybe, it will be our time.” Confessions of love and heartbreak that culminated with HIM breaking up with ME….and then another 6 months of broken heart and how dare he notes exchanged between my girlfriends and I.

There are the perfectly composed, beautifully hand written letters from my first older boyfriend … who come to find out is actually gay. (The handwriting and his inability to go beyond second base should have been a sign …. those and the Jon Secada lyrics he sent me more than once.)

There are congratulatory cards and letters from the ladies on major life events involving things most often found at the bottom of a martini glass or on top of an ice cream sundae. Yes, we sent cards, bought each other gifts, and somehow managed to exchange them within a few weeks time. I guess it was contagious.

The days of writing it all down are pretty much gone. My children will not have these boxes of history to shuffle through and bring out the laughs and tears. Exchanges now are often a word or two, abbreviated in code, and sent on a phone only to be deleted or lost when the phone breaks or gets replaced. It is so much more than just a note … it is the fact that communication is becoming a lost art form and exchanges have become quick and often impersonal.

I’ve never stopped writing. I have a couple of friends who still do as well. The main difference is now it’s an email and unless you print it out it could be lost forever. Words are powerful and I fear my kids will never really know how to use them.

As previously reported, I have a new special someone in my life. He’s an amazing person with an incredible ability to communicate. We write. Our first exchanges were long messages, sent via Facebook and text but always in complete sentences and thoughts. Refreshing.

Shortly after we first began seeing each other he went away for several days. Most nights during that time we wrote to each other, long emails full of feelings, stories, insight, and a few laughs scattered in as well. At my age, and his which is slightly older … hehe … we have amassed some pretty heavy stuff. Our letters opened the doors to healthy conversations and intimate moments that otherwise might have been difficult to share. I’ve since printed them out and stashed them away. (But as I sit here and type I’m thinking I haven’t seen his handwriting yet …. hmmmm.)

It saddens me that handwriting has given way to typing and signatures to thumbprints.

The FBI can’t hack into my box of notes … although perhaps even scarier than that is the thought of my 13 year old getting his hands on them and realizing I was once a mostly mindless teenager, too. Thankfully most of them are written in cursive which is the equivalent to hieroglyphics to today’s youth….the drawings of Mr. Marino’s inappropriately tight pants … not so much.

Risks aside, I will not stop writing. I hope it continues to be a part of my new relationship. Often, when the words cannot be expressed through our voices , the paper … or screen… help us get them out.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the parents …

Lil’ Joe … he’s been dad since I was 6. (And mom started dating him when I was 2-ish so I’ve never known a time he wasn’t in my life.) In my family we never say step or half … we are just family. Mom, dad, sisters and brother. I was 8 when my sister Alicia was born, 12 when Anthony was born. Stephanie is 18 months older than me and we are the result of mom’s first marriage.

Lil’ Joe is all of 5’2″ … and I think that is being generous. (I’m 5’1″ and always in heels so he seems much shorter than I am.) He’s one of the most physically fit men I know, working out religiously everyday for pretty much his entire life. Despite his short but muscular stature the boyfriends from my younger years were intimidated by him.

My father had predictable behavior when a boy was over. The then boy of my dreams and I would be watching a movie … and by watching I mean not really watching … in the depths of the basement with the lights out. Lil’ Joe would swing open the door and flip on a light and Mr. Make-out of the moment and I would jump to opposite sides of the sofa. He would then proceed to barrel down the stairs and walk over to a book shelf where he would pretend to choose a National Geographic from his collection and then head back upstairs … enough of an interruption to kill the teenage moment.

All in all I think I have a pretty remarkable family. Sometimes I wish I was closer to my older sister but we were close enough in age to be frienemies during our developmental years and now we have kids and careers. M younger siblings and I certainly don’t have the crazy childhood memories Steph and I have together but we are working to create crazy adulthood ones. (Please recall Anthony was my manny for 6 weeks in Alaska and went on a cruise with the boys and I the year before … so many good times.)

Recently Anthony has been bringing a new young woman around. (Her name is Jackie … it makes for very confusing conversations. My mother suggested we say little Jackie and big Jacquie but all I got out of that was I am fat and need to go on a diet.) Alicia has a new friend spending time with us as well and I have Ian. (Yes, we will just go by his name from here on in … Ian, Ian, Ian.) Family gatherings are suddenly a little more lively and no we don’t hold back for fear of scaring anyone away.

Last night, a Wednesday night, Ian and I cooked dinner and Alicia and her friend stopped by. There was champagne, wine, carbs, conversation and lots and lots of laughs, so many laughs they turned into tears. My family is fun, modern, and usually uninhibited. It makes for fabulous holiday gatherings and could-be awkward first meetings.

Ian met the parents just shy of two weeks ago. We stopped by on a Friday night to grab the twins and had a drink and introductions. The next night we went over there for a slightly post-St. Patty’s Day feast and the whole crew was there. Anthony was burping, my mother pouring the wine, my sister’s husband and Ant have a tendency to speak in character, often those of friends or other family members, and my main goal is usually to make Lil’ Joe blush and see the vein on the side of his forehead pop out … a sure-fire sign I have succeeded in pushing the limits.

A few examples of how to make Lil’ Joe blush:

On Ian being British ….. “Dad … he’s British. It’s like I was a virgin again. I never shagged anybody before … ”

On life after retirement: “See Dad, I knocked before coming into the house … just in case you were getting some …”

On dad saying sweet nothings to mom: “You’re just saying that cause you wanna get lucky.”

His response: I’m almost 70, we don’t do that anymore.

My response to that: Dad, I get hit on by men your age all the time. You do that …

On religious holidays:

Dad: Hi JB! It’s Holy Saturday.

Me: It’s gonna be anything but holy if I get my way.

This could all be slightly intimidating to a newbie. But it’s not. We love, we laugh, sometimes we disagree. We play games, tell stories, and respect each other’s choices and do not judge the past. (Or if we do we just drink enough wine that it no longer matters.) We welcome new friends with open arms.

Back to meeting the parents … Ian saw them Friday and Saturday and again on Sunday at which point we invited my brother to join us for dinner out. I threw poor Ian into the fire so fast he didn’t have time to think twice and by late Sunday night he declared what a great weekend it was and how much fun he’d had. He has since survived the first holiday gathering and meetings with extended family as well. He fits in quite nicely and should have Lil’ Joe blushing and shaking his head in no time.

Last night, while sitting around my dining room table, Alicia’s new friend and Ian were recalling the meetings and allowing us to see what it’s like to become a part of our family as an outsider.

“You don’t get introduced to your family, it’s like an initiation.”

 

For years I lived somewhat far away from my childhood home. I was in Florida, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Killingworth … which is apparently the equivalent of Vermont … and then Alaska. Family time had to be scheduled and planned and often involved overnight bags. For the first time in a looooong time I am close to home and I am loving what that means. Bring on more impromptu Wednesday visits, Sunday dinners, Friday happy hours, and more laughs than we can handle … and we are happy to share them.