Category Archives: Midlife

Baby, The Rain Must Fall

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As it turns out, for me, the rain has to fall on the first Monday of summer vacation.

Thanks, Mother Nature.

Have I mentioned that I live in California? We don’t cotton much to the idea of rain in June in these parts. We find it highly disruptive of our blue sky, sunny and warm-every-day summer plans.

I mean, really! How are we supposed to go to the pool?

This morning, the title of this post popped into my head about the time I actually realized that it was raining.

As an aside, this is another thing we do in California. We completely ignore the weather report that suggests it will rain, instead focusing on the picture of the sunny tomorrow we have in our head. This makes California a very interesting place to live, as we spend much of our time in shock and disbelief of the reality that is hitting us in the face. As in “It is raining! Can you believe it is raining? I just cannot believe that it is raining in June! On the first Monday of summer vacation! Can you BELIEVE it? Wow. Rain. In June. Unbelievable!”

Anyway, back to the title. This comes from a poem, right? One of those things from my English Major-y past bubbles up from the recesses of my brain. Longfellow?

No, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was just not the “baby” type.

Steve McQueen movie? Ah, that’s it. He was much more the “baby” type.

 

 

 

But don’t call him no damn good –not in front of her!

And why is Lee Remick hanging on to that post? Is it because someone is calling Steve McQueen no damn good behind her? Who knows?

By the way, this is how my brain works. There is all kinds of stuff floating around in there, some of it pretty cool, a lot of it kind of useless. And there is no organization in there whatsoever. Well, actually, there is organization, but it is so cattywampus that it makes sense only to me.

For example, Steve McQueen and Longfellow are in the same file.

It is labeled “Rain.”

Go figure.

Anyway, I know there is still a Longfellow connection (just minus the baby).

Here it is:

THE RAINY DAY

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

That Longfellow was a pretty perceptive fellow.

I have several friends and family members who are going through days that are dark and dreary, with those rain clouds pouring down right on their heads. It is without rhyme or reason, with no regard for whether it is the first day of their summer vacation or not. And just to be clear, I am not talking about rain. It sucks.

Puts my rainy Monday summer day into perspective.

Thanks for making me grateful for a little rain, Longfellow and Steve McQueen!

And, really, can you believe that it rained today?

Sally

When Will I Ever Learn …?

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Are We There Yet?

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It is day two.  Well, at least I tried to get my first post in before midnight yesterday.  Anyway, day two, and three followers!  Of course, one is my husband, one is a relative, and one is one of my best friends, but at this point, I am not inclined to be picky.  Especially because I am so new to this whole blogging thing.  I still have a lot to figure out.  Patience, please.  Besides, who really needs more than a loving husband, family and a best friend?

On to the topic for today.  Remember how, when you were a kid you thought that, when you grew up, you became a (fill in the blank – fireman, teacher, mother, doctor, cowboy, rock star) and then your life began.  And once that happened, you were an adult and you were THERE.  Looking from the child’s vantage, “THERE” was anyplace you could dream of — a castle, a ranch, a New York apartment, the White House.  As you got older, you realized it wasn’t quite that simple.  Not everyone could live in a castle, after all.  You might have to adjust your expectations, and you might just live in a suburban house.  But once you did, you were THERE.  You no longer had worries because, hey, you were THERE.   And all of the evidence seemed to suggest that this was true because, look at your parents.  They were THERE.  By all appearances, they were who they were, they didn’t change, they didn’t worry, they didn’t dream for something different.  We thought that, when they filled in the blank as children, they filled it with “middle manager” or “housewife” or “accountant”.  Yeah, right.

It is no secret that the midsection of your life is about the gradual acceptance of the fact that, as Gertrude Stein said (in a different context), “there is no there there.”  It just so happens that I am squarely in what I hope turns out to be the midsection of my life (ironically a time when I find my self agonizing about my own midsection, but that is another topic…).  I just had a birthday.  I am not 50.  But, to paraphrase another Sally, I’m gonna be 50.  Someday.   I vividly remember when my dad turned 50 because it was the year we moved from Michigan to California, and I was 12.  I firmly believe that certain stages of your life form your clearest memories, and years 12 and 13 are those years for me.  Well, one thing I remember from that time is that my dad was THERE.  He knew what he was doing.  He certainly experienced no feelings of fear or anxiety about moving his family from the town of 2,000 people in Michigan  where he grew up (as did his father and his father’s father) to California.  Nor did he worry that it was a mistake to go from being the president of a small family company to being the president of a much larger national company.  Nor were there second thoughts about moving his kids, including one son, who was a senior in high school,  cross country, three times in a year and 1/2.  Why would there be any uncertainty?  He was an adult.  He was THERE.  So I’ll be THERE when I turn 50, right?

Ok, so you get my point.  The world is a series of constants to you when you are a kid because you just don’t know any better.  Now my husband and I find ourselves waiting for the THERE that just doesn’t come (and that we know won’t come — we have just so gotten into the habit of waiting!).  Now we are the parents, with two kids in college, both brimming with their potential and possibilities, and two more coming down the pike with dreams of being a rock star and playing professional baseball.   We’re THERE, right?  Not so much.   Instead, I am in a place where my goal is just to try to recapture a bit of that feeling of hope and possibility that our kids are experiencing while recognizing that life is about the journey, not the destination.  That is all great and good, but hard to do when sometimes that journey just sucks, and there will continue to be endless laundry and bills and illnesses and failures and deaths and worries, worries, worries.  But it doesn’t always suck.  In fact, most of the time it doesn’t. And even when it does suck, there are things for which to be grateful.  I lost my dad several years ago, and my mom just last year.  That sucked.  It still sucks.  But I was privileged enough to be with them both through the process and to be holding each of their hands at the end.  I am a fuller person as a result.  I now see my parents as people, with worries and stresses, with failures and triumphs, not as the cardboard cutouts of  grown ups that I used to see them as.  None of this  gets me THERE, of course. But in a way that is hard to articulate, I feel closer.  So maybe that’s it.  Maybe THERE is when you come to complete acceptance that there is no THERE, and I am just starting to feel the glimmers of understanding.  Hmmm.  Oh well.  I have to go do some laundry.

Sally