Silence Isn’t Golden… It’s Diamond

diamond ringsI’m not a very quiet person. I realize this may come as a shock to some, but I like to talk. Oh, who am I kidding? I LOVE to talk. I REALLY LOVE to talk. I can talk all day, everyday about anything, everything and nothing. I am basically a good person, but my one downfall (if I had to admit to one)… the ONE thing that has consistently gotten me into trouble is my talking. I opened my mouth in pre-school to talk about who knows what—probably Play-Doh or Barbies or Captain Kangaroo—and I haven’t closed it since.

Which is why it was not surprising when yesterday evening during dinner I got the sneeking suspicion that Lee (being as polite as one could be after a long, hard day at work) wanted me to shut the hell up. He was eating peacefully and there I was yammering on about something I’d read on Facebook, various job leads, the bank account, bridal gown shopping and a web design class I thought I should register for.

He didn’t SAY anything, mind you. But I could tell. I’d seen the body language before in my father, my mother, my sister, my co-workers, the teller at the bank, the clerk at the grocery store, the optician fitting me for new glasses and the poor, helplessly-captive phlebotomist drawing my blood at the Red Cross. Once that needle’s in… she’s committed baby! I’ve got an audience for at LEAST a pint — which CAN be awhile if you fail to squeeze the squishy ball hard enough.

I don’t know how else to describe it. But it’s something that can be read in the resigned slump of the shoulders, the “please shut up” roll of the eyes and naturally the “oh $#@! here we go again” nodding-while-avoiding-direct-eye-contact thingy. I guess it’s just something one must experience in order to recognize. But… I digress.

Anyhoo, immediately upon detection of this behavior from Lee that he did, indeed, want me to shut the hell up… I sighed a heavy sigh, pet the cat and said to Lee: “Well, I should probably just be quiet now and let you enjoy your meal.” An observation that he, of course, did NOT deny. But he DID un-slump his shoulders, make eye contact with me and smile. He finished chewing what was in his mouth, used and re-folded his napkin, then turned toward me to speak.

“I just find it interesting that you’ve been talking to me this whole time while we are eating and yet…” He paused for a drink of his Diet Dr. Pepper. “… you sat silently on the couch for over an hour when I got home this afternoon, glued to those ring catalogs that I gave you to look at.”

For a rare moment I was speechless. My gaze immediately darted from him toward the living room, landing on the carefully-stacked diamond catalogs sitting innocently on the edge of the coffee table. He had brought them home only hours earlier for me to “take my time” perusing in search of a potential wedding band and light blue sticky notes were already jutting out from the edges of several pages. I looked back at him sheepishly and silently… my face turning fifty shades of pink… my diamond lust having been found out and now grossly on display beneath the revealing yellow light of the dining room.

“I guess I know how to shut you up then.” He said, half-teasing and partially serious. Apparently… for me… silence never was golden. But it just might be diamond.

Pulling the Plug

JUST DO IT. How hard can it be? Just turn off the computer and pull the plug already! My mind yells at me as I take inventory of the last few boxes full of random things like bottles of half-empty nail polish, tanning cream, mis-matched socks, leftover lightbulbs, dusty cat toys and shirts I no longer wear because I forgot I even had them.

I’m at that point where I’ve begun taking those GIANT black garbage bags and filling them with stuff. The really, REALLY random stuff that I won’t even waste the words to mention. Except for those words… The ones I just typed…

Anyway, the house is empty. And for some strange reason it looks smaller than it did when it was filled with all my worldly possessions. Why is that? My footsteps echo through the vacant rooms and nail marks dot the expansive blank walls where my favorite things once hung. How could it possibly feel smaller when everything is gone?

Tomorrow I will start a brand new chapter as I officially move into my “new home” with my future husband and am surrounded by all of that “stuff” that made this place feel bigger. Somehow I suspect it will have the opposite effect in my new space…

Ahhhh the joy of stepping over and around boxes and digging through stacks of cardboard and Rubbermaid trying to find that sweater that I MUST have to wear with those jeans and so on. Searching with grave desperation for my favorite travel mug… sappy rom-com DVD… or the book in which I had 10 more pages left to read.

But it will all be worth it when I can—after two years of hour-long phone conversations every night, Skype marathons and seeing one another every other weekend—finally lay down on our couch and drift off to sleep, knowing that “goodbye” is a word no longer in our vocabulary.

Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects

When I was little I was obsessed with clear things. Bottles, containers, glass, clear beads and stones… you name it. If I could see through it, I was completely transfixed by it. My parents have photographs of me as a toddler, sitting on the couch or the floor, playing with little plastic bottles, pouring the contents from one into the other over and over and over.

I know. Apparently it didn’t take much to amuse me then either.

For a while I had a clear, turquoise, glass stone with a flat bottom that I carried with me EVERYWHERE. I kept in my pocket for safekeeping and took it out whenever I was bored just to look at it. I held it up to the light and laid it on top of the papers on my desk at school to see how the page changed colors or the words became distorted and magnified through its unique shape and shade.

I was heartbroken when I lost it. To this day, I still don’t know where it is. But on occasion, I think about that treasured gem longingly as though it were a misplaced fortune.

My mother—witnessing this interesting behavior in her child—wondered if perhaps as I grew, the obsession would turn to diamonds, crystal and costly glass items. I cannot say that such has been the case, though I do still find clear things quite captivating. Perhaps it is nothing more than the artist within. I am a designer by trade… a visual person drawn to the properties of light, color and shape as they relate to the world around me.

Though never driven to obtain diamonds, gems or crystal — I will admit that the lovely, sparkly diamond now resting on my ring finger has become quite a distraction to me. I enjoy gazing at it in all sorts of different kinds of light. The sunlight streaming through my window on my commute to work… the flourescent light in my office as my hand hovers over the keyboard… the soft glow of candle light in the evening… the bright bathroom light and resulting reflection in the mirror… and yes, even the lighting in the cat food aisle at the grocery store.

But while I am utterly enchanted by the beauty of this intricately-chiseled stone, I am even more enraptured by what it signifies. The unspoken promises of hope, unconditional love, friendship and companionship captured within its glimmer… Things that sparkle no matter the amount of light or darkness that surrounds me.

Second Chances

The year was 1985. It was the start of a new school year at Mary Irene Day Elementary School in Minerva, OH. And this was no ordinary year. At M.I. Day, the start of the 5th grade not only ushered in a new school year but a whole new brood of students from the tri-county area as well.

This was the year that all of the other kids from the smaller, more rural, K-4 schools joined the “townies” at the larger, local elementary. And let’s face it… Who likes outsiders anyway, right? This concept was particularly difficult for a bunch of bratty, pre-pubescent, middle-schoolers-in-training to deal with in a graceful manner.

But there I was, a little blonde girl who probably thought she was “all that” sporting a sassy new 80s get-up while unpacking my sharp #2 pencils, fresh notebooks and admiring the front of my new Trapper-Keeper. And there he was—reeking of new-kid-ness—a sheepish, chestnut-haired boy with kind brown eyes, turned backwards in his chair and staring right at me.

“Why don’t you take a picture. It will last longer!” I snapped at him in the nastiest pre-teen tone I could muster, trying to make my friends laugh and ease the heat that I felt rapidly spreading toward my face. He quickly ducked his head and turned away. I had obviously hurt his feelings by acting like such a little bitch.

Little did I know that 26 years later that same sheepish boy with the kind brown eyes—now a grown man with an even kinder spirit—would escort me to that same spot, kneel down in front of me and say: “A picture would have been nice, but I want something that lasts forever.”

It wasn’t easy for him to pin-point the exact spot where I’d hurled those hurtful words at him so many years before… but somehow he’d managed to pull it off. You see, our school had recently been torn down and a new one built in it’s place. But with an uncanny sense of direction and the assistance of Google Earth, Bing and Yahoo Maps… he found it. THE very spot where our 5th-grade classroom used to be was now the new playground.

The school as it looked in 1985.

A clever story about his role on the Building Leadership Team at the school where he teaches convinced me to go with him to the playground to do a little “research” for his district. Feeling like a kid again, I teased him about the brat I’d been back then and took a trip down the slide. He was waiting for me at the bottom poised to ask this life-altering question.

After a lot of tears and shouting “Yes, a million times yes!” we couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer amazement of how life works sometimes.

By the time we were in high school we had become great friends. Kindred spirits some might say. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I liked him. He was one of the good ones and we could talk about anything. We shared a taste in music, books, movies and deep conversation. We tried “dating” for awhile but I did not yet understand the importance of dating someone who was also a friend… so we parted as friends.

Off to college and separate adventures that would take us in completely opposite directions… To him, I was “the one that got away” when he read of my wedding announcement 4 years after graduation. And to me, years into a destructive and abusive marriage… he was “the good friend that I desperately wished I hadn’t taken for granted.”

By the time we met again at the age of 34, you could say that our lives—much like that old school building—had, over time, been completely torn down and reconstructed. We were different, and yet somehow exactly the same. And we realized that we’d been given the very rare gift of a second chance.

Since we first laid eyes on one another two years ago—after half our current lifetime had passed by—we have not looked back. Perhaps 26 years ago he saw something in that bratty little blonde, and thankfully he didn’t give up on me right then. Thankfully he stuck around and waited. Waited for something that would last longer than a picture. Something that would ultimately last forever.

Slightly Preoccupied

With the turkey fully digested and the official “decking of the halls” close at hand, I encountered what you might call a slight distraction during this busy holiday time.

Down on one knee, velvet box open in his hand… my best friend popped the question last Friday. It happened so fast that seconds after I cried and shouted “yes, Yes, YES I’ll marry you!” I slipped the ring off my finger, stuffed it back in the box, shoved it into his hand and yelled at him: “OK… Now… DO THAT AGAIN!!”

He of course looked at me like I was completely insane and I’m certain wondered to himself: I don’t think this is the way it is supposed to go down, but whatever. And he indulged me. Yes, there have been times when my sanity MAY have been called into question, but on this occasion… I just wanted to make sure I’d remember the moment forever.

Well… there’s that… and the fact that I knew I’d have to be able to recount the story on command in the coming days and weeks to friends, co-workers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and probably the town crier.

So I hope that you’ll indulge me as well, dear readers, while I think of just the right way to craft this very special story that began 26 years ago… all the way back in the 5th grade. You see, it’s not your garden-variety boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl live happily-ever-after kind of story. It’s more like… Boy meets girl and a lifetime of detours later… Life gives them a second chance.

So I promise that just as soon as I get done returning phone calls, answering texts, Facebook messages and emails… and pull my head out of the clouds… and my eyes away from this lovely, hypnotic, sparkly thing on my left hand… I will find just the right way to tell you the story.

To be continued…