a relationship

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long ago, rudy and i met, by a random chance encounter. i mean there i was at a tupperware party (the “in” place to be back then), when i happened to glance to my left. and who do i see?

rudy. checking me out.

(yeah. strange that a guy was there… but there’s a story behind that story as well).

being a girl with not a lot of social knowledge, i was sitting there, on a couch, not talking to anyone – well, not because i couldn’t make the effort to converse, but rather the situation was that everyone was talking to everyone else. because they all knew each other. from work, or somewhere. so, i just sat there, the girl no one knew. the girl who had tagged along with her friend. the social butterfly. the one that was somewhere, socializing.

so, of course, trying not to look awkward while rudy just continued to smile (which, honestly, was very pleasant) and stare, i’d look around the room as if i was doing exactly what an independent person would do. whatever they want. and, well, i know, even though i had slunk lower into the couch, i was pulling that off – looking cool and confident.

maybe.

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Fast forward to year 34 of marriage.

it’s been a roller coaster of a ride: ups, downs, and all-arounds.

beginning with:

not wanting to keep our hands off each other.

to:

raising three kids and feeling tired, but wanting to instill good values, “to bring them up right”, no matter what.

then, somewhere in between:

beginning careers that would add to the balancing act of a married relationship.

and wrapped around:

being overwhelmed with how to “handle it all”, while trying to forge a comfortable life. (even when rudy had to live and work outside of california. having had spent a year in honduras, 3 years in arkansas. leaving me to “hold down the fort”.)

unfortunately, leading to both of us:

forgetting the importance of not wanting to keep our hands off each other.

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the other day i began to send rudy morning – memory – texts. simple, quick reminders of us.

how we met.

walks we’d taken.

saying ‘i love you’ for the first time.

our anniversary.

babies that were born.

and so much more.

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ours is a relationship that constantly revolves around evolving.

Summer

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As a teacher, summer always comes just at the right time so that I can take a break from the chatter of work. Don’t get me wrong, chatter is good, chatter is great, especially when speaking about kids in the classroom. The energy is rewarding in that students are engaged and excited to learn. To grow. To gain confidence. And to feel safe. To not worry. To embrace themselves. To know they are worthy. And to have a voice. A unique voice that needs to be heard.

That said, I definitely enjoy my summers. I create a schedule that’s not a planned time-frame but rather a loose, relaxing, take it day-by-day lifestyle.

This morning, I woke up three hours later than I would have if I had to go into work. I sipped a hot cup of (black only) coffee while watching Good Morning America. I began writing (again, finally) after six months of nothing noted. I enjoyed a grapefruit before heading out for a walk through the neighboring neighborhood, which is full of foliage and steep hills.

Summer is important because, for me, it is the key to maintaining a calm demeanor. A calm demeanor means protecting my well-being. And protecting my well-being is required for when I return to the classroom for another year of learning and building confidence within my students. Because, what’s better than a very patient teacher?

the healthy option

it’d been several months that i had been mad at myself, coming home from work, from a day filled with the energy of 10 year olds. i’d walk in, drop my gear on the kitchen table, turn on the television, and lounge on the couch with the intent to calm my mind for a bit. the problem was i’d feel myself sink lower and lower, and before i knew it, i was falling asleep.

so.

i made a statement, not only to myself but to rudy as well. ‘i want this tv gone, out of the house.’ by the next day i had moved it into the garage, where it sat unused. and then i transferred my after school activities to the kitchen table. the hard chair and tabletop  worked, for a while, until i reminded myself that while working on teacher work i could use my computer to watch… whatever.

bad.

several more months passed when i made another statement. ‘all i do is sit here and watch shows on Netflix. i’m kidding myself. i am losing it. not taking care of myself. i need a stand up table.’

‘huh?’ rudy grunted.

‘well, a desk. a desk i stand at instead of sit. it’s a healthy option.’

the thing is, as a teacher i walk around the classroom all day long. checking students work here, checking behavior there, and guiding lessons everywhere. by the time i get home, the steps i’d taken at work, about 6500, made me feel i’d earn sit-down time. but, i’d mistakenly believed sitting for the rest of the night made up for all the walking i did during the day.

wrong. i was feeling bloated.

so, i did a quick search of desks that you can work at while standing.

and boy, did i find a beauty. it’s called an UPLIFT DESK, made in austin, tx. the tabletop is made from reclaimed fir wood and comes with a controller (attached to the desk) to automatically adjust its height.

i’m in love.

plus, a new puzzle obsession has occurred, an activity that (both figuratively and literally) keeps me on my toes.

and.

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to add to all the joy i am feeling, i have set up the room in my house, the one with the wall full of windows and, more importantly, the light filled room surrounded by items given to me by my sister and my mom, two people who are on my mind daily, two people who continue to guide me and remind me about what’s important in life.

Life

 

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Ups, downs, and all arounds.
That's life,
unexpected events and occurrences
mixed together with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good turns bad, which looks ugly, and feels never-ending.
Yet,
life is a journey.
Nothing should be the same except for deep-rooted feelings,
and the love for one another.
So,
when things seem impossible
remember, look around, and embrace what's possible,
what can be.
The bad and the ugly
are reminders not to take life for granted,
Rather,
grab hold of the good,
ride with it,
embrace it,
and remember it, always,
and forever.

 

Here’s a Love Story for You

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Rudy was about 16 or 17 years old, living in Honduras, (long before he met California). He was a senior in high school, a star basketball player, and an overall good guy. A nice guy. Friendly. Sometimes observant, sometimes talkative.

There he was one evening, walking across the only bridge in town, when he sees her walking in the opposite direction. Her green eyes look at him, casually. Her long dark hair rustles in the breeze.

The most beautiful girl in the world.

She’s Honduran with mix of her dad’s Australian.

Rudy gazes at her, shyly, unable to speak.

Unfortunately.

He doesn’t see her for a few days. And then he does. Again. Crossing the bridge.

“Hola,” he says.

“Hi,” she responds.

And off they go, heading in the opposite direction, passing without another word.

He asks friends about her. Asking them about the beautiful girl who speaks English.

“Oh, her? She’s been around. Where have you been?” they say, playfully shoving him.

One night, not too long later, he goes to a party and sees her there. He feels his heart pound, excitedly. Feeling confident, Rudy introduces himself and asks her to dance.

She told him she used to have a boyfriend with the same last name. “Yo tenía un novio con el mismo apellido.”

Bravely, innocently, and boyishly he responds, “¿Quieres otra novio llamado Romero?”

She laughs. As if he’s a joke.

Rudy wants to sink into the earth. He feels stupid. Why did he ask if she wanted another boyfriend with the same last name?

So, he turns, walks away, drags his feet. Feet that seem to take ten years to move to the other side of the room. His head hangs down. He starts to leave with friends. The party is over, for him at least. But, she runs after him, says she can see he’s feeling down and that she is sorry, she didn’t mean any harm. Didn’t mean to be rude.

Suddenly the air filled with music.

Rudy asks, “¿Quieres bailar?”

She grabs his hand and pulls him with her, back to where the party is.

 

 

Anger Strikes a Pose

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A few years ago a student of mine stated, “You’re so chill, so easy to talk to.” I smiled, happy I was making an impact with my low-key demeanor. Happy that just being me was important to someone else.

“You know what I also really like about you?” she added.

I made eye contact with her. “My blue Vans™ High Tops?” I joked.

“Well, yeah,” she laughed, “but I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal. Like, you don’t make me feel small. You make me feel I can accomplish anything.”

“Wow! That’s so great. That’s exactly what I am hoping I am doing.”

I must say, all that is awesome, great, the reason I wanted to be a teacher, a person who has an impact on these youngsters who cross my path, not only to educate them but just as important, to build their self-esteem.

BUT, this year, for the first time, no kid has ever said nice things about me, to me. (Not that I need the accolades) it’s just that I have questioned myself as to why I am allowing deep-set negative feelings about the world at large seep into my core and camouflage who I truly am. In other words, I feel what’s good about life has taken a backseat to what is wrong in our world. Thus, these feelings have had an impact on the kind of teacher I never thought I’d be.

Nothing dramatic, just not cool. Not chill. Not low-key.

“…I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal…”. 

I’m missing that. 

A few weeks ago, when I had a conversation with myself (yep, I do that, I talk to me because I know myself best) I realized my behavior was out-of-tune. Today, the old me, the chill me, stood if front of a group of relaxed,  smiling kids who seemed to enjoy being in my classroom.

The Arkansas Way

 

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Several years back I would spend my time off work relaxing in Arkansas. You see, during a three year stint Rudy was living and working there. Not by choice, rather because of necessity. It was the only job he could find when the economy was suffering. A time when choosing where to work wasn’t an option for him.  So, when Arkansas called he left. And, unbeknown to me, I fell in love with a true wonderland. Arkansas is beautiful. The landscape is breathtaking.

Though Rudy did come home for visits, I looked forward to flying out, hanging out, walking around and embracing the true meaning of relaxation. Instead of spending my week or a complete summer cleaning, organizing, painting, repairing, etc., like I always did (and still do) in California, I’d chill.

My daily routine in Arkansas was so simple, so basic, so enjoyable. After giving Rudy a ride to work in the early morning (I wanted the SUV during the day) I’d plop on the couch and begin writing. I’d spend a few hours spilling my thoughts, constantly editing and rereading until I felt a publishable story was complete. And then I’d walk. I’d take long walks through neighborhoods, walking down paved roads, admiring the architecture and the tall trees. Or, I’d walk the length of a complete hilly golf course. Walking along the golf-cart trail. Which never seemed to be an issue as the course was rarely being used by others – possibly due to either very cold or very hot weather. Not ideal for the players, yet perfect for me. And then, back home, after a shower, Brad would awaken, which meant we’d travel around town finding different scenarios to engage in for the remainder of the afternoon. (Did you know the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel is in the middle of the forest in Bella Vista? Or how about the Crystal Bridges Museum, a wonderful establishment full of modern art in Bentonville?) We’d explore places like this until it was time to pick up Rudy from work.

Which brings me to today. Day 1 of Spring Break, Orange County, CA. And how I’ve decided to spend the week. I’m taking the time to embrace relaxation. The Arkansas Way. I will not use the days to clean, organize, paint, repair, etc. This week my routine will be as carefree as possible. After enjoying a cup of hot coffee I will begin writing. I know I will spend a few hours honing in on what I feel is a piece of work that is worthy of publishing. And then I will walk. Whether it’s a walk in my neighborhood, the heights behind our house, or a stroll along the shoreline down south. My mood will guide me. Then I will attend to enjoyable extrusions, whether heading to the store to purchase ingredients for my baking experiments, cruising through a bookstore (just because I love the environment), or any other place that tickles my fancy. I will end my days with conversations with Rudy and, if I’m hungry, eat the food he prepares. Followed by a comfortable bed and a good read.