Tag Archives: friends

10 Holiday Memories

I make pumpkin pie for everyone else and cherry pie for me!

These days, I make pumpkin pie for everyone else and cherry pie for me!

1) Making yeast rolls with Mom and snagging one from the bread basket before it gets to the table.

2) Learning how to make real whipped cream from Grandmommy and eating a spoonful by itself because I don’t like pumpkin pie.

3) Being in charge of putting out place cards and deciding who I want to sit next to each year.

4) Talking Dad into pouring me a taste of the wine so I could feel grown up for just a day.

5) Listening to mom sneeze 3 times at the end of the meal and her telling us Granddaddy always did the same thing.

These friends helped us celebrate holidays each year.

These friends helped us celebrate holidays each year.

6) Waiting for dessert until family friends come over and then having game night while we digest it all.

7) Carrying boxes (and boxes and boxes) of decorations down from the storage cupboard above the bathtub while mom fixes hot chocolate the next morning.

8) Helping untangle the lights with Dad because Mom doesn’t have the patience for it.

9) Taking each ornament out of the box one at a time and each of us getting to hang “ours” on the tree wherever we want.

This is my tree now, but I still like to turn out all the lights and admire it!

This is my tree now, but I still like to turn out all the lights and admire it!

10) Turning out all the lights except the ones on the tree and the candles in the windows, turning on the radio to the station playing carols, and listening to the crackle of the fireplace as we are surrounded by the warmth of family.

What are your childhood memories from this time of year?

Feeling thankful…

In 2010, I posted a gratitude per day on my blog.  Last year, I tried to do it on Facebook, but couldn’t keep up.  This year, several friends are participating in the Facebook meme of posting something they are thankful for as their status every day. The month is more than half over already and I haven’t jumped on that bandwagon!  Since Thanksgiving is just a day away, I thought I would just write one blog post about being thankful.

Despite having lost my Dad a couple of weeks ago, there is a lot to be thankful for this year.  First, I am extremely grateful for the care he received, both last year in Memphis and this past year in Delaware.  The staff at Cadbury, particularly the nursing staff, was amazing, caring for his physical needs while treating him with the kindness and respect that he deserved.

I am thankful that I was able to see him as many times as I did this past year.  The cost of travel, especially by air, can be quite prohibitive, but my mother made sure I was able to get there several times by paying for my tickets.

I am incredibly lucky to have a job that, first of all, allows me to have time off in the summer and secondly, offers family medical leave during the school year so that I can spend time with my parents when they need my assistance.

I am always grateful for my loving wife (I can say that for real, now!), who loved my dad almost as much as I did and who supported my need to spend time with him.  She has been my shoulder to cry on when the grief threatens to overwhelm me.

I am thankful for my brother.  Even though we don’t have a lot in common and rarely talk, we know we have each other’s back and that counts for a lot.  I hope he knows how much I love him.  I am also incredibly thankful that he met and married his wife.  She has become one of my dearest friends – I can call her any time, day or night, and know that she will listen, offer advice when asked, keep my confidences if I need her to, and give generously of her time and talent.

I am also grateful for my students, who teach me something every day, if only how to be a better teacher.  They are kind, smart, interesting, caring, amazing young women who will help shape our community and our world in the years to come.

I am thankful that I am making healthier choices (most of the time) when it comes to what I eat and the activities I participate in.  Over the past year, I have made many positive changes and hope to continue in my journey towards fitness and health.

I am thankful that I have found a family of choice so far from my family of origin.  Without relatives closer than 800 miles, it could be very lonely here in the south.  But I have some wonderful friends who treat me like family and for whom I would do just about anything!

One of the best parts of this past year was the privilege I had of marrying the woman I love.  I am extraordinarily grateful for the members of the LGBT community and all the allies who have fought for marriage equality over the years.  Without their hard work, we would not have been able to legally declare our love and commitment.  As it is, we still have work to do, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of history – I have faith that some day (soon), we will be able to look back and say we were there.  And that the next generation will be able to look back and think “what was the big deal?”

As we head into the frantic holiday season, filled with TV ads, mailbox-filling catalogs, and incessant Christmas music from every conceivable corner of retail locations, I took a moment today to just sit.  Sit in silence, looking out at the water in Lewes, DE, and contemplate all that I have to be grateful for.  That includes you – my readers.  Thanks for reading about my life here in this little corner of cyber space.

A life long sport

When I was growing up, I was described as lots of things: shy, smart, introspective, studious, book-loving, homebody.  I was never described as athletic.  Ever.  Sports were something my brother did.  Even when I went to summer camp, the activities I chose were things like Arts & Crafts and Drama.  The closest I came to being active was Dance and Archery.  And in Archery, you stand very still.

After coming out at age 28, I joined a lesbian bowling league to meet people – not necessarily to find a girlfriend, although that was a happy side-effect, and not really for exercise, although I have been known to work up a sweat when I’m bowling.  I found that I really enjoyed getting out of my house once a week, and hanging out with my new friends.  It was more of a social activity than a sport.

Then Jeanne and I moved to Tennessee – far away from any friends and family.  The first thing we did was seek out a bowling league as a way to meet people.  I was not (still am not) a very good bowler, but that is why most leagues are handicap leagues – to level the playing field a bit, so that amateurs like me don’t get completely discouraged! The great thing is that Jeanne and I did meet people.  We made new friends.  Friends that we still have today, 16 years later.  And over the years, my bowling has improved considerably, although I am still far from great.

For the last 10 years, I have been helping to coach a team of high school girls.  The other coach is a much better bowler than I am, but I have learned a lot from him and feel more qualified to coach than I ever dreamed I could be.  What amazes me is that I am part of the Athletic Department.  Me – athletic!  And the team we coach?  They have become better bowlers than I am – I guess I am a better coach than I am a bowler!

In fact, this week, we are attending our 6th consecutive State Championship Tournament.  Every year, we (my fellow coach and I) have done a better job at preparing the girls than before, so we are anticipating a strong performance in this year’s tournament.

It helps that we have talent to work with, though.  The 12 girls on the team are incredible – they have worked hard and done well.  Not only are we ranked 3rd in our region, but 4 of our bowlers qualified for the singles tournament – made up of the top 24 (female) bowlers in the state.

What I am most proud of is that they have grown to truly love the sport – especially the seniors who have been with the team for years.

I know that wherever life takes them when they graduate and leave us, they have found a life-long sport that they can pick up whenever they are in a new place, looking to make new friends.

Where has the time gone???

My birthday is tomorrow.  I will be turning 46, but most days I don’t feel that old.  46 is verging on late 40’s – people in their late 40’s are experienced, knowledgeable, wise.  I don’t see how I fit into that description.

Yes, I have been teaching for almost 25 years, so I am experienced at my job.  But I have led a fairly sheltered – some might say boring – life.  I feel very inexperienced at dealing with complex life issues because I have not often faced them.  I guess I am grateful for the lack of crises in my life, but when difficult situations do come along, or when a friend or student needs advice, I feel pretty ill-equipped to help.

Yes, I have 2 degrees (a BA and a Masters), but I don’t feel particularly knowledgeable about anything beyond the high school math courses that I teach.  I got by in college, but was not what you might call a scholar.  Even now, I would rather watch a re-run on TV than follow world news or even read the local paper.  I do scan the headlines of Yahoo news, but I’m not sure that would qualify me as knowledgeable!

And don’t even get me started on how wise fails to describe me.  I am the one who turns to everyone else for advice because I usually don’t trust my own judgement.  For me, being wise means knowing how to make decisions on your own, how to cope with problems you have never faced before, and how to handle situations with compassion and fairness.  I try, but I am not always successful at these kinds of things.

I know that some of my friends, if and when they read this post, will try to argue with me about my view of myself.  To them, I say that I put on a good front, but inside, I definitely feel like I haven’t accomplished all that I thought I would have by now.  I certainly don’t feel my age inside my head (although I definitely feel it in my joints).

So, tomorrow, I will wake up, receive birthday wishes from friends and family, and go about my life.  But all day, I will be wondering where the last 20 years went and what was I doing instead of becoming experienced, knowledgeable and wise.  Maybe that will happen in the next 20 years… We’ll see!

Looking for Myself: Part II

In the summer of ’93, I took a road trip from Virginia to Prince Edward Island, Canada, trying to reconnect to my past.  I spent about 2 weeks visiting friends and family, and sightseeing on PEI – a beautiful location that I hadn’t seen since I was 3 months old.  After touring the island and speaking to the nun who had facilitated my adoption almost 29 years before, I felt somewhat more connected to the place of my birth.  Although I hadn’t taken any steps towards finding my birth family, I thought I could return home feeling more settled about who I was.  But there was still a restlessness within my heart.  There was still a part of me missing.

My trip back to Virginia was somewhat more direct than my trip North.  I only made 3 stops – a hotel in Bangor, friends in Boston and an aunt in New York.  The stop in Boston is what ultimately made the whole trip worthwhile.  I had two friends from college who lived there – one of whom was out as a lesbian when we were in school together.  When I called to let her know when I would be arriving, I found out the other one had come out too and they were, in fact, dating!

I spent the weekend getting reacquainted with them both.  They were the first female couple that I knew (well, the first that was open about it) and I was able to talk to them about my confusion.   They took me out to the end of Cape Cod – a beach village called Provincetown, known to be a gay-friendly area.  While walking around, we saw couples – same sex couples – holding hands, pushing strollers, generally living their lives, completely comfortable with who they were.  It was eye-opening and liberating.  I felt like I had come home.  I realized that I could accept myself and that it was possible to find others who would accept me too.

While the process of acknowledging my feelings had been a long one, once I was willing to admit to myself that I was gay, I couldn’t wait to figure out what came next.  I was still scared – I had been turned down the one time I had expressed an attraction to a woman, so how would I know who I could trust, who else might be gay?  The friends I was visiting explained a concept to me known as “gaydar” – a sense I would develop over time.  In the meantime, they suggested I look in the local gay paper for support groups for those coming out.  They also said that there were likely to be social groups centered on common interests – I should just find something that I enjoyed doing and join a group for that activity.

When I got home to Virginia, I was a changed woman.  But I still felt lonely.  I wasn’t sure who I could trust with my new-found knowledge.  So I took the advice I had been given and sought out a support group.  I tried a few on for size before settling on one about 20 minutes from where I lived.  I got to know a group of women who were going through a similar experience, trying to come to terms with their identity and facing the coming out process with friends and family.  I was at a meeting one week when a woman stopped by with flyers for a lesbian bowling league that would be starting up the next month.  I remembered the suggestion that I find an activity I enjoyed in order to meet more people, so I decided to show up.  It was at that bowling league that I met the woman who I now consider my wife!

While I was feeling more and more comfortable with myself over the course of that Fall, I was still feeling unconnected to others.  I tried to keep myself separate from friends and family who didn’t know my secret.  I still wasn’t sure how people would react and I was scared of being rejected.  So I avoided my parents, my close friends, anyone outside of my support group and the bowling league.  In hindsight, I realize I was scared of saying something that would “out” myself before I was ready.

Over the years, I have grown to realize that I wasn’t doing myself any favors, trying to live 2 lives.  I slowly started coming out to family and friends.  The first person I told, outside of my new circle of friends, was my brother’s wife.  We have always been very close, but I was still scared.  Her reaction – “so?  Is that supposed to change the way I feel about you?” – gave me courage.  A few months later, I told my parents.  Although they had a hard time with it at first, they never rejected me or made me feel unloved.  16 years later, they are completely supportive, accepting my partner as part of the family.

This summer, I took another trip.  This time, I went to visit my brother’s family and while there got to reconnect with one of the friends from Boston who is now living in a different city.  I think that reunion is what got me thinking about that trip from 17 years ago.  It was truly a life-changing event.  I discovered the freedom to be myself and my life has never been the same.   I left on that journey seeking roots, and what I found were wings.