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Lady Edith, I’m betting on you

Lady Edith, I’m betting on you

I refuse to be defeated by an overweight tyrant.“–Lady Edith Crawley

At last, the final season of Downton Abbey is getting it right. Since its debut season, Lady Edith has been my favorite sister–a classic middle child overshadowed by her spoiled, self-absorbed, overindulged, older sister, Mary, and free-spirited younger sister, Cybil. But in the final season, the writers are finally showing that Edith has the potential to out shine her sisters.

For five seasons, Edith’s been cast as a cautionary tale of what not to be–a middle-age, never-married woman, suffering heartbreak after heartbreak, while waiting for a man that appears will never come. But often overlooked, Edith’s a survivor—she continues to get up each day and face a world that doesn’t understand her. In season three, she’s left at the altar, but instead of hiding in her room, she gets up the next morning and claims “spinsters get up for breakfast.”   

Edith is the underdog that no bookie will bet on. While Mary is portrayed as the strong one, she was born with it, it’s Edith who channels the British Army for the inner strength to keep her head held high and to fight off the naysayers who believe she has nothing to offer. It’s Edith who is her own champion and support group, and though sometimes shaky, believes in herself, because no one (aside from Aunt Rosamund) does.

Edith’s life has been less than what she desired, less than what she dreamed it to be. Remember, she loved Patrick (the dude who died on the Titanic in season 1), but had to push her feelings aside for the good of the estate and bow out to Mary, because Mary is the family savior and Mary gets what Mary wants. And while that dude died, Mary grieved for a nanosecond before Matthew showed up to rescue her. Life is easy for Mary, she has her own ladies maid and when she loses one man, another one comes calling faster than winks on Match.com. 

Then baby sister, Cybil, has a 1920-something girls gone wild moment and falls in love and marries the chauffer, further pushing Edith into a life tittering on the edge of tragic. 

Enter Michael Gregson. Ah, finally, it’s Edith’s turn, I exclaim! She’s waited so long. All she wants is the affection of another, to be desired. She loves Gregson, and I think, he loves her, but there are complications–he’s married to a crazy woman who lives in a psych ward in Germany. Edith has a choice: Follow protocol, the neat, prescribed order of life of which she has been raised to believe, or abandon her notions of what was supposed to be and follow her heart. Her heart wins and she sleeps with Gregson.

At this point in the story, I am completely devoted to Edith–she accepts that her life may not be what she had hoped and dreamed of as a girl, but no matter the consequences, she’s going to make the best of it. And oh were there consequences–an illegitimate daughter, a dead lover, a judgmental older sister, and no suitors calling. Edith is down, and she hates that at every turn, nothing goes her way, yet she keeps going.

Throughout the series, Edith doesn’t know it, but in all her struggles, her disappointments, heartbreaks, she’s blazing a trail of her own. She’s saying to the establishment, I can do it, and if I have to, I’ll do it alone. And in season six, she’s speaking up, even embracing her middle-age spinsterhood, telling Granny, “I’m middle-age, I think I can stay alone.”  She does an all-nighter to meet the deadline for the magazine publisher and inspires a young secretary when she fires the “overweight tyrant” editor. Edith does what she has to do to survive, and for this, I can relate.

I do hope however, love will come to Edith before the series ends–it’s the one thing that has been so firmly out of her grasp, yet something she so desperately desires. But Edith is complex and it won’t be so easy. She needs someone who adores her, desires her, but most importantly strong enough for her–someone who can prop her up when she thinks she can’t go on another day–someone whose ego can withstand the fact that she doesn’t always need him—someone who can see that beneath the surface she just wants to be loved.

Edith is tired from years of doing it alone, the years of hoping that this one or the next one will be the one that sees how unique, how different she is from all the rest, and truly gets her, wants her, and can’t imagine his life without her in it. Edith knows she can do it alone, and sometimes prefers it, but doesn’t always want to. How do I know this? I know, because I am Edith.

 

 

Holding Out for a Hero

Holding Out for a Hero

Today I got overwhelmed thinking of all the possibilities. I haven’t been this untethered since I was a newly minted college graduate waiting tables (poorly as I recall) and living night to night, hangover to hangover, until I got tired of living with three other people and the only way I could live on my own was to get an adult job that required me to get up before noon and wear shoes with a leather sole.

I go to the gym to work it out and contemplate it all. Maybe a good 80’s playlist will inspire me to climb Mt. Everest, then I reconsider, maybe Machu Picchu(I am a realist after all). Thirty minutes into my cardio I’m ready to call it and get the hell out of there because I hate the gym despite going five times a week–my mind is still spinning contemplating all the options, the decisions, the dilemmas: should I go to the Peace Corps, am I saving enough money for retirement, should I stay where I am, get a new place with a pool, I really want a job in London or Paris, maybe Frankfurt, how can I make that happen and do I really want to live in CLT for the rest of my life? Ugh, so many questions and no answers–the only clear thing in my mind is that I can drink wine tonight because I’ve had a good workout.

But then my iPod shuffles to the Footloose soundtrack–cue in, Holding out for a Hero. Hell yes, this is it–this is the possibility that I most desire, the one that keeps me up at night.

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I sing the words with the conviction of an innocent man on death row:

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

And so dear friends, I have endless possibilities in front of me, some scare me, some excite me and somehow I’m gonna figure out how to live overseas at some point in my life, but the possibility of a hero, now that’s something to hold out for.

 

My cracks are showing

My cracks are showing

The old adage says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. If I look at the past year and half, I’m not so sure. In 2014 alone, I suffered a miscarriage, I was hit by a car which led to a broken leg and a year of physical therapy, and I moved to a new city. This year, the dating gods have miserably failed me, and finally last week my 18 year old cat Paxton died. So while, I am out of bed and I’m going through the motions, my cracks are starting to show.

I fear the superwoman strength inside me is struggling to find air–the levies of strength that have held me up through years of heartbreaks, crappy jobs,  bad bosses, intrastate moves and late nights wondering WTF is wrong with me are crumbling piece by piece, layer by layer–I can touch the bottom with my toes  and I fear it won’t be long before the break pulls the rest of me under.

A week ago today, my beloved, best-friend, soulmate, Paxton the cat, died. He was 18. For some time, I’ve known I had less years than more years with him, so I had been trying to prepare myself for what I knew was coming. Yet, what I quickly learned is that you’re never ready to say good-bye. You’re never ready to walk into the house and see your family dying on the floor where just hours before you had played, and said, “I won’t be gone long.”

Over the years, I had prayed Paxton would go quickly and on his own. Thankfully, he did, but having to not make that final choice that so many pet owners have to make doesn’t make it easier either. Death is death and it sucks!

Grief starts with shock. The morning Paxton died, I came home from the vet, not sure what to do, so I ripped the sheets off my bed as if I was hiding from my boyfriend that I had cheated on him in our bed. I tried to soothe myself remembering our last night together–He curled up beside me on the big sofa as we watched Parenthood on Netflix together. I haven’t been able to watch TV from the sofa since. The last time I even walked into the living room, I found a fur ball on the hardwood floor and burst into tears.

I tell myself that grief is short-lived and the 18 years of love, devotion and companionship far out weighs today’s pain. I tell myself I was lucky to have had so many years with him. Yet, as I say these things, I double over on the kitchen counter and sob. I am lonely and the tidal wave of hurt swallows me whole. I begin to hate every man who’s left me for another, every woman with a healthy child, every 20-something with a dream, everyone who has someone to call their person. DAMN IT!  I hate God for teasing me with hope each time I dared to like someone. And now the one thing I did have is gone and there’s no one to fill the void, no one for me to collapse into, no one to hold me up when I can’t hold myself, no one to wipe away my tears. Loneliness consumes me and I’m forced to feel the pain of every man who never fought for me, never chose me.

When I adopted Paxton, I was 25.  The future looked like light years away with so many hopes and dreams ahead of me–dreams of family, three kids, more cats, maybe a dog and a house full of love, laughter and a little bit of wackiness. Paxton was the start of my family. I had no doubt I would would add-on.

Twenty-five became 29, then 31, then 34, 37, and 42–Paxton was still there, but the dreams for the add-on of family began to fade. A select few boys, and men would come into my life, providing hope for what had eluded me, but just as quickly as they entered they’d leave, each time chiseling away at my dreams, taking a piece of my heart along the way. 

I finally accepted an alternative family, my only constant: me and Paxton. We developed a routine just like any married couple–every night he’d jump on the bed, curl up on the pillow beside my head and we’d fall asleep together, and then at some point in the night we’d both go our separate ways until morning when he’d jump back into bed and with a soft cry and sandpaper licks to my cheek wake me up. Today, I wake up in a sad silence, in an empty bed with dried tears on my cheeks. 

A  voice came to me a few days before Paxton died and said, “you’ve spent your entire adult life striving to be ordinary, maybe you’re destined to be extraordinary.” I think it’s that voice that was preparing me to let go, to say good-bye to what I thought I was supposed to be and look to the future to what I was destined to be. I still believe I have something extraordinary to give, to offer someone, and damn, they’re going to be lucky! But right now in this moment, I don’t know what that is and the energy to find answers to make sense of why I am where I am has been zapped out of me. I think I have to sit in my grief for a bit, feel the pain, curse the demons, and let the water seep through the cracks and crush the guarded exterior of my soul.

 

Happy Birthday Cindy Meredith

Happy Birthday Cindy Meredith

Cindy Meredith
There’s probably like 5 Amy’s in this picture, but Cindy’s in the red sweater.

I’m awesome at remembering dates. I can remember the day Princess Di died, her birthday, when she got married (I remember a lot of royal stuff), the date Carolina won the NCAA tournament in 1982, and well a lot of other random stuff that for whatever reason made an impression on me and in turn I cemented the date in my psyche.

I haven’t seen or talked to Cindy Meredith since 8th grade graduation when half of the class went to Ragsdale and  the other half to Southwest, but every year, December 20th, I remember her birthday. Her “Krush Grooving” birthday party where we “jammed to the hotest music around” was the beginning of my borderline OCD, one-way 18 year love affair with C.

For some f’uped reason on that night, I became enamored, obsessed with C and didn’t fully let go until I was in my 30’s. STUPID, STUPID, girl, I tell myself over and over.

I blame Guiding Light.  At 13, I had already been watching soap operas for half my life. Soap operas in the 80’s,  well, I guess, today too, teach you that true love means you can never be together, that something’s always going to get in the way of a fairytale ending. If that was the standard, I nailed it and deserved an Olympic medal.

C moved away 6 months after that party and I didn’t see him again for 5 years.

At 30, I finally “got” him, or at least so I thought for the 18 months we dated, flying back and forth between Michigan and Tennessee.  When I “got” him, he was straight off a divorce, 30 pounds overweight, and we lived 8 hours apart.  Seriously? I was a nut job over this boy. Again, STUPID, STUPID, girl, goes off in my head in a constant loop.

And tonight was no different than the 28 December 20th’s before it, I remembered. Cindy Meredith, where ever you are, “Happy Birthday.” I hope someday to forget.

Hollywood: Please reunite Katie and Hubbell

Hollywood: Please reunite Katie and Hubbell

Yesterday, I caught the last 30 minutes of “The Way We Were,” which by my account is the best part. It’s at this point, Katie realizes her love is not enough for her, and Hubbell, and with much regret she lets him go, only asking that he stay until the baby’s born. But since Katie’s not the let-it-go-type and fights  for every cause from the atomic bomb to Hubbell’s career,  this is a crushing blow to all of us, me included, who fight for what we believe in.

And while I understand the cinematic purpose of this movie, you can’t give up yourself for someone else, I desperately want these two to get together.

So as I sat there watching Katie brush Hubbell’s hair to the side, being strong and commending him on his choice of a girl, saying, “your girl’s wonderful, Hubbell.”  I wondered why Hollywood can’t create a sequel where after years apart, they found their way back?

Heck, even Gone With the Wind had a sequel where Rhett and Scarlett got together. Of course, it wasn’t the cinematic masterpiece of the original, but it was satisfying to have closure on a couple where there was clearly no other choice, but the two of them together, forever.  

So with that, I need Katie and Hubbell to get back together. It just feels like there’s been enough time for them to have grown up, discovered the world and that the world is a better place with the two of them together.  Possibly, a 21st century widow meets widower through eHarmony? Please Hollywood, it’s time to reunite Katie and Hubbell.