It is said that you must taste the bitter to appreciate the sweet. Earlier this year, I was drowning in the bitter. But now it’s raining sweetness.
When I take stock of my life right now, I am amazed and grateful. I wonder at how blessedly different the landscape looks now than it did this winter and spring. The first half of this year was punctuated by loss, regret, and fear. It seemed that every time I stood up, I was knocked backward by yet another setback. I lamented to my friend Katrina that I felt like I’d turned into a giant whiner because every time she talked to me, it was one sad tale after another. She immediately pointed out that I wasn’t whining — it was the crazy reality of my life. From appliances failing one after another, to work stresses that sometimes played out in the newspaper, to the on-again/off-again game with James, to tax bills from hell, to deaths and divorces, it seemed like I couldn’t get any relief from the onslaught. Even just thinking about it while typing has made my heart start pounding again.
Then I remind myself that I am — thankfully! — in a different place now. Granted, life is not perfect, but after all that bitter, it sure does feel sweet. There are so many pieces of sweetness that I’m appreciating right now, and I could write gushing posts about every one of them, but today I’m going to treat you to the bit of sunshine that is occupying my mind the most lately:
I’m going to call him “Pete.”
Pete is a man I first met 4 1/2 years ago at his daughter’s birthday party. We were both separated, but did not form an acquaintance until a couple years later, when his daughter, “Amanda,” and my daughter, Bryn, became BFFs. The usual playdates and sleepovers ensued, but I had started dating James and so didn’t think about Pete — or any other man — in terms of dating material. We would talk on the soccer sidelines, and about the girl drama our daughters and their friends engaged in, and occasionally, we’d run into each other at outdoor summer concerts, where we’d chat and dance a little bit. It was, basically, a friendship borne of connection through our kids.
And then I decided to replace my kitchen faucet.
Under normal circumstances, that might sound like a non sequitor, but if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ve surely noticed that my life reads more like an episode of “Friends” than a Disney princess movie. So here it goes…
Financial constraints had set me on a do-it-yourself bender, and I decided to finally tackle the ugly and old faucet in my otherwise acceptable sink. I watched a YouTube video, pulled out the “Handyman’s Guidebook” my dad had sent me, laid out all the necessary tools, and set to work. Two hours later, I was hot, sweaty, and in tears. The nuts holding my faucet to the counter were corroded and not budging. I had pushed and pulled and made two trips to Home Depot for new wrenches before I gave up and called Annie to announce my failure and lament having to call a plumber because I couldn’t loosen a few nuts.
A — “Don’t call a plumber just to do that! Call a guy we know to just help you unscrew the nuts.”
TPG — “Okay. But who? And you know I’m not good at asking for help. And don’t say James.”
A — “What about Pete? He’s such a nice guy, I know he’d do it for you.”
So, I hung up the phone with Annie and called Pete. After stumbling through an awkward explanation of how I really don’t like to ask people for help and he shouldn’t feel obligated at all and no hard feelings if he said no, I told him about the nuts and asked for his help.
P — “Sure. I’ll come over tomorrow night. What time?”
I audibly exhaled my relief and promised him a beer for his trouble.
The next evening, after loosening the nuts in two quick tugs, Pete stood in my kitchen, Corona in hand, and talked to me as I finished installing my new, shiny kitchen faucet. As I completed the task, my mind turned to the long to-do list still awaiting me that night, but Pete continued leaning on my counter. Hmmm…
TPG — “Ummm….. Want another beer?”
Another beer in the living room turned into dinner at our local Mexican restaurant, and I went to bed that night with my to-do list untouched and wondering if maybe, just possibly, I had been overlooking a great guy right in front of me.
A couple of weeks later, we both helped move Annie into the house she’d bought (Yay Annie!!) and Pete introduced me to music by my now new favorite band, and shortly after that we had our first date at an outdoor concert. I left two days later for a trip to visit my dad, which could have signaled the quiet fade-to-black that often follows first dates when there’s nothing to go on, but instead I heard from him every day. Sweet, funny, consistent texts and phone calls that made me want to know more. And since I’ve been home, that’s what I’ve been doing. Spending time with Pete and his daughters (and even his parents, who were visiting), getting to know him better and discovering lots of delicious sides to him that I’d never have guessed it. He is solid and smart and honest and kind and has the prettiest green eyes I’ve ever had the pleasure of gazing into.
It has only been a short time, and I have no earthly idea where this is going or how long it will last, but it is beautiful and sweet and fun. A part of me hesitated to share it here, because it is still so new, but I think it can be useful to see the beginnings of things, as well as the ends. So much of blogville is devoted to heartbreak; I thought I’d offer a little sunshine to my small corner.
Besides, I promised to be real here and this is really where I am. I am happy again, for the first time in a very, very long time.
Life is good. And so am I.