The One Where I am All Over The Place.

This has not been the best of starts to the new year. I mean can I even call it the “new year” anymore since we are already three months in? We should be approaching Spring in about 18 days, and for many of us, the weather says “Nope, not done with Winter yet….Suckers!”

In the last two weeks, this is what has been going on with different members of my family/extended family.

  • Leg amputation
  • Heart Attack
  • Second Heart Attack (Same person)
  • Diagnosis of Parkinson Disease
  • A beloved family pet passed away
  • A second pet from the same family is close to passing.
  • A diagnosis of Gastroparesis.
  • An abscess that needs surgery.
  • Diabetes diagnosis.

Two weeks you guys! All this has been happening in the last two weeks. Then there are the stories, mostly work stories I cannot talk about. Sad, horrifying stories that involve the innocent. It is a lot.

By the grace of God, on my own personal homefront, we are well. But damn, no one ever really knows what can change in the blink of an eye.

I was talking to my sister on the phone today. The conversation went a little something like this.

Sis~ How’s work going?

Me~ Oh, it’s good, I mean other than the stories I can’t talk about it is good. I also need to up my low carb game.

Sis~ Aww, why? Did you get off of it?

Me~ No, not really, I have been maintaining. But now since I have to chase kids all over the freakin neighboorhood, I figured it is time to get healthy, you know, so I do not collapse from a heart attack while I am chasing these little Dictators.

*insert laughter*

But, I am serious. I suppose I am finally at that age where I understand the size of my jeans does not determine my health, there is a bit more to it than that, and I am still young enough to get it in check, ya know? Again, look at the last two weeks with just my extended family alone. It really is enough to make you stop and think.

I have a plan, I know I can execute my plan. It’s not a “diet” but more of a “lifestyle change.” And, I hate that term “lifestyle change.” When anyone says “Lifestyle Change” I picture a young Bohemian artsy chic who lives off of granola and kale. That’s not me. I am more of a Rocker artsy chic who enjoys bunless burgers and vodka. So, we are just going to nix the “Lifestyle Change” wordage and use “New Habits.”

Depending on which study you read it can take anywhere from 18-66 days to develop a new habit. Or, I think to say it better It ONLY takes 18-66 days to develop a new habit. Do you see what I did there?  The first sentence I said, “It can take…” The second sentence I just changed the wordage to be a bit more positive. “It only takes…” Oh dear God, I am a Bohemian artsy granola, kale and all about positivity chick aren’t I??

Whatever. I know myself. And FOR ME, I know I only need 18 days to develop new habits, and for me, my new habits will entail building muscle while sticking to low carb. We will see how this goes, but I have no doubt I will accomplish exactly what I want to accomplish.

In other news, and remember, the title of this post warns you that I am all over the place. Okay, so I live in a suburb of Seattle. In my city, for whatever reason, all these storage units are being built. Off the top of my head, I can list four storage units that are in the process of being built, not including the ones that are already in place. I am talking about large storage unit areas. It is insane. One place, in particular, has one storage unit being built and then not even a mile down the road is another storage unit being built. These are not single units. So, because I have a crazy imagination, and for all intense and purposes I fancy myself a writer, I thought of a potential short story.

This would be a thriller type of book. Think Stephen King or Dean Koontz.

“Bedford Falls, a cozy little town located in the Pacific Northwest with the glorious Puget Sound as its backdrop. A town where every Friday night the locals will either be at the high school football games or the infamous Patterson’s West skating rink. A town where people chose to live. A town that has great potential.

Jess and Steven have been married for fifteen years. Steven is a pilot for Alaskan airlines based out of Sea-tac airport. Jess spends her days caring for their three children while working part-time at the local hospital.

When the police inquire within the hospital of any “John Does” Jess allows her curiosity to get the best of her. Too many people are going missing. Something is not adding up. It is only when Steven goes missing that Jess takes it upon herself to do what the police are not doing. 

A thriller with many twists and turns that leads her to Washington, Government coverups and the final straw. Storage units.”

Do you see where I am going with this?! It may work, right? The only thing is, I have another writing project I am working on so I cannot do much with this right now. Dad, if you are reading this, and you better be reading this since no one else in the family reads my blog…what do you think? I can “almost” see you and “Uncle R” doing another story with a plot similar to this.

I told you guys my mind was all over the place.

Gracie’s birthday is on Friday. Celebrating Gracie’s birthday is always bittersweet to me. For those that do not know, she was born six weeks early, spent time in the NICU was born with her intestines outside of her body, and almost did not make it. Joe and I told her “You pick, whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, we will do it.” This is something we do with all the kids. For Sofia’s birthday, she chose to go to the mall to eat and then do some shopping. And remember, Sofia’s birthday was just last month, on the 15th. So……Joe and I had the same talk with Gracie and she decided she also wants to go to the mall to do some shopping, but she chose Panda Express to eat.

Well, as I was writing this post, Gracie comes out and told me she changed her mind. She now wants to do pizza and shop at Fred Meyer. After pulling teeth, wondering why she changed her mind, I found out Sofia thinks Gracie is “copying” her with her birthday plans. I am seriously just as lost as you are.

The girls are complete opposites. Even if Gracie did shopping at the mall, Gracie would be all about makeup and clothes, where Sofia is all about anime and books. But what do I know, I am just the mother that gave birth to these Dictators.

Anyway, I am going to sign off. I mean I could write more, but I figured I may have lost your interest when I wrote my potential “book blurb” so I will not push it.

Again, my mind is all over the place.

It is deflection.

Deflection so I do not have to think about how so many people out there have it so much harder than I do.

~Jennifer.

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The One Where I need Therapy (Again)

I am an overprotective mom. I am sure this is not news to anyone, but I kind of feel like I take it to another level. Especially with the girls.

With the boys, in some ways, I was more lenient with them. They were boys. They grew up in the same neighboorhood that they started elementary school in. As long as they were together, I knew they were fine. And they were. It was after high school that some bad choices were made, but that is another blog.

The girls did not go to the same elementary school as the boys, even though we lived in the same neighboorhood. Because of Gracie’s delays, she had to go to a different school that offered the program she needed. When Sofia came along, we had to keep her in the same school as Gracie. Just simple logistics and all. The girls never really grew up with friends in the neighborhood, because they did not go to school with any of the neighboorhood kids. And, listening to the stories my then middle school and high school boys told me, I was okay with them not hanging out in our neighborhood.

I do not know if times have changed or in the day and age of social media do we just hear about more? I have a fear. An honest to God paralyzing fear that someone will violate my girls in the worst way possible, and this fear, coupled with their elementary school years has turned me into an overprotective mom.

My boys would spend the night out at their friend’s house. Of course, I would make contact with parents, make sure everything was on the up and up. Back then the sleepovers would consist of staying up all night and playing Mortal Combat. And, I know this is wrong, but they were boys. They had a little bit of “street smarts” to them, common sense. I could not imagine allowing my daughters to spend the night at someone’s house (assuming they were ever asked!) I read too many horror stories online. “Jessica spent the night at Melissa’s house. It was during the night that Melissa’s stepfather groped Jessica.” You know what I am talking about, we read about it all the time. Hell No! I cannot risk that. I will not risk that. In my mind, I rather be considered an overprotective mom than risking anything with the girls. Is this a normal thought process?? Serious question.

So, I am overprotective. Also, and I know this, but I tend to maybe do too much for the girls. “Do you want me to cut your steak?” “Bring me your clothes and I will wash them.” You guys, my boys were washing their own laundry at 9 years old, and they were good at it! I prided myself on how I taught them at a young age to wash their own clothes while knowing one day their future wife will thank me.

Why is it different for me with the girls?!

Today, I took the girls with me to the grocery store. Something that I do not do often because I worry about sex traffickers. Just due to our schedules, they went with me. We bought a lot. Two carts worth of groceries. I told them “Okay I can push one cart but someone needs to push the other.” They look at each other with a mixture of fear and confusion. “You guys, it will be fine, just follow me.”

Gracie~ “Not it!”
Sofia~ “Fine Gracie, I will do it. Geez!”

So off we go through the way too busy parking lot. No issues, we made it to the car in one piece and loaded it up. We emptied one cart first and I told Sofia “Take this to the cart return, it’s right there in front of us.” She took it, kind of giving me the side eye, which is her nervous look. We then unloaded the second cart, and I told Gracie “Okay your turn, take this to the cart return.”

Gracie~ “What’s the cart return?”
Me~ “The thing where you return carts.”
Gracie~ “How did I do it?”
Me~ “The same way Sofia did it.”

It was at this point where I sensed her nervousness. It threw me off. In that moment of seconds, I realized that not only am I holding her back, but she really does need to become more independent, right? I stopped loading the groceries and gave her my full attention.

Me~ “Gracie, you will be fine. First, you turn the cart around so you can push it. Then you just push it straight ahead into the cart return thing. You make sure to push it in with the other carts. Then you look both ways before coming back to the car.

With autism kids, you have to break everything down step by step. In fact, if you are not familiar with autism, please let this be the takeaway from this post. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone with autism. Everything and I mean everything has to be broken down in steps.

So…Gracie takes the cart. Then she kinda freaks out because she cannot get the cart completely lined up with the other carts. I tell her “It’s okay, you did good come on back.” And then she runs back without checking both ways.

Now….I do not know where my thought process is. Have I sheltered them that much that returning a simple cart to the stall freaks them out? Or, is Gracie’s reaction typical of those with autism? Did I not give her the proper step by step instructions? Is my fear of something bad happening to the girls hindering them? If so, how do I fix that?

I am at a loss here. Am I overthinking? Is this all normal? Am I the only crazy parent out there who has this paralyzing fear? Anyone????

~Jennifer.

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The One About Him

He was a good person. He still is a good person.

Although it has been many years since we had an actual conversation, I know He is one of the good ones.

I met Him when I was young. Maybe around ten? Gosh, I think it was younger than that? He would come home from work and always have a candy bar for me. Most of the time it was Butterfinger. So, he is kind of at fault for my Butterfinger obsession.

He always told me he thought my hair in a ponytail looked nice. I never forgot that because I love wearing my hair in a ponytail. Back then and today. It’s a good example of how a simple compliment to one can turn into confidence for the other.

Sometimes things were not easy, but He always treated us well, despite the not so easy times. He was funny in his own way, and boy did he like “collecting” things.

Sometimes I felt bad, wondering if the fights were my fault, although He never made me feel that way. It was just the young mind of an insecure little girl.

When my grandmother passed away, They took me for a walk. It was me. At least in my memory, it was just me. Now that I think about it, it’s a good question to ask. We took a walk to Fort Clifton in Colonial Heights, Va. It was right before the walk when They told me. The details are fuzzy. On the walk, He took out his pocket knife and carved my grandmother’s initials in a tree. Years later I would go back trying to find the tree. I never did.

He was at my first wedding. As a wedding gift, he bought me one of those large, family size bibles where you can insert the family history. It was my favorite wedding gift. I wish I still had it.

When I had AJ, He came to visit me at my house. My POS of a husband (at the time) would not let him in. I always felt horrible about that. Guilty about that. Once again, He left a baby gift. Like I said, He is a good person.

He did not have to remain in my life, He chose to.

Because of the close family history, He never seemed that far away, ya know? I am Facebook friends with his wife, and over the years we have exchanged Christmas cards.

He has served our country. He is a son, a father, a grandfather, a husband. His life has not always been an easy life, but, we are not promised an easy life.

He is strong, He is a believer. He is a story-teller.

Tomorrow, He has to have surgery. Leg amputation surgery.

It is my opinion the VA has failed him.

And now, here we are.

We will be praying. We will be asking ourselves “How can this happen? What went wrong?” We will be wondering where the solution is for our Vets. How can they be treated this way?

And, at some point during the day, I will have a Butterfinger. I will think of him and be thankful that at a not so good time, he came into our lives, and never really left.

~Jennifer

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The One Where I am Not the Enemy.

I try hard to be real and honest here on the blog. I try to be as honest as I can while respecting the privacy of those I may be talking (venting) about. It’s not always easy, and many times I hold back. I hold back because I do not want to cross that very thin line, I hold back on writing because I do not want my stories to be a bad reminder of someone else’s past, I hold back if I feel there is a good reason to hold back, and I can guarantee you the only reason I hold back is because I never want to hurt anyone else. Me, I am good. I am at peace with my past and I will own my wrongdoings, however, sometimes it is not always about me.

This is a hard post for me. Although I want to respect the privacy of my marriage and Joe, there are some things I feel I need to talk about. Some things I want to talk about. And, if we are to be completely honest, marriage is not always a bed of roses, and sometimes these kinds of post are not only beneficial to the writer but the reader as well. At the end of the day, we all need to feel we can relate to something. Right?

Joe and I are struggling. We are not on the verge of divorce struggling, but, struggling we are. We just are not on the same page. I am certain stress is playing a big part in this, also communication.

We have had a rough start to 2019. Everything from car problems, broken windows, kids, me sleeping on the sofa, money, you name it we have had it happen in these 37 days of the New Year.

I do not even know where to begin. I do not even know that thin line of what is safe to talk about and what borders on the line of disrespect. I do not know and perhaps that is part of the problem, me just not knowing.

Joe’s work schedule sucks. I hate it, he loves it. Right there we are on two different pages. He goes to sleep at 7 and wakes up at 3. I go to bed at 11ish and wake up at 6. Many times, most times I fall asleep on the sofa while he is sleeping in the bedroom. I never really thought anything of it. It just is what it is. On our mutual days off, we would make it work and sleep together. However, we no longer have the same days off. Since we are down to one car, he had to change his work schedule, and it just sucks.

The other night he says to me “We do not even sleep in the same room.” And, although I get it, I am confused and mad. In the past when I have brought the very same argument to his attention, I would be met with “I am getting old.” So, okay, I let it go…..but when everything is now reversed I am now the bad guy? What am I missing here?

Joe is a good guy. He is loyal and probably has one of the best work ethics you will ever find. For all of Joe’s good traits, there are bad ones as well. Same with me. I think that is just human nature.

I am trying to do my part, I am trying to do better and be more accommodating. Because we are on such a tight strict budget until we figure out the car situation I offered to make his lunch for work.

“I will make my own lunch.”

“I do not want to depend on anyone.”

Well, excuse me but what kind of shit is that?!?!?! Aren’t I the one that you should depend on?!?!?! It’s a freakin sandwich and chips and if it is a good day a Twinkie as well. He is so damn stubborn. So…I make his lunch, whether he likes it or not.

I feel that everything I say to him he takes as a personal insult. I do not know, maybe it is my delivery? I am just, tired. I am tired of being tired and I did not think I would have to work this hard with my own husband.

Some family members of his needed twenty dollars. And, between you and I, because I did not communicate this with him, I am pissed. It is my opinion that we are in the worst possible situation for anyone to need to borrow money, but, he will do it. “Okay fine, then you work it in the budget.”

It falls on deaf ears.

I have family members who have offered to loan us some money. Money that would help us get out of this financial rut. “Tell them thank you but no, I need to get out of this on my own.” Okay great. That is one of the things I love about him, he never wants a handout, but on the same token, he is not doing anything to help me with the budget to figure out how to get caught up from the money we had to put into our broken window. I am left feeling like “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

So I do it. I try to make it work. Yet it never seems good enough. Because the only thing he wants is to make sure he has the twenty to give to his own family members. And, I am pissed. I want to say “Give them the goddamn twenty and promise me a good six months of no phone calls asking for money!” But…..I cannot do that.

Tonight, tonight was the clincher which led me to write this stream of consciousness kind of blog. I made the comment to him “Just so you know, my family still is offering to lend us money.”

He got mad. He feels like I am holding something above his head. I do not get it, and I am kinda getting sick of it. I have four kids. I do not need a fifth.

Joe went out to the balcony to smoke. I go out there trying to talk to him. Trying to clarify things. He says “I am just trying to smoke and you come out here trying to start something.”

I am now pissed but again trying to hold it together. Before coming inside out of the cold, I say “Okay, you can think what you want about me, but you need to reevaluate how you talk to me. I am not the enemy.”

He comes in and goes to bed.

I am at a loss. Although I know eventually we will be okay right now in this moment I am pissed. I am mad, I am hurt, I am annoyed. What I want to say is “Stop throwing a fit and talk to me.” But, we fall in the pattern of every time one of us tries to say something, the other person is not listening. We already have in our mind what we are going to say next without hearing the other person out.

Marriage is not always good times (clearly!) I know you have your hills and mountains. Right now Joe and I are at the very end of the hill. We are both annoying each other and I think we both have good reasons to be annoyed, but dammit it is frustrating.

I do not know what to do to get us where we need to be. I know that it cannot just be me, and it cannot just be him trying. But if you were to ask both of us, we would say we are trying but the other is not. This is the classic example of how you have two people who want it to work, they are determined to make it work but lines of communication are getting lost, and I need help to reestablish the connection.

At the end of the day, my last words to him I told true. I am not the enemy.

I am not the enemy.

Do not talk to me like I am.

Work with me.

Trust me.

Love me.

I am not the enemy.

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The One About Light of Day

The year was 1987.

Reagan was President.

Unemployment was at its lowest since 1979, and Michael Jackson released his third solo album “Bad.”

Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady”
Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”
Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”

All popular hit singles of 1987.

Television brought us the premiere of “Rags to Riches” “Unsolved Mysteries” the infamous “Married With Children” and one of my personal favorites “Full House.”

On the Big Screen, we saw “The Untouchables” “Dirty Dancing” and the controversial “Fatal Attraction.”

Also, a film that in my opinion does not get the recognition it deserves. A film that I would consider a “coming of age” film, at least it was for me. A film with a pretty amazing cast that consists of the impeccable  Gena Rowlands, we see a new side to Michael J Fox and the one and only girl of Rock, Joan Jett.

“Light of Day.”

Jen’s synopsis: Joe and Patty are siblings. Patty has a difficult relationship with her very religious mother and looks to music for her escape. Patty has a little boy who she loves with all her heart, yet struggles with. Joe steps in to make sure his nephew is doing okay.

A film about a blue-collar family just trying to make ends meet. One of my favorites, Bruce Springsteen wrote the titled song “Light of Day” specifically for the film. “Light of Day” was originally going to be titled “Born in the USA” however, when Bruce read the script, he ended up using that title for a song he was writing about a Vietnam Vet, and that is how his song “Born in the USA” was, well, born.

I sat in that movie theatre completely transfixed on the screen. Between Michael J Fox and Joan Jett’s on-screen presence, I could not look away. The way their acting made me feel I will never forget. Whether it was a feel-good scene or heart-wrenching scene, I knew that is what I wanted. I wanted to make people feel. I wanted to do something that evoked some sort of emotion in others where they could not look away. I wanted to be Joe and Patty. I wanted to date a guy like Michael J Fox and I wanted Joan Jett as my BFF.

After the movie, we all went to dinner. “The Parent’s” my sister, and I cannot remember if my brother was there. If he was he was just a baby, plus he does not read my blog so there’s that. I remember I could not stop talking about the movie. Right there in the car, I proclaimed loud and clear “I want a pair of Joan Jett boots!”

Two days later, a trip to Payless, I believe, I had the most perfect pair of “Joan Jett Boots.” Black leather, mid-calf, with silver studs on them. I wore the hell out of those boots. In fact, those boots were my first pair of boots and Christin can attest to this, I wear nothing else. I do not care if it is 80 degrees outside, I will wear my boots with jeans, shorts, skirts, whatever it may be. I will always be wearing a pair of boots.

Right before school started I was doing school shopping for the kids. I came across the most perfect boots ever. I would say it is an updated version of “Joan Jett Boots.” Simple black boots that come right above the ankle, zipper on the side.

But…as we all know, it is never about the boots. It is about how they make me feel, how they take me back to that movie theater.

And in recent days, as I slide those boots over my jeans and flannel in my Seattle Suburb temperatures, many times Joan will be playing in the background, and if I listen close enough, she is singing to me.

Only me.

“Well I’m a little down under, but I’m feeling O.K.
I got a little lost along the way
I’m just around the corner to the light of day”

 

The One That Only Happens at Walmart

Wednesday night, Christin and I did our normal routine of chatting on the phone in between homework breaks and cooking dinner. We each had a good day at our respective jobs and home fronts.

Let me just give you a little snippet of our conversation.

Me~ I am so lucky I have not gotten sick yet. I have had a kid cough on me, one threw up on me and one smeared poop on me! My immune system is a BEAST!

Chrsitin~ Right? It has been months since I have been sick! We are killing it at staying healthy!

So, although it was quite a surprise to me, it will not be a surprise to any of you that I woke up Thursday morning sick. I felt like death was at my doorstep. Fever, could not even talk sick, and yet I still tried to get ready for work. I put in a good effort, but I knew my morning would involve me hanging out on the playground with my little friend, and as I much as I enjoy my friend, I had visions of me passing out on the frostbitten playground slide and my friend running into the neighboorhood. I am not even kidding. My vision continued with me laying in the health room and my office manager having to call Joe at work because I passed out and now there is a missing kid-so although I know it was an inconvenience for my coworkers, I called in.

Also, my own kids were sick.

The girls and I spent all day Thursday doing nothing. We rested, we drank our liquids and we slept. Two out of the three of us felt better. Naturally, I was still feeling it.

Joe comes home from work, throws some chicken soup together. I slowly gathered myself together to make a Walmart run. I know what you guys are thinking. Most likely the same thing Joe was thinking “Are you crazy?” Yes, I am, but we already knew that. Here’s the thing. I know my body. I knew as much as I wanted to continue to lay on the comfort of my lopsided sofa, I knew that I had to get up, I had to make an effort and I had to get some fresh air…..also, I needed supplies in the form of orange juice, ginger ale, and coconut oil.

Now, I am not exactly sure how I ended up in the cosmetic section at Walmart, but I did, so we will just leave it at that. I figured “Well, since I am here, better grab some mascara…and blush.”

For those not familiar, Walmart kind of changed things. They now have their cosmetic section it’s own section. If you want to purchase makeup, you have to purchase it at the makeup counter. I am not sure what they are going for here, but MAC they are not.

As soon as I enter the small enclosed section that has Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon and Elf at my fingertips, I notice a cute older Asian Lady with a spitfire personality going off on the “Cosmetics Cashier.”

Asian Lady~ I no understand. Why can’t I pay with my other items? This makes no sense. This is stupid.

I love this woman.

Walmart Cosmetics Cashier~ Blah Blah Blah.

I find my tried and true Cover Girl “The Falsies” mascara and make my way to the “makeup counter.”

The lovely cashier who just moments ago was trying to explain to the Asian Lady why there is now a cosmetics department at Walmart greeted me. She looks at me, she looks at the mascara and blush I have in my hand.

Cashier~ Eww. Are you sick?

(I mean really, who can blame her, I did look beat up!)

Me~ Yes, sorry, I should not even be here, I needed juice.

(Motions to my cart filled with orange juice)

Cashier~ That’s okay, what are your symptoms?

(Important to note, my state has a measles outbreak)

Me~ No worries, I have had the measles vaccine. Just feverish, can’t talk, runny nose, just look at me!

(At this point, my favorite Asian Lady is now behind me in line)

Cashier~ (picks up her phone) I have the perfect thing for you, just give me a minute, let me find it…..

Asian Lady~ I have question about makeup!

Me~ Ummm, okay…..

Cashier~ (To Asian Lady) I will answer your question when it is your turn in line.

Me~ (Coughing, sneezing, hacking up a lung)

Cashier~ Look! This is what you need to do. Where is your phone, get your phone, take a picture of my picture and then go grab some Vicks Vapor Rub.

(I am looking at a clip-art picture of a foot)

Asian Lady~ I want to see!

Cahsier~ (Looking at Asian Lady) You of all people know what I am talking about. (Shows Asian Lady the picture of the clip art foot.

Me~ (Thinking to myself) “Did I just witness a racial stereotype?”

Asian Lady~ Great grandfather from Japan, he studies feet.

Me~ (Still coughing, sneezing and hacking up another lung.)

Asian Lady~ (To me) You look bad, pale, go drink tea, juice no good.

As I was leaving, I look back, and see my favorite Asian Lady and my not so favorite Walmart Makeup Counter Cashier, looking at the clip art picture of a foot.

In case you are just as confused as I was, your take away from this post….never go to Walmart when you are sick. Specifically, never go to the makeup counter. Just trust me.

(If you look close enough, you can see the register and the vest of my cashier)

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The One Where Target Made Me Think.

I made grilled cheese and french fries for an early dinner. I had to run to the store and just did not have it in me for anything else.

Joe comes home just as I am finishing up the last of the sandwiches. We do a quick catch up, I tell him how I need to run to the store for last minute things for Vinnie’s birthday tomorrow. (And by “last minute things” I mean a card and cash!)

I grabbed my jacket. “Do you think you can keep an eye on the last grilled cheese? I need to make a quick phone call.”

Joe looks at me, nods his head and all is good. I go outside to the balcony to call my sister real quick. (I have to go outside because my phone seriously has no reception inside. Just ask anyone who I talk to on the phone.)

My sister and I talk for maybe ten minutes. I head back inside to a smoking pot on the stove a very black grilled cheese sandwich and Joe on the sofa oblivious to it all. I turn the stove off, remove the pan and assure Sofia that “No, we do not need to call the fire department.”

I am now in the Target checkout line. I do not know why it is I do not shop at Target more often. It’s only a four-minute drive from my apartment and they have cute stuff. A little pricey on their meats but other than that a good store.

The lady in front of me is using WIC. For those not familiar,  WIC stands for Woman, Infant, Children. It is a federal program to help low-income woman provide nutrition to their children. Many people equate WIC with welfare. That is not always true. You can qualify for WIC and not qualify for food stamps. It is a good program, and I am not ashamed to say when I had Gracie, I was on WIC. There was no way I was able to afford her special needs formula on my own.

WIC was a life saver for Joe and I. The thing is when using WIC, you are issued “checks.” These checks are very specific to what you can buy. Specific milk, peanut butter, formula, juice. You have to get exactly what the check says, and the cashier has to make sure everything matches up. It’s a long process, and sometimes when you have judgemental know-it-alls behind you in line, they can leave you feeling insecure and less than.

I was determined not to make this lady in front of me feel like that. So, as she and the cashier are going through about five different WIC checks, I occupy myself on the phone. I talk myself out of buying a Snickers, and I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me.

So here is the scoop. Directly behind me in line is a lady. Probably mid 30’s. Behind her is a couple. Man and woman. At this point I have not seen them, I can just hear the conversation.

Couple~ That is a great tattoo!
Lady~ Oh I am sorry, I did not know it was showing.
Couple~ It’s a great tattoo! Did you go to Disney often?
Lady~ Thank you! We just got back a month ago, that’s when I got the tattoo.

It was at this point that I turned around. I am nosy, I wanted to see the tattoo and the cashier was still dealing with the customer using WIC.

I turn around, see the couple. I freeze for about eight seconds, then quickly turn back around.

This couple, I do not even know, this couple was, well, I want to say a “better” version of Joe and me, but I know better than that. The lady, probably about ten years older than me. Long shoulder length black hair, styled the same way as I do mine. She was dressed perfectly. Long black coat, a beautiful knee-length red skirt paired with a black blouse. The gentleman, black slacks, grey button-down, and a black and grey petticoat. In my mind, they just got out of church and had to run into Target for some last minute items for Sunday dinner. But….it was not just the way they were dressed. It was the way they carried themselves, the way they were engaging the other lady in conversation regarding her tattoo. This couple had a positive, feel-good vibe about them.

I remember being a little girl, looking into the future, this is the couple who I saw myself as. And the fact that they looked like an older version of Joe and I really made me think.

While in the checkout line, I had to quickly get a grip on reality. As wonderful and as positive as this look-alike couple seemed to be, we all know there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.

I can write about twenty different scenarios, but they would all end the same way.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be the hard things, the big things that matter. It’s going to be seeing your spouse through loss, it’s going to be making the active decision every day to love the other, even when it is not always easy. It’s going to be holding your tongue if they are a loud eater, it will be hanging in there through weight gain or weight loss. It will be money, it will be jobs, it will be kids. And as much as I truly enjoyed this couple, as much as I enjoyed seeing what a different version Joe and I would be, none of that compares to the real thing…..

unless perhaps we are talking about burnt grilled cheese.

~Jennifer.

grilled cheese