It was one of those serious conversations about life, living together, marriage, divorce. And then he says to me: “I don’t look back, I look forward.”
Say hello to Big Time Stress.
Not only the holidays, but differing temperaments, life’s big questions, and while I fully understand my Man Friend’s reasoning, admittedly, some of us tend to analyze the past more than others, in part to stretch what we’re capable of – moving into our future.
But that’s another story for another day.
Meanwhile, I’m rummaging in the salad drawer, the deli drawer, behind the O.J.
It’s the holidays and I can’t find the damn rosemary. Nor can I find the thyme.
Naturally, I’m also pressed for time.
Try as I might to keep a smile on my face, this just might be the last straw in a haystack full of the stuff these past two weeks. Besides, when it comes to turkey, I love my herbs and spices – in particular, rosemary and thyme.
And that line of thinking brings me to rushing to prep for two meetings, rushing to complete a document, followed by more rushing to get myself to the supermarket to pick up whatever I need for the holiday meal that remains unaccounted for.
As I feel the stress rising, I remind myself to:
- Do one thing at a time
- Feel the ground beneath my feet
- Ask “what’s the worst that can happen if this doesn’t get done”
- Breathe. (Yes, it bears repeating.)
All the while, my guy’s advice is echoing in my mind: “Don’t look back, look ahead.”
But orienting oneself in time can be hard, and I confess, harder for those of us who may be sentimental. Harder still when you feel you’ve lived distinctly separate lives and something, suddenly, bridges one to another and it catches you off-guard.
Case in point: I may no longer live in the home that I occupied when I was married with children, but I live nearby and still shop at the same locations. That means there are moments that are remarkably memory-inducing – none more intense than during the holiday season.
And I find myself swimming in time travel in the oddest places.
Like passing the plastic baggies and the paper towels and plucking up aluminum foil for the turkey.
Like skipping the Karo syrup but grabbing two boxes of dark brown sugar.
Like ignoring the onions, the turnips, the scallions… and snatching up rosemary and thyme.
I may not wish to look back, but there are sounds and smells and actions that bring us back – to children in a white kitchen before a family is broken, to in-laws around a formal table where everyone is enjoying each others’ company, to promises made that we once thought were unshakeable.
It becomes nearly impossible to avoid the weight of what aches like some phantom limb; it isn’t about the man, but it is about the dreams.
And the sensation of who you once were, pieces of which have gone missing.
So I try to look ahead (as advised), to appreciate what is here (and happy), and to create more markers in time and more time for experience. Time, after all, is truly precious – time with those we consider family, time to “be” when we can manage to get outside of our heads, and the ability to look forward when we have a mind to do so.
And while I’m at it, I’m reminding myself to breathe through my holiday stress, not to sweat the small stuff, and in my own words – to consider “what is the worst that can happen if this doesn’t get done.”
Generally, it’s nothing too serious.
Besides, I’ve got my rosemary and thyme.