Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scooty Scoot Scoot

Irrelevant to this story...so what?

It was our first real two-person vacation since bringing Ro into this world.  Neither of us ski.  So, naturally, we landed in Colorado.  Spring time.  Estes Park.

We snagged a cabin less than a mile from the east side entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The idea of surrounding ourselves in nature was appealing at that time.

And of the activities on our abbreviated agenda, it was scootering thru the park that appealed most to me (w/ a slight apprehensive after taste).  In our pre vaca research, Jill and I had learned that there were multiple ways to experience the park.  Multiple sources cited scooters as the ideal mode of transportation.

We were in.

For years before this trip, I had repeatedly expressed my desire to get a Vespa.  Of course, Jill supported my interest.  "You don't get anything for yourself.  Just do it.  You'll love it."

"Yeah, but how often would I really use it?  How often do I drive alone?"  (If I'm gifted at anything, it's that I can argue myself into inaction, no matter the circumstance.)

"We'll figure it out.  You'll get your rides in."  she'd respond assuredly, positively, lovingly.

Jill was so fucking supportive.  It never wavered.  Ever.  Fucking ever.

(I'm going to shift for a second here and rant on another topic that has stuck itself in my head for a few weeks now.  I'm reminded of it b/c I just had to contemplate it in this post.  It's the matter of past or present.  How do I represent my wife - both in text and speech?  Jill was or Jill is?  Aw, that must be tough, you may be thinking.  It's more than that.  It requires a conscious acknowledgement.  And that's harder to do 'out loud.'  I just assume speak of Jill in the present b/c in so many ways she is for me.  But then I catch myself and think, but the person/people reading/hearing this are going to misunderstand me as 'forgetful' or 'in denial.'  Neither are true.  It's just that speaking of Jill in the past tense feels like an injustice of some kind.  More, it's not true to me.  She's here, G-d damn it.  G-d damn it.  She is here.  I feel it at my fucking core.  Or, maybe, I want to feel it.  Either way, it's palpable.  Something's palpable.  So, the next time you 'catch' me mentioning Jill in the present, please know that I know.  I'm living this reality.  I get it.  And if it provides me some kind of sick comfort to speak of Jilly in the present, I'll continue to do it for as often as it benefits me.)

(I have yet to purchase the Vespa.  Though I continue to ogle them online.)

So the day the came in Estes Park.  We found ourselves face to face w/ the scooter rental lady.  Well, truthfully, Jill found herself face to face w/ the scooter rental lady.  I found myself face to face w/ the graphic photos of scooter wipeout injuries these rental facilities are inclined to display to scare us into safely operating these two-wheel death traps.

My first - alright, maybe second - wave of anxiety hits.

Then we sign the paperwork.  The standard waivers that says if we somehow scrape all the skin off of our bodies while using these toys, 'Scooter City' ain't liable.

Next comes the test run.  Jill's up first.

The owner/instructor/apathetic hippie gives Jilly a quick 101 and sends her off down the hill and back.

Nailed it.  Jill rolls back into the parking lot w/ a bright smile shining out from under her helmet.

My turn.

Let's just say I got thru it.  Straightaways are not a problem.  But, just like bicycles, it's the turns that get me.  No clean, sharp turns for me.  They're all wide and measured.  Careful.  Easy does it.

I cautiously role back into the lot.

Jill looks at me eagerly.  "You ready to take these things out on the road?  Let's do it!"

She's excited.  Damn it.

All those years watching and riding w/ her dad on his scooters has obviously injected a level of confidence and ability that have eluded me up until this point.

So, we had a couple options.  We could pay X and take the hogs out for three hours.  Or, we could pay 2X and have them all day.

Already I was leaning the three hour package...maybe less.  I mean, if I can't comfortably turn on the winding Colorado roads, I'm going to end up framed in one of those 'don't end up like this' photos.

Jill felt my anxiety.  (At this point, she had acquired a sixth sense.)  "Let's just take them out on some easy [straighter] roads for a bit and get used to them and then make a decision."  She was all in.

"Okay," I said unconvincingly to anyone in earshot.

So we set out.  I led and Jill followed.  This was a calculated move.  B/c my comfort level was running near empty, I wasn't even confident enough to check my mirrors or quickly turn my head for vehicles approaching from the rear.  My only focus was straight ahead.

So Jill was my eyes in the rear.  (And that is the last time I ever construct a sentence that way.)

We instituted a system.  If cars were approaching (as would often be the case b/c our scooting machines topped out at 40 MPH, if I recall), Jill would lightly honk at me, which would be my signal to pull off the road and onto the shoulder.  Jill would follow.  Thus allowing aforementioned cars to pass us.  When clear, we'd get back on the open road.

Jill convinced me that we make our way back to our cabin for some lunch.  We could decide after lunch if we wanted this wobbly adventure to continue.

Over lunch Jill asks, "What if I teach you, get you more comfortable on the scooter?"

"Can't hurt...oh wait..."

We finish up lunch and scoot to an empty lot near our cabin.  And just as she promised, Jill proceeds to patiently and constructively give me tips to make me more comfortable on the two wheels of terror.

She succeeds.  Enough.  Enough for me to know that she wants to scoot till sunset.  I'm not going to stand in the way of that happening.  I'm in.

Next level - Rocky Mountain National Park.

It's rocky.  It's mountainous.  It's winding.  The roads are severely winding.

Thankfully we have a foolproof system on our side.

I lead.  Jill follows.  Jill honks.  We pull over.  Repeat as needed.

And we do.  A lot.

We had the freaking time of our lives.  Without a doubt one of the highlights - not just of this trip, but  of any trip we've experienced together.

Jill gave this pansy a much needed push that led to an incredibly unique and rich experience.

My wife knew how to get the best out of me.  I will always appreciate that special ability.  It helped mold me into who I am today.  And while it certainly ain't perfect, I'm a much better version of myself than I was before Jill walked into my life.

Thanks, babe.

All love,

J, J, & r

No they don't.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Inside Jokes

No one likes to be on the outside of an inside joke.

I think it's human nature to want to be 'in the know.' So, when something's happening, something's being said that we're not up to speed on, it doesn't feel good. It's unsettling, making us feel slightly uneasy.

(I'm not sure why I'm generalizing here. My intent w/ these posts is to stay personal, not go wide. Generalizing leads to false assumptions. Yet, I continue...)

All that being said, inside jokes – whether labeled as such or not – are ubiquitous. Wherever meaningful relationships exist, inside jokes find a home.

Jill and I had many of them.

And over the past few months I've been reminded of several.

I'm stretching after a run and something sneaks into my head.  (Like today.)

I'm folding clean clothes (as best I can) and another one pops in.

I stumble onto something online and am immediately reminded of that story.

There's no shortage of mundane experiences that will trigger an inside Jilly-Jason joke memory.

And when these memories hit, I'm filled w/ immediate satisfaction. Like somehow these not-so-insignificant inside jokes underline our unbreakable bond.

But, just as quickly, that satisfaction subsides and it kinda hurts. It stings. It's like Jilly and I are now both on the outside of our own inside jokes. B/c we can't share them between us anymore.

We can't share those inside laughs that were just ours.

I can remember them. But, that's all. And right now that doesn't feel like enough.

That's really the thing. Inside jokes are meant to be shared between (at least) two parties, right? And when one of those fucking parties is no longer present, those funny moments immediately (and often unknowingly) become apparitions of sorts. Nobody has an inside joke in isolation...unless maybe you're schizophrenic. (In which case, that would be a fascinating adventure to explore...secondhand.)

Inside jokes happen organically. Nobody constructs an inside joke, right? (That'd be weird and forced.  Phony.) Knowing that, I wouldn't attempt to recreate J&J inside jokes w/ anyone else. It'd be too laborious and ultimately unsatisfying. Let me attempt recreate the whole experience that led to the inside joke – give you the background and context so you can catch up and try to laugh along w/ me. Pathetic. Neither of us will be laughing in the end.

So, like a lot, I guess I'll hold these inside jokes inside. Tuck them away under the category of 'light, but meaningful' memories.

And – like you - I'll have experiences that will lead to new inside jokes.

B/c I don't want to be on the outside.

All love,

J, J, & r

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ramble On

Jilly was verbose.  And I am human.

This combination would occasionally result in me not listening to every word that came out of my wife's mouth.  I admit it.  I think it's a good first step...toward what I don't know.

And let's be honest w/ ourselves here.  We're all guilty of this, right?  I mean, right now some of you are probably just skimming thru this post to grab the gist.

Well, similarly, I was guilty of audible skimming.  (Does that make sense?  If so, I want to trademark that term right now.)

Now, to be fair to myself, my tendency (too strong a word) to zone out often occurred when Jill would begin to lean into a story or anecdote that I'd already heard...from her.  So, both respectfully and often carefully, I would communicate this to my loving wife.

But, this can be a tricky retort.  She's rolling into charted territory and I need to respond w/ a balance of great appreciation for the forthcoming story, while also letting her know it's a repeat.

Most - not all - of the time I could strike this balance.

But it didn't matter.

I learned - quite quickly, in fact - that if Jill had something to say, she was going to say it.  No matter if it was clear to all parties (including herself) that she had said it before.

Jill's response was often a quick, but oddly effective iteration of, "Okay, but let me finish."  She wasn't rude in her response.  It was almost like once she started, she did not have the ability to stop.  The story, the anecdote, the thought process had to be completed...on her terms.

(Yes, Rory is the exact same way.)

Anyway, as stated, I had a tendency to periodically zone out.  And on most of these occasions, it did not have a negative impact on Jill, me, or even us.  All remained right w/ the world.

But there were moments when I was caught in distraction.  And Jill would pleasantly call me out on it, knowing she clearly had me trapped in a hazardous situation.

"What do you think about that?" she'd tee up the trap for me.

And this - this my friends and family - is when the real magic happened.

If I could quickly read the mood of the room and tone of my wife, I could implement what would become my go-to response in these precarious scenarios.

The key is to begin confidently.  "Well, I think if you want to start the garden this weekend, I agree that it's important that we all pitch in..."

Judging her facial response as I'm speaking, I'm not even close to being on topic.  So I continue w/o interruption...

"...but that's not what we're talking about right now.  I just wanted to reiterate the importance of gardening as a family.  In response to your question, I think it's okay for Rory to have the sleepover, but I'd prefer it be at our house this time..."

Nope, I'm not even warm.  But I must keep going.  Don't let up...

"Future reference.  I'm talking sleepovers b/c I know how interested Rory is in them right now.  Obviously that's beside the point of this conversation.  To address your question, I really think any spring break trip we take needs to be limited in travel.  We only have a week and I don't want to spend half the time traveling to and from..."

I'm still way off.  Hemorrhaging...but I've still got Jill's attention.  This is key.  Best defense is a good offense..?

"Ya know what, we'll talk about vacation later.  Let's just table that for now.  Right now we need to discuss the topic at hand.  And while I do think that house project is important, I think there are other more important things to tend to first."

I intentionally go vague in this portion of my response in effort to better my chances of catching hold of something she had originally mentioned.

Her eyebrows raise a bit.  This could be a good or bad sign.  Go, man, go.  Continue...

"That's just my opinion.  And you asked me what I think.  Really, for this one, just do what you want to do and I'll support it.  I trust your decision making."

I'd often close w/ sincere appreciation for, and confidence in my wife's abilities.  It's an ever-so-slightly veiled compliment to top off my rambling.

And that's really the key here - the rambling.

Clearly I had no idea what Jilly was saying.  And from the moment I opened my mouth to respond, she knew I had no idea what I was responding to.  So I chose to embrace that fact and play w/ it.

I would ramble on just long enough for Jill to begin to be genuinely entertained by my bullshit babble.  And if I could sense she was entertained (almost always), the situation was diffused.

Crisis averted.  End scene.

Until next time...

All love,

J, J, & r

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Dollop of Daisy

After living in separate places for the first year after Jill moved to Houston, we converged under the roof of a wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall carpeted apartment.  I mean, this freaking place had carpeting in the kitchen.  What?  Why?  Cruel.

It was during this carpeted period of our lives that we naturally found our footing, our daily routine.

It was an exciting time, b/c in many ways it was new all over again...
  • What time do you wake up?  
  • Do you brush your teeth before or after you eat breakfast?  
  • Is showering first on your morning to-do list?  
  • How long does this makeup thing take?  
All those little things that need to be ironed out to make for an efficient couple.

The soundtrack for our morning routine was often the Today Show.  We'd get our daily dose of top-line, easily digestible news clippings spit at us by Katie and Matt as we zigzagged the carpeted floors.

This particular year, however, we were granted a :30 bonus (a dollop, if you will) to kickstart our mornings.

Apparently Daisy, the (leading?) sour cream brand, was coming in fast and hard w/ their marketing efforts.  Today Show viewers were clearly positioned in the crosshairs.

B/c this happened.

Every.  Freaking.  Morning.

(I'll wait.  Take :30 and let it wash all over you.)

We ate it up.  (Not literally.  I don't eat that shit.  The name alone doesn't suggest a positive experience.  Don't juxtapose 'sour' and 'cream' and attempt to convince me that everything is going to be okay if I ingest your product.)

No, when I say 'ate it up,' I mean when that spot kicked on, Jilly and I stopped in our tracks.  We turned up the volume on the TV and sang along w/ that ridiculously cheese'tastic jingle.  Dancing was often in order as well.

:30 of pure, uninterrupted bliss.

So, thanks, Daisy.  Sure, I wouldn't consume your cream if my life depended on it.  (Check that.  If my life depended on it, I'd eat sour cream.  Let's just hope that unique situation doesn't present itself.)  But, that spot - that beautiful commercial - brought me us joy on a near daily basis.

And, once again, it's these little things, these micro memories, that are magnified in hindsight.  And I intend to hold onto as many of these dollops as my head and heart will permit.

All love,

J, J, & r