Girls’ Night Out

I have a new friend, Kim. We met this summer at a wedding, but just finally connected a few weeks ago over breakfast. She invited me out with some of her friends last night – what a nice time!

We went to a wine bar, had yummy rosé and sandwiches, then walked a couple of blocks to the local live theater. It was a lovely evening. Good to meet some women my own age – finally! Up until now, I’ve known one or two women who are in my age range – most of my female friends here in VA are older or younger than me by 10+ years.

I realized, as I arrived and took off my coat, that I haven’t really been out with a small group of girl friends for almost three years. When I first moved to VA, I was invited to a woman’s house for a discussion of a particular cookbook and eating plan, but I felt out of place and self-conscious in that group – I didn’t know anyone, not even really the hostess, though we’re friends now. Before that, there was once in FL, just before I was moving, when my neighbor ladies took me out for a goodbye dinner.

Prior to that, I went out many times with women my own age, while living in Wisconsin. I was friends with women who had children my kids’ ages, so that automatically brought common companionship. I was in weekly Bible Study and prayer groups with fellow women at the same stage of life as me. I suppose that’s expected – we had life in common.

Besides those groups, and the wonderful team of women with whom I worked daily, I’d get together for breakfast or coffee with a few friends on a pretty regular basis. Then there’s my dear friend with whom I shared many dinners over the years. And let’s not forget my weekly call with my best friend!

I remember many years ago, when my dad was leaving for almost two weeks on a mission trip to Africa. My mom and I had multiple conversations about what she was going to do while he was gone, and she had made plans with several female friends for activities while he traveled, to help offset the potential loneliness of him being away. And we talked then about how important it is to have female friendships!

I think I’ve complained here on this blog about being lonely, longing for nearby relationships with women my own age. So I was excited when my schedule opened up last night – I usually have a Tuesday evening commitment. It worked out beautifully that I was free last night to join this “new” group of ladies. I had just recently bought a new dress, and thought how cute it would look with boots; I’d get dressed up for Girls’ Night – a nice change from my regular sweater and jeans.

But yesterday afternoon, I almost backed out. I had returned home after running errands, and I thought how nice it would be to stay home and make dinner with my husband, share a bottle of wine, and watch Netflix together. But he told me to go, and said that I needed some female companionship. He knows me so well!

I’m glad he pushed, and I’m very glad I went. And the dress looked great with the boots!

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Emotions in Dreaming

Oh. I’m angry! So angry that I wouldn’t allow myself to go back to sleep. I’m tired enough, but afraid that the emotions swirling would carry over into the next dream, and I need to shake them from me!

I don’t think this has ever happened, at least not that I remember. Maybe as a baby, you know, when a baby wakes up crying and angry, but not as an adult. And I am so angry!

I’ve awakened in the middle of the night before and been afraid, after a horrible scary nightmare.  And I’ll reach over and find my husband’s hand and squeeze it to assure myself that the dream was not real, that I am truly safe in my bed under my cozy covers in my secure home, with no one chasing me or threatening me. And my fear has always melted pretty quickly. I can only think of one time where I actually had to wake my husband so he could hug the boogeyman away.

But this dream filled me with rage! I’ve rarely been so angry even in real life! And so helpless to the impossible situation!

I wanted to drift back to sleep right away, but my heart would start pounding and my stomach would begin churning and I could feel the angry tension rising, so I kept opening my eyes and taking deep slow breaths to calm myself. It wasn’t working, so I got up (4am) and made myself some chamomile tea and grabbed my laptop to type it all out. Then maybe I’ll be calm enough to fall back asleep.

Such an intense emotion. Anger. And I don’t handle anger all that well when I’m awake and alert in the middle of the day. Apparently, I am much more vulnerable in my sleep!

The Dream: I answered the doorbell to find several college-aged boys in pick-up trucks with furniture and ladders and wood. They barged into the kitchen and began measuring for the new cabinets they were going to install – in the most stupid place – next to the pantry doors! Then the girls arrived, with mattresses and bedding and brushes with white paint dripping from the bristles. They moved everything out of my childhood bedroom and began to move their mattresses in, plus climbed a ladder and were painting bright white around my posters on the wall, not even willing to match the paint with the white I already had! Apparently, the girl who was moving in was bringing a friend to move in with her – I learned this from the girls who had overtaken my room.

I was furious – who were these folks that thought they could just come in and rearrange my house? I tried to find the phone number for my landlord; I couldn’t, even though I somehow knew she was a very close friend. I wandered outside, to discover more girls settling into the side yard as some guys tore apart the wrap-around deck which overlooked the woods behind my house – the verdant green, lush forest of tall trees and deer and birds. They were going to extend the landscaped path to make room for the 20′ pool deck lounge chair they had. The new roommate was on the scene now, and I tried to stay calm as I asked her what the hell she thought she was doing! We were suddenly back into my bedroom – that’s when she told me we’d have to fit three full-sized beds in here. Wait! How?! There wasn’t any room to get between the beds, or to reach the closet. And now I was trapped in the far corner of the room.

But then I was walking down my childhood hallway and I stopped at my childhood bathroom to splash water on my face in an effort to regain my calm. I overheard the girls laughing at me and my confusion. Oooo, I got madder! I continued to my childhood kitchen, now full of guys on ladders, taking apart light fixtures and banging their hammers on the cupboards. I began frantically searching through cancelled checks, and finally located the landlord’s number at the top of one of them. But I couldn’t dial it – my hands were shaking badly and my fingers kept hitting the wrong buttons. I asked my sister to help me, but she walked past me on her way out the back door slider from my childhood dining room. Then my aunt appeared at the end of the kitchen counter, and took the phone from me and very calmly dialed the number.

When I got the landlord on the phone, it was clear she was talking to the girls in the other room on another line! So we’re complaining in her ears, she’s trying to answer each of us and talk us down, …

And that’s when I woke up. Full of rage at the uncontrollable circumstances! I became aware of my surroundings: I felt the cat lying down by my leg, I heard the kitten on the chair as he began playing with the pull-string of the floor lamp. I looked at the ceiling fan, and got my bearings in the bedroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but the rage kept rising, so here I am, typing it all out and chuckling as I see the different pieces from reality that morphed into my very upsetting dream.

The backyard woods were from across the street from our house in Florida, and the enormous lounge chair was from the pool in our Florida housing community; I’d been thinking about Florida when reading a friend’s Facebook post yesterday morning. My sister, who I just texted last evening. My aunt, who my mom mentioned in our weekly Friday phone call.  My childhood home in detail. The landscaped path – we had walked down a cool sidewalk in Philadelphia last weekend. Cancelled checks, which were in the box I was digging through earlier yesterday as I was looking for labels. The construction in the kitchen, and my husband has to finish some repair in the laundry room ceiling later today. I think I might have become my daughter in this dream – she used to live with her best friend (who is the landlord and just moved out a few weeks ago). I was asking my daughter about her last night, and how she’s adjusting to her new home. All of these features showed up in this very upsetting dream, but are mostly grounded in my last 24 hours.

So where did the rage come from? I’m not angry, nor have I been recently. Isn’t the purpose of dreaming to resolve unfinished emotions or conflict? I can relate the scenes and characters from this dream to my reality, but not the emotions.

What do you think it means? Well, you figure it out and tell me in the morning. I’m calm now and am going back to bed!

 

 

 

Philadelphia

What do we do when we have a long holiday without the kids? Instead of moping around and missing them, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving weekend by driving five hours to the City of Brotherly Love. Why not?! We had nothing else going on!

We ate leftover Thanksgiving ham in sandwich form. We stopped a couple of times – for gas and caffeine. The traffic moved pretty smoothly, and we got to Philly around 1:30pm. After driving for 15 minutes around the hotel looking for parking, we walked to the Residence Inn and checked in – we had a beautiful view out of our 20th floor window!

Philadelphia skyline view

We walked many blocks toward Independence National Historical Park. We passed the house where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence on our way to the Visitors Center. I stamped our National Parks Passport, and then we walked to Independence Hall and took pictures outside.

The Declaration House
Independence Hall

Then we went to the Ben Franklin Museum – what a brilliant man. We saw the bifocals he invented – when he was 78 years old!

We walked to the car, and moved it closer to the hotel. After that, it was time for food and drink. We took care of that with a bar, a wine bar, and a German brew pub.

Bru Pub

Then back to the hotel for bed!

Philly nightscape

This morning, we slept in, ate a mediocre breakfast at the hotel, then began our walk back to Independence Center. We explored the Reading Terminal Market,

Reading Terminal Market aisle

and found delicious coffee among the produce and fresh meat stands. We walked to the Liberty Bell – waited in line for 30 minutes but had good conversation with those standing behind us. Then we walked up to the iconic symbol of freedom – so cool to see the original Liberty Bell, with its infamous long crack.

Liberty Bell

We also walked the oldest neighborhood street, Elfreth’s Alley, down the cobblestone road.

Elfreth’s Alley

Then to Sonny’s for a famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The place was packed!

Loaded Philly Cheesesteak

We headed back towards Independence Hall, but our tickets’ entry time was still 3 hours away, so we decided to head home.

Good thing, too, since heavy rain came! But we drove carefully home through 5 states – PA, DE, MD, WV, and home to VA. Not bad for a day and a half!

Ice Ice Baby

We had an ice storm yesterday. It started in the middle of the night before, and was full-on by 7am. Schools and businesses were closed. I’d have stayed in my pajamas except that I had an important FaceTime appointment with my niece.

I chatted with my best friend, did the dishes, cleaned the washing machine, wrote a blog post. All day, sitting at the kitchen counter, I could hear the sleet hitting the side of the house. It was gray and rainy and 31 degrees.

In mid-afternoon, I was working on materials for my Fresh Hope group when the power began to flicker. The microwave oven clock kept beeping on and off.

The weather must have abated a little, because the cardinals braved the cold to come to the bird feeder. Icicles dripped off all the edges, but they didn’t seem deterred. The mourning doves came and marched around the crusty snow under the feeder.

Finally, at 5pm, the power went off for good. I walked around and shut all the blinds to keep the heat in. I put on socks inside my slippers. I lit all the candles throughout the house. Of course, because we just went through Daylight Savings Time, it was pitch black outside by 5:15pm!

I thought about reading my Kindle, but found myself staring into the flame of the candle and letting my mind wander. I texted my husband to warn him about the garage door not opening automatically, and asked him to pick up a bottle of wine on his way home. “Be safe!” I cautioned. I prayed for the power company employees, working out in the horrible weather, doing their best to restore power to 10,000 customers!

I unlocked the garage door, and when my husband got home, we cooked dinner on our gas stove. He lit the gas fireplace with a lighter. We drank the wine and watched the flames, then went to bed a little early.

The rain stopped in the middle of the night. The thermostat read 57 degrees in the house, so we added the comforter to the bed. When my husband’s alarm went off at 6am, he discovered that the plant and office were without power, so we went back to sleep for awhile.

We got up this morning to a cold house, but beautiful ice-encapsulated trees and bushes. After boiling some water for oatmeal, we decided to venture out for coffee (and to charge up our phones). We saw lots of trees and limbs down – some power lines, too.

The mountains in the distance glisten. The ice is beautiful in the sunshine.

Like glass and diamonds on the branches.

What time is it?

My husband has a predictable morning routine.

The alarm goes off at six. It’s a gentle sound, but it wakes me up briefly. He gets up – no snooze button! – and heads to the kitchen to make breakfast, closing the bedroom door behind him. He often feeds the cats – they join him as he meanders through his morning – and pours himself a glass of bubbly water while his coffee is dripping from the Keurig. He might make eggs and toast, or toast and granola cereal, or peanut butter on toast. “Yeah, toast,” he probably says to himself.

Sometimes, he’ll eat his breakfast at the kitchen counter. He used to eat at the table, but I’ve noticed the bar stool pulled back many mornings lately.

If the house is really cold, he might take his breakfast with him as he heads to the bathroom. There, he likes to sit on the floor with a towel around his shoulders – catching the heat from the vent and funneling it to his upper body. (He’s done this for years!) He’ll read headlines and news articles from his phone until it’s time to hop in the shower. After that, he gets dressed, pours himself a bottle of bubbly water for the road, and comes back into the bedroom to kiss me goodbye. By now, it’s around 7:10am. Then off to work he goes.

On the Monday after daylight savings time, the plan changed slightly.

The alarm went off, and I heard myself groan aloud, “No!” He sat up and silenced the sound, and then remained on the edge of the bed for a moment, like he was trying to clear the sound-sleeping from his head. Then he and the cats left the bedroom, with him quietly closing the door behind him.

For whatever reason, I woke up a little later. The sky was still pitch-black, and I wondered why there wasn’t at least a glint of sun in the clouds. I pulled my phone off the nightstand to check the time, then bolted upright. That can’t be!

I left the bedroom. The kitchen was dark. I walked toward the bathroom, and could see the sliver of light from under the door. But I didn’t hear the shower running, so I knew to look for him on the floor. I opened the door and stepped into the bathroom, and sat on the edge of the jacuzzi tub in front of him.

“Do you know what time it is?” I asked. “Have you looked at your clock?”

He clicked the button to check the time. “Uh, whaat?” He was confused, as I knew he would be.

“It’s 12:53,” I said. Repeat: “It’s only 12:53.”

“Huh?” he asked incrediously. “What the heck?” He kept staring at his phone, then looked up at the round wooden clock on the bathroom wall.

“It’s 12:53,” I said again.

“But my alarm went off!”

“I know. But it’s only just past midnight!”

He followed me back to bed, and we crawled under the covers. And began to giggle, then laugh ’til our sides hurt.

“Why did my alarm go off?” Giggle.

“I have no idea!” I’m laughing hard now.

“But I’ve had my coffee! I’ve eaten my breakfast!”

Laugh again.

“Why did my alarm go off?” He laughs some more. “I was surprised that I’d slept so soundly! I don’t think I’d even moved!”

“You probably didn’t. We’ve only been in bed a couple of hours.” Now I’m crying from the laughter.

As we begin to settle back into bed, one or the other of us chortles, which sends off another round of laughter. But slowly, the giggles subside. And soon I hear his deepening-sleep breathing. I smile and close my eyes.

The alarm goes off at six, and we both wake up and smile.

“Are you having more coffee?” I ask. He says yes, then takes the cats out as he closes the door behind him to let me sleep until 7:10am.