Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 14, 1985: To the Lake (part 1)

Since our initial meeting in April and our first lunch date in May, Peter and I had had three dinners and an afternoon walk around Lake Harriet. Then I spent a weekend at my family’s cabin, and when I got home Sunday evening, June 9, he called and asked to come over.

“Nope,” I said, “not possible. I haven’t showered all weekend. I have fish guts on my jeans.”

“I don’t care,” he said. “I just want to see you; I can’t stay long. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

I could have used that half-hour to wash my hair or change my jeans. Instead, I read the mail, checked the newspaper headlines, fed the cats. When he arrived, I told him that with any other guy I’d dated, I would have rushed to clean up. “That’s a good sign,” he said. “You’re comfortable with me.”

We went to dinner Monday night, and on Tuesday he got tickets to The Magic Flute.

Then I took a Really Big Step: I invited him to the lake for the weekend. I loved our rustic cabin “up north,” as we say in Minnesota. It was my escape, my sanity, my connection to nature. I never invited casual friends. This seemed too soon, but if he didn’t like it I may as well know now. I explained it carefully (no electricity, no running water, nothing fancy) so he’d be prepared. On Thursday evening we shopped for groceries, stocking up appropriately and added a few treats, like the hard candy that—like my Mom before me—I tucked into my pockets before going fishing.

We left mid-afternoon Friday; the drive would take about four hours. There was small talk, of course, but he directed much of our conversation to our relationship. He liked that we could be equal partners; we were well matched intellectually and I had enough confidence to stand up to his strong New York personality. I liked, a little too much, the fact that he was already keeping house for himself and Abby, and he said if we ever got together he would just keep on doing the cooking, laundry, etc.

I loved that he laughed at my jokes; we really enjoyed each other’s senses of humor, including puns and wordplay. At one point, about halfway to the lake and just before we stopped to buy bait, he was talking about…something, and I didn’t have much to add. I heard myself say, “One is as voluble as the other is taciturn.” It was an observation, not a joke, but it cracked him up. Even a straight line can be humorous when two people get each other.

He was 37 and had remained open to the possibility of having more children if he met someone who wanted them. At 42, I didn’t. He said he’d get “snipped” if I was committed to the relationship; I didn’t have to answer right then. I was both moved and taken aback by how quickly he was moving into serious territory, when to me everything was still so new and unexpected.

There would be other surprises that evening.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy birthday, ViMae...

With enthusiasm and joy, Vi turned 2 this week. Scheduling complications for the grownups actually resulted in two celebrations and two "minimalist" events involving bite-sized birthday cake and tiny pink cookies.

Here she is modeling her new crown, a new dress beneath an old favorite tutu, and new duds for her dolls. Nothing about this child's upbringing told her to like pink, choose dresses instead of pants, or nurture dolls more than her brother does. And she does love to run, climb, and play ball...but these days she usually does it while wearing pink. It's funny because nobody wants to push the kids into gender role stereotypes, and we'd be happy whatever their choices, but who doesn't love to see little girls in pretty pastel dresses? (The me of the 1970s would be shocked.)

One of her birthday gifts was a plastic tea set, so Pa and I had a little tea party for Vi and Augie. We served make-believe tea and actual pink cookies. Both kids love food-related toys, so this is a big hit--as is the shopping cart with toy groceries she got from her daddy's parents. When daycare ends for the summer, we'll send the tea set home. They will play waiter and chef, taking someone's order, shopping for the ingredients, then preparing and serving the food--a game they already love to play, even without props. Happy Birthday, granddaughter.


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