Childhood, Friends, Life, Menopause

Stay Beautiful and No It’s Not Just a Taylor Swift Song

I was going to share a post about when I started admitting I suffer from migraines back in 2015 but I started this week with a depressing post and didn’t want to end this week with that. Instead, I am sharing this post because when I re-read it this week, it made me so happy. I love this story and these people. ūüôā¬†

First published on March 9, 2015


Lately, I have been feeling like shit.
Did that slip out?
It’s true.
You all know it and my closest family and friends know it too.
They have been amazing and supportive and I love every single one of them for it.
Even if someone has¬†sent me a text to say hi, it has helped so don’t think you have to send me a fruit basket or jelly of the month club or anything.
Honestly, just remaining my friend on Facebook through this winter is enough for me.
I have been a Debbie Downer this past November through March.
I know it, you know it and if you un-friend me, it’s alright.
Really.

Because even I hate the sound of my voice at this point.

I am going through a mix of something in between menopause and seasonal hatred that needs to be diagnosed quickly before I buy a yacht or 70’s psychedelic food truck or some tragic outfit like culottes and clogs and a bowl cut with Dumb and Dumber bangs with the money I do not have.
So thank you for hanging in there with me.
But in the meantime, please don’t think I am a freak.
Well, a little bit of a freak but not a CULOTTE WEARIN’ FREAK SHOW FREAK.
This has been me since November:
I hate winter

My family loves me. My family loves me. My family loves me. My family loves me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a good mom and wife.
I don’t sit like this all day in a comatose state, rocking back and forth,¬†staring out the window with drool coming out of the sides of my mouth.
Only on Tuesdays.
No, I make sure they get their undies folded, homework checked, cartwheels in gymnastics classes get cheered on, their cheerleading uniforms are always clean, there is always money in their lunch accounts, the driving, the cleaning, the doing, it is all being done, sometimes even with a smile on my face.
At night, I fall into my bed with my weary but amazing husband who never complains about his wife and her smells of Ben-Gay or her lack of oomph and we talk about our days, his long 12-14 hour days at his dealership and we pass out after sometimes even sneaking a kiss or two in.
Yes, I am by all accounts “there” but not really “there”.


Over the past seven years, I have developed a friendship with two high school friends I reconnected with on Facebook:  Kari and Vikki.
Actually one of the above friends, I wasn’t actually “friends” within the small-town Ohio high school we attended, More like “acquaintances” but we shared a few classes together and so we friended each other like people excitedly did on social media back in 2008 when Facebook was new to us.
At that time (2008), I had a six-month-old baby and an eight-year-old little girl and I was just so excited to read about other people’s lives.
Especially those who I went to high school with, those who lived far, far away, who could take me to another time and place.
Far from baby bottles, pacifiers, dirty diapers, Hannah Montana and High School Musical please and thank you.
Not that I didn’t love being a mom but when you are in the thick of it, sometimes it’s just too thick if you get my drift.


It was through Facebook and then after I started my blog in 2010, that the three of us grew closer each year.
They would comment on my blog, we would write comments on each other’s Facebook pictures, we would send each other funny pictures via email or recipes that we think each other would like.
It was like having pen pals, only in the digital age.
The difference was that I knew these pen-pals, I felt comfortable with them, I had grown up with them.
It was this cool story of three girls who had once known each other but grew apart then grew back together again.


Over the past six months, we have begun messaging on Facebook continually and over text as well, with notifications that I have to mute because they are so ongoing and so continuing that my family literally laughs out loud when it DING DING DING DING’S.
“It’s your KariVikki text going off, Mom!”¬†
They were “with” me when I went to my oldest daughter’s high school orientation, telling them how unbelievably massive her high school was (THREE FLOORS!) and laughing because I knew only they would truly understand how little I would feel walking inside of it.
Whenever I typed “OMG” on my iPad, it said “I JUST FARTED”, we laughed so loud and so hard (I swear I could actually hear them laughing from Ohio through their texts), it woke my youngest daughter who was laying next to me in bed while we were on vacation.
When we are having a bad day, we tell each other sometimes before our loved ones just because it is a nice sounding board before having to tell the rest of the world.
We are each other’s cushion in¬†a really un-cushiony world.


There is just something about the people who knew you before the world knew you.
Something about your childhood people.
The people who remember you when you were at your most vulnerable.
When you had zits, had your first really bad perm and wore Garanimals.
So these girls/women (but still girls to me at times), have been that for me for a few years now.
A non-judgment zone to make me laugh/cry/laugh again and I love them more than tacos.


Fast forward to this crappy winter of 2015.
They know, as do most of my family, friends and you lovely people here, how icky this winter has been for everyone but for especially me as I have been meandering through this King of Pain Tour 2015.
We have talked about it here and there in the text but honestly, I never wanted to dwell on it too much with them because to literally talk about pain brought me physical pain.

But they know it has been hard, they know I have been in tears, a lot.
They know I have been a mess, a hot steaming pile of mess.
So this past weekend, my friends who both work full-time jobs, have kids and dogs and responsibilities, re-arranged their lives and took vacation days from work, and drove seven hours from Ohio with a car full of food to love on me.
Without me knowing.

Gulp.

They had been planning this with another person in my life who also loves me, my husband, since NOVEMBER, to bring happiness back into my life.
So on a Friday afternoon, they knocked on my garage door, and there they were in all their glorious absolute beauty like two angels from Heaven.
Standing in the frigid cold ready to hug me, feed me, and love me.
Two angels from Heaven. as clear as day.
This you need to know before I go any further.
That afternoon as they were traveling to Illinois, I sat on my bathroom floor and prayed through tears to God this:

I am absolutely stupid, God.
I need a billboard.
A BIG OLD BILLBOARD.
I am not a subtle sign reader.
Please forgive me for not picking up subtle signs.
I just want to be pain-free and happy.
I am begging you.

 

I kid you NOT.
I prayed that exact prayer.

 

looking at old high school yearbooks with my friends

We sat at my dining room table, with my favorite hometown Jones Chips they brought, listening to 80’s music and looked through our old Ohio yearbooks, laughed at popped collars, talked about all the people we had study hall with, who we had crushes on, who we went to reunions with.

We laughed until we cried, we ate more chips, we made comments like WHY IN THE HELL DID WE WEAR OUR HAIR LIKE THAT? can you believe we are almost 50?¬†, why don’t we live closer?

We did some 30-year high school reunion planning, helped Ellie with her massive amounts of first-grade makeup homework (back in our day we didn’t have this kind of homework), wait, did we just say “back in our day??”. We stayed up until midnight laughing, talking.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say we felt like we were 18 all over again.


It was the best Friday night I have had in months.

On Saturday, Anna had a house full of teenagers over, so Kari, Vikki, Ellie and I were pushed out of the house by the teenagers because MOMMMMMM HELLO WE NEED OUR SPACE.

Ellie and I took them to one of our favorite places to eat, Portillo’s (they had never been) and they loved it.

Funny and long story (hopefully) short, I had told them on the way to Poritillos, a story about how when I first moved to Illinois in 1989, I had woo’ed some of the boys I had worked with, with my central Ohio accent.
Woo’ed isn’t a good word. They were intrigued by my accent.


But I was very loyal to my rural Ohio high school long-distance sweetheart when I moved here as an innocent 19-year-old.
I never went out with any of the young people I worked with¬†and was even lovingly¬†called “Amish” by some.
Apparently, that was very attractive to some of the boys that I worked with here.
Boys like a good chase, it would seem.
But they would comment on my accent and add in the fact that I was elusive, it was like I was a fucking unicorn.


So while we were at Portillo’s one of the waiter/staff members, named Dominick, was cleaning up tables near us and began chatting with my friend, Kari as she was emptying her tray into the garbage.
They had a lengthy conversation about lots of different things and within the chatter, she happened to mention she was from Ohio to which he abruptly said, “Oh” and walked away.
Well, Vikki and I just laughed and laughed when she retold us this after returning to the table.
Then as we were leaving to go to the bathroom, Dominick returned to our table, leaned into Vikki this time, and whispered in her ear, “stay beautiful”.
To say we almost peed our pants is an understatement.
And I said to Vikki, “See?? It’s the accent!”


On the way home, we went and visited an old friend.

John Hughes grave

Mr. John Hughes.

 

My friend Kari

This you need to know about my Ohio people, family, or friends: they get shit done.
They come into your kitchen and just start cooking.
My mom does this when she comes to visit.
She goes to the grocery store and just starts whipping things up.
That makes me very, very happy.


Kari came with cutting boards, knives, pickle juice, every little thing she needed to make my comfort food.
While she was cooking away, my friends, Mike, and the girls, sat in the kitchen and heard stories, listened to the Polish Prince (long story), and just loved each other.
Rebecca stopped over and got to meet these ladies who she had previously only met via Facebook and it was so cool seeing my two worlds come together; my adult Chicago life and my childhood Ohio life, over homemade deep dish pizza in my little Illinois kitchen.
It was a moment.

My friend Vikki

Vikki got the computer ready to do some Internet stalking browsing.
I got to see the homes that Vikki and Kari live in and the roads they live on as if we were right there in Richland County, Ohio.
We talked about the morning Vikki’s grandma died in a car accident, we talked about how long it takes Kari to get to her parents’ home from hers. We sang Bobby Vinton around the table, talked about favorite recipes, and planned on when could we do this all over again.
And why on EARTH weren’t we close friends in high school??

the best pizza ever

Kari made homemade deep dish pizza in addition to homemade pierogi pizza.
Absolutely amazing, we could have eaten all night long.

We watched movies from our teenage years and snuggled up with blankets.

Friends watching The Breakfast Club

 

The next day, we set out to see the sights of Chicago with a theme: John Hughes movies.

OK, I am announcing it here first: I want a John Hughes museum in Chicago. I am seriously serious. I need help. Please, anyone who reads this, point me in the right direction. I have no connections but I want this so badly that I can taste it.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD IF YOU LOVE JOHN HUGHES MOVIES AND I KNOW YOU DO.
Back to the post.

 

HI, TEE HEE. courtesy of loroutloud.com
The day was full of teenage memories, movie lines, laughter, and so many movie quotes.
Every moment of this day, I will never forget.
A huge shout out to my husband who did all the driving but also enjoyed this day just as much as we did.
And another shout out to my amazing seven-year-old who tagged along as well.
Not many first graders would spend almost eight hours going to places that had no meaning to her with minimal whining.
As Vikki¬†said,¬†“she is my hero”.
Truly.
In front of River Shannon Chicago
Sorry blurred out my Ellie’s face. It’s not you. It’s the creep who Google’s “seven-year-old little girl” that I am protecting her from.

 

Mike's grandpa, William Hoban
Grandad. Who also looks a ton like Bates from Downton Abbey.
When in the city, we always try to stop into the River Shannon to visit Mike’s Grandad.
His picture is in this pub on the corner of Armitage and Lincoln.
When we go in with our children, usually it isn’t too busy but on this day the pub was full because it was a Sunday.
And we got some looks from the yuppies, of course.
I mean, it’s a dog-friendly bar for GOD SAKES.

Authentic Irish people don’t care if you bring kids into a bar!
The manager was Irish, of course, and made a comment about him bringing his nephews all the time!

BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IRISH PEOPLE DO.
Ella meeting her Irish great grandpa
Showing her granddad for the first time. She recognized the name and I wanted to cry.
Vikki said one of the yuppies at the bar made a comment about scarring Ellie for life, on the way out.
If I had heard it, I would have had no problem giving them a piece of my mind because I am pre-menopausal, in pain, and part-Irish.
But they didn’t know what we were there to do, to visit a beloved family member.
That a great-granddaughter got to read her great grandfather’s name on her own for the first time that day.
And also that she didn’t want to leave the bar that day as well because “this place is really really¬†fun”.
Somewhere in Heaven, her 100% Irish grandfather was beaming from ear to ear.

We stopped at a cool gift shop that Joan Cusack owns, Judy Maxwell Home.
Yes, that Joan Cusack.
courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
She has the coolest stuff in her store like socks that say this:
STAY AWAY FROM ASSHOLES
Should have worn those socks to that bar.
And signs that say this:
Joan Cusack store
But seriously, why is it?
I wanted to buy this but then I would be the mom with artwork with the word FUCK on it.
BUT THEN I WOULD BE THE MOM WITH ARTWORK WITH THE WORD FUCK ON IT!
Maybe I will go back and get it after all.

Then back to the house for more homemade food, love, laughter, and just good stuff.
The author with her beautiful friends
Man, I love these women.
Dominick at Portillo’s had it right.
Stay beautiful.

I will never forget the day that two guardian angels came to my garage door while I was in the bathroom.
Long story for another day.
I have these two women in my life that I know will be in my life for the rest of my life.
It is such an easy friendship, such a relaxed friendship, and such a loving friendship.
There is no jealousy, no anger, no resentment.
There is so much laughter, fun, occasional tears, and lots of love.
I know they will always be there for me and I will always be there for them.
They feel like what I think sisters might feel like to me.

Maybe there was a reason we weren’t best friends in high school.¬†Maybe we were supposed to live our lives then reconnect later on.¬†Come back to each other after collecting the bumps and bruises one collects along the path of life.¬†Sometimes there is just nobody like the people who were there when your lifepath began to help lift you up off¬† of that path gently, to dust you off, look into your eyes and say, “we can take it from here.”

25 thoughts on “Stay Beautiful and No It’s Not Just a Taylor Swift Song”

  1. I am so happy that they came to see you and cheer you up and so sad that I wasn't in town to meet them. Next time. For sure. The sun is out and bright today and the forecast has all highs in the FIFTIES. So put your artwork away and get out the sunscreen!!!!

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  2. I have to tell you a few things. First, you have an amazing AMAZING husband. Not only did he allow two complete strangers (emphasis on STRANGE) to invade your home allllllllll weekend, he was so damn nice, and engaging, and patient, and just all-around AWESOME!! Who puts up with a bunch of 45/wishing-they-were-16 year old's? AND takes HIS day off to road trip with/for us? YOUR AWESOME HUSBAND DOES! Anna is sooo right….he IS a keeper! He made me feel like I had known him for a lifetime. Second, your daughters. WOW. I seriously feel like an aunt to them…Auntie Crazy maybe….lol. To get to know them over the weekend was a true highlight. God love Anna for putting up with us while she had her friends over….not too many her age would handle it with the grace that she did. Her true character showed, and you should be so very proud of her. Ella….she really is my Hero. Seriously. We threw her life into total chaos and she also handled it with such grace. And she is 7. 7!!! I know people in their 40's, 50's who couldn't have handled all that was thrown at her. Third, thank YOU for being you. You inspire me beyond words, and i know that you always will. I LOVE that we have reconnected after so long……June 12, 1988 was a long, long time ago. It amazes me as well that the 3 of us have become so close…..we fell into each others lives at the perfect time. I have no plans of letting go.

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  3. We'll be back….but won't keep it a secret. We'll be able to PLAN ūüôā Looking forward to meeting you on the next trip Shannon!

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  4. Rebecca……THANK YOU so much for coming to see us. It was such short notice, but you did it, and we are so very grateful for that. We cannot wait to see you again…..and to have you join Kari in Ohio some time. And I want the shirt/sweater you were wearing that night. It looked so comfy. Really Comfy. And did we not get pictures of the 4 of us???

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  5. I love that you were surprised by good friends. I strangely enough am in a really REALLY good mood (despite hormones!) and think it's because it's NEARLY SPRING. Almost over, my dear. ALMOST OVER. Not all winters will be as bad as this one was for you. I promise. I am living proof.

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  6. I love this. I've been the recipient of such friend blessings, and it's just so humbling. What a gift to have people who not only love you at your worst, but come rushing to be with you. (Not that you are the worst … just you're feeling cruddy … you know.) I'm so, so glad you have these lovely ladies in your life!

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  7. Right? They are amazing.And thank YOU for your amazing comment on Facebook when I made the status update about my reader with breast cancer.It grounded me and reminded me that even though we are all going through something, that to us, everything is HUGE at the time we are going through it.So thank you so much for that.Much love.

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  8. I am in a really good mood today despite the hormones too and despite forgetting to take my meds last night.It goes to show what a little extra sunlight and temps above 30 will do for the human spirit.And I am so glad you are living proof.Love you.

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  9. What a happy weekend! Sounds like fuel for the soul. And I'd totally go on that John Hughes tour. Hope you are feeling better!

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  10. WOW! How fun! You have some seriously awesome friends. I love how you reconnected with them by jumping on the ‘oh check out this new thing called facebook’ bandwagon. Hilarious. So glad they showed up just when you needed them. Mike definitely sounds like a keeper. That ‘stay beautiful’ line . . . epic. Love this.

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