Meet, Pray, Love, Wed
One of the items left on my bucket list is ‘write bestselling novel.’ I’ve been able to cross a few things off my list like ‘get Costco membership’ and ‘climb Mt. Everest (not!),’ but like the ever elusive ‘finish crossword puzzle,’ writing the novel just sits on the list screaming at me. Somehow, I’ve managed to park my butt at my computer each month for the past 12 years to write a column for my pals at the Old Town Crier, but I haven’t written a sentence for the book that is going to be my legacy and catapult me to fame with the likes of my hero, Elizabeth Gilbert the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, let alone cement my retirement in my little 5,000 square foot beach box on the gulf coast. I guess you could say that I have writer’s block in the worst way – I haven’t a clue what I would write about. Unfortunately for me, my childhood was not laden with alcoholic and/or abusive parents so no good material there. My teen years were fairly non-eventful beyond the occasional acne breakout and “frienemy” drama. Sure I may have dabbled in recreational drugs – Ok, I may have smoked a joint, but I didn’t inhale. Bummer for me as I was no James Frey and I can’t hold a candle to Lindsay Lohan. There was that parking ticket the weekend I got my license which felt very dramatic, but I probably couldn’t even conjure up a haiku about that. Car in bad spot. Unlucky for me for sure. Dad no happy with Lori. I doubt that literary gem will even buy the coasters for the tiki bar.
Maybe I could be the next Jackie Collins (you younger folks can google her), but that would likely put my fiancé, XXL, over the edge. He blushes when he tells people I write this G-rated column. Besides – the 50 Shades of Grey genre is so yesterday. Not sure how kinky I’d have to be to trump Grey’s author, E.L. James. The mere act of staying awake past 10:00 pm is considered erotica in my household. That being said, not sure how exciting my personal journey is to anyone but me. Unlike Gilbert, mine doesn’t have the romance of eating my way through Italy, praying my way through India or finding love on the beaches of Bali. My journey started in good ol’ Alexandria and that’s where it has been for the past 47 years with a brief interlude in a quiet suburb of Woodbridge. While my epiphany didn’t unfold in the middle of the night on my bathroom floor and I didn’t dissolve a marriage and/or embark on an affair with a younger man on my quest to find myself, rest assured there were many tears and talks with God. I prayed a lot. I yelled at God and questioned Him frequently. I asked questions and I sought answers in churches, books, quiet meditations, and in writing. I took long walks and hot baths. At times, I questioned not only God, but my own self-worth. Looking back, I can see how ridiculous that was, but I think a lot of girls – and grown women – do that. We base our worth on how men see us and treat us, when in actuality – the opposite is true. How men see us and treat us is a reflection of how we see ourselves. Our value is based on what is inside – how strong and confident we are, how we treat others, the footprint we leave on the world at large. My biggest ‘aha’ moment was realizing that when someone I liked treated me badly, 9 out of 10 times it had more to do with who he was and/or what he was going through (that I had no clue about), than it did with anything about me. You can’t mistake other people’s crazy for your own. You can’t personalize everything. Sometimes (99% of the time), it’s not about YOU. Time and distance = clarity. I’ve always said that a lot of my past was spent trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and we all know how that works out.
Geographically speaking, my journey hasn’t gotten me many passport stamps. I dated men in Tennessee, South Carolina and Maryland, but it turns out the man of my dreams, XXL, was living about eight miles away the whole time. And – we had met 20+ years before, but we were too busy dating each other’s friends to notice each other in a way other than a passing hello. XXL’s journey was much different than mine, but we were both ready at the same time. As they say, timing is everything. Like me, he had been through a lot, but somehow twenty years later, it worked. We liked, respected and cared for each other instantly with little or no drama. Our conversations didn’t carry out on the beaches of Bali – probably more like across a table at Ruby Tuesday’s on Route 1 so it’s not glamorous and sexy, but it’s our story. We’ve experienced our share of walking on beaches holding hands and watching sunrises and sunsets, but most days our existence plays out in a quiet cul-de-sac in the ‘burbs. We will marry in September, but as far as I know, the only paparazzi hovering will be my friends at the Old Town Crier. Probably nothing to make books fly off shelves, but perhaps I can enlist XXL’s help in embellishing our story. He is a fisherman after all. Love you, honey. Happy Father’s Day to you, and especially to my own father whom thankfully didn’t raise me in an environment fraught with lots of storylines and material.
Happy Father’s Day to everyone!
Written by: Lori Welch