It’s a Wonderful – Soon to be Wedded – Life aka Amazing Grace
Dear Lani, Bob & Single Space Readers,
It’s been a good run, but as of September 13, I’ll be retiring from Single Space so please consider this my two weeks’ notice. On September 13, XXL and I will exchange our vows at the Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia in front of 120+ friends and family members. Why is Etta James suddenly playing in my ear—At Last my love has come along. My lonely days are over and life is like a song…
Seriously speaking, I’ve been very blessed to be able to share my journey over the last decade here on these pages of The Old Town Crier (OTC) and for that I will be forever grateful. This column has captured a lot of joy, sorrow, foibles, and humor throughout the years – not to mention some questionable dating choices. I’ve been compared a lot to Carrie Bradshaw, but in reality, I was probably more like Bridget Jones. Hopefully some of my dating disasters and blunders resonated with you and/or made for a few moments of laughter. Thank you, velour track suit guy! Maybe you even experienced an occasional epiphany as we were all in this crazy thing called life together.
When Single Space debuted in 2004, I thought it would be a resource for singles—what to do, where to go, etc., but somehow I hijacked it into being about what I was doing and where I was going in my journey as a single professional woman. That’s a lot of columns to be about me, 129 to be exact. If I only had a dollar for every time I mentioned Ben & Jerry’s or George Clooney, I’d be writing this column from aboard my 50+ foot yacht, Lori’s Destiny, in the French Riviera. Instead I’m writing from my little office in the home I share with XXL, Dozer and Macey on a quiet cul de sac in the ‘burbs, and I couldn’t be happier. When I sat down to write what was to be the end of Single Space, I couldn’t help but feel a little melancholy—like I was saying goodbye to a former life – my single, pre-XXL life. While I love my new life with XXL, saying goodbye has never been my strong suit and required a night alone with a bottle of Toasted Head surrounded by a decade worth of back issues, aka the ghosts of single life past.
One thing is for sure–the OTC and I have been through a lot together. My stroll down memory lane stirred up a plethora of memories—mostly fond, but some achingly sad. There were a few break ups, a couple of stand ups, one or two falling outs, and a lot of lessons in moving on. The recurring theme threaded throughout almost every page was the importance of family and friends in my life. In the absence of a life partner (or even a reliable date), they were the people at my side—in the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health. I was dealt an awesome hand—a royal flush—with my biological family. And Kim, Holly, Carol and Rock have been the foundation of my family of friends I’ve built throughout my lifetime and have shown up on the pages of Single Space, along with many others, quite frequently. Those four taught me everything I know about having fun, not getting caught while having too much fun, and lifelong friendships.
During the darkest moments of my life – when my mom died in 2006, when I had my emergency open heart surgery in 2011, and a few others that involved unbearable loss – I felt the most loved and supported. When mom was in ICU, Holly was among the first to show up bearing platters of food, Peggy broke into my house to get me clean undies for the hospital vigil, Kim swooped me up and rescued me after she passed, and Carol brought the wine. Debbie, Rock, Kelley, CCG, Lisa, Kathy…They all showed up. When I had my surgery in 2011, Kim and her husband were the first responders racing up 95 to meet the helicopter at Washington Hospital Center. Vikki, Dad, and Debbe were the first faces I saw through the foggy veil of anesthesia. Lisa and Jason were the first to see me sit upright and they bought Dad and Johanna toothbrushes—they didn’t have time to pack in their mad rush to the hospital! Kelley brought the People magazines and Kath, Lisa and CCG watched me take my first post-surgery steps. Susie called with medical advice and Annie with loving support. Vikki and Lisa took turns staying with me when I got home. Jen, Aviva and many more walked through my door to put healthy food in my fridge. I’m forever grateful for Peggie and Michael who sat with me through a few late night scares, and thank God for Cathie who lent me her pool pass to use during my month of recovery. Holly called me every day without fail to ask me if I was doing my lung exercises. She was in nursing school at the time–#48 of her 50+ chosen careers (we counted). Of course, Rock was there at every moment of every life event cracking jokes at Holly’s expense to make me laugh and keep me sane. Bonus points—I also inherited their awesome spouses! I am so blessed that all our loved ones will be with us at The Tides Inn as we begin this new chapter of our lives. While XXL didn’t keep journals of his life to chronicle the ups and downs, I’m slowly learning who all the key players are, and I’m excited that they will now be a part of my life and extended family as well. Single Space, no more! Double Space? Probably more like Tribal Space!
What I also saw in those columns was me growing up—I’ve always said I was a late bloomer. One of my close friends (and a loyal reader) recently said, “You know—I’ve been reading Single Space for a long time, and it’s really changed. You’ve changed—you’ve gotten softer.” And that’s what I saw in those 129 columns. All the lessons and the challenges and the tough times softened me. They gave me the wisdom to appreciate what matters. And, interestingly enough, it was right about the time when I was going through some of the worst pain I thought my heart could endure in March 2012 – when Holly died – that I met XXL aka George Alexander Manning Brown, the man I’m marrying. At Last, my love has come along…
It was quite a journey, but here we are–George and I–and you, our extended family. We couldn’t have done it without your love and support, and we are looking forward to blending our lives and our tribes into a wonderful wedded life together. We joke that it was amazing grace that brought us together, but I think it may have been our amazing angels aka Shirley, Holly, Debbe, Betty, Mike and Irwin. No matter the ‘how’, we are grateful our paths crossed again after all these years.
P.S. Annie, you win!
P.S.S. Cath—I’ll be thinking of you as a young bride about to marry Richard Robert aka Dicky Bob those many years ago as XXL and I embark on this new chapter. [TRIPLE bonus points for using ‘Dicky Bob’ in print…I can’t believe it took me ten years to think of that!]