Category “Him and Me”

We Are Those People

We were drunk, but not from the wine. Or, at least, not just from the wine.

It was a Wednesday (a weeknight!).  It was late (11pm!) We’d left work hours before we normally do (5pm!)  to spend much too much on gourmet pizza and wine in a decidedly un-kid-friendly environment (yay Mozza!), and now we were sharing a $11 beer at an outdoor concert, holding hands, listening to Ray Lamontagne sing a song we both know by heart.

We were off duty.

In this moment, we were us again.  Not the three us, but the two of us.  The People We Were Before.

[The picture above is NOT from last Wednesday night because we took no photos that night, just like we've taken no photos of just the two of us since Lil Mil was born.  The picture above was taken two months before she arrived in the world, on our 4th anniversary, and is that last "just us" picture I have of The People We Were Before.]

The Whole Story

Over Thai takeout last Thursday, a close friend and I caught up.  It’d been over a month since I’d seen her, and even longer than that since we’d had a talking-really-talking-conversation.

As we munched on spicy green beans (her) and gingery mushrooms (me), B said something that stuck with me.  “Reading the blog makes me feel like you and I are talking regularly,” she mused.  “But I realized the other day how little I know about what’s really going on with you.”

My first thought was “but if you read my blog, then you do know what’s going on with me.”  But then I ran through a mental list of things I don’t blog about and realized how little I actually do blog about.  Book and baby.  And lately, only baby.

So I filled her in on all the other stuff.  Marriage.  Family.  Finances.  Work.  The meaty stuff I never write about.

The meaty stuff I never write about.

I write about struggles for time and conflicted feelings and sleepless nights.  I write about my pursuit of productivity and my quest to live in the moment.  But I don’t write about how the three Bs have affected my marriage.  Or the toll my elective  unemployment has taken on my bank account.  Or the fact that I will eventually have to go back to work full time.

If you’d asked me eight days ago why I don’t write about these things, I would’ve been ready with an answer:  my blog is about writing a book while raising a new baby.  These other things are peripheral.  Not the point.

But last week, giving B the full picture instead of just snapsnots, I realized that, when it comes to the pursuit of our dreams (writing that book, producing that film, starting that company), nothing is peripheral because everything – every part of us – is implicated.  You can’t compartmentalize.

And yet we do.  Not only on our blogs, but in real life.  We talk about work and life and the give-and-take between the two.  Our struggle for the illusive ”work/life balance.”  And then we proceed to relay snippets about our jobs or our creative endeavors.  Tidbits about our kids or our spouses.  Rarely acknowledging that the struggle exists not because we haven’t figured out how to balance Work and Life, but because these two categories aren’t actually separate.  Work intersects with Life.  Work sometimes is life.  And then there are the elements that don’t properly fit into either category.  Where do mortgages go?  Work or life?  Hobbies?  Housekeeping?  Health?

I write about book and baby and blog.  I mention boy.  But those four categories aren’t the full picture of my life.  And those four categories aren’t actually categories.  They are people and passions that overlap and intersect in places and in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, and they bump up against and compete with other people and other passions (and other people’s passions).  When I neglect to write about these intersections and friction points, I leave out crucial pieces of the puzzle.  I don’t tell the whole story.

I want to tell the whole story.

Inevitably, my conversation with B turned to this blog.  Its future.  What the next 100 days will look like, and the 100 after that. “What’s next?” she asked me.

I didn’t have the answer ready then, but I have it now:  what’s next is the rest of the story.  The rest of my story.

Five months ago, I set out to write a draft of my first novel in the first 100 days of my baby’s life.  That’s the story I’ve been telling here, in snippets and tidbits, since the day Lil Mil was born.  But it isn’t the whole story.  It was never meant to be.  It’s just the first chapter of a longer, fuller, better story, one that ends with a cover and a spine.  A book.  My book.  Sitting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.

Or maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe it ends somewhere entirely different, somewhere I don’t expect.  I won’t know til the very last page.

In the meantime, I have a dream to pursue, a little girl to inspire, a husband to love and a mortgage to pay.  That’s the story I want to tell.  The real story.  The whole story.  What embracing the detour looks like, every day.

I don’t want to leave anything out.  I want to talk about the gritty stuff.  The not-so-easy to talk about stuff.  The meaty stuff.  The stuff that makes pursuing our dreams both the hardest and the greatest thing we’ll ever do.

The whole story is worth telling, I think.  It’s the only one that matters, anyway.

Hair’s The Thing…

When I was a sophomore in high school, I told my hairdresser I wanted my hair to look like Rachel’s.

She either didn’t know who Rachel was or didn’t know what she was doing (I suspect both may have been true), because the haircut this woman gave me looked nothing like this:

And everything like this:

Oh, yes.  I rocked this hairstyle long before Kate did.  (Dear high school friends, you are laughing right now.  Please refrain from digging up old pictures of me with this ‘do and sending them to me, because if you do, I might have to post them).

It was a disaster.  I was a fifteen-year-old girl living in a town where “different” meant shopping somewhere other than the Gap (me) or having parents who weren’t Republicans (also me).   This haircut went beyond different.  This haircut would be my social demise.

If I let it.

Here’s the thing about my fifteen-year-old self:  she was smart.  Smart enough to know that if she acknowledged that her haircut was horrendous, she would become The Girl With The Horrendous Haircut.  If, however, she acted as though this monstrosity was exactly the haircut she wanted, she would remain the same person she’d always been:  That Lauren.  As in: That Lauren, she always does things her own way. Or: That Lauren, you never know what she’ll do next.

So I pretended to love it, comb-over bang and all.  I became, as husband puts it, A Short Hair Girl.

Why am I bringing this up now?  Because a month ago I cut my hair.  And while it’s an adorable, trendy, cute little haircut, getting it required that I cut off six hard-earned inches.

Let me back up:  after Hair Debacle ‘96, I kept my hair short.  Not as short as the original cut (I wisely grew that bad boy out my junior year of high school), but short enough to maintain my Short Hair Girl status.  In 2001, it hit my shoulders for a stint, but it wasn’t long before cut it short again.

Until two years ago.  Two years ago, I decided to grow it out REALLY long, which, when I made this pronouncement, meant to my collarbone.  And grow it I did.  Thanks to all the pregnancy hormones that flooded my body a year later, by the time Lil Mil arrived, I had Long Hair.  Halfway-down-my-back long hair.

And I loved it.  Even though I never felt like it totally suited me, I loved how it felt and how it looked.  It was youthful.  Sexy.  Versatile (in theory at least… I never actually did anything particularly interesting with it).  Most important, it was LONG.

But then two tiny hands started pulling on it, and clumps of it started falling out (bye bye hormones), and suddenly there was HAIR EVERYWHERE.

And so, in a sleep deprived haze, I walked into my hair salon for a trim.

An hour later, I walked out with a bob.

I have regretted it ever since.

Husband thinks I’m crazy.  ”You’re a Short Hair Girl,” he says with a shrug.

“So you didn’t like my long hair?” I ask.

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.  I’m just saying, you’re a Short Hair Girl.”

“You only think that because I had short hair when you met me,” I point out.

“Maybe,” he admits.

“Look at this picture!” I moan, pointing at a photo of me with long locks, wearing the smile of a youthful, sexy, versatile person.  He examines the photo.

“Yeah, you look good there.”

“So you like my hair better long?” I demand.

“You realize you’re being ridiculous, right?”

“Yes!” I shout.  ”I know!  I’m being totally and completely ridiculous.  I am not this girl!  I do not freak out over haircuts!  Especially cute haircuts!”  (It’s a very cute haircut.)

“Why are you shouting?”

“Because I miss my long hair!”

I miss my long hair.

Who is this person and what has she done with me?  Where has she hidden the ballsy fifteen-year-old who walked through the halls with her scissor-hacked head held high when most girls would’ve demanded to be home schooled until it grew out (yes, it was that bad)?

What exactly am I mourning?

My youth?  My sex appeal?  My, um, versatility?

All of these things.  None of these things.

I am a Short Hair Girl.  But, for a few months, this Short Hair Girl was a Long Hair Girl.  And during those long haired months, I found this new voice and this new part of me and this incredible and totally unexpected mommy mojo.  I became a New Me.  An I’m-comfortable-with-who-I-am-now New Me.  And that New Me had long hair.  And, as silly and lame as it sounds, somehow that long hair was part of the package.

And now it’s gone.

It doesn’t make any sense.  It doesn’t make sense that my identity could be tied up in my hair.

“You realize you’re being ridiculous, right?”

I do.

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What was the worst haircut you ever got?  Have you ever cried over a haircut?  Do you feel like your identity is tied up in your appearance (even if it shouldn’t be)?  Are you a Short Hair Girl?


On or Off?

An elephant dressed in a clown costume could stroll by me and I wouldn’t notice it.  I know this, because it happened yesterday.

Kidding.

Seriously, though – how do I completely miss things that Husband sees when we’re walking down the same sidewalk?  The large dog careening towards us.  The altercation brewing between two neighbors.  The people waving at us from across the street.

He sees it all.  I see none of it.

I’m trying to be better about this.  More observant.  More aware.

I mention this because it’s the only reason I noticed the new Dos Equis billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard this morning.  Lil Mil and I were strolling from church to Husband’s lawyer league softball game when I saw it:  the face of the Most Interesting Man in the World and this quotation:

The bulk of your life should be off the record.

It’s an enticing idea.  It’s meant to be.  Instinctively, I want it.  A life lived “off the record.”  But here I am, putting more of mine on it.

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Do you wish your life were more private?  Does social media (facebook, twitter, myspace) make living *off the record* impossible?  Is a life *on the record* a consequence of blogging or the impetus for it?

Life After Yes

Our lives are marked by Yeses. And Nos, of course. But the Yeses, they shine.

Or they don’t.

Proposals, pink lines, acceptance letters, job offers, greenlights, book deals. We spend our lives waiting for one Yes or yearning for another. Each time, we want the Yes so badly we can taste it. Each time, we tell ourselves that things will be different once we get it. Better.

We tell ourselves that we will be different. Better.

And then the yes comes.

And things change. We start wearing that diamond ring or those stretchy jeans with the elastic waistband or that I’m-supposed-to-be-happy smile. But while things look different on the outside, we aren’t different on the inside. We aren’t better. Or happier. Which means that life after yes feels a lot like life before yes. A life that’s Less Than or Not Enough.

But Yes is supposed to be a game changer. It’s supposed to be an us changer. It’s supposed to be the thing that magically transports us from where we are to where we’ve always wanted to go. Yes is supposed to matter.

So why doesn’t it?

Do we expect to much of Yes? Or does the problem lie with us, with our inability to step into Yes, our refusal to let Yes be enough?

I’ve never been very good at Yes. Getting into college and then law school. Landing my dream job. Passing the bar exam. These were big Yeses for me. Each one was a Yes I worked for. A Yes I waited for. Each one took me to a place I wanted to go. But each time, when I got there, there I was. The same person I was before. Not better. Not happier.

Why? Because the Yes wasn’t enough. Which meant than life after it wasn’t either.

This is not how it’s supposed to work.

I know this from experience. I know this because there is one Yes in my past that does shine. It sparkles and glitters and glistens. It’s a Yes that stands in middle of a Before and an After. A Yes that changed things. A Yes that changed me. A Yes that taught me that Life can be different after Yes. That it should be.

This Yes was both given and received. This Yes took the form of an “I Do,” but it was a Yes just the same.

Four and a half years ago, in a big yellow church in Atlanta, Georgia, I said yes to Husband and he said yes to me. And in that moment, I started living happier ever after. Not because I’d snagged the perfect husband or the perfect marriage (I hadn’t). But because in that moment, I was getting more than I deserved, and I knew it. Our relationship, with all its complexities and issues and challenges, was everything I wanted and, frankly, more than I thought I would ever get. And there we were, at that altar, saying Yes. For now. Forever.

That Yes was everything. That Yes was enough. It didn’t matter what happened next week or next year or ten years down the road. What was true in that moment wouldn’t stop being true when things got rocky or rough. Our marriage – a whopping five seconds old – was already a dream come true.

The awareness of that changed me. It made me different. Better. Happier. Which tells me something about Yes that I think we often overlook. It’s easy for us to see Yes as the beginning of something. An engagement. A marriage. A pregnancy. A career. And while it is that in a lot of ways, Yes is also the fulfillment of something. A dream. A wish. A prayer. A promise. Which means that Yes, in itself, IS enough. We have what we wanted – all that we wanted – the moment we get the Yes.

The secret, I think, is in the awareness. Recognizing that this – right here – is the dream-come-true. That pink line. That mortgage. That offer letter. That publishing contract. We didn’t count on a risk-free pregnancy or a problem-free house or a stress-free job. We didn’t expect a bestseller. Before the Yes, the Yes was enough.

The Yes IS enough.

As many of you probably know, the title of today’s post is also the title of my friend Aidan’s debut novel, which hits bookstores today. While I suspect LAY is going to skyrocket to the bestseller list (yes, I think it’s that good), I hope that today will sparkle and shine in Aidan’s mind even if it doesn’t. Because today is a Yes. A giant, neon YES.

And Yes is enough.

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I want to hear your Yes stories! Had life after yes been different? Better? Happier? How has Yes disappointed you?