It was the first week in August. It was a big week. It was my first week back to work after taking the summer off. It was full and fun and exciting and stressful and disappointing and wonderful. It was a week.
Over the summer, I applied for a new position and was excited to get the job, a promotion. I still work with the same environmental education program, but now I have a raise and am in charge of the program. The best part, though, is that I get to do as much teaching as before, which is my favorite part of the job. The first week back wasn’t without its bumps. I had to fill out paperwork, as is to be expected, but there was a delay, so my first day back was Tuesday, instead of Monday. I got an extra day of summer break, and a little time to take care of last minute errands. I got to reconnect with co-workers and volunteers and started to get to know a new staffer. It’s a new school year and it feels full of promise, like a bundle of new unsharpened pencils.
A lot of fur love
At the end of July, I started a two-month house-sitting stint. It includes two dogs, which is my real reason for saying yes. I love dogs and want a dog, but a small apartment and a full calendar (full-time work and a return to full-time evening classes) don’t quite welcome a furry-four-legged friend. Now, I visit two sweet dogs a couple of times a day for feeding, playing, and loving. Sometimes I spend the night, but also have the flexibility to go back and forth and stay in my own place. This week, a dear friend also asked me to dog-sit for his two fur balls for an evening. I spent the night at the friend’s empty house, and stayed with these old dogs, and it was like a good visit with familiar friends. Getting to visit with four dogs in two separate houses was fun and frenzied and my clothes show the remnants of all the fur love. Completely worth it, dogs stepping on me, rubbing against my leg, and sitting right next to me. Sweet, unadulterated, unapologetic in their affection, the dogs were the perfect accompaniment to the week.
At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a personal essay. I submitted it to an online magazine and quickly received a rejection e-mail from the editor, saying it wasn’t right without a rewrite. I decided to save it and use it for something else. A couple of days later, I received an e-mail from another editor who was looking for new writers for a website revamp. I sent them the same piece, and a month later they told me they wanted to publish it. This week it appeared. I shared it with a few friends and relished seeing my byline, even if the topic was a bit painful. If you care to read it, follow this link. It was interesting to read the essay and to see how things have changed, even within a couple of months. I write, hoping to connect with others, but sometimes I connect with myself all over again.
A messy mistake
Relationships with people ebb and flow. Some relationships stay close, some people fade away. I have been overly attached to one friend, and perhaps, as a result there have been some stumbling blocks. In the last week or two, it seemed we had made some progress, after an incident in May. We communicated fairly frequently over the last week, and it felt much like old times, funny and friendly. Then Thursday, well, I made a messy mistake, completely accidental. Remorseful and embarrassed, I piled on the apologies. Our friendship feels as though it is on fragile ground again. Two other friends, with whom I shared the embarrassing incident, advised me to remember the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I have taken a few deep breaths and said the wise words to myself. I will see what happens after the stumble and hope that things are okay with the friend. No matter what, though, I am learning the lessons of intention and apology. Yet again, I am learning the peace that comes through the Serenity Prayer. I am also learning to find the beauty in the mess and the power that comes in forgiving myself. I also realized that the two friends I turned to in the aftermath were very new to me. That I felt comfortable to share and that they provided wisdom, comfort, and space for me to be raw was a welcome discovery and another reason for gratitude.
A need for speed
I signed up for a speed dating event for Thursday night. I have been interested in trying this for a few years, but never committed to going. There happens to be regularly scheduled speed dating outings in Albuquerque. I signed up with one of my new friends and we met early. Originally, our plan was to be early to get comfortable and to get ready for speed dating. Instead, I cried in the parking lot, relaying my messy mistake story while she provided tissues and a friendly ear. We ran back to her car, while I got myself together (it was too late and too hot to try makeup) and I consoled myself with the fact that at least I wasn’t wearing the crying raccoon eyes from mascara tears. Then we entered the restaurant, our new friendship cemented into something more.
We each grabbed a glass of sangria filled with enough strawberries for a fruit salad and waited to enter the banquet room reserved for speed dating. Eight tables were set with cheesy valentines and LED votive candles and we each wore a nametag with our first name and a number. There were eight men and eight women and the event felt like a cross between a very organized happy hour and mini job interviews.
At the end of the night, my new loyal friend and I then peeled out of the parking lot in her car, searching for dinner and time to decompress and debrief. We tucked into a booth and ate cheesy garlic bread while we compared notes and waited for our dinner. We both thought it was a good way to meet people, especially if you don’t do it all the time. It felt like a safe and time efficient way to meet potential dates. After years of using online dating sites, and mostly enjoying the process, I am excited to try a different mode.
I joined a gym a few months ago, and already it’s my favorite gym ever. There is a good mix of ages and abilities, always with a happy roar of weights clanking, music coming from the exercise classrooms, and enough people to feel busy, but not crowded. I use the pool and some of the weights to supplement my outside runs, but have been wanting to take a spin class. As with anything new to me, I always feel a bit of hesitation and intimidation. Luckily, on the first Friday morning of each month, they offer a beginning class. I made plans to attend and got to the gym in just enough time to sign in and feel the pull of the spandex of my cycling shorts. The class had about 20 people and the instructor led us through the basics on how to adjust the bikes for our height and comfort and how to add the clips or pedal cages. Once we were mounted, with bright yellow towels on our spin bikes, he led us through an abbreviated spin workout, explaining numbers of effort, heart rate, and the gears on the gym bikes. A runner and biker in his 50s, he had a calm and cheerful demeanor while pushing us through the burn of our first spin. I loved what he said at the end. “Go to a few different spin classes in the next couple of weeks. Check out different instructors and different styles. You will love it or you will hate it, but you will be glad that you tried it.”
After working half a Saturday for a meeting, I plugged into my weekend of downtime. I met a friend for coffee. I took a nap with furry dogs snoring nearby. I made a simple dinner of fish and pasta and sat on the patio and drank a glass of wine. I watched some volleyball and swimming of the Olympics, celebrating that my two-month house-sitting gig comes with a TV that gets reception and all the channels, while my TV at home only works with a DVD player plugged into it. On Sunday, I went for a run and a swim, did some housekeeping chores, and caught up with a college friend on the phone.
It was a week. While time may be a human construct, we can feel it. A week is seven days. It is a clear grid on my dry erase board hung in the hall. It is the song of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It was full. It was eventful. It was ordinary. It was just part of the life I am living, the good, the bad, and all that in between. It was about friendships, fur, and new experiences. It was the beginning of a new work year. It was a week.