Last weekend I was up early in order to go to my daughter's school and help put out the barricades for a 2 mile run that to raise money for the homeless. The rain came down hard, making the spring morning feel more like winter. It was only 50 degrees out and I knew that helping in the rain and then doing the run was going to be cold and I'd be drenched by the end of it.
Today marks the 20th anniversary that my wife and I met. I wanted to celebrate these twenty years with a little retrospective and a "how to guide" on relationships. I'll start off by saying that being together for such a long time is hard. Really hard. Back then I knew my limitations, quirks and faults, but multiple that over time, mix it up with another person's baggage and then add in kids, financial problems, deaths, illnesses and the rest of life and, wow, I didn't know what the hell I was getting into.
"She gazed at him and became lost in memories now long gone. The stubble on his chin, the freckles under his eyes and the few flecks of gray in his hair, but his crooked smile had captured her attention the most. She could not look away. She remembered the touch of his two day old beard, the roughness of it, and the way he had said her name. But that was all in the past now ... He walked past her without any recognition and the young woman on his arm smiled and the hurt began, small at first, deep in her chest but then it grew and enveloped her with a pain that engulfed her heart and drowned her in longing. Cinderella turned away and the music from the ball faded behind her."
Have you ever felt this way? A love that had kept you up at night and sustained you in the darkest of times now had become your worst pain?
I grew up in a crazy Italian/Irish Catholic household. One in which the women took on the brunt of the housework while the men watched TV or puttered around the house. The division of labor was pretty clear cut. After my mom divorced and moved back into her parents, my mom worked full-time while my grandfather and grandmother watched my brother and I.
I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm a romantic. I decided a long, long time ago to embrace life and to live it to the fullest. But on seeing Richard Linklater's most recent film, Before Midnight, I have come face to face with the delusional yearnings of my youth and the hard, cold reality of the present. Bills, arguments, lack of sleep, screaming kids, work upon work, and a whole list of stresses, make me ask: Am I still a romantic and would I recommend others to be the same?
The good news is that I not only have some personal experience to share with them as they get older, but I'm hoping that my Cinderella's Secret Diaries series will be examples for not only them but others as well. The secret to finding happiness is pretty straightforward: You need to love yourself.