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Twenty One Years


I'm still languishing in a Covid-brain haze, so my thoughts about celebrating 21 years of marriage won't be as articulate as I'd like them to be. But perhaps that's just the way it is. Marriage is full of the very real days -- the I-see-you-at-your-worst days, the I-love-you-when-you're-not-you're-best days.

I'd choose Joel all over again. No doubt.

Here's to 21 years!

Dragged Away By Wild Horses Until I Feel Better


Despite being fully vaccinated, everyone in my family has Covid. We were on a trip when symptoms first emerged, all five of us sleeping in the same hotel room and breathing the same air, so the spread seemed inevitable.

Now we're back home and quarantining until we're safe to reenter society. Thankfully, the kids' mild symptoms already have run their course and, as of this morning, Joel seems to have turned a corner. I'm still dragging, though.

This bout of Covid reminded me that I'm not good at resting, at least not initially. Yesterday morning I lamely attempted to work in the yard and tend to plants that had been neglected during our time away, but even that small effort sapped my strength. When I shuffled back into the kitchen to get a glass of water, Joel took one glance at me and said, "Looks like you've hit the wall." (He had this backwards. The wall hit me.)

Today I've been smarter. I've stayed in bed all day, taking Tylenol to ward off body aches and chills, drifting in and out of sleep, periodically flipping through a book and magazines, and staying hydrated. My cat, Peanut, has stationed herself at my feet, faithfully watching over me when she's not napping herself.


I've listened to sounds of people living their lives -- cars driving down the street, a neighbor cutting the grass -- but everything feels hazy, like I'm moving and thinking more slowly than the rest of the world.

Part of this cognitive impairment, I'm sure, is attributable to the virus itself. I'm guessing that another part is self-induced. Last night I couldn't fall asleep easily, so after coughing, tossing, and turning for over an hour, I grabbed my phone against my better judgment. My Covid-ridden brain remembered I once saw a YouTube video of David Beckham perfectly catching a stray ball while spectating a tennis match, and I had a sudden urge to watch that clip.

Obviously.

Of course, this spiraled into me watching a compilation of Top Ten Blind Auditions on The Voice (I don't even watch that show), then finding random videos of celebrities impersonating other celebrities (Chris Hemsworth does an uncanny Chris Pratt impression), followed by videos of actors who are surprisingly good dancers (Tom Holland has moves), and then rabbit hole descent into Pinterest tutorials all titled something like "Ten DIY Summer Wreaths" or "Organizing on a Dime."

At some point in the mindless scrolling, I absolutely realized I was sabotaging my sleep. I had this exact thought: But Robin, at this point, you know that not even wild horses could drag you away from this collection of Office bloopers.

And then I promptly had this thought: how weird is that expression? Wild horses? When's the last time I was trying to achieve something and actually was thwarted by a herd of wild horses? Well, I was thinking about getting groceries but, you know (hapless shrug), wild horses...

I'd like to blame this derailed train of thinking on the low-grade fever, but people, I'm pretty sure this is just how my mind works at 2 in the morning.

So, if you're looking for me over the next few days, I'll be holed up in my bedroom. I have an excellent guard cat and an endless supply of diversion until I'm back on my feet again. And when it's time for me to safely rejoin society after quarantine? Not even wild horses will keep me away.

How to Spend a Summer Day

 


I've heard a few people recently express disbelief that summer is moving so quickly. Why, we're already in the middle of July! I understand the sentiment; I've been through Wal-Mart with their premature back-to-school displays aggressively looming, after all. But for me, July always feels like the start of summer. 
 
Since I teach until the end of June, July is the month where I finally let my guard down, complete the projects that I've been meaning to get to, and unwind before fall semester preparations start in earnest when we shift into August. We gather family for a happy picnic and fireworks on the Fourth of July. We tend to the garden but don't need to cut the grass as often since it's not growing much.

This past weekend, like one weekend every other July, I join our street's community garage sale, making hundreds of decisions about how to price hundreds of items. This year, I was thankful when the projected forecast of 40% rain passed without a single drop. I revel in the lightness that comes from watching old things being moved out and the wad of cash folded up in my left shorts pocket getting thicker as the day grows longer. 
 
At the end of every garage sale weekend, I break down the tables, arrange one plastic bin of good items to earmark for next year's sale, gather the remaining leftovers in bags for Goodwill, and carefully sweep the garage floor. We can park cars in our garage again. I feel like I've lost ten pounds. I keep inventing reasons to walk into the garage to appreciate its emptiness and order.

I have other projects to complete this month. I plan to paint an accent wall in our office. I have a few pieces of old furniture that I'll refinish and sell. There's writing to be done, and I'm preparing for a speaking engagement in August.

But yesterday I did none of that. Yesterday, I exercised in the morning, then negated that exercise by buying myself a Dr Pepper from the McDonald's drive through (large with light ice, nonetheless), and then read an engrossing book, cover to cover, as I laid on the couch.

Occasionally, I sensed a niggle in the back of my mind. What am I neglecting? Shouldn't I be doing something? 
 
I had to quiet that self-censure, reminding myself that I was doing something. I was enjoying a summer day.

On Beach Trips



For the past decade or so (with the exception of the Covid years), we've taken a shared vacation with my husband's parents, his brothers, and our nieces and nephews each summer. Typically, we've stayed around the Rehoboth or Bethany Beach areas in Delaware, but this year my brothers-in-law booked a beach house near the southern edge of North Carolina on Carolina Beach. This new location added driving distance, but made up with warmer water.

The location doesn't matter much, I've found. As long as there's a beach and a house, we're set. The years blur, but themes emerge: games of Yahtzee with my mother-in-law on a porch, piles of sandy flip flops discarded at the entryway, mismatched beach towels hung to dry over a clothesline, sunscreen bottles tossed into canvas bags, help-yourself dinners of spaghetti or tacos because these meals are easy to prepare for a dozen people, strolls to collect shells, and the obligatory picture of all the cousins together.



We've been taking these trip long enough to notice how afternoon nap times for the youngest children have been replaced with all the kids staying up late, lingering around the kitchen table with tortuously long games of Phase 10 or progressive rummy. Instead of supervising as our toddlers splashed in the shallow surf and made sandcastles, as we did during years past, we parents now lounge and catch brief naps in the sun as our teenage kids charge into the waves and play Spikeball.

Like all summers, I bring my tote bag of books. This year, I sat on the porch, propping my feet up on the railing, listening to the waves, and breathing in the restorative ocean breeze as I plowed through three novels about fictional people with fictional life complications as they summer in Nantucket. For a little while, I forget the complexities of my own life.



We play mini golf one evening. We leave partially drunk water bottles that nobody can confidently claim as their own on end tables and countertops. One rainy morning some of us visit the aquarium while others take a nature walk along a trail and get bit by mosquitos and chiggers. I wear a swimsuit continually, substituting a new tee shirt and shorts each day, and let my hair go untamed with saltwater-styled waves.

We occasionally ask, "What day is it?" or "What time is it?" but the answers to these questions don't really matter. Measurements of days and hours don't carry the same weight when you're on the beach as they do in regular life.

This beach trip is different than years past. It's the same as years past. It's wonderful.

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