A year ago today, I put on a dress, prayed to the angels and asked you to marry me. Thank you for telling me to get up off the floor and giving me an empty box. It’s the best empty box I ever got. And this coming from a girl who collects empty boxes.
Thank you for sitting with me on the stairs. And sometimes dragging me backwards down them. Yes, I trust you. With my heart. With my coffee. With my life.
Thank you for letting me blast country music. Sometimes. Thank you for seeing me in songs and my grandmother’s face. And in your future.
Thanks for singing back to me.
Thank you for holding my hand. And gently pulling me out of darkened rooms. Thank you for staying with me in the morning. And for letting me fall asleep sideways. Most of the time.
Thank you for giving me butterflies. And pancakes. And cheesecake. And vanilla tea. And visions of what our children will look like. And for letting me name them. Maybe.
Thank you for loving me more than penguins. I know what that means. And it means the world to me. Because I love you more than you love penguins.
Thank you for playing cards with Dad and sitting in the back of my Mom’s car. And sleeping in my cousin’s basement.
Thank you for helping me surprise Aunt Nancy, and for not thinking I was crazy. At least not for doing that.
Thank you for helping me leave a pebble with Aunt Karen. She told me it was you. Always you.
Thank you for letting me write. Sometimes about us. Sometimes in public. Thank you for letting me nickname you something no one else calls you. OK, a few things no one else calls you.
Thank you for emailing me in 2009. And for doing it again when I wrote you back. There are 250 of those emails. I know because I read backwards yesterday. Because I can.
I’m sorry I told you my friends were the non-crazy kind. I might have lied about that, you’ll realise now. Because they are. But they say that being with you is the smartest, truest thing I’ve done.
And so, last weekend I started a healthy eating kick. For me, this meant leaving the lettuce and onions and one or two peppers on Saturday’s burger, and not having sour sweets while watching Tin Tin at the cinema. I took fruit-bars to work and came home to rice-cakes and grapes. I may have asked Sarge to boil spinach pasta and then left the tomato chucks in the sauce. I was doing pretty well.
And then Thursday happened. I’ve told my mother several times that Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Scotland. There are no turkeys ‘til Christmas, and you must hunt The Great Canned Pumpkin in specialty shops and then come home to your Actually American Girlfriend with Empty Scottish Hands. Just ask Sarge. I wanted him to make pumpkin pie, and then pumpkin pancakes, but there was no canned pumpkin. I couldn’t even console myself with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. But the Chinese duck on Thursday night was pretty good. So much for the healthy eating, then. But I can always pretend the holiday season has already started.
See, this time of year, nostalgia is a physical ache that I live with and indulge. The tears start in early November and don’t dry up until January. I don’t miss America, I miss what my America was. Around the holidays it was the smell of Nana’s cooking and baking and the scent of the tree and the wreaths and incense at my Grandma’s house. A few years ago, Dad got me a candle that was basically my Grandma’s holiday house in a jar. After I broke down and sucked it up again, I decided that was damn-near the best present there was.
November is a lucky month, I feel my good ghosts every day, but they are louder in November. I got some good news on Thursday, and I might have had a celebratory white chocolate chip cookie. I then sat on Facebook and shared in virtual Thanksgiving. I’ve always known that real thanksgiving isn’t only one day in one country. And that spirit I’m going to share what I’m thankful for, every day:
My family and friends, wherever you are and whether I am 40 miles away or 4000, thanks for remembering who I am and reminding me every so often.
Sarge, again, for everything. And your face. And for only giving me half a strange look when I slip and call you Sarge in our living room.
My independence. I’m grateful for every day I get to get up and rock the chrome and wheels.
My writing, both truth and fiction. The sentences that narrate my life. And the proof that you don’t need to be depressed to write good stuff. Because I did wonder for a while.
The New York trip that Sarge and I took, and the love we felt while there. I still need to write about that.
Good coffee, but not as good as New York coffee.
Good books, and bad ones, because I need them sometimes.
Good films and bad movies. Because I need them, too. But not as much as bad books.
The clarity that comes with writing in a journal. Especially when you look up and see mountains out your window.
Stone cottages with no phone reception.
Streets that are not cobbled.
Tools and tire pumps.
Open fires and stars to wish on.
Judy Garland songs that aren’t sad, but I love the sad ones, too.
Everyone who reads my rambles and these lists that make sense only to me.
On Friday, I posted my post and went to the pub. I left my phone safely at home, and instead concerned myself with this delicious beer.
After a few, we came home and I decided to check my email while Sarge brushed his teeth. There were lots of little yellow flags in my gmail inbox, and I discovered I’d been Freshly Pressed. It was the third time I’ve seen my little blog up there. Exciting, as ever.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and subscribe, over the weekend or at any other time.
In recent news, I’m sitting here in striped socks and sweats, waiting for tomorrow when I get to take a train and a ferry to an island for some much needed fresh air and free time. I will be unreachable by phone.
What are you up to this weekend?
Please stay tuned for: My Island Diaries: Mull Edition!
Well. It happened. I called both my parents and told them before they read it online. My friends can’t believe it’s actually true. And we weren’t even drunk.
As per a new tradition, Sarge and I met for coffee after work on Tuesday. We were on our way to dinner when the world went from just under the speed limit to slow motion. I came off a curb-cut/ramp, and the front wheel caught in a rut or on a piece of gravel or something. The chair stopped. I didn’t.
I stuck my arms out and more than mumbled ‘Whoa!’ as the pavement got closer to my head, which I turned to save my nose and my teeth. This is where being taught how to fall at the age of five came in handy. One of the lenses from my glasses was on the ground. The other was in my eyebrow.
Did I mention I was in the street? And Sarge was more concerned than I was? And a car stopped and two strangers got out? And one of them, shall we say, forcibly suggested her friend call an ambulance? I checked my teeth and my nose, and said I was fine. Turned around and got in the chair, realising I was bleeding all over my butterfly bag. In the two minutes all of this took, we were surrounded by mall-cops, who again suggested an ambulance. One of the women gave the bits of my glasses back to Sarge saying, ‘They’re broken.’ At this point I knew there was nothing seriously wrong with me, because I thought, well, gee. Ya think?
It took five people to wrap my head so the gauze would stay in place. One guy thought I’d need butterfly stitches. How appropriate!
When I soaked through the fourth pad of gauze, I agreed to go to the hospital, and I let the mall-cops tick a box and call an ambulance for me. Sarge looked paler than I did.
Someone asked how old I was. ‘Twent…thirty,’ I said. Everyone looked at me. ‘It’s not the knock, it’s just the first time I’ve said it out loud.’ People accepted this and soon an EMT was asking me the same question.
I was lifted into the ambulance on something that reminded me of an in-flight chair. ‘What time’s the plane, boys?’ I asked.
Sarge lifted my chair in and there was no place to put it but on a stretcher. It was buckled while Bill the EMT took my BP and pulse.
‘Will you take his, please?’ I asked as Sarge sat down next to me.
I was asked a bunch of questions and made some jokes and I saw that Bill tapped ‘Uneventful journey’ into his computer.
‘Does that mean I’m boring, Bill?’
I’ve never been so happy to be dull.
‘How are you?’
‘OK, except I have to pee.’
And so we checked in via the toilet. We got up to the desk. There was an American woman there before me. She thought she’d taken too many travel-sickness tablets.
We waited. And waited. And waited. I didn’t feel like reading, and I didn’t have my glasses, so I tried to sleep on Sarge’s shoulder. I kept saying ‘I must be next,’ and then switched to ‘can we just go home?’ The gauze kept slipping, and by the time my name was called four hours later, it had popped off altogether.
My nurse’s name was Karen. This made me feel better. Then Karen said, ‘I can see the end of the cuts, we can glue them.’ No stitches? She went away again.
‘I waited four hours for glue? I almost want stitches,’ I said to Sarge.
Karen cleaned me up and glued my head shut, and I thought again how lucky it was that I only broke my glasses, and the cuts didn’t inch further into my eye. Thank you, Karen.
We got home at midnight, with tape strips and fish and chips.
I went to work the next day with the beginnings of a black eye and my old glasses.
The American in me wants to have pumpkin pie later on today and cold turkey sandwiches tomorrow.
I am the kind of person who believes thanks aren’t just for Thanksgiving. But in the spirit of the day, I’m going to share what I am thankful for this year.
My list every year is quite simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, and I’m appreciative of what I have every day of the year.
That being said, these things have made this year extra special to me:
My family: Thank you for providing me with all the love, support and material you can, any way you can.
My friends: Thank you for keeping me in cheesecake, laughs, inside jokes and packing boxes. I owe you a coffee/beer.
Sarge: Thank you for everything. Thank you for your love, acceptance, humour and books. Thank you for putting up with my PMS and letting me sleep diagonally in bed. Sometimes. My life before you were in it was a different one that seems a million years ago. I love you.
The Internet/Facebook: Thank you for keeping me connected to friends and family and letting me pretend I can be in faraway living rooms sharing laughs and zucchini bread in less than five minutes.
I sent my mother some recent photos of Sarge and me. First thing she said was, ‘You look happy. Were you drunk?’ In two of them, yes. She also said I looked peaceful, and that Sarge has ‘sensitive eyebrows.’