Week Ends… Week Begins

Oscar Levant, at his finest!

Thanksgiving afternoon: In my car, outside my house. I remind myself to take mindful pauses. I’m scared to enter my house, the home I loved for so long, where we raised three daughters.

I force myself to not speed back to my apartment.

I enter smiling. I engage. I respond, not react. I don’t drink. The day, a measured success. No moments when my behavior reminds my daughters of the bad ol’ days.

Feeling like a visitor, my ex-wife, Caroline is super-polite, as if manners can gloss over the corrosion that eroded our relationship. My daughters, across the room, occasionally scrutinize me as I chat.

Leaving before dessert,  I mate up an excuse. No one begs me to stay a few more minutes.

Cut to Saturday morning. Preparing for the “Cook Off,” an annual tradition – the antithesis of Thanksgiving. My brother-in-law Stefano, dear friend Jack, and I prepare a tasting menu for family and a few dear friends, 23 people!

Much of the cooking is done ahead of time. The dinner is held at my old house.

Friday, I asked my ex if I could prep-cook at the house. My kitchen is challenging to put it kindly.

Caroline replied, “Of course.”

Saturday morning, while roaming Whole Foods, Caroline texted me.

“Lexi, (our youngest) is hosting a few friends to watch Michigan play football and it will be a little crazy til 3 0r 4. Will that work?”

The text triggered an explosion of pain.

Years ago, Caroline and I converted a screened-in porch into a cozy sun room. Large windows, comfortable sofas, it became our favorite ron. I have wonderful memories of Caroline and me curled up, doing the Sunday Times crossword, me on my iPad, Caroline, old school, our dogs nestled in, lazily lifting a paw accusingly anytime we stopped rubbing them.

I’m not a big football fan. Once in a while though, I like watching part of a game.

Soon after the room was finished, I was in the mood. Lexi, a high school senior, was camped out, doing homework. I politely asked if she would mind going elsewhere or if she cared if I watched football.

“I have all my stuff spread out! Can’t you watch in your bedroom? Or the basement?”

Caroline sided with Lexi. I felt powerless, furious, betrayed by my wife.

Receiving Caroline’s text sent me reeling in a tsunami of pain. Once again Caroline siding with Lexi, ignoring my needs.

Then I found compassion. I thought about Lexi and old friends while her separated dad’s cooking in the kitchen. I felt Lexi’s pain.

That enabled me to put my pain in perspective, to change the relationship with my feelings. By doing so, I restored my equilibrium.

The cook-off a success, I even drank a bit. My daughters, catching up with lifelong friends, paid me little heed.

This weekend reminded me  I can’t control what triggers pain. I can control my relationship with it. A reassuring thought to begin a new week.

Stay in touch. Connect.

Jon

P.S. I’ll do a mini-post on what I made and where I got the recipes.

P.S.S. Just because this might be one of the best movies ever made.

6 thoughts on “Week Ends… Week Begins

  1. A snippet of real life. Thank you for sharing and exposing your heart feelings. I can appreciate the reassuring thought that while we can’t control what triggers pain, we can control our relationship with it. After noticing the powerlessness and fury you went straight to compassion. I admire you for this. Looking forward to what you made and the recipes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I bet! Roll into December with out any attachments and allow what is to simply be. You’ll ride that wave like a pro! Hardest month of the year in my book but I’m entering into it with a loving heart and open mind. And lots of good food and drink!
    Cheers

    Like

  3. I’m not a Woody Allen fan, but that scene is fantastic! Thanks for the laugh!
    I can’t imagine what you are going through right now, but you absolutely have my support and well wishes for continued healing and growth. Thank you for the follow, I really appreciate it.

    Like

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