This Post Brought to You By the Crazy Guy at Starbucks

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It’s a summer day and it’s hot outside. Earth shattering newsworthy fact, sure, but I never tend to realize how hot it can get in the inland Southern California town where I work. On a typical weekday I don’t leave my office. I normally just bring a sandwich and eat at my desk or stand in the kitchen rabbiting a ranch doused salad.

But today I decided to try something different. I’ve been struggling lately to find time to write, so today I decided to bring my laptop to work, so that at lunch I could escape to a local Starbucks and get some work done.

So there I’m driving, pull neatly into the little parking lot meant for patrons of the Starbucks, sandwich shop, or dry cleaner of the little mini complex. The A/C in my car isn’t superb, so I tend to leave my windows rolled all the way down as often as I can. I surprisingly couldn’t find a spot right in front to the coffee shop, so I switched my clunker into reverse and looked over my shoulder as I began to roll backwards.

“HEY WATCH OUT!” shouted a toothless man as loudly as possible. I slammed my breaks un-dramatically, as even a squirrel could have stopped my 0.5 mph pace. I turned my head even further and saw a truck was pulling out of their spot at the moment that I was backing up. Probably 15 feet away.

“WELL PULL FORWARD AND GIVE HIM SOME ROOM!!” he shouted, this time with a healthy dash of anger. Baffled at the frantic urgency of the stranger, I turned to see the truck had an extraordinary amount of space without my moving. However I was being screamed at in front of the lunch goers chillin’ in front of Starbucks and the sandwich shop, so in my frazzled state I tried to shift gears and move forward ever-so-awkwardly.

I realized the truck was already gone by the time I began to pull forward, and heard the angry man walk by my window muttering under his breath profanities sprinkled with “dumb” and “girl.”

I shook my head, backed up again, and parked in the spot I had planned to before the public humiliation.  I had three bags with me, my purse, lunch bag and laptop case, and climbed out of my car with as much dignity as I could muster. As coolly and confidently as I could, I walked up to the complex and smiled at each stranger staring me down…or up…or whatever.

I know I wasn’t wrong. But damn that was embarrassing! I’m sitting in the coffee shop wondering why the guy had to make such a scene about it. Was he trying to protect me? The truck? Assert authority? Who knows, but I’m admittedly rattled.

SO MUCH SO THAT I’M STILL TALKING ABOUT IT. I came here to write and thanks to the grizzly old alcoholic, I’m rattled and distracted from the task I set out to accomplish.

But such is life isn’t it? Why is it the very moment that we set our eyes on something, almost instantaneously there is a brand new obstacle flung in our face to try and beat us back into mediocrity. Or distract us, humiliate us, cause us to change course.

Well public humiliation or no, I saw something pretty incredible. Here a fitting hackneyed phrase comes to mind, something to the air of “The biggest hill comes right before your biggest success.” Yeah something like that. But I must be on the right track. If the oddities of the earth are trying so hard to distract me, what awesomeness are they afraid I’m close to accomplishing?

Don’t get distracted today. You have a goal and you have a mission. It’s summertime, there’s crazies about, there might be good TV on later. There will always be distractions, but try and make some time today to take one step closer to whatever it is that will make your life amazing and far above the status quo. You never know, your big break might be just right around the corner.

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Breaking: You CAN Learn From TV

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“Commercial again?!” I shouted at my television. “What did she do!?” I nearly flung my bowl of soup on the ceiling I was so excited. My fiancé, surprised at my out-of-character reaction, laughed and sat aback widening his eyes so as to say, “Daaaaamn girl!” I collected myself, my soup and what was left of my sanity, and returned to my Monday night post-work couch lounging.

What can I say, I love The Biggest Loser. I was pretty late to the game, which is great because now I have season after season of ready to watch reality just waiting for me to hit play on my Hulu Plus. Yes, there are plenty of ways that we can pick it apart, in that weight loss doesn’t happen for normal people in a vacuum like that, perhaps let them call their kids once in a while, whatever. Overall I like the mega-show.

What I like about it is learning about a very serious condition and seeing real results of progress. How these individuals became morbidly obese range from abuse, depression, and eating disorders, but are often combinations of those and more. I like seeing them get better and work through their issues.

I also like how they know what their goal is and work their asses off to get to it. They certainly would love to win the “quarterrrr of a miiiiiillion dollars” as Allison Sweeny says so Days-of-Our-Lives dramatically. But the real goal is to get better and lose weight. To get healthy. Many of them have serious life threatening conditions, or one is right around the corner, and in this show Jello, Jenny-O Turkey, and the other pretty crappy sponsors are actually putting their money into a decent cause.

For the contestants, it’s plain and obvious they need help. They need to make a change with regard to their physical wellbeing in order to live healthier lives and avoid a premature death.

What about the rest of us? Shifting from physical wellbeing to psychological or emotional, how can we measure how well we are doing? Almost fortunately, when your body is sick and overweight, you can see it and so can everyone else. It’s clear what you need to do.

But when it comes to our inside-our-brain lives, when do we know that we need help? That we need to make a change to get back on track to live healthier, happier lives? Where is the stress-o-meter that clearly conveys to you and the world, “Woah there, Skip. It’s time to take a vacation and calm the fuck down for a week.”

Unfortunately we are left to our own abilities of discernment. What sucks about that is we are likely the worst judges at figuring out when enough is enough and we need to take a little break and work on ourselves. While I certainly mean this in a professional sense, I mean it in just about every other emotional & psychological sense as well.

It’s very challenging in our current American environment to listen to what your psyche is telling you it needs. It’s a busy world out there. Messages about work hard, play hard swirl around us; put in your 40+ hour week, then you deserve to party your weekend away because you deserve to have fun!  Or, I think my favorite one I read recently is, “Don’t listen to your heart, listen to God.” Really? Don’t listen to the inner cries of your soul? There’s no possible way THAT could be listening to God?

All around us there are reasons, easy escapes, even religious commands to silence your inner voice and run to the distractions that circle us. And it is those very distractions that could perhaps be strangling the passions and loves that we left long ago when we let our dreams die and went to college instead.

I was listening to a radio show yesterday as I was, albeit begrudgingly, driving to work on an early Monday morning. It was all about self-employment, my favorite topic, and the host quoted Jon Acuff. It went something like, “Finding your dream job is less about discovering what you love, but about recovering a love you forgot.”

How nice that it rhymes. But he’s right! In the daily grind, the struggle we all have to toil the earth, it is less about the quest of finding that brand new talent that you never imagined you were great at. Rather, it’s that little thing that you loved to do as a kid, ran to in order to survive high school, or did in your free time when the baby was asleep. And when we ignore those things that truly make us happy in the name of being normal, a working professional, or a social butterfly, we can be hurting ourselves and not even know it.

We don’t really know when our psyche is sick, but we know when we are sick and tired. We don’t know which day we will crack, but we see it on the news all the time as we read stories of people who finally do. Every single day is critical in my opinion, every breath we take is precious. Why do we allow ourselves to ignore our inner selves and the real desires we have to fully live?

I tell you, the people who lose 200+ pounds really seem to understand the value of a full life. They can SEE how their lives have been transformed once they start making decisions to be their best selves. I think we need to have the same urgency to get and stay healthy. Our goal may not be a fat stack of cash sponsored by Extra Sugar Free gum, but living the life you were meant to live seems seems like as good a prize as any.

Memorial Day, Luxembourg and Saluting Am’urca

20130524-002627.jpg3-day weekend. Can you feel it? We have made it America! Memorial Day is this weekend and that means summer is HERE. Plus, we have 3 whole days to do whatever we want.

What are you going to do this Memorial Day weekend? Out of towning, hiking, beach-bumming, hot dog eating, kite flying, sweater knitting? Who cares, do whatever you want, it’s a 3-day weekend.

How about some memorializing while your face is stuffed with potato salad? Maybe even a eugoogily? If you don’t get that Zoolander reference then you’ve made Ben Stiller cry. And we don’t like seeing Ben Stiller cry, so make sure you watch Zoolander at some point in these 3 days of freedom.

Admittedly, I was half joking about the utter excitement of the 3-day weekend filled with kite flying hot dogs. I love a 3-day weekend as much as anyone, but I think the hype around Memorial Day weekend is a bit out-of-control and has rolled a smidge off track. The big chain stores always have some kind of Memorial Day sale, and we all plan parties on Sundays because for once we don’t have to worry about work on Monday. You can spend that Monday nursing a hangover instead if you want to.

But if JCPenny didn’t tell you on the weekend sale commercial, the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who served in the United States Armed Forces. Specifically it is for those who died while in service. So why is it when I Google “Memorial Day,” the top 5 searches retrieved regard rooftop pool parties, vacation planning, and local to-dos such as farmer’s markets, more drunken parties, and giant store specials?

That’s kinda fucked up.

I don’t personally know anyone who died in battle, as in, I’ve shaken their hand and heard them say, “how do you do,” only later to learn of their death in combat. I have a great uncle who died in Pearl Harbor (1941). Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet him, so that’s as close as I get.

So for me on Memorial Day, I have to dig a little deeper to get to the memorializing. I do think about my uncle and wonder what exactly happened…according to my Dad he was a pilot and was shot down in air, but I don’t even know if American planes were up yet since it was an ambush? Maybe he reacted quickly. Or maybe he was going for a swim with a Hawaiian cutie, but the family didn’t like that story so they put him in a plane. Nonetheless, the details are hazy and I instead reflect on his bravery for even being there.

The biggest memory I now return to for Memorial Day, however, is when I was in Europe a couple years ago and went to Luxembourg. There is a large military cemetery there where General Patton is buried, aptly named Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. Visiting that memorial was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and the second time that I’ve cried in a military cemetery, the first being my father’s funeral.

We had toured a few different sites of World War II, but this was something different. The soil was given to us from the Luxembourgers and is officially a plot of American land. So naturally we joked on the lines at the gate, one foot on either side, “Now I’m in Europe! Now I’m in the US! Europe! US!”

But reading about the war plan, how Hitler really did fucking take over Europe, and how desperate the situation was, gave me goose-bumps for the duration of my time there. Walking around from grave stone to monument to grave stone, you could literally feel the powerful strength these soldiers had as they gave their lives to thwart the forces of evil.

And that’s what Memorial Day is about. We all like to try and somehow relate to ourselves, our families and puff up our own pride with what we have done. But Memorial Day has absolutely nothing to do with us who aren’t dead from fighting in a war. It has everything to do with those whose lives were cut short, whether they believed in the cause or not, and paid the ultimate price to fight for our country.

Memorial Day is important America. Even if you are anti-war, guns, or think that we could just have a conversation with our enemies and things would be alright, sometimes fighting is necessary. WWII is a perfect reminder of that. In 1944, concentration camps were ramping up to be an even more effective form of genocide, as that was when they installed organized gas chambers and ovens to fucking incinerate human beings on a massive scale. That was when the Battle of the Bulge occurred and one of the biggest turning points of the war. On the very soil I stood, 5,000+ American soldiers remains are buried there, most of whom died in that important battle.

What would have happened if General Patton and his army didn’t march in and kick some ass? I don’t even want to play that game. The game I will play is one of gratitude and solemnly consider the circumstances under which they fought. And with that, thank you to God for our military. Thank you to our Vets – I am so happy you are still here with us. Thank you to the men and women who died in battle, who starved, froze, were shot or stabbed to death fighting for my country. I wouldn’t have the life I have without you, and I am absolutely grateful for your service.

Thank you. I salute you. RIP.

As the Girl in a Brother’s Band

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I love sleeping in. I find great joy in slowly awakening as dreams naturally transition out and reality fades back into consciousness. No alarm jolting this progression with immediacy. Just a soft, gentle stirring when my body whispers, “ok we have now fully recharged, let’s go boss.”

Saturdays have largely been removed from the ranks of restful slumber, as I have spent the last several months training for a marathon and it’s too damn hot to run 10+ miles in San Diego’s late morning/afternoon. It’s not so bad though, I can normally get up around 8:30am to meet my small running crew on time, and these days I consider that sleeping in.

However last Saturday, my dream-filled state was slapped into reality by the hand of my cell phone, as over and over again it was blowing up with texts around 6:00am.

Rolling over with as much urgency as I could muster, I tried to silent the inconsiderate device. I vowed that heads were gonna roll if someone wasn’t on fire and somewhat within driving distance so that I could actually do something about it. Thoughts of burning buildings flashed through my mind as I fumbled over my nightstand trying not to knock over my water glass.

Once I finally got to the obnoxious little computer, I discovered no such emergency. Turned out instead World War III was in full effect as my brothers, who so thoughtfully included me on a group text message thread, were ferociously assailing unspeakable insults towards each other. Name calling, personal attacks, and thoughtless verbal canonballs were hurled back and forth with only seconds between each injurious message.

The first thing I did was lay back down, slap my hand to my forehead and groan. “What a bunch of babies,” I said out loud to the empty room. It was a group message that included my three brothers and myself, two of whom were in the middle of this bloodless battle.

I’m more or less used to this behavior by now. So I sent a couple of texts calling for peace, but my efforts were, as usual, ignored. Each of the fighting brothers felt their words, texted with about as much thought as it takes to realize a poopy diaper smells like poo, were valid. Both felt justified tearing down the other mercilessly in front of me and my other brother, who surprisingly wasn’t involved in the fighting whatsoever.

It was an annoying way to start the morning to say the least. After spending a few hours trying to sort them out, the brothers concluded the conversation by blocking the other’s messages and vowing never to speak again. With a sigh, I went on my 12 mile run with friends at 9:00, but it was clouded by the negativity I experienced that morning. I felt sickened and sad, crippled with worry that either or both of today’s foes were sitting at home alone, severely wounded. What I hated most was that there was nothing I could do to stop it and had no real way to fix it.

Why is family such a pain in the ass? I remember when I was little and my Mom would tuck me into bed, she’d always tell me to be grateful for my brothers. Some nights I agreed with her, others I stuck my tongue out and wished they were sisters. You can borrow sister’s clothes. There are only so many options when it comes to your brother’s clothes, and a lot of those clothes are jerseys, and most jerseys are never washed. And that’s just gross, so I was shit out of luck and had to fend for myself with my own wardrobe. Regardless, she always said, “The best gift that I could give to my children was each other.”

Oh brother [cheap pun, sorry, couldn’t help myself].

I figured that every family must be this way. Family = fight, fun, football, being funny, folk music. My immediate world was comprised of us four siblings, my three brothers and myself. I have a half sister as well but she is a bit older and tends to stay out of the drama, probably because she knows the rest of us are morons. So between the remaining 4 of us, we definitely have the most fun together I have ever had in my life, but that’s when we are all getting along. There is unfortunately always a pair in our group who are either not speaking, pulling each other’s eyebrows out, or talking shooby behind another’s back. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and you would think we were the cast of Mean Girls thrown in a martini glass with the Real Housewives.

This is because my brothers and I have a real gift. We have earth-shattering tempers, not measurable by the Richter scale but will likely be responsible when California finally breaks from the main land and drifts off to sea. Through the same vein we also love each other with the same intensity. We didn’t have the easiest collective childhood, and often times all we had were each other. I have distinct memories with each of them individually, holding each other sobbing to get through the latest of round life’s nonsense. So when I moved out of the house and went on to college, I carried with me this love, the temper, the ability to hold my own in a house of 3 boys, and a pretty good sense of humor. These were the ingredients required to survive as an Erdmann.

I came to find out that the temper doesn’t go over well in the real world. Apparently people don’t like it when you yell at them. Shouldn’t they just yell right back and you both hug later and then get some ice cream? Guess not. I got in trouble those early years for behaving like a pugilist, and learned fairly quickly that whoever yells the loudest is not the one who necessarily wins the battles.

For some reason, gosh I have no idea how it became an interest of mine, I got into rhetorical studies and focused on argumentation strategies. I was really into learning karate for words, and have spent most of my years in formal study honing how to craft a logical argument and effectively express my ideas.  I wanted to be able to communicate better with my brothers and create a more conducive environment to healthy discussion.

Some of the first times that I would come home, I’d take my suitcase of words and try them out on my family. Surely this new briefcase of tools would help us communicate better. I outgrew my Mother’s vocabulary by the time I was 15, but I was excited that my brothers would be proud of how calm I was and had tactful ways for us to get along with each other.

Yeah, no.

Apparently when you go back home, you resume the same position you always had. I’ve come to realize that no matter where I go in life, no matter what I’ve learned or how ever-so-wise I’ve become, I am always the baby sister to my two older brothers. To my younger brother, I will always be his bossy big sister, and he will always be my best friend (it’s not that I play favorites, it’s just that he’s my favorite).

I realize also now that not every family is like mine. My last few boyfriends all, oddly enough, had probably the sweetest families that exist on this whole fucking planet. They never EVER fight, cry every time they leave each other, and have deep bonds with each other built on a solid foundation of cotton candy, pillow fights and Lucky Charms cereal.  I love them all dearly to this day but come on…not ONE argument? Suspicious.

But I used to get jealous when I met families like that. And I would really wish I had a sister a lot of times growing up. But, I have my three goofy brothers, and I guess my Ma is right…they are a blessing.  I don’t think any quadra-sibling unit has ever been through as much as we have together, and I wouldn’t trade those silly monsters for anyone else on earth. It would be nice though if one of them were a cross-dresser and happened to be my size, it really would be lovely to share a closet with a sibling and double my wardrobe.

For those of you that don’t have siblings, I’m sure you have friends that pretty much are. And for those that do have siblings, you likely have some crazy-ass stories that likely directed what you studied in school and who you are today.  I think we should all be grateful for whatever situation we happen to be in. So in conclusion of last Saturday and many of the wars of our past, this song makes me think of my beloved brothers today. “So brother, raise another pint!…I still look out for you no matter what you’ve heard…I know there [are] better brother[s] but you’re the only one[s] that [are] mine.”

Love you all, Choey

Happy birthday Dad – but I’ll bet Elvis can’t bake a better cake than me

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Two summers ago on a hot Dallas day, I heard my father tell me he loved me for the last time.  He said it at least 5 times in a row, his dark brown eyes trained on my weeping Hazels, ensuring that I clearly understood his thrice worded message.

I know, I know, this isn’t the cheeriest way to begin a Wednesday, but I frankly consider myself lucky.  Not everyone has someone who deeply inspires them in their life. What’s incredible is that my greatest hero loved me more than I understand.  In fact when I was born, and my family loves to retell the tale, my father ran out of my mother’s hospital room, arms flailing and shouting excitedly, “It’s a giiiirl!!!  It’s my baby giiiiirl!!!”

His happy spirit was coupled with a sparkling sense of humor, heaped with a side of unquenchable curiosity.  A marker of which was his ostensible ease in learning 6 languages (I’m still working, poorly, on my second), and motivated him to chase after each and every one of his dreams.

That’s right, my father was a dreamer.  But you wouldn’t think that upon first glance at his curriculum vitae.  His strict upbringing by my well to do grandparents in Mexico taught him the fierce determination to excel in German schooling.  His heart, however, belonged with the United States.  He dreamed the American dream and, long story short, eventually joined the US Army after receiving his medical degree in the same country.

He wanted to become a surgeon, and that he did.  But he didn’t do it holed up in a library (enter flashbacks of my graduate study in the dustiest corners of SDSU’s Love Library).  He did it traveling through Europe, all the while with my beautiful mother and older siblings.  He was serving with the American military and eventually became a Colonel.  I could go on and on, but one other note is that somewhere in there he also found the time to become a pilot.

Col. Ralph R. Erdmann M.D, was and is my father.  He sounds accomplished, but while I greatly respect his credentials they pail in comparison to his ability to treat me like the most cherished girl in the world. I was affectionately dubbed his “precious princess,” and feel a tear (alright fine, many of them) roll down my cheek as I consider how I will never again hear him utter his favorite moniker.

While I don’t think that’s fair or ok, I do think that he would be bummed watching my sadness and occasionally frequent feeling of loss.  He hated it when I cried.  He’d quickly do anything he could to cease my tears and find the laughter hidden somewhere behind the salty streams.

“Ice cream!  To eat, let’s go out to eat!” he’d suggest excitedly in his muddled German/Mexican accent.

At some point today, that’s precisely what I will do.  And Dad I expect you to do the same, but with a side of flan and marzipan, because as I understand calories don’t count up there.

To you, the sweetest and bravest Father in the world, I wish you the happiest of birthdays.

To my friends – please call your Father today, and maybe treat him to a bowl of ice cream.

ImageImageAbove: Dad during his residency  Left: Him and I  Below: Dad at his Laboratory “Erdmann Pathology”ImageImage

Above: Dad, my brothers Erich, Siegfried and I  Below:  Myself, Dad and his Mom, my Grandma in Mexico, the last time we saw her – he very much adored his MommaImageImageImageImage

   Finally, he loved music and singing, so I close with that. ❤

Climbing metaphorical & actual mountains with Kasia

If you said to me 5 years ago that I would be a regular hiker, I would have laughed in your trail mix.

But among the activities I’ve come to love in the last year is a good hike. In an ordinary day I will either – or all at the same time – have the radio playing, the TV on, and/or my laptop open to check my Facebook feed.  A cacophony of media, I know.

Yet every now and then I get out to nature. Given my (neurotic) need to keep the brain entertained, it’s normally with a friend or few.  So yesterday my friend Kasia and I, both freshly graduated from SDSU, decided to climb up San Diego’s Cowles Mountain.  What’s nice about this leisurely hike is the ability to prattle on about ourselves and not so much struggle with losing our breath.  As such, she’s the perfect person with whom to yackity-yack.

I’ll never forget when I met Kasia, one of the first I encountered of my cohort two years ago.  Her playful demeanor and constant smile could attract even the angriest of scholastic trolls. “Hi I’m Katherine! Well, that’s my real name. My friends call me Kasia. Or Kathy. You can call me whatever you want, haha! Where are you from?  This is my roommate Erin!”

And so our friendship began and I don’t think her rate of speech has slowed down since. We have traveled to Europe together, endured crucifying breakups in each other’s arms, and cried hysterically about research papers we would have otherwise set fire to.

As a first generation American, her parents immigrated to Chicago from Poland.  She was, then much to her distain, raised learning all things Polish.  As the years passed on she has become proud of her ancestors and keeps this heritage close to her identity.  However, I still can’t get her to cook me one little pierogi.

Polish pastries on my mind, we began our ascent up the rocky, dusty mountain.  The usual talk ensued as I discussed recent happenings in my relationship.  I have a debilitatingly hard time letting go of my love’s former f-ups, and regardless of how truly sorry he is, my far-from-pristine-self continues to bring it up and beat him with it. “How can I just LET IT GO?” I asked wiping sweat from my forehead as the 80 degree heat began getting to me. “He said he was sorry, I know that he means it, I just can’t move past it. Seriously, how do I forget about it?”  For those of you wondering what “it” is, it’s really not that big of a deal.  I’m a giant baby and also perfectionist who must control each and every situation, and if there’s a blemish, that receives my focus. God help me.

“Well,” she answered, “sometimes it’s hard. I struggle with that too, but I have learned that it never helps.  The only one who ends up suffering when you hang on to that is you.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, fully knowing this information and wishing for a Men In Black mind eraser pen.  Seriously why haven’t we come up with that yet?

As my mind started to wander, my legs started to tire.  Nearly each step required a steep lunge onto a rock or a branch, demanding more energy that I anticipated for said “leisurely” hike. “Damn I am feeling out of shape,” I think to myself.

I then realize I’m not paying attention and shake the self-doubting thoughts from my mind. Returning to the conversation, “I am just so scared.  What if that’s a sign of things that could happen?” Moving to a slippery slope I continue, “I just don’t want to wake up at 45 with a couple of kids and then have him, I dunno, run off on me or something.”  I offer this scenario as the worst possible situation I can ever imagine.

“Well,” Kasia reminds me, “that’s exactly what happened to my Mom…”

My already labored breath came to a sudden halt.  I completely forgot what had happened.  While my parents have their own horrific divorce story, Kasia too, has one of her own.

I remember at our graduation a grey haired, handome looking man standing next to Kasia’s older brother.  They stood oddly apart from one another and I quickly came to realize that he was their father.  His pressed shirt tucked into dress pants, in addition to his presence, demonstrated that he wanted to stay involved in Kasia’s life.

The trouble, however, is that this 50-something charmer has another family to attend to.  A wife around Kasia’s age, and children younger than her nephews.  Her devastated mother was placed in a deplorable predicament upon learning of the affair not many years ago, and has since taken over the struggling family restaurant.  While the details are not mine to divulge, she offered this story as a comfort.

How is that comforting?!  After thinking about it for a while, it is because these things happen.  And people survive.  She explained how her mother is now finally happy, no longer suffering verbal assaults from her husband of 25 years.  The worst that I can imagine does happen, but living in fear of it is no way to navigate a relationship.  I can’t control the present just as much as I can’t control the future.  And sometimes, people do have happy long term relationships.  Right?

Kasia continued hopping from stone to stone, as we journeyed up the increasing grade of the mountain.  With a tumultuous past, her literal and metaphorical buoyancy is inspiring. While she has had her own struggles in romantic relationships, she now is in a happy partnership. Her boyfriend, who, *ahem*, I introduced her to, is a loving devoted partner.

Yet my friend and hiking companion is facing a new challenge.  She fell in love in San Diego but received a job offer in Maryland that she could not refuse – Godfather pun unintended.  She has three weeks left until she and her man are separated for a year.

How awful!  A nightmare for a person like me.  How will you know that he is faithful?  How do you stay faithful?  This will be her second long distance relationship, the former ending in sadness and broken hearts.  But of course she has men willing to try with her. She is beautiful. Educated.  Flirty.  In fact, the nickname we gave her is “bedroom eyes,” given her sexy but harmless come-hither stare, flashed to anyone including me.  But back to the point, she is strong.  She fought back when the man who raised her demolished her trust in marriage and relationships.  Yet she will not let that stop her, and is willing to follow her passion to a job across the country, AND have faith that her love will stay true to her.  She has what I desire: trust.

I believe it is Plato who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  I am fighting my many battles, and that battle today is trust.  Kasia showed me that afternoon that everyone makes mistakes, some much larger than others.  But that doesn’t mean that we have to stop living our lives, and reside in frustration over the past.  Trying to control what may happen lest fears become realities. To move forward, we relationship-havers must shed the past, and instead have faith in the partners we fall in love with.

When I put it in that perspective, I realize the requirement to forgive and at least somewhat forget.  After all, love keeps no record of wrongs.  Therefore, in the emptiness that will have once held anger at my loved one, perhaps I can open that space instead, for trust.