It’s been a mostly good week, until today.
I’ve had problems with headaches this week. Wednesday night I got the worst headache I’ve had in years. Thursday morning, a hot shower mostly cleared it up. But it was somewhat back this morning, so I slept in again.
I do what I can do to avoid news that upsets me. But last night, I read an article on the Harvey Weinstein trial about someone testifying to bad behavior, in an assault that was past the statute of limitations.
I should have known better than to click on the stupid article. I’m not even back in the victim mentality entirely. It just brought me down to a slight melancholy, but still living in the present. Click here if you want to read about why it mad me sad.
Jared tells me on days like this, “Be kind to yourself.” So, I am drinking my favorite coffee. I am writing here. The TV is on the vegetative/ soothing HGTV. It frustrates me that little things like a stupid article about someone I never met and will never know reminds me of things that have happened to me.
Jared is getting a Skagen smart watch for his birthday. I am excited he is getting something nice (he knows about it) because he never ever buys anything for himself, certainly not something like this. He deserves it and I’m glad we can do it for him.
But, the gift prompted me to dig out my very own Skagen watch, which I bought in 2000 with my bonus money from my job at Fernbank. I was so proud of that recognition and the Skagen watch style I went with is timeless, and still to my taste. I need to get back in the habit of wearing a watch anyway because I have found that it can be problematic to be without one at weddings because I don’t always have a pocket for my phone, depending on my outfit of the day.
So, this morning, I found the watch. It was set to the perfect time– we replaced the batteries in it probably 5 years ago or so (for the first time!) and I adjusted the band since I have lost some weight since I last wore it. It will now go on my right wrist (I am left handed) and the copper cuff I bought for my 40th birthday will go on my left.
Reminders of the Past
But besides remembering the CFO presenting me with that bonus check at the dinosaur store counter while I had my homework spread out on the counter, I have other memories of that dinosaur store….
Like that same year, at that same store counter, when my friend and co-worker walked the attorney up to the store and all of a sudden, amidst distractibility on a Saturday morning where there were tons of kids and parents around shopping at my counter, I hear a familiar voice saying, “I’d like to see the stegosaurus on the shelf.” For real….it had been 8 months since he graduated and he had not visited once in that time. Of course I didn’t have the money to got see him. So I fantasized in my downtime about what I would do if I saw him again. He laughed as he said my face was genuinely like I was seeing a ghost. And truly, it was like seeing a ghost. I’d been pretty convinced I would never see him again and I was conflicted about that fact.
Things had calmed down on the romance front, mostly. Things weren’t perfect but it was less drama, for 6 months or so.
He tried to convince me to leave that day with him, to move to Florida. But I LOVED Fernbank. I loved my religious studies program. I loved the normalcy of “dating” one person for once at one time, instead of the double life I had left behind months before when he left. He’d never met most of my friends or my family at all and I couldn’t imagine trying to explain to them wanting to make a move like that. I enjoyed not running into him at the bank, or at school, or anywhere. I liked knowing that he was hundreds of miles away. I explained to him that I couldn’t afford it and he said that didn’t matter, that adding one person to his household wouldn’t be a big deal. A new BMW drove by while we were sitting on those Museum steps that sunny afternoon and he said it was the same model he’d recently bought. My money issues would have ended if I had gone with him.
I said no, of course. I loved him but even then I knew a life with him would be more of the same that I had experienced over the past two years with him, and it wasn’t a particularly happy existence. I was mostly an inconvenience to him, something to be used as stress-relief. He described me as his rock in law school once…. And I was, I suppose. But at great cost to my self-esteem and self-worth. He was never actually in love with me, I don’t think. I don’t think he’s capable of loving anyone other than himself.
I love my Skagen watch. It represents the best of my professional life while working for other companies– I was just a part-time cashier in the museum store at the time but that bonus check was a significant amount even in today’s money and it meant I mattered to that museum that I love so very much. It was my favorite job ever. And the fact that they hired me two additional times after I came and went, after graduation: I went on to work in the volunteer department doing exactly what I wanted to do while I was peering out of those store windows, jealous of the employees who got to walk around wherever they wanted instead of being tied to the store– proved later that I was still valuable to them, even after I had moved 900 miles away and had a baby. It still makes me sad some days that I got sick and had to leave, even though it’s been 12 years since I resigned. I know it is a different place but I will always treasure the memories I have…..
Like, before the dinosaurs were installed in the great hall….one night after we closed we took one of the giant bouncy balls and bounced it from the entry level to the bottom level.
Like watching an IMAX movie from the projector level, after closing, when nobody was there.
Like watching the dinosaurs get installed.
Like doing New Yorker magazine crosswords with Tony and Amy on a Sunday afternoon.
Listening to Jason sing along with the band on a Friday night Martini’s and IMAX.
The volunteers: Pam. and Ronnie. And Mel. And dear Art Sutton who wrote a poem just for me, and bashfully presented it to me one afternoon. It was like having 100+ grandparents…it truly, truly was. I looked at the AJC obituaries for years after I left, scouring for names I knew. It was always a hard day when I found one.
And there I was, sitting at my desk, the afternoon of October 2, 2004, killing time before we could get dressed up for Timeless Affair, and I got a call to come get a flower delivery. To come back to my desk to have my Jared propose at that museum.
I got paid to love on my surroundings for the better part of five years. People who didn’t love it like I did made the end part hard, and even if I hadn’t gotten sick, it wasn’t the same place I’d known and I wasn’t going to last there forever.
That’s what this watch means to me.
It’s okay to remember the Fernbank part. And it’s okay to say “Go to Hell” to the Bill parts of that story.