The happy couple!

The happy couple!

IMG_9998       I’ve just returned from a week away visiting my sis in Northern Virginia (wonderful) followed by a long weekend in my second least favorite state in the union… Pennsylvania… to attend the wedding of husband’s nephew.  Yes, the wedding was lovely …and by that I mean that the bride and the groom were beautiful and are head over heals in love which truly is a wonderful thing.   I cannot give you a definitive reason why I dislike the state of Pennsylvania. There really is no good reason except it is what it is.   I’d like to say that it is due to one horrific event that elicited a PTSD sort of response (or something to that effect) but really my dislike boils down to a compilation of things that are….shamefully, I might add….sophomoric.  There’s a lot of material to cover on that subject so for simplicity sake let’s just say that it involves football, a dismal little town, followed by an even more dismal military town, followed by a wreck of a life that I hold so dear, and finally by a peculiar family that happens to be related to the man I married.  Yep…I’ve lots of Pennsylvania memories after living there for four years in my previous life (the military one) as I like to call it.  Unfortunately the bad ones outnumber the good. 

     Years after living there as a military wife, married to my first husband, I now go to Pennsylvania usually dragging my sorry tush kicking and screaming like a two year-old; I do it only to support my current husband of over thirteen years at a family event, and though out of the way, to visit my son who lives in another town.  My husband would probably laugh at this statement because when it comes to Pennsylvania, I do believe we have different definitions on what “support” means and in this case, his view would be correct.  I should be hunky-dory-happy with everything and everyone and I should keep my lip zipped tightly shut about all the peculiar things that I see or that are said.  I should….but I am only human. 

I literally dread trips to Pennsylvania months and weeks in advance despite stern talks to myself to get over it and find my “happy place.” I don’t want to feel this way.  I am trying to get past the past….I am.    I lay on my yoga mat in Shavasana and breathe….I lay awake at night praying that I can get through it all and still remain married.  I hum the Ave Maria (explain that one!) to myself; I repeat a variety of mantras (my favorite being “This too shall pass”) over and over; and, I even have developed a counting game to focus on when hubby’s mother says “and that” at the end of her many difficult-to-follow sentences during a conversation.  Last game I counted 15 times in a 4-minute period.  It’s weird…I know. But my quiet little game kept my mind focused on a task instead of thinking dark thoughts.

     Each time I go to Pennsylvania I say that this time will be different.  This time I will not be the same negative nag as last time about having to be in Pennsylvania.   Each time I vow to be a better person….a better wife.  I hate to admit that most of the time I do not succeed.  It is, for reasons even I don’t fully understand, simply bigger than me.  Clearly, I have a lot of “evolving” to do.

     I will say that the last two visits have been measurably easier for the simple fact that we have stayed in a hotel not far from his family home.  That was a huge relief for me as staying at my husband’s family home is like falling into a coffin and having it nailed shut…..suffocating.  It’s not a feeling that I like…It’s not one that I am proud of.  I’d honestly like nothing better than to love everything about the place (and all the family events we must attend) in order to support my husband.  I don’t think he knows how hard I try for him….but I do.  Still I know that it is not good enough and I keep trying to get it right not just for him, but for myself too.

     So at this visit, it was slightly better…at least I thought so (Hubby may feel differently).    I made myself dance like crazy at the wedding (and enjoyed it)–cranky knees and all–sweating profusely but determined to nail the Electric Slide.  I jumped in and cleaned like a mad woman the day after the event;  OK…I admit it…I WAS MAD…BOILING MAD…. as I am cleaning, hubby is cleaning, hubby’s 81year-old mother is cleaning whilst the three nephews all in their 20’s are doing absolutely nothing…zip…zero, zilch…nada!  And don’t get me started on the mess that was left behind from the festivities….it was God-awful, a stomach-wrenching terrible.  When hubby’s sister (mother of the groom), who has a decidedly different idea of what “clean and orderly” means warns “um…you really don’t want to go in there….it is disgusting….” well, you know it is bad….very bad.

     With this Pennsylvania trip behind us, I’m thinking that maybe we won’t need to travel to Pennsylvania for awhile.  Trust me, I am fine with that!    I am still majorly concerned though;  my son’s life is in terrible turmoil so I keep praying every day that he turns a corner.  It weighs heavy on my mind every day…it has for over ten years.  I ache for him.  It’s another idiotic notion that I have… that Pennsylvania ruined my son.  Yes, it’s totally irrational….I know…I know…but the thought is there.  It is what it is….

     As for the newlyweds; the happy couple are on their way to their honeymoon in Croatia.  I’ve asked for only one thing from them.  A postcard that displays a body of water (that would be from Dubrovnik).   

     And the rest?  Hubby’s mom is still going strong.  I’m not close to my mother-in-law at all, even after nearly fifteen years of knowing her son…but I do have a degree of respect and admiration for her.  Despite cancer treatments for the better part of a year and a recent knee replacement she is still taking care of herself and she makes an effort to be out and about in her neighborhood on most days.  My hubby?  Fortunately he still loves me despite my bouts of crankiness and moodiness in Pennsylvania.   Miraculously I overcame both by the time we were back in Virginia.  We both enjoyed a fabulous last night back in Virginia with my sis and family, play cards and noshing on a marvelous meal of grilled sausage, polenta, fennel sautéed in good olive oil and crusty bread and delicious cheese.  We thought we had died and gone to heaven (definitely a plus -ten on the bliss-o-meter scale)….And the chance to spend more time with my favorite little “monkey boy” nephew made the day perfectly complete. 

My little "monkey boy"

My little “monkey boy”

     Yes….I would happily spend a week in Pennsylvania if I new I’d get a meal like that with my sister and her family at the end!   Wow…I do think I am evolving!