Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 328 - Thanksgivings past

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. No pressure, no religious overtones, just good food with people you care about.

And football. Wait, if the Lions are playing, is it still football? Let's be generous and say it is. It's the holidays.

The last couple years, Thanksgiving was a chance for me to pitch in and help make someone else's really big family event easier, or better, or less stressful, or smoother, or some combination of those. I cleaned, I fetched, I shopped, I setup, I cooked (a little), I greeted, I entertained, I cleaned up, I did dishes. And I was thrilled to do it. I'm a people pleaser, and the more you mean to me, the more I delight in helping you.

I didn't know it at the time, but those two Thanksgivings turned out to be bookends. The first, the start of the end. The last, the end of the end. Hard to believe it took a year to fully unravel.

The first year saw the first chink when my short, wine-induced and misunderstood rant about another guy branded me as "not the guy I thought you were." No manner of apology or explanation could patch the hole. Looking back, things were never the same after that weekend.

Last year, as Thanksgiving approached, even as the slights piled up and the warmth disappeared, I was assured that things were fine, that it was just a phase. You'd think I'd have known. I'd been there before.

During the big Turkey Day event, I was in my groove. I made the mashed potatoes, got my (insanely yummy) turkey ready and cooked, saved her turkey, twice, carved and served. Later, a member of her family said to me, as I was wiping off a card table so he could play cards, "Doug, you're too nice." He didn't say it as a way of saying "Thank you", it was more like... advice. I think he knew more than I did.

One of my biggest regrets is that when that event wound down, I stuck around, blowing off my family's gathering, to finish cleaning up, to play with her kids, to spend quiet time with someone who, turns out, didn't want me there.

After another indescribably awkward 36 hours, it was officially, mercifully, over.

In hindsight, it was inevitable. The scorpion stings the frog, even though it dooms them both. It doesn't want to, but it can't help it, because it's a scorpion, that's its nature. Not her fault, I knew what I signing up for. I'd just convinced myself that we'd be different.

My nature is nice. I've tried being a jerk, and it just doesn't suit me. I don't believe you can be too nice to anyone, let alone those you care about. If being too nice does me in, I'm cool with that.

And as I was reminded today by a completely unrelated twitter post (@PCaporali), "...sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." Marilyn Monroe said that. Marilyn was not only smokin' hot, but dead right. Much better things have fallen together.

Denial is rust on the soul. Listen to your gut. If things are falling apart, don't pretend they aren't, try to fix them. If they can't be fixed, don't waste your time wishing they could. Move on. Find a happier place. I promise, there is a happier place. And it's closer than you think.

This Thanksgiving will be a happy one for me, with family and friends that I care about, and this time, they care about me, too.

Oh, and a turkey trot that will likely induce hypothermia.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles on trails in sleet. Word of caution... muddy, steep embankment + sleet = treachery.