Tuesday, December 13, 2016

He's All In

“Heath,” my friend, Nancy laughed, placing a hand on my arm “Hank’s the Mayor of Soul Hollywood.”

This past Sunday morning at our regular 9:30 class with Heather, we were standing outside the classroom waiting to clip into our bikes. Nancy’s husband, Jon, was close by. They are good friends and ride in Malibu.

Hank was deep in conversation with one of the instructors whose partner had been in a serious motorcycle accident.

“I know,” I said to Nancy.  “Look at him. He knows everyone. It’s like Bruin Woods,” I said. “Remember his itinerary of events for the week? He’s always been that involved guy.”

Nancy and Jon smiled, knowing Hank well after spending ten years with us at UCLA Family Camp.

Hank’s a joiner. Loves the schedule. The plan. The people.

As I write this on a Monday flight with Hank to New York, Hank, on his laptop, just leaned over…”Did you want me to book any bikes this week?”

“I’m good,” I reply.

“I’ve booked Danielle at 5:00 on Friday…Then, on Sunday, we have that brunch, so I’m thinking 4 o’clock….”

I smile and return to my laptop. Hank’s an insurance guy. It’s all about the relationships, he tells me, about his business. On this trip, he will be working the room. I’ll hang back.  I’ll find that interesting person and never move.

He’ll do a debrief on the ride back to the hotel. I’ll nod. Probably forget all the names…

I should have known he’d embrace this SoulCycle thing.  It’s an activity. And, Hank loves an activity. When I took him that first time, I never thought he’d like it. He’d been curious after I’d come home, loving it – and the people.
Hank, participating in the Mannequin Challenge
I tease him, now, about it. He’s all in. 

When he’s in his Orange County office, he rides after work in the Newport SoulCycle. If he’s in the LA office, he’s at Soul DTLA at the end of the day. On Friday afternoon, it’s Pasadena Soul. Rounding out the week, it’s Hollywood Soul on Sunday morning. 

And in a way I’m embarrassed by his exuberance. But, truthfully, how wonderful for him to embrace a healthy thing - to care, to know the names of the desk staff.  “Did you see? Lindsey’s back from Boston…”

I love that ... Never too cool to be that guy.

I keep coming back to my eighty-nine-year-old mother’s wise words….”Consider yourself lucky,” she says.  “He could be like my first two (husbands) boozing it up in the bar.”

I lean back over to Hank now on a project on his computer.  I tap him on his shoulder. His eyes are glued to the screen. I give him a smile, a squeeze to his arm.  He looks at me questioning. He’s intense and in work mode now.

“Sign me up for the 4:00 o’clock Sunday. I’ll go with you.”

He softens. “Ok.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

Twenty-three Days and Counting

And so it begins…the Holiday Season is on us. “Black Friday,” "Cyber Monday,” “Shop Small (stores)” and “Free Shipping.” It’s all about the rush to the finish line on December 25th.

Our outdoor lights are up. Today, Hank and I will haul out the fake tree from the garage, wrestle with it down the hall to the living room and remove the heavy canvas cover like a tight dress without the Spanx.

No more worries about the Christmas tree drying out and keeping the thermostat down to the likes of our refrigerator to make it last. No more mornings to check the water in the base, feel the branches to check for dryness and dropping an aspirin in the water below to prolong that fresh evergreen feel and smell.

Yes, we bit the bullet two years ago. I thought I’d never go fake, but oh how merry it is.

Christmas is like final exams.  I cram for a month. It’s the cards, the gifts, and the festivities. The endless trips to the market… It’s as if I was back in college before the big test. Did I miss anything? Anybody?

One year I did. After assessing the final tally, I’d forgotten to get my husband, Hank, a nice gift. It was five o’clock on Christmas Eve. No problem! I was downtown to Brooks Brothers and back to serve the goose (which nobody really likes) by seven.

“Where are you going?” Hank had asked as I dashed out the door.

“Don’t ask. I’ll be right back!”

It’s the jolly season of did I remember to send a gift to … Did I tip fairly? Is my kid-like-on Christmas- morning-husband, Hank, going to like the little nothings in his stocking?

Each year, I keep receipts in a big envelope that grows fatter by the day while my bank account gets thinner by the minute. Crazy…

My oldest son, Allan, teases me when I get uptight at other times of the year. “Hey, Mom, have you bought the tree, yet?” It’s code for…you are such a bitch at Christmas.

Yep, Holiday Season is a trifecta for this Type A personality of mine. Why can’t I just relax and heed the wise words of that wonderful Erma Bombeck, the icon of suburban humor. It’s alleged that, in her dying days, she said that if she’d only known…she wouldn’t have worried about the dust so much.

“Do we have to be the first on the block to put the lights out?” Hank asked, leaving for a business trip last week.


“Well,” he said zipping up his suitcase, “Please wait to do the tree when I get back. I mean, this is supposed to be fun.”


As I watched his car pull out the driveway, I thought about the year when the children were little and I was in my Christmas mode of “getting it done.”

Our son, Allan, had asked why we don’t have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas.

“Why?” I’d asked, barely looking up as I addressed cards.

“Because it’s Jesus’ birthday.”

I’d put my pen down and looked up at him standing next to me, little freckles dotting the bridge of his nose.  “You’re right. It is.”       

Had I forgotten the meaning of Christmas?