How To Deal With Sadness Around The Holidays, According To Experts

“Hey, We’re all here for you.”

If there were ever a time of year that energy hangs heaviest and most potently on humanity, it would probably be the holiday season. If you feel sad during the holidays, even knowing that it’s a common experience doesn’t always make the ache dissipate. But there are simple things you can do to cope that might make the twinkling lights and constant carols easier to bear if you’re in the midst of a rough time internally.

“Holidays may serve as a strong reminder that things in our life are not quite where we want or expect them to be,” Dr Victoria Chialy Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, tells Bustle. “We may feel a wide variety of emotions including longing, regret, anger, sadness, and depression.”

Smith says the unresolved feelings the holidays can evoke are understandable. Perhaps you’ve experienced loss that feels particularly hard this time of year, or the financial expectations of the season leave you feeling you stressed and self-critical. Smith says to first and foremost give yourself permission to feel the sadness and heavy feelings. There is no need to get on your own case about not being full of cheer and serenity.

“Meet all of these difficult emotions with compassion,” Smith says, and think about doing that by staying grounded in the present when you start getting a wave of old memories, regrets, longings, or difficult emotions. “Try to stay connected to the peace of the present moment by tuning into your breath or what is immediately going on around you,” she says.

Dr. Jo Eckler, a chronic illness coach, clinical psychologist, and author of I Can’t Fix You Because You’re Not Broken: The Eight Keys to Freeing Yourself from Painful Thoughts and Feelings tells Bustle something similar. Don’t squash down the feelings you’re having, and don’t feel the need to act like your blood is made of glitter when you’re actually feeling bummed. You don’t have to pretend.

Eckler also points out that this time of year is “a ripe time for the comparison trap.” Disengage from compare and despair behaviors, though, friends, be it on social media, in conversation, or just in your own head as you walk through the holiday markets, feeling a bit glum.

“We see images of families laughing together in handmade matching PJ’s and frolicking, or super lovey-dovey couples,” Eckler says. “And even though we might have good families or partners ourselves, it’s hard to live up to a posed picture.”

 

As for the expectation to get on board the holiday activity train? Well, especially if parties, gatherings, and celebrations feel triggering, there is certainly no need for you to be the belle of each holiday ball. But that said, isolation is something you want to avoid when you’re dealing with sadness or symptoms of depression, Dr. Rebecca Cowan, of Anchor Counseling & Wellness, LLC, tells Bustle.

“When people become sad and depressed, they tend to want to isolate, and this only worsens these symptoms,” Cowan says. “Balance is key, and so is implementing a self-care plan.”

That means things like sleeping, eating enough, sharing with friends, doing things that make you feel relaxed and happy, and Cowan says, getting some sunlight. At least 30 minutes a day.

Counselor Jessica Eiseman, based out of Texas, tells Bustle that it can also be helpful to begin to create your own traditions, to make the holidays something you can enjoy. She brings up the term “un-holidays.”

“Maybe you don’t fit into traditional standards or expectations for the season,” Eiseman says. “Maybe you don’t celebrate at all or you take a trip by yourself. The most important piece being that you create some meaning based on what you enjoy and brings a little peace, if not happiness.”

Eiseman also says that if you aren’t already, visiting a therapist can be really helpful. And if the feelings seem to be worsening, or they are affecting things like your appetite and ability to sleep, do reach out for professional help as soon as possible.

And remember, it’s really OK to feel the heaviness this time of year. It’s palpable, and we are sensitive creatures! Just do what you can to take care of you. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.

 

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Should You Ask Your Partner To Spend The Holidays With You? Experts Weigh In

If you only started dating someone this year, you may be wondering whether you should ask them to spend the holidays with you or not. While the holiday season can bring you and your partner much closer together, is can also give your relationship some added stress. Since it’s going to be your first holiday season as a couple, you never know which way it’s going to go. With the holidays being right around the corner, it’s about that time to discuss your plans especially if you’re thinking of asking your partner to spend the holidays with you. But is your relationship actually ready for it this year?

“The holidays are stressful for everyone,” Ashley Campana, matchmaker with Lisa Clampitt Matchmaking, tells Bustle. “Multiply that by two people together for the holidays, a dash of family, and a sprinkle of expectations, and it’s a likely scenario that the stress level will be higher than it would be alone.”

There’s no set time frame for how long you should be dating someone before you spend the holidays with them. As dating coach Anna Morgenstern, tells Bustle, “It’s less about how long you’ve been with your partner, and more about how far the relationship has progressed.”

Every relationship moves at its own pace. While inviting your partner to come home for the holidays can seem like a harmless idea, navigating the holiday season in a new relationship can be really challenging. Here are some things you may want to consider first, according to experts.

1. Is Your Partner Ready To Meet Your Family?

Inviting your partner to spend the holidays with you may involve meeting your family for the first time.

Shutterstock

“If you just started dating, the last thing you want is your 92-year-old grandmother asking the both of you when you are getting married and reminding you that by your age, she had already delivered a child,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. “No new relationship needs that pressure, as much as we love grandma.”

According to her, meeting the family is without a doubt the largest challenge of spending the holidays with a partner. There’s always that stress to impress, which can cause anxiety in the most confident of people. If your holiday tradition includes having a large family gathering or there are major cultural differences, it can be a little overwhelming. You want to make sure that your partner is ready and willing to handle whatever gets thrown their way.

2. Is Traveling In Your Partner’s Budget?

A 2018 Experian survey found that Americans spend an average of $930 on holiday travel. “New relationships walk the line of being new but committed, so holiday traveling can be a challenging aspect because of the expenses,” Hafeez says. Your partner may want to spend the holidays with you, but it’s important to be realistic. According to Hafeez, someone may ask themselves if they can really justify spending hundreds of dollars to travel, especially if the relationship is still pretty new. If you know that your partner is struggling financially, or if they’re saving up to buy something big, you may want to wait until next year.

3. Is Your Relationship Mature Enough?

You don't need to date someone for a long time before asking them to spend the holidays with you.

Shutterstock

There’s no set amount of time you should be dating someone before you decide to take them home for the holidays. Some people know they’re meant to be together after a month, and some people take years to figure that out. According to Hafeez, you can’t measure the maturity of a relationship in days or months. But you can assess it by asking yourself this one question: Am I proud to be with this person? “You can be happy with a new relationship but may not be confident enough to bring your partner around the family,” Hafeez says. When you’re confident in the status of your relationship and you know that your partner is going to stick around when things get tough, you’re ready to spend the holidays together. If not, that’s OK. “It’s completely valid to give yourself more time before bringing your significant other to the family holiday, especially if you have a birthday coming up a few months later,” Hafeez says.

4. Do You See A Future With Your Partner?

It’s nice to have someone you can bring along to your big holiday gathering. But the holiday season can have a way of making new relationships feel like they have to move faster than they’re actually ready for. According to Morgenstern, you should only introduce someone to your family that you truly see a long-term future with. Spending the holidays with someone can be a pretty big deal. “If you’re not completely sure about them, asking them to come home with you will mislead them with your intentions,” Morgenstern says. “Make sure you’re on the same page about your relationship before deciding to spend the holidays together.”

5. What Does Spending The Holidays Together Mean To Your Partner?

Talking about your holiday plans can strengthen your communication skills.

Shutterstock

“Spending the holidays together is generally an intimate activity that communicates you care about someone and intend to deepen the relationship,” marriage counselor Brent Sweitzer, LPC, tells Bustle. “But don’t assume it means the same thing to your partner as it does to you.”

Some people may see this as the next big step in the relationship, and others might see it as just another thing you can do together. It’s important to talk to your partner about your feelings and expectations. It can even open up a discussion about your family’s traditions and unspoken family rules. “This will set in place good communication habits for both of you about expectations (particularly around the holidays), regardless of whether the relationship becomes a fully committed one,” Sweitzer says.

As nice as it would be to spend the holidays with your partner, it’s important to consider if your relationship is actually ready for it first. If you feel like it’s the right time, talk to your partner. Having an open discussion with your partner can help you decide what’s best for your relationship this year.

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 5 – Duncan

I’m home.

I’ve an incredible Christmas with my entire family. I’m emotionally spent.

I’m on my laptop writing and watching Christmas shows. Doing what I love doing

I’m sipping vodka club and settling into blissful night of my own satisfaction.

 

It’s 10pm and I’m well into my zone.

My phone rings and it’s Duncan. My very best friend of 20 years who explains that he’s in Old City right now.

I’m half in the bag at this point and can’t believe he’s in the city.

He wants me to come out and hang.

Let’s be clear.

 

If I’m home and done work and don’t have to see anyone or have a date… once I’m home I’m done.

It’s like a vault. Once I’m down to the T-shirt and shorts and slippers there is no turning back.

Ever.

I have said that if Alessandra Ambrosio was knocking at my door to come out and hang I would blow her off.

I love her and have met her, (See: Alessandra Ambrosio) and have the pictures to prove it and I wouldn’t come out.

But I love Duncan and this asshole is some how in the city so I have to do it.

God Dammit.

Ha wants me to come to Amada for free drinks. For fuck’s sake. I don’t care about that. I spent the whole day with my family. I’m tired. There is no way I can come out and hang with you and your girlfriend and cousin.

Why have I not gotten on any notice on this arrival?

 

15 minutes later  I’m in a Lyft and on my way to Amada.

 

For Duncan I’ll do it. We have history. Deep history. I have to see him.

I arrive. It’s great to see him. The last time we were together was when the Eagles won the Superbowl ‘

 

I love Duncan.

 

There is also a welcome addition. His girlfriend Misa.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her.

I was so happy to meet her, and she is an absolutely lovely person that Duncan should probably marry. That’s how good she was. I thought she’d be like Yoko between John and Paul.

 

But Misa was wonderful. I wish only happiness for these two.

Later that night after I pounded a couple of free Manhattens, I told him that Misa was so amazing he should marry her or I would.

He seemed shocked.

I told him I was drunk and not to try to marry anybody.

 

But I can’t wait to see Duncan in February for the Superbowl.

 

EAGLES ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!

 

We are so going to hang at the Ritz Carlton and sip expensive cocktails and nosh on some savory snacks.

 

I love Duncan and I’m so happy this fucker is still in my life!

 

Happy Holidays, one and all!

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 4

The kids pick me up and I’m stupid happy to see them. Lorelei’s boyfriend has the coolest car. It’s a black ex-law enforcement vehicle. So it’s a Crown Victoria, Still has the bigger motor, spotlight, the special suspension, and the battering ram on the front.

So technically, he can never be stopped by the cops for ANYTHING.

I love this car and I love the identity tied to it.

They’ve been together for 4 years and everybody loves Liam.  He’s a great guy and if he can put up with my daughter were good. (LOL!)

Oh course we have to stop at Wawa because they need coffee. (These kids and their lack of energy today!)

We drive to Janice’s house and I love that Liam is on point and I literally have to do nothing but provide banter.

It’s so relaxing. Just to be.

 

We figure out parking and all stroll up to the house.

We enter though the garage as everyone does. I decide to make a grand entrance and start with the opening bars of Andy Williams:”The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

My cousin exclaims that’s her favorite holiday song and immediately hugs me.

 

The party is in full swing. I hand Tom his mystery bottle of booze and we scatter to talk and mingle with everyone..

 

I don’t have to get into detail here because that’s our time, but it was amazing to see what’s left of my entire family.

Me and all of my sisters. They’re all amazing women. I love all of my brother in-laws too. The nieces and nephews. My daughter! So good!

 

Janices’s son got engaged to his lovely girlfriend. I adore them both and wish them nothing but health and happiness. (I’m not going to say anything about grandkids, but by writing this I already did!)

 

It was magical day as it always is thanks to Janice who has kept the Christmas candle burning after all of these years.

That event on that Sunday IS my Christmas now. Without that party, Christmas would simply be a day when nothing’s open in Philly to me.

So thank you so much Janice for the incredible party you put together every year for all of us.

It means the world to me and it’s all I have left of anything that resembles the incredible Christmases we all had as kids with mom and dad.

Those memories are locked in home movies but even clearer for me in my own mind. I have all of details right here. More vivid than any 8mm film could tell. Sadly those will go with me when I pass. But… Our Christmases where so epic someone should have made a film about them.

Didn’t Janice get a Volkswagen Rabbit one year? lol!

But all kidding aside, my dad loved Christmas so much. He passed 2 years ago but if he were still around I’m sure mom and dad would love to see that we’re all still together and still celebrating the season.

I thank my sister Janice for keeping that flame still burning.

 

I’ve stuffed my head with tons of food, and they’ve packed tons of cookies and goodies for my trip home, but my ride needs to roll so I have to leave.

I bid farewell to all of my brethren and off we go.

I’m the old guy in the back of the cop car going to the train station.

 

What a great day.

 

Christmas for me is now complete.

I’ve seen everybody in my family and the feeling is pure bliss.

I have a Tupperware container full of cookies baked by my sister April that is the EXACT recipe for my mother’s christmas cookies. They taste exactly like them and every bite brings me back to our time in the kitchen with mom at 312 Magee avenue at christmas with my sisters and my mom.

Every bite is worth s fortune.

Better than money.

 

The kids drop me at the train and the beauty of it all is that it’s perfectly timed.

I love that.

I literally pass my ticket and step on the train.

In 30 minutes I’m back in the majestic bubble of Rittenhouse.

I feel the rush of returning to my sweet city after and incredible day that couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s so good, even I couldn’t have written this level of joy.

 

I get home and settle in.

It’s 6:30pm. I’ll watch some christmas shows and have a cocktail.

A quiet night of love and refection.

 

4 hours later…. my phone rings.

 

WTF?

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Phicklephilly Reaches 50,000 Views!

Oh my God!

We did it!

After two and a half years and 942 blog posts I have miraculously reached 50,000 views on phicklephilly!!!

This is the best Christmas gift that I could have imagined this holiday season.

When I started this I never thought it would reach such heights.  I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just wanted to create again after not writing for over 10 years.

I was inspired by a lovely, charming waitress and a guy I worked with who said I should write about all of the ladies in my life.

It started out once a week on Mondays. I wrote about a waitress I was infatuated with at the time. (See: Maria – Amor En Vano)

Maria has become my muse and the ongoing inspiration for this blog.

The best part of that relationship is that we’re friends but rarely hang out. There’s no romantic connection and that’s what keeps it healthy. I could never get involved with her because we live in two different worlds.

When I see Maria, it’s the very best of Maria. I don’t ever experience the other aspects of her life. I’m sure they are extremely challenging for my muse. Life is complicated and confounding to my muse as she navigates the minefield of her life in the service industry and her romantic entanglements.

She has limitless value to me, but I never experience the darker aspects of her life.

It may seem one-sided but that’s how it’s best suited for our current relationship. She lives her life and I live mine. Completely different. I never see her struggles. I only hear about them.

Granted, I’m always available to help her in any way I can and I’m willing to help her in any way I can.

But for the most part when I see her it’s “Greatest Hits.”

 

I’ll be spending Christmas day going through all of my contacts to try to find her a marketing gig at an agency somewhere in the city.

I want to do it. I want my muse to be happy and successful. She’s been through too much. I have very little invested in her. But her presence has been the trigger that ignited this blog so I must honor her.

Maria needs to do nothing.

The train that is phicklephilly is already rolling down the track and has been for the last two years. (27,000 visitors and 50,000 views!)

She’s my inspiration! I have to help her!

The beauty of all of this is for once the muse doesn’t become the girlfriend. That’s where the problems always start.

I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been and my creative work continues to flourish. Whatever was inspired two years ago worked!

 

I remember when I created the first skeleton of phicklephilly I had no clue what I was doing or where I was going. I knew I had to start dating again, (Ugh) and knew I needed content.

I created the blog and that was a huge first step. But actually, that’s the easy part.

You can sign up for any writing site on the internet and they’ll pretty much effortlessly walk you through it.

What it really comes down to after that is up to you.

I created phicklephilly in July of 2016.

I never wrote a word until September.

The whole summer went by with me having a blog and not doing anything about it. Pretty much a bit more of what I’d done for the last 10 years.

Nothing.

I asked myself, “Is this going to be another thing you talk about with people you know at lunch and over drinks and never do?

I paused and thought about Maria. A beautiful, sweet woman from humble beginnings like myself, that was self-made. A woman who told herself that she was determined to get her marketing degree and rise above her current vocation.

Am I going to write and create again, or am I just going to talk about it over beers with a bunch of people and never do it?

That would be easy and dumb.

I know people who are far better than me in regard to the written word.

I discussed what I was going to do. They said I had inspired them to write again too.

Here’s the difference.

They are stuck in their lives and will NEVER take pen to paper ever again.

That’s fine. It has no effect on my life. But I needed to evolve and start creating again. I’ve done art. I’ve done music. Writing should be easy if I just put my mind to it.

Anyone who is reading this who writes knows it’s not easy.

You have to find your space and be alone and bang out a 1000 words about whatever. Fuck writers block. You just have to be alone and create. You do it every day and crank out the art.

Like a ballerina, she takes classes every day. My father once said, if you want to be a painter, go paint every day. Well I like to create and I write everyday.

I was chatting with my sister Gabrielle at the holiday party on Sunday, and I was telling her about what’s coming out in 2019.

“How do you have the time to come up with so much material and stories to have it come out everyday, twice a day?”

“I like to work and be busy, but in my down time instead of sitting around or blowing money doing anything else, I write. When I’m off I edit or create. It’s not hard if you put your mind to it.”

Nothing’s hard if you put your mind to it.

That’s how everything has been accomplished in the world.

Most people just go to work and then do a bunch of other things that don’t evolve them and they wonder why they’re going nowhere or attach themselves to things they think will make them happy but it’s all a fail.

Put something on Earth that wasn’t here before you got here.

Tell your story.

If you’re serious you’ll do it.

If you want my help. I’ll help you.

Everybody needs a mentor.

Me included.

 

Happy Holidays! Thank you one and all for all the views and comments and follows. phicklephilly has grown beyond anything I could have imagined.

 

Thank you, Maria for your inspiration!

 

I’m going to try to write this damn thing until the day I die.

 

I hope you all enjoy all of the new aspects I’ve added in 2019.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 1

For Janice

 

It’s the holiday season, and with that comes a bit of emotion.

I remember talking to a friend of mine a few years ago and asking him how he was feeling about the approaching holiday season.

“I’m not that into it this year.”

Neither was I.

But that was back in 2014 when he was struggling with his marriage and my ex-wife was hell-bent on suing me for 6 months of back child support from 2004.

But all of that is gone now.

 

Rittenhouse Park is beautiful. Lights hanging from the trees and the lovely Christmas tree at the center of it all.

All of that nonsense has been settled, but I find myself today trying to get into the Christmas spirit. The weather has been fair, and I see the Christmas lights in the Square  but it still doesn’t feel like Christmas.

I’m waiting for that surge. It should happen because for once I’m not suffering at the hands of some entity.

I spoke to another dear friend of mine and he was in the same state. He said that he and his girlfriend had begun decorating but he wasn’t quite there either.

I started watching Christmas shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime and listening to Christmas music, but still… not that spiritual pull that I was expecting.

I was wondering, what was up this year?

I don’t have any challenges and things seem good, so why can’t I get into it and feel the joy of the Christmas season this year?

 

I’ll tell you why.

 

Because for the first time in my life I realized I’m filled with the Christmas spirit every day of the year now.

Yeah.

The curse that has had its grip on me my entire life has been lifted.

 

All of the bad relationships, depression, anxiety, crazy girls, debt, stuff, dumb assets, shitty jobs and crappy people are all gone.

 

My life is simple and happy now.

 

There’s an elegance in that.

 

My daughter Lorelei has lived with me for the last 4 years. She did it to escape the clutches of her mother and has flourished here in Philly. She has a great job! She’s been in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend for nearly 4 years and he’s a great boy. I love that guy. He’s good to her and that works for me. As long as baby’s happy, I’m happy.

I like my job and all is well. I like my co-workers. I’ve been told we’re the best team they’ve ever had.

Words like that mean so much.

So I’ve been wondering about the whole Christmas spirit thing this year.

 

But it’s already been here, all year-long.

 

My friends, my wonderful family, my daughter, my work, just my life in general.

The reason I’m struggling to get into it is because I’ve been in it all year the whole time!

There’s no Christmas spirit I need to “get into.” It’s already present everyday!

That’s why I’ve been searching for it with Christmas carols and movies and twinkling lights.

There’s no need.

I live in Christmas now. The simplicity of my life is beautiful for the very first time. No more problems. No more challenging relationships or negativity to deal with anymore.

All of it…. is long gone.

 

But Someday…

 

I’ll be long gone.

 

But today, in this moment, I’m looking forward to seeing my sister Janice and the rest of my sisters and family at her annual holiday party.

It’s actually close to Christmas this year and that will make it even better.

That gathering IS my Christmas now.

It’s the only living relic of what Christmas is, or was in my family. Jan has done it perfectly for more years than I can remember. I love that I can always count on the consistency of that event and how it’s so perfect and fun every year.

I remember going to holiday events when I was a kid. There were your sisters and your cousins. There were your parents. There were your aunts, uncles, and your grandparents there.

A lot of old people. Kind of boring and you had to be on your best behavior.

But now I attend this event and I see how life has changed.

 

Life does what it does.

 

Everything that begins… ends.

 

But it’s not over yet and hopefully this tradition will be carried on somehow through the family.

I stand in my sister Janice’s kitchen and realize that now my sisters, cousins, I are now the senior members of this tribe.

We are surrounded by beautiful young people.

 

We, are now the elders.

 

My daughter, my nieces and nephews…. all beautiful young people looking forward in their lives. We, are now our parents, and at some point may become our grandparents.

Life rolls on and there’s no way to stop it. So you should think about that and think about how precious TIME is.

Embrace it.

My father used to say: “Befriend Time.”

I know what he meant: Time is something that should always be close to your heart. Because life is fleeting. What you’re enjoying today or even if you’re struggling it may be gone in a year from now. For no reason… other than time.

If you’re suffering from a break up or a lost friend, please know that the only thing beyond all of your friends and therapy that will fix you is TIME.

It fixes everything and you have no control over it. You simply have to live and keep going.

Go forward no matter what.

If you feel like you’re trapped in a relationship, or a marriage or a job, take a moment and think about your prison.

Please.

You can let go of the bars and watch as they fall away and you can walk right out of that prison.

You are the one holding onto those bars.

 

I can’t wait to see my family this holiday season. When I look into my cousin’s eyes I see my Uncle Jack and still miss him.

 

I miss you too, Mom and Dad so much!

You both gave us the most wonderful christmas’s that most children could only dream of. My sisters and I will carry those memories and cast them into our own children.

Thank you so much.

You were both so perfect in those moments.

 

Every Christmas morning was absolute magic.

 

 

But there’s more… (But it’s just stuff)

In addition to trying to get into the Christmas spirit I’ve been actively searching for Christmas music and new Christmas shows. I’ve seen and experienced everything Christmas in my 50 years on this planet. I watched the Christmas Chronicles, (Great. Love Kurt Russell.  Christmas with a View. Hot girl but clunky dialog and a predictable ending. The Princess Switch. LOVE. So fun, I adore Vanessa Hudgens and her world-class legs, but it’s a nice film and had my heart from start to finish.) Check ’em out. They’re all fun. (I’m becoming and old softy!)

 

Anyway… I’m really looking forward to seeing my family today.

 

Who knew I’d be trying to find out why I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit when it had been in me all along?

 

In this moment. This joyous fleeting day…

 

In a short amount of time…

 

This moment at my sister’s….

 

In a short amount of time….will all seem like a long time ago.

 

 

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Health and happiness to you and all of your families this holiday season.

Thank you for being a part of my life here on Phicklephillly.

It means the world to me.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Annabelle – NYC – Chapter 11

I heard this loud bang under the car like she had hit a pothole that was covered in snow.

The holidays were upon us, and we decided the limit to spend on each other was $200. I would have no problem blowing $200 on my girlfriend.

I went out and got her all kinds of clothes and underwear and a robe, and other goodies I know girls like. She got me a ring. (Which shocked her mother and sister because a ring represents so much in our culture. I love that ring, and still wear it to this day. It’s just a steel worry ring with black accents. It feels like rock and roll so I wear it on my left middle finger everyday. I should probably take it off but it’s my thing now.

She also wrote a nice card and inside it were 2 tickets to see a Shakespearean play in New York City! I was excited to see it. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was the real deal. British actors performing the play just like they had 400 years ago.

So the day arrives. (It was around New Years 2014) I go to her apartment, and she rents a zip car. I heard that we were supposed to maybe get some snow later, but for now the weather is fine.

The car is a compact, and maybe 10 years old. She sets the GPS and we’re on our way. About half way to NY, the GPS, craps out. It just dies and stops working all together.

“Oh no! How are we ever going to find our way to New York City now?” Annabelle exclaims.

“Don’t worry sweetie. I used to live in New York. We’ll just follow the signs like we used to in the olden times.”

She laughs but I can tell she sort of half believes me. Young people today have never used a map or have had to navigate anything. They have all of that in their phones now. You could put me in a car pointed in any direction on the east coast and I could find my way all the way to California without even using a map. But these kids today, without their phones are lost. But that’s a small price to pay for youth and beauty by my side.

I get us into the city and we park the car in a garage for the day. This really is a great present.  The show is not untill 8pm tonight so we’ve got the whole day.  We stop at a cool spot for lunch and beer.

Then we head downtown to the Museum of Sex. You heard me right. There is a museum for that shit in NYC. Annabelle is all about exploring new things, and it was my idea so we went. It actually wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. But they have a lot of interesting exhibits. The works of William Kent, the sex lives of animals, sexy toys and sculptures, a whole exhibit about Linda Lovelace. Some erotic video.

I remember this huge video screen in one room where it’s just a woman deep throating a guy’s cock. It just loops over and over. It’s pretty amazing to see that incredible feat on a 12 foot TV screen. But like I said, the place is not that great. I wrote both our names in a little heart and tagged it in the bathroom. I don’t normally ever do anything like that, but it just seemed appropriate to have our names immortalized together forever in the bathroom of the Museum of Sex.

Later we stopped at a cool cocktail bar and chatted with the locals. Then on to an art gallery. I always enjoy my time with Annabelle when it’s just the two of us. Whether we’re at a museum, or the zoo, or just eating a meal I cooked for her at home. It’s always good. Once you bring in her chaotic work life or insane theater stuff, it just ruins everything. If we could just see each other occasionally and focus on each other it would be great. I get bored hanging around her apartment with nothing to do when she’s editing pictures or whatever else. (Or sometimes not even home!) I’d rather be home sipping some wine and watching netflix.

We walk to the theater. We’ve got some time so we go in and find our seats. The theater is beautiful.

The play begins and the acting is first-rate. They are performing this version just as they did four centuries ago. The only illumination on stage is candlelight. There are literally wooden chandeliers with big white candles all around them. Some times they melt and even fall onto the stage!

During the intermission, Annabelle wants to get us some water and use the restroom. During the first half of the play there was a guy a few rows ahead of me that somehow looked familiar to me. But when the lights came up I take another look at him. His people have gotten up and left and he’s just standing around stretching like I am. I realize he’s actor Timothy Oliphant from Justified and Deadwood! He looks at me and I look at him. He’s much better looking in real life than he is on TV.

“Timothy?”

“Yea.”

I go over and shake his hand. “I love you on Justified! I’m watching season 3 right now!”

“What’s your name?”

I apologize and tell him my name. I was delighted Timothy Oliphant wanted to know my name! We chit-chat a little bit, and because we’re in New York City and at a Shakespearean performance it just didn’t feel cool asking to do a selfie with him. It was just a private moment between two strangers who happened to be in the same place at the same time. Except one of them is a famous actor.

Later when Anabelle returned I quietly told her what had just happened. She had no idea who he was because she doesn’t ever watch TV and isn’t in touch with current media at all. So it was lost on her. But I was excited. No big deal.

The show was wonderful and I am so grateful for this unique Christmas gift. It’s been a perfect Winter’s day with the woman I love.

After the show we headed back to the garage to get the car. It’s probably a bit after 11pm.

It had already started to snow.

Heavily.

We head out of the city. The snow was really coming down. I remember getting on interstate 95 South. We had gone some distance but were still way up in North Jersey.

I heard this loud bang under the car like she had hit a pothole that was covered in snow. The right front tire blew out. I looked at the mile markers. We were 10 miles away from the next rest area. I told Annabelle to put on the hazard lights and slowly move into the right lane. I knew the tire would soon shred, but at least it would be cushioned by the snow-covered ground, so it may not shred as quickly and we’d be driving on the bare rim.

This was a harrowing experience. Total white out of a snowstorm, 90 miles from home, 10 miles from a rest stop, and tractor trailers roaring by our tiny battered car. I was trying to hold my shit together, imagining either the car becoming disabled and we’re stranded on the highway during a snowstorm in the middle of the night, or a giant truck simply smashing into us and killing us both.

That 10 mile drive was one of the longest of my life. We couldn’t go very fast because of the tire and the snow. I was feeling a lot of fear. I have to say, Annabelle kept the car on course and kept her cool during the harrowing drive.

After what seemed like an hour we finally limped into the rest area where there was a garage and some mechanics on duty. I was never so happy to see those guys!

They were all amazed we made it in there in one piece. I was so relieved just to be in the warm garage, off the highway and out of that car.

Annabelle called Zipcar, and told them what happened. They asked that she pay for a new tire on her credit card and they would reimburse her.

So we took some pictures of the damaged wheel and posted them on Facebook. While writing this I remembered I may still have those pics in Annabelle’s pic file on my Facebook. I don’t really go on Facebook anymore because I no longer care to share with the world what I’m up to and have no interest in what you had for lunch today.

I found the pics! Here they are. Shredded!

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It was around 2am by now, but we were both wide with adrenaline from our crazy trip.

The guys got the new wheel on and we were on our way. But the snow was getting worse as we pushed on back to Philly.

After what seemed like the rest of the night, we finally rolled into the city around 4am. Annabelle dropped me off at my house and I kissed her goodnight. I trudged through the snow up to my building and went inside.

Annabelle later texted me that she had dropped off the car and had gotten back to her apartment safely. I was so thankful it all worked out and proud of how Annabelle had handled the whole situation.

What a night!

 

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