I sat down to write this last night, but the phone rang and it was curtains. So it's a day late. Deal with it.
So Alastair's birthday weekend was 135% awesome. We didn't do everything we wanted to, but that means we have leftover activities for the next couple of weekends, so score!
I came home early Friday to open gifts and play with him, then we did dinner at the Olive Garden, where they sang to him. He opened more gifts at my dad's.
Saturday we did Special Breakfast at River City Diner, hit The Little Gym (it was Show Week, with awards and everything!), had a big birthday party at home, and ended the evening with dinner out with Kim Thies and her two daughters.
Sunday was Maymont, lunch at Crossroads, and bouncies. Bad-ass weekend for any toddler--I mean little boy.
But then came Monday, the 10-month-iversary of Amanda's death. It was an absolutely miserable day at work, and I didn't have any time to think about it. Only later in the evening did I have a moment to begin to reflect on this time of year, her, and what made us compatible.
Amanda and I are/were independent loners. We operated on the periphery of several social groups, but never became central to any. We both hated being the center of attention for too long and tended to withdraw whenever we got too far into any "scene". But for all of it, somehow our introversion did not manifest between us.*
We did not lead, we did not follow, but we forged our own path together, often taking us on wonderful adventures. Like our trip to Chicago. Nobody understood why in God's name we would choose to drive, but doing so put us--completely by accident--at Falling Water. Bonus! And we got to see the Blenko glass factory in West VA and a Lavender festival, which was a lot more fun than it would sound like. Similarly our decision to visit New Orleans in November was questioned by many as being curiously off-season, but the locals all lauded our choice as being the best time of year for the weather and small crowds.
Amanda and I both ardently refuse(d) to join any activity that's overwhelmingly popular, distrusting it as group-think, which has historically been associated with some very dangerous people and activities. We didn't touch Harry Potter. We both distrusted organized religion. We did not--with one exception--attend political rallies.
Our introversion did cost us, though. I got kicked out of a band for not going to Hooters with them (Hooters objectifies women. Period. And I will never step foot in one--I could give half a shit how good their wings may be.). At the government I avoided the parties as non-compensated forced socialization, often remaining at my desk where I could get some work done. Amanda refused--REFUSED--to go out with coworkers at night, not wanting to be ridiculed at work for her behavior outside of work.
In the months since her death, I've gotten pulled further into a few social circles than I've been comfortable with. It has taken real effort to withdraw, but keep the groups at arm's length. And now, for the first time in ages, I feel relatively comfortable again. Just involved enough to know what's going on, and just uninvolved enough to stay above the fray. And I feel like this stance is giving me the freedom to be me again. I like being me. I don't have to "man up" to the appropriate testosterone-level or soft-pedal my views.
But the really cool thing about being myself? When Judgment comes (in whatever form you want to believe), my hands will be clean. I try to live kindly and responsibly with everything I do. As Amanda did. As my son (hopefully) will.
Like Conan said in his final week on the Tonight Show: if you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.
*I see this same curious independence forming in Alastair. He likes being around other kids, and interacts with them, but doesn't really join in their play. He plays on the periphery, and doesn't need them to validate his actions. Hopefully this will translate into peer-pressure-resistance, as it did with both of his parents.