Sunday, October 14, 2012

Montauk Steve

2012 is apparently the year of the weddings. We have 4 weddings to go to this year. For years we haven’t had any weddings go to. It’s so funny how the cycle goes….when you are in your late 20’s/early 30’s it seems like everyone and their brother is inviting you to their weddings. Then come the baby showers….and then the drought. Then suddenly, more weddings…and this year, we have to travel to all of them. We had our first one in July at the Cape, then came Montauk in September, and coming up in November we’ll head to DC, and finally Princeton in December. So far, they have all been unique and a blast and we can’t wait for the others.

The wedding in September in Montauk was for Tim’s college roommate. We had never been to Montauk and were really looking forward to it. I will say though…it is not easy to get from here to there. It requires driving, ferry riding, and much more driving. Once there though our late afternoon/evening was filled with a walk on the beach, cocktails at the Sloppy Tuna, and a bonfire with the wedding party. Great night!
On Saturday morning, Lyn and I headed out for a walk on the beach with the boys joining us. We just rambled along for a good hour. It was so relaxing, great conversation, and it felt good to get some exercise in after all those “good times” Friday night. About 30 minutes into our walk I saw something sticking out of the sand and literally almost passed it by but the color turquoise caught my eye. Turns out it was a man’s turquoise stone money clip – with money, id, and credit cards. Steve, from Arlington Virginia’s money clip, to be exact. It was buried pretty deep and caked with sand so we weren’t sure if it had been there awhile or what the story was.

I brought it back with us and we decided to find the police station after breakfast. On the way there we saw a police cruiser so we flagged it down and explained the circumstances. When asked where the nearest police station was, the policeman seemed a bit unsure gave us vague directions.  Hmm…weird.
We did some research on Steve while we ate. We googled him, looked him up on Facebook, and tried calling the hotel to see if he was a guest. Every search turned up a dead end. We commented on how hard it was to return Steve’s wallet to him so we joked that breakfast was on Steve. This turned into us thanking Steve for everything throughout the day….”Thanks for the t-shirt, Steve!”…” Thanks for the ice coffee, Steve!” and “Thanks for the round of beers, Steve!” After breakfast we made our way to the police station and the door was locked. Even though there were 3 cruisers out front, knocking on the door didn’t work. Nobody there. Nada.  Apparently Steve didn’t want his wallet back.

We brought Steve to the church with us. How funny would it be if Steve was AT the wedding?! We all studied his face on the id and looked at everyone that came through. We even coughed “Steve” at one point when we saw someone that might be him. No luck. But we tried again after the wedding and still there was no one at the police station.
This was one of those “unfortunate” weddings when there is a 3 hour lull in between the wedding and the reception. I say unfortunate because Let’s be honest…as much as we wanted to behave it was just enough time to get into trouble. And that we did. We all ended up at the pool with coolers and snacks…and Steve. I told the larger group the Story of Steve and I have to admit, I can’t believe the amount of people that said “Just keep the money and throw the rest out”. What?? Up to this point, our group of 5 wanted to find Steve. Honestly, we wanted to bump into Steve and say “Dude, we found your wallet!!” and give him a hug. But now, here was the larger group saying “Keep the money!” and it was feeling difficult to return it. Then the group started saying “The cops are just going to take the money and send the id and cards back anyways so why bother?” I had never even thought that was a possibility and I didn’t like the thought of it one bit. I was just completely dismayed that so many people thought it was fine to just take the money and run. $176 dollars to be exact. Yeah, I counted it after the third attempt to return it. We were all curious. I just kept thinking how horrible it would be if I lost my id, my credit cards, and my money. I would be freaking out…and what a pain to have to cancel everything. I would want someone to return it to me.

I would also be calling the nearest police station to see if anyone turned it in. But that wasn’t the case with Steve. Who doesn’t call the police when they lose their wallet? “Someone that wants you to take the money”, the group said. On our last attempt to do the right thing, I sat in the car and called the police station while the boys went on a beer run during the “lull time”. First, we stopped by the police station again…and no luck. A bored policeman did pick up when I called the main number. I explained my situation and he said “Well, I guess I could send someone over to meet you…if you want?” He didn’t seem all that concerned. We had decided if this last ditch effort didn’t work, we would bring the money clip home to our friend who is a police officer, and someone we trust, and ask him to contact Steve. But, I gave it one last college try and I said “Sure, I can be there in 5 minutes.”
When we get there a policeman is out front talking to someone in a car. I approached and he asked “Can I help you?” Finally. “Yes, are you the one meeting me about the wallet?” He seemed confused, said no, and when I explained the situation he ACTUALLY said to me “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.” What?? You can’t help me return a wallet to the rightful owner?? What the heck! I walked back to the car and decided that I’d bring Steve home with me and turn him in to someone I trust.

Just then an officer pulled in and said “Hi…are you the one with the wallet?” Darn it! I started to stress thinking this wasn’t a good idea. But instead I said “Yes…here it is.” He invited me into the station and, for one second, I thought “What if Steve was murdered…or was missing…and here I am with his stuff?!” My heart raced and my palms got sweaty. In the end, the office r was very nice and gave me a receipt for everything in the money clip. He took my name, number, and address and explained that he would get in touch with Steve’s bank and they would contact him directly. He then hesitated, looked me in the eye,  leaned in, and I immediately started sweating. Then he said “I just want to thank you for returning the clip with everything in it. Not a lot of people would have been that honest. I thank you…and I’m sure this gentlemen will thank you too.” Phew! I wasn’t sure where that was going.
Let the reception begin! And what a reception it was – we had a blast! The next day we drove 2 hrs to the ferry, took the 1.5 hr boat ride back to CT, drove Matt to Logan (1.5 hours), and then drove 1.5 hrs to the Cape to get the kids at my parents, drove back home (another 1.5 hours) then hit the grocery store when we got home so we had stuff for lunch for the kids on Monday. Stoopid travel day. Totally, totally stoopid. When we got home, after not showering, and having barely any food all day, there was  gift. Steve was on the answering machine!! “Hi, Kelly, this is Steve. I just wanted to call to say thank you for returning my wallet. You have no idea how excited I was to get the call that someone had returned it! I’d like to thank you personally….” And then he left his number for me to call. I was as giddy as a single girl receiving a call back from a promising blind date. When Tim came back from getting take out for us….did you really think I was going to whip up dinner after this day??....I yelled “Steve called!”

I called him back and was so disappointed that he didn’t pick up. I left a nervous school girl message saying something like “So glad I could return the wallet to its rightful owner. Thanks and have a great day!” It pretty much said, “Don’t ever call me again.”  I sent our group a message that night saying “Great news - Steve was reunited with his wallet!” but for some reason, it didn’t feel that exciting.
4 days went by and I pined for Steve. Why didn’t he call back? I thought he said he wanted to thank me? Despite my panicked, don’t call me, I’ll call you message, he still didn’t call. On Thursday on the way to work I decided I would call him that night when I got home. It felt a little awkward. Obviously, he didn’t want to call me back…but I was dying to hear the story of how the money clip ended up buried in the sand. I deserved to know ,didn’t I?!

When Tim got home that night he had his serious face on. “I’ve been thinking….” Uh oh…what was this all about? “We should call Steve” he said. I was ecstatic! I immediately called him and he answered. I was overjoyed!! The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: Hey Steve…This is Kelly…I was the one who found your wallet…

Steve: OMG! Kelly! I am so glad to hear from you! Thank you SO MUCH for returning my wallet! You have no idea how happy I was to get it back!
Me: So, we were on Montauk for a wedding and all my friends are dying to know the story of how you lost your wallet. Do you mind sharing?

Steve: What wedding where you there for??
Me: We didn’t end up being there for the same wedding but I said “We kept looking for you throughout the wedding thinking maybe you were there.” I went on to explain how we thanked him for everything we bought throughout the weekend and how he came to the wedding with us. Turns out, he was at the wedding after us.

Steve: Well, I feel like you deserve to hear the truth about what happened….considering you returned my wallet and all….
Me (uh oh. Warning bells were going off in my head…) I actually giggled and said…”Let’s hear it”

Throughout the whole conversation, Tim had been leaning on the island listening to a one sided conversation and nodding with a smile as though he was in on it. At one point he suggested I put it on speaker phone but I declined..and good thing because the kids were there. What followed was not speaker-worthy, kid listening conversation.
Steve: Okay…so on Friday night we went to the Beer Garden after the rehearsal dinner. Did you go there?

Me: (ah, no…we were getting sloppy at the Sloppy Tuna) No….
Steve: So, I meet this chick at the bar, right? And we got talking and she says she likes the beach…and I mean she LIKES the beach, you know? So, I say “Let’s go for a ‘walk’ on the beach….”

Me: Uh huh…
Steve: Yeah, so we sit down on the sand and all of a sudden she jumps on me, you know?! And we are going at it…you know?! (Well, this explains why the money clip was smooshed into the sand….)

Me: (OMG)
Steve: All of a sudden she gets up and says “I shouldn’t be so forward..I’m sorry” and she got up and ran away.

Me: Oh no!
Steve: Yeah….so , I’m sitting there all excited you know…so I have to sit there a bit and wait…if you know what I mean…and my hair was all messed up and stuff. I had to wait to head back to the bar.

Tim: What’s he saying?? I mouth “OMG”.
Me: Oh….yeah…that must have been rough

What?? Rough?? Who says this to someone they don’t know?!
Steve: So, I go back to the bar and go to get a beer to cool down and realize I don’t have my wallet. So , I think , either I lost my wallet or that chick stole it. But my friends were there so I was able to get some beer.

Me: Oh good…good.
Steve: Yeah, so the next day I’m taking pictures…cuz I was in the wedding party…and the bank calls to say that someone found my wallet. The whole group let out a cheer! It was awesome! You have no idea how happy I was!

Me: I am so glad Steve! I kept thinking how I would feel about it if I lost my wallet. It would be horrible!
Steve: I feel like the money I had with me is yours. I’d like to send it to you .

Me: OMG no….that’s crazy! That is your money. I am just so excited we got your wallet back to you.
I went on to tell Steve how difficult it was to get his wallet back to him and how it felt good to return it to him because it was the right thing.

Steve: I hear you live in Massachusetts…the next time I’m up there we should get together.
Me: (omg…) Oh yeah…well, listen, that was a great story and my friends are going to love it! Thanks for sharing!

That was quite a story. And we got our closure with Steve. We don’t think about him anymore. Although I’m a little afraid he might show up at my house someday.
The moral of the story though is Do the Right Thing. It will make you feel so good. And you will always have a good story to tell in the end.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I started taking a yoga class this week. A few years ago, when I was Stressed Out Kelly, I took a yoga class with my friend Ann. She convinced me it would be so relaxing and just what I needed. She was right, I did need it, but I just couldn’t relax. The whole time the teacher was telling us to clear our mind or just feel that stretch for one more minute, I would hear the sound of my fingers snapping in my head and think “C’mon…c’mon….let’s go!” and then I would think of all the things left on my long to-do list that still had to be done that day. On Class 3, Ann and I went out for a glass of wine after yoga….to relax from yoga….and she said “This isn’t working out for you, is it?” I really wanted it to but I could never free my mind for an hour a day. All I could think of “do you know what I could be crossing off my list right now?!”

Fast forward a few years and I’m back at yoga again. On one hand it is a totally different experience and on the other hand, I still haven’t found the ability to shut myself up.  I am a much different person now, I recognize the importance of taking time for yourself, and I WANT to take that time. I am also much more relaxed in general so I had no doubt this attempt at yoga would be different.
When we walked in I immediately loved the teacher and was lulled into a yoga trance by her quiet, soothing voice. I did spend most of the class looking up from poses to see what she was doing, though. Here we are in downward dog and she is explaining the transition to the next move and I’m thinking “put my leg where?!” so I would look up and then be a few steps behind. What can I say? I’m a visual learner.  I’ll get the hang of it eventually but I did end up with a strained neck from craning to see what she was doing.

Recently, we were with some friends and I “threatened” to not say anything for a week. They all bust out laughing saying “you couldn’t last 10 minutes!” What?! I tried it right then and you know what, they were right. Can I be quiet in yoga for an hour? Yes, I can….right? Turns out, not so much. My external voice just keeps rambling on inside my head. There is no way to shut me off. Here are some excerpts of the “conversations” from yoga:
Instructor: Let’s just start with clearing our mind….clear away the stresses….stop thinking about the things you need to get done….just let your mind be blank…

Me: Okay, clearing my mind….I can’t clear my mind…are other people literally thinking of nothing? (insert me peeking at other people….they have their eyes closed and seem to be thinking of nothing)…what night is it tonight…Tuesday….okay, when I get home I have to…wait, stop…I need to clear my mind. Seriously, can you really think of nothing?
Instructor: look over your other shoulder and just feel the stretch. Connect with the muscle and just think about releasing it….

Me: ow…that hurts. Ok, shush….just connect with the muscle. What if my neck tendon just snapped right now….that would really hurt. Okay, stop….just imagine your mind as all black….hhmm…maybe I’ll wear my black pants tomorrow…
Instructor: just roll your head round, using your nose as a pencil…imagine yourself making a big circle on a piece of paper.

Me: giggle. That would be funny if my nose was a pencil. Okay, stop, focus. Oh boy…here comes the spaghetti I just had…it’s coming up…and I’m burping sauce. Mental note: don’t whoof down dinner 20 minutes before class…especially pasta and meatballs.
Instructor: okay, now just stretch as long as you can….lengthen your arms and legs…now start crawling your fingers out…..

Me: This feels like I’m trying to save myself from something….should I pretend this is life and death and with just one more stretch I’ll be home free…..oh, this reminds me of when the kids used to do itsy bitsy spider…it was so cute…Stop…just lengthen your arms…
Instructor: With your left leg behind you and your right leg bent and in between your hands you are going to lift your arms up to the sky…

Me: Am I the only one falling over?! Why can’t I balance myself? Oh boy, here comes the sauce again…
Instructor: okay, now it’s time for… (I admit, I have no idea what she called this part of the session but essentially you just lay down and completely relax and no one talks.)

Everyone got crazy giddy all of a sudden for this end part of the class. People were asking for blankets, neck rolls, eye pillows…I had NO idea what was going on. Apparently it signals the end of class. I did not take a blanket. I was afraid I would fall asleep and snore.
Me: Are people really about to fall asleep right now? Did I just hear someone snore? Do they have “clear” minds? This is relaxing. It really is. I just need to shush myself. Shhhh….just think about nothing….what happens after this? Is there more….?

Me: This is going to make a great blog post….

Monday, October 8, 2012

Those Stuffed Animals Have Feelings!

During our beach vacations we always take a stroll along the beach searching for treasures from the sea. It’s one of our favorite things to do.

We visiting Cape May a few years ago and after a long, stuffy ride in the car, we immediately headed to the beach once we checked into our hotel. We didn’t bother to take our long pants off. We just ran to the beach. And the ocean greeted us by throwing a giant piece of aqua blue sea glass at us. It was such a beautiful color and I have never seen one since.  Another time we were strolling along a new beach in Truro on a misty, foggy morning and I found a giant piece of lilac purple sea glass. I was giddy with excitement.
Just this past Memorial Day weekend, we took our inaugural first of the season drive out onto the National Seashore in Truro. The sea gave us 16 starfish! In my whole life, I think I have only found 2-3 starfish in the “wild”! They were already washed up and dry so I knew they were too late to be saved. Later that day as we were collecting shells, I found myself a little panicked at the amount in Mimi’s hand and I told her to put some back…that their friends might miss them if she took them all. She thought about it for a minute and it seemed to make sense to her. She sifted through and put a few back. I think I was feeling sad for all the starfish that had died so I was transferring those feelings to shells.

When the kids were little and we were shopping, they had a weakness for stuffed animals. They would inevitably ask for one and I would let them carry it around in the cart but would tell them that we couldn’t buy them because I would feel badly if we took them from their friends. “Don’t you think their friends will be sad if we take the baby hippo away from them?” I know….it was so bad. But look, I didn’t need one more stuffed animal in my house. And quite honestly, there was a little part of me that thought the other stuffed animals might miss them.  As a side note, I did switch tactics not long after this and tell them that “Yes, that stuffed puppy is really cute but they don’t actually sell the puppies on Tuesdays”.  For several years, my kids thought that even though the store had a lot of things, only certain things were for sale on certain days. Let's be honest...that was genius. It didn't work for long but you have to take what you can get when the kids are little.
Have you ever seen the episode of The Middle where Sue Heck can’t get rid of her old hot curlers, even though they don’t work, because she thinks it will hurt their feelings to throw them away? Yep, that’s me. I will say I am pretty good at throwing things out. Well, I’m going at throwing everyone else’s stuff out but occasionally I come across things I just can’t part with because I think they might be sad or mad if I throw them out. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes I find myself putting something back that I was going to give away just to spare its feelings.  

I have to be strong though because I live with three pack rats. Well, let me clarify. Tim is a wanna be pack rat. It’s as if he grew up in the Great Depression. “We need to save those boxes. You never know when you are going to need a good box.” Yeah, but we don’t need 20 of them…
It was only recently that I realized that the kids probably don’t throw things out because they think things have feelings. Just the other day I suggested we throw out an old blanket that we used to hold the bunny when she was a baby. Mimi yelled “No, we can’t! The blanket will miss her!” Uh oh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Whales Like the Rain

It has rained for a week straight. A whole week of dreary, drizzly, cold, rainy weather. It just makes you want to crawl back into bed and sleep for a week.

Yesterday as I was walking from the train to my car I realized I forgot my umbrella. Total panic overtook me. Now, if this was just a plain old black umbrella I would have left it. But this was my $40 JCrew navy blue with green whales umbrella that I have had for 5 years and love like crazy. It is so darn cute. It has a bright green handle that matches the whales and as soon as I put the umbrella up I smile a little, despite the rain. For a split second I told myself it was too late, just forget it. But then I said to myself, “Are you crazy, girl?!”
It was like a romantic novel. Cue up the dramatic music. I ran back to the train and grabbed the eye of the conductor. “Wait!” I yelled. “Going to Worcester, Miss?” he asked. “No, I forgot my umbrella on the train! Can I come back on?” I yelled in a panicked voice. He hesitated for a minute and then said with a disappointing shake of his head “Ok, go ahead.” Then he radioed to the train conductor “Hold on…we got a lady who needs her umbrella.” If I wasn’t feeling so desperate to find my baby I would have taken a minute to make a snide comment.

I was immediately faced with a wall twenty people deep waiting on the stairs, on two levels, for the next stop. “Excuse me…Excuse me!” I pushed my way through up the stairs only to remember I was actually sitting one car over. Crap! I ran through the car, down the stairs, up the stairs, and with wobbly legs, I finally retrieved my umbrella. You would have thought I forgot my child with how I felt at that moment.
I turned and began to run back…only to be faced with those same 20 people lining the aisle, wondering what the hold up could be. “Excuse me…Excuse me!” Some people didn’t even move and I had to give them a push to get them to move. Seriously? Can you not just move over a hair?!

When I got to the door I wanted to say thank you to the conductor but he wasn’t there so I just jumped off. I kept looking behind to see if I would see him and at the last second I spotted him from the car I had been in. He had made his way through to let me out a different door but I hadn’t seen him. “Did you find it?!” he yelled. “I did! Thank you so much!!” I yelled back. I would have hugged him if I could.
It’s a totally stupid thing. I was reunited with my umbrella. But it totally made my day. It’s funny the little things that make your day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5 in 5

I have officially entered my end of season travel funk. Our last camping trip was last weekend to Lake George, NY….our usual fall destination. We love it there. It’s a place where time seems to have stood still. There are old time motels that have obviously not changed in decades and are undoubtedly filled with the same people year after year. Each year we always build in time to go on a hike, get some warm apple cider donuts, and bike ride through the changing leaves. 

When I get home I am always filled with mixed emotions – happy to have gone on so many great adventures throughout the year, happy to have had such a great last camping trip and sad that the camping season is over.
As I looked back on the trips we took this year, I thought about our July family vacation. The drive to the Outerbanks this summer took forever, or at least it felt like it. Don’t get me wrong…I love a good road trip. It was an interesting ride though – through cities, run down little towns, over farmland, and through beach towns with sandy roads. When we take road trips the kids are usually absorbed in watching DVD’s and we ride in silence. Sometimes we talk, especially when Tim wants to drive late into the night and I fear he will fall asleep at the wheel. So, I chirp along like a bird talking about the most inane topics. Other times we drive in silence for hours, just lost in our own thoughts, with the occasionally smattering of laughter from the kids slicing through the quiet.

My love of travel sometimes translates into the desire to live in different places. I would love to just pick up and go live someplace for a year and then move someplace completely different and start all over again. Technically, I probably wouldn’t like it….all that packing and unpacking, trying to find a new job, etc.  But the idea of it is exciting to me. Of course I would never do that with my kids. Tim and I tell them all the time that once they are done with college we are going to pack it up and go for a cross country RV trip like no other….just roaming around the country checking new places out. They are horrified, of course. “What about the cats, the bunny, and the turtle?!” and “What about our house?! You can’t sell it!” they cry. God help me if that turtle is still with us once Jack graduates college. It was his 5th birthday gift from my sister. This is another story entirely but yes, her son is getting a turtle for his 5th birthday.
Passing through so many diverse environments, I asked Tim to pick the top 5 places he would live if it wasn’t for where we are now. Turns out we had very similar ideas. It got me thinking….it would be great to do an experiment and live in 5 different places in 5 years and write about the experiences. What would it be like to live in NYC for a year vs. living on a farm in the middle of the US someplace? Then, what if you moved to a Caribbean island after that and then moved to Nantucket for a year? How would those “beach communities” differ? What similarities would you find? Then, how about ending your five year stint in the mountains? Colorado, Montana, or someplace like that? I would read a book about someone’s perspectives after that adventure, wouldn’t you?

I bet there would be universal things that would always be the same, regardless of where you lived. Things like… you missed your family and friends or that the core values and essence of who you are travel with you no matter where you go. But, I’m sure the types of people you would encounter in each place would be different, yet similar within that environment. The pace of life in each place would be different, with each place having its own energy and life to it. The things that people spent their time on and the way they lived their life would likely be very different as well. For me, seeing how I reacted to each environment and the life within it would interest me the most. How would I change my behavior to adapt? Or would I? How would each experience change me and shape my future self?  You can tell I was a psychology major, can’t you?
It would be fun though, wouldn’t it?