Sense for the New Year

Long distance relationships are hard.

Connection is crucial for intimacy to develop, and that’s hard to do when you’re hundreds of miles (literally or figuratively) away from the person you want to grow close to.

My husband, Mark, and I spent the first eight months of our relationship/engagement falling in love every night after work, talking on the phone for hours – he in Oklahoma and I in Colorado. We managed to see each other face-to-face five times in those first eight months, but it never felt like enough.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1993, we were especially piney for one another.

We’d just spent ten whole days together in pure bliss, visiting his family for Christmas. It was my first visit to Mark’s hometown of Roswell, Georgia, and his parents’ white leather sectional sofa was huge and cozy. We snuggled up close throughout those days, savoring the time together. We thought it would be three whole months before we saw each other again, so we made every second count. Before I boarded my flight back home to Colorado, we made a plan to connect on the phone at 11:59PM on New Year’s Eve.

We wanted to be able to hear one another’s voice when the clock struck midnight.

We were adorable.

Today a plan to connect with someone on the phone at a certain time is relatively simple.

But in 1993, before we carried phones with us everywhere we went, it could be quite complex.

Mark was to be the entertainment at a party in Oklahoma and I was to be in Idaho Springs, Colorado preparing for a day of skiing on January 1, so we needed careful planning and services to make the phone connection work.

Enter Matt Olsen.

Matt and his wife, Molly, are two of our dearest friends. Molly and I became friends on her visits to Colorado Springs to see family during her breaks from school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We attended the same church in the Springs and got to know one another through the college and career events planned by the church community. Coincidentally, Mark knew both Matt and Molly from his years at ORU, and when Matt and Molly married in August, 1993, Mark and I both missed the wedding because we were falling in love in Mexico at the exact same time.

Small world. And fodder for another post at another time.

Since Matt and Molly were visiting Colorado Springs for the holidays that year, we made plans for a day of skiing to get the New Year off to a good start. My brother, who had lived in Colorado for eight years and never gone skiing (scaredy cat), joined us on our little adventure.

Matt was in charge of the overnight accommodations.

This was a mistake.

After arriving in Idaho Springs, we drove into the parking lot of the motel Matt had selected and booked for us.

The Peoriana was its name.

Being fancy was not its game.

It was a run down strip of rooms facing the parking lot. The office was located in a separate building in the center of the parking lot, which, by the way, was covered in a thick layer of ice.

Our room was made up of two double beds facing a tiny black and white TV with hazy reception. If I remember correctly, we listened to reruns of Gilligan’s Island while trying to focus on the blurry images moving behind the haze of static. Of course, we weren’t really there to watch TV. We went to dinner and hung out in the room talking, laughing, playing cards and harnessing the crazy amount of static electricity in the room by making sparks with our blankets (you had to be there) until it was time to call Mark.

This was when our plan kind of fell apart.

Because, you see, there wasn’t a phone in our motel room.

Turns out if one wanted to make a call while staying at the luxurious Peoriana, one had to cross the parking lot and use the lobby phone there.

So that’s what one did.

Not a big deal.

Except one had to navigate a field of glaciers in order to make it safely to the lobby.

SO MUCH ICE.

These were the days before I had some sense in me.

Before I had children.

For some reason I see my pre-mom self as my pre-sense self…as if the act of giving birth somehow pushed my common sense button and after that I had all kinds of good sense.

But before that?

Zero sense.

Pre-sense Kaysie was a lot of fun.

And pre-sense Kaysie had all kinds of adventures.

But post-sense Kaysie continues to reap what pre-sense Kaysie sowed.

That night I was wearing the ever-stylish pair of white sweatpants along with my favorite Air Force Academy sweatshirt and a pair of boots. I didn’t bother tying the boots because…pre-sense.

I moved like a ninja across that icy terrain – a ninja in white sweatpants.

But despite the careful placement of each and every step, there came an inevitable moment when I hit a sheer, glassy patch and fell.

Hard.

On my right knee.

Guess which thing is going to give when a knee and a block of ice slam into one another?

I’ll give you a hint – it won’t be the block of ice.

I know this now because my post-sense self is alive and well.

As I struggled to stand up, I slipped again, slamming my butt hard into the ice.

A lady, sitting in her car near me as I struggled to get back on my feet, rolled down her window with a look of pure horror on her face and asked, “Hon, are you okay?”

No, lady. I am not okay. #worstquestionever

I pulled myself precariously to my feet and made my way to the door of our room by holding on to car door handles, antennas, bumpers, license plates…whatever I could get my frozen fingers around for stability.

I stumbled into the room a bloody mess.

Like, I was literally a bloody mess.

My white sweatpants were soaked in blood from a gash on my knee.

It probably needed stitches, but remember…pre-sense. And we didn’t have band-aids for the same reason, so Matt ran to the drug store, and then my friends patched me up as best they could.

Then guess what I did?

Yep. I pulled myself together and traversed back across the frozen parking lot to call my man.

The things we do for love.

New Year’s Day, 1994 in Winter Park – Look at all those bright colors! Molly and I are sporting perms with teased out bangs. Matt’s hair… no idea. Also, these were the days before my brother knew how to smile for the camera.

The skiing the following day was pretty amazing despite the drama of the night before.

Despite my brother’s unwillingness to take a beginner class before hitting the slopes, which meant I spent half the day hiking back up every single slope in order to pull his sorry ass out of the snow.

And despite the open wound on my knee that bled through everything we wrapped around it. The bleeding finally stopped when the steady stream of blood throughout the day sealed my long underwear to my leg and served as the perfect mode of compression.

Thank God for our post-sense selves. Without the wisdom that comes as we grow and mature into some sense about life – who we are and what we want – we’d be a bloody mess (literally and figuratively, for me at least) of a self trying to navigate valley glaciers or descend icy glacial masses from mountaintops.

But there’s something, too, about the pre-sense space – the lived-in state of heart and mind that gives us the courage to do the daring, bold acts that get us across the ice and allow us to connect with the One we long for.

Here’s to finding a way to access the wisdom of the post-sense self with the courage and daring of the pre-sense self as we connect with the One in whom we find our whole being in 2020.

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