Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Bluffton Today column
November 24, 2010

How do you know if you are in a relationship? Well, that answer smacked me in the face a couple Sundays ago. Let me tell you how it all went down. As I settled into his truck to head out for breakfast I looked down at my bare knees and said, “Geez, I missed my knees shaving.” He responded with, “You want a razor?” as he reached back, pulled a Target bag from the backseat and gave me a brand new razor.

I promptly cracked the plastic, and got to work on my knees. It wasn’t until he said, “I guess this is how we know we are in a relationship,” that the wheels started turning and I began to wonder, what is that pivotal moment when you know?

Now, clearly I “knew” long before I decided to perform my personal hygiene in his car. It might have been the moment when he said, “I adore you.” Or the afternoon he spent hanging a new screen door for me. Or the days he let my dog out, when I was held up at work. Or even more likely, the five hours he spent with the cable guy trying to get new cable run throughout my house. That, my friends, is love.

Nevertheless, a quick poll of my friends yielded some interesting stories on the same subject. Many of them revolved around bathroom-related incidents, which made my leg shaving extravaganza, appear utterly minute. My Mom (who really should start getting some money on the side for all of the fodder she adds to this column!) said, “When I started folding his underwear.” I am not sure if she was referring to my Dad or my Step-Dad and it is probably best not to ask that question. The romantics in my friend list all pointed to the moment when one of them was ready to move away, was begged to stay, and lived happily after.

Relationships become even more complicated around the holidays. Especially when you are preparing for your first holiday together. Whose family do you spend time with? How do you combine your traditions? How do you convince him that chocolate mousse is indeed an appropriate Thanksgiving dessert?

My rules are simple. I host Thanksgiving. I have been using the same recipes for the last seven years. And, I have the day (ok, the week) planned down to the moment. So, by now he knows that obsessive-compulsive-Martha-Stewartesque-detail-oriented-Courtney is going to come out to play. Heck, he’s seen previews of the persona, and he is still hanging around, so I tip my hat to him.

Last night we grocery shopped. Today, we’ll begin our food prep – the stuffing, chocolate mousse, stuffed mushrooms, and soup will all get crossed off the list today. And, our turkey will begin his transformation as we brine him with sweet tea.

Tonight, we’ll test my Thanksgiving Eve tradition and see if it is up to par according to his radar. I am hoping for a chill in the air, so we can make a fire. While prepping the shrimp for appetizers tomorrow, I will squirrel away a pound and make shrimp salad sandwiches for dinner. We’ll pop Home for the Holidays, into the DVD player, and watch this hilarious film that tackles the topic of torturous holiday snafus among family.

If the weathermen are right and temperatures are going to top 80, we’ll launch a new tradition tomorrow – appetizers, margaritas, and corn hole in the back yard, before the big feast.

Finally, when we all gather around the table, we’ll decide if his cheesy biscuits do indeed make the cut. I bet I’ll adore them.
Happy Thanksgiving Bluffton. Here’s hoping your traditions go off without a hitch.

Crossing the Line appears every other Wednesday. Courtney Hampson can be reached at

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Who Are Your People?

Bluffton Today column
November 3, 2010

Eleven years ago I was rushed to the hospital and scheduled for immediate surgery. I was bleeding internally due to an ectopic pregnancy. In an effort to avoid coming to terms with what was happening with me, I focused instead on what was going on around me. Shortly after I was brought into the emergency room, a gentleman was wheeled in, his children by his side. Hushed voices escalated to raised voices and it was clear that this man was fighting for his life. While they prepped me for surgery in the next room (created only by curtains), I concentrated the best I could on his prognosis and it was grim. He too was being prepared for surgery.

I was told later that after I woke in the ICU, the first thing I said was, “How is the man who came in after me?” I was happy to learn that he survived after suffering an aneurysm.

Fast forward about a year and my Mom’s washer and dryer go on the fritz. As she stood in the garage chatting with the repairman – as only she can – he became comfortable enough to reveal that just a year earlier he almost died. You see where I am going with this, right?

Yes, the repairman was the man who lay next to me in the hospital.

I was recalling this story not long ago, after a friend and I were talking about Mitch Albom’s book The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The book recounts the life and death of Eddie, an amusement park maintenance man who dies in an accident at work. After dying, Eddie finds himself in heaven where he encounters five people who have significantly affected his life, whether he realized that at the time or not.

And, of course, that got me wondering, who are my five people? I suspect that Mom’s washer/dryer repairman is one of them. He probably doesn’t know that my being a bystander to his trauma certainly put into perspective my own trauma that day. And oddly, 11 years later I still think about him and that day often.

As my conversation continued with my friend, he was really only able to identify one of his five possible “people.” Interestingly, his connection also revolves around a chance meeting, in the hallway of a hospital, on what was one of the most marked days of his life.

So, as I was processing all of the above, it made me think of the people who pass in and out of your life every day, that you likely never acknowledge, or never spend the time getting to know. And then, there are those who make such a huge impact in your life, that when they are gone, the void is deep.

Two weeks ago, my boss, mentor, counselor and pseudo-father-figure retired. As he choked up during his announcement, the tears streamed down my face. I even let a very unprofessional sob escape. Over the course of five years, Bill was my go-to guy. He was a brilliant manager, always calm under pressure, inspiring at all the right moments, and always willing to let me fall into a chair in his office “just to talk.”

For the next seven days, I cried. (Another example of my innate professionalism.) Until suddenly I realized that everything Bill had taught me in five years was suddenly being put to the test. And because he taught me to be better than I think I am I needed to snap the heck out of it.

Is Bill one of my five, or is that too obvious a suggestion?

This past Saturday, I played in the Wayne Hamby Memorial Golf Tournament at Pinecrest Golf Club. Wayne was a part of my Mom’s group of friends and golf comrades here in Bluffton. Knowing my Mom’s love for Wayne and his wife Vicki, I wanted to play, despite the fact that my clubs had 3 years of no-action-accumulated-dust on them.

As the opening announcements for the tournament unfolded, I learned that friends of Wayne’s had driven in from hundreds of miles and multiple states to be a part of the fitting tribute. That was the impact Wayne made. On Saturday he graced us with perfect weather – and he must have been listening to me as I begged for someone to help me to hit the ball straight off the tee.

It made me wonder, how many people at the tournament would say that Wayne was one of their five, and who Wayne might have met when he made it to heaven.