Excerpt: Valerie Bertinelli's 'Finding It'

I had talked about maintenance for months as if it were a change of life. But I had no idea what it was really about. I figured I would learn once I got there. Then I got there and wondered what it was that I was supposed to be maintaining. My life was in flux -- it wasn't a work-in-progress as much as it was simply work. As I would find out, maintenance was exactly that -- more work.

And it was life work, not losing-weight work.

If my weight was a barometer of the rest of my life, I still wasn't where I wanted to be. In addition to concern about my weight, I also knew that I could be better, kinder, smarter, more disciplined, compassionate, patient, and loving. I wanted to feel like I mattered. I yearned for a lightness of being that couldn't be measured on a scale. I wanted to feel whole, peaceful, and connected to a Higher Power even if just for a few moments.

But real life made that seem impossible. Whether it was Wolfie being away from home, Tom's struggles to be a hands-on father to his children, my career, the house falling apart, or my anger at Bush and Cheney for where they had taken the country, I was unable to relax much less get a firm grip. Then Wolfie fell in love and I felt as if part of the floor had given way.

"What about condoms?" Tom mused one day.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"For Wolfie," he said.

I looked at him, aghast at his insensitivity.

"Not funny."

I liked Wolfie's girlfriend, Liv, who was a friend of Tom's oldest daughter. Wolfie had met her the previous summer in Arizona, but he never appeared to take any special interest in her. Nor did she in him. One time he mentioned that she bugged him. I should have taken note.

Then Liv and her family moved to Kansas and we didn't hear about her. In the meantime, Wolfie went on tour. We talked every couple of days. He was semi-good about keeping in touch. He texted me from Indianapolis and phoned from Chicago and Detroit. He had a story about each city. Then he called from Kansas, where in an unusually excited voice, he said that he had the day off and that he and Matt, the young man who drove his tour bus and watched out for him, had been invited to eat dinner at Liv's house.

He asked if I remembered Liv. Had I developed Alzheimer's since he'd gone out on tour with Van Halen a few months earlier? Of course, I remembered her. He said that Liv's mom had invited them to have a home-cooked meal.

"Isn't that nice of them?" he said.

"Yes, it is," I said.

"I'm so excited," he said.

Wolfie was never that effusive unless he saw a new gadget at the Apple store. All of a sudden I paid more attention. My son hadn't sounded like himself when he had asked, "Is that nice of them?" He crossed the line when he said, "I'm so excited." I realized he was telling me that there was more to this invitation than dinner. He liked this girl.

It was one of those subtle moments in life when you open your eyes and discover that the pieces that have provided longtime familiarity in a relationship have shifted slightly in one direction or another. It's like waking up in the morning and remembering that you rearranged a couple pieces of furniture in the room. You have to create new walkways so you don't bump into things.

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