Certainly yourself comes with you wherever you go. I must say if I am going to be with me anywhere, I want to be with me here. Thankfully, the now 16-year-old son of mine loves it here too. He has even shocked me and his father by taking up surfing … and he loves it.
Loving something gives you a place in the world, I thank the powers that be for our move and for EJD’s new-found passion.
Today is EJD’s first day of high school in So-Cal. As is typical of my son, he wore clothes that made himself unclassifiable, a plain black T-shirt and khaki pants. Starting high school anew as a sophomore is uncomfortable for even outgoing teenagers, which he is not. I can’t wait for the end of the day, everyday for the next month to see how EJD is fairing.
Five houses and a street corner stand between us and a sweeping view of the harbor. Walk the other direction and an always crowded little beach-style restaurant hosts surfers, children, grandparents and families. It’s as if I live the life I always wanted, and never thought I could.
I can walk to the post office, my doctor’s office, the grocery store … you name it. Because I have multiple sclerosis and North Carolina bleeds humidity I never went outside during summer. Heat is an enemy to those with MS. But here, I go outside every day. I don’t hate where I live anymore.
Four of the 6 week ends we have lived here relatives and friends have ventured up or down the highway to stay in our condo by the beach. That is almost equal to the number of weekends we had visitors to our home in North Carolina. Slight exaggeration there, not by much though. My 19-year-old daughter has been here 3 times, bringing laundry every time – as she should. I love it.
Not to brag and say now we have it made. Trials and tribulations are over. No no no. Pain, confusion and struggle are part of human existence. My existence is now where it belongs though and that makes every difference in the world.
*I will add numerous photos soon.
At first I was attracted to colorful reflections, took a few photos, then noticed quickly approaching ferry, waited a bit for it to come into the frame and fired again. I don’t really know if it is a Bainbridge Island ferry or some other island ferry, I just choose to think that it is.
Had to drive to Home Depot at 6 am this morning because with temperatures reaching the mid-90’s this week my new flowers need water. A daily dose, or nearly so. Yesterday my water nozzle nearly flattened my budding trophies so this morning I jaunted over to the Depot for a softer spray source (that is called alliteration, illiterates use it often.)
Anyway I had to get fighting ready, so I showered then pulled up my Spanx. What? Huh. I really thought I heard you say something. Nevermind, I will continue.
As I performed what has become my ritualized dependency, my smallest finger (what are you looking at – yes I have a finger that can be called small) snapped back with the force of a jaw about to clamp on to a Crispy Creme. Ow! Ow ow ow! The force of the Spanx is mighty indeed. Spanx don’t mess around and neither do people who wear them. I’d put the determination of a Spanx wearer against the agility of a Jedi knight any day.
So intent was I on providing nourishment for my new buds I withstood searing pain to finish donning my magic pants and head to the garden section of the Depot. Before my journey I also blew out my witchy locks and smeared light foundation on my face to make it appear as if my skin were healthy and young. I think that is what the bottle promised. Anyway. Maybe my dainty. small finger is only sprained. I can bend it and now that I think about it maybe it is really not swollen at all. It just feels swollen from extreme pain. Excuse me. Who is making that guffawing sound?
This afternoon a house showing is scheduled so I need to vacuum upstairs. It’s a sacrifice. Sort of like wearing Spanx.
Last week a boy at EJD’s high school died while riding his bike to class. EJD and I must have passed him on our way to school that morning because he died on the same road we’d just traveled.
Spring break, that silky oasis sandwiched between the crackling of ink-smeared paper flashed by during the first week of April. It was toward the end of March my 15-year-old son began acting like he’d been sweating in the gulag for 5 years and the only thing that would relieve his prison’s pressure was … sand, sun and sleep.
“I really need a break,” he moaned one day. He sounded like a 45-year-old CEO of an underwater company with a family to support.
Different coastal town, different friends but still … there they were. Each was the guest of a generous friend as well. Sometimes things work out like that. Alone and with a move looming the house mocked me with its mess. Lucky for me the Dude was able to fly over and help organize the house a little. HRD waylaid her flight to join us for a few days after her vacation so she could save some mementos from the moving wrecking ball.
Our lives lurk in every corner of every room. I could easily be a hoarder and unfortunately I understand the initial drive that pushes people to accumulate junk. How can I throw away that block-lettered paper EJD wrote in second grade? Or the pictures he drew when he was 3 years old? What about the books I read to my kids when they were toddlers? I wouldn’t be saying good-bye to the books, I’d be throwing away the memory of their joy and our snuggling when reading.
That old camera box? Might need that. Cause someday I might want to mail something small and I might need its sturdy construction. I might find the matching earring laying unused on my dresser; those earrings used to look really good on me when I wore the black dress that no longer fits. I might forget how pretty I felt if I throw away my earring.
We had a garage sale while the Dude visited and one crawler brought her tiny son with her. He looked about 2 years old. I quietly went to our bookcase on the driveway and grabbed a favored book about an old woman on her birthday and all the relatives who come to see her. The little boy grabbed the book and carried it triumphantly. He couldn’t read yet, but at least for a second he loved that book and I hoped his mom would read it to him someday.
I need to realize my memories are not gone when my flotsam is gone. My kids seem better at saying good-bye to their stuff than I am, but their memories are not alive with such happiness, sadness or regret as mine. I guess it’s time to just carry all that inside me and not store it in physical form for eternity.
The interesting and artful disorder (some would just call it a mess) in my daughter’s room is shifting. Her yellow, pink and green walls are becoming more visible as I pull posters down, pack her books and cd’s and sweep away the dust. I can’t bear to remove the large posters of the mother animals kissing their babies, even now I tear up as I write. In one picture a long-necked giraffe mom bends down to nuzzle her new clothes-stick legged baby. The other picture is even larger – a close up of a baby elephant, so innocent, standing protected between its mother’s feet.
How dare my daughter grow up and leave me.
I met her at the airport recently as she stopped here in North Carolina on a trip from Los Angeles to South Carolina to visit a friend’s family. In the name of über security I couldn’t enter the airport so she walked to greet me and we hugged on the marked border of Exit and Enter. As we came together in our mother/daughter embrace our tears burst forth and wracked our faces and bodies. My bunny shook she cried so hard. I got to kiss her puffy cheek, my favorite thing to do with both my children.
Then it was over.
“Oh mom,” she said.
Oh, my sweet girl. Oh my walking heart.
The ever alert security fellow would not allow HRD to renter from whence she’d just come so she had to stand in line again for another sweep. Glad they are doing their jobs. But, oh gosh, my husband was one of the many who made it through airport security within the last year carrying a knife. He’d forgotten it was in his carry-on and even though his carry-on went through the X-ray machine and on to the plane it escaped everyone’s notice. Dude held the little knife up, amazed, when he got home.
“We should call the media,” I said.
“I don’t want the attention,” he replied. Understandable in this world of competitive headline saturation.
So I, a mother who brought her identification, a print-out of her daughter’s itinerary, a letter from the government bearing her daughter’s name and our home address (the same address on my driver’s license) could not get a pass to enter the airport and eat breakfast with my older teenaged daughter.
There needs to be some sort of visitor security check-in line for people who don’t want to board a plane but want to visit with someone passing through, or just walk a close family member to a plane. Just one woman’s opinion but it’s a good one.
Meanwhile, the interesting assortment of flotsam in HRD’s room awaits. Usually I cry as I clean. It’s hard to raise your babies – hug them, squeeze them, feed them and clean them – so they can leave. In the world no one will ever love our babies more than we do, no one will care so much about them in quite the same way. Give it up, give it over, let it go.
It’s really hard.
Moving across the country is not as accepted as I thought. My 15-year-old son informed me that he is “not on board” whatsoever with moving from North Carolina to California. In fact, after he told me exactly that he dramatically stomped out of my room.
“Let’s discuss,” I’d said while adjusting my black wig. (Wait, that is a home dye job. I keep forgetting.)
Later while driving home from his Krav Maga class I decided to impart some wisdom.( As an aside I must say that is one of my very favorite aspects of parenting: the dispensing of my serene Buddist-like knowledge into impressionable young minds. I’ve found the dispensing works best when the young minds sit trapped in the car with me and their ear buds have been taken away.)
Calmly I drove and listened to my sweet, thoughtful son as he told me he would indeed “try” this whole moving thing. Sort of like a new sport I guess.
“I’ll try it for a while,” he said.
“OK,” I cautiously countered.
“But, ” he said, “I don’t really like ultimatums.”
“OK,” I said in my best Buddha voice. “But this isn’t really an ultimatum. I just acknowledged that you have a choice.”
“Saying I have to move is an ultimatum,” he said.
“If you hate it,” I said, “If you are miserable, I will move back here with you. But you have to give it some time.”
“OK,” he said. “I will try it for a while.”
He is so happy now with his friends. For the most part he likes his classes at school; EJD has a pretty good life now. But a change is a gonna come. Inevitable. And no, I never really liked Bob Dylan but I appreciate that he was a catalyst for (a reflection of?) change. And I would move back with my boy, no lie.
Wait a minute. Was that a stomach ache or did I feel more wisdom coming on?
“Your dad and I were talking,” I said, “and he mentioned something I think applies. He said there is no such thing as try, there is only do.”
“Yoda!” screamed EJD. “Dad was quoting Star Wars!” Our son almost chortled with joy as he explained the movie scene where Yoda patiently explains this living lesson to hero-in-the-making Luke Skywalker.
Then I remembered the Dude’s vocal intonations. Indeed, there had been a hint of self-mockery present but I’d glided over it in my eagerness to agree that yes, trying without the requisite follow through was an admission of defeat. We’d actually been talking about my new idea for a career but wisdom is wisdom and it applies to all.
I laughed with our boy but was a tad embarrassed for letting the Dude pull one over on me. Now I remembered his pause after he said it, maybe waiting to see if I got the joke. Since I haven’t seen Star Wars and its latent predecessors 5,000 gazillion times the reference escaped me.
Dude is a funny guy. Our marriage has been in the sky and on the skids many a time over the last 20 years but one thing that has stayed constant is his ability to get a laugh.
He is waiting to be with his boy, can’t wait. Lots of plans. EJD can’t see that far ahead because he’s young. All that matters is right here, right now and in a way he’s right, that is all that matters.
But you can’t stop the tide. Going to come, change it is.
We joke that our house is the “Malcolm in the Middle” home of the neighborhood. Our forsaken front yard is crabgrass which naturally browns in the winter. Except for the weeds, their greenery is exquisite. (It is hard to say that modestly.)
The arrival of spring weather brings new weed growth, something we celebrate here because it let’s us fake a lawn. I like it also because it gets my son out of the house and the mall and puts him squarely behind the mower. Granted, one of his favored malls is an outdoor mall and he does engage in the activity known as “walking” sometimes, but I like the physical productivity of mowing.
I’d be remiss to not interject that our boy, EJD also participates in Krav Maga, the Israeli fighting system a couple of times a week but that is a newish activity and it does not reap immediate rewards, for me, like lawn maintenance does.
So, as I was saying: we were talking foreclosure. Dude had only been out-of-work about 6 weeks before he landed this post, but regular paychecks haven’t been ours for a few years. I’ve worked here and there, but have no career and I have found no one wants to hire a middle-age woman with no discernible job skills whose hours are partially restricted by son-ferrying obligations. Hey! I’m a fun gal who is dependable, honest and reasonably bright. But the same can be said of people a quatra-zillion years younger than me. Who you gonna hire?
Anyway. Dude got a job. Dude likes his job. We.gonna.move. Our son knew a move was in the cards and fought it kicking and screaming but he seems to have climbed on board. Maybe because now we’ll live by the beach and have family within driving distance. His sister makes her formal move to acting capital Los Angeles next week, hopefully her presence is part of the allure but I doubt it. They are fighting now, separated by 3,000 miles and they are fighting.
I really have to stop here and pat myself on the back, it’ll just take a moment.
Phew, OK done with that. A passerby may have thought I had an itch but no, a self-congratulatory pat was in order. Almost grown children arguing. Not speaking. Wait. It reminds me of my younger sister and me! We are not speaking either! Connections! So exciting! It’s sort of like an episode of the ancestry search show “Who Do You Think You Are?”
My sister is MJH and she will reside about 8 hours away from our new home. Exciting times. Heh heh.
On my list now are home repairs, packing, sorting, Good Will trips, a possible garage sale and more packing. Groan. It will be worth it in the end though because finally, we’re moving.
Dig-dabity-nab. Dang it. I deleted a love letter to my daughter. Thankfully I texted it to her already, but I wanted to record it for posterity. Sigh.
Can’t remember how this particular conversation started. But I asked her if she wanted me to tell her what I thought of her because she obviously was under the impression I thought poorly of her. (Mom mistake #382,789) At least that is what she said. When I asked her if she wanted me to tell her what I thought of her she said, “No, because you will be mean.”
Texting her from 3,000 miles away I chuckled at her youthful naivety and assured her I would be anything but as she would see, and I proceeded to list qualities to my daughter that I felt encapsulated my little deer. I say little deer because she has always resembled a fawn to her father and me. Remarkably she said a few people in her high school told her the same thing. To me, that is her inside skittishness shining through.
The following is not an exact rendering of my words, but it is an exact approximation:
You are heartbreakingly sweet, and you hide it.
You are quick with a comeback and smart when you want to be.
Mean as a snake when you feel pushed against a wall.
You have a poetic sensibility.
Love you, Mom
When I didn’t hear back from her I asked, “Do you think I’m right?”
One word – “Yes.” Then again the deer runs into the forest. She now lives across the country in California, I live in North Carolina. When she was at home our screaming matches sometimes reached baseball stadium decibel proportions. I think the Bobcats, our local basketball team that seems to lose a lot might want to hire me for their cheering section. Easily my screams could drown out the other team’s cheering section, although I’d probably smother the sound of sirens as well which would create a safety hazard.
I attempt to justify my cavernous mouth and huge vocal capacity (that’s what we call it now) by telling my children that my volume is in equal proportion to my love. “It’s oversized, baby!” Not once did either of them buy that excuse. I’ve seen enough Dr. Phil to know I have damaged my children with my rantings. I’ve justifiably gotten mad at them but I’ve also lost composure when I am actually mad at myself, yet did not realize it until after I’d “set them straight.”
I mean, you name it I have done it. Well, OK, not anything illegal but you get my drift. So when my daughter said “You’ll just be mean” when I asked if she wanted to know what I thought of her, her reticence to hear might have had a shard of truth. Maybe I yelled too much? Too critical? I’m told this by both of my children.
“You’re critical all the time, Mom!” my son or daughter will say. I am aware I have this flaw. (It’s so minor really, if you keep turning the mirror it practically disappears.) I’m sort of mean to myself sometimes so I know my tendency would be to be mean to others.
But geez. I mean really, what do they know? They’re just teenagers. Just children.
A couple of babies, really. Sigh.