Milestones II

Tuesday Slice May 18, 2021

Almost four years ago, I wrote Milestones. Here we are again, at another one.

This one hits hard. In spurts, like the others. Sometimes when I expect them. Mostly when I don’t. But they’re hard. There’s the time of the first orchestra concert of the year held in the cafeteria because rules said they couldn’t use the auditorium. The original plan was for them to play in the amphitheater, but a football game was scheduled at the same time. As usual, sports win. Not all students were able to make rehearsals, so attendance was sparse, but on they played. It’s hard not to think about “how it used to be.” The tears come in the car driving back home in the dark.

One of the first concerts back in the auditorium was postponed twice. Once because of dreadful rules. Again. The second time because of the Great Texas Freeze. They did make it back, but low audience attendance (more rules) felt odd and no one congregated in the lobby afterward. I wondered if this would be the last performance.

It’s hard not to get choked up at the “Countdown to Graduation” drive through celebration to pick up the senior t-shirt and goodies. This is is not what’s expected of senior year experiences. Poor kids. We didn’t attend the drive through parade last weekend sending everyone off from locked-out of school virtual learning, into the big, beautiful—or is it cruel—world in the best way possible to commemorate the end of the first 12 years of education. No tears shed on that one.

Maybe I’m getting better at rolling with change, but it’s hard not to be selfish with this milestone. Two more weeks. It’ll be okay. I think I’m fine now. Until the last orchestra concert. This is the last time I’ll drive to the auditorium. Rules required tickets, but all available spaces “sold out.” I prepared myself, but forgot to bring tissue. A mask makes a good alternative.

I decide not to take video of this last performance. It’s getting recorded. I relax and enjoy the concert. Then my kid takes the stage and they play a piece he composed. And I cry, swallowing the little noises that come with overwhelming moments of life. This is what it’s like to birth a teen into adulthood.

Giftology 101

On Friday, my husband “retired” from his full-time job. The plan was to decorate the dining room, bake a coconut cake, and set up a golf outing with his friends. That was the plan. Plans don’t work well for me. Somehow, the day slipped away.

I reminded him to let me know when he would leave the office. 3:00. With traffic, that meant I’d have plenty of time to have everything ready by 4:00, even with a scheduled kid pick up from school. If he left the office at 3:00, I figured he’d be home by 4:00 at the earliest, 5:30 at the latest. I went about my day. Noon came and went and by 1:00, I get a message: “I’m on my way! They took me to lunch and said for me to go home afterward.”

Screech! Change of plans. No homemade coconut cake. Rush to the grocery store. Order balloons. Choose a cake from there. Pick out a card. No time for getting a tee time arranged with so many different possible dates and schedules. We’ll order take-out for dinner. Forget the decorated dining table. The house was still a mess.

I arrived from the grocery store, a small boxed cake in one hand, a six pack of Coronas and strands of balloons trailing behind me in the other, relieved the card sitting on top of the box didn’t blow away. I tapped the front door with my foot, asking to be let in. His parting gifts and greeting cards from work welcomed me instead.

“Congratulations!”

I set everything on the table, trying not to let my tardiness bother me. “You got me balloons. And beer. Thank you.” It didn’t seem to bother him. He showed me the goods, pulling out one of the cards. The same exact card I selected. Out of 500 cards, I chose the same one his office staff did. And how is it I can’t match winning lottery ticket numbers?

I revealed the golf outing gift, but let him know he’s in charge of finalizing arrangements. Tee times weren’t available as far out as I had planned to schedule one. We’d have takeout for dinner with a grocery store bakery cake for dessert. It turned out well. Not how I planned, but a celebration was had.

No matter how hard I try, somehow celebrations creep up on me. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Baby showers. Retirements. Mother’s Day. Oh, Mother’s Day. That’s on Sunday. This Sunday. I’ll add that to a pile of gifts yet to be purchased. The harder I try, the worse it gets. I eventually send gifts, no matter how late they may be. No one has yet to decline one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021