Left Behind

SOLSC Day 21

TASTES LIKE HEAVEN, BURNS LIKE HELL

Fireball Whisky

My parents visited for spring break. They left this morning and what remains is Sunday. An I-will-not-get-the-Sunday-blues type of Sunday. We cleaned up last week. The yard is in good shape. The house is free of piled up messes typically saved for weekends because we’ve been home, work free, school free, worry free. We finish off homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast courtesy of my husband. We check rooms, the pantry, the fridge, wall outlets, my car, the back porch, closets and bathrooms to make sure everything is packed. We stand in a prayer circle, holding hands, reflecting on time well spent and petitions for a safe trip home. They pull out of the driveway. Standing on the porch in our pajamas, the still cold March morning chills our bare feet. We wave our last goodbyes.

Back in the house, I set out to get myself dressed for church. On the counter, next to my sink, I find a small plastic bottle topped with a red cap, the front label peeled off. Hmm… Dad probably left this, whatever it is. Mouthwash? Aftershave? Definitely not Mom’s because whatever she owns lives in pastel bottles with shimmery letters. I rotate the bottle and read the label:

I chuckle. I process five thoughts: 1) Dad found it on a run. He hates throwing anything away. He brought it back and meant to give it to me in case I’d drink it later. Except I don’t drink whisky. And I certainly wouldn’t drink that one. 2) For whatever reason, Dad slaps it on as aftershave. I mean, do people do that? 3) It’s Dad’s mouthwash. And he takes a tiny swig. But he doesn’t drink, so that’s odd. 4) Maybe he does drink a little swig with his morning shave. 5) He’s reusing a bottle he found somewhere and put mouthwash in it because he didn’t want to buy a travel sized bottle of mouthwash. Plausible.

Knowing it’s not something worth turning around to retrieve, I message Mom, just to see which of my thoughts is close.

Is this Dad’s?

Throw it a way. I think it’s alcohol.

It is. Fireball Whisky.

Does he take a swig every morning?

Or does he use it as aftershave?

He couldn’t have found it on a run,

it would’ve been empty. 😂

No he uses it after he shaves.

LOL! That’s what I thought.

Confirmed. I burst out laughing. He scratched the devil off the front. But why would he go out of his way to get a small bottle of Fireball instead of regular aftershave? Maybe he does take a little swig.

Sweet Teeth

PapĂĄ in his garden, tending his apricot trees
PapĂĄ had a mouth full of sweet teeth
Not a tooth
He liked Folgers instant coffee with
a heaping spoonful of sugar and milk

No tomes café o te vas poner prietita,

He pulled up his long sleeved shirt, 
proving it with his farm tanned skin
I didn't care if my skin got dark 
I took a sneaky slurp of his hot coffee
before delivering it with a small plate
full of chocolate chip cookies
or a thick slice of banana bread
peach cobbler
Mom's 7-Up pound cake 
carrot cake drenched under 
a thick coat of
cream cheese icing
pan dulce
cinnamon rolls

On hot summer days
we greeted him with a tall glass 
of Coca Cola or iced tea
garnished with lemon
accompanied with a side of sweets

When we had it,
a bowl piled high with
scoops of butter pecan ice 
made its way onto his lap,
replacing his straw work hat 

We chatted,
changed the channel to Bonanza
or Gunsmoke reruns,
his favorite shows

Replacing his hat,
the signal he'd had his fill, 
we collected empty dishes

Rising from his seat,
he thanked us
and waved goodbye

He'd return tomorrow, 
his sweet teeth
urging him back

SOLSC Day 19

Artist’s Date

SOLSC Day 18

I took myself on a date today. With ideal places still iffy, I took her to a local coffeehouse. She likes coffee. I invited her to bring her journal and she ordered a raspberry mocha. Indoor seating is closed, but the proprietor offered the patio. We accept, walk around to the back, and find a table. We have the place to ourselves. He delivers the raspberry mocha.

I open up to chapter five of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and peruse the exercises at the end. I pick up my pen and start answering the questions, reminding myself to dig deep and be honest. This is our second round with the book. The twelve weeks we started in October 2019 came and went. We worked on morning pages, three days of writing every morning for twelve weeks. It’s become a good habit. I’m still wondering what three pages means if we start with an 8.5 x 11 journal then switch to an A5. But three pages is three pages, sometimes more, sometimes less, but every morning. Mostly. And ideally before we pop into social media, work, email, busy-ness, but that’s tricky with work. Weekends and breaks are best, but we’ve stayed the course.

Besides the morning pages, Cameron also makes us go on an artist’s walk. Once a week, but more is okay. No one else is allowed. No spouse. No kids. No pets. Reeses hates it when we leave without him. No music filled earbuds. Those walks have become our lifeline. We have to listen. Pay close attention to our surroundings. Our inner voices.

The reason for this intervention is to unblock Creativity. I have great ideas. She’s not so good at following through. No time. Self-doubt. Stuck. Getting too old. Needing to tend to the kids first. Working on alone time with the hubster. Alone time with each kiddo. Family time. Cooking. De-cluttering. Work. Self-soothing with too much social media. Lots of self-sabotage.

We’ve made lists of possible dates: museums, an empty church, hiking, a relaxing bath, perusing bookstores, a massage, star gazing, tickets to a musical, day trips, lunch at a new to us restaurant, an art class, hand lettering, hanging out at a library. Artist’s dates are the hardest to schedule. Once a week. Every week. We’re working on that. We need variety, but we’ll take what we can get. It’s usually a walk, hike, short drive, a visit to a coffeehouse, or massage. Our last pre-pandemic artist’s date, just when we were making progress on this new routine, was to the Lone Star ‘Zine Fest.

Today we went to a new coffeehouse that opened about a week before the pandemic shutdowns began. I’m glad they’re still around. Artists’s date for the week is done. I’m glad we spent time together. We need it.

Restart

SOLSC Day 17

Virtual workouts aren’t my favorite if there’s a live in-person option. There are pluses, like having the entire spin studio to yourself. There are more virtual classes available. Some can be done at home. 24/7 access.

I don’t own a stationary bike so I went to a virtual spin class today. I opted for one called “The Trip,” which takes you on a surreal, computer graphic ride through hills and highways resembling roller coasters. Studio lights are dim, a screen comes down, the music comes on, and an instructor’s voice from who knows where guides the workout.

It’s a hard 50 minute class that I haven’t attended in several years. I’m the only one in the studio. Plus. I start the “ride.” After the warm up I realize it’s too much visual stimulation. I pump as hard as I my legs will pump. I listen to the cues. Add more resistance, the invisible voice instructs. Nah, I’m good, I pant back. I do my best to keep up with the beat, the cues, the hills, and bright lights that guide me along a virtual road up to the sky and down, roller coaster style. I can’t skid off the road on this ride. Plus.

I last 25 minutes. Minus. Sharonda, my favorite instructor, isn’t here to catch me cheating. Minus. So I cheat. Minus. My heart feels like it’s running away from me and I can’t catch it. Minus. I’m the only one still in the studio. Plus turned minus.

I need other people for good, healthy peer pressure. How did I ever survive 50 minute rides? I’ll be back, but I’ll try the version with a screen full of human instructors. Once more classes are added, I’m opting in for the in-person instructor led version. I’m so done with virtual everything.

Cowboy Boots

Part I, The Left Boot

SOLSC Day 13

The budget. That infamous budget forced Mom to buy me what I wanted, but didn’t want. If I needed a small bottle of glue for school, she bought the huge bottle to last the rest of the year. When I requested a cigar box to use for my school supplies, she bought a plastic one so it wouldn’t wear out. When I told her I needed a large green eraser, she bought one that was half pink for pencil erasures, and half gray for ink erasures. Who erases ink? I never used that eraser.

Sixth grade me in the pink western shirt with hot pink satin piping.

This time I was determined I wouldn’t let the budget get in my way. Western Day approached at school. It was the biggest day of the year, bigger than Halloween. Everyone participated in Western Day. I hated it because I only had last year’s pink western shirt with hot pink satin piping around the sleeves and collar. Mom had to hack a foot off the bottom of my jeans for them to fit.

I wanted to look like the other girls. Every year they wore their western hats and Wranglers, plaid western shirts pearl-buttoned up to the collar, and leather belts with their names stamped on them, complete with shiny heart shaped buckles that clasped in front. To complete their outfits, they wore boots. They got new boots every year. I had to settle for my sneakers.

I made up my mind. This year would be different. I owned a western shirt and jeans. I learned not ask about a hat. But boots, oh how I wanted a pair of boots. I imagined my boots, nice and smooth, black or brown—a nice neutral color, waiting for me on Western Day morning. I’d own the good kind, leather boots that creased around the widest part of my foot to fit, molding themselves to fit only me. They wouldn’t sound like high heels—those were too clickety—but commanding, a strong thud that let people know when I walked down the hall. Just the right sound, unlike how sneakers sounded when I stomped around in them or how they squeaked when I dragged my feet.

I needed con Mom into buying me these boots. “Just be patient,” she’d say. That meant no; it always meant no.

Determined to get my boots, I approached her cautiously like a cat approached a foreign object. I purred, “Western Day is coming up and I need a pair of boots. I can wear last year’s shirt, I have jeans, I don’t need a belt, but I need boots. Besides, the weather is getting colder and they’ll keep me warm when I walk to school in the mornings.” Whew! I let it out and she didn’t interrupt me. “I’ve been patient,” I added, letting her know I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“I’ll think about it,” she replied.

It was better than ‘be patient.’ Progress in the making. It wasn’t a yes or a no, but a maybe. Maybes worked out to my advantage. I pestered her about the boots until she gave in. I felt like two-stepping her to the car, but I didn’t want to make my enthusiasm too obvious. She might change her mind.

We drove to Carmen’s Western Wear. We rarely bought anything here; it was too expensive. They had lots of nice things to look at and dream about. Usually full of customers, there were no parking spaces. Mom parked a little way off, in front of old and grungy J.C. Jones, which sat next to the drugstore. I asked if they were even still in business. I jumped out of the car and made my way to Carmen’s. Mom cut me off.

“No, we’re going this way.”

I looked around. What did she mean?

“The drugstore?” I gulped.

“No,” she replied, pushing the door into J.C. Jones, “they have boots here too.”

Well, I thought, maybe we’ll go to Carmen’s after we’re done here.