Is the day after a year long party where we sit back looking at unwrapped gifts expectations ups and downs laughter frustration tears quiet moments and noisy ones bubbles fizzing, sipping life's goodness A toast to presence!
What do you do when you’re waiting? When you’re stuck between past and future? When you have to be in the moment, but you’re unsure about what to do while you’re there? Doom scroll. Start cleaning. Baking. Pour another cup of coffee and shake the coconut milk to oblivion to get it a little frothy, even though nothing will save the burned coffee taste? But you drink it anyway. Do you dare go upstairs? Stop thinking about what’s to come? Over think what’s about to come?
It isn’t bad. It’s bittersweet. I keep playing back all of my failures, but will myself to shove those out. I play back all of the successes. Setting up his room, soon after we moved in. Pale blues and purples with John Lennon themed nursery decor we found at Babies R Us. The nights I’d army crawl out of his room on my belly after putting him to sleep–this kid rarely slept–so he wouldn’t see me and start screaming. The itsy bitsy spider my hand puppeted every morning to wake him up, running up and down his arm and ending in a tickle fest. His Thomas the Tank Engine train table we scored on Craigslist and all of his trains. Then the Disney Cars. A stint with SpongeBob. Then the LEGO sets. So many LEGO sets.
A big boy bed. Birthday sleepovers. Stuffed animals. Foxy. Kisser, a red and white giraffe with heart shaped spots I bought him one Valentine’s day that got left behind at a department store. Some gentle soul took Kisser to the shoe department and we drove back to pick it up. Turtley, a plush sea turtle I bought him on a field trip. A bulletin board tacked with letters from Grandma and a few teachers, notes I’d leave in his lunch box. Pictures of K from across the street, friends since 5th grade. Prayer cards.
Later, I stopped going into his room. “I need my privacy.” A cello took up my space. Then a keyboard. Guitar. A desk with my old laptop. Pandemic learning when we rarely saw him, but there wasn’t much learning going on, or so I thought. Online senior year because that’s how it turned out. But I’m supposed to focus on successes. Despite the bumpy last few years, he composed a piece of music, played in a community orchestra for a year, found a job the week after graduation, saved money, made a plan to move out, researched apartments, asked questions, found a roommate, combed through an apartment lease, made deposits, and packed his room.
He’s on his way to pick up the key. My husband will help him load those first boxes, then his roommate will stop by to help. I can only watch because I can’t lift anything heavy right now (doctor’s orders). I don’t know how I’ll react yet. Make jokes. Laugh. Cry. Most likely, I’ll give lots of reminders.
The big LEGO sets will move into our living room for a few days until he can transport them. Since he enrolled in The University of Life (pandemic killed his quest for higher education for now), he’s been home. However, we didn’t see him often because of work and time with his friends. I should be ready for this. He’s ready for this.
I haven’t looked in his room yet. I sit here and wait.
I still have it my first adult address book brown leather binder purchased with my Hallmark discount It started out small including my family's addresses memorized, but initiating the space nonetheless Will I ever fill this up? All of the aunts and uncles, grandparents college friends work friends a work mom, two, three Inked in print, building my own network I'd have a stack of Christmas cards to send Each year, I take it out and start writing notes a book or two of stamps waiting to send greetings on a little trip across Texas, mostly Texas, but other states too I start with the A and go down each name lost touch with that one last year's card was returned where is she now? After a few years, I draw an x through those names that moved on but were not forgotten, remembering the good times, wondering of current whereabouts It's easier to draw an x over those who moved still there, but picking up to a new place normal for post-college friends trying to figure things out going on fun adventures accepting new jobs getting married Siblings got their own sections as they left the nest, Never expecting to re-write my parents' address twice, after two moves from what I considered home I've added more friends but as years have passed, I've had to mark out a name here and there permanently mail doesn't go where they are Sara, my grandma, has an invisible permanent X over her little maroon housed address I can't bring myself to mark her out of my address book
I scrolled and noticed the post, Bono & Brené Brown in Conversation.
No. Freakin’. Way.
I didn’t miss it. There’s time to get tickets, they don’t go on sale until TOMORROW! Check the calendar, check the calendar, check the dang calendar. Who’s working? Is there a musical rehearsal after school that day? Doesn’t matter, I’ll arrange my reinforcements. But wait, 4:00. I’m at work until 3:45. Traffic. How much? Ticket prices are not available until sales open.
Wait. Nope. You have to at least try. It’s BONO and BRENÉ! Calm down. You don’t have a ticket. I have to try. I check the calendar and decided to take the afternoon off. I made imaginary arrangements for S to get picked up from rehearsal. And the price? I have unspent summer school and birthday money waiting for a big, fun, for me purchase and this is where it will go.
I set the alarm to go off at 9:50 a.m. on November 4th. I open the site for ticket sales to have it ready. I have classes coming in that day, but by the time I’m done, students will be checking out their books and getting ready to leave. Okay, calm down. It’s okay, don’t get your hopes up.
November 4th, 9:50 a.m. my alarm goes off as planned. I slip into my office and open the website. An updated message appears saying something like “Ticket sales for Bono and Brené in Conversation, another event, followed by another event, and another event will open at 10:00 a.m. …”
“Yes, I KNOW,” I fuss at my phone. I retrieve my purse from a cabinet and thunk it on the counter next to my desk. I dig for my bank card. How many more minutes? I refresh the page to make sure it doesn’t get stuck. Our building is notorious for clogging up anything you want to pull up on cell networks.
My heart throbs…
I refresh the page.
Let’s do this, I don’t care how much it costs.
And I’m stuck in a queue. A virtual line. They rub it in and show virtual me standing in a cyber line. Lucky number 3,405 with 3,285 people ahead of me. The theater’s capacity is 1,270. Sigh. I found what I was looking for, but there weren’t any left for me.
In a real line I could have met a bunch of other people and been part of a collective disappointed groan. Instead, I put my card back in my purse, return it to the cabinet, and await the arrival of the next class.
I almost cried. Almost.
Taking a picture of a teen is like taking a picture of Bigfoot. The Loch Ness monster. Chupacabra. Results are hard to decipher. You get a blur of hair or a running body. You get the back of one standing with others, a line-up of sorts, in reverse. They’re all dressed alike, same height, same hair.
Mine gets on a tire swing and for a split second, I see her little-hood oozing out in her smile. She sees the camera and immediately gets back into her grumpy character where everything about life is horrid, brows furrowed, braced teeth gritted, and a small grumble eking out “Mo-O-m! Ugh! I hate pictures!” because she also hates speaking.
I got what I could, sifted through a hundred photo bursts, and found a glimmer of hope, one capturing the essence of who she really is deep inside all of those defensive teen-aged layers–even if that first teen year is the only layer there. It’s tough and almost impenetrable. Almost.
“Get one of me with Dad.” We stand, stiffly posed along the bank of the San Gabriel river. The light is perfect. We’re both not grumbly middle-aged parents. We’ve shed our own layers for a while.
“Give us a warning, at least,” I remind her, because we know she’ll capture us mid-yawn. Eyes closed. Mouths opened.
Brows furrowed with a small grumble starts out a whiny “F-i-ah! You’re taking selfies! Take the picture so we can move on and let other people get a turn.”
Laughter ensues, she shows BFF the screen, pretends to run, but first returns the phone and then runs. We take a look and there we are. It’s a good one.
Even better are the selfies. There she is. They’re good ones.
All layers–the one layer–shed because she played. Dimples in their original location. Braced teeth. A sparkle in her eyes. She’s still there.
I have a planner. I use it. I set reminders on my phone. My watch buzzes those reminders and my phone zaps my rear end from my back pocket so I don’t forget. I write things down. I have three tabs open of the same chock full Google calendar because I can’t find it buried within countless other tabs. I was a week ahead of everything in my mind and I still can’t get it straight. Seems that this week is irrelevant as I look ahead to plan lessons, activities, book displays, contests, book clubs, maker space activities…
I enjoyed my weekend. I took teen and a friend to the Chalk Walk Art Festival. The laundry can wait, might as well enjoy the decent weather. Still hot, but not as hot as summer.
Sure enough, as Sundays always do, the day whizzed by, but I was determined not to subject myself to the Sunday Blues. I signed up to bake ancho chilli chocolate cupcakes for our potluck on Monday. Chilli themed. A contest, I think. I’ve been on this campus for a year. Still recovering from COVID, some traditions halted, but I’m not sure if this is one or not. No matter, I stopped at the grocery store after church to pick up a few ingredients which turned into full-on groceries.
I mixed up the batter and baked cupcakes between loads of laundry. I packed them up early. Before 10:00 p.m. early. Monday, a staff development day, allowed me to sleep in a little. No lunch prep for me because we’re having chilli. PTA is serving breakfast so double score there. We’re down to sharing a car because hubster’s is in the shop, which brings a whole other level of schedule juggling, or schudggling.
Monday morning, I put the two tubs of cupcakes in the back seat, grabbed my bag and got my ride to school.
“I brought my cupcakes,” I announced, only to learn the potluck is in two weeks. We had our first Monday PD two weeks ago. One was scheduled for October 10th. The next one is on October 24th.
I didn’t read the sign up sheet properly. Scroll reading. Exactly what I tell students not to do. I’m on autopilot with doing all of the things, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I was a week ahead of the actual calendar last week, trying to do what was planned for this week, but knowing it wasn’t because of book fair chaos.
This reminded me of the time I took my kids to dinner for Taco Tuesday. On a Wednesday. Another time I missed a parent-teacher conference because we went out for ice cream. Before he started middle school, I skipped my son’s orchestra instrument selection appointment and I don’t remember why.
I put the cupcakes in the staff fridge. I co-facilitated a session for teachers with my ITS during sixth grade lunch today, a trial run of our first “Lunch and Learn” series integrating tech/library resources. We bribed some with dessert and drinks. Unknowingly, I made dessert.
The cupcakes and training were well received.
I learned that dunking dried chillies in dark chocolate and sprinkling them with sea salt takes them to a whole other level of sweet with zippy zing.
“Yes, I’m making another batch for the next potluck,” I smiled, as a teacher snagged two on her way out. I’ll garnish them with chocolate covered chillies.
I’ve resorted to describing
important words with…
I can’t even fall back on thingamajig
it’s a thingie
that thingie over there, I need it
can you get it for me, please?
I know exactly what you meant
of a brain
that’s so overloaded
it forgets basic
Lately, thoughts and ideas have been scattered like wispy seeds of a dandelion flitting around trying to make sense of myself on the deep breath of a wish
A week later streamers hang on the patio vibrant, yet tired a trampoline hasn't been reassembled and probably won't return to its spot in the backyard She's thirteen now we've long stopped synchronized wahoo-wahoo-wahoozie mother-daughter bouncing of summers long past, my hands intertwined with her silly little first grader fingers Gifted wine bottles line up one behind the other I sip from a new coffee mug and finish the last two homemade Mexican wedding cookies baked for a birthday A lone striped gift bag didn't get folded, hot pink crumpled paper peeks from the top A new sparkly evening bag invites possibilities and wonderings about unknown adventures How many more trips around the sun?
drone off and on off and on their outer selves hold tight to a blade of grass tree trunk iris leaves we don't remember planting the front door frame under the porch as if they've been invited they were time tellers before I could read time signaling a long hot day hanging back on my favorite swing long hair dangling in the dirt rocking myself into a bright summer haze eyes closed big toe digging into the ground giving myself a little push nothing to do inside nothing to do outside too hot too boring all I could do was swing back and forth back and forth if I were a cicada I'd sing with them droning off and on off and on complaining about the heat the sun summer almost wishing for cooler weather then realizing I'd have to stop swinging I leave the shell of my former self on the swing pull myself up and head indoors for a drink of water the cicadas continue their songs reminding us this summer heat is temporary