Thursday, July 14, 2016

Something Happened in the World Today

I was going to start by complaining that I attended a meeting that lasted from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. today and how I never thought a meeting could actually take all freakin' day -- and even go 15 minutes past the listed end time.

I was then going to bitch about how, even hitting the road home later than usual, traffic was at a freakin' standstill and it took an extraordinarily long time to slog my way home.

I was furthermore going to start by harping on the fact that some kid who was supposed to be picked up an hour ago is still here.

Instead, I choose to start with this:

I hadn't heard the news about something happening in the world today until I was driving home. Near about 80 were killed in Nice. [The English speakers among us look at that typed word in that sentence and ponder many an antonym to "nice."] Bastille Day. Fireworks at the seaside. Revelry. Terrorism.


It could have been anywhere, really. It has been anywhere and everywhere.

Today, it wasn't in Amsterdam, where Eldest is at the moment.

It wasn't in Oakland, where Le Daughter and I were.

It wasn't in Petaluma where Youngest was at soccer camp.

It wasn't in Glen Ellen where Pete was working.

And the horror of it is it could be anywhere tomorrow.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Visitor

He came to stay for a full four weeks. You always wonder if you’ll have it in you to have a guest stay for such a very long time. If house guests, like fish, go bad after three days, what happens after four weeks? For me, after four weeks, right about the time I’ve fallen into the familiar groove of having him around, I don the new(ish) mask.

Eldest (and I) survived his first year of college, 600+ miles away from home. I should note that he did more than survive; he thrived. Around about November, he started talking with wanderlust in his voice. Instead of coming “home” for the summer, he's coming for a couple of visits. Saddled between four weeks here after spring session ended and three weeks here before the fall session begins, he’s going to be wandering around Europe for a couple of weeks and then he’s going to spend four weeks studying at the Free University of Berlin.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that my first summer after college was the last time I came “home” to my mother’s house. From then on, I visited. I don’t think I ever spent more than two weeks “home” again. I wondered, here and there over the early years, if that was unsettling for my mother. I don’t think it was. I think I’m the one who pinpoints that summer as the end of something.

I can’t imagine how excited (and anxious) Eldest must be, having boarded that Dublin-bound plane just 30 minutes ago. From Dublin to Manchester to Amsterdam to 11 days going wherever and whenever by rail until he needs to arrive in Berlin. He’ll pinpoint this summer as his grand adventure. I, on the other hand, will pinpoint is as the end of something. And the continuation of our new reality.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Be Happy, for me

The exchange with Eldest, in text.

Me: I didn't tell you enough that I love you and I hope you get everything you want. Safe travels, honey.

Eldest: I love you too Mom. Please try to be happy, for me?

Me: I'm so very happy for you. You will go so far and do such amazing things. I envy you your life!

Eldest: Thanks Mom. But I meant, try to be happy now -- for yourself.

Me: Oh. Missed a punctuation.




I have nothing to offer but: Oh.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Recipe for Remembering

My father had a very favorite dessert that my mom would make on special occasions. I think I know the genesis of the recipe but I could be wrong. I believe the woman who passed the recipe onto my mother was the wife of a fellow Air Force officer. I remember three couples -- my mom and dad, the recipe-giver and her husband and the mom and dad of the boy who liked snakes.

[I was going to get into the where and how and when of their first meeting and then similar posting several years later at the Pentagon, but then I realized how my descriptions of the other two couples are so very odd. Odd because these are people I saw with some degree of regularity in the five years my dad was stationed at the Pentagon when I was between the ages of nearly-4 and nearly-9. And yet my take-away is "recipe-giver" and parents of "the boy who liked snakes."

I think the recipe-giver was named Charlotte. And I think it was her funeral that was the first one I attended when I was a junior or senior in high school. I wore orange pants to the funeral. I didn't cry. But I did project her family's misery onto what mine would be if my mom was the one in the casket.

As for the snake-loving boy, well, you have to know that I have a fear of snakes. And snakes are everywhere in Northern Virginia, particularly in areas kids like me would explore with friends in the forests and creeks (which likely all had been handed over to development 35 to 40 years ago). But this kid would play with snakes. Ick'ed me out.]

That three-paragraph aside was not the original point of my post, but it's funny how it does, in fact, tie into my point. For the first time on my own, I made that sour cherry walnut cake with sea foam icing recipe. The last time my mom was here, I helped her make it (not unlike the many times I helped her bake it in my long-ago youth). We had hunted high and low for sour cherries, so when we finally did find them, we bought three cans. The recipe only needs one.

And so, as Eldest has been home from college and I've been taking many baking requests, Pete requested that one. My father's favorite. A rather labor-intensive baking experience. The sea form icing recipe card is from the same manual typewriter of many years ago. I had to call my mom because I couldn't find the cake recipe. It's printed on my Epson but it still has my mother's words.

I have vague recollections of the celebrations which warranted this cake. Besides my dad's birthday and father's day, of course, there were celebrations for promotions and there were fancy dinner parties. It was never a workaday cake. It never will be. It will be one for remembering.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tears on my Pillows

I can't tell you how much they fought over letting their aunt stay in their room. If she was granted a stay there, she would leave her scent. Her very distinctive scent.

And so now, when she has departed again, I go into the room she stayed to breathe her in.

It's her.

And it's her in all the glory I remember her. And the kids try to breathe that scent in.

But I close the room off, with me securely inside, so I can breathe the scent that is my sister. And I can breathe deeply in the folds of the only-just-stripped-bed.

And I can feel her, here, and wallow in self-pity because now she's making her way back home to her own home.

And I will wait here for her return.

Tear-stained pillows await her.

I miss her.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Story

It is Christmas. And my kids are all home. If I live long enough, they won't be here, all together, because they will have lives to lead. Go forth, kids. Really. And truly.

But for now, they are here. And Patti Smith sings "Oh Holy Night" for El Papa. And massive non-believer that I am, for today, I will believe.

I'll believe that unrequited love will sustain that one. And I'll believe that she will dance. And I'll believe that he'll make his place at futbol.

Merry Christmas, the best kids that have ever happened to me. I wish I knew, then, what I know now. What do I know now? My weary soul rejoices.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Somewhere Between 2 and 19 Years of Age

I'm not sure it's a true memory. When people ask me what the earliest memory I have is, I most definitely age myself by telling them it was when JFK was assassinated. I am just over two years old. For 40 years, I've been pointing to that day as my first memory of childhood. We are in Ludlow, Massachusetts. It is the home I know of as my grandparents' house. Later, I will learn that it was, in fact, the house my parents bought. At the time, though, I know it as my grandparents' house. And old people -- my grandparents, my own parents -- are crying. The reason I think this memory can't be true is I don't believe my very conservative father could have given a crap that JFK would have been killed.

Still, it is the first memory I can recall. There are almost no TV channels. The five or six existing at that time -- within antennae range -- are all reporting the news of Dallas. One channel, though, has Captain Kangaroo or some nonsense on. The adults plunk me down in front of the TV to watch that.

The memory fades.

When I am 19 years old and in college, the afternoon soap operas are interrupted with news of Ronald Reagan being shot. I say aloud that I hope he's dead. The one conservative in the school is appalled. I'm appalled, too, that I would voice that. Being 19, however, I don't admit that.

There is no point to this post, beyond the unequivocal fact that JFK was killed 52 years ago. And I remember that.


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