November 2, 2014

Circles...Coming Around and Easing Back

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It often strikes me how life comes full circle, weaves around the bend, and comes home again.  When I start over-thinking things (cause that's what I do...even at the grocery store), I try to remind myself it'll all come out in the wash as my grandmother used to say.  Sometimes, tho, that's one long damn cycle.

The 48 hours of this weekend have been a topsy-turvy ride...last night I celebrated as two of my favorite people promised to be each other's best friend, to shelter each other from the world, and to be there forever.  It meant so much because their love story started over 20 years ago and is now starting again.  

Tomorrow I will go to the church cemetery to lay my uncle to rest.  Those words are heavy.  Heavy with regret, joy, sorrow, finality...

He was my uncle by marriage, inherited when my aunt married him.  He had two sons from a previous marriage, and they had none together...which made me as close to a daughter as anyone could be.  I will tell no lies: I was spoiled rotten by the both of them, both in the things bought for me and the love I was given.  Like all good stories, that came to an abrupt end.

When my aunt (of Wanda's Stripper Dip fame) passed away unexpectedly, we each responded in our own ways.  Each of us, though, fought hard to stay away from each other.  It was hard to hear that laughter that sounded like hers...hard to see faces that were mirror images.  And, as humans do, we tried to tear each other apart because that was easier than facing the fact that she was gone. We inflicted pain with words and deeds to make sure everyone hurt.  It kicked off a 20 year battle of wills that left no one the better.

As I drove to my in-laws house one day, I saw my uncle's garage door open.  I said to God (we're tight like that...I think, anyway), "If that door's open when I drive back by, I'm stopping."   God's funny because the door was open.  Like, "So, what are you gonna do with that, big girl?"  So....I stopped.  That easy.  I just stopped. We talked briefly, exchanged numbers, and had lunch not too long after.  Just. Like. That.

We had several lunch dates in the following year or two.  Initially there were stops and starts in the conversation, but eventually we developed our rhythm and our conversations were always wonderful.  Don't get me wrong:  He could be a stubborn, principled ass at times, but for that reason I loved him.  It's easy to give in to the rest of the world, but it takes hard guts to stand your ground. He always paid for my lunch and hugged me goodbye.  Every last goodbye was followed with "I love you."  And he did.  I loved him, too.  I loved him because he was my uncle, because he was kind to me as a kid, because he was my last tie to the years of my youth when I didn't know people died and left you.  

Yesterday at the grocery store, there was a family of four: mom, dad, son about 10 years old, and a toddler.  They were walking down the aisle arguing about money.  The dad was telling mom he needed pants for work because the only pair he owned without holes were the ones he had on.  She was upset, telling him there was no money for that.  The young boy was just walking with his hands stuffed in his pockets, defeated and sad.  They weren't yelling, but it was loud enough for everyone close-by to hear in a quiet, Saturday morning grocery store where the 16 year-old kid forgot to push play on the shitty muzak.

I walked to the cash register and bought a gift card, and then I went to search for them in the store.  They were in the frozen food section, still arguing.  I walked up to them, and, while handing the card to the mom, said, "I remember not having money to pay bills, but I was lucky to have family to help me.  My uncle recently passed away, so this is in his honor.  Buy the pants you need, or just take your son for pizza and a movie.  You're all each other has, so be kind. Just be kind to each other."  The dad was shaking his head no, and the mom was teary, but I walked away before they could say no to me.  No was not an option.  It was important to me that they be kind to each other for the sake of not breaking apart as a family and missing years of time spent together.

Tomorrow I will cry because he is gone.  I will forever hate that I didn't get that last lunch date.  Despite those tears, I am so, so grateful that I stopped that day. I know that, against 20 years of hard silence, in the end I had an uncle who loved me.  That is enough for today.

Sit down, pick up the phone, and ease back into those relationships you're missing...Before you can't.




Happy birthday, Wanda...

August 31, 2014

In The Blink of an Eye...Tooth Fairies and Teenagers

This family is a little strange...we love to get our teeth cleaned.  When I say it's time to go to the dentist, these weirdos run to the car.  That doesn't mean they love brushing their teeth at home, but they're all in when it comes to someone else cleaning them.

At our appointment a couple of weeks ago, the hygienist mentioned that the Hurricane's two front teeth on the bottom were loose.  She says to me, "They will be coming out soon."  While Hurricane was just over the moon about losing some teeth, I am less so....like, a LOT less so.

THIS smile....*sigh*
The next night, as I lay in bed, I suddenly felt really small and sad.  Many of my friends were posting pictures of their children heading off to college, and I realized that day was coming for us, too.  We still have five years before Girlo Two heads off to brave her new frontiers, but the Hurricane still fit in the palm of my hand five years ago.  Now she's losing teeth...how the heck did that happen?

The Hurricane

It sounds silly, I know, but I'm gonna miss her "baby teeth" smile.  Not only because it fills her whole face and is full of innocence and optimism, but because it means she is moving one step closer to being a big kid.  She is the last of my babies, and she is the last of all those firsts...first steps, first teeth, first day of Kindergarten.

I know there are a million things I have to look forward to, and I do.  I can't wait to see the amazing adults they will all grow up to be.  I just wish they weren't quite so close to being those amazing adults.

As I get older, I realize that life is a series of phases, each with its own amazing adventures and occasional goodbyes.  It's hard to realize how quickly they are moving away from me and into their own lives.  I'm happy for them, but still a little sad for me. I push them to live life big, but I'd love to keep them closer just a little bit longer.

Soon, the tooth fairy will come, and I promise not to slam her lithe wings in the window.  I promise to not pack myself into Girlo Two's luggage when she leaves for college.  I promise these things because I love them, but I do not promise to not cry after the Tooth Fairy flies away into the night and Girlo Two drives off into the sunset.  
Easier said than done, Seuss...

August 24, 2014

I Got This...Turning 40

Dang, where y'all been?!?!



It happened.  Done and done.  I thought hitting 40 would be somehow worse than it was, but it was really cool.  I spent the weekend surrounded by all the people I love and was reminded again of how damn awesome this life has been so far.  There have been a few bumps here and there, but I learned some good lessons and walked out of the fire.

In other sorta related news, basically what happened this weekend was I sorta kicked some anxiety arse...

Backstory:  In middle school there was a new girl and when she walked into the room, I knew she was gonna be some sort of awesome.  She had on pink Chuck Taylor high-tops and some funky asymetrical hair.  She was my people. And she was a lot of awesome.  We've remained friends for all these years, and I got to go to Atlanta to help her usher in the next decade at a wonderful surprise party given by her equally amazing husband.

Back to kicking arse:  So, since the Great Panic Attack I have only driven about 30 minutes from my house by myself.  I can drive any distance as long as someone is in the car with me.  What am I afraid of?  Everything.  I'll have a heart attack and kill someone in the lane beside me.  I'll have a flat tire and be abducted/killed/raped by someone on the side of the highway.  Rational? Nope, but that's my groove.

Now, I live about 400 miles from Atlanta.  You see my problem, yes?  I knew others were going, but I didn't want my schedule to hold anyone up from doing what they wanted to do.  I decided I might as well just do it.  And I did. And it felt good.

I used to make that drive monthly to visit my aunt, Wanda, when she lived there.  I would grab a Mountain Dew (did I really ever drink those?!), a pack of Camel Lights (sorry, parents), and a bunch of CDs and just hit the road.  I'd forgotten how liberating it was to just drive with the sunroof open.  I knew exactly how far I was from Atlanta based on the curve of the roads because I had driven them so many times over the years.  Like a glove, baby...

Here's what I came home with...
1.  My car likes to go 80 miles an hour...no matter how hard I try...Thank God for cruise control!
2.  Some songs will take you back...Ludacris, Indigo Girls, Scott Miller, Beck, and Urban Dance Squad serenaded me all 400 miles.
3.  Old friends are the best friends in many ways because they knew you way back when and still love you.
4.  Turning 40 is about me...just me.  It's just about the most liberating feeling I've had in quite some time.
5. I can do it...whatever it is.  If I can make that drive, no matter how silly that seems to someone else, I can do just about anydamnthing.

Choose happiness, people.  Visit people you love.  Surround yourself with those who make you laugh and don't cause you grief.  Live life.  Go rock your universe this week.  

Smiles.
You know...it's not that long until my NEXT birthday...In case you're thinking about a gift for me!