Heeeyyy, wait a minute...what do I see there?
Dude. I totally have a foot.
WHOA...I have ANOTHER foot!
AND a KNEE!
And FINGERS TOO?
...life is good.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone.
Oh, hi. Sorry I've been so gone here. Suddenly it's been over a week, just like that - POOF! - it's gone, and I haven't blogged even once. In that week we drove back to pick up my suddenly huge eldest son, and drove home, and dove head-first into a week of VBS, and Sophia learned to blow raspberries, and Tre turned 14 (!), and the boys had a piano recital (piano parents, back me up here - that alone was seven hours of forced labor, can I get an amen?), and all of this happened against the backdrop of baseball, the endless practice and games and my appreciation for the sport has officially gotten to the level that can best be described as white-hot hate.
Too much. I know for certain it's too much stuff in my life, and do you want to know HOW I know?
I'm having The Fantasy.
It's not "a fantasy" or even "the fantasy." It's The Fantasy. I'll be driving somewhere and stop at a red light, and the next thing I know, the light is green and the car behind me is honking like some madly maladjusted goose, because I am sitting there, lost in The Fantasy. Or I'll be chopping carrots for dinner, and I am lost in the images, a soft-focus slide show of the beauty that is The Fantasy, and I come to and discover I have reduced a perfectly respectable carrot into a pile of juicy orange shavings. Such is the power of The Fantasy.
Should I share it with you? It's rather personal...and sort of embarrassing...
Oh well, it would hardly be a blog without the personal and embarrassing, now would it? Fine then, it goes like this: *cue wavy lines and mystical music*
I have a pendant that I wear all the time. It's a heavy, ornately detailed golden locket. When people ask me about it, I smile enigmatically and shrug their questions away. Because only I can know the truth of the pendant. Every so often, when I'm all alone, I carefully click open my locket to reveal a gleaming mother-of-pearl button. All I have to do is sneak away, for just a moment, and press this button, and in an instant...everything stops.
The world goes instantly still, no wind, no traffic, no voices, no cars. Birds freeze and hang in midair, the dog barking incessantly two yards down stops mid-bark. The whole world has been put on pause, and the only moving thing is me. I take a deep breath, and curl up for a nap that will not be interrupted. When I awake (not a moment before I want to), I roll over and pick up the book that has been being neglected beside my bed. I read and read and read, stopping only to pad out to the kitchen and gather snacks that I won't have to share.When I've finished the book, and not a moment before, I push out of bed, ready to engage in some sort of invigorating activity. I wander out to the yard, where I pull weeds for a while. The mosquitoes that dot the air around me, in suspended animation, can't bother me, and for once I don't feel like the weeds are growing faster than they can be pulled. When I'm done, with that happy sweaty soreness of satisfying achievement, I dump all the weeds in a bin, dust off my hands, and move back into the house...
It's at about this point that I snap to, suddenly aware that I'm fantasizing about SLEEPING. And DOING YARD WORK. Y'all, sometimes, in The Fantasy, I get caught up on laundry. I am not even kidding about that. It is PITIFUL.
So that's where I am, people. Running thither and yon, spinning plates and listening to my baby blow raspberries, and mentally escaping to a bright world where no one interrupts me while I...uh...weed the garden.
It just makes you proud to know me, doesn't it?
Ask me how many letters I've gotten from my firstborn son, my baby, my joy, as he's away at camp.
GO ON. ASK.
Would you imagine two? Two letters from the child I have nurtured and loved and clothed for nearly fourteen years now? Two letters seems reasonable, right?
Noooo, not two letters.
Well then ONE letter - surely. One little note, a tiny word to reassure the rent heart of his mommy? Just a few lines about the hiking and swimming and skits? He gets TWO HOURS of free time every day, SURELY that's time enough to jot down a few lines for the woman who - HELLO - actually TAUGHT HIM TO WRITE?
And yet, NO. NOT ONE LETTER.
As if that weren't enough, I dreamt about him at camp the other night. In my dream we showed up to pick him up, and he was three inches taller than me. Trust me, I've had the camp food. It's not that good. But anyhow, there I was, petting his cheek and hugging him, and exclaiming over how TALL he's become. And he stopped me and gestured to the edge of the camp, where, for the first time, I noticed a bridge. A giant, golden bridge, with a decorative pacifier affixed to the near end, and the far end of it shrouded in mists.
"Sorry, Mom," he said, "I have to go." And with that he left, loping toward the bridge.
I woke up ENTIRELY annoyed. See? I muttered to myself in the fuzzy early morning light, this is why I don't write fiction. Even my DREAMS are hackneyed and trite. I mean SERIOUSLY? That's the best symbol I could come up with? A BINKY BRIDGE?
On the other hand, we leave tonight to go drive back down and pick him up. I'm entirely giddy, despite the CRAZY drive through the night/pick up the boy/drive through the night/take Max to play a double header schedule we've got going on. It's INSANE, but me? I'm prancing around like a child on the last day of school. Because in...what? about 27 hours I'll see my baby boy. I'll hug him close and cry a little and then I will SMACK HIM ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD and tell him "YOU WRITE TO YOUR MOMMY."
It's gonna be great.
He WROTE! Just look at all those exclamation points!
He's happy! And soon he'll be home! Squeeeeeee!
Um...and his handwriting is TERRIBLE. Wow.
That's my boy.
We arrived at camp a few hours before the week started, in time to get Tre checked in and spend a few hours wandering around aimlessly. Mom, who had come along to help during the million-hour drive through the night, bought the boys treats at the snack shop. We huddled in the shade and watched the concert given by the previous week's campers. Tre had a blue pixie stick and he offered some to his brothers. Raphael tipped his face back and opened his mouth, and Tre poured a tiny stream of blue sugar dust onto his tongue. A breeze caught some of it and swirled it around his face, leaving a streak of blue along his cheek. They laughed together, Raphael snorting as he clamped his mouth shut around his candy, Tre looking down at him with indulgent fondness.
A few minutes later I asked Raphael to pass me the water bottle, and he did. As I drank from it, I tasted the tart sweetness of the pixie stick on its mouth. I licked the taste from my lips.
Remember this moment, I told myself, although I didn't know why.
When I hugged Tre the last time, he shook inside my arms, and he laid his head down on my shoulder. Heat radiated off his skin as the realization of what was happening washed over both of us. The laughing bravado he'd worn all day was gone. I said goodbye and we drove away. Max twisted around in his seat to watch Tre as long as he could, Raphael glared at his knees, Mom drove, and I wept behind my sunglasses, trying to act like I could stand this even a little bit.
That night we camped nearby, although my cell phone didn't get any service where we were, so it might as well have been a different continent, not fifteen miles up the road. We had a campfire, of course, and as we all huddled around it, Max and Raphael clutching sticks to poke the fire, me clutching a wide-eyed Sophia, and Mom patting my shoulder, the wood smoke wrapped around us. I breathed in its smell, and it struck me as exceedingly odd that Tre wouldn't be going to bed with smoky hair. I thought back to the pixie stick moment that afternoon.
Since Tre was born, our lives have been like that moment. One of us experiences something, the other tastes it on their own tongue. The boys and I are exceptionally close, sharing both the bond of those who survived a divorce and the daily bond of homeschooling. This is both the reason it is so hard to leave him there this week, and the reason it's so important that I do.
These days, with him gone, seem unreal. I look at the clock and check the camp schedule, and picture him at the moment. We are eating breakfast, I think, and he is in choir rehearsal. We are driving to the library, and he is in a private lesson. We are at Raphael's ball game, and he is having game night. I miss him with a silent frantic ache and feel like I'm just marking time, moving through the moments until he's back. But even though I can't really see it, I know that he is living a very brightly colored week.
And that is the point of it all. That is the whole reason.
One of the things I looked forward to when I found out we were having a Sophia is the opportunity to do it all again. It's also one of the things that made me gulp hard, but that's another story. This time around, I knew, I'd recognize how fast these days move. I would remember how quickly the phases flick by, in retrospect, and I wouldn't be afraid of drowning in any one difficult day. I rested my hand on my belly and promising the flailing little life inside that I would remember to enjoy.
What I didn't foresee is how easy that would be, in fact. Although there have been difficult days, there has also been a huge amount of joy, from everyone and for everyone. And most of all, there is Clay. He's here, so very HERE, smitten with me and his children, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with me to keep all our plates spinning. Because of him there is even space - despite the baseball and library and swimming and meetings and STUFF - in my life for me to get out of the house for an hour and go to the gym. I come home with the hair at the nape of my neck all damp and the sight of my family freshly dear in my eyes.
His love helps me remember not only to stop and watch her sleep...
...but to notice how very much love is around all of us.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May you have time for a well-deserved nap with someone you love.
Tonight I made pasta with artichoke hearts and bacon for dinner, and the bacon was the "healthy" kind of bacon - all nitrate free and made from "welfare considerate pork." Which makes me think of a bunch of pigs, all hunkered down in their mud, intensely discussing the plight of the working poor. But that is NOT what it means. It means that the pigs were happy and carefree and treated well...right up until they were slaughtered to make bacon for me. I had bought the bacon during a fit of conscience when I was at the health-food store, and it had worried me from the fridge ever since. I was sure it would taste awful, because the last time I tried healthy bacon, it tasted like...something healthy. And really, there is no reason in this world to eat bacon that doesn't make your eyes roll back in your head a little. So for years I've been slowly killing my family with unhealthy bacon that doesn't even care about the working poor, and every time I tossed a pound of that callous death in my shopping cart, I would feel bad, yet whine in my head but the other stuff tastes ICKY.
My point is that I finally bought the good, socially enlightened kind of bacon and it tasted great. Really. I liked it better than the thick-cut, nitrate-rich kind I usually get. So if you've been killing your family slowly too, out of fear of the taste left in the void of nitrates, FEAR NOT THE HEALTHY BACON.
Of course, there is still the fact that it costs twice as much. One could say the answer lies in eating less bacon, but then again one could say WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? STOP IT WITH THE CRAZY TALK.
And yes, my children LOVE pasta with artichoke hearts and bacon, which actually means that they love pasta and bacon. And they pick out the artichoke hearts, gagging a little, and put them on their dad's plate. Such sophisticated palates, I know. Some of them even gingerly pluck out the small bits of sage and make tiny green haystacks of them.
Anyhow, my bacon epiphany may not be all that fascinating, but it left me feeling all successful and welfare considerate and surrounded by children who won't eat artichoke hearts, so I thought I would share my insight with you.
Now it's YOUR TURN. Enlighten me. Tell me what you learned this week. Or at least assure me your kids are food weirdos too.
Some time in the last year I had a GREAT IDEA. This summer, we would send Tre to CAMP! To a music camp in a whole other state! Isn't that a GREAT IDEA?
Well, it seemed like a great idea, a few months ago. I got him registered, and Clay figured out the budgeting to make it work, and Mom and I planned the trip to drop him off and Clay and I planned the trip to go pick him up, and I started telling Tre stories about how the camp works and what he'll be doing...
It seemed like a great idea.
He leaves Saturday, and it doesn't seem so great anymore.
I keep telling him the truth - I say that I'm excited for him to have this experience, and that he's going to have a great time and make so many friends. I tell him that he should stay home with his mommy, and I will make him cookies every day and he can play video games as much as he wants and we'll go out to lunch all the time and he can watch tv absolutely whenever. I say that so he will know two things; I love him and will miss him so much, and that he really doesn't want to stay here where it's safe and sort of dull.
What I'm not telling him is that there's a panic growing in my chest, like a small wild animal, like a fistful of raw grief. I know he'll be fine, I know this is a good thing for him to do. I don't know if I can survive it. I feel like I'm in a dream, and my feet won't move fast enough to reach him, and my hands can't quite grasp him and my voice doesn't carry to him, no matter how hard I scream. His childhood is escaping, and soon he will be gone. Where will I go then? Is there a detox center to help me live my life without him?
See the baby here?
He may not have knuckle dimples anymore, but he's still my baby.