Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Standing in Front of the Cherry Tree

We stood in front of this same tree a little over ten years ago. This year spring came late and the blossoms didn't bloom in time. Not every cycle is just the same. Ten years ago we stood in front of this tree in front of my parent's house a few hours after we said we did on the pier out back in front of seventeen people. I wore a yellow dress my mama made me. Tom wore the suit his dad bought him. I remember wondering if I should have felt more at the moment-- the moment after the pastor spoke, and I was looking into Tom's eyes. I knew it was one of the biggest days of my life, but it didn't feel that big.

That night we drove across the bay. I packed a breast pump and a fake id. I thought I should probably drink wine on my honeymoon. Wine seemed like the thing grown ups drank. We hadn't yet learned we didn't like wine. Since then we've learned a lot about what we like and even more about being grown ups.

We learned that grown ups stay in with sick kids while their friends go see shows. We've learned that grown ups pay their bills, and they have to not lose important papers.  We've learned that sometimes grown ups get bored, and that there is more to life than just being excited.

There was a time before I learned some things I needed to know that I couldn't watch the indie romantic-comedies that have always been my favorite. I was jealous of all the people who were falling in love. I was sad that I was never supposed to do that again. I got mad at Jane Austen and Edith Wharton and all those writers who wrote about women whose only decision in life was deciding who to marry. I had already made that decision, or rather it had been made for me, and the rest of my life seemed to be a giant forgone conclusion.

Ten years later we're standing back in front of the tree three days after we celebrated our anniversary alone, at home, all four of our children away at Oma's house. We grilled grass fed steaks and roasted asparagus and got tipsy while talking about truth, lies, fiction, and gratitude. I was convinced that every thought needed to be revisited. It all felt real and raw and beautiful, and I couldn't believe how happy I was to be sitting on a screened-in porch in late April with the man I married ten years before.

It feels like it was yesterday. It feels like it has been an eternity.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Watching and Waiting

I spend so much time staring at their backs, small backs with sloping shoulders that will transform one of these days. My sons' shoulders will broaden. My daughters' waists will narrow.

I spend so much time watching them lead the way as I trail behind. They crash into waves or wade into still water. They take off on their bikes or tumble down the neighborhood hills.  They are always leaving.

Sometimes, they turn around to see if I'm watching, following. Our eyes meet. Sometimes they are grateful to know I am there. Sometimes, they wish for me to turn around, to leave them to their adventures.

I think of all the times to come. I will watch their backs peeking from behind the driver's seat . I will watch their backs fade into anonymity at crowded airports. I will watch as they walk down the isle.

My back, however, will always remain a mystery to them. I will always be somewhere behind, waiting for their returns, which will one day turn to visits, waiting for our eyes to meet once again.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Last Weekend We // So Much Family

By early Sunday evening, I was looking forward to Monday. The weekend wore me out. It was full of people I love, but it was also busy and exhausting. We had a birthday dinner for my mom on Friday evening, and then I went to visit my aunt on Saturday, and on Sunday my granddad and another aunt came over for dinner after they went and saw my dad's most recent play.  All good things, but it made for a lot of house cleaning and meal preparing, plus a good amount of driving. 

I grew up with a full house, and so it seems only natural to fill my house now. On Friday, everyone came over to my house for my mom's birthday dinner, and there are certainly a lot of us, and the numbers are growing. Over the course of the night five of my parents' six kids came over, with four significant others. There were four grandkids running around or being passed around, plus my dad before he had to leave for curtain call. By the end of summer there will be another grandbaby, and in the next few years, who knows how many more might join our ranks. 

Among all these people there are hurt feelings and miscommunications and messes, both physical and emotional.  It's damn near impossible to not be worried about one of them at any given time. But it must be pretty obvious that I think the big family drama is worth the price I pay, otherwise, I should probably have stopped having babies a couple of kids ago. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mid-Week Hangs

If your friends from New York come to visit your Podunk town, there's no point in trying to wine and dine them because the only decent restaurant around proudly displays a portrait of Ronald Regan AND a Republicans Playing Poker print. Besides, the wines and dines are better in the city anyway.

All you can offer is the things the city can't give: rope swings, grilled food, bonfires, and driftwood forts. And you can spend aimless hours puttering among the yard and porch and beach.  You can watch your kids teach them the beauty of Crossy Roads, and you can discover the joy of iPhone slo-mo video together. You can drink lots of cheap coffee, and you can sing along to the soundtrack of your friendship. But beware: You will likely drink too much and sleep too little.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Muddy Feet, Happy Heart

I've known plenty of moms who take pride in their children being spotlessly clean, women who change their children mid-play when their clothes get dirty, who are always at the ready with a wash cloth to swipe away the grime.

I take more pride in mine being dirty. There's something about their little sweaty heads smelling of copper pennies, their nails embedded with dirt, their jeans caked with mud that speaks to a life well lived.

I'm happy to get them shined and scrubbed before bed, but that night time bath is so much more rewarding when the day has been spent barefoot in the mud.  And when that bath doesn't happen, when they go to sleep with their dirty little soles poking out beneath once clean sheets, I'm pretty okay with that too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Other People's Places // Oma's Cottage

Today is my mom's birthday. It doesn't take much looking around this online space to discover that I spent a lot of time with my mom. A whole lot.  It also becomes pretty clear that I think my mom is one of the most generous human beings I have ever met, eager to give her time, talent, heart, and money. She is fiercely devoted to her family and deeply empathetic.  Maybe best of all, she's fun to be around. 

Among her many talents is her ability to make a home. She creates spaces that make you feel comfortable and welcome.  The house I grew up in is wonderful, and one of these days I'll get around to taking pictures of it.  Today, I'll just share pictures of her Ocracoke cottage, which would absolutely be her "baby" if it weren't for the fact that I keep giving her actual babies that distract her resources. Her cottage was the first place that made me see the beauty of dark, cozy rooms, the sort of space that feel a little like a bear hug. Her gray and white kitchen is not only adorable, but also remarkably easy to cook in. The bedrooms beg you to stay put and sleep longer. I love that house and all the things she's done to it. But what is even more special is the way that she shares it with others.

Mama, happy, happy birthday. I love you so much, and I'm so glad to share my days with you. We are all very lucky to have you. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Break

Summer trips to Ocracoke have a routine. Every day looks like the last. We drive right off the main ramp and meet our summer friends to dig giant holes, cast nets, surf, eat snacks, and get back home for showers and dinner.  You don't question the routine. You don't eat until Ms Kathy calls everyone over. You don't try out new beaches. You don't set up volleyball or bring music. You do what we've always done. And I'm happy to do it.

But the beauty of spring break is that there is no set routine. We aren't ruled by tradition. Mornings started with long, slow trips to the coffee shop for fruit smoothies, day old muffins, and iced coffees. We spent two warm days on Springer's Point, playing on lichen covered live oaks and wading into the water in various states of undress. One day we drove out to our summer beach to explore the dunes. We spent lots of time on the school playground swinging and sliding. Sena and Gus set off on their bikes during free moments.

It was the epitome of relaxing. Vacationing with my mom spoils me. She does all the laundry and most of the dishes. She is quick to hand the kids a turkey and cheese wrap up, spray them with bug spray, or proffer a Bandaid.  She is even quicker to pick up checks, which makes me feel one part guilty to three parts grateful. To top it all off, she always has the makings of gin and tonic on hand, and I've come to discover that a gin and tonic sipped on a screen porch just tastes better.