Missing

I stood in line at Target today with an armful of things I didn’t know I needed until I found them while on a quest to get hair mousse.

In front of me stood a woman with a little girl. I watched them interact.

The woman ran her fingers through the child’s hair and asked her if she’d brushed it that morning. The woman told the girl that something was bad for her brain (screen-time? I didn’t hear) and that they should get some exercise, maybe go for a walk.

I remembered with a pang when my girl was that small and I felt such a rush of longing for her small self. I miss her childhood in a way that I never missed my sons’ younger days. Maybe that’s because the boys were all noise and headlocks and video games and smelly socks and unflushed toilets.

My daughter was dollies and tea parties. She was stickers and markers and notes penned to the “Best Mommy In the Whole World.” She was stuffed animals and “Finding Nemo.” We used to walk around the block in the afternoons and when she was really little, she once insisted on going into a neighbor’s yard where she started to gather their ceramic gnomes.

We did everything together, and not just because she would cry if I left her with a sitter. She loved to swim and she adored the ocean, so we’d go on long strolls down the beach. “Want to go see the sunset?” and she’d always say yes. She’d insist on wearing a swimsuit, even for a nightly stroll when it was too cold for getting wet and she’d get splashed anyway.

For years, I took her to every soccer practice and every soccer game. I sat on the sidelines while she practiced, even when other parents just dropped their kids off. She talked non-stop while we drove from place to place. Her constant chatter was the soundtrack of my life.

When she was very little, she’d come into my bed every night or early every morning. She’d rotate like she was a rotisserie chicken and it drove me absolutely crazy how she could not be still. If she didn’t come into bed, she’d just wake me every ten minutes by standing bedside and saying, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” until I stirred.

(When was the last time she crawled into bed with me?)

What I’m saying is that we were close.  We were very close. Every night she’d call downstairs, “I’m ready!” and I’d go upstairs and tell her goodnight.

Until one night, she didn’t call me upstairs and I didn’t notice.

She used to watch “Survivor” with me and then one night, I remember saying, “Okay, but only if you’re still and if you don’t talk.” (I so regret those moments I was irritable and short with her. I thought we had forever.)

She never watches television with me anymore, even when I ask.

I miss her.

I miss her blond curls. I miss her hand in mine. I miss her absolute belief in me.

Now, sometimes when I say something, she scrunches her darkened eyebrows at me, conveying her astonishment at my ignorance or . . . whatever. I get that scrunchy-eyebrow look fairly regularly. She is far, so far from me.

I never, ever expected her to drift away. I thought that we would always be close. (Is that crazy?) I don’t even know the moment that the tide carried her away and now she’s a speck out in the sea.

So, she’s growing up, becoming herself by trying on some different personas. (Her current persona has purple hair and wants a septum piercing.) She’s 15. She has to find her way. She will find her way.  (I hope it’s back to me, someday.)

Meanwhile.

My heart is an empty nest, feathered with memories of a little girl who once adored me.

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Missing

Seriously.

Today was okay. Busy, but fine. Whatever.

(Still unemployed. Husband left the country on a trip this morning. I had to get up super early today. Took my car for an oil change. Just regular life.)

And then at 9:15 tonight, my son said, “Is that water?” He pointed to my office ceiling, the same ceiling that is only two years old.

This is the ceiling that was repaired after a toilet overflowed and left puddles of water that rained onto my desk. It cost a lot and involved my insurance company and ended up raising my insurance rates.

Yeah, that ceiling. It has an unmistakably wet mushy spot.

*SILENT SCREAM*

It’s always something, isn’t it?

This time I poked a big hole in it and only a few drops of water plunked onto my desk chair.

I guess I’ll be calling a plumber tomorrow.

Seriously.

Tuesday Museday

Several times today I clicked my iPhone on to check if it were Tuesday or Wednesday. That sums up the discombobulation of unemployment coupled with the kids’ Winter Break. I have no idea who I am or what day it is.

But life has a way of propelling one forward. I’d seen a video of someone making lasagna and my longing to eat that lasagna gave purpose to my day.

How much smaller life is than I once imagined it would be. Small goals, easily reached.

My husband has let me know in no uncertain terms that I can no longer classify myself as middle aged unless I plan to live to be 104. I insisted that the first ten years of life don’t really count, therefore I am obviously middle aged, even if I should die before I reach 100.

So I have small goals. I’ve given up the illusion that kids–mine or others–value my opinion or instructions. It’s so stupid, really, that once you add decades of life experience–plus a lot of reading and observing–younger people dismiss you because you’re old middle aged.

Whatever.

I wanted lasagna. I got in my daily exercise–the better to outlive you, my dear–and bought the ingredients. I cooked it. I ate it.

Here’s a tip for you youngsters.

Next time your eyes slide past a middle aged person as you search for someone who is exciting and relevant and unwrinkled, stop. Ask that invisible older person in your life, “What do you think?”

You might be surprised.

Meanwhile, I’ll be hiking and eating whatever I fancy for dinner because I can.

Tuesday Museday

Let’s start the new year with a boring blog post, shall we?

Today, I undecorated my house.

I also decided that since I was putting my Christmas dishes away, it would be a great time to declutter the cabinet where I keep them and then, just for good measure, rearrange the living room furniture.

I finally sat down after (mostly) accomplishing those projects at 7 PM.

(My dog, Lola, is sitting at my elbow, trying to get me to make eye contact with her.  She thinks that we ought to just hug it out but I am avoiding her gaze because it’s never enough with her. No amount of petting will satisfy her.)

(She just gave up and is lying down now.)

I am reading Before the Fall, so I retreated to my bed to read for a couple of hours before taking an accidental nap. So I’m pretty much awake now that it’s time to go to sleep.  Story of my life.

My outside Christmas lights are still burning bright. Tomorrow I’ll have to take those down but first, I’ll have to get a storage container since they are all new this year–and I’ll have to find a spot to stash stuff in the garage.  It’s always something, right?

(The dog has redoubled her efforts at making eye contact with me.)

Also, I found the missing Christmas stocking while cleaning out the cabinet where I stashed an untidy stack of never-used tablecloths. I knew it would turn up sooner or later, and sure enough, it did, just in time to be packed away for next year so now I have eight Christmas stockings and I sure hope that doesn’t mean I’m adding another person to my household by then because, no.  Enough.

IMG_0805.jpg
You can never pet me enough to make me happy. Beware.
Let’s start the new year with a boring blog post, shall we?

This is the way the year ends

I thought about doing one of those fancy end-of-the-year posts that summarizes the Best and Worst of the year, but the events in my life that are memorable are mostly things I wish I could forget, but never will. Alas. (And I can’t talk about them here.)

I learned this year that sometimes people I love will inexplicably choose behaviors that I never even thought to forbid. I learned that truly, the only person I can control is myself.  I learned that, most importantly, I can choose my attitude in the midst of terrible situations.  (This year, my reading of Man’s Search for Meaning turned out to be perfect timing.)

This was a year in which I read less than usual because I had trouble focusing on a fictional world when my real world was stranger than fiction.

I began this year with the slow burning terror that I would lose my job at some point. I had no clear time-table which is like knowing a fire is approaching your house and smelling smoke but not knowing when the flames will lick at your front door. Do you sleep or spend all night packing up your important stuff?  Do you cook dinner or throw your whole pantry into a cooler so you can take off at a moment’s notice?  Is there any point in standing on your roof with a garden hose?

As it turned out, eleven months later, the call came and I lost my job.

So now I’m in a different muddle, one in which I don’t know when the next job will begin–or what that next job will be.

Stress. So much stress.

On a positive note, though, I have to point out several things.

I finally got myself together this past year and started walking at least 10,000 steps a day in March. I’m feeling better physically than I have in years.  I believe that all the exercise gave me strength to get through my days while feeling less frazzled than I would have otherwise.

My husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary this summer with some fun at Disneyland.  He is the constant steady calm in my life.  Even in the midst of a very stressful season for him professionally, he’s been the stable, gentle, funny guy I married all those years ago. He is the best choice I ever made.

Also, when I reached out to a few friends with my tales of woe, those friends regaled me with their own tales of woe.  Knowing that my delightful friends–who are beautiful, accomplished, hilarious, smart women–traversed similar rocky paths has been such a comfort to me.  When I think, “Where did I go wrong?”, I remind myself that I am not alone and I am not the one who made STUPID choices.  (Still.  It’s been aggravating.)

I’m sure there was something else I meant to point out, but maybe I mentioned that I’ve been distracted these days?

Well.

Here’s to a new year.  This one definitely ends with a whimper.

This is the way the year ends

Holly jolly, oh my golly

So I’ve just wasted almost two hours of my time worrying. My kid is at a friend’s house and when I texted to just check in, there was no response.

I decided, in no particular order that:

1)  The child ran away from home and is probably being sex-trafficked as we speak.

2)  A car hit the child and the child is now paralyzed, lying on a cold, dark street, unable to answer the phone.

3)  A wildfire swept through the neighborhood and the child has been burned beyond recognition which is why the police haven’t appeared on my doorstep yet.

4)  Aliens exist and have abducted the child and the adjacent solar system has no cell service so obviously, my text messages didn’t go through.

The truth is so much more boring. The phone was plugged in, getting charged, in another room while the child was downstairs at the friend’s house, eating dinner and watching some Christmas movie.

Listen, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Having a baby when you’re 37 is no big deal.
Having a teenager when you’re 52 is almost more than the heart can take.

(I know.  I’m irrational and possibly need intensive inpatient treatment.)

Holly jolly, oh my golly

Lost

A guy named Michael Solomon wrote a book called, “How to Find Lost Objects.”  I remember reading this a while ago:

“Objects are apt to wander,” he wrote in his book. “I have found, though, that they tend to travel no more than 18 inches from their original location.”

I think about that when I am frantically searching for my keys or debit card or birth certificate. Instead of circling the globe, turning over furniture and emptying out closets, I stop and remind myself that the thing I search for is probably pretty close to the place I last saw it. I don’t lose things all that often, but this week was a doozy.  This week may have been an exception to that 18-inch rule.

I lost my job.

On Tuesday, my (former) boss sent me an email and asked if I had a few minutes to talk.  I had been collecting bits of evidence over the past year and I knew with certainty what the point of our phone call would be. It was the classic, “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of situation. The company who had employed me for 10 years, 3 months and a few days no longer needs me.

I’m adrift.  Cut loose.  Lost.

What does one do without the routine of work to structure the days and nights? I am finding out.  I have stayed very busy. Since I don’t know how soon I’ll start another job, I’m still in limbo.  I can’t decide whether I should devote myself to true lounging or if I should tackle all those tasks that I’ve neglected and get my life 100% organized and in ship-shape.

So far, I have seen a movie during the daytime, filled out paperwork and mailed it to my (former) office, taken a writing assessment for a potential new job, gone to the bank, and cleaned out a fridge.  I’ve gone to sleep before midnight.

I do have a goal. I am going to get my office spic and span. I’m going to purge my bookshelves and organize my files and quite possibly get my photos sorted digitally.

I wish I knew when I’ll start another job.  I wish I knew where I’ll be working. I wish I knew the future.

If you need me, I’ll be by the Lost and Found, hoping someone is looking for me.

Lost