Thursday, June 30, 2011

Temporary and Perfectly Acceptable Solutions

What’s going on with you right now? I’m willing to bet that your heart is breaking for someone you know who is dealing with a tragedy. I’m willing to bet that you have a child that you’re really worried about. I’m willing to bet that there is something you don’t like about yourself and you think about it every day. I’m willing to bet that you have some major event coming up and it’s sort of looming up there, adding to your stress.
ALL of those things and more are going on here.
I could talk about service. I could talk about action. I could talk about preparation and hard work and a set of beliefs, and it would all make perfect sense and be the proper way to get through all of it.
But my heart is breaking for someone I know who is going through a tragedy, I’m already doing the little amount that I can and my heart is still broken for them.
I have a child (make that four) that I’m really worried about, and I do everything I can every single day for them and I’m still really worried.
There is something (make that quite a few things) that I don’t like about myself… and I ate pretty healthily all morning until now when I downed a quarter of a bag of Peanut Butter M& Ms and realized I barely tasted them. It was the LAST quarter of the bag, or believe me the fraction consumed would be higher.
I have more than one major event coming up and what’s looming is the possibility that I could forget one all together, show up late, double book and have to choose between two, or burn the food I’m supposed to take with only minutes before the event starts. All of this seems really really really important too, until I remember the first thing on my list. My heart is breaking for someone I know who is dealing with a tragedy.
So I don’t want to write about all of the things that we should be doing and feeling. I’m going to write about the “I’ve done all I can and I’m still sad and I’m going to get my mind off of it for a little while before I lose it” fix. Here it is. Are you ready for it? It doesn’t even involve alcohol. It can even be achieved without chocolate.
It is a nice….. fluffy….. adventurous….. far away…… fictional…. solution that can make things seem quiet even when you’re still surrounded by noise. It can make you forget tragedy and worry. It can give you something pretty to look at in your mind. It can give you a hero to believe in. It can remind you of happiness and love and make believe.
It is a book.
And I’m not talking about a self-help book! I’m not talking about a biography! I’m not talking about a how to, or historical, or a deep, heavy, but gosh doesn’t it make you think or re-think or want to change and then decide you can’t and down what’s left of the Peanut Butter M&Ms book.
That’s why I’ve decided I’m not ashamed to say that I like fluffy fiction with happy endings and possibly mystical creatures. There is value in a book like that. It is okay to forget real problems for awhile and concern yourself with the hopeless human girl, in love with the fallen angel or the alpha werewolf forced to marry so that two packs can join together. It really is. Tell me it hasn’t been good for you! Tell me it hasn’t gotten you through a hard day. Give me one good reason why it’s wrong to just enjoy yourself for a little while. You can’t, can you? Now close the bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms. There you go. Open the book. Nice isn’t it? Don’t worry too much about the character's problems. Remember- faeries aren’t real, so it’s okay.
Finish the book by Monday and come back to read My True Love Story, won’t you? I’ll help you forget some more problems.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My True Love Story

The Two Forbidden “H” Words

Day 735ish

I’m sitting across from Ryan at a candlelit table. The room is dark except for the romantic glow of two small flames. We’re finishing a delicious home cooked meal, in Bruce’s quiet basement. We are alone. Bruce and Christy have just left us to go and get dressed for the dance. Ryan and I are already dressed, me in a short, fitted, dark purple, velvet dress, my hair twisted up off of my neck, and he in slacks, a dress shirt and tie.
“Have I told you how good you look yet?” he asks.
He has. At least ten times. But do you think I could ever get tired of hearing it?
I beam at him, remembering the look on his face from about an hour ago, when he came to pick me up and I walked down the stairs of my home. Every girl should see that look on a boy’s face at least once, that look that is frozen, riveted, stunned, blessed. The look that says, “I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be here with this girl.”
Then, as so many times before, I saw the “H” word cross his mind and show in his features. His forbidden “H” word. The one that creeps into his mind because he loves me and he’s only seventeen and he’s a boy. Honeymoon.
Short, fitted, dark purple, velvet dress, hair pulled up off of her neck- honeymoon... Honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon.
He pushes the thought away and makes me laugh by telling me over and over again, at random times, how good I look.
I take a sip of Sprite from my champagne glass, and gaze at him over the dinner table. The moonlight streams in and lights his features and for an indulgent moment, I imagine that I can see the distinguished crinkles of time at his temples. I imagine the wisdom of age in his eyes. I imagine a lifetime of him saying, “Have I told you how good you look yet?” I think of my own forbidden “H” word. The one that creeps into my mind because I love him and I’m only seventeen and he’s a catch. Husband.
Husband, husband, husband.
“I foresee a lot of candlelit dinners in our future,” I say. “I will cook gourmet meals. They’ll be sitting on the dining room table, with steam gently rising from each dish the moment your car pulls in the driveway. I’ll come skipping out in a classic, yet somehow modernly sexy, homemaker dress, heels with sophisticated button clasps and a domestic little apron lined with ruffles.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Amie. You wouldn’t need nearly that many clothes.” Honeymoon…. Honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon.
I laugh because we both know the amount of clothes I described is not the most absurd thing in the future scenario. I laugh because Ryan has perfect comedic timing. I laugh because I’m flattered.
“It sounds nice though, doesn’t it?” I ask. “You… coming home… to me.”
“Amie…” Ryan says in that somewhat pained and chastising tone.
“What? Don’t you believe in happily ever after?” I ask, reaching across the table to take his hand in mine.
“You know exactly what we believe in. We’re members of a church that asks young men to serve two year missions. Two years away, with only letters to keep in touch.” He leans toward me and gives me a soft smile that says he loves me despite the harsh reality of his next words. “And I have a girlfriend that has an un-restrainable heart. That’s my reality.”
Even I, alive in my world of hearts and rainbows, know better than to make promises that stretch three years into the future. Would I wait for Ryan? Would I date other people? Is there some guy out there that I don’t even know right now that- No. That doesn’t seem possible.
If roles were reversed would Ryan wait two years for me? Or would he run off with the first wretched girl that just happened to sit her warm body next to him in the backseat of a car on some college road trip and fell asleep and “accidentally” let her head with all of its gorgeous, blond curls and its come hither smell fall on his shoulder just inches from his curious lips! Murder.
Murder, murder, murder
What am I doing? I’ve promised myself that today will be just about having fun. Keep it light. Whenever it becomes about our unreachable future, the frustration of it brings us down. The impossibility of our odds binds us like chains.

When I change the subject it’s obvious, but welcome, like we both have the same unspoken goal to force ourselves to remember that we’re seventeen years old.
“Today ranked in like the top ten dates of all time,” I say, “I had no idea how much fun sand dunes could be!”
“It was really fun, huh?”
“I can’t believe I let them bury my whole body. And I can’t believe that after making them PROMISE not to put any on my head, Bruce waited until my arms were fully pinned with sand and I was completely helpless and then he threw some on my face! But it was kind of worth it seeing you defend my honor.”
I remember how I spluttered and panicked and how the sand crunched in my teeth. Then I remember how fast Ryan retaliated by stooping to fill his hand with sand, chasing Bruce down and throwing it in his face. My hero.
Husband... Husband, husband, husband.
“We were so exhausted on the drive home,” I say, “The perfect amount of exhaustion to achieve the ‘delirious’ laughter at the sight of Bruce, post sand dunes.”
Ryan laughs at the memory of Bruce on the drive home, looking as tired and sand covered as if he’d survived a sand storm… barely.
“It looked like he applied glue to his eyelashes with a mascara wand and the then sprinkled sand over the top!” I say through giggles.
“That is probably exxx-actly what he did,” Ryan says. “But who am I to accuse Bruce of using sand for a cosmetic? I was covered in it too! I had sand in my ears! How’d that happen?”
“I had handfuls in my underwear! Not just a little! Handfuls!” Uh oh. I spoke of my underwear.
Honeymoon…. Honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon.

The night continues on this way, and fighting off thoughts of our forbidden “H” words proves itself successful on this date. We talk and we laugh and we dance, and on the drive home Ryan plays the most romantic song for me and tells me that it reminds him of us. On the porch, he gives me soft, short kisses, mixed with long, meaningful looks. The kind that mean, I love you. The kind that aren’t about thoughts of honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon… but that betray me still by making me wish more than ever...
Husband…. Husband, husband, husband.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Family. Everything Else Can Take a Backseat For Awhile.

I was going to apologize like mad because of slacking on my writer's blog. I was going to explain that my focus had to shift to my family for awhile when school got out and then we went on a summer vacation. I was probably going to complain about how crazy things are and how I have to compete with my kids for my computer now and how if one child isn't talking to me then more than one are at a time and it's been pretty hard for me to zone in on my writing.
I AM going to recommit and tell you that I hope you'll still visit, because my Monday stories are totally going to pick up again and get pretty juicy! I was even going to publish a Monday story today to make up for missing two weeks, but something happened in our neighborhood last night.
A friend, a mom, a beloved primary teacher near me passed away last night very unexpectedly. Our neighborhood is heart-broken.
I don't want to be presumptuous and talk about her too much, even though I admired and loved her.
I want to say that perspective shifts a lot when something like this happens. Life has to go on at it's crazy pace, but today there is going to be a lot of reflection. There will be a lot of hugs, a lot of "I love you"s. A lot of pulling family close and remembering what is much more important than anything else in this world.
I know for sure that the family will be cradled by heaven at this time. I know from experience that they will feel comfort from a world beyond this one and it will get them through.
Today, stop everything and have a conversation with your kids about whatever they like to talk about. Pass on that compliment that you've always thought of your neighbor, but never quite grabbed the moment to say it out loud. Today put aside petty differences. Today set the stress aside and sit next to your husband on the front porch swing.
When my Dad got sick, he started, as the saying goes, "living like he was dying". He said and did everything, and cherished all of the moments. How thankful we are for those times! But I always thought that was quite a bit of pressure on him, and kind of a sad way to think of things. So I say: Live like your living. Really, really live. I say, we don't necessarily need to cling to things with desperation. I think it would be nice if we just stop and allow ourselves to take joy in the good things of life. They're kind of rare, because life's hard. But they're kind of magical too, because they somehow make all of the hard stuff really worth it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Little Bit Postponed... Just A Little Bit... ;)

Thanks for visiting! I'm on a family vacation, but still plan to post my Monday story either later today or on Tuesday, as the inspiration hits and helps me "tweek" what I've already written. Please come back! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

The View From The Back Row

It’s a very busy time of year for moms. We’re wrapping up all of the school year activities and starting up all of the summer ones. I heard the other day that a good writer says all of the things that people feel, but don’t want to admit out loud. Maybe I’ll do that for someone today.
Admission: I wish I didn’t feel that I “had” to involve my kids in so many things. We run around frantic, we sacrifice for time together, and we spend a small FORTUNE and I’m not sure it’s doing any of us any good, but I don’t dare stop for fear my kids will get left behind. The bottom line is we have to do what we can to make sure our kids challenge themselves and become the best they can be… and we’re just doing the best we can at that.
My girls had a dance recital recently. Here’s something not many people admit: anything dance related is intimidating. You hear the horror stories of the fake-ified girls (yes, inventing more words now), of the compet-ified moms, and you feel that you’d better get your bum blinged out if you want to take it wiggling anywhere near the premises.
I had gotten myself psyched up for the whole affair. I had been watching the way the compet-ified moms operated. They drop their girls off early for the rehearsal and they save their seats. If you aren’t smart enough to figure this out, the joke is on you. You arrive ten minutes early, thinking you are totally ahead of the game, and you walk in to an auditorium filled with jackets.
I acquired this knowledge, but I still had one handicap. Two handicaps actually. One is five years old and one is three. They are little boys with messy hair and messy faces and a tendency to remove their clothing when I’m not looking.
We got the girls all glamified and sparklified, and I’ll willingly admit I do enjoy that,
and then we hustled the disheveled, but hey at least they're dressed, boys into the mini-van and we headed out. We made one u-turn about two blocks into our venture when something important had been forgotten.
We arrived, out of breath, but still coursing with adrenaline from the compet-ification. I had four jackets in hand, one for each seat we needed. One hundred tugs at the boys arms, one hundred times saying, “Shhh… just run buddy…” and I had made it from the parking lot to the front entrance. I directed the girls where they needed to be, while keeping my eyes glued to that auditorium door. My hand finally wrapped around the brushed brass of the handle, other moms were looking on, the boys were in tow, but all I could see was four prime seats with our family jackets atop them.
The door only moved half a millimeter and met with a “thunk”. Locked. I turned to one of the smug, compet-ified, successful moms. “Are all of the doors locked?” I asked.
“They are,” she said with what I perceived to be superiority, disguised as sympathy.
“You already have your seats saved in there, don’t you?” I asked.
She defensively explained that she did, because she had gotten there earlier.
I hung my head low and wiggled my non-blinged out and unsuccessful bum back out to the mini-van. I buckled the boys in and started to drive. Now was the moment where I might have started to cry. All of the effort, all of the hustle, I was sweating for crying out loud and I had to do the walk of shame back to the parking lot with my four jackets still over my arm.
Only I didn’t start to cry. I took a mental step back. I called Ryan Edward who was working right up until the starting time of the recital and was planning on meeting me there a little late.
“Baby,” I said when he answered his cell, “I put up a good fight today, but dancing won. Here’s the new plan…”
I went home and I packed two pairs of binoculars. I cleaned myself and the boys up. I stopped at Macey’s and filled my purse with snacks and treats. I picked Ryan up at his work and we had the most wonderful, leisurely drive to the recital. We walked in late. We sat on the very back row, far right. Our boys were loud and it didn’t matter at all. The binoculars were amazing! I could see the dancers better than I ever had. We took the boys out several times for bathroom breaks or just… “holy cow, I’m a little boy at a 3 hour long dance recital” breaks. Ryan and I whispered and texted and ate our treats and had a lovely date. It didn’t matter at all that my non-blinged out bum was sitting in the seat known as the worst seat in the house. To me- it was the BEST seat.
Try your hardest. Teach your kids to work for what they want. Be a strong Mom who does all that you can, priorities kept firmly in place, for your kids. But when you put up a good fight, and the world wins, relax. The view from the back row really isn’t all that bad. You just might like it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My True Love Story

Madly in... Like?

Day 690ish

Young “like” as we seem to be forced to refer to it, is like a dance. It’s give a little and take a little. It’s a balance between passion and propriety. It is rapture and desperation. It’s truly sweet sorrow. It’s gripping someone’s hand tight at the end of the evening because it hurts to say goodnight, but doing it with a glowing smile because they’re gripping your hand back just as tightly. It’s being shown a whole world of possibility… and then being told to wait.
Ryan and I are lying under the trampoline in his backyard, staring through its shady weave and watching the lazy summer clouds change from one beloved childhood image to the next. The cool grass feels foreign on my skin, but just as he would stand out in the snow for me, I would lay on the creepy, crawly, creature concealing lawn for him.
I roll my head to the left and look at him. “Do you remember that night, after that church activity, when we danced under the street light in the snow?”
“Yeah, I do. That was a long time ago.”
“It was! It was such a perfect moment. I loved it.”
“I loved it too.”
“Would you really go so far as to say you loved it? Or would you be more likely to say that you liked it a really, really lot.” I scrunch my shoulders in an obvious attempt to hold back a laugh as I so enjoy teasing him about his hold out on the word “love”, and I think that I’m very clever.
“He ignores me and presses on down memory lane. Remember when we listened to Les Miserables by candlelight?”
“Mmmm,” I sigh in recollection. “Bruce and Kristy were with us, a very good choice in double dating partners. They are always a good influence on you.” I elbow him and smile while he looks wounded at the implication.
“We’re lucky,” I say. “Our friends are pretty great. We don’t just watch movies, you know? We do really fun, creative things. Remember the time we all played board games and ended up laughing hysterically? We were rolling on the floor, we were laughing so hard.”
Ryan laughs and nods. “Remember that one time when everybody was watching a movie that we thought was pretty bad, so we decided together that you and I wouldn’t watch it?”
“Such a valiant effort. Never mind that we ended up alone in the next room… kissing.” The smile I give him is mixed with fondness and chastisement.
He is indignant at the world’s unfair oppression. “Well, how much can I be expected to resist? I might be a saint, but I’m not a superhero.”
The blush in my cheeks matches the heat in his meaning. I cool it off with another memory.
“Remember when you took me rafting up at Millsite? The water was so cold! My favorite part was sharing a tube, floating around with our legs in the water and our arms draped toward the center, just staring at each other.”
He props himself up on his elbow and leans over me. “My favorite part is always when I get to just stare at you.”
The minutes always twirl off into hours when I’m with Ryan. Before long, we know we should start our strolling goodbyes. We crawl out from under the trampoline and make our feet move slowly as we follow the path that leads us from his backyard.
His parents have turned the backyard into Eden. There’s a huge garden with vegetables, ripe for the picking. Irises that burst forth as if from giant kernals of popcorn, revealing yellows, purples and deep reds and misting the air with their sweet perfume. There are swaying trees and trimmed hedges and, my favorite, lilacs. The front yard is lined in fragrant, purple lilac bushes. We stop when we near them. I can’t walk by without pressing my nose to the blossoms.
“Well… I guess I’ll see you tomorrow…” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, but he looks a bit preoccupied, a bit perplexed.
“What are you thinking?” I ask.
“Oh no! You can’t say that! You can’t answer that question with ‘nothing’. Now you have to tell me.”
He has a way of hesitating; making it look like it pains him to do what he really planned on doing all along. He takes my elbows in his hands, draws me closer and looks into my eyes.
“I was just thinking that I’ve never felt this way before… and that it’s love… and… I love you.”
I hear big scene, end of the movie music growing and building. I feel a brilliant smile warming my features. I throw my arms around him and say it back with the weight of all of my feelings behind it so that he won’t mistake my sincerity.

Young love is like a dance. It’s give a little and take a little. It’s a balance between passion and propriety. It is rapture and desperation. It’s truly sweet sorrow. It’s gripping someone’s hand tight at the end of the evening because it hurts to say goodnight, but doing it with a glowing smile because they’re gripping your hand back just as tightly. It’s being shown a whole world of possibility… and then being told to wait.
Young love is true. It is real. We both know it. We both feel it. But it isn’t recommended.