Archive | June, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

30 Jun

About 6 months ago I did something so out of character for myself that I am still surprised I even did it at all. I went up to a complete stranger at story time and asked her how old her daughter was. We chatted for a bit and went our separate ways. If you’ve never had to make a friend from a complete stranger let me just tell you — it feels a whole lot like a first date. It’s not the most comfortable situation, so I was totally embarassed when after she told me her name was Asia I said, “Like the continent?” Yep, I said that. Out loud. But despite that we exchanged numbers and decided to meet at the aquarium a few days later. We’ve been aquarium junkies and fast friends ever since. And so have our daughters.

And I’m so thankful that I found her because I might just be drifting into insanity without her. It kind of seems glamorous from the ouside looking in — the whole concept of a stay at home mom. Always having time for things like taking a shower before you head out for your daily errands at 9, a clean house where laundry never piles up, and putting your feet up to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda with a hot cup of chai.  (Okay, maybe I do make time for that last one…)

So it’s good to have a friend where it’s okay if you are wearing the same outfit you wore when you saw her the day before. Someone who doesn’t mind wiping off a little dog drool every now and then. The kind of friend who will spontaneously go with you to see if “Mamaconda” has had her babies at the aquarium. But most importantly someone with a really good texting package that allows you to send hundreds of texts a day about how excited you were that your daughter licked a carrot instead of just eating string cheese for the last 5 days.

I love that Abigail now has a friend too. Someone who helps her learn to share a favorite chair or loans her a pair of pajamas so we can stay after dinner and play just a little longer. A friend who always brings extra strawberries because she knows you’ll want some too. And someone who gives great hugs, even if they are sometimes a little too big.

Because when you have friends like that they aren’t just friends.  They’re family.

Solstice

22 Jun

When I was a kid my sister and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood deciding on the two best houses that were side by side — because we were going to be next door neighbors. If I walked through my backyard and crossed the bridge my dad built I was at my aunt and uncle’s house, which just happened to be next door to my cousin’s house, and down the street from my grandfather’s house. When you grow up like that and love it, like I did, you can’t imagine life any other way.

So it is sometimes strange that I have found myself somewhere else entirely. I expected to be down the street from my sister and minutes away from family birthday parties and dinners. I wanted my kids to have the magical childhood that I did. One filled with friends you’ve known forever, cousins that aren’t strangers, and bike rides to swim practice with nothing but your towel around your neck and your goggles on your handlebars. Less than a year ago I didn’t even know Newport existed and now we are raising our daughter here.

It’s the end of June and we’re still wearing jeans and long sleeves. We put our sandals on and try to wear short sleeves because it’s going to be 60 and not 55! We go outside and it’s the absence, not presence, of cicadas that’s deafening. Summer swim team may happen, I don’t know, but it’s indoors and a thunderstorm would be about as likely as a snowstorm.

Those things that just spell summer to me do not exsist here. It’s like I’m waiting for something that may never happen — like living next door to my sister or across town from my parents or even getting back to Virginia. And this dream I’ve had for myself since I was a little girl is inside this balloon. I’m holding on to the string desperate not to lose my grip, but I know there are only two choices: let it go freely or cling to it and watch it wither. So I find myself slowly letting go because in my wanting to give Abigail a cheap recreation of the childhood I had, I am depriving myself of seeing the magic in the one she is making for herself.

Like the thrill of a golf course emptied out for the day with green grass stretching in every direction. Nothing but room to run after your daddy in your favorite too small hoodie and new shoes. Conquering the slight undulations in the earth as if they were mountains. And a laugh that echoes through the trees and may just touch the ocean.

Sitting there on the 6th hole with Hank beside me I knew I was watching magic. So if letting go of my own notions of what childhood should be gives Abigail room to create one all her own then I’m up for the adventure. To the unknown. Together.

Acts of Charity

2 Jun

I think I find that sense of “goodwill towards men” mostly during the holidays. But wouldn’t you know I found it right smack in the middle of May. My family was coming in for a visit and along with showing them the Oregon Coast I also had unpacking/organizing the garage at the top of my agenda. Everyone knew this before they got here and were fully supportive.

My parents and my aunt and uncle arrived on Saturday and by Monday they were already nagging, I mean, reminding me about the garage project. Knowing that this reminding would continue until it was done I just decided to get started. Plus I had a babysitter. All day. Amazing.

My mom and I went out first and started making piles to donate, trash, and keep. Later my dad and uncle came out to break down boxes and make donation, recycle, and trash runs. I was amazed at the end of the day when the entire garage had been sorted and organized. In the process several missing items turned up. Among the items I found a box of my shoes, our alarm clock, my yoga mat, and a hot glue gun. It was very exciting! I had so much organizing momentum built up that I decided to keep going and do our office, too. By dinnertime it was all finished and I was thrilled to have the rest of the week to relax and enjoy spending time with my family.

I woke up Tuesday to a beautiful, sunny day. I figured we had worked hard the day before so we would just take it easy that day. It was a perfect day for a pair of sandals. Maybe I’d wear one of the pairs I found yesterday. I didn’t see the shoes in my closet so I went outside to check the garage. The box was gone.

I knew it was no one’s fault but my own. In my haste, the box of shoes had been taken with the donation pile by mistake. They weren’t fancy shoes, but I thought they were pretty cute. Some of them had good memories too. Like the orange ones I bought when my friend opened her shoe store or the funky green pair I got for $5 during the CASA shoe sale at the Armory. The two pairs of dress sandals I liked to wear to school because they didn’t make my feet hurt at the end of the day.

So instead of just letting them go, I called Goodwill because maybe I could get them back. I was told that items get put out on the floor no later than 3 days after they are donated. My mom, dad, and I headed to Lincoln City to see if we could rescue any of my shoes. It was about a 35 minute drive so I told them that if they weren’t there today I would just forget it.  I walked into the shoe section and started looking. I found one pair and then another and another until I wanted to shout, “Get this girl a shopping cart! Mama’s bringing home her shoes!”

All in all we found 10 pairs of my shoes. The brown sandals were gone but I couldn’t complain. Then I saw the price tags. $7.99, $8.99, $7.99, $6.99. Seriously? When did Goodwill become Nordstrom’s? I did the mental math – at around $7 a pair this cart of shoes was going to cost me $70. Holy cow! So I decided I would tell the truth, beg, and see if anyone believed me.

“Um hi. I just donated this cart of shoes by mistake and I’d like to have it back. This is my purse, too.” I felt crazy and embarrassed as I explained my situation to the cashier and then to not one, but two store managers. In an even more deserate attempt I told them that I had many of these shoe boxes at home and I could bring them in if they needed me to. (It’s true I like my shoes in their boxes. Plus Abigail might have to do a diarama one day.) I then got even MORE frantic and said, QUOTE, “Like this orange patent leather pair – I got this from the J. Crew Outlet in Lynchburg (like they know where that is) and I only paid $5 at their warehouse sale. And this pair was only $5 too. So I don’t mind buying some of them back, but I really don’t want to pay more the second time than I did the first.” Someone should have stopped me. Then the two managers went to the back room to talk about the situation aka crazy shoe box warehouse sale girl.

I was mortified. It was a really awful feeling – standing there being completely honest and having 3 people looking back at you with skepticism. But you know what, the managers came back out and told me to take all of my shoes. They even bagged them up for me. And then it was my turn to stand there in disbelief. After thanking them way too many times we headed home — marveling at the goodwill I had discovered at the Goodwill.