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Friday, September 06, 2013

My big crack

Like so many others, my phone has a big crack. Hyper-saturation and blurry are the camera’s permanent settings, and voices crackle in my ear in a way that makes me furrow my brow while listening. In other words, it’s crap.

In order to remedy these problems and elevate my phone a tool I enjoy using, I made my way to the Sprint store earlier this week. As the guy working there made his way into my account without my handy account number, he needed some of my super secret passcodes, which aren’t all that secret if you knew me back when and grew up in the same town that I did. It’s possible that you know what street I lived on, my pet’s name, as well as the make and model of my first car.

It was a 1982 Volkswagon Rabbit (please don’t break into my Sprint account unless you plan on paying my bill or purchasing me a new phone because mine is crap for the reasons I mentioned above). My Rabbit was dark green with a cassette player and a sunroof in which my ponytail would escape and ripple in the breeze. It was awesome and it was freedom and I blared The Smiths and New Order as loudly as the speakers could handle. This is what it looked like, only mine was green.

“There was a car called a Rabbit?” he clucked in disbelief.

“Yes, I’m that old, okay.”

“Um, I just never heard of it. Really, a Rabbit?”

“Moving on now…What can we do about my phone?”

I’m going to be 40 next week. I likely had my driver’s license before that guy was even born. And I’m okay with it. I’m actually excited about it. Not everyone gets to be 40. Honestly, I feel pretty damn lucky. Sadly, there is nothing he can do about my phone until next July when I’m eligible for an upgrade. So like turning 40, I’ll embrace my phone—the psychedelic photos (here’s one of R in his new glasses),
text more and talk less, and try to enjoy my big crack, which I’m pretty sure it’s not the new cleavage. Not everything is shiny and new. I’m learning more about that every single day as I need to wear my own glasses more often and must turn on every single light while doing anything related to seeing, and feel achy when I move from the horizontal to the verticle position each morning.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Big kids

We left sunny San Carlos and headed to Half Moon Bay where I’d hoped it would also be sunny (I was wrong). The kids had asked to go to Bean Hollow State Beach, but since I was the only adult overseeing four kids, I opted for the more-contained option outside Sam’s Chowder House. The water ripples like cake icing there and does not roll or tumble.

I spread blankets on the sand and tucked the corners in around me to minimize the fog’s penetrating cold—never mind that the kids were in swimsuits and belly-buttoned in ocean water. I rested my head against a large piece of driftwood. I opened my book and read. It was peaceful.

No one threw sand. No one bit anyone. No one whacked anyone with a shovel—they don’t do that stuff anymore. When they were hungry, they rinsed their hands in ocean water and asked for food using phrases like: “May I please have my sandwich now?” After I handed out caprese sandwiches, “Thank you” fell from their tongues. We would have been fine at Bean Hollow. They would have been fine at Bean Hollow without me.

It’s lovely to have self-sufficient children. It’s also a little bit sad to know that my kids don’t need me that much anymore. No one wanted my hands to build a sand castle or my eyes to scour for crabs. I was simply the conduit for their beach day. I was the planner, the sandwich-maker, the driver. Soon enough, they won’t even need me for that...I should ask my mother about this. I suspect she’ll know just what I’m talking about.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Living with us

When my eyelids open in the morning, I first notice the light. It’s not harsh, and instead of wanting to hide from it, I roll toward it and immediately notice the green. Leaves from the London Plane diffuse the brightness. I imagine I’m inside of a tree house instead of my bedroom. When C climbed into my bed one morning last week, we wondered how many leaves we could see. We also wondered why the barking, howling dog next door was barking and howling…

So much has happened in the last five years. I went to graduate school. I got divorced. I found dance. I endured 40 mediocre dates and one spectacular one that ended my merry-go-round. From there, life has settled down—my boyfriend and I got engaged in December, we moved in together in February, got married in May, bought a house in June and moved into a place with a big tree that could accommodate two adults and four kids (the house, not the tree).

As my world achieves the stability I’ve been reaching for, I am reminded that there will always be hiccups and challenges. The universe and its inhabitants are unpredictable. We just found out that my step-kids’ mom is moving 90 miles away. Instead of spending half of their time with their mom and half of the time with us, the kids will see her a few weekends a month and during some school breaks. In essence, they will live us.

The first emotion I feel is disbelief. I cannot imagine moving away from my boys. When my ex and his girlfriend moved in together, R was concerned that I would move away, as if I was perhaps obsolete now that one of his two houses had a nuclear family. I gently explained that it doesn’t work that way. The next emotion is sadness. The kids and their mom are losing their day-to-day time with each other—the daily routines around school and homework, rituals synonymous with childhood, rituals I’m gearing up for as we approach the first day of school.

Sure kids are resilient, but the only two people to really know the ramifications of this change are the kids themselves. And probably not until they’re adults. In the meantime, perhaps they’ll join C as we count leaves, right before their dad and I hustle them off to get ready for school.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A little leg

It was Monday night and it was hot. Really hot. As I rummaged through my closet getting ready for dance class, none of my regular outfits seemed appropriate. My linen pants were too heavy. My flowing ones would keep the heat in. The exercise ones would stick to my legs. Just touching the material made me grimace. I knew that it wasn’t going to get cooler as the night progressed. Body heat contained in our class would only push the temperature up, even if the outside temperature dropped a degree or two during the evening.

So I did something I haven’t done in perhaps 10 or 20 years—I wore a skirt that showed my knees and a half of my thighs. Gasp! I know it sounds silly, even as I tap out the tale here, but fear or shyness or some other ridiculous emotion has prevented me from displaying my legs (and wearing the right clothes on hot days). Whenever I have worn a short skirt, boots were a constant companion. Or tights. Or both. Sure, I’ve worn a bathing suit (water is just as good as a sarong), but not without the accompanying anxiety-driven perspiration as I moved to and from my towel.

I suspect all of us have that thing we don’t like about ourselves. Some people use cover up to hide their complexion, a hat to cover thinning hair, or avoid sandals to hide toes. We wear baggy clothes to hide our shape, and heels to give the impression that we’re taller. The list goes on… But for me, it’s been my legs. For years, I’ve worn long skirts, and pants, or capris. I could outline the boring details of what specifically I don’t like about my legs, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s in my head. I can intellectually say it’s ridiculous, but my emotions have won this battle over and over again.

But on that particular night, I wore the short skirt. As I walked toward the building, I’d wished I’d brought a safety pair of pants in my bag just in case I chickened out. Once inside, I felt as if I wore a gigantic sign above my head pointing to my legs and their flaws. I held my breath as I removed my shoes and self-consciously moved between other bodies as I waited for the music to lead me away from my critical thoughts.

It worked. The music grabbed me and I forgot to care that my bare legs were visible. The pink fabric swished across my skin as I moved. It made waves as I spun. It floated as I leaped. I was alive in a new way. Maybe I’m ready to outgrow caring what other people think—perhaps that’s one of the benefits of approaching 40.