Monday, September 29, 2008
Futility, that bastard, he found me again this weekend. I was with a couple of friends yesterday and one of them, the crazy one he wanted a cheeseburger so we stop at a place and order some food. My friend, the crazy one he wanted to eat inside so we do. We sit inside a fast food place and eat, something I haven't done in at least twelve hundred years. So we are eating and my friends are talking and my mind is wandering and that's when I see him, futility.
He's sitting next to the couple in the booth in front of us, the woman she's talking and talking and talking about errands and home redecorating and the man, he's totally checked out and nodding and staring off into space and not paying attention but she doesn't notice or doesn't care and she keeps going and keeps going and he keeps checking out and checking out and it's like their whole life flashed in front of my eyes and I want to cry. I look around the restaurant and see other people engaged in similar acts of futility, moms trying for the eleventh time to quiet their kids or get them to eat or older kids looking bored as hell with their parents or people like me sitting with friends but not really paying attention and all of a sudden it's hard to breathe.
So I tell my friends, the crazy one and the other we need to get the fuck out of this place, it's full of futility and they look at me and at each other and shrug and nod so we leave and as I walk out into the sun I look back to see if he's coming, if futility is lurking behind us because that fucker is everywhere and I see him, he's on the hood of the car next to us and he's walking down the street. And it's this feeling I want to change, this awareness of settling, of all of us collectively settling because we don't know what else to do.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Things are good so far, some things he'd envisioned aren't quite right but for the most part it's as it should be, he bubbles with talk of kindergarten and toucans, the things he cannot wait for us to see and I miss him and I don't miss him, he's where he should be and I'm catching up on my sleep and wrestling with my own personal jesus.
In shakier territory I've failed to grasp the opportunity within my last post, I sit idly by and watch it float away. She's leaving today and again I've done nothing, the mere thought of doing something causes me to fold on top of myself from the inside out. It's ironic and I know it, I have no problem fighting all day long for the rights of others, access to housing and a warm meal. I'll take on the system in the name of the cause I believe in but I can't seem to muster up that same passion for the one cause that entirely belongs to me.
I think I'll turn this off for the weekend, I'll enjoy the warm sun and the sweet taste of freedom, I'll find ways to conjure up the woman I used to know and want to make friends with again. It's not much, this distance is new but it's something I can manage and that alone is something enough.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I've been working the table for two days now and I've seen the range of politically astute folks who no matter their housing situation proudly vote every single year to ones who have never voted in their lives and are signing up for the first time because we are asking them to. Because this is being conducted through work we are unable to participate in any partisan activities, which means I'm simply registering folks and not talking politics but politics are being talked all the same by the folks signing up, folks for the most part seem to be voting Democratic but there are a few fans of the GOP, die hard conservatives sleeping on the streets.
Only one heated argument broke out, we had to ask the two dudes to take it outside, one was carrying on about moose killing (he was a fan) and the other was trying not to lose his mind. But my favorite moment was when I approached an elderly African American man who when asked if he's registered smiled as broadly as you could imagine. Oh yes, child, yes. I'm already registered. You see, I've been waiting for this moment my entire life.
I've talked to over 100 people these last two days and what I've learned is what I already know, these folks deserve much more credit than America gives them, as we push them to the side of the street and chase them out of our parks we forget that they have a voice and a right to use it.
When you are inside the voting booth no one knows if you have a home or not. It's that one moment in time where everyone is equal and everyone gets to have their say and that's what I like best about this, encouraging folks to seize that no matter their circumstances because this is their right, their freedom, and while poverty takes away almost everything that matters it doesn't get to take away that.
Monday, September 22, 2008
So the jungle beckons and with one foot here and one foot there I will drive my man to the airport and watch him load bags of our belongings onto the conveyor belt and double check that he has my very long list in his pocket: where do we get water / where is the nearest doctor / what about malaria / what are our options for schooling / will we need a coffee grinder (you think I'm kidding on that one but I'm totally not) / what size sheets will we need for the beds / is there a fridge / can you install a clothesline / where do we get mail / how will we get into town / where can we get solar panels / and how about vegetable seeds /and don't forget those funky chickens /and hey are there screens on the windows and I will send him off with longing and excitement because he gets to go and roll around in all of it while we stay behind. And the other truth is that I'm not quite ready, practicalities aside I need him to figure out some of the more important answers to our questions prior to arriving with my child as well as certain items we should make sure to bring on our one way flight.
Some of the village women have placed special orders so I've tucked jumpers and lip gloss and vitamins amidst our belongings knowing he'll deliver them soon and over a cold beer will undoubtably show off new pictures of M and exchange warm hugs and if I can't be there in person I can feel it in spirit all the while knowing our journey is close now, close enough to taste and after he comes home we'll have left a bigger part of ourselves there, the velvet cord reaching high through the mountains and over the ocean and tightening ever so sweetly around us as it beckons us there.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Our carriage approaching pumpkin, we race back and head inside to pick her up not knowing if she'd spent the last three hours in misery or simply had a really good time. The latter, blessedly the latter was obvious, she was exhausted and happy, showing off her newly homemade kangaroo and asking when she could do it again.
And as we drove home in the dark, city lights reflecting off the windshield I place my hand on the back of J's neck, he glances at me with a soft smile while M chatters it up in the back. It doesn't take much to feel like a grown up again, a woman, I murmur and he smiles again and nods as we three head back to our home.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I am a cusser.
My personal foray into the land of the profane, began at a very early age when I turned to my best friend's mother and asked: "Will you stop being a twat?". Now mind you, at the age of 7 I had no idea what twat meant, nor was I really prepared to find out. OH but DID I EVER. With diagrams. Twat quickly fell out of my vocabulary.
My mother, bless her cute little soul, comes from the direct opposite camp of verbal expression than I. The harshest words you will generally hear come out of my mother's mouth are "hell" and "damn". They are usually structured into a sentence something like "Christine, that mouth of yours is going to damn you to hell!". She is enormously sensitive to bad words, and she may be just a little adverse to, oh, I don't know....taking Jesus' name in vain. Once, when my mother came to visit I had to work, so my fiance took her sight seeing. Somewhere in the midst of driving someone cut him off. Knowing her meltdown ability at strong language, he exclaimed "Jesus Christ!".
My mother, sensing her chance to save him from the lightning bolt that was surely about to slice the car in two, jumped in "Is Lord, praise him!!" without missing a beat. Needless to say, my blue streak does NOT come from her.I am the only living person that has ever made my mother so angry that she spelled out a curse word. In my completely tame (ie totally out of fucking control) teen years I shook my mother to her core. In a fit of rage, rarely seen in the females of the species my mother's fists balled up and she spat "S.H.I.T and I mean SHIT!!". This singular expression lives long in the annals of our family history. One year that was all I left as a greeting on her answering machine for her birthday.
My particular favorites are varied depending upon the occasion, and I reject that cursing is a sign of an inferior intellect. I mean, anyone who can weave together such lowbrow expressions into something solid, descriptive, and artistic? Well that's just amazing as shit. A well placed "Asshole!" along with the brandishing of the traffic finger? Better. Than. Booze. Calling someone a douche? Classic teenage name calling, taken to a transcendant level. Slipping a "fuck" in, under the radar? Come on, people, that is the stuff of legend!
Like when someone once said I was a pain in the ass to deal with and I smiled, and replied "That's a shame, you're a pleasure. Fuckyouvery much and have a wonderful day!" Does communication GET any better than that? Does it?
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."-Anais Nin
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We sit and point fingers this way and that. If only they and if only now but we did this, America. We did this. And we didn't just do it by electing George W. Bush. We did it because we see ourselves as insatiable. Because we feel insatiable. Our SUVs need gas and our deserts need green grass. We need to buy buy buy the next fancy thing, the plasma TV or the Pottery Barn sofa. We fail to notice the cost of that business, of what we choose to import and under what conditions those goods were made. We set up agreements we think are in our best interest with little concern of the fallout. I'm not sure who we expect to take care of us but I am pretty sure it's not who we think.
We've let a few make decisions on important things in terms of what is best for them with little thought about what's best for us. We did this. It's clever, capitalism, and we've been distracted. American Idol is on TV and when we aren't watching that we've got an entire army of home/body/relationship improvement shows to watch: they've got it figured it and they can tell us what we need. Trying to keep up is exhausting and then before we know it we've bought a house we can't afford and our kid is sick. There's no safety net so we've got to use our credit cards, we think we'll catch up next month and all of that is a horrible distraction and all of that together has been simmering on the stove for years now while others are patiently watching and waiting, our soft underbelly has been visible for years but now our pants don't fit anymore. We are in trouble, America, and no amount of lipstick will fix it.
We didn't get here easy and fixing it won't be either. But we've got to buckle down, America. We need to agree to start doing without. We need to get our priorities straight and we need to stand up for what is right. People are losing their homes. Parents cannot afford milk. The stock market is crashing. This election is predicated on personality and spin and we are in danger, we are in serious danger of electing More Of The Same. We must join together and see our way through. If not us, who? If not now, when? But we need to do it for the good of the country, not for the few that have been benefiting from our negligence. This land is our land. This land is our land too.
I will gladly pay more in taxes. I am only as good as my neighbor's good fortune. This is not a time to panic because panic only breeds fear and we need our strength. We need to see the trees in the forest. We need affordable health care, we need to end this war, we need to raise minimum wage and help others keep their homes. We need to vote. Good lord almighty, we need to vote.
Monday, September 15, 2008
In part, she wrote: But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
And it made me want to cry. I encourage you to go read the rest and then please, feel free to come back over and discuss.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Garage sales are weird animals. You invite strangers to come to your house and peruse the things you don't want. You deliberate on this, you agonize about what goes out on the lawn and then you place silent bets with yourself about which items will sell and which will not. After yesterday I've decided that I understand nothing, I have no idea how this world really works.
The day started early, we were dragging stuff outside when the first shoppers descended. Some folks are uber-efficient, they know what they are looking for and they quickly scan your lawn with their cars idling in the middle of the street. No old records? I shake my head and he's off, a smile and a nod. Others peruse everything, they seem to scoff at that great pair of shoes, the ones you were actually trying to convince yourself to keep. They grab the old broken item and they want it. THEY WANT IT! All bets are off garage sale people. I can't figure you out.
Then there's the folks who offer you small change, literally less than half a dollar for things that obviously are worth much more than that. The store purchased coffee in their hands is worth three times that and they had no problem parting with the two bucks for something they will drink and throw away but your artisian pottery isn't worth the price of a phone call. They are vicious, this brand of garage sale people, they stay the course and shame you and ultimately they will break you if for no other reason than to get them on their way. They will follow you and tell you that this is only worth so much and then when they pay you they try and stiff you again. You'll note that they drive off in a BMW and that makes you want to kick them in the shin and hope they spill that coffee on their leather seats.
And then there's the ones that are truly pleasant, the ones you know immediately that you'd love in real life. They see the value in your stuff, they fall in love with the painting or the dress and you see it in their eyes and you almost just want to give it to them, the meeting of the minds was so intense, they see why you own this and will give it a good home. You feel it and it matters. You want to hug them as they leave and momentarily your faith in humanity is restored.
Some folks fall into the middle, they are true bargain shoppers, veteran garage salers. They know what they want and how much they want to pay. They stockpile their wares on the corner of your lawn all the while asking questions. They notice M sitting at a table with her handmade sign: Lemonade and a Cookie $1.00. They see her sitting proudly with her cups and her piggy bank and they smile. They will bargain you to near death but on their way out they'll pay twice the asking price for that watery lemonade and you love them for that. And you will understand the haggling because to them this is an art and a science and you know you are only a rookie, delving into this world out of little more than desperation and some crazy need to feel like your stuff is being recycled rather than thrown away.
All in all the day was a success, what we didn't sell we gave away, we feel a thousand pounds lighter and came away with some walking around money. But the social experiment stays with me, each of these people on our lawn represented a world view, an opinion, a vote. These folks took a piece of me with them when they left and one or two even left a piece of them with us. If I was still in school I'd consider garage sales as a thesis topic, the underpinnings of our collective psyche sprawled on lawns across America, each of us ever hopeful we'll find the thing that suits us when we least expect it before returning back to our collective solitudes in search of the next best thing.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Later though, in the quiet of bathtime and gentle splashing I hear her, Daddy, she says, Mommy doesn't want me to grow. Oh baby, she does. She just misses your babyness too. I know, Daddy. I'm going to stay with her forever. And I lean against the wall in our tiny hall, my head resting against cool plaster. Do that, I think. Let's just do that.
In other news, she and I managed to co-review a cool new game this week, come by and see for yourself.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
But back to the other. So much talking. Cajoling even. I am not so good at cajoling yet I find myself wanting to be cajoled. No one tells you so much of this is really up to you. Two steps forward. One half step back.
I have been absent. I know it. You do too. I had some guests here holding down the fort and they did a lovely job didn't they? Shined some lightness into dusty spaces. There's more. I miss you. Bon had her baby. Her little girl. I sat here smiling about that for the longest time.
Seven years ago I was in the State capital. I was in a hotel but I can't remember which one. A friend on another floor, the man whose performance we were there to see called us early. Turn on the TV he said. We've been attacked. The person I was with thought he was joking, in the hazy still sleeping early dawn he hung up the phone and turned over and muttered just loudly enough for me to hear. I knew my friend's humor, this wasn't it. I turned on the TV. We didn't go back to sleep. My friend stood up a few hours later and spoke to 500 people about peace and tolerance. Coincidentally he was supposed to talk about peace and tolerance. They considered cancelling but he said the show would go on. The show must go on. Today more than ever we needed to hear what he had to say. Everyone was crying and we sat in the front row. My friend, this person I love he looked at me during his performance, he held my eye for the longest time but all I could see was smoke and all he could think about was the family he hadn't yet been able to reach. We didn't sleep for a long time after that. We still need to wake up.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Community organizing is a process by which disempowered people—most often low- and moderate-income people—are brought together to act in their common self-interest. Community organizers act as area-wide coordinators of programs for different agencies in an attempt to meet community needs for health and welfare services. They also facilitate self-help programs initiated by local common-interest groups, for example, by training local leaders to analyze and solve the problems of a community. Community organizers work actively, as do other types of social workers, in community councils of social agencies and in community-action groups. Wikipedia.
Like so many others, I've been dismayed and even outraged at the disrespect that some folks have shown to Community organizing over the past weeks. Community organizing is about equality, about giving a voice to those who cannot be heard, to bring small groups of people together around a cause and turn them into a larger group and have their voices heard. Some of our country's greatest leaders of our time were community organizers, from Dr. Martin Luther King to Cesar Chavez, folks who knew life could be better for others in their community and were brave and talented enough to navigate political systems and corporations and show others why it matters too. But it didn't start with them, community organizing has been a part of our society for more than 100 years, early pioneers include Dorothy Day and her social justice efforts on behalf of the poor.
I've had the honor of being involved in grassroots campaigns and poverty efforts and let me tell you, it's these folks who get things done. By the time the issue is heard in your local community politics or nationally in Congress or the Senate, it's due to thousands of hours of efforts by incredibly dedicated people who are wise enough to be the change they want to see in the world and strong enough to bring us along with them. Without successful community organizing efforts countless people would have been left out of opportunities to live a better and fairer life. Without a resounding choir of voices advocating for good, people would continue to go unheard.
So when folks want to make a mockery of this very patriotic and critical process in America it only serves to remind me why community organizers are so important. They know what the truth is and we count on them to tell our story, not just for them, and not just to get elected, but because they are fighting for causes much bigger than themselves. And that my friends, is change you can really believe in.
The August Just Posts
Anne with Yolanta
Cecileaux with Tomorrow, 40 years ago and Why neoconservatism deserved to fail
Emily with Saving the Planet for Starbucks Customers of Tomorrow
Flutter with Life is good, even when it's crap
Girlgriot with It's not easy being green
HerBadMother on blogher with Toss the Tylenol, Nursing Moms: This is Terrifying, Lost boy and Hide Your Hooters, The Haters Are Coming
Holly with Games for the haves and have nots
Jen with God in the house
Kittenpie with Down and Out in Riverdale
Lara with My little girl is the issue
Lisa with How a graduate marketing class saved my life
Mad with Flotsam and Take back the night
Megan with Realities
Mir Kamin on blogher with School supplies socialism makes for an angry village
Neil with The Orthodox Jewish guy outside of the supermarket
Pundit Mom with DNC on the homefront: Ellen Malcom of Emily's list and Homeless children, don't count on John McCain
Wrekehavoc with Stop using sex as a weapon
YTSL with Life in West Kowloon
Some of the Just Readers
Don't forget to stop by Mad and Su's before you go and see what they've cooked up at their end of the Just Post table. And thank you for participating in this month's Roundtable, whether by writing or reading or leaving a comment to let others know you've appreciated their words. We are here every month on the 10th and all are welcome to join us - all you have to do is write.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Yo, it's Motherbumper here and I have no idea why I would start my guest post with a "yo" considering I'm about as in touch with my street-side as I am with my inner-nucleur physicist, but it felt like a good way to kick it to the K-side over here. K being katie as in motherbumper. Anyhow....
Before I left for San Francisco in July to attend the non-stop
Not just washed, cut, and blow-dried, I wanted something different. Something I could work with. My Wednesday Addams-style stringy locks just weren't cutting it.
Isn't it strange how thin, stringy, limp locks never look good except if you're a model who looks like an addict that weighs 70lbs soaking wet, is six feet tall, and has the help of some man who charges hundreds of dollars per hour and can purposefully made your hair look that way?
Blah hair women of the world who are of average height and like to wear their hair long need to unite - we need to have an uprising - or at least find a manageable up-do or make turbans acceptable even if you don't own a yacht and smoke cigarettes with a long-ass filter. *deep breath*
ANYHOW - I gots mah hair cut and decided to get bangs.
Anyhow, the new style totally had to include bangs because they hide a multitude of sins and crevices in my forehead. And now that I'm close to 40, I've succumbed to the media monster and want to hide the sins and crevices. And buy a Ford.
After making the bang-plunge, I was pleased. Sure, it meant whipping out my straightening iron every morning, but only for a two-minute job - even my super-lazy ass could deal with that kind of upkeep.
But then something happened in the past six weeks.
My hair had the nerve to grow.
And let me tell you, I now LOVE/HATE my hair.
Love because it still hides the sins of years past that might include sun, lack of sunscreen, perhaps some smoking, and maybe not wearing sunglasses when standing directly in aforementioned sun without aforementioned sunscreen. Did I mention smoking?
Hate because these bangs have suddenly taken on a life of their own. To wit: I woke up the other morning looking like Sonny Crockett... or maybe it was Ricardo Tubbs - never could keep those f**kers straight - but I was mad. No wait - it wasn't Crockett or Tubbs... more like a Leif Garrett feather-backed (or is that feathered-back?) quality that makes me weep.
Why do I weep? I weep because it does it on it's own. I fix it before leaving the house in the
afternoon morning but then I catch a glimpse in a reflective surface while out and about AND THERE IT IS. Crockett & Tubbs meets Leif Garrett on a small Irish chick in the year 2008.
So I did what any of you cheap bastards like me would do - I bought scissors. Yes, when other [a.k.a. normal] people would have gone for another trim, I choose to splash out $4 on sharp pointy scissors figuring how hard could it be to cut bangs?
SERIOUSLY - STOP LAUGHING - I thought the blogosphere was all about support for your fellow sistah-friend - why are you all still laughing? Bang cutting seems relatively simple, no?
OK - it's only fair that you laugh because I'd be laughing at a fool like me.
So yes, I tried cutting it myself and now it feathers even worse.
Send help because Jose Eber keeps ignoring my calls.
I'd like to thank Jen for contributing to why I need bangs and for giving me this space to rant on such a superficial topic - you know, because she's so damn superficial, just like me.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Margaret Mead said it best: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Ironically, without community organizers Sarah Palin would have been given the opportunities she has today. Without women fighting for the rights to vote for other women, none of this would be possible today. Men would still hold all public office. Women wouldn't be voting. So think on this next time you want to demean the power of the people coming together to change our world.
And speaking of community organizing, today is the last day to send your Just Posts from August to girlplustwo(at)yahooDOTcom. The Roundtable is coming up on the 10th and everyone is welcome to join us.
Friday, September 05, 2008
i can't believe you big you are
how much you've grown, your legs
they dangle down past my knees when i hold you.
how funny you are (you make us laugh so hard we ache)
you are filled with joy
and compassion, you greet others with hugs and help them up when they fall
you are earnest in your exploration and your belly laughs are music.
my heart has never been more full,
in awe of you
my precious baby girl
today we celebrate you.
happy birthday baby.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
We are die-hard liberals.
Sure. we're Catholic, and practicing, at that. We attend Mass every Saturday evening, and The Poo puts our weekly contribution to the upkeep of the church in the usher's basket. She thinks that's what money is for, and when she gets a few coins she tells us, "This is my money for church."
But we're Catholic Worker kind of people - good works and forgiveness and how-can-we-presume-to-know-the-will-of-God kind of people. We don't judge. We do our best to lend a hand to mankind through good works, charity and open-mindedeness.
We're voting for Obama, and the refrain in our house when we watch the McCain-Palin trainwreck is: "I can't believe we're LOSING to these guys!"
We are blue-state kind of people.
Unless it is a Saturday.
On Saturday, our house is scarlet.
Yes, people, it is college football season again, and in the House of Chicken you route for The Ohio State University, or you go home.
You see, Mr. C is from Cleveland, that old Mistake On The Lake. I spend a portion of every holiday in that good state - you know, the one that decides who will be president.
The state where Hilary won. Remember that? No one thought she could pull it out, and yet, those quirky Ohioans, they gave her the prize.
"Quirky" doesn't begin to describe my own personal Ohioan, who hails from this Rust Belt state but has a degree on his wall that bears the name of the world's most prestigious Ivy League institution.
God, no. Not Yale.
But watch the man on a Saturday afternoon and you'd think he not only graduated a Buckeye but actually bleeds water from Lake Erie. I remember one OSU-Michigan game (a championship, maybe?) that almost ended our relationship. I, you see, did the most horrible deed - I sat in Mr. C's seat when he got up to use the bathroom.
When he returned and saw me in his spot, he lost it. I jinxed the game! They would lose! Why didn't I JUST STAY IN MY OWN SEAT?
We made it through, barely, and we both learned our lesson. Or rather, I learned mine. Stay far, far away from home on Saturdays in the fall. Go to the market, go to the mall, go to the moon ... just don't stay home.
Because as Ohio goes, so goes Mr. Chicken.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
After leaving my dignity in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru on Friday morning, I was bound and determined to have a better day Saturday. With Dave busy putting the new floor in the living/dining room, I was parenting solo and wanted to do something fun with the kids. I decided to take them to a huge beachfront park in my hometown. It’s a bit of a drive, but there’s lots to do (read: it’s a good way to kill an afternoon). After feeding the kids a quick lunch, we donned hats and sunscreen, grabbed some cold bevies and got on our way.
Being Labour Day weekend, the area was packed and it was slim pickin’s as far as parking was concerned, but after a fucking thousand few spins around the block I managed to snag a spot in a prime location. Sweet!, thought I, and off we went.
We’d been at the park for about ten minutes when Oliver announced that he had to pee. This is classic Oliver – no matter what the destination the boy has to urinate upon arrival. Every. Time.
As we walked down the beach to the bathrooms we talked about what we’d do after Oliver peed; Julia wanted to take her shoes off and wade in the water, and since I could feel the sweat dripping down my back, I thought that was a FINE IDEA. Once in the bathroom, Oliver made a beeline for a stall, pushed open the door, stood in front of the toilet…
…and peed his pants.
“I peed in my pants!” he announced enthusiastically; clearly this was something he was quite proud of.
“Yeah, I see that, buddy,” I said weakly. Inside, however, I was screaming, I drove forty-five minutes only to have you piss yourself ten minutes after we get here?! WTF? And of course, I’d brought sunscreen and hats and drinks and money for ice cream, but I hadn’t brought a change of clothes for Oliver.
I called Dave as I herded the kids toward the car. “We’d been here all of ten minutes before Oliver peed his pants,” I said, bordering on whining. “What am I going to do now?”
Dave suggested I go to Value Village and get him a cheap pair of shorts there, which is exactly what I ended up doing. But instead of going back to the beach and spending half an hour looking for another parking spot, I decided (to the kids’ delight) to take them to a big park/splash pad instead. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, I bought them some snacks, they got wet and played at the park…a good time was had by all.
Until it was time to leave. I’d been standing under an apple tree watching them slide down a pole, but when I walked over to tell Julia it was time to go, Oliver was nowhere to be seen.
My eyes darted to the splash pad, but he wasn’t there. He wasn’t on the main play structure nor was he on the smaller one, and as I climbed the stairs to the middle of the main structure for a better vantage point I could feel hot tears pricking up behind my eyes. Losing Oliver is one of my biggest fears – he’s easily distracted and prone to taking off; he’s the kind of kid who could disappear even if you were looking right at him.
“Oliver!” I shouted. “OLIVER!” Below me on the spongy ground, I could hear Julia calling his name, too.
He didn’t come. I kept shouting and shouting, but he didn’t come.
I started to panic. Everything started spinning. The sounds around me – children’s laughter and squeals and mothers calling to their kids in cautionary tones – were echoing; I felt like I was falling down a well. All I could hear was the rising panic in my voice and my heart pounding inside my head. I was running now, shaking and running, circling the playground, my eyes scanning the soccer field, the tennis courts, the fence line by the street…
Oh god, I thought. Oh god oh god oh god. Where is he? WHERE IS HE? I felt sick.
And then I heard Julia shout, “There he is!”
I scanned the park again and spotted him, over by the parking lot, running toward me with a bewildered look on his face. I started off toward him, Julia beside me, and scooped him up in my arms, kissed his flushed cheek and whispered in his ear. “There you are,” I breathed. “Where were you?”
“I couldn’t find you, Mummy,” he said in a small voice. “I was lookin’ for you.”
We started toward the car, Julia holding my hand, Oliver safe in my arms. “Were you lost, buddy?” I asked. He nodded, and on the way home we talked about what to do when you’re lost.
I glanced at him in the rearview mirror many, many times on the way, my beautiful blonde-haired, fair-skinned boy, with his big eyes, wide grin and chipped front tooth. I was still shaky when we got home – hell, I was still shaky when I woke up the next morning.
A whole lot can happen in the blink of an eye.