- Put myself to bed at 11:30 with a new book–”San Miguel” by T. C. Boyle. It’s OK, but the first 50 pages are mostly howling winds, the incessant bleating of 4000 sheep, a woman with a consumptive cough, and a pretty heavy sense of foreboding. I put it down and turned off the light at 12:15, giggling to myself that it was really early thanks to the time change and I didn’t have to set an alarm because it’s spring break.
- Woke up at 12:30. Bright moon shining in the window, too hot in my room. So I did a load of laundry, changed the sheets, sorted a few more piles of stuff. Still wasn’t feeling tired but didn’t want to go back to the sheep bleating. A different book–that’s it! I downloaded the third in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series–”Voyager.” Just the ticket. Read from 1:20-1:45. Turned off the light and tried to think about the wilds of Scotland. Nope. Tried to make a list from A-Z of places I’d like to visit. Nope.
- Back up at 2:00. Switch the laundry. Step out on the deck to enjoy the cool air and Jinx the cat mewls her way up the steps. I open the door for her before I realize why she sounds funny. Yep, she had a mouse in her mouth. Now there’s a mouse in the house. I shut the cats, the dog and the mouse in the den and wish them all well.
- I consider taking a Benadryl to get drowsy, but G had mentioned at dinner that taking Benadryl on a regular basis as a sleep aid causes cognitive impairment. Yep, this is what we talk about at dinner. You would think I would be BORED enough to sleep. I only take one about once a week but I convince myself that this is a “habit.”
- 2:15, to hell with it. I get a Benadryl but drop it under the bed. Dig it out and swallow it anyway–first sign of cognitive impairment would be that I eat anything that has touched this floor.
- 2:20…speaking of floor, I go back to the kitchen and clean up that mess that Carlos made when he painted the floor with a couple of blackberries. I begin to think that I might be one of those women who could really get it ALL DONE if I quit sleeping. Martha Stewart only sleeps 3-4 hours a night and it seems to be working pretty well for her. Except for that prison stint, but she used that time to knit.
- 2:30. The dog is lying in the middle of the floor with his nose pointed under the love seat, so I assume that’s where the mouse is hiding out. I open the door to the deck and consider getting the broom to chase the mouse outside, but G is zonked out on the couch where he fell asleep three hours earlier watching Law & Order. The sound of me opening the door rouses him enough that he opens his eyes and looks right at me. I shrug and say, “Can’t sleep.” He grunts, “G’night” and rolls over. It’s good to feel understood.
- I like when the numbers on the clock line up, so I’m going to call 2:34 lucky. Got the ceiling fan on, the window cracked, the blinds shut, the cats on mouse duty, lavender lotion on my feet, a Breathe Right strip on my nose, Benadryl working its way into my brain pan. Surely this will work..right?
- Oh, for pity’s sake…now I’m hungry.
My baby daddy, G, has lived in the U.S. for so long and his English is so perfect that I sometimes forget that Portuguese is his first language. This morning was NOT one of those moments.
We were standing on the deck, surveying our kingdom….otherwise known as talking about yard projects that need to be done this spring.
“I’m going to plant those two roses by the fence today.” He pointed in their direction with his coffee cup.
“Oh, good. I like climbers on the fence,” I answered.
He pointed to a large pot in the corner of the pool fence. ”Looks like the chlamydia is coming back.”
“That’s ‘clematis,’ sweetie. It’s a perennial.”
He filed that word away in his language banks then said, ”Well…so is chlamydia!”
This is why I love him.
Today I spent eight hours on my feet volunteering at a consignment sale. The significance of the date didn’t hit me until 7:30 p.m., when I went to write a check for the two tubs of summer clothes and sandals I had bought for my kids. March 5, 2014. The ninth anniversary of the day when Richard and I said our marriage vows. I wrote about it last year in “The Artist At Our Wedding.”
Part of me is glad that I was too busy today to dwell on the date, to mark every hour by remembering what I was doing at that exact time on that day in 2005. I spent this day in the YMCA gym sorting clothes, checking for stains, running back and forth, tossing shoes into the right box, making conversation, making new friends.
Last night, I tagged my own items to sell. It makes me sad, every time, to pin and price the clothes that my darlings wore. The yellow dress Vivi kept clean through the Easter egg hunt last year, when her hair was still long and trailed behind her as she ran around Nana and Papa’s garden. The orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt that Carlos wore at Cocoa Beach on the day we went to see the Mars Curiosity Rover launched into space. A pink sequined top and ruffled skirt that Vivi picked out for her first day of kindergarten. Tiny shoes that never touched the ground. Pajamas that had swaddled my nephews, passed down to us for our season, then passed along again. That blue sun hat that Carlos hated, the one with the Velcro strap that was too strong for him to undo.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
I had that talk with several other mothers today–how sad it makes us feel to say goodbye to the clothes from our kids’ yesterdays. But it just isn’t possible to hang on to every precious thing. I try to remind myself that they outgrow their clothes because they are healthy and strong. Changing is a part of being OK.
A wedding anniversary. One life ended. Another life begun. I wouldn’t have these children if that March 5th wedding had ended in a happily ever after. Would I notice the bluebirds as much? I often wonder what it would have been like to have children with Richard. But I don’t have much time to chase that wonder because I am so busy living THIS life. That something old. This something new. This always borrowed. This beautiful, sometimes blue.
I’ve had it with that damn groundhog. Winter is over…winter lingers on. I have sunburn on my nose from this weekend and wool socks pulled up to my navel because it’s below freezing again.
So Punxatawney Phil can kiss a goat’s butt as far as I’m concerned. Let’s all spend a few minutes basking in the warmth of this picture of my nephew, Garrett. Could anything say “SPRING” like a baby goat’s butt?
What do you think this predicts?
- No one complained about having sushi for dinner.
- The sheets don’t have any cracker crumbs, Matchbox cars, wood chips, sand, or pee on them.
- It’s been 14 hours since I had to worry about the state of anyone else’s butt.
- I don’t even know which channel Nick Jr is on this TV.
- No alarm. I get to sleep until I decide to wake up.
- The bathroom has been “Sanitized for My Protection.”
- I had a one-hour uninterrupted conversation with a friend.
- There are no cats to let in then out then in then out then in then out. Then in.
- Surfaces. All of the furniture, the carpet, the counters–uncluttered.
- No one kissed me good night. And that makes me glad I’ll be home tomorrow night.
“I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.
If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth.
As if he had heard me, he reached for my hand. I did not need to look; his fingers were etched into my memory, slender and petal-veined, strong and quick and never wrong.
“Patroclus,” he said. He was always better with words than I.”
― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
I just finished this mesmerizing book last week and I don’t even want to return it to the library. I don’t want to download a copy on my Kindle–I will go buy a physical copy of this book so that I can touch it whenever I wish. It’s THAT good. There’s action, lyrical language, adventure, exquisite characters, classical mythology, and a heartbreaking love story.
I’m not sure how easy it would be to get swept up in the story if you weren’t already familiar with the characters and the twists of The Iliad (Homer’s epic poem of the war between the Trojans and the Greeks). Part of the anguish for me was knowing what was going to happen in the end, but being completely absorbed in the inescapable trek towards the final fate of each character. Well, that’s a lot of 50 cent words for this–I knew everyone was going to die in the end. I remembered from lit classes who killed whom and why, so it wasn’t a suspenseful tale. Madeline Miller spins a story so rich that it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.
My six-year-old daughter saw the book in my purse the other day when I picked her up from school and asked about that thing on the cover. I told her that it was a soldier’s helmet from four thousand years ago. She wanted to know who was fighting back then, so as we drove to get her brother, I explained the basic arc of the story like this:
Patroclus and Achilles become friends as kids. They fall in love. Achilles is a great fighter, the best ever. He’s half god–his mother is a sea nymph who lives under the ocean. Patroclus is more gentle and shy; he likes being a doctor. A war starts because this queen, Helen, runs off to Troy with a prince who isn’t her husband and her husband gets mad and asks his brother to get all of the other kings to help him go steal her back. Achilles decides to go along because he wants everyone to know how good he is at fighting. Patroclus goes with Achilles because they don’t want to be apart. Achilles and the Greeks fight the Trojans for years and years and years. Then Achilles gets mad at the king because he insults him. Achilles stops fighting. The Greeks start to lose. Patroclus doesn’t like seeing his friends get hurt, so he begs Achilles to go back and win the war. Achilles won’t do it because he’s too proud. The Greeks are about to get wiped out. Patroclus comes up with a trick to get the Greeks fired up again–he dresses up in Achilles’ armor and helmet and leads the Greeks into battle. It works! The Greeks start beating the Trojans, but then the best Trojan of them all, Hector, throws a spear and kills Patroclus because he sees the armor and thinks that it’s Achilles…
…and this is the point where Vivi interrupts me and says, “Wait. I thought Patroclius is Achilleseses’ wife? Is he a boy?”
I parked in front of the day care and turned around to face her. ”Patroclus is a boy. Well, a man by the time the war happens. He and Achilles love each other–they’re boys who love boys.”
“Oh. Can I see that book?”
“Sure.” I handed it back to her in its crinkly plastic library book cover. ”I’m not sure you’re going to like it–there aren’t any pictures.”
She gave me a look. ”I don’t need pictures anymore.”
Oh yeah, right. She opened the book to a page in the middle, stuck her finger in her mouth and set to reading. By the time I got back to the car with her brother, she peppered me with questions: Who is Apollo? What’s a plague? What’s a chariot? Who kills Achilles? Why? Does Patroclius become a ghost? Who wins the war? Are these people real? Where is this?
I answered her questions, every one. She was stumped by things like goddesses who live under the sea and prophecies that come true, but not the least bit surprised that Achilleses and Patroclius were boys who love boys. I am so overwhelmed with gladness that she is growing up in THIS world. ”If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth.”