Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adulthood: The Final Frontier

I'm not a big fan of being a grown-up. Granted, when I was a kid, I thought being a grown-up would be the best thing EVER! I could drive, I could stay up as late as I wanted, I could eat whatever I all looked good to me! Being an adult is kind of like going to Disney World: the build-up is incredible and the anticipation factor is breathtaking, but once you arrive, there's just too much to do and see and not enough time to truly enjoy any of it. Growing up is NOT like Disney World in that I have never been hugged by a life size rodent wearing white gloves...unless you count my husband and technically he wasn't wearing white gloves...
Alas I find myself spiraling into a pre-mid-life crisis situation. No, no, no, not the kind where you buy a sports car, start doing jazzercise and begin to shop at Limited Too for your own clothing. I'm talking about the kind where you look back at some of the choices you've made, or the choices you let others force upon you and say "See, there, that's where it all went to pot!" If only I had not gone to college right out of high school... If only I'd driven around the country writing poetry and playing the guitar, working when I had to...If only blah, blah, blah.
I think you get to a point in your adult life when you finally understand why George Bailey was climbing over the rail of the bridge and running all over Bedford Falls in the snow. We all have big dreams, big goals and it's kind of strange to me that as we get bigger and take up more space in the universe, or dreams tend to become smaller and take up less space inside of us, kind of a reciprocal fade as it were. George Bailey's dream had been so big, yet his life in actuality compared to his dream of past days, was small and getting smaller everyday. I never ceased to be amazed by the truths that emerge as you get to know people. You find out that the lady answering the phone at the corporate office dreams of opening a coffee house and book shop and selling her amazing homemade cookies. You find out that the kid carrying out your groceries plays the guitar like a demon and is saving up money to move to Nashville and try to get some gigs. You find these things out about people and it's a double-edged sword: excitement that you are not the only dreamer left and bittersweet remorse and a bit of jealousy as you contemplate the possibility of those dreamers becoming doers and you remaining a "didn't-quite-make-it."
Growing up, the cure for nothing it seems. And it would be awfully easy to simply withdraw from life. But then there are the huge things in our tiny lives, like our children and our causes and our different faiths. You'll discover, as I am discovering now, that the amazing thing about dreams and life is that they are both malleable and have a tendency to stretch to whatever form must be contained within them. I was never reminded more of this than I was this evening. As I went to put Kyser to bed, I took a good look at my little/huge dream and noticed that his eyes are turning green. "Kyser, your eyes are turning green!"
He looked up at me with a frown. "Do I have to go to the doctor?" I told him no, I figured his eyes would change colors, I just thought it would happen when he was a baby.
"I'm growing up! I'm growing up!" I no longer question the 6-year-old logic that he utilizes to apply everyday happenings to his universe. "Yup, you're growing up!" I said and turned around before he could see the tears forming.
About twenty minutes later, I hear him in his bedroom just wailing and sobbing. I ran back to his bedroom and sure enough he lay on his bed, holding on to Sock Monkey, and just bawling. "Are you okay? Does something hurt? Did something scare you?"
"Mama, mama, mama," he wailed. "I don't want to grow up, I don't want to get old." I held my breath waiting for him to say he didn't want to move out, seeing as how I've already got plans for a fabulous craft/hobby room in that space.
"Baby, you aren't going to grow up for a long time, you've still got a lot of years left before you're grown up."
"But someday I'm going to grow up and my eyes are already green and I'm already bigger than my shoes," he blubbered.
"Well, those things are true," I said. "But growing up isn't all bad, you can still have fun!"
"You mean I can still play with toys and eat candy and lay around and watch TV all day?"
"Is that what you think grown ups do?" I asked.
"That's what Daddy does on Saturday..." he looked up at me with his blue/green eyes.
"Yeah, that's what grown ups do..." I affirmed his belief and he quieted down and slowly faded to sleep as I walked out of the room. That's the one out, the one loophole, fate's little deal breaker - Saturday is Daddy Day and ain't no grown ups in the room!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm with Capone

I have ALWAYS hated Valentine's Day. I believe that the roots of this hatred began branching through the ground all the way back to the third grade when we were evidently "old enough" to begin to give our classmates "special" valentines. I didn't know I was old enough and to be honest there wasn't anybody I was particularly overtly fond of in my class - I was holding out for a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn type with a Foghorn Leghorn send of humor. However that was the year the elementary school flood gates of love opened up. I wish I could say that I remember everyone getting a big shiny red heart box of candy except for me and because of that rejection I began to mistreat my stuffed animals and recite the words to "Hotel California" over and over...but that wasn't until college. I only remember a couple of girls getting the boxes of candy, one because she was really the nicest girl in class and the other girl because I'm pretty sure she told everybody if they didn't bring her candy she was going to stick their head under the merry go round while she triumphantly rode atop their gravel-burned faces.
Valentine's Day just seems like such an "icky" holiday. You know, hearts and flowers and teddy bears and other stuff that make the sides of my mouth hurt like I've eaten something rancid, it's just too much. There are entire aisles of Wal-Mart that look like they've been hosed down with Pepto Bismol, stocked to the roof with cutesie crap that no one really needs or wants...really? I mean girls, be honest, do you really feel the need for yet ANOTHER life size blood red shag teddy bear wearing heart boxes and a leather jacket? Do we all really believe that nothing says I hold you in the highest regard like an electronic dancing lion that moons you to the tune of "Let's Get It On"?
So I decided to do a little digging and find out just exactly where this whole Valentine's Day thing got its start. As with most things there is a Pagan history and a Christian history - I will desperately try to refrain from comment on either and simply present the facts:
The pagan version goes like this: Back in the days of ancient Rome, because evidently there were no other civilizations and as far as paganism goes, the Romans were exemplary, the 13th thru 15th days of the month of February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a festival set aside to honor Lupa, the wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Essentially there was the sacrifice of goats and dogs, then thongs were made for all the men who would strip down, put on the thongs then tear them off as they were running through the streets so that they could whip the hands of young maidens, thus warding off sterility, helping with pain in childbirth, and quickening delivery of those pregnant women present at the nude thonging. Of course, there was the annointing of virgins with the blood of goats and dogs, no Roman festival or corporate retreat is complete without that, and then there was much free loving in the streets -again, common to Roman festivals and corporate morale building...
The Christian version begins with a pope and a desperate endeavor to keep naked, blood-covered pagans from whipping all of the eligible young women of the land in the streets. It's not complicated, the pope simply made it against law to cut goats, dug up the name of some poor, completely forgotten saint who died on or around that day (St. Valentine) and Christianized the whole thing by making it about said saint. Kind of like what the Baptists have done with the carry-in dinner...minus the maiden-whipping. Technically the celebration of St. Valentine's Day began 200 years after the saint had died - it also continued to be known as Lupercalia and included all the dirty Roman extras for 150 years after Constantine outlawed pagan rituals by making Christianity the law of the land. Proof positive that to the Romans, nothing said loving like thongs made out of dead goat butts.
But my all-time favorite, and the reason that I celebrate Valentine's Day would have to be the events surrounding the holiday in 1929 Chicago when Al Capone got all kinds of ticked off at Bugs Moran and called a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a big old machine gun. Seven men, oddly enough NOT including Bugs Moran, got whipped that day and it wasn't with any goat thong - thus the St. Valentine's Day Massacre - music to ears of bitter women everywhere.
Alas, I am a mama now, so I cannot spread my ill-tempered dogma concerning this useless holiday. Nor will I suggest that my husband, in a display of his unending love for me, strip naked and run through the streets of our fair town smacking people around with a stuff animal, because that's about as close to a goat skin as he's going to get; he's a bit prissy about that kind of thing... I'll just wait, keeping my mouth closed and cleaning off a space on the hutch cabinet for the inevitable electronic dancing lion that moons me to the tune of "Let's Get It On." Ahhhhhhh, that's amore!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bad Goodbye

I hate saying goodbye. When I was in college I would always wait until everyone else had gone before I would leave for Christmas break, spring break, and summer break. In my mind it was them saying goodbye to me, therefore taking the pressure off of me. If backed into a corner, I would usually duck and run, avoiding it all together. Goodbyes meant the end of something, usually something that I wanted desperately to continue and most always something that simply could not. I would much rather watch it fade away slowly, like something I could forget about little by little, giving the appearance of a clean break, letting everyone think I was either really strong, or just kind of a cold hearted bitch...
You can imagine the amount of loose ends dangling out there with my name all over them. Relationships, friendships, personal emotional investments, most of them never got the chance to end properly. You can imagine the insurmountable deficit of closure in my life. There would be another time, another place where I could say my goodbyes with the proper finesse and dignity. Life was not finite, nor was it defined. The most naive kind of immortality, I practiced day to day with no regard for the others involved, and ultimately no regard for myself.
There is but one finite goodbye, one that can never be revoked or smiled through. One that can never be taken back or made into a do-over and that is when God has His final word. I will have to say that goodbye tomorrow and I will say it with the utmost, deepest regret.
I am endlessly amazed by people who tell me of their past and speak of their regret. "I should have never told him I loved him," or "I said too much and I scared her." Regret for things that they spoke out of the very same honesty that I hold such a disdain for. My regret is always for things that I didn't say, truths that I couldn't speak, risks that I just couldn't take at the time and the knowledge that someday I will get the chance to say them. I will never get the chance to say the things I should have said so many years ago to my dear friend.
I should have told him how much I loved him, how much I admired him. I should have told him that I was in love with him and I didn't care if he didn't love me as long as he would let me be near him, I would have been satisfied. I wanted to tell him that it was alie when I said I didn't care if he didn't love me. I wanted him to know that I was so sorry that someone hurt him, that he was worth more than what he allowed himself to be sacrificed for. I wanted him to know there were times when he took my breath away and there were times when he was all the air I needed. I wanted to tell him thank you for popping the insular bubble that was my life and showing me beauty and art beyond anything I imagined; and I wanted to tell him to slow down, that he was racing through life and I couldn't keep up and pretty soon I was terrified that I would lose sight of him...and I did.
Tomorrow I will mourn the death of my dear friend, a flamboyant spirit that tore through my universe and ripped it open like a tin can. But more than mourning the loss of a beautiful, gifted man, I will mourn what he lost out on because of my ineptitude at being a three-dimensional creature. He should have known all of those things. He should have heard all of those things and he should have heard them from my lips, no matter how scared or stupid I felt. I cheated him out of a proper goodbye.
And now I can give him nothing but a weak, one-sided, improper goodbye. And he deserved so much more than a bad goodbye.