My sophisticated 21 year old daughter, trying and failing to master the complex art of drinking while in public. I’d like to think if nothing else, I’ve at least taught her to be able to laugh at herself. If it’s not funny, what’s the point?
While we drank our tea, she attempted to write my name in Hangul (Korean alphabet), and then made me promise not to show this to ANYONE as she is positive it is horribly wrong. I’m sure this doesn’t count as showing it to someone.
We were just out wandering around, buying presents for Lily’s birthday (next post) and it was the loveliest day. I’d almost forgotten how nice it is to just wander with this one.
THIS is the gift I got on my “golden” birthday, when I turned eight on the eighth (except I didn’t call it a golden birthday – I only heard that term later. For me, it was going to be my LUCKY birthday).
THIS gorgeous creature. The Sears Free Spirit with the rainbow banana seat. I had never before, and have never since, received a birthday gift that was so perfectly calibrated to the exact me of that exact moment. I had already built this birthday up to massive expectations. The only thing I can compare to the overwhelming anticipation of that day as an adult was awaiting the birth of a child, but even that’s not quite right because I had some idea (or thought I did) of what a baby might entail, and I had no idea what would happen on that birthday but I knew it would be amazing, tremendous, maybe even stupendous, but overall so lucky. Like a thousand rabbits feet. And I woke up that morning to the rainbow bike in the living room and the expectation seemed to check out.
Then I rode her. I jumped on (what is a helmet? like for a motorcycle or something? no, I don’t have that) and raced off down our street. I noticed briefly that our neighbors were having some kind of gathering in their front yard. These were not the nice neighbors that we knew – the Wolfs on the one side and Mrs. Kolodney on the other, these were New People who had only moved in recently. No kids, so basically invisible to us. Maybe I briefly glanced over and that is what caused what happened next. I’d love to blame them, but it was probably just my trademark clumsiness that caused me to very suddenly pull the handle bars to the side, bring the bike to a sudden and unexpected stop which caused me to launch over the handle bars and fall face first, mouth first, on the concrete curb. See that nice open space in the handle bars that I could easily fly through? 70s design at its finest.
I don’t remember much. I remember a flash that happened a beat before the pain. It was sense of the impact. And then there was the pain. And a lot of blood apparently though I didn’t notice at the time. I remember feeling really confused. What happened? What was I doing again? Why was my bike on the ground. My first worry wasn’t injury, partly because I don’t know that I apprehended yet I was actually injured, but my worry was leaving my bike. My main concern was that if I left it, it might be stolen (stolen bikes were concern number one at that time in my life even though I never seemed to know anyone who actually had their bike stolen). So I got myself to my feet, picked up my bike, and walked three houses to home. In my mind it took a long time, like I inched past the neighbors having their front yard party while they just gaped at me, and then somehow was in my mom’s arms being swept away from the scene and into the safety of home. In actuality, I’m sure it all happened very fast. The neighbors probably didn’t have time to rush over to help me because before I could get halfway home my mom was running to my side.
It was a pretty ugly scene. It looked like I had knocked my front teeth out but instead they had been pushed back up into the upper gums. There was a lot of blood the way there is with mouth injuries. But beyond the concussion and dental injury, I was ok. No serious lasting injury. My mom took me down the street to our dentist for an emergency house call (old time dentist who had his practice attached to his house). He was just back from a fishing trip and still stunk like fish but there was really nothing to do, he looked around a bit and said we would just have to wait and see on the teeth, and sent my mom home with instructions to watch for concussion signs. I felt and looked absolutely awful for a while. But over time, the teeth did come back into place (one chipped but both functional) and life went on. I even rode the bike again and fell in love with her all over again, because, look at her, how could I not?
This was…..43 years ago now. But it will always be one of those larger than life memories both for what happened that day (the bike, the accident) and what didn’t happen (the luckiest day of my life, aka the letdown of the century). I think about it at some point almost every single year. Usually out of gratitude of the quiet gifts of a quiet life. Sometimes out of respect for the hard lessons this life can teach us, the things we can survive. This year my quiet gifts are the fact that Margaret came home last night so now I have all three girls under my roof for my birthday. Another quiet gift is writing this while sitting in the backyard, early evening, John reading nearby, dinner made, flowers all around me, feeling simply “well” despite the fact that I had a bit of a grueling work day. That feeling of abundance when your needs are met and your wants are few. I told the girls that all I really wanted to my birthday was to wake up to a perfectly clean kitchen. There is a beautiful strawberry tart with my name on it that Lily made me. I am tired as hell (see below), but I’ll sleep tonight. The world continues to offer marvels and outrages and tragedies outside this small space and this small moment, but here and now, life is ok and that is more than enough today.
Just bought an airline ticket to send the biggest kid to Seoul for six months for study abroad. I am so excited, you would think I was going. It’s been so interesting raising these kids – they are SO different than me, and I really don’t think I’ve ever stepped over boundaries pushing them towards things that were missed opportunities or wishful do-overs from my own youth. I was NEVER a performer, and so I’ve watched more with open mouth awe rather than envy at their escapades on stages or in ice rinks. I wasn’t much of an athlete so I was never the mom yelling at them to HUSTLE!, GO, GO, GO!, DEFEND YOUR GOAL! from the sidelines of soccer games (they would have exiled me forever). But I do regret that I didn’t even consider any international exchange while in college, and so this is the thing I’ve pushed and prodded. Go away. Live in another country. See the world through new eyes. What an amazing opportunity. At 51 I’ve never even been to Europe, and my 21 year old is going to go live in South Korea. How cool is that?
Of course, now I’m off to plan a trip to visit her in October. I told her I already have too much I want to do while I’m there, I may be able to swing by for lunch with her one of the days, but no promises. 🙂
I have invented a new sport and I am winning at it. The goal of “hammock ball” is for the human to move as little as humanly possible while keeping the dog with endless energy occupied. In Lily’s words, “that dog has no chill.” This genius sport reminds me a bit of my favorite game I ever invented when the kids were little – “sleep salon” in which of course they were the stylists and I was the patron who slept (or at least laid still and closed my eyes) while they did my hair. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Nice afternoon attempting to read with Lily, Oscar and our favorite Hummingbird (his name is Verdi) in the backyard. Those Summer feelings.
John and I hiked up the Wakheena Falls trail early this morning, much of which was decimated the Eagle Creek Fire five years ago. It was heartening to see the regrowth. The signs of the fire were there, but give her a few more years and even those will recede into insignificance. They can burn it down, but they can’t destroy it. This is what I needed today.
A breakup has happened to one of the celebrities who live in my house and while the heart isn’t broken, it’s a bit worse for wear. My mom’s choice for break up management was usually a trip to the mall for retail therapy (so many ill-advised clothes from Wet Seal and Limited). Our go-to in this house is a Burgerville milkshake. So the girls and I piled into the car and put on a quickly co-curated breakup playlist and headed across town. By the time we made it to the drive through, even the sad one was singing and laughing. It’s impossible to resist the pull of righteous indignation set to music. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. Try not to sing along with that, I dare you.
Just leaving this here as an unexpected good memory on a tough day. A reminder of the power of laughter and music. And milkshakes.
Bellingham was beautiful as always. Lily had a much needed break from the daily grind, I worked remotely from an Airbnb, and Oscar was his usual pain in the ass-ness. We got dates a bit mixed up so our first night was in a hotel, and the remaining three in a lovely cottage. Marg came and stayed with us in the evenings, it was so nice to have a group of us even if we didn’t quite make a family quorum. We were able to see the end of year performances for both of the choirs M has participated in this year – both very different, both lovely. One evening Marg took Lily to a fundraiser that was a fashion show with fashions created largely from condoms. She said “you are more than welcome to come mom, but it will basically be a room full of teenagers.” I stayed home and read my book and drank tea, but enjoyed the texts that kept me abreast of what was happening on the runway and raves about the musical act, Iggy Poop. Lily had a blast. Much of the rest of our time was just spent hanging out in the spaces between school and work. It didn’t exactly feel like a vacation but I’m so grateful at how portable work is these days.
Back home and missing M, but happy to be back and looking forward to giving Alice a big hug when she gets home from work. Here are a few random pictures for the memory book.
And because I cannot resist, here is my favorite condom fashion titled “biblically accurate angel”.
Last night I sat and watched beautiful young people raise their voices in a choir concert entitled “Hope Sings: Songs That Consider a Brighter Future”. This after spending the day consuming the unfolding horror of yet another formerly unimaginable, but now predictable, mass gun murder of children. To say there was some emotional and cognitive dissonance would be an understatement. My heart was so heavy and so full all at once. I think this is what I can do right now – to just bear witness to every single bit of it. Stay open to the horror, the grief, the rage, as well as the beauty, the joy, and even the hope, as impossible as it seems on days like this. Love requires it.
This was the very last song of the Advanced Treble Chorale program, and Margaret is the solo at the very end. Love.
Indescribable how lovely it was to see Margaret sing again. Lily, Oscar and I made the trip north to see her spring choir concert, a selection of sacred historical Western European songs. Marg is the short one fourth from the right. Oh to hear that voice again.