May 13, 2020

There is a piece of me that is enjoying every moment at home with my daughter.
We watch tv together. Eat breakfast together. Workout together. She shows me a game she’s playing on her phone that is just like FarmVille, and gave me a tour of her “campsite.” (I pretended to be impressed, but wasn’t really impressed until I read AOC plays the same game. Now I’m a little impressed and kind of confused.)
I asked her to look at my LinkedIn profile, and listened to her feedback about potential career paths.

She talks to me about her relationship, takes great delight in hiding condiments when I don’t put them away, plays her flute at midnight, and bakes at one am.

I know this is abnormal behavior, but who, anywhere in the world is behaving normally right now?

How do I know if something is wrong?

I wake her up each morning, because schedule is important. We exercise, because movement combats depression. I’ve been lenient about time on her phone so she can stay connected with friends.

I do not have a clue what I’m doing, or what all of this is going to do to her.

I’ll be fine. I have some leads on new opportunities. Sophie keeps my feet warm, and Sheldon is building me a garden in the back yard.

But what kind of scars will this leave on my daughter, and will I ever stop missing my son?

This is the season of not knowing anything. I’m a mom, and the stuff that I know isn’t that helpful right now.

Should I give her more space, or insist she does her homework in the living room?
Do I check on her grades, or let her know I trust her to that chemistry homework takes precedence over carrot cake?
Do I say something about the fact she has macaroni every day for lunch, or do I stock up on Annie’s?

I’ll try not to give into buying a $300 Nintendo to make things better, but it’s tempting as hell.

Arrrghhhh.
Julie

At 7 pm, I was curled on a recliner watching a new show on Netflix with Kate.

By 8, I’ll be working out, Sophie watching from the sofa. When the music gets loud, she goes outside. I hope the rain holds off.

Sofie is still confused by all the activity in the living room, and wishes we would eliminate this part of our new daily routine.

At 9, I might be on zoom with friends, trying to figure about what I can add to the conversation- does anyone really need to know about my chicken meatballs?, on the phone with family, (who actually might like to hear about the damned meatballs,) or talking about payment plans with Sheldon.

This lonely feeling comes and goes, like an ice cream craving, or bliss during the drive to work on a beautiful Monday morning.
I am not alone. I have family here, and a touchscreen away, friends send texts, call, and we promise to see each other soon. Then there is a quiet moment, when we wonder how long it will really be. It’s not uncomfortable, anymore, it’s the way things are.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the world. Maybe it’s just the way I need to be right now.

If you’re feeling lonely too, you have company.

Stay strong, and amazing.

Love,
Julie

Where I landed at the end of the day (Day 52?)
This morning, a friend texted me about a meteor shower tonight. It was around ten am, I’d just had coffee, I was walking the dog.

I mentioned this to every person I saw as I walked Sophie around the block.
I called my mom and told her. I woke up my daughter and didn’t even bother to whisper the news.

I’m not someone that follows astronomy. I think I might have seen a falling star, once or twice, out of luck, not from looking.

When I read those words, I could see me, in my blue and white flannel pajamas, sitting on the stairs in front of our house with my daughter. Sophia is lying in the grass, her leash looped ’round my ankle. There’s a glass of buttery chardonnay, half full, and Katy and I are looking up at the sky, our bare feet touch, just barely. There is the presence of neighbors, on porches, or lingering on sidewalks. I could hear their voices, soft and wonderful, and make out their profiles, just barely, heads tilted up to gaze at the night sky.

When I got home, I dug the beach chairs out of the shed and dusted them off. I put a bottle of good wine on ice, and found an old pair of binoculars in Colin’s long retired desk.

Around four pm, some clouds rolled in. The forecast said it will be overcast until morning.

Katy and I had a disagreement over hair elastics; this afternoon I did zumba alone.

I received a letter from the office of Unemployment that directed me to visit my online account immediately because I had a time sensitive notification. It took me an hour to locate the time sensitive notification, figure out I had to download Adobe to read the document, locate the letter,and make sense of it.
It indicates I have nothing to do unless I need to make changes, which would need to be made immediately.
Nothing has changed, but I’m working on it.

So instead of tacos for dinner, we had takeout, and they forgot the rice.

I’m at the table, scowling at the computer, wondering if it’s too late to bother Katy.

This is where my evening landed, somehow.

I had a vision, and it got lost in clouds and glitches. It was a once in a lifetime kind of night.

For forty-five minutes, I’ve been glaring at my laptop, missing a time that never happened. I haven’t even looked outside.

I need to find the dog, and my daughter, and we will go sit on the steps in the dark.
Maybe, there will be moonlight. Maybe there will still be blossoms on the magnolia tree, or a family will walk down the middle of the street, pushing a carriage holding a sweet baby, wide awake and laughing at her toes.

Maybe Katy won’t come downstairs, I’ll end up sitting alone, and the rain will come.

Goodnight, my friends.
If you’re in New England, and you’re heading outside, wear a sweater.

Love,
Julie

I walked Sophia, and watched kids skateboard up a plank in the middle of Church Street.
I saw a sign on a sidewalk that offered a virtual hug and all the love in the world in electric pink and blue pastels.
I spoke to a woman for ten minutes, through masks, ten feet apart, about how our dogs both like to bark through the fence.
I saw some friends and ate a veggie burger outside on a deck while we watched a bird feeder.
I cooked dinner, danced, drank water, bought wine.
I don’t think Thoreau would agree that I have pared life down to essentials.
But I am discovering my own essentials.
Before bed, I’ll look at the moon, kiss my kids, and scratch Sophie’s belly until she wheezes.
I’m lucky they are all within about five feet from where I sit, except the moon and the liquor store.
Stay strong.
Julie

Day Thirty Six

April 19, 2020

 
Tonight, I am grateful the kitchen is clean, and there are leftovers in the fridge, tucked inside Tupperware. The dishwasher works and is working, and I’m done with food for the day. Deciding what to eat, looking for basil, or finding the hidden parmesan, taking into account what everyone else wants to eat, cooking, plating, remembering to put Frank’s Hot Sauce by Katy’s plate, and eating.
 
I’m exhausted.
 
Tonight, I am grateful that Sophie is waiting by the door. Katy is upstairs putting on pants. The snow has melted, and the night air felt good on my skin when I stepped outside.
 
Tonight, I will walk around the block a few times, with my girls. We will talk about tomorrow, Chem homework, and what I was like at sixteen.
 
Or we might not talk at all.
 
Tonight, I am grateful to spend the rest of the evening in the company of my daughter, who is fine when the world is quiet.
She doesn’t feel conversation is as necessary as coffee. I do.
But tonight, I’m grateful I’m breathing, and that Katy still holds my hard, from time to time.
 

Day 20 Aka Sunday
There was steak for breakfast.
We all slept in.
We piled into the car, and drove to Scituate, a small town on the coast of southern Massachusetts.
We hiked thru a muddy marsh.
We visited the lighthouse and walked out on the jetty to the very end. I didn’t fall in between the cracks of the rocks, and Katy said my tiny frightened steps were adorable.
We laughed at Sophie while she rolled in the sand, and used a timer to send a picture to my mom in South Carolina.
About twenty minutes ago, when we pulled in the driveway, Katy cried- “I can’t believe I missed him!”
A friend of hers was coming to the house to drop off a slice of his birthday cake. They were going to smile at each other thru the window. She was allowed to come outside and wave after he had gotten back inside his parent’s car.
A Tupperware container was on the front stoop.
I’m looking at photos from today, and wishing it were weeks ago, and I knew what to cherish.
I’m wondering how to make her feel better, and I’m as lost as I have ever been.
Stay strong, my friends.
I’m waving at you from my window, and sending you love from my heart.

92434312_10216512670108584_6350027409613389824_n

 

The sun was out for the first time in days.

Katy has not been a fan of hiking with me since I dragged her and her brother wandering the Blue Hills behind the Trailside Museum when she was five and we got lost. I didn’t have snacks, and we probably ran out of water five minutes into our journey, which, I think, lasted about two hours. I’m surprised she speaks to me, or agrees to go anywhere near any kind of trail with me.

Today, I guilted her into coming. She was tired, and depressed. I was wide awake and depressed. By the time we left the house, (guilt tripping takes time,) the sun was hidden, it was windy, it was already 3:30 in the afternoon.

She didn’t want to drive. She put her head on the dashboard, and said she was tired. I said we could just skip the whole thing and go home. She managed to put her head further into the dashboard. (I don’t know how she did this, and, yes, I know this is incredibly dangerous. And I’m not the best driver.)

I was going to turn around, but spotted Sophie the Wonder Dog in the back seat. Sophie doesn’t like fighting and she really likes ponds.

We went to Houghtons Pond. Katy kept her head in her hands on the dashboard. When I pulled to a stop, she looked up.

“I thought we were going home.”
“I need to walk Sophie,” I growled.
“I want to go for a walk.” she answered.
“You don’t have to. You can wait in the car. Remember, you’re tired.”
“Well, then, if you don’t want me to go for a walk, I’ll go that way,” Katy marched off towards some rocks.

I dragged Sophie out of the backseat. She wanted to follow Katy. I wanted to follow Katy.
We walked in the opposite direction.

I took Sophie to the edge of the pond, and went back to the car. Katy was nowhere. I called her name.

I put Sophie back into the car and ran to the rock and yelled loudly- “Kattttyyyyy” and went back to the car scared as hell because my first go to every time we have an argument is to take the phone. I will rethink that in the future.

She came back to the car.
We didn’t speak on the way to Target.
There was no one at the store The people who were there were all wearing masks. Everyone stood miles apart.

For a little while, we were able to pretend it was a regular mother daughter shopping spree, the only thing that made it different was all we bought were pajamas and frozen vegetables.

We’re going to wear our new pajamas tonight, in front of the television, when we watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
It’s another Saturday night.

Katy and I have made peace, probably because I’m leaving her alone for the moment.
I need to leave her alone, or let her stay home when she needs to.
She needs to come along with me, sometimes, without the promise of ice cream or nail polish.

This is too hard to do with my daughter’s head on the dashboard, or standing in the woods, screaming her name.

I think she agrees, because she’s upstairs cleaning her room. (At least, she said she was. I’m not going to check.)

Peace be with you.

Love,

Julie

I woke up happy this morning, a feeling I didn’t recognize at first.

I ate yogurt for breakfast, with blueberries and granola. I emptied the dishwasher. It felt like a Saturday, a normal Saturday. I hadn’t looked at the news, and I hadn’t been on Facebook. I did know it is going to rain tomorrow, so I asked Katy and her friend to take a ride to Nantasket with me. (Katy’s friend has been staying with us since the shelter in place.) I was surprised when they said yes before I resorted to bribery, (Wahlberger’s) or begging, (I’m not proud).

We arrived at about 3 pm. The girls wanted to walk on the rocks. Sophie did not.
We decided to stay close, (I decided, they acquiesced).
I would stroll the sidewalk, they would run around in the sand.
Within five minutes, I lost sight of them.


I called. Katy was going to meet me outside a restaurant a few blocks down.
Long story short, I didn’t see her again until we met at the car 45 minutes later.
So Katy chose to hang out with her friend, instead of her friend and her mom. Oh. My. God.

She tried to apologize. I insisted she needed to be quiet or talk to her friend, (snarky emphasis on the word friend).
At one point, when my sixteen year old wouldn’t stop pleading for forgiveness, I pulled the car over and put on my over the ear I’m-not-a-fan-of-humans headphones.
When we got home, I dropped her and her friend off, and snarled at her to clean her closet.


I took Sophie for a walk at Cunningham. Sophie didn’t want to walk at Cunningham. She’d already walked the boardwalk for forty-five minutes, and it was about to rain.
I came home. Katy asked me if I wanted to bake bread. They promise to watch tv with me tonight and aren’t going to insist on Criminal Minds or The British Baking Show.
It was kind of nice, having something to yell about and having someone to yell at.


My social life revolves around Katy, her friend, and my dog. That’s a lot to ask of all parties.


But we’ve survived Colin, learning to drive, and the interminable battle of the clothes on the stairs.


We’ve got this.


Love,
Julie

6:45 am Wake up
6:46 am Realize there is absolutely no point in waking up. Discuss the situation with Sophie, who advises the best response is to go back to sleep.
6:48 Nap
10:22 am Wake up, again. Struggle with guilt for sleeping so late. Struggle with knowledge that I might as well sleep late, the first thing on my schedule is morning meditation with Katy, and she is probably quite happy upstairs sleeping herself. She is quite good at sleeping in, I think, or maybe she just likes to avoid mom/daughter conversations about her feelings, and uses blankets and pillows as tools in avoidance.
10:40 am Morning meditation. This was not my favorite. It was all about healing, which of course made me think about the virus, which of course led to me spending my morning meditation laying in the middle of my living room floor trying to figure out where I might be able to find baby wipes and tonic water.
10:40 am Not a very good breakfast. Don’t try to put yesterday’s roasted sweet potatoes in today’s scrambled eggs. No amount of sriracha and Swiss will help the situation, sweet potatoes and eggs are not friends.
11 am Scrolled thru Facebook and Instagram. Trevor Noah seems depressed. I would like to cheer him up but I got nothing.
12 pm Nagged Katy about homework. Asked Katy if I could help.
12:15 pm Laundry. I put some away. Yay me.
1 until 3 pm Waited on Katy to go for a walk. Scrolled some more. Called friends. Went on Facebook to volunteer to walk dogs or run errands for anyone that needs help.
Stared at the phone waiting for the avalanche of people that need assistance with their dogs and their errands. So far everyone’s all set.
Will post again tomorrow. Katy is tired of me asking her if she has any questions about her homework, and I don’t want to rearrange the kitchen cupboards. Or deal with the closet.
Resolve to deal with the closet tomorrow.
Checked email. Would appreciate more spam. Deleted emails going back as far as 2016.
3:30 Met Alison at World’s End. We walked along the cliffs, watched the dogs roll in the grass, listened to Katy and Juiliana chat, talked to Kharson about his art and agreed that the world has a lot of assholes; it was like three years ago, and we needed that.
5 pm Dinner. We are trying to be mindful of the rationing thing- I don’t want to run out of food and be forced to eat the ramen noodles from 2017 that fell behind the refrigerator last week, the raisins Sheldon bought two years ago when he forgot that I do not ever eat cooked fruit, or the generic peanut butter that came with the house.

This has not been the best of days, but one thing I have learned is not to declare that it can’t get any worse. It can, and we are all learning together what worse looks like.
I am learning how much I rely on my family and friends.
I am learning how to get up in the morning, even when I’m not sure how to move forward, or where to go.
It’s coffee first, and things follow. Beautiful things will follow, I just need to take note.
Even for those of us who prefer tea, or don’t need a beverage first thing in the morning at all.
Day Four is almost done, though Katy has promised me an hour in front of the tv, and I think I’ll walk Sophie around the block. At the end of the day, it’s nice to take a moment to look at the beautiful moon.

The day started with a trip to Newton to pick up a friend of a friend’s dog to watch over while a friend of a friend went on vacation. The interaction involved a large kitchen mitt, prayer, and the dumb bravery that comes when I don’t have time for coffee.

Dog and I made it home, and I went to work. Spent the day talking to prospective nursing students, 18-year-olds about the FAFSA, eating the best lunch ever with the amazing Alison, making calls, taking calls, and sending texts to everyone at home about the dog.

Home meant another blowout knockdown brawl with Colin. Followed by shoulder shaking sobs when I found his old soccer uniform in the hall closet. Colin held me while I cried and told me everything was going to be ok. I did not believe him but I went to Zumba anyway.

I danced for an hour, oh my god, I love that class, with my friend. She’s been going thru a bad break up for like four months, so some of the love songs made her cry. She went to the bathroom before I could hold her and tell her it was going to be ok. I don’t think she would have believed me either.

Sweaty clothes, and seats at Novara on the deck. Summer breeze and chicken wings and tuna tartare and ice-cold seven dollars a glass white Chardonnay.

Home. Made salmon with a ginger maple siracha glaze, roasted broccoli. Walked the dogs. Except for the new dog. He did eat peanut butter from my finger, so there’s that.

Now, this. Writing it down.

There are pockets of grief and bliss from loving my son. There is drama and the relief when the drama leaves for an evening to go somewhere else.

But it is not everything like it used to be..He is not the center of my world. Just one of the worst, and the very best parts.

And now, it is time to lure the dog out from under the table. It is time to box up the fish and the vegetables for lunch, find my shoes, fold the clothes.

It is time for bed. It is time to say goodnight to Colin, and goodnight to you, and pray that tomorrow the world makes a little more sense.