Humbled

November 13, 2017

I can tell the temperature,
within a degree or two,
first thing, every morning,

when I open the door
to let the cat in.

When I hear my best friend’s voice
over the phone,
all she has to say is hello,
and I know if it’s time to reach for my car keys,
make some soup,
or find a spot to listen.

I read body language,
talk to dogs,
and understand why
the three year old boy next door
finds poop endlessly amusing.

But I don’t know what’s going on with my 17 year old son.

I know where he is-

a flight of muddy stairs
a damp towel outside
a closed door.

I eavesdrop on his conversations,
Not to hear the words,
But to try to recognize his voice.
It hasn’t worked.

He is steps and oceans away.

I am here,
with clean laundry.

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I have never been a woman that accessorized. I lose earrings. Bracelets get caught in my steering wheel. And every time I change my bag, I lose my license. Or a credit card. Or my favorite lipstick.

Six months ago, something happened. I “stole” a scarf from my 11 year old daughter. The scarf had been hanging around a teddy bears neck since her 8th birthday party so don’t judge me too harshly. I liked wearing it. It was like Jacob’s coat of many colors except it was a scarf. And it went with everything. It had many colors. I felt like a grown up. I felt like I could guest host a talk show. I felt “put together.”

Next, a friend passed on a scarf, or shawl, or pashmina, a large piece of cloth intended for draping around the upper half of the body. I liked wearing that too, though I still haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. Most of the time, I put it over my head if it’s raining. Once I get inside, I fold it into a triangle and pretend I’m a woman in need of a rocking chair. Which often I am.

For Christmas, I got two infinity scarves. Are you familiar with this latest rage sweeping the nation? (I think it’s been a few years, but I don’t get to the hair salon very often. The last Vogue I read was from 2012. I think they might have used the term revolutionary. Or maybe they were talking about a new kind of bang. As in short cropped hair on the forehead. There are a lot of revolutions in the world of accessories and hair. Not just the kind that grows on your head but that’s a whole ‘nother story. I need to go to the salon more.)

They are both blue, my new Christmas infinity scarves. One is turquoise blue, the other is a royal blue. They both go with almost everything I own, especially when framed by my very favorite jean jacket. Which is denim blue. (Duh, you are thinking. No, I’m telling you. Denim is not necessarily the color of denim any more. It was hard to find a denim colored denim jacket.)

I like them. I, who have never worn any accessories, except for brief binges on earrings, an intense love affair with a wrist cuff, and a series of flirtations in my late 30’s with a series of hair ornaments, have embraced the scarf. For the time being. The patchwork scarf I stole from my daughter. The burnt orange hand me down from my dear friend that I have yet to define. And the two Christmas gifts in the most beautiful shades of blue. Infinity scarfs.

The givers knew me well. The scarves are circular, so there is no draping or tying or folding to be done. It is not likely they will slip into my coffee or dangle in my soup.

And I need to eat more soup. I’ve seen the commercials. Women that eat lots of soup look like they are about 34, have perfectly groomed eyebrows and can shop for swim suits on line because everything looks good on them.

Christmas is over. It’s time to put away cup cakes and frivolous attempts at holding onto pairs of earrings, and to embrace the simple truth that I am a woman that needs simplicity in all things.

And two infinity scarfs in two shades of blue seems to be a really nice way to start.

I will survive this winter in New England, in shades of blue and green and gold. It’s nice to know that the people I love knew I needed a little help to stay warm this year.

Tonight, sitting in Ayeesha’s kitchen for the first time, it occurred to me. I’d made a new friend. She and her husband had books, good books, familiar books. They had board games and a cat. Her cat is not allowed on the kitchen counter, and her cat doesn’t go on the kitchen counter. They have big conversations about the world and not about car pools or the finale of How I Met Your Mother. Though she did make me want to watch The Walking Dead.

She got me cookies, made me coffee, and gave me the sweet spot on the sofa. It was a magical moment, when I glanced at her face and realized, I hope I see more of that face. And it wasn’t because of the cookies, though I am a sucker for cookies.

As I get older, the moments are fewer and farther between when I look at a face that isn’t related to me, and want to see it on a regular basis. There is so much stuff to do. Recitals, basketball games, work, more work, working out so I don’t look like an idiot at work. (I work at a gym.) I’m glad I met her, and I’m glad I was smart enough to get to know her. Oh, gosh, I hope she likes me too. When she comes to my house, I will bake her a pie and try to talk about something political, or at least current, or at least not about my kids.

When I got home, probably inspired by Ayeesha’s kitchen, I went on a bit of a bender. A cleaning bender. Did you know dirt gets under the knobs on the stove? When I lifted up the stove top, there were drips of indeterminate animal fat, and candle wax, (I think,) and matches, and hair elastics. I swept under the stove and found 4 milk caps, one broken glass that someone didn’t feel like picking up, 97 broken crayons, primarily in pastel shades, and an earring. It’s like mining, deep cleaning my house. There are layers and layers of stuff, and they all tell a story. We really like milk, eat too much meat, sometimes are a little lazy, do most our sketches in primary shades and are constantly looking for hair elastics.

We are a messy family, and I am a work in progress. Tomorrow I will tackle the dining room and next week, I will invite my new friend and her man over for dinner. After I teach my cats not to spend most of their time napping on the kitchen counter.

Maybe I will wait until it’s a little warmer and they spend most of their time outside.