As it blows, I hear the roof on our old building outside flap up and down. It makes a clacking sound. The dog howls and the leaves outside the window scatter. I close my eyes and the gusts push old memories into corners. I wait for them to settle like the leaves. I wait for them to cover me like a blanket. Then, the dreams come along with sleep. They meet me down in the depths of my soul. They drudge up old feelings, old heartbreaks and that grumpy, wrinkle-faced man named Regret.
I will spend the next hour or so laying here, thinking about all the wrong things I have done in my life. I will reach back to that dusty shelf in the dark and pull a memory one at a time. I will carefully dissect it. I will consider everything I could have done differently and then I will clean the dust off the shelf before carefully placing it back. My heart will be in my throat and it will be hard to swallow. I will carefully select another dusty piece of my history and begin to examine it. Before I know what has happened, an hour has passed and the light is beginning to brim around the shades of the room.
With the new day, I feel renewal. I feel like I have the chance to write the story of who I am. I will convince myself that I can’t do anything about the past. I will push onward in my day. But, before I do any of that, I will sneak into my son’s room and listen to him breath in his sleep. I will watch him smile. I will watch him purse his lips and readjust his position. He has no regrets. He has no concept of regret. We were all there once. We had dreams about things with no underlying feelings. I close my eyes while I stand over him. I try to imagine what that must feel like. Then, I remember that life is beautiful. Life is hard and life is full of lessons. Regret is a lesson. I exhale and open my eyes. As I do this, a faint smile comes over my lips. Regret can suck it.
The fact that I don’t have a husband at home every night to cook for can be a blessing and a curse. Take tonight for example, I had brownies for dinner. Am I proud of this? Heck no. I am very embarrassed about it. I feel that if I make a conscious effort to share my unhealthy habits then that will be more steam for my motivation train.
I am going to be honest, I work harder to provide healthy meals for my seven month old than I do for myself. I think that is a normal mom trait.
I try to eat breakfast every morning. I usually end up eating pretty healthy for lunch. Dinner is my challenge. Between feeding Cooper, bath time, talking to my husband on the phone and doing any other small required task, my hunger subsides. I really have to plan if I am going to eat something healthy. I know this to be true for anyone who is cooking a dinner. The difference is that at my house, it’s only me eating. I don’t have several people depending on a meal from me. After Cooper gets fed, I am usually looking for something quick and simple. Today, I had a sweet tooth. I have been doing really well about not buying anything unhealthy. That way, it isn’t there in the pantry, tempting me. I broke down today. I made the brownies. I ate some of the brownies. I wasn’t hungry at dinner time. This is an epic diet fail.
Now, I will spend the rest of the week trying to make up for this mistake. Throughout my life, I have had fat kid tendencies. When I was very young, I struggled with weight issues. I always had thicker legs than most girls. This is evident in my lovely dance costumes. I remember in high school, I was always jealous of how skinny and slender other girl’s legs looked. I longed to have legs that were attractive. Later in life, my lifestyle choices added to my weight problems. When I had jobs where I worked late and ate late, I fattened up. When I went through stages of my early 20’s where alcohol was my crutch, I gained even more weight. Add a few bad relationships and a college degree with no job prospects and you have a very large me.
I know life is a challenge everyday. I know everyone struggles with something. I am committed to never being a fat kid again. You can judge me for eating brownies for dinner. Just don’t judge me for deciding to share that with you.
I can still see the sway of the moss hanging from the cypress trees when I close my eyes. I can feel the warmth of the sun as it rises over the marsh in the backyard. The mix of morning light would spill into the windows and down to the floor. But, my senses are reminded of so many childhood memories as I hear mom down in the kitchen clanking dishes and talking to the dog. I smile a little as I look over at Cooper sleeping next to me. I know he will never remember this trip, he is much too young. I am just thankful we got to experience it.
Shortly after I moved to Texas, mom and Bill moved to Florida where they had bought a retirement home. The house they bought looked haunted. My mom has a gift. She can look at something and visualize exactly what she wants it to be. They turned that ghost house into an amazing work of art. It is literally the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. I love seeing mom there. She is in her element and she is where she truly belongs.
Before lunch, we would take Moe, the Bullmastiff, for a walk. We would walk down the historic brick streets of the old town. Sometimes we would walk around the lake. We ate at a Polish restaurant, shopped at farmer’s markets and drank coffee at least twice a day. I swear, I have never had coffee that tasted so good. I am convinced it was so warming and delicious because of who I was sharing it with.
I will cling to these moments for the rest of my life. Especially of the day we took Cooper to the beach. Yes, the water was freezing and yes it was a little windy, but my mother has never looked more beautiful than she did that day, holding my baby. It was like the twenty something years of my life had never passed and there she was, walking the beach while she held me. I could see it. I could touch it. I will hold that picture in my heart.
Today I met two sisters while my mother plucked grapefruit. As we stood under the cool shade of the heavy limbs, I caught a glimpse of what a lifetime will do to a sibling bond. The older sister has some health issues and has never been married. The younger sister lost her husband last year. They have been living together for about six months. I believe them to both be in their eighties.
My sister has been my best friend since I was three. We rode the bus together, we went to high school together and this year, we will both be mothers. I often wonder what kind of relationship we will have with each other’s kids. Our mother’s sisters have been such a large part of our lives. It’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t be that for each other’s kids. As I watched the grapefruit sisters, I realized that time has separated them, it has aged them and now it has made them rely on one another.
My sister is going to be a mother. The same sister who was always such an embarrassment to me when we were little. You know the kind. The kind that would run around in her long, stringy, blonde wig and fake glasses while wearing one of dad’s Bevis and Butthead shirts as a dress. The kind that would want to ride along to the grocery store with you and dad while sporting the above-mentioned attire. The kind that when dad said she could go with us and also said she didn’t have to change her clothes, would run upstairs and put a bikini top on underneath the Bevis and Butthead shirt. The same little sister who would then fill up two water balloons and stick them in the bikini top to make herself look “well endowed” for a five year-old.
Oh wait, you don’t know THAT kind of sister? You mean to tell me that you are unfamiliar with her particular species? That’s because she is MY sister and I would be honored to stand under a grapefruit tree with her.