Here I am.

March 2, 2014

I have finally came to the conclusion that my body is a pretty nice place to live. This after a troubling bout with a never ending chest cold, the onset of my fifties, and a life long wish that I was just a little taller.

All my life I’ve been plagued, not only by height envy, (and look at all of the woman lurching around in high heels, I’m not the only one,) but by the vague idea that I would look so much better if my lips were just a little plumper, my belly a little less so, my hair straighter, my feet daintier… The list goes on and on and on.

And then, while I was on the phone with my mom, listening to her tell me about the latest cruise she’s booked, a thousand pounds of envy crashed down on me. Not only did I want to be taller, with a voluptuous smile, a taut tummy, a sleek mane, held up by a delicate instep, I wanted to be all of that and lounging on a deck chair in the sun. On a boat. With a cocktail, a cabana boy, a slew of really good books and a crowd of fascinating people waiting to hear my latest bon mots.

I pulled in my driveway and looked out the window at the dirty snow, the basketball hoop, slightly crooked, perched at the end of the driveway, and the dog poop in the front yard.

My short legs carried me out of the car and into the house. My face was greeted by the most wonderful of dogs, the smiling Sophie. My daughter gave me a hug. My son smiled and asked if I’d remembered to pick up milk.

I didn’t know what we were going to do about dinner. Pizza three nights a week is a little much. And if I was ever going to do anything about this waistline, it probably wasn’t the best option.

It turns out Katy had made macaroni and cheese, and she explained to me she didn’t even use butter, just low fat milk. And Colin offered that we could round the meal off with the grapes in the fridge I’d bought them to bring to school for snacks, (since they never, ever brought them to school for snacks- “see mom, sometimes it works out we don’t listen to you).

And I decided right then, right there, that this body of mine wasn’t such a bad place to live. With a little help from my husband, it had delivered me these two amazing, surly, sweet, funny people. It has carried me thru a life of heartbreak and bliss.

I have not always been kind to this body of mine. Mostly I’ve actually been pretty cruel. Too much sleep, or sulking on sofas. A long love affair with cigarettes, and some serious time indulging in too much wine or dangerous trips to the ladies room. Bacon. Macaroons. Not enough fiber. Not enough water, too much water.

These days, I’m all about Greek yogurt, time at the YMCA and long walks in the woods with the dogs. I love spinach, I don’t eat red meat much. But that’s only been for a little while.

So all things considered, this body of mine has been pretty generous and forgiving. So I think the nicest thing I can do is stop fretting about the lounge chair that doesn’t have my name on it, and the fact that there isn’t a lip stick that is going to make me look like Ms Jolie.

I can still wear high heels, and dream a little. But at the end of the day, this day any way, this body of mine is right where I want to be.

I am fifty years and have been actively involved in celebrating Christmas for about forty five years. And tonight, for the very first time in my life, I took down our Christmas tree.

I lifted the ornaments from the branches and wrapped the delicate ones up in a newspaper bought just for this task. I jammed the nonbreakable ones, the stuffed snowmen, the pine cones, the little watercolored masterpieces from nursery schools a few years back, in between the little balles of paper. I swept up pine needles.

I stood on my tip toes and lifted our angel from her perch. I nested her inside some of the “snow” that looks awfully similar to asbestos, and placed her on top. I swept up pine needles.

Next I began to deal with the lights. I was the one that wove them among the branches, it was only fitting I was the one that began to untangle the tangled web I wove… four different strands of lights. At one point, the length was so long and I was pulling so hard to free them in a long single strand, the Christmas tree fell back into the foyer. I finally dragged the entire tree, stand and all, and miles of lights out to the sidewalk. There I had room to work. And so I did. I’m sure the people walking and driving by were thinking of better ways I could have gone about the whole task. But no one made any suggestions. If you are one of those people, next time, I’m open to any and all advice. (There is so much in this world I know absolutely nothing about.)

Next was the storage of the lights. In the past, my husband has wrapped them around empty paper towel rolls he’d saved for this purpose.

I used one paper towel roll, after I unrolled, according to the wrapper, 250 feet of paper towels. I began at one end, slowly reeling in yards and yards of twinkling stars,  using the steady  gestures a fisherman uses when bringing in a good catch. I think. I don’t fish. But I imagine it feels similar.

When I was done with the the first line, I searched for alternatives. The remaining lights are wrapped around one sippie cup, one bottle of almost empty toner, (Bonnie Bell, left over from a brief horrid period of adult acne, thank God I’m finally too old for that,) and one tube of sunblock, still full, but number 15. Nobody uses fifteen anymore, the ozone layer is going to disappear any minute and using fifteen would pretty much guarantee skin cancer the following week.

And then I swept up pine needles. I lifted up the rug,I  think I saw some from last year, and swept them up too. I took down the Christmas cards, and the stockings, I untangled tinsel from shoes,  I put the last scraps of wrapping in the recycling, and ate the last Hershey’s kiss hidden under a log.

This was the first time I put Christmas away, into a box. Wrapped it up, onto a cylander. Buried it under fake snow. They say that we need to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. It doesn’t feel like Christmas tonight, it feels like the end of an era. An era when I didn’t have to responsible for unplugging and angel and tucking her away for a year.

But change is good. I’m going to go sweep up some more pine needles. I hope it still smells like Christmas for a day or two. Those candles that claim to smell like trees just smell like the home of someone that smokes that thinks they are keeping it a secret.

But that’s another story.

Happy January 6th, my friends.

P.s. And if you haven’t taken your tree down yet, start saving your paper towel rolls.

Meditations on Bed Time

September 27, 2012

Some nights, after the kids head upstairs for sleep, I am reminded of all the nights I would have to make the journey up the stairs with them. The bedtime stories told tangled in Katy’s pink and purple Dora sheets, the long conversation with Colin in the dark, him and I sprawled side by side in a room that smelled like turtle and damp socks, those days of nightly visits weren’t that long ago.

I still venture upstairs from time totime. Katy likes to show me her latest innovations in closet organization and makes me admire the night light she got at the Ag Fair in Truro. Colin tries to explain something about either basketball, football or video games, and I try to look interested. I’m aware that soon I won’t be welcomed upstairs anymore. I enjoy that I only climb them when I choose to, and that I’m still invited more often than not. I’m happy Katy still has Dora sheets and Colin’s room still smells like socks.

I know the day is coming soon when I will be told I am not welcome. I will miss our sleepy talks, and the smells of children, and children growing up, (sweat, old gum, and nail polish.)
And on some nights, they kiss me goodnight in my bed and tuck me in under my quilts.
I’m not sure which I prefer, sending those I love off to sleep and dreams, or being sent.
It’s nice that I have a little time left to enjoy both.