Friday, March 30, 2012

taking back sunday

it usually happens when i'm on my side in bed, one hand propped under the cotton pillowcase and the other hanging loosely above my head. when everything in the house is silent save for the sweet puffs of breath pablo and robert let slip out as they dream.

when the day is done, and the headaches and stresses, little annoyances and big worries all go back into their rabbit holes for a few hours. that's when i pray the longest, and the hardest.

i love the idea of prayer as a continual conversation. of never really saying amen. i whisper little thank yous when my lane is clear on the highway. when a stormy day turns sunny. when i'm rocking on the porch swing with a big bowl of salad and a sweet tea. i whisper little please Gods before a presentation, a work engagement or a dreaded conversation.

but the true, guttural voice that rises from me to reach out to the heavens only truly comes out at night. and i've thought about how to change that. how to make it the first thing, not the last thing i do. i don't want the most integral, important part of my life to be an afterthought. something i attend to after my everyday duties are accomplished and i'm just about sacked out.

the other day, i realized an important element behind why i think this way: i consider sunday the last day of the week.

i've always been confused by calendars, because they typically start the week with sunday, and end with saturday. i've gone against this trend all my life. monday, the dreadful beast that it is, is always the first day of my week. my new chance to start fresh. to write in my planner more and clean my desk. to plan meals and spend more time with pablo.

but it needs to be sunday. it has to be sunday. if i keep sunday as the last day of my week, i continue the trend of pushing my rest and religion to the very back burner. oh sure, you can have church, and a day of thanksgiving and reflection. only after your monday through saturday things get done.

so tomorrow is the last day of my week, as far as i'm concerned. and sunday will start it anew. my end is now my beginning, as it should have been.

mama once told me, there's no sweeter way to fall asleep than in prayer, deep in the arms of Jesus.

but there's no sweeter way to wake up either, i'm certain.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

an off day

i am thankful for a windowsill this morning. a ledge upon which to balance my mug. a warm tea i'm beginning to love, with honey to sweeten. a beautiful song on youtube that somehow, in some odd otherworldly way, knows my heart words.

it's a day off work, but not off. of running around planning for a sweet friend's bridal shower this evening. of dragging my still sick self to the shower and letting the hot water pour down the drain. of getting dressed. swiping on lipstick. wearing the little kitten heels.

of moving forward, physically, even when my weary mind is still stuck somewhere between monday night and the early dawn of tuesday, when i had my first cup of coffee in a month.

because we're not machines, us sweet humans. we're soft and squishy and blood beats through us. so we find the little ways to nurture that life. to breathe into it and let it return the favor, one sweet thursday sunrise at a time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

relationship series: communication (a lesson learned at 12)

this week's relationship series is on communication. be sure to check out gina and morgan's posts today and link up below!
when i was twelve, i attended the dixie classic fair with my uncle and cousin. it was warm as we strolled the grounds and now i can't hear coolio's gansta paradise without thinking about the ferris wheels and cotton candy.

i approached a man in a big floppy hat, standing in front of an oversized microphone. step right up and i'll read your mind! think of a number between one and fifteen. i stood and thought. he guessed wrong (or did i change my mind halfway through? neither here nor there, i tell you.) i scanned the prizes and settled on a lovely print of a bunch of puppies in a row that hung on my closet wall for many a childhood year.

i relate this to you to explain one thing: people are very rarely good at reading minds. my opinions on psychics and the long island medium aside, i believe only the simplest emotions, like love and fear express themselves in their purest form through our eyes. other times, words must be attached to them. they must hang on our feelings and give them shape, meaning and truth.

and i know for sure, my husband isn't a mind reader, nor am i. my favorite scene in bridesmaids is when kristen wiig and rose byrne try to show their love for maya rudolph by giving her their best "friend face" expression. that kind of look rarely works on robert. he'll wonder, does that raised eyebrow mean you're hungry? are you mad at me? maybe you want to watch another episode of "my strange addiction"? tell me!

we have to speak. to communicate. to tell each other i love you and not expect our hand hold to always say if for us. to call for no reason. to stay up and speak into the darkness. to give voice to that gut emotion that will sit, latent if we don't.

because one of my greatest fears is i will get to the end of my life with all these unspoken words stored up inside. when someone is ready to listen now, relate now, converse now.

of course, there is one unspoken rule: fine means anything but fine. even a fair clown can tell you that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

be still my heart


march just hasn't been my month. i have a lingering cold that just won't quit. i said goodbye to a dear friend. and just tuesday, i hit a cat on my way to work (more on that later. oh the tears).

but every once in a while, life stops doling out the lemons and just plain out gives you lemonade.

my sweet neighbor contacted me about some vintage clothes she had in her garage. ones that belonged to her late great aunt, who lived on a hundred acre farm fifteen minutes away. i wasn't sure what to expect. it's always a risk with vintage. it's either amazing or littered with moth holes and smells like cats.

but this collection. oh my. it was garment after garment of perfectly preserved floral sundresses, little blouses and gorgeous handbags. all my size and priced very fairly. hands down, it's the best purchase i've made all year. her name was marjorie and i do believe i'm a little in love with this lady and her impeccable style.

march, you've met your match.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

on saying yes

if involves a corner booth, in that pocket of morning before the world awakes, with a hot mug of coffee against your lips, say yes.

if there's a meadow, with wildflowers shin high and queen anne's lace and renegade weeds, on the side of an old county road and no cars for miles and it's time to stretch your legs and he grabs your hand to dance, say yes.

if there is a sliver of sun against the clean carpet, in that spot beneath the living room window, and your dog is stretched out inside it inviting you to lay there and rest, say yes.

if you're leaning against his car and the stars are parading around the ceiling of night and he tells you those three words that every date, phone call and late night movie have slowly, steadily been inching toward, and he asks you back, when you feel it in your gut, say yes.

say yes to sleeping late on saturday when the windows are open and there is nothing on the calendar until supper, to getting on your knees in the dead of night when your household is asleep and asking the Lord for things that escape you in the bustle of the day, to chocolate and red wine and poorly acted movies, to guttural laughs and nights in the kitchen with your sister.

to ignoring the e-mail, homework, deadlines and commitments for an hour and laying on the bed with a pup that will one day walk slow and hobble, not run toward the tennis ball. to sending flowers and snail mail, and driving all day just to see someone for a few hours. to walking on rocks in the ocean, taking too many pictures that only you appreciate, and humming in your cubicle.

say yes to enough of the right, good things, and the nos will reveal themselves in due time. peek their little heads out and remind you, not now, my dear one, not quite yet. you've still got some dancing to do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

one day dreams: iceland's ring road

on the first real morning of our new england trip last autumn, robert and i found ourselves face-to-face across the table with a pair of sweet newlyweds. bed and breakfasts are always slightly awkward, but they made the morning fun and we talked until ten when they had to set off on their honeymoon.

to iceland.

they told us of the ring road, and how they were driving around it over a period of a few weeks. we exchanged smiles and well wishes, and they went on their way, riding away from the old house on a bicycle built for two. it was a brief exchange, just a few hours with feta omelets and orange juice in the early, foggy new england dawn.

when we got somewhere with internet access, we googled it. and lo and behold, this is my new dream:

i'll be eating soup for lunch for the rest of my days to afford airfare to iceland, but i hope somewhere that couple is living sweet married life together, and that they took a good camera on their trip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

relationship series: loving through parenting

this week's relationship series subject is loving through parenting. on how to grow together while you grow and nurture a child. when i first thought about this prompt, i didn't know what i would bring to the table. of course, there's the experience i've got mama-ing my pup pablo. that time in eighth grade when i took home a "baby think it over" and cared for it for a weekend (did you know that if you turn the key in its back and prop it up against a pillow it will stop crying?) and that fateful month last may when i fostered those four kittens in the shed out back.

but parenting? real, day-in, day-out packing lunches in the morning and tucking the covers under sleepy arms at night? i haven't lived that yet. it's one of the greatest joys in my life that i still have that to look forward to. i married young and finished college early. right now i'm enjoying the interim period between those major changes and the one that will really, truly alter my life.

but i find it so appropriate that today is my sweet mama's birthday.

because if i've learned from anyone how to love and parent simultaneously, it is from my ridiculously romantic mama and dad. the ones who purposely burn popcorn because they like it that way, and settle into the couch every friday night. they used to watch VHS tapes, then DVDs from blockbuster. now the great thrill is which movie dad will bring home from redbox. technology has changed and left old trends in the past, but they haven't.

they don't pin one against each other. if i wanted something when i was young, i never heard "go ask your dad." because what dad would say, mama would say, so there was never any need. they rose early with us on sunday mornings, cooked soft scrambled eggs with cheese, and took the walk with us up our long driveway to get the paper.

they've sat at cheerleading competitions, basketball, soccer and t-ball games as we three kids have found our athletic niches. they loaded us all in the family van every summer and took us down to the beach for a long weekend. stopping at every historical site and battlefield along the way because it's fun and kind of funny.they've gotten down on their knees and prayed with me. on my bedroom floor. across the kitchen table. on a row side by side in church.

but the one thing they've taught me about love through their parenting is this: one child is no better than the other. love them all the same. every time they show my sister or brother attention, they make sure i feel loved too. they have never, ever shown favoritism. and for that, they are my favorite.

i love them to the ends of this earth and back. happy birthday, mama! thank you and dad for teaching me what love is, even when you didn't think i was watching.

be sure to check out what gina and morgan wrote on this topic and link up below!

Monday, March 19, 2012

looking down and thinking


there was an evening when we were in the car driving back from somewhere--the memory escapes me--and we started discussing our lists. the ones we made for our future mates. mine was riddled with descriptors of a man with dark eyes and a crooked half smile and a thousand other things i never knew i didn't want.

but you had only one: your wife would have pretty hands.

and though i've loved you with my core, i feel i have failed you on this.

because my hands aren't pretty. they are marred by hangnails and big cracked knuckles. when i was younger and fell in love with writing, i gripped my pencil so tightly and at such an odd angle that it left me with a permanent callus on my right ring finger. i am nervous, and bite my nails to the quick. and in the wintertime, even cold lotion from the fridge cannot turn the mountains of my joints from their crimson wash.

but there's a tan line on my left hand. from a ring never removed. that's stayed in place while i pulled weeds, cleaned our bathroom, mixed meatloaf and a million other messy things. a symbol that though my hands aren't the ones of your dreams, they are yours nonetheless.

and that has to count for something, no?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a life on main street

robert and i spent the day in lexington on saturday. a place with people! after being quarantined in our cottage after my bout with a cold that just wouldn't quit, to be among the living again was a sheer blessing.

the thing i love about lexington is this: it is frozen in time.

it's like the downtown portion of main street that's filled with old storefronts that, when the sun hits them just right as it sets, fill you with nostalgia and make you want to walk among them for hours.

but the whole town is a little main street. with old evening gown and tuxedo rental shops, reminiscent of a time when people got dressed up more. an old hardware store right in the middle with millions of aisles filled with little knick knacks and farm tools only desired by red-faced men in overalls.

i swear, there are times i wish the whole world was a main street, and all we did was hop from one cute little shop to the next as we lived out our days among the concrete.

but life's pretty sweet, if not downright delectable, where the concrete ends.

but to sit at an old pharmacy soda shop and sip a sour limeade isn't a shabby way to spend a saturday morning, that's for certain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

part three: relationship series: loving through

this week's relationship series topic is loving through. be sure to check out what gina and morgan have to say, and please link up below!

i met robert on the heels of summer. it was hot and i wore denim shorts on our first date at the putt-putt course. that autumn, we slow danced under a big oak tree on the old schoolhouse square while the big band played and i told him what each charm on my bracelet meant.

we've shared eight summers since then. nine winters. one semester in college, we shared a spring of discontent. when a poster of jessica alba on a dorm room wall was enough to undo me.

we're young. we stay up late and sleep in on the weekends. we wrestle on the carpet with our dog and eat supper on the porch swing when it's nice out. it's fair weather. a breeze outside an old open window. a sunny morning melting into a bright afternoon

but there will be other winters.

there will be nights when our kids are late coming home and we stay up worried together. when i lie against him in the flannel sheets and cry so hard it's silent when loved ones grow old. when pets start walking slower and daughters start driving.

there will be other winters.

so we store up the summers, and even the springs. and on nights when it's dark and we're faced with the fact that life is happening at a rate much too fast for our little hearts to bear, we slowly release the heat. the light and the warmth. and we continue, fueled by our stored sun.

Monday, March 12, 2012

plans to prosper you, and not to harm you

it hit me yesterday while driving along the old road near my house. the one with potholes that the city keeps filling and big mud trucks keep digging back up.

the sun was low in the sky and the window was down. and from the driver's seat i could see home in the distance.

and the thought came. as clear and simple as the yellow line slipping out from under me.

don't question the story God is writing for you life. and don't discount the one He's writing for your neighbor.

i pulled into the driveway, frantically flipped through old papers and registration and lipstick in my glove compartment. from those depths i pulled out a red pen.

i sat alone in the driveway while the sun set around me, red ambers dancing on the grass.

and i wrote it down. and as i wrote, i prayed. and as i prayed, it lifted.

Friday, March 9, 2012

i need a weekend

there's something beautiful about a sky with scattered shades of gray. the way the dark melts into the white and swirls into the tree branches, naked above the telephone poles. there's also something about it that makes me want to turn on an old country song and sit in my car for a second.

this week has been a rough one. there's a nagging cold sitting dormant on my chest, and a myriad of other troubles that when spoken, or typed, look measly, but that sit on my spirit like a heavy brick.

the thing is, i am a sunny person. i invite happiness into my living room when the evening is setting in, and dance with it until morning time when the moonlight gives way to a new start and the sheets on the bed are soft and warm and all is okay. in that brief moment of waking, all is okay.

so it's been hard to admit that i've been down for the past five days. sorting and sifting through an entire week's worth of troubles and heartaches, stomping them down into tiny bricks and believing they are gone, then like those tiny washcloths that expand in water, i awake to find them larger than life.

but i have to remind myself that it is okay. okay to not be happy all the time. to be sad on occasion. to sit on the top of my unmade bed and look out at the field and watch a bird scurry across the yard and let that one moment crush me for a second.

to live the full breadth of my emotions. let each of them push its way into me. to live out my life unafraid of the hurt. because it will come, but the gladness will too. and a healthy mix of both is needed. everything in moderation. everything in stride.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

to look for the dust

i know this isn't a trick of gravity, but it's just fun. and somehow relates to my post. we may or may not have let this stand for three hours last night.

while i was in the thrones of my coughing and sneezing, robert slept on the couch for his own well-being. (and partially for his sanity, as i was up half the night.)

on sunday morning, i slid up next to him on the cushions and let the sunshine pour in and let pablo burrow his nose into the crook of my arm. there's something about sunshine. for all its golden beauty, when it hits a little house at just the right angle, it illuminates every single dust particle in every single nook and cranny.

i looked at the coffee table. how can you sit here and not be bothered by that dust? i asked him.

oh, i don't know, he replied. i guess i just don't look for the dust, that's all.

but i realized something. i do.

i look for the dust. the speck of mess. the splatter.

i seek out the things to change. to tidy up. to wash and put away. to vacuum and swiffer.

reasons to fall just a few steps behind as robert's walking out the front door and i'm straightening up piles, drying that last dish or arranging the magnets on the refrigerator.

some saturday mornings, robert sleeps late and i clean. i pull out the wash rags and put on my old cheerleading shorts and get on my hands and knees against the linoleum. and it feels good. and it should be done. but how many chances have i missed to catch pablo as he first wakes up? that sacred moment when his eyelids peel open and he yawns with his head thrown back. or that sweet sigh that escapes as robert rolls over and lays his arm on my side of the bed.

the thing i'm starting to realize, is that the work is hardly ever done. to seek it out is to only make our already stressed, busy, bodies go crazy.  

instead, i vow to look beyond the dust. at what's on the table. the roses sitting in the izze juice bottle. the literature books. the pretty baby fern taken from mama's big fern in the living room where i grew up.

to feast my eyes upon the beautiful, and let the rest slide beyond my view.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

relationship series, part two: comparisons

for part two of our relationship series, i am talking about comparisons. those nasty little nagging thoughts that bury themselves in our mind and make us think for one single second that our relationship isn't valid, special and worthy. this week, we could talk about either this or keeping the passion. be sure to check out what gina and morgan have written on these topics, and link up below!
right now, i know about four girls my age who are waking up to the coos and sighs of a newborn.

i also know of about three men wearing business suits sitting in corner offices with a pencil holder on their desks made of faux wood. who come home with chinese takeout and greet a pretty wife dressed in a cardigan and headband.

i know of women who wear their hair in pretty side braids and put laundry up on the line when the springtime hits, running indoors to wipe their feet and kiss their husband on the mouth and make dinner. who lie on the carpet with their babies and man and play blocks while records spin.

i know couples who live in new york and walk to get hot coffee and groceries, and couples who live down the road and visit the diner in our small town weekly.

and i would be lying if i said i never compare our romance to theirs. the way i style my hair to the way she does. the way he lets his hand linger on the small of her back to the way robert’s fingers interlace my own.

do they lie in bed at night and speak into the ceiling? does he bring her hot water from the stove when her bath water cools and leave her loves notes by the dog food bowl?

what do they argue about? where does he take her where he can park the car, turn off all the lights and whisper to her this is our spot. this is ours and no one can take it from us and even when our babies have babies and we’ve forgotten each other we cannot forget this place?

the truth is, comparisons are cheap. they are always exaggerated and oftentimes pointless. they limit our ability to love ourselves and each other in that deep, guttural way that romance is supposed to be lived.

so we’re still paying rent. so we don’t belong to a country club. so we shop at food lion and not whole foods. we are us and they are them. and one is not better than the other or worse. each is an island.

and really, when  you think about it, aren’t all islands beautiful?

Friday, March 2, 2012

not lost, but not quite found

 pablo says: this is fun, but let's get out of the house soon, k?

my throat feels like a thousand tiny daggers are doing a rain dance on my tonsils.

it's gray out and i just want to curl into the nook of the tub and rest my head against the cool ceramic. with the window open above me and the march breeze pouring in through the old screen. the promise of rain this evening. the cool in the air of an approaching storm.

it's a simple cold (with the inevitable sinus drainage, hence the daggers) and i'm not contagious, so i dragged my sleepy body to work today. because there's only so many hours one can watch e! true hollywood story, wife swap, khloe and lamar and the nate berkus show without going crazy. sweet pablo has been a blessing, resting on the cushions above my nook on the couch, reaching his paw down to land on my head as he drifts off to sleep with me.

but mama brought me pink roses from the grocery store yesterday. and the front porch swing is excellent medicine. and there are two uninterrupted days of rest, relaxation and baths on the horizon. so all is not lost.