Thursday, July 28, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Her Mother's Smile

"Lyd?" He held his wife's hand. She squeezed. Knuckles white. Eyelids creased.  "Breathe, sweetie," he cooed, "You've gotta breathe."

The windows shook as the storm howled outside. Cocooning them inside with soft flakes. There would be no hospital. "Walter," she moaned, "this hurts. I do not want this." She paused as the contraction climaxed. She squeezed. Released. Resting against the pillow, her words sprouted from her very roots. "I want my mother."

He brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "I know, sweetie," he said. "I know." He thought of his mother-in-law, erect at her potting wheel, her hands splattered with clay. Before.

Then he thought of his mother. She wouldn't have let this happen. "Like HELL my grandchild will be born AT HOME," she would have decreed. And by sheer will, she would have whisked Lydia and Walter to the hospital, braving the storm in her Saab. She probably would have stopped for espresso on the way.

He smiled, and passed a glass of water to his wife. He whispered, "You know what?" She met his gaze. "Our daughter is going to have your mother's smile. Just you wait."

The tears streaked down her face. A contraction hit, and all was sensation for a moment. She recovered, exhaling, never letting go of his hand. "I just wish she could know her."

"I do too," he said. He kissed her hand, rested it against his cheek. "I do too." He yearned to fill her emptiness for awhile. To crawl into her body and let her rest.

Instead, he held her as the storm raged against their little house. Hours passed.

With a final release, Zoe Anna Merchant entered the world.

She was the best of their mothers, wearing a new face.

For this week's Red Dress Club challenge, we were to revisit and revise an earlier piece. I took this story from my Walter and Lydia series, and turned it on its head. The original was not something that I loved. But this? Perhaps I can work with this. Concrit is appreciated.

For background, here's the rest of Walter and Lydia's story: Like a Songbird, A Fresh Face, and The Candle of Memory.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Batshit Shopping

I've never been much of an emotional shopper. I tend to focus on eating when I'm having a rough patch (Although after seeing Cheryl's post about deep fried butter, I may never eat again.)

However, this behavior has recently changed. It started with my purchase of a Nook, otherwise known as The Evil Money Suck of Doom.

I've prided myself on using libraries. They are free, they foster life-long learning for my children, and they are conveniently located next to Panera Bread. But recently, my children have seen the library as their own personal climbing gym, and I'm tired to being shushed by the homeless people on the computers.

I learned that our local library will begin checking out titles on Nooks and Kindles. I told myself that an e-reader is a more ecologically sound choice--less paper, less processing, less clutter in my home. And the kicker was that with Nook, you can swap titles with other users (message me your info if you want to do that).

I didn't realize how easy it was to buy titles. It's connected to my wi-fi, and I can be reading a downloaded book in seconds. The first book I read was The Hunger Games.

And now I'm supposed to wait to check out the other two books in the trilogy? Or Jennifer Weiner's newest one? Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen. Click. Click.

I'm book broke.

Like I said, dangerous.

But that's only the start of the madness. My oldest needs school supplies for starting kindergarten this fall. So, we bought him an LL Bean backpack. In theory, this thing will last him until he goes to college. At least that's what Bean would have you believe.

So far, not bad. But wait.

I needed to buy a lunch box. I heard that Bento Boxes were cool, so I did some hunting. After much speculating about plastics vs. stainless steel, simple vs. fancy, I bought him a PlanetBox.

A $70 lunch box. Environmentally sound and designed for optional nutrition, if I follow the guidelines. I may need to enclose a spreadsheet for his teacher in case he needs assistance.

This? Is kinda batshit. I ate out of a paper sack my entire life. But like I said, this is all about my baby starting Kindergarten, me working through some stuff, and the power of the shiny, pretty Interwebs.

So tell me...any ridiculous emotional purchases on your end? Share so I feel less....well, broke.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memoir: Locked In

I sprawled on the snowy banks, limbs akimbo. As I unzipped my jacket, it felt as if steam escaped from each chamber of my heart. My legs burned. My arms ached. Every pore was a bruise.

Two five year old girls, dressed in matching pink snowsuits whisked by me on their skis. Swishing and giggling, leaving only icy spray in their wake.

I hated them. Their natural balance. Their fearlessness. I felt every one of my years as I slumped on the snow, doing my best impersonation of a speed-bump. 

"Okay, let's do this," I mumbled, hoisting myself to a standing position. I shifted my weight, bending my knees forward. I glided, as the chill gave way to breathless, flurried motion.

And then, just as I stopped gritting my teeth,  I crumbled into a heap. "God Damnit!" I mumbled. "Stupid piece of shit snowboard."

My husband's cousin slid to a smooth, perfect stop by my side. She lifted up her sunglasses, exposing  sun-kissed cheeks. "You're pretty pissed off now, aren't ya?"

I coughed, "Yes. This kinda sucks."

She leaned in, "You know," she whispered, "You're so close. You've gotta use your anger sometimes to make things happen." She shushed away, a transcendent snowflake already melting in my palm.

I was white-hot. Glowing. The anger was mine, and I would use it.

I stood up and locked in my bindings. I stared down the hillside, and let go of the earth.

I would not be grounded. Lesson learned. *

*After falling on my ass about a million more times.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Left My Heart in Boulder County

I've spent the last two weeks visiting my mom and dad in Colorado. While there, my mother and I engaged in some high-altitude shopping training. Because, after all, shopping at sea level is for sissies.

It's dangerous shopping in my parents' neck of the woods, a place where adults still wear Crocs and hiking boots are a splendid choice for daytime and evening. I often come home with ankle-length skirts with bells on them, tie-dyed shift dresses, and one time, regrettably, a hemp necklace.

Confession? I love it. I love every crunchy granola bit of it. From the Camelbacks in the airport to the Five-Finger running shoes in the grocery store, it feels like home.

The snow capped mountains framing the prairie grass. Thistles bursting with purple light. The tamales, oh Lord help me, the tamales.

Each morning, the boys and I took my parents' dog on a walk. Owen ran with her, a blur in the bright sunshine. Elated. Free. Prairie Dogs popped in and out of  mounds on either side of him. "I love it here, Mom!" he cried.

Me too, Buddy. And I would do almost anything to have you grow up here.

I have to remind myself of the bad things---the snow in May and October, the pathetic excuse of a newspaper, the strip malls, the ugly political advertisements, La Casa Bonita.

But then, I see Owen ascend a climbing wall, clambering up the sides like a spider monkey, beaming with pride. I watch Joel and my father holding hands, sharing a secret smile.

And I blink back the tears, and dream of what may be someday.

When Mom and I went shopping, I bought leopard print ballet flats. So East Coast. A kicky complement to a skirt, or a fun explanation point at the end of a pant leg. The anti-Croc, one could say. (Although if there is a leopard-skin Croc, my mother will find it.)

I bought those shoes to remind me that life is full of whimsy and moments of catch-your-breath beauty. The circle of friends here in Maryland who know my heart like nobody else. The moment when yellow melts to violet as the sun sets on the Chesapeake. My hydrangeas, purple and pink orbs, floating around my doorway, and welcoming me back home.

No matter where I stand, I will bloom. And while doing so, I will be wearing fabulous shoes.