Category Archives: Musings of the Zen Master

We Say Goodbye a Piece at a Time

sunset

I had a dream last night I was at a party filled with old friends. It was a private party at a bar or restaurant and the lighting was poor in that way that’s meant to create ambiance but simply makes everyone squint. I arrived fashionably late so the party was in full swing when I walked in. I greeted people as I took off my jacket and a friend grabbed my hand to take me further inside but another friend stepped into our path, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.” She gave me an awkward half-hug but her smile was warm and I felt like this was my place, that everything was just as it should be.

I woke up this morning with that feeling but then remembered that the friend in the dream – the one with the warm smile and awkward hugs – is not my friend anymore and hasn’t been for about eight years now.

I’m still not exactly sure what happened between us. I can only assume that I hurt her in ways I didn’t intend but I never had the opportunity to make amends. I pride myself on being a good friend though I know I’m not a perfect friend. I make mistakes. I hurt feelings without meaning to or fail to show up in ways that I should. But, I also do my best to be accountable for what I’ve done, to listen and try to do better. This is why many of my friends are people I’ve known since I was a teenager.

But this friendship? The one with the woman in my dream? I had to let it go and I’ve never really gotten over it. I think of her less often but I still have moments when I remember something she said that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. She is still a part of my old stories and I think of the way she could make a conversation sizzle with energy. I wonder how she’s doing, what her life is like now that her kids are older.

I hadn’t thought of her recently but yesterday, I was putting things in a bag to take to Goodwill and came across the baby blanket she made for Miguel. I started to put it in the bag to give away but set it aside instead and finished going through pants and shirts the kids have outgrown. Before I closed up the bag, I looked at the blanket again and realized there was no reason to keep it for Miguel because he had no special connection to it. I was the one who had the special connection to it because I had once had a special connection with the person who had made it.

I thought about the things I keep – sweet cards from Luisa, drawings from the kids, the kids’ first shoes, photographs and things that evoke the best of the past – and I realized that it was time to let this go. I folded the blanket neatly and tucked it into the bag before tying it tightly shut.

And then I had the dream. I wish it was a premonition but I know it was only a wish.

I’m linking up with Heather for Just Write. Check out the other posts here.

Observe

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This morning, as he got ready for school, Miguel yelled, “Where’s my hair gel?” I reminded him that I had packed it in his duffle bag. “A middle school boy needs his hair gel, Mom.” I smiled, “I get it. A middle-aged mom needs hers too.”

He used mine and lived to gel another day.

The morning was a blur of checking things off lists and making sure that everything he needs for the next three weeks was packed. The conversation was filled with “Remember…” and “It’s in your bag” and “Check your folder” and “Do you need…” The foyer was filled with stuff and Zeca maneuvered quietly around her brother’s bags to pack her backpack for school. Somehow, we managed to get everything ready and loaded into the car to head to school. Zeca was returning to school after a week off due to a frozen water main and Miguel was heading to the school’s rural campus in Wisconsin for three weeks.

On the way, I talked about the first time Miguel went on a school trip and how hard Zeca cried when he left. Miguel said, “You’re not even going to miss me this time, are you? You’re probably glad I’m leaving.” She rolled her eyes and said, “I’ll miss you…” and left it with that even though her inflection suggested that she wanted to qualify her statement. She is no longer four years old and the shine has long worn off her big brother. I know there is part of her that enjoys being an only child every once in awhile, enjoys the extra attention and quiet.

When we got to school, Luisa and I carried Miguel’s bags and he carried the bottled water for Zeca’s classroom.

“You’re kicking the bag, Miguel!”

“I’m not doing it on purpose!:

“Just let me carry it myself!”

This is how it goes a lot of the time. She sees his help as just slightly off the mark in some way.

At the entrance of the school, they said their goodbyes and Miguel tried to hug her tightly and she looked disinterested.

An enthusiastic “Bye Zec!” met with a quiet “Bye.”

It was done. I teared up a bit because it wasn’t the parting I wanted for them. I found myself wishing that she would miss him terribly, that she would cry like she did when she was younger. I know it says nothing about them or their relationship or even their feelings about one another. It is about me and the meanings I make of situations, the fear I have about what the future holds for them. I want the best for them as individuals and as brother and sister but I have to embrace the fact that I can’t know what that is.

We walked Miguel to the junior high and reminded him one last time to get his math binder and it was clear that it was time for us to go. We each got a hug and then he was gone. Luisa worried about what he might forget but I didn’t – not because I thought he would remember everything but because I know this is how we learn to let go. These moments teach us that goodbyes do not always look the way we want them to and forgotten binders will not always be our concern. In the small ticks of time, we learn that we are not the writers of this story but invested observers.

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

Cold Hands Cold Hearts

Snowy Minnesota

What more can I say about this weather that hasn’t already been said? It’s been bitterly cold. It’s been snowy. School has been closed more than any other winter. Our hands are all dry and cracked. My cheeks are windburned. We are sleeping with flannel sheets, down comforters and wearing socks.

I thought things were looking up when this week’s temperatures were going to be above freezing but no. The school has been closed all week because of a frozen water main that nobody can seem to fix. That’s right – my kids haven’t been to school since last Friday.

We’ve stayed at home this week with homework and reading and a lot more Minecraft for the kids (and me) that I’d like to admit. It’s gotten to the point that, when I saw the cat staring at me today, I thought we was judging me for sitting on the couch again.

Last night, it snowed again and it is the heavy, wet snow that comes with warmer temperatures. This morning, I scraped the ice off the car windows and dug out the car not because I was going anywhere but because of the snow emergency – I was parked on the wrong side of the street. I still need to shovel and rake the roof. Yes, I live in a state where raking your roof is a thing. Miguel asked, “How many days will we have to make up at the end of the year?” I said, “I don’t know but I’ll miss you when I’m at the pool in July and you’re still in school.” I thought back to our days at the pool, to the sun and sunscreen and ice cold drinks late in the day. It seems impossible that we’ll ever have that again.

I have resigned myself to the cold and the snow but it’s hard for my shoulders not to droop a bit when even the trees seem to be sagging under the weight of this endless winter.

Reset Button

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I forgot to post on Saturday and I only realized it Sunday morning. When I did, I wasn’t overcome with frustration with myself and felt no sadness about the fact that I was not going to meet the goal of blogging every day in 2014. In fact, I felt relieved, so much so that I chose not to blog yesterday either.

The weekend was full in the best possible way. Friday night, we went out to dinner with our friends and their children (six adults and five kids) and it was loud and fun which is not a combination I always enjoy. Saturday, Luisa and I took the kids to the Lego Movie and we took pictures of ourselves with all the stupid things in the lobby and ate too much candy and popcorn. That night, I played Minecraft with my kids and we had so much fun together that we didn’t want to go to bed. Yesterday, Luisa and I went skiing with Zeca while Miguel did homework and then, last night, I went to my writing group which I needed so very much.

I spent a lot of time thinking about blogging and internet life last week and at one point, thought, “Remember when you were writing a book?” It’s not so much that I had forgotten but more that it was easy to put it aside once I finished the draft. I do that a lot – I almost finish things.

And then, last night at my writing group, Tracy and I talked about blogging every day and Nina asked if it helped us or took us away from other writing and my thought from earlier in the week came back to me – my book.

Yes, blogging every day takes away from my other writing goals.

When I set out to blog every day, I envisioned it as writing practice and hoped that it would keep my brain firing so that I would be full of energy and ideas for my other work. I also hoped that I would produce some quality posts, even though I knew not every one would be great.

During the actual practice of blogging every day for the past six weeks, however, I’m not sure the quality was there, though I did reconnect with my more humorous roots. I also realized that it wasn’t serving as writing practice – I found myself scrambling to post most nights. It was late and I was tired and there was no way to spin gold from the cobwebs in my brain.

The fact is that I do a lot – VillageQ, Listen To Your Mother and recaps for Autostraddle. Blogging every day here is not realistic right now.

So, with that realization, I am letting go. Goals are important but it is also important to set new ones when you realize the old ones aren’t serving you.

This post is my reset button. I’m not abandoning the blog but I won’t be posting every day. We’ll see what goal emerges next.

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH