This post is part one of what is a three-part series about the BIG fun we had at my cousin’s wedding in Birmingham, Alabama. Family weddings don’t get any better than this one, y’all.
We received the Save the Date for my cousin’s wedding in February, so it wasn’t like I had no idea I would be attending a wedding over Memorial Day weekend. I knew. I also knew I would need a new dress for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. I knew. In February.
Weeks before the big day, Ginny told me I should go online and order, “like fifteen dresses and try them all on in the comfort of your own bedroom. Then, send back the ones you don’t want. I do it all the time. It’s so easy.” I thought about it for a day or two and decided to try it her way.
When I was teaching, there was a pervasive theory that if it hadn’t been taught by Spring Break, it would not be learned at all.
I suppose this theory is based on the fact that we have more in common with the animal world than we recognize. For it is in spring when animals wake from their long hibernations. Trees and flowers bud and bloom. The sun shines warmer and beckons all to come outside and sit awhile in longer days and pleasant evenings.
Children sense this change, too, and rush outside barefoot, playing into the chill of the evening, and only then coming inside with flushed cheeks and cold hands. There is expectancy in their faces. They know the restorative power of the changing seasons. They feel youth so deeply in their bones that they don’t recognize it until they get older and notice its absence.
When I was teaching high school English literature, I tried to make the pieces we were studying together relevant – especially Shakespeare.
A quick rundown of the plot of “Romeo and Juliet”: an impetuous teenage boy falls in love with a teenage girl at a masquerade ball. It is only after they have fallen in love that they realize their parents are engaged in a generations-long feud. A feud so serious that on the day the play begins, the Prince declares the next person from either family to disturb the peace of the community with their senseless feud will be executed. Of course, as is typical of Shakespeare, multiple tragedies ensue shortly thereafter.
The back-to-school honeymoon we enjoyed in those fresh-faced few weeks of summer is clearly over. We are swimming in the deep-end now. We are in full-on homework agony. The scheduling squeezes of after-school clubs are putting a vice-grip squeeze on us now. The once sparkly-new, back-to-school tennis shoes have turned into worn-down stinkers that fill the mudroom with an aroma worthy of a Febreeze commercial.
I work in a cubicle farm. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. My cube is larger than most I’ve seen on television. That’s a plus, I suppose. Although the way my computer is situated in the corner, I cannot see people walk up behind me. Others in the farm have mounted mirrors to the left and right of their computer screens, so they are alerted when someone is behind them. It’s a little long-distance truck driver for me, but it must work. They are never caught by surprise. Last week, I carried on an entire conversation with a co-worker while she looked at me in her rear-view mirror. It was a little off-putting.
Working in a cubicle makes me feel like a little girl who has been put in the corner for punishment. Being sentenced to standing in the corner was a big deal when I was little, it was a space I wanted to escape quickly! As a grown up with a family that needs relatively affordable group health insurance, you learn to sit in the corner. With a smile. All. Day. Long.
Just like nearly every other woman I know, tonight after I got home from my full-time job, I started my second full-time job. On this particular evening, in addition to the typical routine: supper prep, supper clean-up, laundry, and homework assistance, I also peeled 8 pounds of russet baking potatoes.
Loaded baked potato casserole is one of the essential side items requested for Colin’s birthday dinner. The menu also includes fish sticks with honey mustard on the side, steamed broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and something he calls ranch salad. The recipe for ranch salad for those who are curious: chopped iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing, and croutons. For dessert, he’s asked for a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. I’ve got this.
“Mama, I’m hungry.” If I had a quarter for every time this was bellowed down our hallway, whispered into my ear, or declared aloud at the exact moment I finally sat down from any number of chores, I’d be a millionaire.
After nearly two weeks at home over the holidays with my boys, I’m convinced one of the reasons I am not a millionaire is because Jamie and I feed two children every three hours. They go through food like a buzzsaw through plywood.
The hamster was not my idea. The hamster was Ginny’s idea and somehow, she roped Jamie’s sister Keisha into it, too.
Colin had been asking for a kitten, but we already have a dog. Paisley, our miniature schnauzer, was bought for Jack after he turned three. Buddies for the last 11 years, Paisley follows Jack from room to room, sleeps at the foot of Jack’s bed and gets antsy when Jack isn’t home.
Colin wanted a kitten, but he is allergic. Enter hamster.
Things were getting better. The initial shock was wearing off, and folks were busy with clean up, insurance, estimates, adjusters, livestock, crop evaluations. There was still no power, but we were all making do. It’s amazing how clean you can get with a bottle of water and a washcloth.
Out at Mama and Daddy’s the “Little House on the Prairie” camp was working so well, they reported they “lacked for nothing.” A friend had come by with a chainsaw and made fast work of the few trees still down, doing in 30 minutes what was taking hours for us to do with a band-saw and a hatchet. Now, Daddy’s primary concern was the pecan tree balanced on top of the gas tank in the backyard. “What if it explodes?” I asked. “Well, I guess we’ll find out,” he answered.
Hoss and Nana are “big city” grandparents. They live about four hours away from us, so they don’t get to spend as much time with the children as they’d like, but summertime means special trips and changes in scenery. So, last week the boys were camping with them in north Georgia.
With both Jamie and me working fulltime, the boys’ school breaks would be very difficult to manage if we didn’t have grandparents as willing volunteers to “keep” them. It’s special when they can go to Atlanta, too. It’s good for them to get away from us and their old routine.
Selfishly, I also appreciate the time gifted to just Jamie and me. As I often do, I romanticize the week without children. I imagine we will read our favorite books in the living room, television turned off, gazing at each other lovingly in the silence. Or, binge-watch “Downton Abbey” in our pajamas and eat take-out. Maybe we could pack a picnic and go out to the farm, where the stars really shine and sip chilled wine and talk in the quiet.