Archive | May, 2012

The Smell of Nostalgia

24 May

Someone told me today that the smell of freshly cut grass was the smell of nostalgia. This realization spoken aloud was like a kiss for my soul. My breath was taken away by its simplicity and its truth. It was an epiphany, an explanation for why that scent could make my whole body ache with longing for something unknown. In it, carried through the air were visions of my childhood. Bare feet, skinned knees, running. Mosquitoes, twilight, bonfires. Friends, swings, a treehouse, bikes. Dirt, worms, sprinklers and sun.

A storm is coming. The air is electric with a heavy heat, and a strong wind offers no reprieve, only more warmth. The house is dark and I am alone but for the howling. I turn my head to the breeze in an old man’s feeble attempt to feel alive. I inhale, and there it is. If ever green had a scent, this was it. I breathe in the memories, bow my head, and cry.

So Close But So Far

22 May

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks thinking about what other people are thinking. It sounds complicated, but it’s really something I’ve struggled with for a long time now. While I’m generally a confident person, my largest insecurity is feeling like I care too much, that I’m giving more than I should be. It’s been my experience that the work in relationships is very rarely shared 50/50, and that in almost all of mine I’m the one putting in the larger share.

Maybe I should back up and explain.

As most people do, I have a group of people in my life that I would consider to be my “best” friends. Of these friends, there are several who live and/or work out-of-state that I just don’t get a chance to see, or even speak to on a regular basis. I know that long-distance friendships are, in general, hard. It’s difficult to find the time for a “How’s your life?” email or a “So, do you have any big life updates?” phone call. By the time my work day is done, my son is put to bed, and my papers are graded, I pretty much just want to sit on my ass. It takes effort to keep in touch, and effort can be exhausting.

The smaller things are easier. The texts to say we heard “our” song on the radio, or the Facebook comments about how funny a picture is. But it’s not the smaller things I feel like I’m missing. The smaller things don’t keep me in the loop about the things that matter. I’ve had friends break up with or gain boyfriends without me finding out until months later. Hell, I’ve had friends move without telling me they were even looking. I find out later, after the fact, like it’s not a big deal.

I’ve never understood how to function like that. If something important is happening in my life (husband, house, baby, job, etc.) I want to tell everyone. No, scratch that. I want to tell everyone that matters. I want them to be a part of my life. I want them to share in my joys, and my pains. You take time to share the things in your life that are important to you, with the people who are important to you. Right?

And then, of course, the more I think about it, the more I start to wonder if maybe I’m overreacting. Not everyone feels the same way I do about keeping in touch. Not everyone would agree with me on the things that do or do not warrant a phone call. Can you really be close with someone without knowing what goes on in their day-to-day lives? Maybe they think so, and who am I do disagree?

But, after the self-doubt fades, the anger kicks in. Maybe it’s not worth it. Maybe I shouldn’t be putting in the extra effort. If it’s not worth it to the other party to stay in touch, then why should I put in the time? But that is the emotional equivalent of an ultimatum. And that cuts right through the bullshit to my real fear. That if I don’t put in the effort and the time, then we’ll drift apart and lose contact altogether. And the other party might not care; their lives might go on, but it would absolutely break me.

I think that’s really the heart of the matter. When all is said and done, it comes down to what these relationships are worth to me. My circle of friends is preciously small, and I value each of them more than they can possibly know. They are worth the time, and they are worth the effort, because they do mean the world to me. So even if it means that I’m always the one reaching out, I’m going to  keep doing it. Because to me, they’re worth that extra stretch to hold on to.

Summer Reading Goals

15 May

A few weeks back my dear friend Ali posted a blog entry about the stack of books that makes up her “to read” pile. I have no such pile to post a picture of, because my “pile” is simply a typed list that takes up several pages (more than I’d care to admit) in Microsoft Word. When it comes to my list of books to read, I’m somewhat of a Sisyphus. For every book I finish, there’s four more that get added to the list. It’s one of my great fears that I’ll die not having read all the books I want to read.

Despite that rather depressing prospect, I never tire of trying. This year, I started a book club for my middle school students (which I blogged about here). It’s been an amazing experience. Their depth and insight into books that I’ve read tens of times before has been inspiring. Together this year we’ve read The Hunger Games, The Face on the Milk Carton, Homecoming and The Maze Runner. Two oldies (but goodies) and two of my new favorites as well. These books have pretty much been the only reading I’ve been able to accomplish this year, which I guess is to be expected my first year in teaching.

Perhaps this is why I have high expectations (as I always do) that this summer will mean big things in terms of my writing and my reading. It’s my first summer off as a teacher and mercifully I won’t have to spend it applying for jobs for next year. So what am I going to do? Read. Write. And be with my son. *bliss* Oh, and I’ll finish my master’s too, but no biggie.

While summer may not have officially started, here is my Summer Bucket List (books wise):

It’s no small undertaking, but I believe I can do it. I’m also heading an informal summer version of our book club for my students, which includes a summer reading challenge. If anyone has any suggestions for books (especially realistic fiction and “classics”), please share. In my opinion, the more books the better. There’s always room for more on my “to read” list.

A Mother’s Day Post

13 May

Relationships with mothers (in my experience) are complicated. When I think about it objectively, I guess that’s rightfully so. From the second we’re born, mothers are fighting for our well-being. They want us to be safe, healthy, successful and happy. They put their every waking second into making sure that those things come to fruition and then, when we’re older, they’re forced to step to the side and watch us do things that are dangerous, bad for our health, that don’t better our lives and that often lead to heartbreak. Everything their mother’s intuition has screamed at them to keep us away from, we rush toward in our stubborn and naive efforts to be independent and self-sufficient. Eventually, hopefully, we reach a middle ground. We mature and realize that usually always our mother’s were right. Our mothers shake their heads and acknowledge that yes, sometimes, we have to learn things the hard way. We become more than a parent and a child, we become friends and mutual adults. Despite all this, there is one constant: our mothers never stop wanting us to be safe, healthy, successful and happy.

To say that my own mother has been on a journey the past couple of years is a pitiful understatement. She’s been put through the wringer more times than I can count, and the hell she’s dealt with is not one that I’d wish upon my worst enemies (that is, of course, assuming I had enemies). The fact that she’s still with us today, and that she’s as strong, inspiring and fabulous as she is, is nothing short of a miracle. Though our relationship has had its ups and downs, there’s never been an instant where I have doubted that she’d do anything for me. She is my mother, and I love her.

Today is my third mother’s day that I get to celebrate with the “new” perspective of being a mother myself. Like my own mother, I would do absolutely anything to keep my son safe, healthy, successful and happy. It’s an overwhelming and joyous feeling, and I plan on savoring every moment of it.

Happy mother’s day, to all the mothers out there.

Reflections on Solitude

4 May

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week or so contemplating solitude. To be completely honest, solitude is not something that I have a lot of experience with. I spent all of my youth (which makes me sound/feel much older than I actually am) living with my family. From there I went to the dorms where I first had one roommate, followed by two. Then I got married and Husband and I have lived together since. 

Even thinking beyond my actual living arrangements, I can probably count on one hand how many times I have been in the house by myself in the past year. Husband is fantastic, amazing really, at taking care of Child so that I can go out with friends, run errands, etc. He has never once told me no, it’s too much, I’m tired. But, in nearly all of these instances, I am with someone. Accompanied. Chaperoned. 

As I write this, Husband is gone at the cabin to help put in the dock, but I’m still here listening to Child talk himself to sleep in his bedroom. I find myself missing that sense of freedom and abandon. To sing my lungs out and not care if the words are inappropriate. To spend all day curled up on the couch with my writing and a stack of books. No obligations, no responsibilities. Just me. 

I’m not trying to make this sound like a whiny complaint that should be tagged with #whitepeopleproblems. I made the decisions to get married, have a child, spend time with friends, and I wouldn’t change a single one of them. All I’m simply saying is that I’ve realized just how important it is that I get that time for myself, and how much I treasure it when it does roll around.

So, as the noise from Child’s bedroom has finally subsided and this blog entry has come to a close, I have a glass of wine, an episode of Private Practice queued up, and the end of The Maze Runner to look forward to. *Cheers*