Edge of September

The kids go back to school next week.

Alarm clocks will have to be set.

Underwear will have to be worn.

Several day old tattered t-shirts will no longer make the grade.

We’ll move too quickly for dragonflies to perch on our toes.

I’ll have to share the kids with teachers, soccer coaches and friends.

The yoga and tennis classes I thought I’d so desperately miss will start up again.

“What will you miss most about summer?” I asked Andie.

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My entrepreneurial 10-year-old daughter at “work”!

“Everything,” she said.  The added, “Max and Sam and Hooch.”  Her “clients” from her first summer job.

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I’m going to miss my kids, because I know when we meet again next summer they will have grown and changed and moved another summer closer to the summer when school commitments or real jobs or travel opportunities replace these lazy frog-catching, lemonade-sipping summers.

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Tucker, 5 summers ago!

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So…  I’m gonna wrap up a piece of this summer, put it in my pocket and when I need it most – on one of those inevitable lost homework, no bread for sandwiches, can’t find one shoe, car won’t start mornings – I’ll pull it out and sprinkle it over us like the powered sugar “fairy dust” their granddad sprinkles on their summer pancakes. Then we’ll remember those carefree, barefoot, don’t have to be anywhere-do anything days, and we’ll laugh and smile and breathe and start counting down the days ’til next summer.

Building Blocks

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My Boy is 13 today.

When I look at him my heart flutters in panic – no please stay little and young and mine forever.

Then I look at him again and see every moment of my little boy – all the moments and birthdays leading to this one – and know that every bit of my little boy is wrapped up tightly in the bones and muscles and cells of the young man before me.

My heart flutters knowing that my little boy will always live in the heart of the man he becomes.

Memories

Yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 44.  It was my favorite kind of day, quiet and unplanned.  My husband and kids waited on me hand and foot.  “Are you having a good day?” they kept asking.  And I was.  I wrote and read, took a long walk, swam and joined the kids in a water balloon fight.

Every year on my birthday, I love to rejoice in the ordinary.  Let the day unfold and see what special memories arise.

Last year, my son and I walked down a country road and took tons of black and white photos.  It was truly a gift watching him discover a passion for photography.

He took these photos that day:

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For my 40th birthday Lee and the kids took me to dinner at an old inn with thick white tablecloths and older men at nearby tables dressed in navy sports coats.  When dinner ended, we walked down the road to the old New London Barn Playhouse that’s held Summer Stock theater since 1934.  The musical playing was Cats.  It was my third time seeing it, but the first since discovering that it was based on T.S.Eliot’s poem The Song of the Jellicles.

We sat in the front row of the once hayloft balcony.  The performers were so close, maybe just 20 feet below, that it felt like they were singing to us alone.  Sitting in the darkened theater with my husband and children, joy fluttered in my chest and I wondered, Could it get any better than this?

And then it did.  Toward the end of the musical, Grizabella, the old glamour cat, stepped to the front of the stage and began to sing Memorythe song based on T.S. Eliot’s poem Rhapsody on a Windy Night.

“Daylight

See the dew on the sunflower

And a rose that is fading

Roses whither away

Like the sunflower

I yearn to turn my face to the dawn

I am waiting for the day . . .”

As the notes left her mouth, the children, sitting on either side of me, clutched my hands.  I couldn’t take my eyes of the luminous woman standing in the glow of the spotlight.

“Midnight

Not a sound from the pavement

Has the moon lost her memory?

She is smiling alone…”

And then the theater went black – a power outage.  The aisle lights went out. The fans stopped turning.  The audience collectively sucked in their breath.  But the singing never stopped.

Engulfed in darkness, the lyrics washed over us.

“Memory

All alone in the moonlight

I can smile at the old days

I was beautiful then

I remember the time I knew what happiness was

Let the memory live again…”

And then on her next high note,

“Daylight…”

Grizabella was suddenly awash in a slanted, yellowy light radiating from the back of the theater.  (Later, we’d find out a quick thinking stagehand used the entry ramp to position the headlights of his Chevy!)

“Touch me

It’s so easy to leave me

All alone with the memory

Of my days in the sun

If you touch me

You’ll understand what happiness is 

Look

A new day has begun.”

Had it ever.  If this was the start of 40, bring it on.

Leaving the theater we saw that the entire town had lost power, and the four of us walked hand in hand down the main street lit entirely by the glow of dazzling starlight. 

Do you have a favorite birthday memory?

The Game of What?

A Friday night dinner with dear friends.

We fed our kids and theirs early and sent them upstairs to play board games. An adult evening – Ah.  Lee put on music, I lit candles and our friends uncorked a bottle of wine.

The wine was passed and stories were shared. Candle wax dripped onto the table.  Nora Jones crooned and forks were set down between succulent bites.  Cabernet was flowing into my glass when the call came from upstairs.  “Mom!  We need help!”  I sipped my wine and chose not to answer.  Then the call came again. “What is it?”  I called back.

“We need help.  We don’t know how to play The Game of Life.  Will you teach us?”

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Setting the bottle back on the table, I called back up the stairs,  “Choose another game.  The Game of Life is too confusing.”

I lifted my glass to my lips and started to sip when I noticed the silence.  Looking up, I found my husband and dinner guests staring back at me.  “What?” I asked.

“The Game of Life is too confusing?” my husband repeated.

Then I heard what I’d said.

And even though I believed what I’d said was true, I called back up the stairs, “Hang on, honey.  I’m coming. I’ll teach you how to play The Game of Life.”

I pushed my chair back from the table and thought, If only I knew how.