I hate Walmart 

Going to Walmart after my run in with the daycare was probably not the best idea.  Going to Walmart after showing my $&@-justifiably so–at the daycare was definitely NOT a good idea. 

In December I paid the day care for a full 2 weeks that my daughter didn’t attend the after school program. She didn’t attend because hey- there was no school. She is in an after school program. Not daycare which is full time but after school. 3:30 to 6ish for $70. Having her attend full time when there is no school cost extra. I signed a form saying she wouldn’t be attending daycare during the break.  

There were lots of inane points made during the explanation of why I had to pay for after school when there was not school.  Being told I didn’t understand business  was my favorite though. It didn’t sit so well then and it didn’t go any better today when they charged me at extra $30 because she didn’t go for 2 days!!!! Oh-sorry-I didn’t call in time to tell them she wouldn’t be there 2 days. I won’t bore you with the details of the conversation. I did manage to exclaim,”I’ve paid you more in the past 2 months for you NOT taking care of her then I have for you to take care of her.” There was also the barb,”consider me old school but I like paying for services I actually GET,” and I did manage to add, “you make it awfully hard to stay a customer.” There was more. But this probably gives you the general idea. 

The first time I had some decorum and made my point while agitated bit calm-ish. Today not so much. 

And then I want to wal-mart. Not a good idea. I needed to print the valentines, get French fries and suckers. I needed to do it tonight because it was Going to take all of Tuesday and Thursday to get short attention span little one to actual write the names and her own on each valen-time.  I had no choice. And believe me I tried to come up with another choice. So mu French fries, suckers abs pictures all needed to be done tonight. What a combo. Where else can you get all those in one trip but the dreaded and nasty wal-mart. 

I hate wal-mart. Walmart after my $&&*^ a switch has been flipped is even worse. 

Lug boat and I make our way in to the grocery section. There is a candy asile in the grocery section. We go to  this  candy asile. A candy aisle where there is no valentines candy. Really-because what sense would that possibly make? The valentines candy isn’t in the grocery side with the actual candy. It’s on the other side is the store. The total opposite side of the store. Alrighty then.

Towards our trek to the Valentine candy asile far, far away from the real candy asile we get to the photo center. I check into the photo center to ask about that instant photo printing machine. He takes a break from his photo processing to show me where the machines are—outside of the photo lab itself. 

There I have to download an app. But to download the free app I have to update my payment information with my new debit card data. Since my glasses are on the car that takes a while. Finally get that done only to discover I have to Download the right wi-fi. That works but the code on the machine doesn’t. So I find a machine that the code actually worked on. 

A few tense words later I had my printed valentines and a piece of paper showing the number of pictures I had just printed. Now to the opposite aside is the store to get suckers. 

Suckers. Check. We scurry to the checkout area where, out of 30 registers, 2 are manned.  In those 2 manned aisles are people with gargantuan buggies of tv’s and boom boxes and peanut butter and cases is God knows what—in the same buggy.  I have French fries, pictures, bananas and suckers and okay-maybe a Reese’s to counteract the stress. Self-service it is. 

Once there I scan my items and start to scan my pictures. The paper I am holding-the paper I got out of that machine that printed my pictures has my bar code. I try “no barcode” look up. Nothing. I flag down the self-service dude. He waves back. I. Am. Not. Saying. Hello. Dude. 

I abandon my machine and go to self-register man dude. I show him my receipt without the bar code. He looks confused. He probably looks that way all the time but at this moment it irks me. Shockingly he doesn’t know how to ring up pictures. He will call someone. 

To appease antsy child I let her look at that valen-times pictures we just printed. 

He proceeds to help everyone who had even remotely considered self-checkout. Antsy amplifies. Little girl gets restless too. So restless that she  starts doing the buggy wiggle. I wait. And wait. And wait. 

Confused man comes over and ask to see my pictures. I refrain from asking why and start to gather the pictures now laying all over the bottom of the buggy. The same bottom of the buggy that wiggle girl has been wiggling on. With the bananas. Pieces coming together for you yet?? Let me help. My pictures are all now covered in mashed bananas. I gather them and hand them to him. You wanted them-you got them big boy. He has the audacity to look horrified. “Where is the envelope?” No envelope I explained. I printed these in that instant print machine I explain. Again. He is going to call someone. Again. 

Daughter is crying because I am mad. Or because it’s 7:39 and she eats linch at 10:30 and gets soda crackers and water at the freaking daycare. I try and assure her hike adding another log size Reese’s to the cart. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. 

Confused boy brings over management. I know this because she has more buttons on her vest. She looks at my paper. She asks to see the pictures. What is it with you people???????? I hand them over chucking a bit internally as she recoiled slightly. Then she says,”ohh. This isn’t the recipet. You have to get the receipt from the photo center.”

“I use the instant photo machine to instantly print pictures,” pause. “The machine prints the pictures. The machine prints this recipet like paper,” she’s nodding. “But then I am supposed to take this piece of paper that looks like a receipt,” I am losing her,” this receipt like piece of paper…I am supposed to take this back into the photo center to the man at the counter. That man gives me a REAL recipet  and obviously an envelope for the pictures I’ve just printed out. And all that has to happen before I can PAY?!?” She nods. 

I am not proud of myself at this point. 

“And to pay you for these pictures I now have to get out of line and go all the way back to the back of the store to see the guy that I didn’t ask to print my pictures in the first place. At the very, very back of the store.” Had she not cheefully nodded I might have been okay. Probably not. 

“I. Hate. Walmart,” I said. Outloud. To her, again. I am not proud. I am honest but not proud. I. Do. Hate. Walmart! And daycare. And smashed bananas on pictures. And Walmart. And Monday’s. 

One Second

A single tear 

A whistle blows indicating ‘take your mark’. I watch as he pulls himself up. I see his every muscle coiled and ready to spring into action. Tendons are taunt. I can sense his heart racing. In his mind I know he races the race. He must be working to slow his breathing-he will need the breath in a moment. He’s told me that this is when the adrenaline rush begins. It’s racing through him: spreading to his limbs, burning his mind. It oozes from his chest down his arms to his very fingers which are clutching the metal so hard that his knuckles are white. With every beat of his heart, tha-dum, tha-dum, tha-dum, the adrenaline flows.

 

He knows what he had to do, this little fella of mine. I sit, high in the stands where I can only watch as he prepares. As the moments settles upon him. I know and he knows that that he has 1:00:00 to make it matter. One minute. That’s all. One minute. If it’s 1:00:02 than it’s all for naught.

 

I imagine that in his mind he hears the taunts and jeers. The ridicule that’s always there. The boys who play with balls laughing at this little boy who plays in water. They tell him he’s not an athlete. They mock him, mock his sport. They belittle his titles. These big boys who have men’s bodies long before they have men’s minds-what they don’t understand they mock; and they mock him. He pretends it doesn’t matter. He shrugs off the hurt but I see it. I see the shadows of his eyes where light should be. I see the slump of his shoulders, the sag of his stride on the days where the mocking is at its worst. I admire him for silently thumbing his nose at all that they say. He proudly wears his championship t-shirts proclaiming just what he is. On one hand he dares them to jeer. On the other he begs them not to. He longs to fit in but what he loves most isn’t anything that these boys; with their balls, their footballs and basketballs and baseballs understands. His need for water is bigger and stronger than his need for their acceptance. So he swims. And swims and swims. 

 

There have been hours and hours of work. He’s swam miles and miles at practice. Because of his size he’s got to treat even the practices as if they are races. He’s pushed himself past the point that he thought he could go; he’s dug deeper when his body told him there was nothing else to give. I know. 
 I’ve listened as he’s lamented that it’s not fair. It’s not fair that the other boys can half-heartedly gallivant through practices without a care in the world yet still beat him. I’ve listened as he later talks with pride that his heard work earned him a place leading the practice lane, ahead of the bigger and stronger, older and more seasoned boys.  

 

Tonight he has one minute to make it all count. In one minute his season is decide. In one minute he had either succeeded or, in his mind, he’s failed. 
He’s in the water. I am in the stands.  I sit feeling every bit as nervous as he. I want for him to taste the victory. I want him to understand that no matter the time on the clock he’s a success. He has the heart and the ability to push himself. I want him to know that hard work and heart are enough in this life. But enough isn’t enough; he wants more. He wants it all.  

 

As an adult I know a win won’t silence the boys. It won’t. What they didn’t understand before they won’t understand no matter how many ribbons or metals he has. Does he understand that? Does he understand that he can’t change them? 
As I sit here watching I worry thus he’s down there worrying this he is not enough. I am afraid I didn’t teach him well enough that who he is IS enough. But there isn’t time for any more life  lessons-not from me anyway. This next life lesson, good or bad, is all on him.  There isn’t time for me to hug him , to take his little face into my hands, look him straight into his gray eyes and say: You are enough. You don’t need a time flashing on a scoreboard in a crowded natatorium to prove that. You prove who you are in practice. You are enough. Like him, I’ve got to sit back and hope that my hours and hours of parenting were enough. I’ve got to trust in the words I’ve said before. I’ve got to believe that I’ve given him what he needs to face this…be it a win or be it a loss. His race is in the pool. My race is in perception of the outcome. 
We are both asking ourselves ‘did we do enough? I know his fear is to not win. My fear is that he won’t take pride in all he’s done. My fear is that he will judge his worth by the time at the end of the race. I’ve taught him to face his fears…to look them in the eye and say ‘not today’. At least I hope I have. He’s taught me that too. There is no better lesson learned than one you learn from your own child. He’s looked his fears in the eye. He’s stood tall and firm when fear wanted him to cower. Is it enough? In one minute we will know.  

 

It all comes down to this moment. One race. I see him look left. I see him look right. He’s a boy but he is flanked by men. They are bigger and stronger. They have more experience. On paper they are faster. ‘Acknowledge this but don’t let it beat you’ I urge from my place in the stands. ‘Don’t lose before you start’. If will could send messages it would be telling him this. I wish I could tell him that the numbers on the paper don’t count. Thus they don’t matter. Every race is new, every race brings the hope of a win. This is the time. The moment. In this arena it’s the power of the will, the desire of the heart that will win. And his heart is big. His heart is mighty.

 

1:00 means victory. 1:01 is defeat for him. Not for me. For me a victory will be a hug at the end of the race, a hug where I feel his quivering limbs, feel his pounding heart and know that he gave it his all as he whispers ‘I did it Mama. We did it.” A victory for me will not be the numbers flashed on the wall. My victory will be when he reaches across the lane divider to shake the hand of his opponent be it to congratulate or to be congratulated. My victory won’t be determined by time. 

 

It’s time. The whistle blows. Time stands still. It is as if the entire world is waiting; Waiting on a moment. I am holding my breath, clenching my fist. My own heart beats, tha-thum, tha-tum, tha-thum. I can’t take my eyes off the boy in the pool. The cap emblazoned with his school colors. He glances up -a quick prayer? He tightens his hold on the block. I see his strength. I see his will. He’s ready. He’s primed for battle.  

 

The gun sounds. The crowd simultaneously draws breath and exhales in an explosion of cheers. The excitement is palpable. Around me parents are on their feet their arms extended. Their voices raised as they call to their sons, “GO!” I sit. For once I am quiet. The energy pulses through the crowd until I can almost sense it reaching my boy. I add my energy and watch as he propels himself forward. Every muscle, every tendon uncoils and explodes. He makes his body long and lean to slice through the water. One last gasp of breath and he’s off the block. Even his toes help in the fight to get him into the water. He dives deep, deep until the sounds are gone and all imagine all he can hear is the beating of his own heart and the whisper in his mind: 1:00:00. I sit still. I watch. I whisper ‘please-please-please’ to myself because there is no one to hear my plea. My own knuckles are white as I grip the edge of my metal seat where I am perched. I watch.

 

And he races. He races with all his has. He races to prove every bully wrong but more importantly he races to prove himself right. To prove that every time he thought “I can” he was right; Because he can. Even from high above the pool I can see it. I can tell. He’s fighting. Fighting with all that he has. My eyes well with tears. He’s poetry in the pool. His movements are intentional. His power is graceful yet strong. I am in awe of what he can do. In the pool you don’t know his little. In the pool he is mighty. He believes when he finishes the race, when he gives one last burst of strength and touches the wall to stop the clock that he knows if he won or lost. He will be his own hero or he will forever be his own enemy. Not for me. He is my hero. He wants something and he’s fighting to get it. Against jeers and taunts and people telling him NO he’s said ‘I’ll try’. He’s worked and worked and worked and worked to get here. 32 boys have raced. There are 8 in the pool now. He’s there. There in the pool, in the heat with the fastest, the biggest and the strongest. Will be he the last one to finish? Will it be enough that he was there? That he earned the right to fight with the best? I hope that it is. I hope that no matter what the clock says at the end that he can be proud. I hope he knows that he’s already won. He’s there. He’s in the race. He’s earned the right to race.

 

And so he races. He fights.

 

I can’t sit still any longer. I leap to my feet with the heart in my throat. I raise my hands high and I say, Go-baby-go-baby-go. I say it over and over. He’ touched the wall at the far end of the pool. He’s in the race. Water splashes as the boys power through the water. There are 50 meters left. There is a rhythm to his movements. I find myself breathing with the strokes. Up, reach, down, pull. And again, Up, reach, down, pull. Again, up, reach , down, pull. We both breath. Up, reach, down and pull. The wall is in sight. He coils, flips and powers off the wall propelling himself down the pool. There are 25 yards left. I am jumping up and down now yelling for him to go. I am tempted to look to the clock to see where he stands but I don’t. This race isn’t about the clock from me. It’s about him. And he’s winning the race I want for him. I don’t need numbers to tell me that. The numbers will matter to him but they don’t to me.  

 

15-yards, 10-yards he goes. The rhythm gets faster-the strokes get longer. He’s quit turning his head to breath. He’s taken his last breath of this race. He’s got to be so tired but still he fights. Up, down, reach and pull over and over again. I quit cheering. I quit breathing. I feel as if I am finishing the race with him. My lungs burn. My heart pounds.  

 

He’s there. One last burst to touch the wall. To stop time. It’s his moment of truth. The moment that he will know. He rips off his goggles and turns to see the clock. The great decider. His eyes adjust. His heart and mine thrump a rat-a-tat-tats. A single tear slides down my check as I watch him. I don’t look to the wall where the time is flashing. He does. He reads the time and one single tear slides down his face, hiding in the trails of water on his face.

 

Snow Hours

“Everyday should be a snow day!” Proclaimed my fella. His bare feet danced a happy jig on the cold tile floor. Hair askew and stuck up in 20 different directions he wore his ninja turtle pj pants, his ever present NOHS Titan Tide t-shirt and a heart happy grin. My heart ba-bumped. He shimmied a little more as he scooped one blueberry pancake after another on his plate. The higher the stack the bigger the sashaying dance became. At 6 he ‘dabbed’ and whooped a bit. Wielding a pink spatula and a grin I agreed with him. He threw out a ‘thank you mama’ and practically skipped out of the kitchen.
The term snow day was a grossly inaccurate description but I didn’t correct him. Our light dusting of snow wasn’t what had him so happy. The snow day mentality was responsible for the jig and the smile. 
With plummeting tempatures and dark, heavy clouds those in the “know” (chuckle-chuckle) issued warnings that closed schools, sent office workers scurrying home and drove grocery store attendance to record hi’s. Before dark everyone that could be was nestled at home, wine in hand, cuddled under blankets and quilts and waiting on the storm. No one had anywhere else to be. 
Despite a chilly house and no plans the fella was up early. Perhaps he was up early because he had grand plans of snow sledding with his Go-pro saucily attached to his tobaggon. If that was the case he didn’t show his disappointment when I stumbled out of the bedroom a little later. Our snow day consisted of a little dusting over the cars and little else. Perhaps getting control over the remote and his turn in the chair was enough. He chirped,”Mornin’ Mama,” from under his bundle of quilts. “Check out the SNOW!” He encouraged then laughed as I ran to the door and threw it open. 
Despite a total lack of percipitation there was still a ‘snow day’ feel. The big events of the day were all still on hold. We had nowhere to be. Nothing to do. We were, quite literally, chilling. 
I made coffee and made him some of his grandpas special tea. He watched a boy show and I read. The house was quiet and still. 
“Hungry” man child grunted a bit later. Normally everybody fends for themselves on Saturdays. It’s cinnamon rolls or cereal. Maybe toast. Today was different. 
Blueberry pancakes bathed in butter and Canadian bacon makes one fella very, very happy. So do coveted Madagascar vanilla crystals. The special and expensive that I had been saving. For what? Who knows. Probably for the same special occasion that the 3 year old bottle of champagne in the bottom of the fridge was being held for. A snow day seems good enough reason to break out the good stuff-so that’s what I did. 
Everyday should be a snow day my fella said and I couldn’t agree more. Why everyday should be a snow day to him wasn’t the same as why everyday should be a snow day to me. 
In a few hours the sun will be high in the sky, the tempatures will rise, the snow will melt and life will go back to all the “must-do-needs-doing” activities. We will be back in the go. Tomorrow the roads will be clear and they will want to see girlfriend and friends and I’ll be back to the office to try and get enough done to avoid a nervous breakdown on Monday. The snow day will be over. 
But for a few glorious hours we had a snow day. We had hot tea and expensive sugar. We had homemade pancakes and snugly tv time. We had a chance, even for a few hours, to stop and just BE. We had candles ready and allowed ourselves a good book without having to be or go anywhere. 
Thank god for snow…can’t use that word day as it has lasted less than 24 hours….thank god for snow hours. 

Wee hour ramble 

2:20 am and, like clockwork, BAM! I am awake. Echoes of worries,  of to-do items, things needing attention, unresolved stressors and of events to come finally get so loud that sleep because impossible and I am jerked wide awake already in full worry mode without even the buffer of a almost asleep but sort of awake state. Nope. There is no mid-slumber state. It’s like my subconscious explodes with the weight of it all and the force POPS my eyes open and signals my mind to begin racing at warp speed. 

Like a worn down battery-I need to re-charge. Like a computer system I need to turn off and let everything refresh. I know I do. Irrationally it’s one of the things swirling in my head at 2am…the thought that even if I go to sleep right now I onky get 3 hours and 40 minutes before the alarm. I mentally see the old discs of an antiquated alarm clock that hover and with a thwack flip to reveal a new time every 60 seconds. At each change in minute my brain recalculates the exact amount is sleep I am missing. Like I needed the reminder. Equally irrationally are the thoughts that I am going to have to get up earlier to apply the massive amounts of concealed that the bags under my eyes are going to require. 

At 2:22am everything is a big deal. 

  • How do you calculate the difference between 2 dates in excel?
  • I need to go to the bank.
  • What clothes did little bug wear from her dads house last week because he will expect them back which means she has to wear them today.
  • Can I miss the 11am meeting to do what needs to be done for the 3p meeting?
  • Teen-queen didn’t wash her spirit jersey and she has to wear it tomorrow. Wait a monitor-she’s never washed it despite being told to.  Gonna have to take her phone.
  • Need to leave at 4:30 to get to said way game today but the meeting will run until 4 and then the interface has to be done which will take an hour at least….
  • Didn’t put little bugs snack in her bookbag…..
  • Gotta pay the lunchroom…
  • Crap-she can’t wear a hoodie to day care but she won’t wear the coat.
  • Did I schedule that dudes flight for his on-site interview?
  • Big man needs to do the dishes before he heads to youth group group with his girlfriend 
  • I have nothing to wear tomorrow that fits!
  • Need to exceecise
  • Can’t exceecise Thursday-have to meet about little bugs school issues
  • I should get her teacher flowers
  • Damn I wish I had someone to hold me tight right now that I could talk to about all of this
  • I don’t want to be that lonely old lady that….
  • Clothes didn’t her moved go dryer-they will sour. Oh yeah. Load in dryer not dry. Dryer broken. Need to do something about that…
  • Dang. I never called shoot garage door. 
  • Did I pay the motrgage?
  • Should I get up and do the clothes?
  • Great….only 3 hours before the alarm
  • Snuggle bug will be climbing into my bed any minute
  • Could I make runners that look like lane ropes for that swim banquet!?
  • I should do an end of season goodie bag for the cheerleaders 
  • Is shy bug ready to try little league again?
  • Will I always be this lonely?
  • Need to check with dad on car…
  • I should get up early and wash my hair…
  • He said I was boring and selfish and a horrible wife…guess he was right
  • I need to call heather.
  • …and jean…she wanted to go to that movie and needed one of us to go with her…
  • How can I get to store for a get well bag for Lisa! What should I put in there.
  • Dog food. 
  • Not dog food for Lisa-need to get that when I get her stuff…chicken soup maybe
  • I gotta lose weight.
  • I need to run the query off the grades and compare it to the license list
  • He do you use the compare tool on excel?
  • &”@@ I needed to have a list ready for the 9am meeting
  • I need to schedule the work flow….
  • I wish the kids could take peanut butter and jelly to school.
  • I am going to be no good tomorrow. 
  • This is stupid. I need sleep!
  • I need a hug. 
  • I need a better hiding place for the key. 
  • I need to find out when I can take Bailee to Disney. 
  • Crying will only make my eyes puffier tomorrow. 
  • Wish I lived closer to Bille Jo’s Zumba studio. She’s so positive. And so pretty-still. 
  • I need to write about real stuff. 
  • Who cares what I write.
  • I am going to be useless tomorrow. 
  • I miss having a partner in life.
  • I am out of saline.
  • Crying won’t help. 

And so goes the wee hour ramble of an over-wrought single mom with more worries than answers, more to-do items than time and more sad than I know what to do with. Not that I think I am unique. There is a world full of non-sleeping-working moms out there who probably have a rambling list as long as mine. 

3:20. If I go to sleep right now…..

All I’ve Forgotten

I am going to be brave this year. 

So here it goes. 

This is different from what I usually write and posting it scares me to death. I’ve had it in my mind for years but it was a one-act play. I never wrote the play. When a chance came to write something to enter into a contest I dusted off the idea and re-crafted it to meet the format of the contest. I’ve only trusted one other person to read it. Until now.

Helen this one is for you. 

All I’ve Forgotten

By Libby Hayes

The room was white. So white that it hurt to look at. So white that even in the heat of the day, it made me cold. Cold to the bone. “Do you know why you are here?” a stranger asked. He, like the room, was clad in white. 

 

I clutch my purse closer wrapping my arms around it and hugging it to my chest. For comfort? For warmth? I laugh a nervous laugh, “Of course I do. You want to know about this,” I hold out my hand. It too is bathed in white. This white burnt. A cold burn that I couldn’t shake. This cold burn wrapped in white in this white, white room. 

 

“This is all so silly. I am having a shower; for the baby. I needed food for the party so I was making some. There was chicken Olivia, which is wonderful for a party. It’s light. And strawberry salad-It’s so pretty on the plate, the strawberry salad. You see it’s got a layer of gelatin and then a lovely layer of…oh dear…what is in that layer? I’ve made it a hundred times. Everyone loves my salad. It’s lovely. The red gelatin and the white layer of….oh dear…what is in the layer. I can’t believe I can’t remember,” I struggle to remember what the recipe called for. I know I should know.

 

The bright white faded a bit. My purse was here in my lap. Thank goodness I had not forgotten my purse. I open it and peered inside. Now what was i looking for? I glance up and see only white. And a stranger. A stranger clad in white looking at me as if he’s waiting for me to say something. I peer down at my open purse. It’s open. I snap it shut and hug it to my chest. The man still looks at me. Waiting. Waiting for me. He had asked me a question. But what was the question? I glance around to see if I can get a clue, a glimmer to help me remember what it is the man is waiting on me to say. This man clad in white.

 

White walls stare back at me. It’s so white. So white it makes me cold. I hug my purse to my chest so I feel better. It’s my purse. I know my purse. I hadn’t forgotten my purse. I open my purse and peer inside. There, inside, are things I remember putting there. My wallet. My Handkerchief…I always tuck one inside of my purse. My keys. Rosie gave me that key ring and it’s so handy. It’s got the loveliest cameo etching on it. She got it because it has a clip—a clip that slides right into the side of the purse so you don’t lose your keys. How nice not to have to rummage around in the purse when trying to get inside. Inside. Did I take my groceries inside? The chicken will spoil if I don’t get it into the refrigerator. The jello salad really needs to be chilling. Did I get the……what was it I needed for the jello salad?

 

Oh goodness. The gentleman. The gentleman clad in white is staring at me. Was he trying to get my attention? What in the world did he want? I glance around but I only see white. I am cold. I hug my arms to my chest. My purse presses against my jacket. Oh good. I’ve not forgotten my purse. I loosen my arms so that the purse falls into my lap. It’s open. Nervous to have purse open with strangers around I glance inside. My wallet is there. In the corner is my handkerchief. I take it out to dab my nose. Something tumbles out. There in the bottom of my purse lay rings. Two rings. Why would rings be there for goodness sake? I tuck my handkerchief back into the band of my watch so my hands are free to reach down and take out the rings. But I don’t. I glance around and see that I am in a white room. And there are strangers. Strangers are looking at me. Strangers who are staring at me and my purse. Do they know what I have inside? They want my rings. They are here to take them. They can’t do that. They can’t have my rings. No. These were gifts. Gifts from my son, Larry, the skier who was traveling the world. Why, the King of Jordan himself had given Larry this ring. It didn’t start off as a ring. It was a lovely set with a tie tack and cuff links. Larry didn’t need them so he gave them to me. I had a ring made and 2 pendants for the girls. Lovely pieces.

 

In my I see there are 2 rings there. I feel nervous and a bit afraid. I have an open purse in a room of strangers. These strangers want to take my rings. These strangers in this white room. I snap my purse closed and clutch it to my purse to my chest. They can’t have them. They can’t have my rings. I tell them that very thing. I tell the man in the white coat and the woman beside him that they can’t have it. They can’t have my purse.  

 

“I don’t want your purse. You can keep your purse,” he leans in to me. This stranger in the white coat in this white, white room. His eyes seem kind and gentle. “Do you know why you are here?” the stranger with the kind face and white coat asks. I laugh. Of course- this was the question. 

 

“Certainly,” I wave my bandaged hand in front of him. The room brightened. The white got even whiter. He was the doctor who had bandaged my hand. “Oh yes…of course! You want to know about this. It’s silly, really. You see I was preparing for a party. More of a brunch really. It isn’t polite for family to give showers. So I am having a brunch. The ladies from the guild are coming over. It’s a brunch for the baby. A baby shower without gifts. Family can’t throw showers—it’s not polite.   

 

“I wouldn’t normally invite them considering the circumstances but… “I throw my palms in the air and shrug my shoulders. “It’s really not polite to talk about the circumstances. Not proper to discuss it here with this stranger. “But I decided to have a brunch instead. Chicken Olivia is so nice to serve for a brunch. I was working on the gelatin salad when I burnt my hand. I added the gelatin to the boiling water just like you are supposed to. Then, I was pouring the gelatin into the casserole dish. That’s when it happened. This injury. I was pouring gelatin into the casserole dish. Gelatin for the strawberry salad. Strawberry salad looks so pretty on the plate. The gelatin is red and the layer of cream in the center. It’s lovely.” My voice trails off. I shake my head. I was supposed to be telling him something. This gentleman in front of me seems to be waiting on something. I glance down and see my purse in my lap with my hands clothed around it. One hand is bandaged heavily. Underneath the bandages it burns. “Oh yes,” I laugh pleased that I have remembered what he was waiting for. “You want to know about this injury. So silly really. I was making my strawberry salad for a brunch I am having. I was pouring the hot water into the casserole dish when I burnt my hand.” There. I sit back and clutch my purse. I’ve answered his question. 

 

But he has another. How did I burn my hand? Didn’t I just tell him that? Goodness. 

 

“I just told you. I was making strawberry salad for a brunch I am throwing when I burnt my hand. I always serve Chicken Olivia and strawberry salad for brunch. Everyone loves it,” I am a little irritated. This white is hurting my eyes and his stranger with his white coat and stethoscope around his neck is asking me silly questions when I have so much to do. Thank goodness the chicken casserole is made. It’s so much better when it sits overnight. It’s time I get back to it. I clap my hands to indicate I am ready to go. I mustn’t be rude but there is so much to do. Where is my purse? I mustn’t forget my purse. My keys are there. I have to have my keys. I need the keys to get into the house. My keys are in my purse. Where is my purse? I look around for my purse and there it is right there in my lap. Silly me. Of course it’s in my lap. I hadn’t forgotten my purse. I remember going back inside for my purse before coming here to see about my hand. How silly of me to have poured the gelatin all over the counter, all over my hand. I can’t believe I forgot to put the casserole dish out. What a thing to forget. How could I forget to put the casserole dish on the counter before pouring the gelatin. How could I have forgotten? 

 

The white distracts me from my thoughts. What have I forgotten? Oh yes, I have to make the chicken Olivia. And the strawberry salad needs to be made. Did I thaw out the strawberries? Last time I didn’t and the gelatin salad was ruined. Surely I didn’t forget this time. I am sure I didn’t forget. The gelatin is made and now I only have to pour the strawberries so it can set. It needs to set overnight or the layers don’t chill right. It will be so pretty on the plate.

 

“Did I tell you I was having a party? A brunch really. This is just a brunch for the ladies of the guild who understand about the circumstances,” I gesture to let him know that I can’t say any more about that. “I am making my chicken Olivia. Everyone loves it. And gelatin, strawberry gelatin salad. So pretty on the plate. There is so much to do. I must go.” Where is my purse. Ahh….there it is. I’ve had it the whole time. Thank goodness I haven’t forgotten my purse. “Thank you for having me. It’s been lovely. I hate to rush but I’ve got to run. I’ve got so much to do.” I stand. “Thank you so much for having me.” The stranger stands. What a nice young man to stand when a lady is leaving the room.  

 

“I won’t keep you much longer. Just one more question,” he says, taking my hand. His hands are warm in this room. Gracious this room. It’s so white and cold. The stranger pats my hand. I really need to go. I need my keys to go. Where are my keys? I know I’ll need those. I’ll need my keys to go. Oh yes, they are in my purse. I’ve got my purse. I really must go. “What is your name?” he asks.

 

“My name is…” I can’t finish the sentence. “My name is…” I stop. I am cold in this white, white room with these strangers. “My name is…Goodness,” I repeat. “I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten my name.”
 

A word

I didn’t make resolutions this year…hardly needed one more failure on my list and resolutions, typically, don’t last long for me. My guilt about not keeping resolutions last much longer then the actual resolve. This year I accepted that. 

But it is a new year. A fresh start. An automatic time to think “out with the old and in with the new” be it habits, vices, dreams or what nots. I caved to that instinct to flip the page of 2015 and eye 2016 with fresh and-admittedly-hopeful eyes. 

And a word. No long or detailed resolutions. No false pretenses to hit the gym or quit eating bread (God forbid). I didn’t swear to myself to take up knitting or to learn a new language-heck I’ve barely got this one under control. I didn’t do any of that. I allowed myself a word. Brave. 

This year I will do something brave. I don’t know what that means yet…I am going to let the year play out and see where it leads me. Take a trip? Write a story? Enter a contest? Run a race? Flirt? Go out on a date? Take a chance? Who knows. 

I am going to be brave. About what? Who knows??? I don’t but I have no doubt that at some point this year something will happen where I need to stand tall and stout and brave. 

I will teach brave. I will talk to my girls and my fella about being brave. Bravely making their own choices. Bravely being themselves. Bravely forging their own way. I’ll lead by example. 

There are a thousand ways to be brave. Big ways and small ways. Visible ways and ways that no one will ever see. Sometimes you make a conscious decision to be brave and sometimes you are brave because it’s the only option left to you.  There are times, I think, when you don’t even know you are being brave until you are on the other side of what caused you to be brave in the first place. 

Maybe I’ll hit a gym…at this size and physical situation it will require a large amount is bravado to make that happen. But maybe I will. 

Maybe I’ll do something to promote my writing. I can’t even fathom eat that will be. But maybe I will. 

White water rafting? Maybe. Hiking 6 miles for a girls weekend? I might. Sky diving? I wouldn’t say no. 

Not making resolutions is my way of being gentle with myself. I am doing all I can to be all I can to as many areas is my life as I can. Not a lot is leftover energy for dieting or exercising or housecleaning or major organization. And that’s okay. But I do want some different things out if 2016 and to get anything new I do have to do somethings differently. I acknowledge that. 

Happy 2016. The year of me being brave. 

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