This past week has been all about celebrating: celebrating life, Spring flowers, family, and even illness.
First and foremost, I finished reading a novel last week early in the evening. I got up and looked for a new book to read. And I found…nothing! Sure there were a few non-fiction books that I had yet to read, but for the most part, all books in my house have been read. What was a girl to do?
That’s right. I logged straight onto amazon and ordered myself five new books. I had made myself a promise earlier in the year that I would not buy one more book until I finished what I already had in my house, which minus a few slips, I didn’t break. But now, without a new novel to read, I felt completely justified and even, dare I say encourage to buy new books. And when they arrived a few days later, it almost felt like Christmas morning. A book celebration: Five new books to read! Five new worlds to dive into! Five new stories to guide me to sleep! In essence, five things to be thankful for.
(Notice the quilting book? Oh yeah, I’m going to learn to quilt this summer. Can’t wait!)
Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to celebrate motherhood in its most extreme meaning. Luke got sick. Really sick. That poor kid had 104 degree fever, which greatly disrupted my plans for the evening (I did have tickets to see a dance performance with my friend Jenny) as well as any plans of having personal space for a few days. because when Luke is that sick the only place he wants to be is on my lap. Huddled as close to me as he can get. I was able to slip him into Maddie’s lap for a few brief moments so I could escape to the bathroom, but that was about it. Luke and I became one for a few days.
Luke being sick doesn’t make me celebrate illness, but it does make me celebrate motherhood. As much as it is a complete physical drain to have my kid stuck to me, all feverish and uncomfortable, it is also in these moments that I feel like I can offer the most comfort, the most love, the most care. I really feel like a super hero. Like just the cool touch of my hand is all it takes to fix the world’s problems. I love that feeling. I’m glad Luke’s feeling much better but I have to admit, I kind of miss having him stuck to me.
Luke’s illness cleared up in time for our biggest celebration this week: Cate, my niece’s, birthday. Cate turned 3 and mys sister had a big backyard party for all Cate’s friends that was just perfect. I mean, really, the party could not have been any more perfect. The weather was in the 80s, the kids played in the sprinklers, and the parents lounged in the sun and talked. Cate was in heaven, happy to be surrounded by all her friends.
Cate is the sassiest, funniest, most kind-hearted little girl I know. We often tease that she acts like a little Jewish mother, always making sure everyone is having a good time and rushing to take care of any problem she sees. She follows Luke around all the time to make sure he doesn’t fall or get hurt. She tries to change other kid’s diapers. She shares her food. Really, she is like a little mama and we love her so much more for it. Cate: we celebrate you!
Being outside so much for Cate’s birthday made me remember one of the things I love about spring and summer so much–fresh flowers. My mom’s house has tons of roses as does my neighborhood. In general, there’s not much I’m very particular about when it comes to my bedroom. I don’t care if my bedroom sheets match the decor of my room and I almost never make my bed. Books lie in piles all over and clothes gather in corners. Essays and midterms stack up high on my desk. Mostly, none of this bothers me and I’ve never been someone who cares too much about the state of my bedroom. But there’s one thing I absolutely insist on in the spring and summer. And that’s fresh flowers by my bed. I love smelling sweet roses as I go to sleep; I’m convinced it brings better dreams. And so as soon as I saw some fresh roses, just waiting, really waiting, to be cut, I had at them. And now, as easy as that, fresh flowers are on my nightstand. Every morning when I wake, I glance over at the flowers and think of how I want my day to go. The flowers remind me that only I can master how a day will be, how I will process what happens. I choose to celebrate life, not ignore it. I’m thankful for the daily reminder.
In my household, it’s become a battle of the wills between Luke and I, who just recently figured out how to take off all his clothes so he can be naked. Which is fine most of the time. But that kid can’t be naked always, and since he’s not potty trained yet, not having him in a diaper is a gamble every time. I’ve cleaned up a lot of pee around the house since he learned this new trick. But damn if it doesn’t make him happy as can be to run naked. So for now, I’m celebrating Luke’s nakedness.
This past week, I had a surprise visit by an old boyfriend, Garth.
As I’ve already written about him, Garth was a great man, and we had a pretty good relationships, one that had many ups and downs. We split up a few times, but the last time was the most difficult for both of us. We could not speak to each other. We could not see each other. This was the only way we would ever move on. And so we didn’t. He moved to San Francisco and I stayed here; we had other relationships; we continued on with life.
For a long time, I thought we’d never be friends, and not because we had hurt each other so badly that there was too much pain or resentment. In fact, I think we both hold each other in the highest regard and I know that I would never say anything negative about him. But, I figured it might be too hard in an emotional sense. We were, in many ways, always such a good fit, and I feared that seeing him again would remind me of a deep love I once held for him.
But slowly, we have become friends. Over an email, a text message, a dinner in the city with friends, and then last week, he came by to see Maddie, Luke, and I. It was unexpected. Garth called 2 hours outside of town and asked to come over. It was his lucky night as I was cooking a good dinner for the family, so he joined us all for dinner. We had a great time. It almost felt like 5 years hadn’t passed and we were eating just any other normal dinner with an ease of conversation and joking that I consider one of the main reasons I loved Garth so much: I could talk to him about anything and vice versa. In my life, I have never been so open and honest with anyone, and it felt good to have that feeling back during dinner.
And you know what? I did feel love for him. A deep love. And I realize that I will always love him in some way. He got a part of my heart years ago, and I’m ok with that. It’s his. My heart is pretty big, so there’s lots more room for love in it, but I’m not going to be stubborn about: He can keep his part of my heart.
But the best part about this is that Garth and I are friends. Good friends. And maybe that’s all we should have ever been in the first place, but for five years, I didn’t realize how much I missed my friend. And I did. And do. So, more than anything, I’m thankful for a renewed friendship. Not many couples I know can let go of pain and hurt and be able to come together as something better, something wiser, really. I celebrate that.
Finally, the reason this post is going up Wednesday morning is because I was out late last night at….readers’ group (I only wrote half of this post last night and then I fell asleep)! Our wild and crazy reader’s group met to discuss Jennifer Egan’s The Goon Squad. It’s dorky to admit, but I don’t even care. I so look forward to my readers’ group almost more than anything else I do. And this time was no exception. We laughed, we agreed, we disagreed, we teased each other, and yet, these are the people I want around when life is good and bad. They make me smile for no reason. God, do I celebrate that!
The last celebratory bit of my week? Spending so much time with the kids. Slowing down because of illness, lounging around the house in pajamas, canceling all plans: in the end, it was so very worth it.