Abby

“Mom, what are you doing for supper?”  It is my oldest daughter on the phone.  Abby.

 

I look at the sweet potato cooking in the microwave.  I’m already in my pajamas.  It’s been a long day.  The air has turned cold.  It’s dark outside.  I want nothing more than to hunker down, eat my potato and go to bed.

 

“Nothing,” I lie.  We make quick arrangements to meet for dinner. I toss the cooked sweet potato into the fridge, pull my clothes and shoes back on.

 

Later, over a glass of wine and a slice of pizza, she related the day’s events.  A disgruntled client.  Angry, insulting words in a language she doesn’t understand.  She’s frustrated and disillusioned.  And hurt.

 

 I look across the table at my daughter.  She looks like me except she has her father’s eyes.  They are huge, green-gray and smoky.  When she was little, she would crunch them closed and her lashes would protrude like straight sticks.  Her soul is revealed through those eyes.

 

She has my sense of social consciousness.  She is determined to rid the world of injustices.  Demonstrations with Invisible Children.http://www.invisiblechildren.com/displaceMe/   A trip to India with Faceless International. http://www.facelessinternational.com/  I am so proud of her I can burst. 

 

She purges her heart of its ills and as she talks, the venom is released and healing begins.  By the time dinner is over, she is refreshed. We window shop before leaving the mall, stopping to buy a Christmas candle- a symbol of the upcoming celebration of redemption, and renewal.  Like Abby’s heart.

 

How wonderful to not be sitting in my pajamas eating sweet potato.  How wonderful to share burdens and joys.  It is the difference between being alive and living.  Thank you, Abby.  My gift of hope.

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Aging

I never really liked the idea of aging.  Some people think of creaking bones and sagging skin as badges of honor.  They talk about aging as “having arrived,” as if it were a destination we have longed to reach. I’m not so much of a fan.

One of the things I hate about aging is how-long-it-takes.  When I was in college, I could sleep until 7:30, jump out of bed, pull on jeans and a sweater, brush my teeth and sprint a third of a mile in time to make my eight o’clock class.

Now, at fifty-something, I have to be at work for eight o’clock, and I live about a third of a mile from work.  Theoretically, I should be able to sleep until 7:30.  However, that is not the case. In order to get there on time, I have to get up at five thirty. 

Why so early?  Well, first there is coffee.  I cannot find the shower unless I first have coffee.  I cannot make decisions unless I first have coffee.  I do not speak, stretch, or think without first having coffee.  Early morning coffee must be slowly sipped in front of the morning news.  There I can slowly pry my eyes open, listen to the young and perky anchor tell me what I missed during the night,  and consult with the weatherman about what I should wear to work.

Next, there is “hair-and-makeup.”  Although separate components of my morning routine, one of these does not exist without the other, thus they are not “hair” or “makeup” but are “hair-and-makeup.”  There is an exact science to “hair-and-makeup.”  First I have to put in my magnefying contact lens.   I have to do this because I cannot see to do “hair-and-makeup” without my contact. 

First is the natural mineral makeup.  Beautiful young women with flawless skin sell this stuff.  If I rub enough onto my face, the age spots that miraculously appeared after a day at the beach last summer fade and blend into a murky shadow. 

Next is mineral blush. If I do not wear this to work, people greet me with “What’s wrong?” instead of “Good morning.”  I suppose if I wanted to get sent home from work, I could omit the blush. People would say “What’s wrong?” and I could shake my head sadly and say I can’t talk about it. They would send me home.  Maybe I should try that.

When I was young, I had eyelashes.  I did not wear makeup because people could see my eyelashes.  Now, even with my contact in, I can see eyelash.  Not eyelashes.  Eyelash.  If I carefully crunch black eyeliner around my eye lash, it looks like I once again have eyelashes.  I coat the eyelash with mascara, brushing the wand around my eye area, hoping that it might find other eyelashes.  I am usually disappointed.

The final part of “makeup” is Mineral Veil.  It is supposed to hide fine lines and wrinkles.  I buff it on, hopefully.  I think perhaps it has to find the fine lines and wrinkles before it hides them, so I do not despair when more fine lines and wrinkles appear as I buff.  I finally give up and remove my contact.  Miraculously, the fine lines and wrinkles disappear. So does my eyelash.

“Hair” is next.  When I had my first daughter, I had hair to my waist.  However, I found that my hair usually smelled of animal crackers, drool and popsicle.  The daughter stayed, the hair had to go.  Twenty five years later, I went to a college reunion and people gasped, “Oh, you cut your hair!”  Who doesn’t cut her hair in twenty five years? 

Now my hair is short.  I like low maintenance hairdos because I spend so much time on the “makeup” portion of “hair-and-makeup.”  Usually things fall into place pretty well, but last Friday, a coworker told me that I had kind of a “chicken” effect going on. 

“Oh.  Must be static,” I said. 

“Wise guy.  Hope you go bald” I muttered under my breath. 

I usually do “hair-and-makeup” wearing earphones and listening to my Ipod.  I have to keep the volume up very loud to hear Jason Mraz over the hairdryer.  I dry my hair with my eyes closed and the volume up.  I am seventeen again.  My head bobs, my hips sway, my feet dance.

A banging, not quite in sync with the song disturbs me.  It is my son at the bathroom door. 

“You almost done?  I have to get ready for work” You’ve been in there forever.” he grins.

Rats. I am no longer seventeen.  My hips hurt from swaying and my feet creak as I step out of the bathroom and climb into a conservative suit and sensible shoes.  I have to rush now, because “how-long-it-took” is longer than I thought.  Oh well.  Let them wait.  I’ve earned it.

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