Tuesday night was my first night home in several days after a relaxing, decadent trip to Cincinnati with my mama (pedicures!) and a whirlwind tour of Ohio and Michigan for two high school graduations which involved a tremendous amount of driving and eating. (My brother-in-law can make a deviled egg to put any church deacon’s wife to shame.)
Tuesday night was also the first night I’d been able to put my bathroom back together since a nasty water leak took out the ceiling about ten days after the rabbit moved on. We have no reason to blame that rabbit for the leak, but I’m not ruling it out.
I took advantage of the freshly cleaned and painted bathroom situation by purchasing a fancy new shower curtain from Target along with a couple of fluffy cream-colored towels. I bought a peony at the market and plopped it in a vase by the sink.
And then all hell broke loose.
The guy who lives in the apartment above me has a new girlfriend. I know him to say hello, but we’re not buddies. He seems like an ok guy – goes to work, walks his dog. He borrowed my cell phone charger once. He smokes on his balcony, so until Tuesday night my biggest complaint was walking outside in the morning to the smell of Marlboro’s.
However on this night, right about 10:30, the girl was hopping mad. She was letting him have it. At first I figured she’d speak her peace (piece?) and they’d settle down. Maybe share a smoke and cool off. Instead, twenty minutes later they’re both screaming at the top of their lungs and there seems to be movement. I decide that this doesn’t appear to have an end in sight and now it’s 11 so I call the police – who are located 1/2 a mile down my street – with a noise complaint. After hanging up the phone, I instinctively turn out all the lights and go sit in my pretty new bathroom with my cell phone and my dog.
Twenty more minutes later, more screaming and movement makes me think things are continuing to escalate. I call the police again and this time I report violence. Someone is being hurt, I say. Why is it taking so long? You guys are legitimately in the neighborhood. The dispatcher assures me the cops are there and we hang up. I peer out my front curtain and see a faint red light beyond the carport. Oh, that makes sense. I was expecting lights and sirens but you don’t do that because then the couple freaks out and dummies up. I see an officer outside the front door and crack my patio door to tell him how to enter the building. He tells me he knows and that he is listening to the couple. Oh, yeah. You’d want to do that so you have probable cause and evidence and such. That way you don’t have to take my word for it. Good plan. I go back to my bathroom.
After a few minutes, I hear the front door to the building open, people on the stairs. Not much drama. All goes quiet. One normal set of footsteps above make me think that girl got sent home and boy got to stay home. Whatever. I’m going to bed.
The next morning I feel hungover. I silently dare him to be on the balcony smoking a Marlboro while I walk my dog. He isn’t there. I go to work simmering over how ridiculous this is to be my age, living in a place where this happens. I’m not having it, I think.
At work, I get my day started, talk to a couple students, and wonder if I should call the apartment manager. Around lunchtime, I do. She hasn’t heard about our night, but now she’ll follow up. I’m not having it, I tell her. I understand, she says.
I tell a couple of folks at work about my evening. That’s awful, they agree. Good for you, they say. I tell friends on Facebook and my mom.
That night I make dinner and eat on my patio. Soon enough, here come boy and girl up the front walk like they weren’t throwing shit at each other a day ago. He says hi to me. I can’t even speak. So that’s how you do it. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I’d forgotten what that kind of denial looks like in broad daylight. It’s shinier than I remember.
They were quiet as mice all night. Nobody smoked, nobody walked. Sure as hell, nobody yelled. I went to bed.
Tonight I went to the pool. We did water aerobics in the deep end with belts on to keep us from going under. We used bands and these weird hand things to create resistance. We had tiny chocolate cupcakes to celebrate Linda’s birthday tomorrow. She wore a shower cap in the pool so as not to mess up her fresh dye job.
When I came home tonight, I wondered if boy and girl would show themselves. No sooner do I cross the parking lot, I see and smell them on the balcony. He sees me and smiles, “I want to apologize for the other night,” he says. She starts to say something. I snap.
In 1988, I came home from Ohio State and moved to a townhouse with two high school friends. We were so ridiculously young, I can’t believe it was even legal for us to sign a lease. We had no clue. We had a Lego phone. We also had a next-door neighbor who beat his girlfriend. They screamed and carried on at all hours like nobody had to be anywhere the next morning. We sat on our staircase, the three of us, shaking with terror (one of us was a large man and the other two were otherwise awesome girls). We called the police reluctantly because we were so terrified that he would know it was us. We didn’t want him to know that we had told on him. We didn’t want him to be mad at us for telling someone what he was doing to that girl because maybe, we thought, he could somehow do it to us? I’m not saying it made sense but I remember that bone-cold fear of telling.
Tonight I responded to boy’s smiling apology with a rant that rocked him backward. I stood on the sidewalk below his balcony and reamed him out for making me afraid to be in my own home, for not thinking of the little girls and the baby who live in the other apartments, for all of us who have to go to work in the morning, and for making us remember how shitty it feels to not be able to control violence around us. He pouted and whined, I ranted and raved. My left leg twitched with what felt like a deep tissue wound. His girlfriend went inside. We came to an agreement. I would accept his apology and he would say it won’t happen again. I took him at his word and we’ll leave it at that.
After dinner I went back to my bathroom to rinse off the chlorine. Standing in the shower with lavender bubbles, I remembered the night the three of us sat huddled on our staircase waiting for the police. Our front doors mere inches apart, it felt like he could come right in and do whatever he wanted to us. We were completely overpowered by what our collective thoughts had created.
Standing where the rabbit crouched, I connected the dots between that night to Tuesday to tonight. I am not afraid to tell.
When the rabbits show up, it’s time to face your fears.
Last Friday I spent the day running errands all over town, including stops at three different grocery stores and a library run. This much productivity on a vacation day is usually just what I need to reset after a busy week. This day, however, was sopping wet with spring showers and set against the backdrop of some fairly intense soul-searching the night before as I played with a journal entry exploring the idea that all feelings are derived from either love or fear.
I must have heard this before but since this is the time of year when I typically look back on the previous school year and think about the next, I wondered how my fears might be impacting my decisions. I don’t necessarily set goals so much as feel my way toward experiences that sound interesting. (I learned that from Oprah).
For example, a couple of months ago I found a kayaking event through the local parks district. Thinking this would be a fairly low-risk way to get on the water and try a new activity, I put it on my calendar. Around the same time, I also booked a camping weekend through the campus retreat office.
As both dates grew closer, I got more excited about one and a whole lot less excited about the other. In feelings talk, there was more fear than love happening when the weather report called for rain here and at the campsite three hours away. I started to think about driving in a van on rainy highways only to arrive at a campsite in the dark and the rain, headlamps, tents, lightening. You get the idea.
By Tuesday, I sat steeping in panic from the safety of my own apartment as I fixated on the many ways a camping weekend three hours from home could go wrong and then calmed myself before realizing that I do not have to subject myself to such conditions as I am neither a Girl Scout nor a soldier. Canceling felt icky until I heard the compassion in the retreat leader’s voice. I was fascinated by how completely understanding she sounded (and actually was) while I mentally flogged myself for backing out.
Kayaking, on the other hand, was going to happen. Even as I drove across town under darkening skies Thursday evening, I hoped we would be allowed in the water before the storm came on. Getting fitted for my life jacket and a pretty red kayak, I relished the fact that I had never done this before and could ask any question I wanted without feeling silly. (“How do I hold this paddle again?”) Moving lazily and crookedly around the tiny inlet, I wondered where I would store one of these contraptions in my apartment. Could I keep it at work, tucked behind my office door maybe? The gathering storm held off long enough for me and the other kayakers to have our fun, but soon enough it moved in and stayed through my Friday errands.
So, yes, Friday afternoon I came home with several bags of groceries which required multiple trips between the car and the kitchen. And now I will tell you what I told Ed from Maintenance; I did NOT prop the screen door open. I grabbed a few bags at a time and took the dog out for a quick break even though she can’t stand going out in the rain. Carrying in the wall of toilet paper was a trip by itself. When I threw it under the bathroom sink, all seemed well. (Though not for long.)
Soon after putting all the groceries away and preparing to run one more errand, I hear what sounds like a cricket trying to get out of a plastic grocery bag, coming from the bathroom.
Scratch scratch. Knowing I have no plastic bags in my bathroom, though critters come and go as they please this time of year, I strain to make sense of this development.
Scratch hop scratch. I look at Phoebe who seemed curiously (disappointingly) unconcerned. Scratch hop. After careful assessment of the situation from the safety of my dining room, I run.
Grabbing my dog and phone, I ran outside to the patio where I called the apartment manager at 5:20 on a Friday afternoon and begged for help. She said she’d be glad to call the maintenance guy even though he’d left for the day. I thanked her and apologized several times and offered that I might be imagining the whole thing but would be so grateful for some help. Then I called my mommy. She laughed (with me) as I told her how I’d bailed at the first sound of scratching/hopping. I felt so completely ill-equipped to handle whatever was going on – I could only ask for help (and yes, I silently took note of the part where I said I might be making the whole thing up – what’s that about?)
So here comes Ed in his minivan, and he’s super-tired from turning over empty apartments for the past two days after the law school kids graduated and moved out last week. But he’s happy to help. I follow him back inside and stand in the living room as he approaches my bathroom and flips on the light. Next thing I hear is Ed taking the lord’s name in all kinds of vain as he tells me to GET OUT of the building. Taking the time to grab Phoebe’s leash, I am happy to do as I’m told.
As Ed comes back outside, I ask what it is. “I don’t know, but I ain’t puttin my hand in there!” I call mom back as Ed goes back into my place with what appears to be an ice scraper. So relieved that the threat is real enough to scare a grown man, I laugh a bit hysterically – from across the parking lot at this point – as I update my mother on the reality of my fear. This is no abstract rainy camping weekend, no mere possibility of rejection. This is actually happening! I have a right to be scared and that is strangely comforting.
Though I had grabbed my phone, my dog, and her leash, I did not take my glasses, so while I saw a rabbit hopping into the woods as Ed walked around to the side of the building, I did not catch the part where he had actually carried the full-grown bunny outside.
Crossing back into my yard, I asked what happened. “Did you not see me with that rabbit? It was in your tub!” By now we’re back inside and Ed’s poking under the bathroom cabinet looking for Narnia. Finding no apparent breach in the foundation or cabinetry, and hearing my testimony about groceries, Ed determines that the rabbit did what any good grifter would do. He walked in the front door. The part Ed can’t explain is how my dog and I failed to notice a full-size (huge!) rabbit move across a 600 square-foot one bedroom apartment, and climb into a bathtub concealed by a shower curtain.
Coming down from the endorphin rush anyone would experience under such circumstances, Ed proceeds to decompress by telling me how he flunked out of pre-med, became a butcher, lost the tip of one of his thumbs during a sale on pork chops, and then went to work for the cable company who laid him off after he rose to the top of his division, leading him to find work on the grounds crew of this apartment complex.
Really, it was all a blur. We were both pretty wiped out by the whole experience. I walked Ed back to the minivan and promised to call if Rabbit or anything else showed up again.
Sitting down to reflect on the hour’s events, I came to the only rational conclusion I could. This Rabbit was spiritual.
Googling “rabbit spiritual meaning”, I found the folks at shamanicjourney.com, who explained that the rabbit is a symbol of fear. After pointing out that pretty much every other species preys on the rabbit, author Ina Woolcott asks, “Do you keep bounding for the safety of your old patterns every time something new or challenging presents itself?” Funny you should ask, Ms. Woolcott. Funny you should ask.
And so it is; fears must be faced. Kayaks and camping trips, outdoor yoga classes, men, interesting travel, writing and other opportunities are to be met with a perseverance that would make Ed himself proud.
I may need to borrow the ice scraper.
I came home tonight feeling depleted and weary. With a few days until exams, my reserves are nearly tapped out. During the few times I have reached this point in the past 18 months, I remember that I used to feel this way a lot. Daily. Well, maybe not quite daily, but with a frequency that now astounds me.
Long ago, I unleashed on coworkers for reasons that only made sense in my own world though I attempted to rationalize them in the name of ‘customer service’ and ‘attention to detail.’
Not long ago, I buried my feelings under layers of food and drama (both fiction and non-), disguised codependency as caring, and made myself indispensable by doing all the work within and just beyond my reach. Asking for help felt like asking for love. If you have to ask, I thought…
It turns out, you do. And, here’s the really annoying part, you have to be willing to listen for the answer, which might be no. Well, you don’t have to listen, but it seems to help.
The days I come home the sulkiest are those when a coworker has listed the twenty or so tasks ahead of us and I interpreted them as mine alone to take on – right this minute. It turns out that this is actually not the expectation because I don’t live in a Dickens novel nor am I tied to a set of train tracks. Ok, that last part has backstory.
When I was very little – two, maybe three? – my mom walked by my bedroom door during nap time and heard, “But I CAN’T pay the rent!” in a high-pitched squeal, followed by, “You MUST pay the rent!” in a deep toddler scowl. This, and the time I took on an Irish brogue when consumed by high fever, are proof (to me) that we bring some of our stuff with us. From where, I have no clue, but apparently baggage travels across universal timezones.
So, I am learning to ask. It’s ridiculously hard, but the payoff is so huge that I can’t stop now. Today I asked people to commit to volunteering at a summer camp and they all agreed. I asked other people to come in on the weekend and work with students before final exams, and they said yes. Last week I asked my apartment manager to fix my screen door and came home to a brand new one.
A conspiracy of support is available, if we only ask and then listen.
I just drove 20 miles in search of popcorn.
I left my apartment today intending to drop off stuff at Goodwill and pick up a couple of things at Target. After spending the morning cleaning out a cupboard, I finally decided to part with some old candleholders left over from the Party Lite era and a Pier One picture frame that hasn’t seen the light of day in nearly two years. I also cleaned off a shelf full of books I had bought primarily because their covers matched my color scheme ($5 a bag at a community book fair, so not an expensive folly, but still… folly.) I read somewhere that men are freaked out by women’s self-help books so I’d been keeping those in a box and displaying titles about Spain and knitting instead. (I’m done worrying about men who freak out about self-help books; Martha Beck and Cheryl Richardson are back up on the shelf where they belong.)
Driving to Goodwill, I realized I was feeling kind of funky. Pissed off but with a decidedly blue shade to it. Was it the picture frame sitting in my backseat? The amber glass tea light holders that I’d been shuffling from room to room for five years? I pulled into the Goodwill drive-thru and gave all of it to the gentleman on duty, feeling no pangs of separation anxiety as I handed him the staticky comforter, the too-big sweater, and the rest of it. So what was my problem?
I decided to head south a few miles in search of Amish red popcorn. Usually I only find it in on the way to Columbus but last time I was at Hidden Valley Fruit Farm, I found a new source. Maybe a little drive in the country would blow the dust off my mood.
I missed my turn thanks to the red pickup truck riding my backend, so I went on up the road to the Pines Pet Cemetery and turned around. The bronze horse and dog statues looked stark against the brown land. A gravedigger prepped a new plot in the main section. I slowed to read a few markers (“Fitzy”, “Honey”, “Schotzie”, all loved and missed by their families). I got back out on the main road, realized Hidden Valley was closed, and headed back to civilization.
By now I was feeling pretty certain that I’d dislodged some old feelings this morning, maybe moving some of my dad’s old stuff around and uncovering pictures of me dating back about twenty years.* Popcorn probably wouldn’t have put me back together anyway. I came home and made toast, feeling that whatever I uprooted today was floating around waiting for me to see it.
*We have a winner. Reading back over this post, I came to the part about old pictures. A little voice said, “That’s it.” The purple silk album was a gift from my brother’s family, including pictures of me with my nieces and nephews at celebrations from 1995 forward. This is easily the largest collection of pictures of me from that time because I did not let anyone else take my picture. What I saw this morning was what I had successfully avoided seeing for so many years. The manifestation of a complete lack of self-care, over a decade of adulthood spent worrying about everyone but myself, hoping (and doubting) that someone else would love me back to life.
So there it is. Mood uncovered and understood. My goodness, that was so much cheaper (and faster) than driving twenty miles in search of popcorn.
He stood out from the others right away. An easy smile, and twinkling eyes; old enough to have worked out the nonsense, young enough to not freak me out.
He talked about his kayak, buying organic, his son in New Zealand. I sent him some stars. Then I shut off the computer and learned to climb a rock wall. Then I rode a bicycle for the first time in so many years. I found my own kayaking class.
His first note made me giggle; well-written and kind, with a side of flirt. Would I like to meet or talk a bit more? Did I have any questions? I decided real life was better than online, and said so. He asked where, I picked a little hipster joint with good tea, we set the time.
As my friend read his profile aloud with absolute joy, I laughed about how fantastic he sounded. Friend gets more and more excited about my match with each line. I feel a twinge, tiny but real. The too-good-to-be-true twinge. I tuck it away, buttoning up my raincoat. Should I take a book with me? I have so much reading to do, but is that pretentious? I’m a couple minutes early but it’s fine, I’ll read the paper while my tea steeps.
“I’m expecting someone,” I tell the little red-haired girl as she plops down next to me at the counter. She’s got a little faerie thing going on with all her St. Patty’s green. She startles a bit but recovers well, offering to move as soon as my person shows up. I glance at my phone. Wow, is it really twenty till?
“It isn’t looking good, actually.”
“Do you know this person?” She kind of calls it right off the top.
“No,” I hesitate.
Without a hint of judgment, she asks, “online or fix up?”
I seriously question whether to tell her the truth. She is young, I am less so. This kind of vulnerability is almost as yucky as, ha!, being stood up by a man I’ve met online. Am I actually being stood up? This was an actual person, right? Did I imagine the kayak and the son in New Zealand? Are 50 year olds really Catfish material?
I come clean. She nods without a hint of pity and looks toward the door, which frankly, has not stopped flapping with people flooding in for the past twenty minutes.
“Do you have a plan?”
“Ten more minutes and I’m out.”
“Good, she says. Don’t go home. Go to a movie.”
I laugh. Wow, this is happening and I’m strangely relieved. She tells me about the horrible blind date she overheard a couple weeks ago where the guy talked about high school for an hour while the woman nodded and smiled. Turns out my faerie is a barista here getting ready for the afternoon shift. Every couple of minutes she interrupts herself (“nope, regular”) when the door opens.
My ten minutes (plus the first twenty) are about up.
“How you doing?”
I falter. It’s hard for me to get too riled up about someone whose job was to help me forget about someone else. I come clean again.
“Oh, yeah.” She knows all about that. Had a crush on a guy who ghosted after she asked him out last week. She sips her tiny cappuccino with the black heart carved into the foam. I take a final swig of turmeric ginger and scoot off my bar stool. I button my trench with authority.
We agree that all was not lost on this rainy afternoon in the hipster coffee house on St. Patty’s Day, as she thrusts out her tiny hand.
“I’m Gracie, glad to meet you.”
I laugh a lot more inside than out and return her handshake. “Thank you, Gracie. I’m glad to meet you too.”
“Tell me about your dad,” he said.
A couple of weeks ago, in the throes of closing out a busy year, I had a dream about a former teacher who was also a running buddy of my dad’s.Having no reason to think of this man after so many years, I checked the local paper to see if there was news on the former running coach.
Several days later, I went into the business office looking for an envelope or a paper clip, something businessy I’ve since forgotten. Instead of finding our secretary, I found Rich, our men’s cross country coach, sitting at her desk. He’s a very nice man but we don’t know each other well except to say hello in the hallway and at staff meetings. So, when asking the coach about his former colleague, I had to back up and explain about my dad and running and … “I know your dad!” Rich proceeded to tell me that my dad helped him with his first home mortgage in the 1970s. It’s always nice when someone remembers our people who aren’t here anymore. It offers supporting evidence of their existence in a way that our own memories don’t.
At some point in the conversation, I mentioned to Rich that my brother had gathered all of our dad’s old slides and put them online. Perhaps there might be some pictures from races that he’d like to see. Sure, Rich said. He’d like that. I left the office without envelopes or paperclips and within a few days, I sent the electronic folder that my brother put together of our dad’s running journal.
A few days later, I ran into Rich in the hallway outside my office. He interrupted his conversation as I approached and grabbed my hand. “I had no idea,” he said. No idea how technically proficient your father was as a runner. That’s the real deal. I smiled and thanked him. “No,” he said. Really. I can use some of his stuff in my coaching. But I didn’t see any pictures of many other runners in there. I explained that this was just the journal, and that, if he was interested, we had many more pictures to share.
Going through hundreds of slides in my brother’s Dropbox folders, I put over 200 pictures in a separate folder. If people were actively running, appeared to have just finished or were about to run, I swept them into the folder. I sent it off to Rich, thanking him for his kind words about our dad.
What happened next was a flurry of emails and phone calls that reminded me how powerfully and quietly peace comes when it’s ready.
Sometimes it arrives in the form of an email on a Sunday morning while you are pondering the merits of buttermilk banana spice pancakes when a man named George tells you that these pictures taken nearly forty years ago are making their way into the hands of people who are actually in the pictures – and, would it be okay if I shared them with this friend of mine who works at Nike, and well, he’s friends with this other guy – an Olympic runner named Kenny Moore, who’s in one of the pictures. Would it be okay if we share these pictures with Kenny?
Putting aside my pancakes, I called my brother, told him to read his email, and call me back. We break it all down. “Did you give him the Prefontaine picture?” I did not. “Oh, you gotta give him that!” It’s not in the folder. “Really? Are you sure?” Yes. I’m sure. “Hold on, I think it’s on my phone.” Okay. I’ll send it to him.
More emails, more pictures, more peace. This thing my dad loved that he had to do for so many days in a row connected him to all of these people who also loved this thing that they had to do, adding layers to the foundation of their sport with every mile. To read of their excitement in seeing evidence of their early days brought me the kind of happiness that only comes from the joy we get when giving something with no expectation of getting anything in return. The closest feeling I can relate it to is when you can’t wait to give someone a great Christmas or birthday gift except in this case, I really don’t know much about the gift. I didn’t buy it or make it, my brother and I just moved it forward, and now it just keeps making all of these people so happy, it’s this big moving circle of loveliness that takes on a new shape with each new connection.
I left work ill yesterday. Today I returned to a red light on my telephone and two voicemails. By the end of the day, I’d spoken to George, who it turns out, lives about a mile from my apartment, and Rick, his friend at Nike.
So what do you say to the man who calls from Oregon when he says, “Tell me about your dad.”
You tell him the truth.
That your dad was a jock.
He was serious and sentimental. He was obsessed and passionate; a student and a coach.
You tell him that his home was decorated with ribbons, trophies, racing bibs, pictures of Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Steve Prefontaine, Nike and NewBalance posters, matchbooks from bars in Boston and Atlanta, beer mugs from Toledo and Columbus; dresser drawers full of t-shirts from every 10K, half and full marathon between Cincinnati and Toronto.
You do not tell him that he missed your twelfth birthday for Springbank because you realize that it actually doesn’t matter anymore. Peace.
You tell him that tomorrow would have been your dad’s 80th birthday.
You almost tell him that you really wish your dad were here but you don’t because it sounds so obvious and emotional. But yes, you wish your dad could’ve picked up the phone today when the man from Oregon called to ask about the letter he wrote in 1972 and all the rest of it that you don’t really understand but finally, finally accept so fully that you can turn around and give it all away.
We love you, dad. Happy birthday.
Yesterday I went for a peaceful, icy walk through my favorite woods. I found you a metaphor along the way.
Many other walkers have covered the path over the past several snowy days. Many, like me, went looking for a quiet place to metabolize the busy, chatty, sweet and salty of the Christmas season. We took the hills to counteract cheese balls, butter cookies, and pork in all its variants. Some of us took our dogs but others let the poor old girl rest after daily field trips to houses where cats hovered within swatting distance.
We’ve had so much snow in the past week that I almost wondered about walking in regular shoes. Snow boots would be better for navigating the icy layer below, but I went with regular shoes in order to cover more territory. Managing frozen slush, the metaphor lay just to the left. Bootprints from other hikers had, in some places, made my walk easier by packing the snow but in others, usually the up/down areas, the tracks had turned to ice. The best way to manage these parts is to go off trail slightly into fresh snow where no one else has traveled.
About halfway along, I saw a mom and her kids unpack sleds and head toward the nearby golf course. I smiled and wondered if the city chose to ignore trespassing sledders or chased them off the more dangerous hillsides. As I pondered the best placement of a liability waiver, the mom yelled over to me, “Wanna go? We have extras!”
I smiled and waved her off. “Aw, no thanks!” Inside, I heard some other part of me yell, “Yes!” I kept walking for a bit, really wondering what it would feel like to fly down a hill on a pool toy. Turning around, I saw the group making their way up the hill. I walked a few steps back in their direction and then paused again. Too late now, but make a note. That is regret.
A couple hours later, between grocery store stops two and three, I got a text from a friend inviting me out for dinner for another’s birthday. My first thought was “yes!” My second was homemade pizza and pajamas. I responded with my first instinct, thinking that I could have dinner out and be in jammies long before midnight.
After spending the afternoon packing up Christmas, washing nearly every dish in my kitchen, and vacuuming a forest of pine needles, I put on mascara and plopped down on the sofa until my friends were ready to head out. After about thirty minutes of waiting, I checked in with myself again. Out to a loud pub that isn’t taking reservations, or fresh mozzarella and my new pizza stone. I sent the friends a message and washed off my mascara. Nope, not a single regret.
Today, while cleaning and organizing the storage closet in my apartment, I opened my gardening toolbox and found dirt-covered tools that hadn’t been touched in about three years. It feels like thirty. This was my dirt. It came from the gardens of Peony, Hosta and Sedum in front of and behind my last house. As I rinsed each piece, I decided to stop regretting all of it; the house, the huge yard, the money I spent to make it beautiful, and the money I didn’t have to keep it all going. As each little bit of dirt and sorry swirled down the drain, spring came a little closer.