And I hear the heavy footfalls of a far lighter boy tromping from bed to shower. Soon, I will feel his bear hug and return it, breathing in the ebb of boyish musk and the waxing scent of Right Guard deodorant.
I count the steps from coffeemaker to front porch, hearing the squeak of the hose as I water the hanging plants. I sit with my coffee on a sofa I spent far too many hours debating the merits of at Macy’s home store. The room I have created—it is pleasant, soothing to my senses, yet somehow stimulating. “You are French, no?” says the mother from school in the memory in my mind. “No,” I reply, smiling. “But thank you for the compliment.” She looks puzzled. “Your house, your style—it is very French.” Again I smile. No higher compliment. She sat in that chair, schooling me on the proper way to make an English tea. She is back across the ocean now, years hence, living a very British life.
Bailey, all 95 furry pounds of her, lays next to me on the sofa. She groans, stretches, and finds the cool hardwood. As much a part of this life as any of us. We have our habits together, like an old married couple.
I pass the mirror and catch a glimpse of—who? My mother around the eyes. My father (thank God) at the tip of the Germanic nose and around the mouth. God knows who around my increasingly crepey neck. Whose genes are responsible for this? I want to hold someone accountable.
I nearly trip over the hand weights, the yoga mat. How many downward dogs? How many leg lifts in this spot on my family room floor? Countless. Is there an equivalent remedy for my neck? I think not. Blame the teenaged girl who wanted a 1980s tan. She should have listened to her mother.
The kitchen island and dining room table—confessionals, both. What is it about a solid slab of stone or wood that seduces people into sharing their innermost thoughts? I think not the slab, but the food and drink—the energy put into the meal and home—that is what loosens tongues. And the secrets stay here, as they should. Will they follow me to the next house or stay here in the corners to taunt the new owners? Will they feel them in the shadows, something they didn’t share and can’t touch? Or will they be oblivious?
The door that has slammed countless times because my boys don’t know how to close one quietly, despite years of training. My eldest entering with his usual bravado. My youngest leaving with his gentle spirit. My friends, in and out, with their good intentions. My family who visits little despite their proclamations of love. It’s all fine. All good. I no longer want to change things. I just want joy as I live.
The center wall of family photos. Just last week, I said to my aunt, “I wish Mom were here to see the boys live on into their lives. She would be so proud, she’d jump for joy.” Minutes later, a photo of my mother comes off the wall and lands smack in the center of my center hallway. Undamaged. I hear you, Mom. You’re here. All good. Thanks for applauding from a ringside seat.
Just a few thoughts as I sip my morning coffee, friends. These are the bits that make a life. Wishing you joy as you create your version of one.