Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Life Without Boys

Who would have thought that I would befriend the freshman homecoming princess?  Certainly not me.  It all started in homeroom.  Her last name started with a "W", mine with a "Z".  Of course, sorting students by the alphabet must be a research-based approach.  Although we were complete strangers on the first day of freshman year, we finished our high school experience as solid friends.  Now, I'm honored to say that she is truly my soul sister.

The first conversation was about boys.  What would life be like without them?  Perfect! We agreed.  She offered a marvelous suggestion.

"Let's form a new type of nunnery.  Instead of wearing black, we'll wear white habits.  We don't have to stay at the church all of the time...just when we really need to do something there.  And the hats are definitely optional."

I was hesitant.  Let's face it.  I liked boys.  I agreed with her philosophy in theory.  But to really give them up completely?  Now that was a bit crazy.  Like something my parents might have dreamt up.

Still, she was pretty excited about this idea of hers.  No sense bursting her bubble.

"White habits.  I like it.  How about we get to accent the habits with a splash of color?  Red shoes OK?  I'm not sure about the whole rosary thing.  Can we ditch that too?  Just a necklace with a cross?"  (After all, we were proposing this idea on a private school campus after all.)

She considered my thinking seriously.  "I guess that's OK.  Yeah, that'll work."

After a couple minutes of quiet contemplation, we both burst into laughter.  And then the conversation quickly turned back to our favorite topic of late.  Boys.  Who we liked.  Who we didn't.

It's almost impossible to believe that now, thirty-two years later, our conversation still revolves around our "boys".  Her husband and three sons, my husband.  We've both said we're thankful we changed the plan on life without boys.  In fact, we've enjoyed the journey so much more on this side of our "nunnery."

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Full Life

As I walked in the door my eyes landed on his shoes.  He was wearing his clogs.  The new ones.  The ones he bought just for cooking.

Yes, he had been to the market.  Fresh broccoli and potatoes sat in anticipation on the butcher block.  A white-wrapped steak waited neatly on the kitchen counter.  He's at it again.

One hour earlier I had texted in the middle of a mild meltdown.  Just three words:  "I'm feeling overwhelmed."  Those three words immediately set him into action.  And here he was, in the kitchen, doing what he could to make it better.

Isn't that just like him?  Over the twenty-eight years that I've known him he's rode in on various white horses to assist by bringing dinner to the college parking lot, programming a new cell phone at midnight and even purchasing a reliable car the morning after my freeway breakdown.

Twenty minutes later we sit together to a fresh dinner of homemade bread, grilled steak, sauteed broccoli and potatoes.  Comfort food eaten together at home.  And it completes the therapy the hour-long drive home began.

I am loved.  My stomach, but more importantly, my life, are both full.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Face to Face

We sat at a small table, just the two of us.  He eagerly devoured the hot cocoa in front of him.  I sipped on my tea.  I took out the large sized art paper I brought with me for the occasion.  With ceremony, I displayed the array of colored pencils and markers I anticipated he would enjoy.  He smiled haphazardly.  

For the next hour and a half we waited.  I decided this morning that my dad and I would journey through the normal routine chores of my life together.  What can be more routine than an oil change?  I knew this morning would not be filled with personal and lingering conversation.  I knew he may forget where we were, why he was with me, and sometimes ask for my mother.  What I wasn't sure about was how anxious he may become.  How uncomfortable would he be away from his couch and television set?  What difficulties might he have with eating or walking?  When would he ask for me to take him back home?

He glanced out the window of the restaurant and hurriedly sketched the tree just outside of the restaurant.  He looked up at me, "This one's for you, Mija."

"Aren't you going to sign it for me?" I teased.

He bent his head down towards the picture and awkwardly signed his name.  "There," he stated.

Over the next twenty minutes, we bantered over his drawing.  Each time he attempted to move it towards my side of the table in a gesture of finality I asked for more detail.  "What about the umbrella on the table?  I think you left out the flowers.  Where's the sky?  How will I remember what the weather was like?"

Each time he hesitantly obliged.  

Spending time with this changing man, my father, is not yet completely normal for me.  I'm still letting go of the patient, soft-spoken and extremely personal "Poppy" I grew up with.  He's been exchanged for this anxious and detached man who I love, and am working to get to know, understand and accept.