Anticipation. It is a delightful thing that in our instant gratification society one rarely experiences anymore. But I am in full on anticipation mode, let me tell you! Since I’ve been working at this company, I have never been able to take a full week of vacation, nearly always choosing a Friday-Monday combo to eke out four days off. This time, I took six full work days off. Go. Me. Part of the joy of this trip will be the lack of pressure to be anywhere at any specific time. I plan on driving at a leisurely pace and maybe even stopping, should I see something of interest. The last two trips back to Tennessee have been screaming trips to gather up things before people moved into the farm that involved more work than leisure, or short weekend hops that left no time really for much fun or relaxation. I want this trip to be different.
So while I wait for the treasure map to the property and the gate key to arrive in the mail, I’m breaking in my replacement hiking boots. Talk about a fashion plate disaster – knocking around a tiny apartment, trying valiantly not to step on a constantly underfoot JRT, wearing heavy wool socks and brand new boots, in baggy antique aged shorts…it is a look to die for, trust me (or possibly die from, should anyone see me, hah!) Since I had to chuck my boots at the farm due to some basement flooding, I have never replaced them until now. I’m in the city, not much of a demand for them. The other more casual boots that I own simply don’t have the grip and support that I feel that I’ll need for exploring the properties.
Today has been an entirely goof-off day spent reading, lazing about and generally gathering dust. It feels good compared to my normal days. But tomorrow, no such can do. Tomorrow is a full on prep day for the upcoming week, the wedding and the trip. My dress and shoes are purchased for the wedding, so that’s all good. I place the cake order in the morning, so that will be the last check off except for a gift. I’ll probably wait until I get back and they sort through their other gifts, and see what they still need. My thoughts about the wedding are mixed. This is my daughter’s second marriage, and she is only twenty-three. I didn’t attend the first wedding, for two reasons. I met her fiance and listened to her talk about their relationship and did not think it would last. I was right, it lasted six months. Secondly, right before the wedding, she and I had a falling out in a very big way over some of her behavior. She un-invited me about the time I said I wouldn’t be attending. This time, our relationship has been healed quite a bit, and she has expressed how important it is for me to be there. As for the partnership…well, they’ve been together five years already. There have been a lot of ups and downs and troubles, some serious. I believe people can change, if they want to. That appears to be the case in this situation, so I am cautiously optimistic. These days, no one seems to take marriage very seriously, particularly the younger generation. Or even my generation, come to think of it. Heck, even relationships not bound by marriage seem to be short-term only. We are a disposable society these days.
However, while watching my daughter try on wedding dresses, my throat did tighten up a time or two. It is difficult to believe so much time has passed since she was a toddler, then a child, then a teen, and now a beautiful young woman and mother. It is an amazing thing to watch your children grow up and have children of their own. To watch them wrestle with adult issues, practice decision-making, and at times, to watch them fail or flounder. I was never close to my mother at their ages, so I am continually startled at how much each of my daughters wants of me – advice, an ear, just to talk about their day, and often, a hug. I am not always sure how to respond, because I simply did not have that in my life. I can only hope that I am doing a good job. I read the other day where someone said being a good parent was just a natural thing. I am not so sure of that. It appears that it is similar to any skill – you must see it done, absorb it, and then practice it. Then again, I didn’t see it, and yet I guess I am doing all right at it. Perhaps they will be even better than I when all is said and done. They all have boys though, which is an entirely different animal than raising all girls. Girls are so wildly vacillating in their behaviors, particularly after puberty. For me it was like trying to herd cats strapped with dynamite, most days. I caught a lot of flack about my particular methodology of raising children. I allowed them to make choices. I allowed them to articulate when they were angry. I gave them quite a bit of latitude in their decision-making. And many times I trusted them to do the right thing when they did not. I was very strict on them when young, and then not so much when they were older. Of course, they always felt I was uber-strict. I suppose on some things, I was. In other arenas, I allowed them to have their own personal identities, even when it flabbergasted and annoyed their grand-parents. I never forced them into sports or music or other activities. And now, as they are all in their twenties, I see such three distinct personalities in them. One, so logical and lacking empathy in many cases, but highly intelligent. Another, tough as nails and independent, fiercely so, with quite good financial instincts. And one, an emotional bundle of insecurity, always second-guessing herself, but quick to try to make peace. It is like the multiple facets of me walking around in three separate bodies. I am proud of each of them for their own merits, which differ from child to child and are quite dissimilar. Lots of reminiscing has gone on while writing this post. Photographic snippets of life as they grew up flashing behind my eyes. Life, it travels so fast.
The map and key for the property have not yet arrived, so I hope that goes okay. I’ve an eye on the weather forecast for my intended route through the Smokies and where I will be staying for the majority of my trip. The weather is always dicey nearing the Solstice – and I should know, since it is my birthday. My plan for this fifty-second year’s arrival is a nice blanket on the ground, laying on my back so that I can view the stars without any city light interference, and to give thanks for yet one more time around the sun. To be thankful for good health, decent employment, marvelous friends, dreams to reach for, a revived writing muse and a thriving spirit of love for life. Yes, I lack a partner. But that too, in time, shall come, if it is meant to be. For now, I continue to practice being content with where I am, while maintaining an open heart and mind to possibilities that arise. I have much to be thankful for, and very little wrong with my life. I try consistently to remember all of that, rather than focusing on what I do not have.
I’ve been delighted lately with the more artistic developments in the forum that I hang around – poetry, music, art. I go through artsy spells from time to time and it is very nice to discover others who appreciate those soft things in life. I don’t like to get too far into the practicality mode and lose sight of beauty, natural or man-made. I’ve also been writing more short stories and poetry. In that regard, I look forward to taking my camera out and about while on this trip. I have several, and I may take them all 🙂 I rarely find the time (or is it make the time?) to walk about with the camera these days – life has felt too hectic, and when down time arrives I simply want down time. Tonight I’m trying to retrieve some photos from an older computer, and then there is still the external drive that holds so much of my important work – writing, photography and other things that have been trapped inside of there since my husband died. It is frustrating me to no end!
So to end this post, here is a small short story I wrote , inspired by my late husband. I hope you enjoy it.
From behind the shrouded curtain of yesterday’s tear-mist, she looked out on the fields that radiated away from the sloping back porch, undulating like laundry on the line in a lazy breeze. The rain alternately pelted the face of the ground as if angered by its resistance, and then caressed it with gentleness – the whim of a weather tumult similar to the forces of love. Each brings growth forth from seemingly barren ground, because the seeds of life and love live under the surface, unseen. Both require the perfect combination and timing of all things required for breaking hardened ground – be it a wounded heart or the hardened crust of the earth.
She could spend all day here, peering through the intricate pattern of the screen door, which she could see in great detail if she squinted just right and brought her peripheral vision into focus, maybe even closing one eye and wrinkling her nose. She loved smelling the clean, cool rainwater, sniffing the acrid wind after a lightning strike and feeling the rumble of the thunder as it came up through her bare feet which hugged the old wooden floor. How he loved storms! He often compared her to one in times past as they lay amongst the sheets, spent, like the clouds.
But stare as she might into the depths of the storm, she knew he wasn’t going to come striding up those crooked steps with that child-like grin and broken tooth today – or any other day. He was never coming home again. However, if she lingered there just a few moments more, she might once again imagine the laughter, the delight, and the joy where love once lived. As the storm passed over, now done with delivering its gifts, she turned and went back into the kitchen, noticing the raindrop that had somehow blown in through the screen, as it slid slowly down the side of the urn resting atop the bookcase, and smiled in remembrance.
Copyright© S. M. King “Scraps Torn From A Diminutive Notebook” project 2013-2014