“Well,” Dr. Counselor said after being told of my refusal to leave my house on Monday and Tuesday, “let’s backtrack and see what upset you. What did you do on Saturday?”
I thought hard, barely resisting the urge to ask him to check my blog for me. It has lately become more of a daily diary than an outlet for stories, so I knew I could remember if I just peeked at the post titles. But I’d rather he not read what I write, so I focused and remembered.
“Friend came over. We had dinner and drinks and worked on our respective laptops.”
“And on Sunday?
“I went to church, though I didn’t want to.” I frowned at myself. “Then I came back and Friend and I got breakfast, then we hung out and worked for the remainder of the day. It’s nice to have her – we’re both pretty contained so it’s not like we constantly talk. She’s just around. It’s comfortable. Nice to not be alone.”
“When did she go home?” He asked.
“Sunday evening. After she got the mouse for me.”
“And were you sad after she left?”
I paused, considered it more carefully before shaking my head as I was about to do. “I guess so.” I admitted. “I didn’t want to deal with the dead mouse, and I liked that she took care of it for me. Then I started thinking that a boyfriend would have taken care of it for me too. But I don’t have a boyfriend – any man who loves me and wants to do me favors, laugh at my stories and sit in my living room for hours with me. And I’m getting older – not old – but older. And this isn’t going to happen – I’m not going to find anyone to share my life.”
Then he pulled out a book on optimism, which I’d told him I’d already heard about. He’s starting to bug me by saying the same thing to so many of his clients. Which is likely why you shouldn’t go to the same therapist as a close friend. And write/read detailed stories of the sessions so I can identify specific phrases that he’s used with someone else. But I did appreciate the clarity he’d lent to my early-week mood. I wasn’t sure why it had hit so hard, but I knew I was struggling.
I bring this up not because I’m growing dependent on Friend to provide one of my few social experiences of late, but because my parents head home today. They’re still sleeping – cat and dog tucked around them – but started to pack and load a few items into the car last night. I hate it when they leave. Regardless of how long they stay or how ready I am for them to go, watching them get in the car and drive away always makes my heart hurt.
I’m ready for another relationship – I understand that there are annoyances and difficulties with being in love with someone. That sometimes you must give far more than you’re able to take. I want that mutual sharing of responsibilities and knowing of your partner.
But when it comes to selfishly basking in someone caring for you? Well, there are few people who can do that better than parents and grandparents.
I remember holding Grandma’s hand, likely playing with her wedding ring on a finger that held the softest of skin, and standing on tiptoes to see over the counter. There were all kinds of wonderful treats in the glass case of the bakery near her house – cakes and frosted cookies, brownies and pastries – but I wanted to see what was behind the cashier in the case along the wall. Thumbprint cookies – a shortbread texture laced with pecans, buttery and rich. And in the center lay a dollop of densely sweet icing, colored in a variety of pastel shades.
Grandma would smile at me, order a dozen, and I would carry home the thin Styrofoam tray wrapped in a clear plastic bag bearing the name of the bakery, holding the 12 cookies, staring down at the pink, purple, yellow, blue and green frosted wonders, carefully deliberating on which color I would consume first. (I miss Grandma terribly to this day. It’s so strange how someone can be gone for so long, yet remain such a force in my life.)
Anyway, my parents arrived late Thursday night and I opened the garage so they could load their luggage into the side of the house that contains the bedrooms. Mom handed me a 9x13 plastic container as she unloaded the car, and I peeked inside. “Treats?!” I asked, thrilled. “I didn’t have any treats today!”
She smiled as I hurried to the house from driveway. I unearthed 2 dozen of the pretty thumbprint cookies in lieu of a birthday cake, and gasped again when seeing a small box wrapped in pretty paper. “And Fannie Mays?!” I asked as my parents made their way to the kitchen. “Vanilla buttercreams?” I asked hopefully.
“Of course.” She smiled and kissed me again. “Happy birthday.”
I have treasured those sweets over the past couple of days – I just had a purple frosted thumbprint – and relished the memories that last as far back as my memory goes in addition to the sugary rush. It’s nice to have people around who know you from the ground up. To remember that while they may not have all the details of my current life, they still understand and love me as much as they possibly could.
I also received a digital photo frame to display my countless images in addition to three pairs of tennis shoes. “Yours were getting old at Christmas so I wanted to make sure you had enough now.” Mom said when I continued to open boxes of shoes, giggling all the while.
Dad installed the dog door in the kitchen and repaired the damage to my guest room. Mom finished my laundry and did some light cleaning. We ate out – cheese biscuits and barbeque on Friday, followed by a late steak supper that evening. We ate for free since the steak took about an hour to arrive.
“You were so nice about it.” The waitress explained when she told us she’d had our bill taken care of. “You didn’t complain or yell or anything – I really appreciate that. It’s been a rough night.”
“I didn’t think it was a big deal.” I said after she hurried away. We had sipped water and eaten our salads. Enjoyed four or five rolls each since she continued to bring us bread. Told stories and laughed. Brother was attending a dance at work – he’s been at this particular retirement community since he was 16 and has worked his way into management.
“I bet he’s dancing right now.” Mom smiled. He likes his job – enjoys his elderly friends and their stories and preferences. He did dance, he reported yesterday. There wasn’t a big group at the party, but they enjoyed the punch and cookies he provided. A few of the ladies had requested he lead them around the floor and he’d obliged.
Little One has a penchant for shopping and milkshakes, they told me later over still more rolls. Brother has ordered them to lay off the latter, as he cannot drive by a McDonalds without being barraged by demands for a milkshake. Vanilla. Sister-in-law called Mom the other day, handing the phone immediately to Little One.
“Grandma?” She said. “Shopping?”
“No, sweetheart. Grandma can’t go shopping with you tonight. It’s very cold and I have to get ready to go see Aunt Katie tomorrow.”
“Fine.” Little One said, annoyed. “Bye.” And with that, she hung up. Sister-in-law called back to laugh with Mom. “She always wants to go shopping!”
Yesterday was a bit sleepier. We retrieved toaster sandwiches for breakfast, then puttered around until we visited a historical site near my house. Proceeding to Cousin’s home, we ordered pizza while we talked and watched Flip That House and taunted the participants.
“How,” I asked, “can you have such gigantic biceps and not develop the rest of your arms? Look at his forearms! They’re tiny! But his biceps are huge!”
“He must only know one way to pick up his dumbbells.” Dad noted. “Even his triceps are bad – it’s all in the bicep for him.”
“And his hair looks like it belongs on a Ken doll.” Cousin noted.
“Look at the tiny realtor.” I said later.
“Those girls look like giants compared to him.” Mom mused.
We watched as he noted the walls were marred around the outlets. We nodded in agreement until Jay quipped, “It’s easy for him to notice that because his head is so close to the ground.”
“OK!” Cousin said later. “It’s time for birthday cookie!”
“I’m going to need a candle to blow out.” I said and she obediently dug through her drawer.
As she proudly displayed her finding, I frowned. “A used candle? You can only offer a single item and it’s pre-lit?”
She sighed and turned to revisit her drawer and Mom pushed her toward the frosted cookie. “It’s fine.” She scolded me and Cousin and I shared a grin.
“So, wait.” I said after I’d blown the sucker out four times. “I not only get a single, used candle, but it’s a mean one?! How is my wish going to come true if it keeps reigniting?!”
People were laughing too hard to answer me.
Mom, Dad and I returned home to sleep and I rose this morning when Mom went to check on their laundry. They’ve stayed in bed so far – much longer than I expected – and I know I’ll enjoy the quiet after they depart. But I’ll also miss them – the way loneliness stays a bit farther away because I’m not alone. How there’s someone to tell that Chienne found a bit of grossness on her morning walk. Someone to shake her head over my cat as he is distraught over not being able to escape the house any longer.
And knowing that if dead mouse should happen to appear, I would not be required to handle it.