Monday, October 15, 2012

The Cherry on Top

Because I find myself unable to describe my vacation in words. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Window, Gate & Other Entryways

 "If you miss this light, I'm going to kill you," I threatened my mother in Green Bay.

We'd been driving for hours - having forsaken the very idea of a flight - and traveling steadily north before taking a little detour on our way Lake-Michigan-ward.

"There it is," I noted, pointing at the football stadium as we peered out the windows.  "It looks fairly new - did they rebuild it?"

"I don't know," Mom said.  We looked at each other, shrugged, then sat through every flipping traffic light in the city to get back to the interstate.

She gave me a look - that long-suffering maternal one - as we merged back on 43N.  "I asked if you wanted to stop and you said you didn't care."

"I was trying to be a good travel companion!" I cried.  "I didn't know we'd go upwards of an hour out of the way to look at a stupid stadium that looks like any other big building!  And then only stop at ShopKo to look at t-shirts!  They probably have Packers t-shirts at the ShopKo at home!  And you only bought bottles of water anyway!"

That has been, however, our only squabble thus far.

I paired her phone with her car - the former chirps happily every time we enter the vehicle now.  "It is one with the car," I say and we both grin when we answer a call by pressing a button on the steering wheel.  

I giggled almost incessantly on our ferry ride to Washington Island.  Mom white-knuckled it through, trying to keep the large boat from rocking in the rough waters by sheer force of will.  I held her hand and tried to talk to her but continued to laugh each time she'd jump and glare out the windows.

We had coffee and shared a scone and cinnamon roll in Gilles Bay.  We're sharing a room in Egg Harbor - on that overlooks the water from its perch on a bluff.

"It's freezing in here," Mom decided when we arrived so I dutifully turned up the heat until the room was suitably toasty.  In the meantime, I sat on our balcony with my laptop - revising documents and basking in the cool breeze and lingering sunshine.

When we returned from dinner - at the place that has goats on the roof in the summertime - the room was breathtakingly hot.  I opened the balcony door, sleeping about a foot from the opening to catch as much fresh air as possible.

I awakened from a fitful sleep to find Mom throwing open the doors as much as possible.  "It's so hot in here," she muttered, shuffling back to bed and I murmured my agreement, finally relaxing as the room cooled. 

"It's so pretty," I repeated when we stood on the beach covered with stones.

And it is - the two-lane roads and brilliantly-changing leaves and the water that cuddles the land at every corner.

We stood together in the place where she and Daddy visited a couple of years ago, leaning to smooth the rocks with our thumbs before replacing them on the beach as we stood for another moment in the cold rain.

We waddled back across the beach, losing our balance on the slippery stones a couple of times, and returned to the car once again.

"I'm tired," I decided as I drove from the parking lot and back on to one of the island's roads.  "Where's Main Road?" I asked and grinned as Mom smiled back at me.

She soon grew somber though, knowing we had to battle another boat ride.  But we held hands, giggled and distracted each other until that, too, had passed. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Dashed Hopes (undashed)

I came home early today, leaving my friendly cubicle before 4 and commuting home, going ever-so-slowly through my neighborhood in search of a shy feline with a stripey coat.

"I kind of hate him," I admitted to Friend the other night.  "It's too cold outside so he's brought a mouse inside so that he can torture the poor thing for longer."  Then Sibling came over, suitcases in tow, and beheld the half-eaten body of a dear-departed mouse. 

"I'm dropping it," I wailed as I hurried to the garbage, rodent corpse clutched in a wad of paper towels, bloody tail dangling from the mass.  "Ew, ew, ew..."  After I finished gagging, I cursed the cat - sending him off with a glare and refusing to make eye contact for a full 24 hours afterward.

I've battled to keep him inside though Chienne has joined Team Sprout-ness, dallying as she wanders out the sliding door so he has adequate time to dart past. 

"Yes," I replied to the woman on the phone.  "He's a short-haired tabby.  6 or 7 years old.  Such pretty green eyes."  She dutifully entered my information in a lost pet form and I sighed as I finished the conversation. 

Sir Sprout would abhor the animal shelter so I was sort of pleased he'd not been injured, captured and taken to our (admittedly excellent) local Humane Society. 

But it's so cold at night.  And he'd been gone since Saturday evening, ignoring my calls and avoiding his typical hiding places all day yesterday and today. 

"He only likes the indoor formula of Cat Chow," I wanted to disclose if he'd found a new family.  "He loves to play dot with the laser.  He doesn't trust men easily.  Enjoys catnip and scratching posts but only if they're in places where he feels safe.  And he likes to sleep in the sunshine."

Far less importantly, I kind of met someone.  Who didn't call.  And though I know cell phones should alleviate that particular torture, I still thought he might have tried my land line.  So maybe I'd return home to a found-cat and left-message. 

But it was not to be. 

So I fretted over the cat, knowing I don't want another.  I'm not really a cat person and had Sprout not selected us by hiding in my flower bed, I would have remained with dogs. 

"Sprout?" I called again, opening the sliding door and peering outside.  "Mr. Sprout-sprout?" 

And just as I began to slide the door closed, I frowned.  Because I thought I'd heard him answer.  Not unlike his reply when I'd called a gentle inquiry when a kitten-version of the cat had hidden in my front bushes, seeking a place to live. 

"Sprout?" I tried again, squinting into the darkness and beaming when he leaped up the stairs to the deck and scampered inside. 

He even let me scoop him up to cuddle, rubbing under his chin and smoothing the dirt from his coat before I bent to fill his dish with kibble. 

"I'm glad you came back," I admitted, leaning to pet him again.  "I do love you, my silly Sproutness."

And now we return to our typical inside vs. outside battle routine. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Injury Ignored

I know not how I did it.  One moment, I was in my basement, curled on my old couch and reading from the pile of paperbacks littering the floor.  Another, I was dutifully piling said books and loading them on shelves.  Finally, I was frowning down at my ankle, disturbed by the pain it was causing. 

Not wanting my ankle to be sore, I stood on my healthy leg and shook out the sore one.  Rotated it in circles.  Gave a warning glare.  Then cursed at my right ankle when it continued to cause pain to shoot through my leg when asked to bear weight.

Returning to the couch, I propped myself on pillows and blankets, assuming my little nest of healing would work its magic and I'd soon be all better.  However, when trying to climb the stairs, I realized I was decidedly not healed.  And my limping stride up the stairs was surpassed in pace by my elderly, blind canine friend. 

"I'm injured," I explained when she waited for me at the landing.  She wagged her tail sympathetically before wandering to the sliding door and waiting to be let outside.  I hobbled over, shaking my ankle vigorously for good measure, and opened the door, taking a moment to inhale the scents of fall outside. 

I did the same this morning - clipping a leash to Chienne and stepping off the front porch to begin our walk.  I had decided I was going to be all better and my ankle was cooperating beautifully. 

Until it suddenly stopped - a vague ache morphing to sharp pains apropos of nothing.  So I paused for a moment, Chienne obediently glancing backward before sniffing at a tree trunk.

I find myself avoiding those pauses for the most part.  Remaining quietly busy - hosting Sibling before she abandoned the gently rolling hills of the upper Midwest for towering buildings and busy streets in NYC.  Immersing myself in my new team - leading activities to build our interaction skills, drowning in documentation and revisions and lengthy arguments about said changes. 

"I'm happy," I replied when someone from my old team asked during an event I'd organized last week.  "I know it happened almost accidentally and I had panicked moments where I wondered if I was taking a professional step back.  But I do like it.  I can do good things here.  I'm sincerely pleased."

It's effective - this 'pretend it's all fine' strategy.  If I'm busily distracted, I don't worry about Mom or long to talk with Dad.  But when the grief startles me - breaks through the flimsy protective barrier I've built - it's overwhelming. 

I returned from a dinner out one evening, already tapping at my laptop to reply to email as I'd drank but one glass of wine and was in fine shape to continue working, I called Mom - as is my now-daily habit - to check in.

And she wouldn't stop crying.  I prayed.  And talked.  And blinked back my own tears.  Cursed the three hour drive that stood between me being present for her.  So I called Aunt and asked her to go.  Once she was en route, I moved to the recliner Dad gave me - the one I never-ever use - and sat on the edge of the seat. 

And I wept.  Unable to push it down or lock it away, the pain escaped in wretching sobs that had me curled in a ball.  Grief escaped, filling the house with violent expulsions I could neither control or pause. 

I slept afterward, swallowing a tiny tablet that eases anxiety before climbing the stairs to bed.  I lapsed into rest with the sounds of my pitiful moans echoing in my ears. 

"It's all so painfully different," I told Friend when I called one night.

"Yes," she said, voice beautifully familiar and soothing.  A reminder that some people who were part of what was good before are still part of what will come and be good again.  "It's all completely different.  And not all that different at all."

Though I've mangled that quote - let's call it artistic license and crappy memory - it helped.  When I'm ready to acknowledge it, I'll note that the changes have occurred.  That some are lovely and others grotesque.  But - whether noted or ignored - it will be OK.

Though my ankle still hurts.