I have a thing for place. I’m a bit fastidious about the arrangement of things, and the locations where things are set in. Now don’t get me wrong, I clutter up with the best of them (my specialty being piles of books at my desk). But I am fond of the notion of deliberate positioning. At home I may shuffle around the artwork and tschotskes to get everything in a just the right order. (I’ve been known to cock the wooden raven on the piano at a 45 degree angle to the look just right and I’m finicky about hanging pictures is particular groupings and arrangements down to the centimeter.) I attempt to order my kitchen into stations for efficiency. When planning for family pictures I thoughtfully cull through places that mean something: a park we frequent regularly, a telling landmark of the area we live in, or some place that served as a setting for some happy past memory. I realize this marks me as a sentimentalist, so be it. This fixation with fixation may just be one of my personal quirks of an appetite for control. That too. However, I’ll bet any real estate agent in the audience would say an “Amen!” when I advocate for location, location, location. Continue reading
There was one big box, wrapped in polka dots and housing her 12th birthday present. I told her as she surveyed the seemingly sparse landscape: it’s a big one, I promise, so this is it. She opened it gingerly and took a suitcase out of the delicately unfurled paper. “Oh my gosh, I love this suitcase!” And she ran towards me, across the kitchen, to give me a hug.
I stopped her and said, “Wait! You need to open the suitcase!” She did, and suddenly, an explosion of NYC ephemera– a tee, a mug, itineraries, tickets, plans. It took her a few open-mouthed seconds to get it, but before long she was screaming, and faster than that, we were on our way, nonstop to JFK. And hurry! We had a schedule to follow after all.
Normally, I don’t schedule anything for vacation; I find myself beholden to the clock in normal life only because I have four kids—slow is my very nature. Slow as molasses is me on vacay. But this was New York! The city that never sleeps! We had only 80 hours and I intended to make the most of it, with even sentiment and memories penned in the margins between minutes: temple baptisms in Manhattan (awwww), following her red-jacketed form around the Met (lump in my throat), tickets for the new Cinderella (once in a lifetime).
Can you plan a moment, though? Like one of those “I’m-never-going-to-forget-this-moment-for-the-rest-of-my-life” type moments? Walking off pizza, trying to make room for Milk & Cookies, we wandered to Washington Square Park. The arch is worth the extra blocks in the wrong direction alone and I wanted my daughter to see it. It was freezing, there was a man playing a grand piano in the middle of the park– Bach, I knew it– the pigeons fluttered, the sky was blindingly blue. No big. Until, we turned back to go towards the bakery, and suddenly the high, simple strains of Clair de Lune started, piercing and lovely through the frozen air, I stopped. So did my husband. So did my daughter, confused. The rolling of the music started to open itself up to the day, welcoming and bold, and it was something magic. “This is it,” I said to my husband, “This is your song.” And he turned, his eyes squinting in the bright sun, the bitter cold, “Yes.”
My husband. He is good at many a thing, but one of my favorite things is his knack for making little movies. We love our family movies. Sometimes we spend Family Home Evening just watching dozens of them and we (the parents) laugh that we are turning all our kids’ memories into something perfect. With a soundtrack.
Anyway, he was capturing ten-second clips on his phone the whole time, but that frozen moment in the park, when Debussy started, was like one of his movies come alive, and the cold and the sound, and the blue, and the pigeons, and the red jacket, and him, and her, and everything was something I almost can’t describe…
(lump in my throat)
(once in a lifetime)
All put together.
And totally unplanned, right? But caught.
As I listened to my ward’s seminary graduates speak in sacrament meeting a couple of weeks ago, I found my throat swollen with emotion and an unexpected love fill my heart for all the sudden girl/women who bore testimony boldly (or nonchalantly or emotionally or monotone) and who thanked their parents and teachers with an intensity so sweet and earnest. They were my old babysitters, my friends’ children, neighborhood girls who once traipsed around in cut-off jeans and now zoom by me in their cars with cute smiles under big sunglasses, waving as the day whisks them away.
I’m feeling dizzy these days. My husband and I divide our time into seasons and spend winters and summers in Utah and springs and falls in Illinois. For the past three weeks, however, I’ve been in Boston. I just got back to Illinois last night and spent the morning at the temple for my Friday morning ordinance worker shift.
I can’t keep track of what state I’m in. The state of Utah? The state of Illinois? The state of Massachusetts? A state of confusion? A state of bliss?
All of the above. Continue reading
I am expecting my first grandbaby, a girl. Her due date is April 2nd which also happens to be my daughter’s birthday. My daughter will get all sorts of tips and attention as a new mother. The baby will bask in the glow of gushing and cooing – heaven knows I’m providing my share already! But I stand at the brink of this new role with trembling knees. (Of course that could just be my arthritis.) I haven’t been around babies much for 25 years now, and I fear all my expertise is out-dated. I hereby recruit your aid. Hit me with your tips and pointers! Continue reading