Quarters, crumpled receipts, and blackened croutons smoothly cascaded from the dust pan into a black garbage-lined bin. Clutter is the problem. Instinctively, I shook and interchanged the room’s two rugs, re-positioned an old camera and sprayed three pumps of a designer perfume. Before turning to leave, I made imaginary check marks over areas to be cleaned later.
I need to relax. With a laptop settled into my stomach I tethered one ankle around its mate, and allowed the morning's thoughts to wash over me.
Is my writing boring?
Does what I do matter?
You know, the usual super deep unanswerables. Deep in my thoughts, I felt an unease sweep over my body, when I replayed a comment from a customer at work.
“Finally. Your hair's getting longer. Much better. Women with short hair aren’t feminine.”
Until his comment I'd forgotten that I was a woman, and was unaware that femininity was something I could lose. But then again, I reminded myself, there will always be comments about what is and is not expected of a woman.
"A woman buying a house on her own?"
"A woman going on a road trip alone? You'll need someone to protect you."
"Shave your head? But, you're a woman!"
Yes, I am a woman. And yes, unfortunately, I care about what you think.
* * * * *
I am 360 days without a drink of alcohol. And, I realize today, Mother's Day, is a trigger for me. I know how important writing, gardening, or photography is when I feel shaky, as I do now, so writing it is. I think the mental challenge helps ground me. It forces me to mold the abstract into words, into paragraphs, that play into a story that (hopefully) ties into the bigger picture.
Over half my life ago my Mom used to sing to me. It wasn't very often, but when she did, I clung to each and every word. She'd sing You Are My Sunshine.
In an almost whispery melody she'd sing a verse followed by the chorus, then a verse followed by the chorus. She sit on the edge of my bed and with her warm hand stroke my hair and sing.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." She'd pause, look at me and then continue.
"The other night dear, while I lay sleeping. I dreamt I held you in my arms. When I woke up, I'd mistaken. Then I hung my head and I cried."
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."
I thought about going to visit the cemetery today but I knew it'd depress me. So, instead I went for a drive. I stopped at a local nursery to pick flowers up for my yard and upon entering the store the Mother's Day buzz was all around me. A young woman's hand was held to her hip, while her other hand held the handle of a cart full of flowers. She waited for an answer from a woman who looked like an older version of herself. She didn't receive a response and I imagined her to be frustrated. I told myself that maybe it was better for me this way; my mom's and my relationship although non-existent, still could exist in whatever form my mind chose. So, with my imagination I painted a land for just the two of us...
(Today my Mom and I danced in the street. We kicked our feet up to our sides, watching to see who could be more silly. We sipped mochas at a coffeeshop and we giggled about love. I watched her eyes light up when she spotted a newborn baby. With our toes we etched hearts in the sand. When we parted I hugged her tight and told her that this was the best day, ever. She told me, "Me too. Say, why don't we do it again next year.")