Category Archives: Family

Nordstrom Rack Angel

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m looking at gold earrings at Nordstrom Rack, wondering if my daughter will want a big statement piece to go with the black dress she just tried on. Actually, I’m wondering where my daughter went – distracted by the crop tops and hoodies, no doubt.

“Oh no!” I hear from behind a jewelry rack. “This ring is stuck on my finger.” A woman walks toward an employee, explaining that she tried a ring on, and it fit, but now it won’t come off.

“The tag is trapping it on my finger!”

She keeps trying to get the ring off, and I can’t ignore her. So I warn her not to tug too much, and I tell her that cold water might help.

“Or Windex,” the employee says and they walk away. I hear the woman tell him that I told her not to tug too much.

My daughter shows up and we look at some earrings together – she does not want big statement earrings but picks a perfect pair of sparkly gold dangles. These earrings will go with whichever dress she ends up wearing next Friday.

The woman walks back into the jewelry section and I have to ask her if she got the ring off and if her finger is okay. I can’t help but be curious. She says her finger is fine.

“I had to make sure you didn’t keep tugging,” I find myself saying to this stranger, “On my honeymoon, my husband tugged so much on his wedding ring that his finger swelled up this much!” I hold my fingers around my now empty ring finger, remembering his ring finger impossibly ballooned, remembering him tugging and tugging on it and lathering it in the bathroom of the Calistoga cottage we were staying at.

“I mean, we are divorced now,” I add quietly because it feels odd to be talking about my honeymoon even to this stranger.

She doesn’t hear me. “Oh my God!” she says. “I mean, wow! Did that like raise any red flags for you?”

I laugh and nod my head. “Nope. It probably should have though!”

“You’re still married, right?” She asks.

“Actually we just divorced this year.” I explain.

“Oh, what happened? Were there signs along the way that it was a mistake?”

I look and notice my daughter still standing behind the earring rack and I snigger.

“Alright!” I say and nod and laugh once again. “You just want to jump right into it!”

I give some sort of explanation that includes how it was of course not a mistake, because how can decades be a mistake and I have my three beautiful children. She talks about her boyfriend who she is set to move in with soon, and become a blended family.

” I love him,” she says, “of course I love him. I just also really love my own space, the bed all to myself, quiet mornings with my coffee…”

“Set up some boundaries right from the start,” I advise like some sort of relationship coach, “plan times that you know you will get to yourself so it doesn’t become an issue later.”

It’s her turn to nod. “That’s a good idea!”

At some point, I introduce my daughter, and explain how she is trying to decide if she should buy this fancy dress, or wear the simple one she already has.

“Oh! Buy it. Definitely buy it. You can always return it later,” is the advice we get, and then, “You know, I’m a spiritual person, religious maybe, you could say, and I really think everything happens for a reason. There’s a plan. Just be patient during this time.”

I assure her I know – when one door opens another one opens and all that (although it’s an awfully long hallway…) and we say goodbye.

My daughter and I walk to the checkout smiling and shaking our heads.

“We’ll most likely never see her again, and we don’t even know her name,” we laugh, “She was like the Nordstrom Rack Angel!”

Prius

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

it’s been raining, and it’s about to rain again
but even dogs who don’t like rain, need walks
so Finn and I walk
down, around, through the park, back up and around
he sniffs the rain-green grass, I sniff the air
the smell of the wood burning stove
from the house on the corner
is my favorite

we cross the quiet street
on a diagonal
avoid a Prius silently coming closer
finn loves the sound of a Prius
it’s the sound of someone coming home
he stops at the corner, head turned
wags his tail
sits at perfect attention
won’t budge when I ask him to
I don’t have the heart
to force him, show him I’m boss

the Prius parks
the man stares at us
Finn’s tail keeps wagging expectantly
I want to explain to the man
my dog thinks you’re his dad
he doesn’t understand that our Prius doesn’t come home anymore
that is why we are standing on the corner
staring at you
and the rain-green grass




What’s in a name?

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I remember sitting on my fiance’s mom’s bed after her husband’s funeral. I was on a corded landline, talking with my high school drama teacher. It was just weeks before my wedding. She told me she hoped I wouldn’t let the death of my fiance’s dad pressure me into changing my name. I didn’t. I kept my name.

I remember my daughter’s birth. I didn’t want to have a name different from hers. So, I filled out paperwork, updated my license and taught everyone at school to call me by my new title. One of the secretaries never got it right. For years, she would call me over the PA system by my old name. I knew she was talking to me though.

A few weeks ago, after my divorce was officially final, I called the Social Security Office, confused. In order to prove I was a real person, I needed all kinds of paperwork. It seemed silly since somewhere I still have the Social Security card that I got when I was like 12. I wondered why I couldn’t just use that and pretend the last few decades never happened. Instead I had to have my doctor’s office give me paperwork proving who I was. Thankfully the doctor agreed, I am indeed a real person.

Today I opened the mail from Social Security and pulled out my new card.

So now,
I am officially the
old me with my
new (old) name
on my
new
social security card
that looks a lot like my
old old card

#sol22 March 28 Before That…

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

My 12-year-old is waiting for me to finish writing so we can watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Somehow, my 15-year-old is in the driveway with his dad getting a pre-driving driving lesson.
“In just a few months I’ll be able to actually drive,” he said.

Before that, I was at Home Goods, missing my daughter.
“I had to call my daughter who is away at school to ask her about having these pillows together!” I told the associate when she complimented the dining room chair pillows I had picked out.

Before that, I had indeed been Facetiming my daughter. She was at dinner, but answered the phone anyway and helped me decide on a few things.
“Why do you have to go to college anyway?” I asked her. “Shouldn’t you live here so you can go to Home Goods with me?”

Before that, I’m pretty sure, My kids were babies.


#sol22 March 20 The Truth About Cats and Dogs?

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Theodore
Snuggling is his favorite.
He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.

Sometimes he sneaks up, investigating the couch, slowly walking towards where I am reading. This is a familiar dance. He knows he needs to be careful.

He isn’t the only one who thinks that wherever I am, he should be.

Finn
Snuggling is his favorite
He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.

Each time Theodore tries to sneak on the couch, he must think that this time I’ll be alone. But then he takes one more step and realizes, it’s not his lucky chance for snuggles. Finn thinks the couch belongs to him. He’s pretty sure I belong to him too.

But, when Finn is away, the couch belongs to the cats.

Talula
Playing is her favorite.
She can catch a pipe cleaner and loves to play fetch.
She’ll snuggle nearby and on her terms

She’s one smart kitty. She waits until Finn is distracted to get her couch time.

Then, when she’s sure he’s occupied, she jumps on the couch to hang out nearby.

The truth about these cats and dogs is that they would be bestest of friends if they stopped being so possessive about snuggling me. They’ll touch noses sometimes, and I’ve seen Finn bring over a toy and ask Theodore to play. He’s usually not in the mood, but I’ve also seen him play with Finn’s tail. They have so much in common. I think maybe they hang out while I’m at work.

#sol22 March 13 Hello home

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

It started snowing the minute we unpacked the van and my dad drove away
Goodbye Florida, hello home

The cats ran to greet us, proving they actually do care about us
Goodbye Florida, hello home

The dog went berzerk to see us again and then snuggled up
Goodbye Florida, hello home

School again tomorrow, but there’s still time to read my book, or maybe nap on the couch
Goodbye Florida, hello home

The fridge is still empty, aside from the chili my mom dropped off, and a bag of oranges
Goodbye Florida, hello home

I’m so cold, so H put on the fire and said, “How ’bout I make some chocolate chip cookies?”
Goodbye Florida, hello home

#sol22 March 12 Cousins

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

We are all sitting on the beach, reacquainting ourselves, wondering why the last time we saw each other was my Grandma’s funeral, and laughing that we live in the same state, but had to travel over a thousand miles to happen to be at the same beach.

“There must be a way to see each other more often,” we all say.

“Remember when we had big family picnics?”

Someone gets up to snap a group photo, and I am instantly in a time warp, remembering a faded picture in one of my parents’ photo albums. I was about 7, I’d guess. Sitting on a lake beach somewhere near my hometown. Some of the same people were there, but also other aunts and uncles, and different cousins, since these cousins weren’t born yet.

“So weird,” I reflect, as I ask my dad if he remembers that picture.

“One day this will be a faded picture,” I shudder.

“Mom,” I hear, “don’t worry. This will never be a faded picture. Pictures don’t fade anymore – they’re digital.”

We talk with my dad and uncle, getting a few stories of their childhood. Marveling that my dad is the second oldest sibling, the oldest boy; my uncle is the youngest. They are 11 years apart. 10 kids in 12 years!

We ask age old questions like, “How did you get to the beach with 10 kids every summer? You didn’t go in one car, right?”

“A station wagon,” my dad says and he and my uncle try to explain how some sat in the way back, there were no seatbelts, and they just piled in.

“No, no, no,” my uncle says shaking his head. “There were 2 cars. There were 2 cars for traveling.”

A game of bocce ball starts, but I sit out to chat some more with some cousins, and we watch the game as we have a heart to heart.

“It’s just so great to see them all over there!” my cousin says. I am reminded that my cousins love family just like I do. They leave the beach first, off to get ready for a night out: A girls night I am invited to, but can’t attend. More hugs are given all around and they walk away.

After they leave, my kids need a refresher on my cousins since there are so many. They want to know who is the child of which sibling.

“It’s so weird,” they say. “We haven’t seen them for years and everyone just starts talking and talking like you see each other all the time.”

“Yep,” I say, “that’s because we are cousins!”

#sol22 March 11 From my (Uncle’s) Chair

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!
From my chair I see 
boats on lifts 
waiting  to be lowered into 
grey green water rippling through
a coastal waterway

From my chair I watch
for dolphins
as they curve in and out of the water
I saw them this morning 
But I'm feeling greedy 

From my chair I see
an ibis
a heron
I think - I'm not so great with the bird names

From my chair I see
palm trees 
sway
as the wind picks up
the birds swoop down
the water ripples
and I watch for 
dolphins

#sol22 March 10 Alligators

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

Airboats are loud so we have cotton balls stuck in our ears. I think if you book a private tour, they give you a headset instead. Before getting in the boat we were ushered to a “show.” We came to scout for gators, but didn’t know we’d see them in captivity first.

“This is so sad,” my kids said to me and we walked over to look at the turtles, who were swimming in a dirty plastic pond, surrounded by a fence.

“At least they have each other,” I tried to offer as a consolation to my kids because I see them growing more upset in a “why are we even here giving money to this place?” kind of way.

Luckily the show was short. We met a baby alligator and a boa constrictor. The boys pet each and I took pictures. We learned a few facts about alligators and the strength of their jaws before we headed to the dock.

There were so many people, and my 15 year old was desperate to get a front row seat. It seemed disorganized, and slow. But the tour guide was finally there and he organized us in groups to see how we would get in the boat. I wondered if he ever thought of being a teacher, and soon we were on the boat, cotton balls in our ears, waiting for him to untie the ropes holding the boat to the dock.

“I’m on Florida time,” he says. “I’m on my time. That way I don’t get stressed.”

Right away there is an alligator in front of us, and the boat stops so we can all get a look. “Look now,” the guide says, “that way I won’t feel bad if this is the only gator we see the whole tour.” I hope it isn’t the only one we see, since my 12 year old dreams of seeing as many as possible.

We learn that the Everglades is the slowest moving river in the world, and I think about how the swamp feels almost exactly how I expected it to feel. Is it because the books I’ve read are so good at describing this quiet slow humidity, or am I just experiencing this through the lens of having read books that take places in swamps? Also, have I read an abundance of books that take place in swamps? I don’t think so.

We see a few more alligators, and laugh at our tour guide’s jokes.

Later we will drive through the everglades, and spot so many alligators off to the side of the road in the canal. We will stop at Big Cypress National Preserve and see even more alligators from the safety of a boardwalk. A volunteer will stop by and we will learn that gators need to rest in the sun to digest their food. Otherwise it rots in their stomach.

When we get back on the road and see more aligators as we drive by, my 12 year old will say, “I’ve seen so many alligators now, they’re just like squirrels to me.”

#sol22 March 8 Kayaks, Boys & Mangroves

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!
I used to kayak with 6th graders once a year for 20 minutes in the small mountain lake nearby
First I'd watch them all learn to row their canoes 
Then I'd ask for a review for myself  
They'd partner up in canoes 
I'd wait for the single kayak - teacher benefit
I'd paddle around, watch out for them, listen to them learn how to cooperate with the oars
I'd  take pictures, take in the beauty of the water, breathe until the whistle told us it was time to bring it in

"How different could it be?" I asked myself
When my own 6th grader, and his 9th grade brother asked to rent kayaks in Key Largo
And I was right and wrong - which is how parenting usually goes for me
One wanted to go go go
The other had never kayaked before - he had to learn how to paddle in between the mangroves
There were debates, angry words, and much bumping into the shore
I was kayaking, breathing in the beauty of the water while keeping an eye on them

There hadn't been a lesson on paddling
I didn't get a review - only a quick reminder of which way to face the paddle
There was no whistle to tell us to bring it in
Only a map they quickly handed us as we got in the boats, and an hour to get back to the marina
I couldn't quite get oriented on the map, but there were usually people to follow and
the boys figured out which way to go when there weren't

In the middle of the journey, I put my paddle down across the kayak to take a mindful moment and watch the boys who had finally figured out how to cooperate - mostly
"Don't you wish you could be here?" one of them called out to me
I laughed 
"We are here!"