So this is it.
I say “this is it” a full quarter of a day before the clock strikes twelve. My mother always told me “the early bird gets the worm…but misses the party” and “the only thing going on after midnight is hoochin’ and whorin’ “. She never really said that, but I like to picture her as the aproned, butter-churnin’, crude-wisdom-dishin’ mama sometimes for no other reason than I read too much Laura Ingalls Wilder growing up. The truth of “it” is that I go to bed at eight o’clock, come Hell or falling glass balls. So with the afternoon sun still blaring, I tell you Happy Almost New Year, and leave you with a final post from 2011.
Somehow, this post feels like my name badge- an introduction, conversation, and closing statement for my life. I’m sure I missed words, rambled on in other silly places, and could’ve crafted a better “literary piece” if I put my mind to it. I suppose why I hold this little post so dear is that there was no mind involved. This is just my brain on gratitude, and I hope your 2012 brings you the same, sunshiney high.
Take A Sip
“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” – Sir Winston Churchill
I stood at the mouth of the ocean. The salt brushed loose from the breeze. Sand wrapped my toes. A baby babbled in the background. Just hushing wave, a child’s laughter, hushing wave, whirling winds, a child’s brilliant happiness. This is the best kind of lullaby, I thought. I love everything here.
I eyed a man to my left. I decided to call him Burt as it sounded sufficiently grumpy, and Grumpy, you will learn, was the pouty sir’s middle name. He was one man, a fuming island one slip of a tight jaw away from spewing hatefulness into pristine waters. His flimsy, red knickers suggested a playful side. His furious brow did not. Some minutes passed- him shooting angst from his eyeballs, me holding a head cocked like a concerned poodle. I waited for Playful Burt to invite us all for a leisurely game of volleyball. This never happened. I wondered if a hug would fix him right. Maybe a note tucked into his fanny pack could lighten his load? It would read: Perk up, Buttercup. Your glass ain’t half empty at the edge of this here ocean. Take a sip, fool. Take it all in. Your cup done runneth over. He threatened to rip paper from the seam with each flip of his book’s pages. He scoffed a bit, bothered by the natural beauty of it all, I suppose. I knew in that moment that for Burt the sun was too sunny, the sand too sandy, the saltwater too damned salty, and the child’s giggles so infuriating and giggly he could spit. I was sad to watch this stranger take his glass-so blatantly ready to spill over lip- and toss it aside, most certain that it held nothing for him. I peeled my feet from their borough on the beach and vacationed on to celebrate this good life elsewhere.
A week later, I am stuck in the mouth of a yellow slide. My son, the ever-adventurous toddler, has stopped for a rest mid-swirl. A line of antsy children fuss to at the top. A crowd of peeved parents fuss at the bottom. And I laugh. Oh, I laugh! My son giggles in time to my guffaws. The yellow slide vibrates with hilarity, and for a moment it is just me and my boy, tinted in the slide’s sunny shades and laughing at the echos of our laughter. Once regurgitated from the plaything, he runs past the pissy crowds towards the next best thrill the playground has to offer. States away from that awe of ocean, we find enough good in a muddy puddle. The dirt brushes loose from the breeze. Sweet smells of grass wrap my nose. A baby splashes in the background. Whoosh goes the swing, a child’s laughter, whoosh goes the swing, sun filters through every bone, a child’s brilliant happiness. I love everything here.
I look back to spot one mama still scrutinizing from a distance. Our pleasure, it seems, brings her greatest displeasure. For whole minutes she scornfully glances at us. It seems our lack of proper slide etiquette is close to unforgivable. Her children, gloriously golden-haired and delighted to play in the dirt are told to hush, to move, to cut it out. She is a gorgeous thing, slim and tan and lovely save for that soured purse of her lips. As one child ventures too deep in the dirt, she swipes them up, yanking and pulling the surprised tots towards the parking lot. Her one woman Circus of Fluster flies homeward in a luxury SUV. Maybe a note tucked into her diaper bag could lighten her load? It would read: Perk up, Buttercup. Your glass ain’t half empty when you’re double-fisting those there sippy cups. Take a sip of the good juice, fool. Take it all in. Your sippy cup done runneth over.
I check my e-mail as The Slide Scaler sleeps. A message from a fellow blogger asks for what I am grateful. Naturally, I make a list of people, places, things and more things. Health, Motherhood, Sunshine, Diet Coke. I love everything.
Then my hand detaches from my brain and scribbles Burt and Angry Lexus onto the page. I shock myself. How can I be grateful to perfectly volatile strangers? Before I know it I have added Cysts, Scars, Abortion, and Poor to the list. I disgust myself. Awful, awful things for which I am filled with thanks? I promptly ask myself to shut up, but then I look closer.
It took those angry faces to teach me how not to live.
It took meals of crackers and Coke to appreciate a meal cooked, a bill paid, a bank account cushioned.
It took one miserable abortion, scars on skin and so deep down to bone to wipe me clean, to finally greet my son and tell him immediately and forever that this life, this life is so heartbreaking and good.
It took an e-mail from a blogger to make me realize that above all else I am grateful for my glass.
Some mysterious thing, some place or time, some experience or person thought in the darkest and lightest times to hand me a glass so dry and convince me that it would never, ever be empty. When, where and how this discovery smacked me I will never know, but I seem built to believe that hydration will come. That glass will never be empty. Never be empty. At the mouth of the ocean, in the throat of a snaking slide, above and below all things , I am simply thankful to be thankful.
May this new year be an opportunity for us to wake happy and choose thanks at every turn!
Happy (4 Hours ’til) New Year!