I miss my little boy. He was a ray of light straight from the sun. His hair was blonde and tight with ringed curls, his eyes searching and open. I used to love to snap his blue jeans closed under that two year old belly that ballooned out inviting kisses, inviting me to blow that kind of mouth noise that made him scream and giggle with delight. His cheeks were full and round, the kind to grab and squeeze. I’d take one of those little hands as we walked and swing him skyward until he saddled snug against my shoulders. We’d travel for blocks that way, him being a giant and me with my ray of sunshine and love proudly displayed for the world to see.

Those years went so fast. When I look at him now, I wonder how it happened. How did my little blonde boy grow into such a man’s man. How did he get to be so darned big and grown up? I know there are logical answers, but they don’t satisfy the mama in me who often longs for her green eyed toddler with the rounded belly. I loved him and miss our times together. I love the man too, but he is a different kind of giant, one who no longer needs my shoulders to make him seen and tall. I marvel at the man before me. How did this happen? Life is confusing that way.

Post Holiday Blues

sunset-rideIt’s not like I want to live in Los Angeles. I never could, but there was something wonderful about being there for Thanksgiving. Sunshine and warmth for starters. I was with my son, Clayton and his wife, Khrystyne. He is six foot three and wears extra large shirts, she is a tiny Vietnamese beauty who perches on his lap like the little bird she is. Clay took me along Mulholland Drive to the base of the Hollywood sign on his bright red motorcycle. I loved every minute. Riding with him is one of my favorite treats. He has been racing and riding motorcycles for as many years as I can remember. I place myself in his hands with complete confidence, but when he rides with no hands or on one wheel, it’s Khrystyne who’s on the back and not me. 

His other love is skateboarding. Clay has built a half pipe in his backyard. Friends roll back and forth becoming airborne under propane lights with mariachi or soul music pouring from neighboring yards. Clay lives in The Hood where folks are awake and active without apology. 

Thanksgiving at my growing up house was elegant and formal, fine dining at its best with imported wines, fine china, crystal glasses and cuisine that still lingers in memory. Chateau brignon, prime rib, lobster and scalloped potatoes were artistically arranged with fresh flowers, fruits and good silver. That was the gift of owning a restaurant and having a mother who appreciated fine things.

It was different at my son’s house. The only table sat near the wall, covered with computers, monitors and work orders. We cleared that off, sliding the table to the center. Then we washed off lawn chairs to make enough seating. There was no tablecloth. I drew the line at paper plates. I asked for music to dine by. Clay put on a collection of old Beatles songs, followed by Snoop Dogg.  I could not help but contrast our meal with the way I grew up. 

I’m proud of my son. He dropped out of high school and lived lost for a long time. After his daughter was born, he stabilized and followed his love of graphic design. He is thirtyeight years old now, and sought out by CNN, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the Oscars and others. His visions are unique and bold. He has not forgotten how to play and still loves his mama. No candles and linen tablecloth could ever replace that happy ending. I could not ask for more, well, maybe more sunshine in rainy old Oregon.

Naked in the Bath

shower-handleWhen I was divorced the first time – still a virgin to divorce – I lost all sense of reality. My house was being sold, my goods auctioned, and my life shattered into a million sharp lethal pieces. I had no way to move forward. The land was too foreign, threatening and unknown. I lost half my body weight.

The night before the auction I went out alone and drank a full bottle of wine. I have a system that does not tolerate alcohol, so a full bottle took me to even more unknown places, all dismal and not numbing enough. I somehow made my way home, opened the car door, spilled out on the lawn, and slept the night.

In the morning people began coming to buy up my life. I rolled from the grass, pushed through the crowd and locked myself in the bathroom. I listened to my life being physically dismantled from the cold enamel of the tub, one material object at a time. Who would I be now, I wondered?  No home, no identity as wife, no job skills, no child support, two small children and a backlog of depression.

My body did not want to participate in the ordeal that lay ahead, but somehow I lived through the day. I rose again and lived through another, and another still.

I met a woman at the library. Her name was Joy. She asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on her motorcycle.

Oh boy, do I ever!

Joy was getting divorced too, from an engineer; mine was a highway patrolmen, neither man a good match for free spirited women.

Joy and I moved in together. She got a job modeling and selling Leggs pantyhose. I sang in the clubs, fronting a rock and roll band.  Eventually, I worked with a classical guitarist, who was a much better fit for my quiet spirit.

At night, Joy and I had long conversations, me perched on top of her refrigerator, her being the more responsible one, and setting limits.

Karen, I don’t like it when you give away my toothbrushes to your friends. They need to buy their own.

We stayed up all night laughing, talking and often crying. We understood and loved each other.  We were full of smiles and raw open pain.

That was 36 years ago. We stay in touch, because I’ll never stop loving her for the way she filled my heart during those lonely confused beginnings. She helped me out of the bathtub and into the world.