Telephone

Joe is in his final days of Inventory Hell at work. It is completely insane. He works his ass off, twelve hours a day, for Inventory. Needless to say, we are on two completely different schedules.

The other night, he went to bed early while I was still up watching the Golden Girls and writing. One of Joe’s complaints is that I always fall asleep on the sofa, watching t.v and writing, which I do. Because, and there is a method to my madness, by the time I go to bed, his alarm will go off in an hour or so, at which point I always come to the living room anyway.

I felt guilty. I told myself no matter what time I get tired, I will go sleep in the bedroom with him.

So, there I am, laying in bed next to a very loud snoring Joe. Me and my bright ideas, right? I could not even watch t.v because Joe is such a light sleeper, but hey, at least I am in bed, right? Facebook it is! I grab my phone, start scrolling the news feed and quickly realize that all my friends must be asleep as well. I put the phone down, tried to play with my cat for a bit, however, the damn cat was trying to sleep as well. Am I the only night owl out there?

Tossing and turning I just cannot get comfortable. I cannot get comfortable because I am not tired! I rolled over, adjusted my pillows for the tenth time. There, with the soft glistening light from the hall, there it was, Joe’s phone.

Hmmm. This could be fun. Last time I took his phone without him knowing I changed my name in his contacts from “Jen” to “Hot Wife.” Well, somehow I just got distracted by his messages. I mean I needed something to help me sleep, so, ya know, why not go through his messages.

Boring.
Boring.
Boring.
Hmmmm.
Boring.
Boring.

I had to go back to one “questionable” message, but, this is one I cannot talk about because it involves his job, and the police, and a crazy person.

Well, somehow, as I was reading a message from his boss, I ended up accidentally calling the boss. Before I knew it, I hear “Joe, your up early, what’s up?”

HOLY MOTHER MARY OF GOD WHAT DID I JUST DO?!?!

So, I threw the phone down and ran to the bathroom, because you know, that’s what any normal person does.

As I am in the bathroom playing dumb, I hear the freakin phone ring! Like seriously, has his boss never heard of “butt dialing” even if it is at 2am?

On the fourth ring, I make my out of the bathroom, hop back in bed.

Joe rolls over, still have asleep. “Did my phone just ring?”

I look around and notice one of the cats sitting there, just ready to rat me out.

“Nope! I did not hear anything!”

and just like that, he rolled back over and went to sleep for the last 45 minutes.

Moral of the story: When you decide to be sneaky, turn the ringer off!

 

 

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The Choice

I still remember the first day we got the 8-week old fluff ball. She looked like a ball of hair with eyes. We couldn’t come up with a name. She may have had 3 different names before we ended up with the name Princess. The kids were 3 & 5 at the time.  Over the next 9 years, Princess would become an integral part of our family. Even moving across the state with us, although she wasn’t thrilled with the Seattle weather that awaited her. Kharizma was her person from the beginning. Every now and then Princess would make her way out to the living room after the kids were fast asleep. She would hop on my lap, and purr as I pet her, careful to stay away from her “bad spots” which was her tail and her toes. She would attack if I got near those places. Princess was a good, loyal cat to our family, through thick and thin she was there. A couple of years ago, our beloved Princess just disappeared one day. Frantically I put up flyers all over the city, made online posts to all the animal sites and made several calls to every vet in a 100-mile radius. Kharizma was crushed as were the rest of us. Our Princess was gone.

I always knew we would get another kitten, it just had to be the right one and the right time. Fast forward 2 years, the time came. I found a kitten that I fell in love with, the only kicker was, we would have to wait two months to get our sweet girl.

Over the next two months, I would get updates and pictures of our growing kitty. I got the call last Thursday:

“She is ready to go! You want to pick her up this weekend?”

“Yes, I will!”

And so, began the shopping trip to pick up all the things a new kitty would need.

Except we forgot to pick a name.

So, naturally who has 8 cats and would be able to help me come up with a great name?

“Jen, I have no idea what are we are going to name her!”

Of course, for the next hour, we bounced around some names, eventually coming up with Ashey Delilah. The Delilah part of the name is a meaningful one. For those that know me well, you know that I have had a borderline obsession with the Delilah radio talk show for the last 20+ years. This story needs a blog all on its own and hopefully one day I will tell the whole story, but for now, we will keep it as that.

Anticipation built as we made the 45-minute drive to get the kitten. I thought about how Ashey Delilah would become a part of our family, just as Princess did. She would be loyal and a part of the family, only if we could get our 20-lb. furry feline Daisy on board. That was going to be the hard part, so I thought.

“We are home!” The kitten is heeeere!”

The kids, now 13 & 15 (going on 25) come running out.

“Meet Ashey Delilah!”

“Mom, we are not naming her that!!”

“Why not? It’s cute. I like the name.”

“We are gonna come up with another name!”

A few minutes later, I get a text from Jen.

“How is Ashey Delilah? Send me pics!!!”

“The kitten is great. Her name is no longer Ashey Delilah though.”

I didn’t need to explain anything. Jen knows my strong-willed daughter very well. She already knew I got overruled by a 15-year-old.

Because she is my best friend, she took the liberty and sent a little text to her that went something like this:

“Kharizma, do you know how important the name Delilah is to your mom? It’s just breaking her heart that you don’t want to use the name.”

20 minutes later Kharizma informs me we can use Delilah for the kitty’s middle name.

I have always been a pretty easy-going parent. As a single mom for most of my kids’ lives, I had to be everything all rolled into one, so sometimes I have had to just pick my battles.

Which is how I have been in other areas of my life. For so long, I just went with the flow. In my relationships, my jobs, and even my family.  I would just allow them to be in my life because I never really thought I had a choice.

This all changed about a year ago.

I decided that I had paid my dues to people that didn’t really deserve them. I am not perfect by any means but I have always had good intentions whether it be with co-workers, friends, acquaintances, in relationships, hell, even my neighbors could come to ask for a cup of sugar every day and I would give it to them.

I have been lied to, cheated on, treated like shit and made to feel like I deserved all the above. Times have changed and so have I.

In this last year, I have cut-off people that are no longer beneficial in my life. If you can’t bring something to the table like support and positivity, then guess what? Take a seat at some else’s table because there is no room for you here at mine. I keep my circle small. Most of my friends have been in my life for 10+ years.  I no longer need to entertain anyone for any reason.

I am learning to be very selective about who I let in. If I feel any bad vibes or intent, I will excuse you promptly with no reasoning because for so long, I have explained myself to people that didn’t deserve a word.

I am taking back the power that was lost so long ago. It really isn’t about the cat, but more about me taking control of my life. I have come this far. As some of you might know, I will be graduating with my BA next year which I know will yield big changes for me. Some I am not sure of yet. But what I know for sure is this, I will not settle for anything less than what I deserve. In my career, friendships, relationships…I will weed out the bad and keep the good for myself because I have earned it.

Like Carrie Bradshaw said when she was forced to choose between Mr. Big and The Russian in the final episode of Sex and the City…

I choose me.

It’s about time that I choose me.

Christin.

Part 2 July 4th “Memories and Shit)

This 4th of July would be like many others. Unlike Jen, I had only a plan A, so if there were any snafu’s, my other options would be limited. We have done the same thing for the last several years, so I didn’t really feel the need to have backup plans.

As told in Memories & Shit Part 1, Jen and I had discussed our plans for the day. As mentioned, I did tell her about my thoughts of being abandoned by the kids once we were at our destination. She laughed at my dilemma, as she often does, citing that “it is normal for your kids to ditch you, trust me.” Like the fool I am, I will trust her…

Piling in the car, a total of 4 teenagers and a grumpy old troll. I say that because he is not fond of any holiday. I have a tendency to go overboard every holiday, so you can only imagine the conversations among us.

“Why are you putting the Christmas tree up on November 1st?”

“Because Halloween is over! It’s Christmas time, duh.”

Well, you get the point. It’s just who I fundamentally am, I can’t help it.

4th of July is no different.

25 minutes later we arrive at our destination. Kingston is a little beach town, perfect for a fabulous 4th of July festival by the water.

One by one, we all pile out and before my feet hit the ground, all the kids are gone. All of them.

I notice a young man, maybe about 25, sitting alone on the back of his truck next to ours. Nothing out of the norm, just an observation of mine because I by nature, I am a little nosey.

I set up my chair while the grumpy old troll and I made small talk. Instead of listening, I instead began reflecting over past 4th of July’s, when my kids still wanted to hang-out with me.

One year, the kids were probably 1 and 3, I took them to Leavenworth. It’s a quaint little Bavarian-styled village up in the cascade mountains. Both on my lap, we spent the day watching the parade and fireworks show. It was a day I will always remember.

One year, we went to a neighborhood fireworks show. It was all fun and games until a big falling firework landed on my head. Kids were young enough not to remember this one, however, I think I still feel a lump on my the top of my noggin.

One year, we were in Yakima for the holiday. We spent the day with family and attended a fair where my kids and nephew rode the rides and ate cotton candy. It was hotter than hell that day but memories were made.

For the last 15 years, all the memories I have made have been for my kids. I know times are a changing and in the words of my oldest “mom, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING with us.” But maybe I want to. Maybe I want to be a part of all the memories. Maybe I am afraid of being forgotten after they leave for college. Maybe they have been with me pretty much every day since I was 22 and even the thought of not waking up or going to sleep in the same house makes me sad.

As I am contemplating which one of my kids’ basement I will live in once they do “fly the nest”, I look over at the young man who is still sitting by himself in the back of his truck.

All the scenarios play out in my mind:

His girlfriend is running late. She got caught up in traffic and will be here any minute. He is waiting patiently as he feels for the ring in his pocket. Tonight is the night, he will propose to the girl of his dreams.

He is a lonely soldier far from home. He knows nobody and instead of staying in his shitty base apartment, he comes out to enjoy the fireworks by himself to get his mind off of being homesick. He misses his mama’s apple pie and his daddy’s long talks while fishing.

He is meeting someone on a blind date. The nerves are getting to him as he keeps looking from the phone to the street. Is she coming? Did she stand me up? He will continue watching and waiting until the end of the show.

He had a fight with his girlfriend. She wanted to go to Seattle for the 4th and he just wanted a nice, relaxing day, just the two of them. Why did she have to be so damned stubborn? He was clearing his head before heading home to an empty apartment.

His friends told him they would meet him there. After a few hours of drinking, they decide to get into the car and never make it to the festival. He keeps calling them with no answer. Where could they be?

The fireworks begin, with no kids in sight. They came back for a minute, just to grab their blankets and some money.

As I gaze up at the fireworks, I wonder:

What’s next for me? My kids have always been a huge part of my identity. What happens in the next chapter of my life when they begin their own lives?

I have a few more years to figure it out. I will try not to stress about it. Until then, I will enjoy every moment, every holiday, with these two kids of mine. Maybe they will leave me sometimes, but I know they will always come back to be with their old mom and make memories and shit.

4th of July, 2018 (Memories & Shit)

Christin and I had our usual mid-morning phone call this morning.

Me~ So what are your plans for today?

Christin~ You know, making memories with the kids and shit even though I am not going to be in any of those memories because they will leave me as soon as we get to our destination!

Me~ Sounds about right!

Christin~ What about you guys?

……

The plan was, at thirteen hundred hours, Joe would arrive home from work. He would take a quick shower and off we would go to, as Christin so eloquently put it, ” to make memories and shit.”

First up would be a late lunch. With Vinnie staying the night at a friend’s house, I only had to worry about the girls. I made sure, much to Sofia’s detriment, that they had a very light breakfast. I did not want them to fill up on eggs and bacon if we were going out for a nice lunch.

Now with my kids, there has to be a plan. With Joe, there has to be a plan. Everyone is confident the plan can be executed, be we always need a plan in place.

Enter “Your’s Truly.”

An hour before Joe was expected home, I brought up the menus of local restaurants on my desktop. First step, I need to look over the menu to make sure it is suitable for Gracie’s needs.

Check!

Next up, one at a time, I have to bring the girls out, let them see the pictures, so they can see if there is anything on the menu they will like.

I narrowed it down to three.

“The Ram” a local sports bar/burger joint. It was also the place Joe took me on our very first date. This is important info for later in the post.

“Puerto Vallarta” a nice Mexican restaurant, that has a very nice selection of all the favorites.

“The Village Inn” a cute local diner. A step up from Denny’s. Nice menu selections.

So from the get-go, the girls and I eliminated The Village Inn, only because we go there all the time, and everyone wanted to try something different.

Puerto Vallarta came out the clear winner. I think it was the endless chips and salsa that sealed the deal for Sofia, Gracie wanted some nachos, and Joe, well all he told me was to come up with a plan!

Joe comes home, and I tell him “THE PLAN!” Mexican, then bowling. Joe is still in work mode so he is all clapping his hands, “Okay team, let’s get this done!”

Well, guess what. The damn Mexican restaurant was closed! The website said it was open, but of course, Joe is all like “Did you call to confirm?” No, I did not call to confirm because the website said it was currently open!

On to Plan B. Important to note there was no Plan B. Why should there be a Plan B when I now had my heart set on Mexican food because the website said they were open?!

So we drive to our local mall, where there is a nice selection of restaurants to choose from, including Azteca, another Mexican restaurant.

It will come as no surprise to you to hear they were closed as well.

Like, seriously?!?!?!?! Who knew Mexican’s celebrated the 4th of July. Now, at this point, the girls and I are starving. While I was instructing them to have a light breakfast, I somehow forgot to put a little something in my stomach. I mean at this time I was expecting to be sitting at a table by now munching on chips and salsa.

Sofia~ “Can we just please find some food?!”

Me~ You need to pull over I am about to pass out, I have a diet bar in the trunk.

Gracie~ Is my lipstick still on?

Joe~ Okay team! I do not want to drive but I will drive wherever you want!

DUDE, TAKE THE WORK HAT OFF!!!!

……

We are now across the street from the mall, looking at which restaurants are open. We have two options. Red Lobster or The Ram. Remember, The Ram was one of my original options.

In a hypoglycemic state of mind, I say to Joe “Look, The Ram is open, how about we go there?”

“Nah, I do not want to go there, I hate that place.”

Hmmm. That does not seem very “team-spirited” not to mention the fact that, THAT’S WHERE HE TOOK ME FOR OUR FIRST DATE!

We drive across the street to Red Lobster. Finally, those glorious cheddar bay biscuits are mere moments away. my blood sugar thanks you.

The lovely hostess with the red, white and blue eyeshadow informed us “It will be about a twenty-five-minute wait.”

Of course it will.

I snagged a menu while we took our seat on the bench reserved for the morons who thought it would be a good idea to go out to eat on July 4th.

As I am looking through the menu, determined to have our order ready to go as soon as we are seated, I saw a problem. A big huge problem. Sofia, believe it or not, cannot stand seafood. I (wrongly) assumed that there would be at least a burger or something on the menu that would suit her fancy. Frantically, I am flipping through the pages of The Red Lobster menu. Hoping beyond hope that there is a burger option at this seafood joint.

Nothing.

I pass the menu over to Joe while trying to come up with a Plan C, without making it look that I forgot my daughter does not like seafood.

As Joe is looking through the menu I can tell he is not impressed with anything. Hmmm. This may be easier than I thought.

He looks at the girls. “Do you guys know what you feel like?”

Sofia~ I HATE SEAFOOD!
Gracie~ Is my hair messed up, it was windy outside.

This is my life.

“Okay team, let’s make a call, do we stay for twenty-five minutes or do we backtrack to the mall and grab something there?”

Sofia~ Please, can we just go to the mall and get food?!
Gracie~ I do not care as long as my hair does not mess up.
Me~ Your call Boss.

……

We are now at the mall. We are also now on Plan D.

 

I do not even know where to go from here.

Cliff note version. Sofia decided on Subway because for some reason she loves that place, even though I strongly believe I make better sandwiches.

Gracie was able to get her nachos while looking at herself in her compact makeup mirror.

Joe and I decided on one of our all-time favorites, Gyros. Seriously, for all you locals, if you have never been to Gyro House at the mall, you need to go.

So, there we all our, sitting, scarfing down our food, and Joe asks “Okay team what’s next?” While looking at the girls, “What do you guys do with Mommy when she brings you here?”

Sofia, without missing a beat. “We go to the perfume store, but I do not think you would like that.”

“What?! Just because I am a guy, I can go to the perfume store! I bet they have some nice things in there.”

Sofia laughs, “Oh dad, you are so funny!”

Gracie is literally applying lipstick after every bite she takes from her nachos.

Wiping my hands from the messy but heavenly sent gyro and its tzatziki sauce, I tell Joe “Okay Boss, you put in a good effort, but trust me, you do not want to go to the perfume store.”

He passes his fries to Sofia. “Why not, I am sure there are some cool things in there.”

Taking a sip of my diet coke, “I mean yeah, but there is also a 75% Fourth of July sale going on, the store will be packed.”

Joe puts his gyro down, “How about bowling, let’s try bowling!”

After assuring Gracie that bowling is healthy and will not mess up her hair or bring on a seizure, it was a done deal.

We left the mall, destination, Bowling Alley!

Will any of you be surprised to hear the bowling alley was closed?

……

At this point, we were all spent. Now, remember, Joe had been working since 4:00am. So, because I still wanted to “make memories and shit” we collectively decided that the girls and I would drop Joe off, and we would head to the good ol Wal-Mart, trying to occupy our time while “making memories and shit.”

You guys, I have a problem. I cannot say “no” to the girls. They do not ask for much. Both girls are on a mission for “cool” school clothes, and Gracie and her never-ending makeup. Sofia and her notebooks, I cannot tell them “no.” I can only imagine many parents have this problem?

Due to a rent increase, and having to pay an out-of-pocket portion for Gracie’s MRI, we are on a very tight budget, yet, I still cannot tell them no. How do I tell my daughter that “maybe we should wait on a 6.00 eyeshadow palate?” I can’t. They are such good kids, they deserve so much more than I am able to give them.

Here’s the thing. A six-dollar eyeshadow palate and a four dollar notebook and a couple of three dollar t-shirts and two dollar tank tops, well, that adds up, but I cannot tell them no.

I left Wal-Mart spending 109.00.

We will make it work, we always do, but damn! Although, you already know 109.00 can go far at Wal-Mart.

I came home, told Joe how I may have spent a little above the budget, but he gets it. He is going to use vacation time and not take a vacation to get us to where we need to be.

Although I am confident I will find a job next month, Joe does not want to depend on that. We may have to downsize. I do not know. People tell you things to make themselves feel better. So, we wait, and we pray for guidance, all the while, I am making memories with the girls, because watching Sofia write a story in her new notebook, and try on new clothes, watching Gracie play around with her new makeup, well, that shit is priceless.

……

At the end of the night, while Joe is passed out on the sofa. Gracie has her headphones on to drown out the fireworks, I grab Sofia. We go out on my balcony, and watch the firework show. She gets it. She knows we can not be close to the fireworks because her sister may have a seizure. But, because she gets it, and because she is always willing to put her wants aside, that is why I want to do more for her, I want to do whatever I can to make those memories, so when she has her own children, she will be able to look back on these hard times and still feel some sort of nostalgia, knowing as an adult, that we struggled, but  before anything else, we wanted the kids, to have a childhood, a wonderful magical childhood where there was no worry of how late the power bill would be, or if there was enough money for school shoes and backpacks. I want all my kids to look back on their childhood and realize that although it is never easy, one way or another we will make it work, because we are a team.

……

“Mom, was that it? Was that the last fireworks?”

Taking a sip from my drink, while discreetly looking inside to make sure Gracie is okay, “Yes, I think that was the big one, that’s it.”

“Thanks Mom, today was a good day, that was the best!”

And, that is why, my wonderful readers, that is why I will always push through, and in the hardest of times, I will find a way to “make memories and shit.”

~ Jennifer

 

 

 

A Summer of Trouble…

Writing Prompt: A time you got in trouble over the summer.

Jennifer

Believe it or not, it was hard for me to come up with a story for this post. I was a pretty good kid. I mean you guys know it was only after I left home that I found myself in some “questionable” situations. I am curious what Christin is going to write about though. As soon as we stumbled on the writing prompt “A time you got in trouble over the Summer” Christin got me off the phone so fast, proclaiming “I KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO WRITE ABOUT.” So, while she is off typing away, here I sit talking about what a good kid I was.

I suppose if I have to write about something, I could talk about the time I hung out in a trailer park one summer, but trust me, it sounds worse than it really is. I mean my parents may not agree, but, it wasn’t “that” bad.

It was the Summer I turned 14. You are not getting the year out of me so stop trying to figure it out. School was out. Thank the Holy Mother Mary of Jesus for that. All kids love summer break, then you have the kids, such as myself, who had no friends. For me, summer break meant no more “faking it.” I could relax, hang out with my church friends, and call it a day.

In the youth group at church, I actually had friends. Many times on the weekends I would hang out with my church friends, or they would come over to my house. We would go to the mall, or, actually, I think the mall was the big thing back then. If I was not at the trailer park, I was either home or at the mall. At church, there were two sisters who were right around my age. “The Anderson Sisters.” They came to church on their own. The church bus would pick them up, or even our youth pastor. He would pick them up from their house in the trailer park. I never knew much about their mom or dad, other than their dad was very strict. Anytime I called over to their house, and if by chance their dad answered the phone, I would cringe. It just never ended well. On one particular Sunday, I asked “The Anderson Sisters” if they could come over after church and hang out. Well, they could not. However, it was a very rare occasion where I was allowed to go over there. I asked my parents if it was okay, promised them that I would meet them back at church later that evening, and we were good to go.

“The Anderson Sisters” lived next door to a young single mom who had three small daughters. Julie. Julie was the first person I met in the trailer park. She was very nice, and in my eyes beautiful. Even back then I had no idea how she did it with three small daughters, but she did. I hung out at Julie’s house while The Anderson Sisters went home to check in with their parents and change clothes. As soon as they came back, the three of us said goodbye to Julie and walked the trailer park. The Anderson Sisters knew everyone. Every time we passed a friend or acquaintance of theirs on the streets, quick introductions were made. This was a new world for me. The Anderson Sisters were popular in their own school, cheerleaders in fact, and our church was so small and non-judgmental, we all just became friends. I could not believe how many people The Anderson Sisters knew, I could not believe how nice everyone was, how nice they were to me. No one made fun of me (unlike school) and they just made me feel welcome in their little community.

We spent that afternoon going to 7-11, buying junk food, and sitting by the community pool, just talking and eating. I had fun, it was a good visit. We all made it back to church on time. I spoke to the twins Wednesday night church, asking if they wanted to do anything that weekend. As usual for them, they were not allowed to spend the night out but asked me if I wanted to spend the night. Well Duh!!

I asked my parents, got their permission, I had given them the phone number all was good.

Now here is where the story may get a little tricky, however it is still not that bad.

So, come to find out,  I was never really allowed to spend the night AT The Anderson Sisters house, I was able to spend the night AT the trailer park, specifically at Julie’s house, who lived right next door. I mean it is kinda the same thing, right? Of course, it is!

Quickly, a new routine developed. I would spend my time at The Anderson Sisters house, which really means Julie’s house, but it was all one in the same. I mean the only time I was not with The Anderson Sisters was when it was time for bed. We would spend our evenings “walking the Park” in the humid Virginia night air. This was back in the days when Motley Crue was at the height of their career. Throughout the whole Park, you could hear Motley Crue playing from the bedrooms of the teenager it occupied, you could hear it from the boom box on the front porch while watching the older guys work on cars, on occasion you could even hear it from Julie’s house as she was preparing dinner for her small daughters. It just so happened that The Crue would be coming to Virginia Beach for a concert, so that was just the in thing, it was always about Motley Crue and who is going to the concert. Funny thing, The Anderson Sisters did not even like Motley Crue.

I don’t know, it was just a nice time for me. I felt appreciated, I felt I had my own friends. I thought everything was working out nicely until one morning on the ride to church I somehow let it slip that it was Julie’s house who I stayed the night at, and not The Anderson Sisters. Holy Hell I can still hear the yelling.

“WHAT?!”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”
“I CALLED OVER TO THEIR HOUSE AND TALKED TO YOU!”
“WHO IS JULIE?”

Okay. This was not going as planned. What was I missing here? I mean yes, I was with The Anderson Sisters, and yes, that is where I could be reached. I just did not physically sleep there because you know, strict parents and all. I was not doing anything wrong. I think the worse thing I did was let a guy dance with me when Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” came on the radio as we were all eating stale Doritos from a shared bag.

I mean if you REALLY think about it, this was a good thing! I finally felt like I fit in somewhere. It was my “coming of age” summer so to speak. The bright lights of the trailer park, hot humid nights, mosquitos, Motley Crue blaring from the houses, 7-11 junk food,  good times well spent.

Unfortunately I never made it back to the Park. “The Parents” never quite saw it my way.

The Anderson Sisters went on to become high-powered attorneys in the Virginia Beach area. I remain in touch with them to this day.

Alright Dad, if  you are reading this, I think a good ol follow-up needs to happen from your point of view.

And….Gracie and Sofia, if one day you come across this blog while you are locked up in your room listening to your own “Motley Crue” all I have to say is do not even think about trying it!

 

 

Christin

It was the summer of 1996. I was looking forward to this summer for a million reasons:

  1. I would turn 16 this summer.
  2. I would be able to get a job.
  3. I could get my driver’s license.
  4. I could finally gain some independence.

 The summer started like every other one. Long, hot days and hours upon hours of swimming and tanning at the pool in our apartment complex. About a week in, I notice a blond-haired girl about my age sitting across the pool from me. She was pretty, but in an All-American girl kind of way.

 After a particular hot day, I packed up my stuff and my brother, and headed back to the apartment. The blond-haired girl looked to be doing the same. As we walked in similar directions, she smiled at me.

 “Hi, I’m Kari and this is Sam, she said, pointing to her sister. We live in that apartment up there.”

 “I’m Christin, and that’s my brother Josh. We are in this apartment right here.”

 “We just moved in couple of weeks ago. Do you like Alanis Morrissette? I just got her new CD. Do you want to come up and listen to it?”

 “Sure. Let me ask my mom.”

 An hour later we were up in her room listening to the CD for the 2nd time.

 An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

 From that day on, Kari and I were connected at the hip. We had a lot on common, both raised by single mom’s, had 1 younger sibling, and we both were contemplating adulthood, just in different ways.

Everyday we would meet at the pool the moment it opened. We would take turns singing the top hit of the summer.

California love!

California, knows how to party
California, knows how to party
In the city of L.A.
In the city of good ol’ Watts
In the city, the city of Compton
We keep it rocking!
We keep it rocking!

Late one summer night, before the pool closed, Kari and I were dangling our feet in the water, talking about her ex-boyfriend, Ray. Unfortunately, Ray had just broke up with Kari and started dating her friend. This was one conversation I couldn’t contribute to because at 16, I had yet had a boyfriend, unless you count that one time in freshman year that I held a boy’s hand for .5 seconds but then turned the color of tomato and ran off. This was all her. As I sat listening to her recount her recent heart-break, I noticed a boy, about our age, performing cannon balls off the side of the pool.

“I think he is trying to get our attention,” I said, nudging Kari with my elbow.

Watching from the sidelines, we watch as this blond-haired, blue-eyed boy performs circus-like tricks in the pool.

“He’s kind of cute,” Kari said, watching as he did the 5th backflip.

“He’s okay,” I said, grabbing my towel.

“Gotta go. Pools almost closed.”

We rounded up our stuff and walked towards the gate.

“Hey, do you guys want to go play a game of pool?”

Kari and I flipped around, and in unison “Sure!”

Turns out the boy band look-alike had a name, Travis.

Like us, he was the kid of single mom and had a younger sibling too.

From that day forward, the three of us could be found at the pool or playing pool in the clubhouse.

Travis was a good kid, although a little bit of a trouble maker, but not anything serious. I think him, and Kari hit it off first because they both had a little more “life” experience, me not so much. I was sheltered in more ways than one. They both had smoked pot, I had not. They both had sex, I had not.

 By the end of June, the three of us had a tan that most would pay for. The only thing I needed was blonder hair, like Kari’s. With my new best friend’s suggestions, hydrogen peroxide would indeed turn my hair a beautiful shade of blond.

Finally, I would look like Pamela Anderson in Bay Watch! Sans the implants and size 2 physique of course, but at least my hair would be blond.

Day 5 of the “Peroxide” went well. I doused my hair in the stinky substance before heading out to meet Travis and Kari.

As I grabbed the sun tanning lotion and towel off the table, I caught sight of 2 girls sitting with Kari and Travis.

As I opened the gate, Kari waved me over, “Hey I saved a chair for you!”

I spread my towel and took my place next to Kari.

“Christin, this is Shannon and her little sister, Cassie.”

“Hi, I said, envious of the modelesque body that Shannon was blessed with.

Tall, thin and pretty, everything I was not.

Shannon was older, about 18. Cassie was younger than us, maybe about 13.

Once again, we all had a lot in common, raised by single mom’s and all.

 A few weeks later, we were all in our normal spots poolside.

Our duo had grown to a dysfunctional quartet.

 “Travis, you’re an idiot!” Shannon screamed while trying to escape his grasp. She failed miserable as both fell into the pool.

Kari and I sat in our respective loungers, still working on that summer tan, while Cassie put her Walkman headphones on.

The dog days of summer went by, easy and non-eventful. Unless you count that one time, the 5 of us tried to sneak into the pool after hours. The Apartment manager caught us and sent us home. No harm, no foul.

The summer was ending. We would all go back to school in a couple of weeks. No more endless days at the pool, no more tan, and I would have to figure out what to do with my Rainbow Bright orange hair that had never made the transformation to blonde. Somewhere in the midst of my teenage mind, I forgot to factor in the CHLORINE with the peroxide. My hair was now glowing orange and fried to a crisp. But my tan looked amazing, so at least I had that.

“My mom is out-of-town for the weekend, let’s plan something at my house Friday night,” Travis said, lining up his cue stick.

“I’m down,” Kari said, without a thought. I was always a little jealous of her because her mom let her do whatever she wanted, mine was not so relaxed with letting me go anywhere without knowing:

Who is going to be there?

Is a parent going to be present? (In which case she would call said parent)

What are you going to do there?

How many people are going to be there?

What are the names of the people?

What is the address, phone number, social security number…?

Well you get it. She was a little overprotective or a lot.

“You know I will be there,” Shannon said, taking the shot at the 8 ball.

“I want to go,” Cassie said, knowing damn well her mom was not going to let her come to a party with a bunch of older kids.

“Yeah right!” Shannon said, “What about you, Christin?”

They all knew my mom was not going to give me permission.

“I will be there,” I said.

 Friday night was finally upon us.

I crawled into bed a little early that night.

Waiting patiently, I could feel my heart racing as I waited for the right time.

“Goodnight Christin,” my mom said, through my closed bedroom door.

“Goodnight.”

Every minute seemed to last forever, as I waited to hear her snoring through the paper-thin walls.

After what seemed like an eternity, I slowly threw back the covers, and slipped on my sandals.

My hands shook as I quietly slid my bedroom window, careful not to make any noise.

Once the window was wide open, I jumped up and out in one swift motion, hopped to my feet and ran to Travis’ apartment.

Out of breath, I knocked on the door.

“Heyyyyy, look who FINALLY made it?” Travis said, ushering me inside.

“Want a wine cooler?”

“No, I’m good.” I said. That’s all I would need. If I got busted for sneaking out that would be one thing, but drinking and sneaking out, I would be grounded for life. Besides, I had never drink before and didn’t really have a desire to change that.

 Bone bone bone bone, bone, bone, bone, bone, bone
Now tell me whatcha gonna do
When there ain’t no where to run (tell me what)
(When judgment comes for you, when judgment comes for you)
And whatcha gonna do
When there aint no where to hide (tell me what)
When judgment comes for you (’cause it’s gonna come for you)

Let’s all bring it in for wally, eazy sees uncle charlie
Little boo, god’s got him and I’m gonna miss everybody
I only roll with bone my gang look to where they lay
When playing with destiny, plays too deep for me to say
Lil’ layzie came to me, told me if he should decease well then please
Bury me by my grand-grand and when you can, come follow me

God bless you working on a plan to heaven
Follow the lord all twenty-four-seven days, God is who we praise
Even though the devil’s all up in my face
But he keeping me safe and in my place, say grace
For the case to race with a chance to face the judge
And I’m guessing my soul won’t budge
Grudge because there’s no mercy for thugs
Oh what can I do it’s all about our family and how we roll
Can I get a witness let it unfold
We living our lives to eternal our soul aye-oh-aye-oh

My first real party was off to a great start. Good music, good food, and freedom at last.

“What do you guys want to listen to now?” Shannon asked, as she pulled out her CD binder.

“Do you have any Keith Sweat?” Kari asked, taking a sip of her strawberry wine cooler.

“Yes!” she said, taking a drag of her cigarette.

I grabbed a handful of Doritos and was stuffing them in my mouth just as I heard something from the front of the apartment..

The four of us stopped in our tracks.

“Who the hell is that?” Kari asked, putting her winecooler in the microwave.

“I don’t know,” Travis said, scanning the room quickly to make sure everything was out of sight.

He made his way to the peep-hole.

“Oh shit! Christin it’s your mom!”

“Oh shit!” I said, choking on my mouthful of chips.

I looked from Shannon to Kari to Travis, hoping for someone to say something.

Everyone just stood there, frozen.

Travis was the first to move, towards the door.

Slowly, he turned the knob, revealing my mother on the other side.

“You are in BIG TROUBLE, YOU NEED TO GET HOME NOW!”

Without another word, I took the walk of shame out of the apartment and straight to my room. I knew, I was going to be grounded for life for this one.

The good news is I wasn’t grounded for life, but for pretty much the rest of that summer.

My first party lasted exactly 20 minutes.

I didn’t regret it for a single second. It was the best ending to one of the best summers of my teenage life.

I would like to tell you we all stayed in touch after that summer.

Kari got pregnant and moved away. Travis dropped out of high school and a few years later reconnected with Shannon. They had a son together and Travis skipped town, so I heard. I graduated a few years later and moved to California, as most of you know.

I had a lot of fun that summer. It would be the last of many things but my personal favorite, is my first (and last) escape attempt. But you know what they say, you live and you learn.

 

 

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)”

“She quietly snuck in, not quite knowing her place. She found her secluded corner hoping to remain unnoticed. And, there she remained until she no longer did not.”

As most of you know by now, I actually passed my Para test. Still, in shock, I have no idea how this happened. The test consisted of 90 questions. Thirty for reading, thirty for writing and thirty for math. I was pretty confident I would ace the reading and writing. I missed two on each. However, I knew the math portion would screw me. I missed seven.

As I was taking the math portion, I was already preparing my “I failed the test speech” for everyone. Something along the lines of “Well, I need to pay more attention to my adopted 3rd-grade classroom because I failed.” I wanted to rip the band-aid off fast while trying hard to be funny and positive.

After the test, I was told to go to HR and wait for my score. Another fellow test taker was in there, waiting as well. Together, we waited. Together we waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the attractive lady behind the desk comes over and hands us each a piece of paper. The paper that has our scores.

My fellow test taker knew right away she passed. I, of course, had no idea how to read the scores. The attractive lady from behind the desk told me “You passed, do not worry, you can rest easy now.”

A part of me wanted to tell her “Are you sure? I mean you may want to go back and recheck my math.”

I passed. I still cannot believe I actually passed.

……

After picking up Vinnie and dropping him off, I made my way to the school. The school where seven years ago, this all began.

Gracie started first grade in this school. I actually had my choice between this school and one other. The district graciously allowed me to pick which school I wanted my daughter to attend since we were looking at some long-term learning delays. Naturally, I had to meet the teachers at both schools. This teacher would end up being a big part of Gracie’s education, of her development, I had to make sure the fit was perfect all the way around. As soon as I met “Mrs. Blake” I knew without a doubt that Gracie belonged in this school. I never even met the teacher at the other school. There was no need. Mrs. Blake and I had a bond from the moment we met. I owe her so so much.

Gracie started first grade. Sofia had one year before she would even start kindergarten. As Gracie quickly adapted to her new routine in her new classroom, with her new teacher, I would constantly annoy Mrs. Blake by asking her “What kindergarten teacher do you think would best fit Sofia?” “You know how I am, I am going to stress about this.” “Please, put in a good word for us!” I mean what can I say? I like to be prepared!

When Mrs. Blake had just about enough of me, she worked her magic. “Jennifer, come on in early tomorrow. I set up a meeting with all three kindergarten teachers. You can meet them, they will show you around their classrooms, and you can decide….even though we still have a year before Sofia starts.”

And that is exactly what I did. Gracie, Sofia, and I went in early the following morning. Mrs. Blake met us at the front doors and introduced us to the kindergarten teachers. Look, all three of them looked like they rather be any place else. I mean we were one year out and crazy me was trying to lock down Sofia’s kindergarten teacher.

It did not take long before I found Sofia’s “Mrs. Blake.” I knew the teacher I wanted for Sofia, and she lived up to my very high expectations.

Once Sofia started kindergarten, I was still a mess. I could not work outside of the home because Gracie had too many medical issues going on, yet I needed to do something. I needed to do something meaningful. This is when I joined the PTA. I felt I was both productive while being able to keep an eye on my girls from a safe distance. I would go to the school every Friday and help make cookies or popcorn. On occasion, I would do some cutting or make copies on the other days. It was a good system.

This worked well for me for two years.

Once Sofia was ready to enter 3rd grade, I found my crazy OCD come out. I did not know the 3rd-grade teachers. I was used to the primary hall. Third grade was all the way at the end of the intermediate hall. A hall that I like to refer to as “The Scary Hall.” I was now on a mission to find and secure Sofia’s incoming third-grade teacher, even though, that is not how it is supposed to work.

I picked up the position of PTA treasure, while still coming in every Friday to make cookies and popcorn. I made sure it was me who delivered the popcorn/cookies to each third-grade classroom. I was on a mission. I needed to see the teachers in their element. I wanted to see how they ran their classroom, even if it was just me delivering a box of cookies to their class. I needed that one teacher who would be the perfect fit for Sofia.

Mr. Connor. As soon as I walked into his 3rd-grade classroom, I knew. I just knew, without saying two words to him, I knew he was the one. His interaction with his students, the way he had his classroom set up, and my gut instinct, I knew without a doubt he was the one. Even knowing this, I said nothing other than “Mr. Connor, here are your cookies.”

I left his classroom and made an appointment with our principal, I spoke to Sofia’s speech therapist. I made it abundantly clear that THIS is the teacher Sofia will have.

……

Sofia started 3rd grade in Mr. Connor’s class, as I was in my second year as PTA treasurer. Over time, I got to know Mr. Connor, never doubting that Sofia was exactly where she needed to be. Gracie had moved on from Mrs. Blake. I found an odd yet peaceful sort of comfort with her new teacher, Mr. Vince, who happened to be on the spectrum himself. All was good.

Every morning, I would stand with Sofia and her class, outside. Whether it was a crisp Fall morning, chilly cold Winter or the hot humid days of Spring, I would stand outside with Sofia and her class waiting for Mr. Connor to open his door for the start of the school day. One time, I almost got hit with said door. Mr. Connor always made some grand gesture when he would open the door. He made the comment to Sofia “That would have been really bad if I hit your Mom with the door.” I will say my purse got hit by the door, that’s how close I was to being hit!

I always asked Mr. Connor if Gracie could take a shortcut through his classroom to her own. Usually, he would roll his eyes, because that was not allowed, but he would always allow Gracie to cut through his classroom to her own. You have to remember, this was also during a time when Gracie was not very vocal. We were all trying to get her out of her box. Every day, when Mr. Connor would begrudgingly allow Gracie to cut through his classroom, he would put out his hand “Good morning Gracie.” She would never shake it. Sometimes she would ignore him. Sometimes she would roll her eyes at him. Mr. Connor knew, he would say to me “Give it time, I can make her come around.”

By the end of the year, Gracie was going to Mr. Connor’s class at the end of the day to try to “engage” in conversation. This was set up by Gracie’s 5th-grade teacher. We collectively chose Mr. Connor to be “THE” teacher, because, in Gracie’s own way, she already formed her own unique bond with him.

This is when I realized Mr. Connor, well, he is in a league all of his own.

……

At the beginning of Sofia’s fourth-grade year, I was now a “Room Mom” in Mr. Connor’s class, while taking on the role of PTA President. A shift was taking place. I was developing a bond with Mr. Connor’s students. They were both funny and brutal. On occasion, Mr. Connor would give me the liberty to do an art project with his class, or read a story.  There was a spark. A spark that I did not even know I needed until it was lit by Mr. Connor and his 3rd-grade class.

Actually, I have a funny story, one that Mr. Connor does not even know about unless he reads this blog…..which he better. One day, Mr. Connor had other obligations, so he had a sub. I knew this is in advanced, so I happened to schedule a chemical peel (for my face) on this day. Early in the morning, I went in to have my peel. I was assured that “no one would even notice.” They lied. I had my chemical peel, my face look liked I had been through a fire, but I also had obligations at the school. There was no hiding it. I had my dermatologist put makeup on me, but there was no hope. I was done.

I went to the school to finish up my own obligations, went into Mr. Connor’s class. As soon as the kids saw me, I heard “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?” I tried to bribe them to pipe down, no such luck. I remember I had to talk to the sub, who now is a permanent teacher at the school. I remember she looked at me with pity. The only thing I could think of was “Thank God Mr. Connor is not here to give me shit!”

I would consistently  have a group of 3rd graders come up to me every day, giving me hugs, asking “Are you going to be in our class today?” I felt needed. And, ironically enough, Sofia’s 4th-grade class was right next door. It was the perfect setup. Mr. Connor and his team of 3rd-grade teachers, it just all worked effortlessly. Many times Mr. Connor, his fellow 3rd-grade-teachers and I would all hang out in his classroom during lunch and just “be.” All three 3rd-grade teachers could not be more opposite, but there was a strong bond between them all, a bond that I feel privileged to have witnessed first hand.

As the school year comes to a close, two of the 3rd-grade teachers move on to other schools. It sucked. It sucked because I do not like change. The fact that I am merely a volunteer and this has no effect on me what-so-ever does not escape me.

……

I remember one day, Mr. Connor and I went to good ol social media to “check out” the new incoming 3rd-grade teachers. Immediately, my guard went up. “Nope. I do not like them! I want Ellen and Donna back!” Mr. Connor would look at me, roll his eyes, and accuse me of being too judgmental (I was) We would then continue to scroll through the pictures of the incoming 3rd-grade teachers.

We are now in another school year. Sofia is a 5th grader. Gracie has found her groove in middle school. I am in my second year of PTA President and “Room Mom” to Mr. Connor’s new third-grade class. I was there on “Back to School Night” I was there on the first day of school. It was odd for me, seeing a brand new group of 3rd graders when I was so used to the class before. Two of the girls in the prior class actually wrote me letters over the summer. We just all connected. Connected in our own way.

I remember, maybe it was the second week of school. I am still learning the names of Mr. Connor’s new class. I was sitting at my work table, while Mr. Connor was doing what he does best, teaching. As soon as his new class was working on an assignment, I asked him “Is it normal for me to feel weird about the new class?”

It was.

“It always takes an adjustment period.”

I know I am going to get the date wrong, I always do. Mr. Connor has been teaching for sixteen years. He knows the road like the back of his hand.

The 2017-2018 school year went on. As I was finding less fulfillment with the PTA, I was finding more fulfillment being in his class, working with the kids. I came to adore the new third-grade teachers. One, an up and coming comedian, one a Mormon. Oh, the laughs we would have on lunch.

As the days started to slowly dwindle down, Mr. Connor approached me about becoming a Para. Actually, he encouraged me to go to school to become a teacher, unfortunately, that was just not going to work now. Between Gracie and her medical issues and Joe and his work schedule, it was not the time. However, being a Para, well that seemed more realistic. That I could do. Assuming I could pass the test.

I studied hard. I ordered teaching books, I took the practice test online, I did it all. When Mr. Connor was teaching his class fractions, I sat right along with his fellow students taking notes. Many times I like to take the easy road, but not when it came to this. I wanted to become a Para, and I knew, it would not come easily, so I studied. I studied hard. Sitting in the school foyer, waiting for Sofia to get out, I would have my book and highlighter, taking notes, studying. Whatever little free time I had, I was studying.

The day of my test, Mr. Connor texted me. “Let me know the second you have your results.” Well, the text came in literally the moment I got my scores. I had passed the test. “I passed! Not sure how, but I passed!”

By the time I got back to the school, every staff member I saw congratulated me on passing the test. Mr. Connor sent out an all staff email to let everyone know I passed. I believe it went a little something like this “New Para in Da House!”

There was now an end of the road in sight.

Mr. Connor made the very tough decision to not return to the school. He would be moving on to another district.

On one of the last days when we all had lunch together in Mr. Connor’s classroom, Mr. Connor, The Comedian, The Mormon, and myself, I knew, I knew this was the last time the four of us would all be in his room, having lunch. As was par for the course, Mr. Connor and I were arguing about something. The Mormon and The Comedian look at each other “I am going to miss you guys arguing over lunch.”

I am going to miss it too.

Just to be clear. Mr. Connor has changed my life. Obviously, I used an alias, because I do not want to embarrass him, but let me tell you, keeping it real. Mr. Connor saw something in me that I had not yet seen in myself. Mr. Connor pushed me. He made me work outside of my comfort zone. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Mr. Connor saw my potential, and in his own perfectly “teacher” ways, he brought that mirror to my face and forced me to see myself in the same light that not only him, but his students as well saw me.

……

A fellow friend and I helped Mr. Connor clean out his classroom last week. As my friend and I were loading my car with stuff Mr. Connor graciously gave us from his years of teaching. The plan was, I was going to drop my friend off, and we would meet back at the school to say our good-byes. Well, through the art of miscommunication, that never happened. I never got a chance to say my official “good-bye.”

The thing is, Mr. Connor is one of those people you never say goodbye to. Like it or not, he is not getting rid of me that easily. As my own kids continue on their own journey, he will be the first person I text when Sofia is doing a graduation speech or Gracie graduates Highschool. When Sofia joins the track team or Gracie made another milestone, I will text him. When Vinnie graduates college, yep, you guessed it, Mr. Connor will know all about it because he was there all along the way.

So, although this is my farewell blog to the school that I have been involved in for the last seven years, this is not a farewell to Mr. Connor, this is a “See ya later!”

My final thoughts….To the school, I have grown so much since I first walked through those double doors as a young, scared, insecure mother who just wanted to make sure Gracie would be okay. The journey I have experienced is kinda life changing, and although I know I am just another face in the sea of 500 plus students and staff, you guys have change my life.

To Mr. Connor, the best is yet to come.

“She took her belongings and left, without any goodbyes, without any regrets, she left, finding comfort in knowing, it is time.”

Jennifer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time

One of my goals this summer is to get into some sort of good exercise routine. For me and my body, we are looking at squats, pushups and free weights. Yesterday, I started strong with 10 squats. I refer to them as “ballerina squats.” This goes back many many years when for a hot minute I took ballet class. So, really the squats are more like a plie. I used my bathroom counter as a makeshift ballet barre because let’s face it, I have no balance. With perfect form, I knocked out ten. I could feel the burn, felt I accomplished something, and on I went with my day.

This morning, I could not walk. I mean I could walk, much like an elderly woman would walk hunchbacked over her walker. This was me, all day. I mean just touching my upper thigh I could feel the muscle burn. So, I am assuming I did the “ballerina squats” perfectly unless you are Vinnie, his theory is “You jacked something up.”

Because I could barely walk, the girls and I had somewhat of a low key day. I had to take Vinnie to work, and let me tell you going down my apartment complex stairs was pure hell.

Aj and his girlfriend are going through a hard time right now. I wish I could tell you more about it, but AJ has spies who read my blog, and if it gets back to him that I talked about their problems, then, I am in trouble. Now, because of the hard time they are going through, he asked if I would be able to drop off some dog food for their dog. Well, Duh! I am not, will not let an animal suffer because of someone else’s mistakes. Off to the grocery store I went, walking in slow motion, like a hunchbacked elderly woman on her walker. You can imagine the looks I was getting. Anywhere from annoyance to pity. Whatever, come talk to me in September when my thighs are looking pretty good!

Slowly, I loaded up my car and decided to meet AJ at work to drop off the dog food. AJ is a groundskeeper/maintenance at a local apartment complex. I pull up, see him coming out, he is in his paint-stained work attire, looking pretty good. He is a hard worker. No one has ever disputed that.

AJ and I are outside talking. We are talking about the hard times him and his girlfriend are going through, hard times that he had nothing to do with it, but hard times that he will work to fix because at his core, he is a good guy.

He gets a phone call from the office. Apparently, he needs to go unlock one of the laundry rooms. As soon as he tells me that, a young gentleman exits the office. AJ looks at me, “Oh, I bet that’s him. Hold on Mom.”

“Excuse me, Sir, are you the one who needed a key to the laundry room?”

“Yes, it’s me.”

AJ takes out his work keys, pulls one off and hands it to the young gentleman.

“Here ya go.”

The young gentleman looks at him confused. “Thank you, I will bring it back in five minutes.”

“No, do not worry about it, keep that one, all residents are supposed to have one.”

The young gentleman thanked AJ and off he went with his new laundry room key.

It was at that exact moment that I realized I am either a young old person or an old young person. The fact that I could barely walk did not help.

Here I am watching my twenty-four year old son at work. He is in his element. He is a fixer, and even though he will have to work his ass off to fix this recent hardship, he will do it. Meanwhile, I have Vinnie who is in the very beginning of his college career, followed by my girls who are in their prime tween/teen years. You see what I mean, I am either a pretty cool, hip, young old person, or, a pretty cool, hip, old young person.

I suppose depending on the day, it could go either way.

However, I do enjoy this time. Each one of my kids are on different journeys. I am lucky enough to have a front seat to it all.

As for me, well, I am still trying to find my groove. I am waiting to hear back from jobs, wondering where it is I will be working in a few short months. It’s both stressful and, well, stressful. Today marks one week since school let out and summer vacation began. I have been working on a blog for about three weeks now. An important blog for me, probably not so much for others.

So much of my identity was caught up in this school, the people, my own children, the PTA, being a Room Mom, and now, it’s nothing. So, I try to sit and write my story. A story that spans the last seven years. I just cannot finish it, because once I know it is finished and I hit the “publish” button ,well, that is my final good-bye, and I am not good with good-byes, so I wait.

I wait because I am either an old young person or a young old person.