breast cancer, Health, Uncategorized

It’s Just Hair

IMG_6707I’m in the thick of it. No, not suddenly showered with the thick tresses I’ve wanted my whole life, but rather I’m in the thick of chemo. The twitching eyes, the mouth threatening to develop a sore if I don’t swish with mouthwash thrice daily, and then there’s the hair, which now resembles a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. With each step around my house, its needles fall, and it seems the tree’s trunk has weakened and bent over.

Just this morning I submitted my third patient support ticket to the Dignicap folks inquring what I can expect as I’ve been diligently wearing their cold cap during treatments. Certain they’re sick of me, sick of all the questions, like a child incessantly asking, “Are we there yet?” But I need answers and their experience to settle me down. Seems I’ve lost at least 50% of my hair at this point, with most of the shedding occurring last weekend. Even though their literature warns this will happen, with only half of my treatments behind me, if the shedding continues at this clip, I can’t imagine I’ll have a head of hair left by my final chemo blast February 28. It’s uniform at least and has thinned out symmetrically, though I find myself stepping lightly so as not to loosen any more strands. Shhh, don’t wake the hair! Crazy how obsessed I’ve become. My doctor thinks since I still have hair at this point that it will remain, and despite his words, I’m not completely sure.

Shhh, don’t wake the hair!

baby hairWhy does our hair have to be such a thing? I was born bald and by all accounts a plenty cute and happy baby. Yet as my hair grew in as full sheets of cornsilk and as I grew, like many girls, I don’t think I appreciated what I had. My hair was whisper thin, though to its credit a bright natural blond, and over the years I grew to love it, especially since I didn’t need to color it, but for the two times I did foils just for fun. All my life, my hair’s sleek softness, shine and spirit has wrapped my head and shoulders in health and bounce and in some ways, I suppose I took that for granted, assumed it would always be there, a pretty veil covering the nape of my neck.

I don’t think I appreciated what I had

These days, I pull my hands around my hair and realize the scant covering I now have, an oily few strands deep extending over my scalp which plays peek-a-boo when a little wind or head tilt reveal the sparsity. I know this is temporary and I know these drugs are doing what they’re supposed to do. They attack fast dividing cells, which are both the malignant ones and the ones affecting your hair, and digestion, too. It all makes such sense on an intellectual level, but I feel self-conscious even going to the grocery store at this point, though thankful that the weather is cold and I can wear a hat indoors. I bought a second bucket hat, camel corduroy, another option for ducking in and out of stores, hopefully unnoticed.

susieI feel a tad guilty about this vanity realizing I am lucky I’m even alive since my jarring discovery just three months ago. Still, I can’t wait until these drugs are done doing their thing and my hair and body can return to doing theirs, return to how they were, but that much stronger and better. Good hair days sure can carry you, help out a shabby wardrobe, dulling makeup, a bad mood. But good health, like a tall towering tree trunk, has the power to lift you like nothing else.

 

 

breast cancer, Uncategorized

Winter into Spring

I woke today and the room had that winter white cast that only December brings, the kind that feels new and especially pretty when a blue sky or red Christmas bow cut through it, when its shadows criss cross the bed over sleeping cats. It’s December 21, the shortest day of the year and the longest night, the most darkness and the least light. There is much about this day that suggests one should bundle up and go on a brisk winter walk, look around, take stock and breathe in the day with every sense. Or this day might call for a lazy nap, a pot of chili simmering on the stove, a pile of books by your side.

For me, this day was neither. It was just a day. I’m beginning to see how normal and ok regular ‘ol days are. I had a few plans but otherwise didn’t feel its magic. Didn’t step out into it in any real way to experience any shift, any movement out of darkness and into light away from this mood that has been lurking in the shadows for weeks.

I didn’t want to write another blog about my health or my worries, and instead hoped I’d find inspiration elsewhere. But this darkness culminating in this darkest of days has mirrored my days of late. I hope tomorrow’s light will cut through it shredding it into bits that erode into nothing. I didn’t mindfully breath deep today. I just breathed.

In the flurry of recent appointments, today I forgot and then I remembered. I forgot about the big picture as I stayed busy these last 7 weeks moving through milestones and biopsies, scars and scans. Today I remembered the treatments I’ll start December 27th and then the break I’ll get in April, then the other treatments after that and the medication beyond. I remembered the happy that took hold when I learned about things like negative nodes and margins and how I thought surgery marked the end and the beginning, the end of worry and the start of healing. I rejected the journey and instead made it a timeline. It was behind me and everything was ahead.

You don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know how you’ll fare tomorrow in Atlanta traffic or if a bus will run over you. You don’t know if you’ll have success with the last items on your Christmas list or if time will run out, the store will close and you’ll come up short, having to change your plans and instead of little gifts you’ll find yourself at an ATM out of ideas withdrawing cash. You don’t know if after these treatments, this invader and his growing list of friends who felt welcome to burrough inside you will return. As if you were robbed and you fortified your locks, installed an alarm, hid your jewelry and now you can either roll on, knowing you’ve done all you need to do or stand still and wonder, frozen by what ifs.

For the last two weekends I travelled, first to Chapel Hill and then to Ann Arbor, two great college towns hosting holiday parties for my husband’s company that I each gifted with a pink pen I’d picked up at my appointments. I couldn’t carry those pens, carry all that pink ink. Those pens needed to leave my possession, my state even, and reside elsewhere. I made my husband leave them at hotel reception or the restaurant where we had lunch. Someone else can pick up those pens and have that hot potato in their hands. Someone else probably won’t view those pens as I do. They will find use with those pens, use them as the tools they are.

Today I felt it, the heavy road I’m on, a dread I’m feeling in advance of the nausea, a dry run of the dry heaves, a dress rehearsal for treatment. It felt large, it felt useless, it felt endless. I’ve got to return to my timeline and instead check off days, treatments, milestones. I can’t look ahead because five years out and then ten can’t come soon enough. I want to be cured and have all this in my rear view mirror, but the road is still in front, long and winding, unknown and unseen. 

Tomorrow a friend will help me begin to learn how to meditate, a key tool in the toolbox I will need for now and for later, a tool we all need if we’re going to navigate choppy water and have it not feel so rough, or paddle in still glassy waters and be able to fully experience that velvety calm. And then I will see a friend and we’ll share a meal. And after that, who knows what. Like a child on a trip, I keep asking am I there yet, and the answer never comes. But the lack of an answer is an answer. I’m not there yet, none of us are. We are moving forward, together, and with ourselves. 

Today has now shifted into tomorrow which begins the start of longer days. I’m reminded to keep moving, and as I drive out these cells, I must walk out of my own cell, and be free. Breath deep. Begin where you are. You are enough. The sunshine is ahead even though you can’t see it. Spring is coming.  

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Drawing out your self

Before we were told to color between the lines, what did our art look like? I remember kindergarten and I got the tough teacher — was it Mrs. Timmons? When I told friends that morning at Trinity School which room I was in, they sighed shaking their heads relieved they hadn’t wound up in there. She assigned what felt like piles of homework that first week while the rest of my friends with easier teachers got to play outside until bedtime. The piles amounted to scribbling a picture of our family on a sheet of paper or determining a food we liked and getting our mom to help us write down its word, but still, it was homework.

Mornings we sat at rectangular tables with rounded corners coloring, with fresh crayons and beige ruled paper in the middle. Mrs. Timmons walked around the room, peering over our shoulders and inspecting our progress. As she circled the room, she reminded us to color between the lines, a simple methodic instruction that stuck, such that I never considered there could be another way.

She reminded us to color between the lines, a simple methodic instruction that stuck.

Self-expression made me nervous. I chose Halloween costumes from Elmore’s already boxed up and figured out, or I went as a ghost (simple sheet with cut outs), a witch (black cape, pointy hat, creepy mask) or cat (drawn on whiskers, headband with ears, black leotard and pinned on tail). I could qualify as a trick or treater eligible for as much candy as the next kid, but I didn’t have to build my character from scratch, hoping people “got” my costume. Because, horror of all horrors, what if they didn’t? I wanted to sail along house to house unnoticed, filling my pumpkin pail with Three Musketeers and Milky Ways. The goal was candy, the costume the ticket. All the attention on whether I measured up could ruin the fun and was an unnecessary distraction for the evening I’d anticipated all year. Looking back, I’m fairly certain I was the only one measuring me.

Growing up, one of my good friends lived in-town near Peachtree Street, and on weekends I’d spend the night there and we’d sleep in, hanging out upstairs in her sunny bedroom. Her brothers often brought in their hamsters and we’d play with them and let them run loose, and they’d eventually wander off where no one could find them. They’d always turn up, though, and I know this only because I would ask.

Later, we’d make cookies, and if they happened to be out of chocolate chips, it would be sugar. Flour and crumbs dusted the counters and floors of their large sunny kitchen and, unlike at my house, no one seemed to notice. There was nothing wrong. Colorful art hung on the walls and leggy plants spilled over sunlit window sills. Her mom would come in and inspect our rows of cookies cooling (instead of our mess), sample one and rave, making us beam, and then move to the sunroom to open mail and read or paint. Hours later after we’d ridden bikes in the rain and gotten an ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, we’d come in soaking wet and trailing water, the kitchen mess still there, and remarkably, still producing zero stress for anyone. I learned years later that her mother was an artist, and I can still picture her in that sunroom seated before her easel and stacks of mail.

I’m fairly certain I was the only one measuring me.

Sometimes I feel like a beautiful songbird who wants to sing, but I’ve taken the liberty of taping my beak shut, eliminating my voice so no one can judge it. As a child, in the privacy of our den, I blasted my favorite albums, singing into my tall tapered candle microphone Marilyn McCoo’s Wedding Bell Blues or Barbra Streisand’s Queen Bee — and every other song on the A Star is Born soundtrack. Years later, I found the nerve to try out for a singing role in my school’s Academy Awards production, and stood weak-kneed in Westminster’s chorale room before Mr. Spence, who patiently waited at his piano for my cue. I nodded and it started, the unremarkable audition from the shy, shaky singer, nothing resembling that sparkling performer I seem to have left at home. I wanted to explain and get a redo, but I left as soon as it was over. I didn’t get the singing part, but they gave me instead the part of presenter, decked out in fancy clothes announcing nominees into a microphone, not the substantive, courageous role I was after.

Years later I wanted to try out for an acapella group with some Atlanta Botanical Garden carolers I’d seen at Christmas time. They were amazing and for me, far outshone the holiday lights. I wanted to join them then and there, and it was all I could do to not sidle up beside them, blend in and start singing, but my family had moved on to see more lights, so I hustled to catch up. Still smitten, I found them online and signed up for an audition, only to cancel when my cold morphed into a sinus infection, killing my high notes and my courage to try again.

After college, having worked a few years in admin and marketing, I was itching for more, for something creative. I applied to The Portfolio Center, an advertising school which, true to its name, required a portfolio to get in so you could then develop a real one. I savored the hours I spent creating mock ads, and much to my surprise and delight, I got in. A few months later, juggling full-time school, a full-time job and the full-time work of caring for my aging parents, I was overwhelmed and needed to drop something. I chose school before giving myself enough time to hone what I’d later realize was a budding talent. If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: Don’t cut out the fun stuff, the things that get you thinking, the stuff that brings you to life. You’ve got a lifetime to handle responsibilities, but it’s your job to infuse your life with life.

If money or time or circumstances were no object, what would you do? I asked my niece this question and her answer surprised me. It turns out she loves making furniture, and her boyfriend has given her tools to support this hobby, and also she’s found a course to learn more. I could hear her excitement as she came alive describing what she loves, but less so when I asked about her day job. This question can reveal telling things if you ask yourself, especially if you move in that direction at whatever pace you can muster.

Don’t cut out the fun stuff, the things that get you thinking, the stuff that brings you to life.

What if I’d kept writing ads or singing or taking more risks? What if I started now? Why have I allowed hesitation and trepidation to be my guides instead of fascination and exhilaration? I’ve taken personality and career tests to uncover what I might be naturally good at or with which careers my interests align, and the results haven’t propelled me in any one direction. A test isn’t going to fire me up, but letting my curiosity wander and refusing to let anyone, myself included, stamp it out or push me back in between those damn lines, very well might. That time my friend’s mom spent in her sunroom, quietly reading or sitting or creating art, is sacred. It’s not finding the time, it’s making the time to slow down so you can notice new paths to explore.

Why have I allowed hesitation and trepidation to be my guides instead of fascination and exhilaration?

I haven’t spent nearly enough time looking and listening and far too much of it coloring inside the lines, creating very little. I do still have a couple of clay pots I made in high school, and one of them cracked in the kiln from that day I forgot to wrap it. Other than it’s ruddy glaze, I think that mistake is what I love best. I also made a beautifully shaped coil pot, and glazed it a cream color, painting its rim a pretty blue. Later I added Sharpie chevrons around its edge, a junior high school choice I wouldn’t repeat today, but I love that 8th grade girl trying something, marker chevrons and all.

It’s not finding, it’s making the time to slow down and notice new paths to explore.

It’s not the mess, it’s the exploration. It’s not the mistake of coloring outside the lines, but trying to play with colors in the first place, and seeing what happens. Because something always happens. We can either encourage it or we can suppress it, but if we accept the rules as the Rule, we can’t expect to discover something new about ourselves, our world and even more important, what we might be capable of. If the mess distracts or derails us, we are completely missing the point. Lift the brakes, sing, dance, paint, let it out. Because that song? It’s gonna be sweet.

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connection, hope, loss, Uncategorized

9/11

IMG_4356The day is done. I woke up early this morning and went outside and saw the start of a murky sunrise, a smeared light-polluted attempt at dawn. Bats circled overhead and a nearby train whistle sounded, as a few jets criss-crossed the sky. It’s September 11th  again, a day studded with sorrow and remembrances, what ifs, and what nows, a day so many shared but now wished hadn’t come at all.

Eighteen years ago and four months pregnant with my second son, I had a busy career and on this particular morning, a meeting with an important TBS creative director. The Techwood Drive office lobby was bustling as I stood waiting, staring up at multiple TV monitors. One news clip showed tall towers in Chicago – Hancock and Sears – with a breaking news ticker scrolling along the bottom. Nervous enough about this meeting I’d worked months to get, what on earth was happening in my sister’s city? With no time to learn the relevance of the story on various steel towers’ breaking points under the duress of heat, I was called in and began my spiel presenting our portfolio of logos and brochures, annual reports and point of sale. The TV was on in his office, like everywhere in the building, and I noticed him pulled into the screen as I was, both of us realizing something enormous was unfolding. There was a knock on his door and a female colleague said people were asking if they should go home. He motioned yes but said he’d be getting with her in just a minute. Horrified and now with the sound turned up, we looked at each other unable to speak, and I started to pack up when he directed me to continue. I tried for a moment, but it felt terribly wrong, clamoring for business here, now a ridiculous idea with the relentless evil that was surrounding us, taking over.

A day studded with sorrow and remembrances, what ifs, and what nows.

Petrified driving home, radio on with accounts of planes crashing and towers falling, I was concerned more still was ahead. Atlanta of course would be next on this random hit list, and I worried my route home on Dekalb Avenue was a mine field. What kind of monster was this new world that my innocent baby would soon join? No streets felt safe, but somehow, I got myself home to my toddler and husband, quickly getting inside, shutting the door behind me. The next day as if on autopilot, I drove to Sak’s to find a bathrobe, and left with something beautiful, a soft charcoal grey with a scalloped shawl collar. How bizarre and inappropriate to be shopping the day after, but I must have needed this soft wrap to envelop my baby and me, a cocoon to be safe inside. It would be years before I could part with this safety blanket, and only then when it began to noticeably fray did I finally.

Everyone remembers where they were that day as clearly if it were last week, yet I know my story isn’t unique. Our own memories combine with the reel of news broadcasts and over the years they weave a changing mix of sadness and strength and hope we carry forward. If our thoughts of this day fill us with fear and sadness, can you imagine what it’s like for the families of the thousands lost? It must be an unfathomable deeply private and personal layer to wrestle with, on a day that is forever public, the mourning of that morning we together share.

IMG_4392
Son #1, in New York

My older son, at the time not even two, now lives in New York. I imagine the makeshift memorials, the candles, the music and memories, and wonder if he notices, his head full of school work and subway schedules and college sophomore stuff. The younger son I carried that day is himself headed to college in a year, and for them both, 9/11 is something they didn’t feel but rather grew up knowing about, from us, their parents, and even learned a little in school in APUSH class, studying the United States’ response to 9/11.

IMG_4393
Son #2, senior proof

 

 

When we visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum years ago, I worried about how this sensitive topic would be treated and hoped there wouldn’t be any hint of commercial flavor to this ticketed experience. When we arrived, we immediately felt the striking architecture, bold yet sensitive, and found the way finding minimal and helpful. If you could somehow gather every burnt, broken and twisted artifact left behind to tell the story of this unprecedented tragedy, this museum had done just that. Every detail, display, recorded voice, everything down to the varied lighting installed on different floors created a serene silent scene, and carefully, respectfully led you through that long dark day. Our tour docent spoke in a measured voice and presented a vivid account of this monstrous attack on US soil. Afterward, I thanked her for providing such detail that made it almost seem as if she herself had been there. She paused a moment, and then softly replied, “I was.” Tears rushed into my eyes and knowingly, she put her arm around me, comforting me, the New York tourist and she, the one who’d made it out of hell. I leaned into her for a moment, full on crying now, and then left to go outside in the sun.

IMG_4391
Edgar Woody, pictured with a bourbon (and his dry humor)

My own September 11 started ten years earlier in 1991, the day my father died, so this day holds something additional. This year, I’m realizing, marks the halfway point. I was 28 then and now at 56, I’ve lived as many years without him as I have with. It doesn’t intensify the loss or anything, but interesting for me to realize nonetheless.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: you’re here today, so keep going, keep building, keep learning and loving. Stay in touch with people and make plans. There’s lots still to do.

I leave you with a timeless poem published in 1844 and sounds from the memorial bell tower erected a year ago in Shanksville, PA.

Peace and love.

 

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The Day Is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavour;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start:
Who, through long days of labour,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

 -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8zVVmetepE

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Uncategorized

Six, Two, One, SUMMER!

I’ve always loved June 21, the day you can officially call summer, and my grandmother “Gammy’s” birthday, too. Most years after school let out, we’d pile in our yellow Ford country squire wagon and head down to Vero Beach, Fla., where Gammy and Gampete (Marie and Scranton “Scrip” to their friends) lived. We usually stayed over her birthday, so it was particularly fun. Gammy was summer’s carefree spirit, reliable optimism and nourishing energy rolled into one. My mom’s parents left New England years ago for Florida, stumbling on Vero, a lovely beach town at the start of the tropics, where they’d happily stay.

gammy
Before Vero, our beach was Madison, CT. Gammy’s holding my cousin Anne and me, flanked by my mom and her twin, Uncle Pete.

Gammy was a delight. She put you in a summer mood even when it rained, which being Florida, was most afternoons. We’d play jacks on the floor and nibble brownies, two kinds, with nuts for the grownups and smooth for us. They were always cold, perfectly cut, and neatly stacked in floral tins between sheets of wax paper. Beach days we’d walk to Gammy’s swimming hole, where she would extend her hand so I could brave the patch of seaweed underfoot, and she’d steady us as our slight bodies broke the waves crashing to shore. To reach this place you had to step way down and then back up to a sandbar, which we could find surfacing at low tide. The swimming hole felt like ours alone, as the endless summer did.

Gampete, in contrast, was prone to being grumpy. He’d played a round of golf that day maybe, and I’ll bet his back hurt, or his score was lousy. Or both. In from the beach, he was the gatekeeper. You had to stop at the door, clutching the molding for support, so he could inspect the bottoms of your feet. Tar that washed up on the beach would usually end up there, and Gampete was ready with a mineral spirits soaked paper towel. The house’s beautiful white carpet once again was spared.

Today was the longest day of the year, and I noticed little bits of summer seeping in all day and yesterday too, more than I can remember even from multiple summers combined. I made some of them happen, but others just showed up, feeding off the summery vibe. How I got this concentration of summer for two days straight, and spilling into a third, I’ll never know. You don’t question a happy convergence of events like this. Yesterday in particular was summer at its finest. If you asked me what I did, I could have truthfully responded: Planted flowers with children. Ate cupcakes outside. Watered plants. Laughed.

mojito
May I present Summer in a glass: light rum, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, club soda, muddled mint and a big sprig stirrer. Shaken and strained over ice. Cheers!

Later I walked my dog and ended up in a newsy catch up with a good friend along the way. Back home, I cut mint from a pot on my deck and made mojitos, which I’d been craving for weeks. (Note: If you’re going to muddle mint, go easy or it’ll tear, and you’ll end up with wonky green bits in your teeth. And if you’re going to try and grow mint, don’t skimp on the water, as I’ve usually done. This year is my first producing a tall deep green bushy plant, and I have water to thank. That and sun of course, too.) Instead of back inside for A/C and TV, I took my glass outside to the hammock where I sat and sipped, feet grounded to the earth, and I looked up to bats circling the sky. At the edge of the yard, I noticed a few rabbits had stepped onto this idyllic summer set, nibbling clover as they tracked my position.

pesto
Ina Garten’s pesto. Superb, like everything she makes.

As the sky went dark, I went inside, and on the way cut basil from the other planter (see previous note on water which also applies to basil, or anything you want to grow strong, yourself included). In minutes I made a big batch of pesto for supper and to share, this time adding walnuts, which cut the bite of the basil and garlic with its buttery texture. I drained hot spaghetti and coated it with the pesto, and washed it down with diluted mojito remnants, tasting summer.

With the longest day on my hands the next day, I ended up driving to South Carolina to pick up my son and his friends from their week-long university science program. Three hours of open road and sparkling lakes out the window shifted my mind into neutral. Puffy child-drawn clouds floating ahead reminded me of summers past and gave the atmosphere an innocence it desperately needed, far away from disputes over air space, missiles, global warming, and Washington.

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I recommend traveling to another state on the longest day of the year — you experience the day differently, and instead of feeling like a spectator, your own path stretches out and moves in time with the day’s.

Out of habit, I turned on the radio only to hear POTUS defending another one of his idiotic moves or comments, and in an instant, it was radio off, back to music and summer scenery. You can just choose to turn it off, I’ve discovered.

Tonight, our town held its annual summer solstice beach party, drawing kids carrying pails and shovels, pulling red wagons and pushing dump trucks and diggers to the square where blocked streets are piled with (literally) tons of beach sand. Every year, parents and their children flock to Decatur’s Beach Party, where couples sway under palm trees to beach music holding frozen margaritas, or play on the ground sifting sand through their fingers while their kids do the same, and move and mold sand. The best summer block party you can imagine delivers happy exhausted kids at bedtime, and offers free sandbox sand for the taking the next day.

beach party
Beach Party 2019, Decatur, Ga.

I keep wondering how I can dial up summer’s brightness to shine louder than the day’s usual sobering news, and I’ve found it’s quite simple. Turn off your tv, your radio, your negative distraction and go to your kitchen or outside and find or make a new summer memory. I know you’ve got one. Is it spitting watermelon seeds, or stubbing your toes in a neighborhood pool where some nice mom patched you up with a Band-Aid, squirting Bactine on the wound? Or catching lightning bugs in pickle jars with perforated lids, holes your parents made with their split wood handled ice pick? Or maybe walking on your gravel driveway re-callousing your feet all over again, or on a prickly lawn in bare feet to get to your neighbor’s trampoline. Do you remember the smell of earth under your fingernails as you dug for worms in your yard? Maybe you didn’t catch any fish that trip, but still, you came prepared. Did you used to loll under ceiling fans slowly turning on hot sticky Georgia nights?

It’s now the 22nd and I’m still up, not yet ready to let go of this day. I know the ones ahead are already shortening, and I still haven’t been to a pool. I did stop at a lemonade stand the other day, however, and the boy who sold me a $1 glass reported $60 for his day’s earnings! A lot has changed yet so much hasn’t. The lemonade was better than I remember, but the beads of sweat forming on his face from a day at it, were exactly what I remember from my own years ago. There’s really no excuse to not stop and drink the lemonade.

Sitting here in the AC, hints of winter are blowing across my barely tanned legs, and this house’s thick plaster walls have drowned out the bugs’ song outside. Like that tube of toothpaste you refuse to discard before reaching for another, the one you flatten and roll, and repeat flattening and rolling until you get it all out, after these last few summery days, I don’t want to waste one bit of what’s left. Summer’s a lovely cheap date, maybe one of your best.

zinnia
Reliable zinnias return from last year’s seeds. They’re the best cut flowers or just leave them alone and watch how tall they get.