Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going Back

It's funny how lives twist and turn and get tangled up into each other.

When I was four, my daddy built a church in Jackson
and I remember going to Sunday School there,
sitting in the tiny chairs,
putting together Jesus puzzles in the basement cinder block room
just for preschoolers.

I remember having a tantrum in the narthex,
the staggered stained glass windows built into wood paneling,
wrinkled, smiling faces,
the half-doors of the nursery.

Later we moved to Dearborn, and that's where I grew up.

I met Cyndi in the ninth grade.
My earliest memory is of
making homemade flip-books with her,
on the sly, behind our notebooks
in the back row of English-French.

Stick figures danced their way through conditional tenses
and Parisien architecture,
sometimes bordering on the burlesque,
but mostly dwelling on the silly,
entertaining two naughty girls
and passing the time.

Passing the time.

Many, many years later
I attend her funeral, back at that old Jackson church.

It's funny how things circle around.

Because my brother eventually married her sister,
and Cyndi graduated from college,
found out she had Huntington's Disease,
had a baby,
ran away sometimes,
came back home,
remembered church and friends,
lived in a series of adult foster care homes until
she ended up in Jackson.

And the last nine years of her life she attended
the church that my daddy built,
and that's where they said the final prayers over her today.

So after most had left I walked down into the old basement of that church again,
the old section,
the part that holds up all the new remodeled parts.
And I stood in my old preschool classroom and I looked at those tiny chairs,
and I smelled that good old smell of glue and waxy crayons and faint mildew.

And I had the thought that maybe everything
always, eventually comes back around.

Stick figures dancing,
we pass the time from childhood on.

Our paths criss-crossing,
in pain and in joy,
touching each other sometimes
only so very lightly.

But touching each other just the same.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Thee Wed

I do not like this pairing up of children who are age 11 into girlfriends and boyfriends.
The drama, the ridiculousness, the peer pressure.
But Twin Boy has loved Erin since the 1st grade when they used to kiss each other behind the cubbies.
Both sets of parents were alarmed until we realized that "kissing" meant smacking their hands and then planting it on the other's cheek. We said that was enough of that, but apparently the love of two 6 year olds has survived five years worth of our parental prudishness.

On the way to school this morning,
Twin Boy, Twin Girl and I had the following conversation:

Me: TwinGirl, why are you taking the cell phone to school?

TwinGirl: To take pictures

TwinBoy (interrupting): Oh yeah! Mom! I forgot to tell you that we're having a wedding today!

Me: A wedding?

TwinBoy: I'm marrying Erin! At second recess.

TwinGirl: But don't worry mom it's just for pretend.

Me: Oh, phew, yeah because I was worried...

TwinBoy: And instead of "You may kiss the bride", Isaac's gonna say, "You may hug the bride."

Me: Phew again!


Me: Um, is this something you have to dress up for? (eyeing his shirt...)

TwinGirl: I have a tie.

TwinBoy: You do?

TwinGirl: In my backpack.

TwinBoy: Oh. Thanks.

TwinGirl: Mom and after school today there's a safety patrol party but it's going to be SO BORING because all they do is turn off the lights in the gym and put out balls and stuff. And then they play football and I just CAN'T STAND football.

TwinBoy: I was thinking maybe I'd join football this year.

TwinGirl: No.

TwinBoy: Yeah I'm probably not going to join football this year.

After school I got the update:

TwinGirl: Mom! (breathless, on the cell phone) This was the weirdest day of school!

Me: Tell me.

TwinGirl: Well first, Mrs. Slater (principal) found out about the wedding. And she took them into the multipurpose room and she told them that they could have it as long as there was NO kissing, NO hugging, NO even high-fives!

Me: Alright Mrs. Slater!

TwinGirl: She said all they could do was a fist bump. But then Erin was crying, and Leo Fuller was going to be best man but now he couldn't, and James was sad.

Me: So, the wedding's off?

TwinGirl: I guess. But that's not the weird part! We were in Mrs. Perry's class and Mrs. Slater came to the door and she said she needed to speak to both of us and I was so freaked out! I thought I did something wrong. But she said that she had an honor for us, because she has known us since Kindergarten, and also because we are her favorite twins, and also because TwinBoy wore a tie today. She said she had chosen us to ring the bell a hundred times for Hundreds Day! And then everybody was crowded around us, and Leo was saying, "I wore a tie, I can't help it if I'm not a twin, why can't I ring the bell??" and we got to ring the bell a hundred times and it was so great, and I was so happy.

So of course then I was so happy too.

And I relayed the story to Middle Child who sighed a deep, excruciating sigh right from the depths of her fake Converse tennis shoes.

She attends middle school inside the high school that is right across the street from the elementary school. We only have around 600 students K-12 in our little country school.

Which I love.

So Middle Child sighed again and says,

"Yeah I was in band and Mr. Franks looked at the clock and he saw it was 1:50 and he said, 'Aw, I'm gonna miss the wedding!' I just put my hands over my face, Mom. Apparently in elementary band today all the boys came in to class with ties on and Mr. Franks asked what was going on and they told him about the wedding..So then he told everybody in my class about TwinBoy getting married at second recess and I just covered my face I was so embarassed."

I really love my life.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

$3.50 Well Spent

I have this phobia/resistance/avoidance thing going on with things like birthdays and other special holidays.

Christmas I can handle.

Let me rephrase that.

Christmas is about all I can handle.

I have so many people in my life that I deeply care for.

And so many opportunities to forget about special days,
and hurt all of their feelings.

There are SO MANY areas of my life where I just can't seem to get it all together,
and remembering special days is just too overwhelming for me.

So I try not to think about them.
But I secretly fear them.
They dog me.
They hover and remain, even though I ignore them.

This morning I was at the grocery store after early morning
rehearsal at the church,
standing with two other middle aged guys,
staring at the slim pickings in the Valentine aisle.

We never looked at each other,
but one guy, hands in pockets, sorta slumped over,
spoke up,

"I'm kind of last minute,"
he said, embarassed.

I kept looking straight ahead at the cards,
but I said,
"Yeah but we're here with ya, buddy."

It made us all feel better,
last-minute strangers,
sharing our shame in gentle camraderie.

Peace, man.