Boozey Brunches

Once upon a time there was a lazy Sunday in May, seventy-eight degrees, a carrot-infused  bloody mary, a roasted beet and honey salad, lavender scones, and three perfect hours with my childhood best friend.

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Then there was a closet shelf of just the perfect size to become a shrine to Chanel … the perfect pumps with the baby soft lambskin soles in nearly perfect condition.

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And there were bacon jam samples at the deli where I stopped to pick up frommage D’affinois.

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My family was healthy.

My heart was full.

And for that day, life was better than I even dare to hope for.

A Code No One Understands

Sitting in a noisy corner of a quiet bar there’s a story tickling the corners of my mind,
a song of Pirates, Cowboys, and runaway mothers on spring break
– abandoned in a forbidden and foreign place.

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There are lying lies, and the damn liars who tell them
covetous addicts, and drunks,
Telling stories without telling the story of the story teller.
And there are writers, who hide a lie behind the truth,
writing in a code no one understands,
yet hoping that one person will.

There sits a bottle, half finished,
whether full or empty depends on the audience,
and one’s perception of sitting alone to enjoy half a bottle of Seminyak Semillon.

There were fears not realized, and there are promises not kept,
and apologies that didn’t convey remorse
… I’m sorry if you thought that, but not sorry that was what I did. 

There was a happily ever after, that followed a prologue.
There was an almost, a never was, and a maybe-one-day
all preceded by an unsatisfying epilogue.
But, only the most trite of stories has an ending that offers closure.

Instead there’s the code: of silence, of expectations,
of conduct for adult behavior in adult situations,
that meets at the intersection of  once-upon-a-time and happily-ever-after
in a delightfully roundabout sort of way.

Why I Don’t Lie About My Age

Today I turned 36, and I don’t mind saying that one bit.  To my closest friends I’ve joked that my thirtieth birthday improves with every year I celebrate it, but the truth is, I don’t feel compelled to hide my age. If pressed, I’d say I look pretty damn good for 36, and there’s nobody in my life rude enough to tell me otherwise. Lately, I’ve felt so confident in how I look at 36 that half the time I find myself lying up (’cause if I look good for 36 I look AMAZING for 40).

The biggest reason I don’t worry about my age is that I have earned every single day.

I have been alive to witness 13,140 sunsets. I have seen the sun set on four different continents, during prayer call, after siesta, from the front seat of an ambulance whisking my baby to the trauma center, from the 6th Arrondissement while walking toward the Jardin des Tuileries, and in the most basic of moments while having my heart-broken, and while breaking a heart.

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Coco Chanel is quoted as saying, that as a woman ages, “youth must be replaced by mystery, prettiness by beauty” and to me, nothing is more beautiful, or more mysterious, than an accomplished woman who has been able to survive the constant request from the world that she dumb herself down for the love of some man. But, I’ve managed thus far to resist that pull, and now I can’t imagine a single man who’d dare ask that of me.

In younger, more naive, times I dated men who needed to be made to feel “like a man” by being with a woman less accomplished than he … stupid, silly men who thought they could explain wine, or geopolitics, or Nietzsche.  Now I nod gently, and smile to myself that some man would have such a limited imagination as to think that I’d need his instruction. Thirty six years, and as many, if not more, boys, boyfriends, lovers, and a husband have taught me the art of nodding gently and smiling. But, of all those silly men, the only one invited to stay was the one who reacts with surprise when I request his explanation, so confident is he in my accomplishments and intellect, and to me that shows he sees my true and ageless beauty.

I have watched the sky beneath a five hundred foot sandstone wall, stood on a stage to receive a national award, experienced laughter that made me snot Chinese food, meditated through a silent natural childbirth, clung to the bathroom floor while absorbing the agony of the death of a loved one, known heartbreak so raw I lost thirty pounds in a month, then loved so deep it took my breath, and I’ve seen rehabilitation from it all.

If my face and body carry marks of age then each line, and scar, and memory was earned. Why would I limit my story to claim fewer moments than I have been given? Which of my years would I ignore?

I’ve plucked gray hairs, sighed at the losing battle that is gravity, gained weight, lost weight, botoxed, detoxed, and unboxed thousands of dollars worth of “beauty” but I have never felt as confident in the skin sold to me by Madison Avenue as I do wearing the sun-kissed glow of an afternoon spent with my sons. With each year of my life that passes, those boys grow too, into toddlers, then boys, and now nascent young men of honor and intelligence; how could I possibly enjoy denying even a day of their lives?

If my face shows age, then it also shows my story, of life, and love, and loss, and that story is mine. I would not trade a moment for the collagen-rich dewy glow of my 22 year-old, untraveled cheeks. And, when my face is sixty, I hope the lines have doubled, and strengthened, and broadcast a richer story than I can even imagine today.

A life well spent, is far more intriguing than even the most perfect face, which offers nothing once it opens its mouth; and accomplishment and adventure can never be taken, or hidden by three-quarter moisturizing cream and a nylon-Spandex blend.

Purple Haze and Lackadaisical Labor Days

Once upon a time, labor day weekend, a full tank of gas, and a topless baby blue CJ7 were all it took to make me smile in that way that made my cheekbones hurt. I know I was that girl, but I don’t remember her much anymore.

I remember tucking my hair under a grimy knit ski cap, we’d crank up Rage Against the Machine, and three hours later a car full of young adult hormones and Natty Light would tumble out onto the desert floor of Utah’s Goblin Valley to spend a weekend playing the world’s best game of capture the flag.

We’d build a little tent city at the campground just outside the park and break off into couples and singles, set up a fire, drink, smoke, shoot, swear, and inevitably some girl would get drunk and puke, or cry, or both – and it was wonderful.

Those weekends seem a lifetime ago now, though I can still remember the perfume I was wearing: Realm, a musky amber scent laced with vanilla, sugar, and pheromones – a perfume that boy from once upon a time liked so much he couldn’t hug me without breathing in deeply and pulling me against him for another note. 

I can still create a fire with one match and a ziplock baggie full of dryer lint pulled from my mom’s laundry room on the way out of town. I can still make “magic cobbler” in a dirty dutch oven, and, I still have that road-worn CD he gave me for my seventeenth birthday … and memories, of Labor Day, once upon a time.

The Playlist

I stumbled across your playlist the other day,
it took my breath for a moment.

Strange, to remember a time when those songs fed such angst,
that same old scene is always coming to me.

Before a love song, you have to fall in love;
and so, that’s where the playlist takes me first.

Then there’s a passion, turmoil, and four-four time,
were all of these songs fraught with meaning to me once,
in that place where a tornado meets a volcano?

It seems so long ago now, a confused memory of fights and forgiveness,
back when you said I was too sensitive, and you too much the opposite,
but you don’t hurt me anymore.

Now, then, is just a memory, and the playlist says it all,
the story of who we were, and who we are now,
that old familiar feeling.

Nostalgic Summer Days

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When the sun hits the horizon in just that way
Or a rumbling motor passes, low and commanding
I think of Main Street, lazy days, and warm July nights,
and I remember that time ..
the first time you kissed me,
back when the feeling was new.
I remember a cold Cutthroat Beer, the stereo echoing off hardwood floors,
and that one summer,
once upon a time.

Golden Rays of Parenthood

I look forward at a horizon punctuated by two golden heads pressed together digging in the sand,
as once-tiny palms clutch a treasure, to be buried then washed out to sea.
This moment, if I am fortunate, will become a treasure as well, clutched in the palm of my memory,
brought forward on future days, when those golden heads are grown and gone.
The sun peaks through the marine fog, and lights their hair with a coppery glow, and I want to capture that exact color and paint my entire life in the shimmery summer hue,
of two young men, grown too fast, and one beachy, summer morning.