Aaaaaaahhhhh, the lazy days of summer. NOT! Our week’s end is just as hectic as busy-ness during the week. The boys have been, officially, out of school since June 12th and this is the first weekend that we can finally recuperate. Not exactly the relaxing and restful summer I had envisioned; but still fun!
While running work errands in the local mall, the siren in the green circle beckoned to me. I was quenching of thirst, legitimately, and fatefully headed to the counter barista; card-in-hand. I decided to use the moderation excuse and chose a mocha light frappuccino for 130 calories. The history of this coffee chain is as old as I am. At our Wednesday night family dinner I asked others what their food craving downfalls were. My father-in-law confessed quesadillas, the hubs; oreo cookies with a cold glass of milk. My brother-in-law craves lasagna. Mine, of course, is coffee.
My first memory of Starbucks happened to be on a late evening in Brentwood. I was meeting a study group and found myself, at 2 AM, chattering excitedly outside the coffee shop. The caffeine buzz was amazing and the details of my college final were emblazoned upon my neurons. What a glorious feeling! Of course, at 5 AM when I tried to sleep and fretted if I would miss, said final, I began to get distressed. This was my very first experience with Starbucks; the memories stay associated with it.
Has it really been only a month since the kids got out of school? Why does it fly by?
The hubs and I found ourselves walking a main street after dropping off my vehicle for a new set of tires, thank you tire fairy. Most days we zoom down this central artery to work and it was his idea to drop my car off and WALK, yes walk, to a local restaurant for breakfast. The temperatures were already in the 80s, at 9AM. The place wasn’t that far and so we began to stroll, hand-in-hand.
As we walked we looked at various buildings that we never knew were there. The family business has been at its current location since 1996 and it was only two years ago that we realized the restaurant we were walking to, was nearby. Each morning as I drive past, to work, I glance at a strawberry stand and wonder why it is there. It is always empty.
Less than an hour later came the phone call letting us know our vehicle was ready. We enjoyed our caramel syrup and cinnamon french toast and on the return trek back, discovered the strawberry stand was open. A local farmer, two blocks away, picked the strawberries, that morning, and I found myself forking over $8 for fresh, local produce. We justified the expense by knowing we were supporting a local farmer. The 3-pack was devoured in two days. We then drove the car to get an alignment; more car maintenance. Once home, we continued our maintenance; this time, on our dwelling. I was on indoor duty; the hubs, the garage aka man cave (hence the sign).
We have finally found the time to get a handle on our home; our life.
It seems a small, petty thing. Most would not consider cleaning house life- altering. But with the constant transitions and moves, the one constant I can control is the place I live in. Since returning to our home in 2009 there have been many things we have let go. The curtains, the wood cabinetry the prior tenants destroyed, the missing window screens. Slowly but surely they are being replaced. We began our summer by detailing our kitchen; something we haven’t tackled in over two years. Our garden, over-grown, is slowly becoming lush and manicured. I smiled at the 6 ft. high trumpet-vine; a stalk I transplanted from my late cousin’s backyard. It is my most favorite thing in our backyard, along with the purple flower from San Diego,the lantana from our local landscaping nursery (the hummingbirds love its vibrant colors) and our grape arbor; laden with bunches of juicy orbs of ripening fruit.
The door between house and garage remains closed. When it opens, the smell of latex paint fumes, maple wood and wood dust permeate our living area. What I thought was a small undertaking has become big. After painting the walls with extra paint, making a new shelf and organizing the camping gear strewn all over the floor; the hubs is now sanding the closet organizer, they built, that was intended for our eldest. It was created last year to accomodate our growing sons. It is now getting completed. Soon the boys will be staining wood before the installation.
As I continued on my house cleaning quest I ventured into the youngest’s bedroom littered with books, hotwheels, stuffed animals and blankets. The mess was overwhelming, where to start? I have, still, to go through chests of drawers to weed out clothes than no longer fit. Each time I try to open or close these things, clothes get stuck; filled to the brim. But for now, the focus is on the mess.
Two hours later I sat atop a hotwheels table, triumphant. Everything was put in its place. I stared into the drawers of the table, given to the boys during Christmas 2004. When the youngest was in kindergarten he counted 100 hotwheels to bring to school on the 100th day. There, easily, are over 1,000 of these metal cast-die cars in this table’s drawers. Just the other day I drove past the Mattel outlet store; remembering my mother-in-law’s frequent visits for the newest hotwheels paraphernalia. As I held one of these cars in my hands my eyes grew teary. My boys don’t play with these things anymore. The day will be very sad, indeed, when I give these things away. But for now they sit; like lost relics in an empty museum. It is part of our history, these cars.
The book stack was next. As I placed the books upon the high shelves I began looking at the titles. I categorize them by age; our sons leaving a mess a librarian would fret over. At night , unwinding after a busy school day, they’d each grab a book and read it before bed. The aftermath became sorted into piles and as I placed each book, gingerly, upon its shelf, I realized I have read each and every single one of them. I began to take out my favorites; the ones either I had memorized or the boys had deemed their favorites. The pages were tattered and our most beloved books, showed the constant wear and tear of reading. I quietly sat upon the hotwheels table and began to read them, the tears flowing once again. Eventually, my eldest found me with the stack and began to take his favorite book, sitting beside me, cross-legged, to read it. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch was in his hands; in mine, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
My mind flashed back to our very first year in our current home, 2004. At night I would look out of the circular port-hole window as my older sons sat around me for bedtime. Goodnight Moon was the last book I’d recite before bed; committed to memory. These days the boys read other things. They enjoy Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and my eldest recently finished Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The board books are rarely read any more. But soon, my three sons each had books in-hand. The youngest had Where the Wild Things Are (aptly describing his own personality), the middle son, Goodnight Moon (his tastes and mine usually align).
Whilst on the subject of books I just completed reading Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and a quote stays in my mind.
Sometimes what we want to do and what we must do are not the same…the smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.
Another quote makes me think of parenthood; particularly what I want for my kids.
It’s one thing to know what people truly want. it’s another to CREATE that want in them. To BUILD that desire.
He was ready to stop trying to matter; he was ready to simply live.
And thus, after reaching this same conclusion, not too long ago, to read this in print was like a sign. Another God wink. We continue fixing our home; the upkeep of living, wearing and tearing upon our material things. Things are being put in-place as others, gradually,will transition out. It is the maintenance that keeps it all together so we can simply. Live.