I sat across from my girlfriend hoping the alcohol in my citrus drink would kill the bacteria causing my sore throat. I am fighting this thing with tea, rest and fresh air. I’ve been eating the bountiful orbs of orange from our dwarf tree in our backyard.
We were chatting about social media and I had shared what I had recently seen on my early morning show. A Facebook user had shared photos of a vacation he and his fiancee had taken. A friend had the audacity to write him a letter stating he shouldn’t post these photos because a lot of people aren’t able to afford the extravagance. The shocked user posted to his “friend’ that he had the choice to “unfriend” him since they weren’t really friends if he felt this way. Facebook envy at its finest.
I can’t really remember when I became disillusioned with Fakebook but I used to love when my friends posted photos. I used to do the same. But then I became disenfranchised with the whole thing when hurt feelings surfaced. The pictures began to exclude and the desired outcome became more about the number of comments and likes generated. I rarely use my account now and, most times, my cursor hovers near the delete account button; the times when I am on this website. If not for my family overseas; my profile would no longer exist.
But today as I cleaned house I realized that I am equally guilty.
I have chosen the alternate route; to blog. It has just been a year since I’ve joined this community for the sole reason of keeping up with my bff 2,000 miles away. At first we chatted or emailed; but with seven kids between us time got away. Eventually she got me to join Facebook, the natural progression from MySpace and soon after, I found Instagram and Goodreads. A shutterbug by nature I chose photos to relay the every day…but did I? I also screened my photo choices to post; choosing ones that were worthy. My life appeared busy and fulfilling.
But this bff knows better. She knows the last four years have been tough; drove 2,000 miles for their family vacation to arrive in our home the day after my husband asphyxiated in his childhood swimming pool. They watched our family struggle as we transitioned from the military to civilian life. We all have our crosses to bear. I have cried with various girlfriends over losses and struggles in the past few months; never ceasing to be shocked. On the surface we appear put-together with happy lives. But in the end we all fight for our place in this space; striving and searching for who we are and what will bring us happiness.
It takes a lot of work for things to appear tidy and tied up in a big bow. Things don’t miraculously happen. You have to put some elbow grease in to make your life be what you want; to make it beautiful. A great physique is borne from hours of sweat and work in a gym. An amazing outfit emerges after careful color and style coordination. This has been on my mind for a long time but today, as I cleaned my home, I found my blogging purpose. Since blogging is my alternative to Fakebook, I have to be transparent and reveal the real ups and downs of the every day. It all came into perspective.
I imagine most of my fellow friends out on Saturday doing exciting things with their families. I, too, desire this as I grumble, each weekend, cleaning my home. I wish I could overlook the messiness and skip the laundry. It used to be that I would plan outings; anticipating the great shots to post for all to see. But now I do things just because. I have learned humility. You do not need to be envious of my life for it is unexciting most days. We need to learn to find joy in the simple things we take for granted each and every day.
Ironically enough, my 13 y/o is getting a dose of what it is like to not have the freedoms we enjoy. Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is being studied by my son’s 8th grade English class and she was his same age; when she lived and journalled her two years of hiding during the Nazi’s reign in the Netherlands.
The optional project was for the class to live like Anne Frank for ten hours on a weekend. The assignment states that food is to be arranged beforehand. The student is not allowed to talk (only whisper) and must remain in a room, alone, for the entire ten hours with minimal movement. The student is allowed to go to the restroom but must remain quiet and AWAKE. Each hour he must journal what he is feeling and answer the questions on the assignment sheet. Electronics are NOT allowed and parents must sign the form to give their consent.
When he mentioned this project during the week I thought he was joking. He shared that he was interested in attempting this project for extra credit. Since English is the class he struggles with the most; I was supportive but was surprised when he brought the paper home for me to sign.
So today, on our exciting family Saturday…he began his ten hour confinement at exactly twelve noon. We arranged to knock when his food was brought to him and I would check on him every 1.5 hours and whisper if he needed anything. He would knock once for yes and twice for no. He gathered his notebook, reading material and various food/snack items near his bed and his solitary confinement began.
While the eldest remained upstairs the rest of our family did some house maintenance. Our zombie-like sons can play video games for hours on end and thus, they have been conditioned to earn their play time by doing chores. For months our backyard has been forgotten; the algae once again claiming our pool and weeds overtaking our yard. The hubs decided to tackle this in shock and awe fashion; wearing his Rambo headband as inspiration. The younger sons were on weed abatement, collection and tree trimming. They filled two trash cans.
The younger sons were then sent off to work on their science projects, due this coming Friday, after working outdoors. The class work was welcome after two hours in the backyard. The youngest decided to microwave popcorn and offered it to us, outside, to share. Our two hands, the youngest and mine, could not gobble the kernels fast enough.
At five hours I checked in on the other son. I was surprised at how quiet he remained; easily forgotten amongst the loudness of the younger boys. He whispered he was hungry. By the eighth hour he was done. He wanted to call it quits; longing for human interaction and the freedom to do what he wanted. Bored and silent he had already finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and was beginning Veronica Roth’s Insurgent. With only two hours to go I quietly encouraged him to write what he felt; the boredom, the anger and sense of loss.
Our cupboards were empty and it had been two weeks since our last grocery store visit. The eldest remained in his room while I had enjoyed countless savings at our 24 hour grocer. The goal was to avoid the pre-Super Bowl crowds and I was successful; my cart laden with items for our mini-party. Upon my return I noted the assignment in my son’s folder on Super Bowl trivia; again for English. It seems he will spend the weekend writing while his younger brothers will continue making observations for their individual science projects. I gobbled down my spicy eggplant; leftovers from the night before. We ordered Chinese food to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It is the year of the horse; my middle son’s animal in the twelve year lunar cycle.
At exactly 10:01 PM the eldest emerged and yelled as loud as he could. He was free!!! The project made him painfully aware of how fortunate he is to have the life he lives. It evoked something in me, as well; proud of this son for giving up his weekend of his own free will. As I had quietly brought him food he whispered thank you each and every time. He valued his meal, the short interaction.
It is the little things, a simple thank you; an offer of popcorn, that matters the most. I grin wide at the simple joys of our exciting day.