Time Lapse

In less than a month, I’ll be 26. Closer to 30 than to 20. An adult with a job, grocery lists that include things like cat litter and spanikopita, bills to pay and a family that lives farther away than I ever thought possible. There are days when I wish I could curl up in my mother’s arms again and have her rock me to sleep. And I know there are days she wishes she could do the same.

On my recent trip home, my mom and I reenacted a photo taken of us shortly after she gave birth to me. We were sitting on the front steps of our house. It’s the same house my parents live in today. I love everything about these pictures. There’s a different car in the driveway now (my mom’s Big Fat Cow), a different tint in each photo, and different hair cuts (or in my case, hair where there once was none). A wonderland of flowers now frame the house where once there were just fledgling blooms. My mom was an inexperienced mother then, nervous no doubt. Now, she is an expert, an advisor, a co-pilot, a friend — she’s even a mother to nature (as evidenced below).

On my last day home, this fawn showed up in our backyard one morning. I’m sure the squirrels and birds and skunks and raccoons that my parents have been feeding for many years spread the word throughout the neighborhood that generous people live in the yellow house.

She lay in those leaves all day long, standing up occasionally on jello legs to munch on ferns. The mama deer came back for her baby later that afternoon. My mom pulled into the driveway after dropping me off at the airport to find them both standing there and watched as they trotted off together. I guess that’s what all good mothers have in common. They take wobbly legs and teach them how to sprint.

The First Tomato

There’s something amazing about tending a garden. Watching plants grow (and knowing you haven’t killed them) is kind of an incredible feeling. Despite the drought here, I’ve kept my garden growing strong, and this week I noticed the first red tomatoes on the vine. I’ve been getting about one Juliet tomato every day this week. Not quite enough for a salad, but enough to pop in my mouth right after picking. I relish these little moments in life.

Forgive the quality of this shot. I was too excited to grab my real camera.

I’m still getting the hang of the gardening process. I used to watch my mom pull weeds in her garden as a kid. Now it’s my turn to pull weeds and tie plants to stakes to keep them from blowing over. My mom’s garden was, and continues to be, one of the prettiest on our street. Here’s a photo of it my dad sent me recently. We don’t get tulips like those here in Texas.


This Mother’s Day weekend, I’ll be far away from home. But I’ll tend my garden and think of my mother and all the flowers she has made grow strong and beautiful with the careful touch of her nurturing hand.

A Windy City Easter

Why hello there, old chap! Blogging is getting a little more difficult as I settle deeper into the routine of day-to-day life. After work it’s the gym, followed by the grocery store, then home, plant-watering (the garden is thriving despite the drought), cooking, cleaning, shower and bed. I’m lucky if I can watch half an hour of Bravo at night. But you’re not here to read my schedule.

For now, I’d like to tell you about my recent weekend jaunt. I know it’s Wednesday, and last weekend seems like eons ago, but it was such a tell-worthy weekend.

On Friday after work, The Patrick (hereinafter TP) and I made a mad dash to the airport. Our flight to Chicago was, of course, delayed, so the mad dash was in vain. We had time, however, for crappy airport food and to meet a lovely inebriated couple whose flight was delayed for five hours. The flight itself was not uneventful. Turbulence and nervous flight attendants kept me praying for the duration.

We arrived late Friday to spend the night at the home of one of the most amazing people I know. My friend Caitlin served in the Peace Corps in Zambia and is now working in Chicago. She graciously welcomed us into her home at 1:00 in the morning and stayed up with us to catch me up to speed on life in the Windy City.

TP and I spent Saturday with my brother, sister-in-law and the most adorable children in the world. Delicious brunch, a walk to the playground, Easter egg dying, Berenstain Bear reading with my niece, cooing at my nephew, home-made pizza eating — it was anything but routine. And every moment was precious.

Even TP enjoyed dying eggs.
Sunday we woke up early for Easter church, where I ran into a dear former professor waiting for the next service. Chicago always has a way of making me feel like I’m in a small town nestled within a big city.

After breakfast and an Easter egg hunt, Patrick and I headed back to the airport for our return flight back to Texas. The flight was cancelled just before take-off and there was nothing short of a debacle in the airport as we anxiously tried to figure out when we would get home. Five hours later, we encountered the aforementioned lovely inebriated couple (sober this time) at an airport restaurant while we waited for our flight. They could commiserate with our situation, and we wound up making friends.

We got home safe, albeit incredibly late, Sunday night. All the stress caused by an airline that will remain unnamed (let’s just say it rhymes with schmontinental) was worth it, though. Look at these faces. I’d do it all over again tomorrow if it meant I could see them.

Mom

There are certain things about my mother that will always fill me with awe.

As a kid, I would marvel at how she could get all the leftover cookie batter off a spatula with a quick swipe of her finger. Not a drop would go to waste.

When I was little, I used to get out of bed a lot. A LOT. She never lost patience when I came traipsing down the stairs. She would parade me back up to bed and sit with me until I fell asleep. Sometimes she’d have to crawl out of my room on hands and knees so I wouldn’t wake up.

In the summer, she’d cart me to art class and swimming practice and orchestra rehearsal, tirelessly taxiing me around town. And during the school year, my lunches were always gourmet. I blame her for my current inability to eat a regular sandwich. She always managed to pack me lunches that made all the other kids jealous. She made vegetarian bologna (yes, it exists) look so good that carnivorous kids wanted to take my sandwiches. I had to shelter my leftover homemade pizza as though it was a member of the witness protection program.

She taught me how to rescue baby birds that had fallen during flight and resuscitate them with worms crushed in an eye dropper. Her compassion is endless.

And look how beautiful she is. I love this picture of her and my brothers.

And this one…

And this one, too. After just giving birth, her hair is flawless. I look a little like an alien, though. She still thought of me as a miracle despite this minor detail.

And I love this picture of us on the front porch.

And this one of us at Niagara Falls… Oh, and there’s the hat I lost.

Thanks for all you do, Mom. I love you. Happy Birthday!

Roots

I am finally taking the plunge. After a year and a half in College Station, I am going to join a gym. I’m not sure how I’ve gone this long without one, but I guess I’ve managed. My jeans still sort of fit, after all. With this tiny step, I feel as though I’m growing some roots here.

As further evidence of my implantation, Patrick and I are looking to redecorate, since currently the only furniture we own here is from Good Will. The thought of buying a new couch is both exhilarating and terrifying. And it boggles my mind that I’ve found a boy who has an opinion about rugs. We’ve entered a nesting phase where we bond over fabric swatches and catalogs. I’ve discovered about seven different names for yellow. Like “citrine” and “lemongrass” and “chartreuse” and “grellow.” That last one, I’m pretty sure, was made up by Crate and Barrel. We’ll be going for a modern look, a look we can agree on, since his minimalist tastes don’t work with my cluttered…. well… we don’t even need go there.

These tiny steps are helping me feel more and more secure each day. While there are many Sundays I wish I could drive home for a dinner cooked by Mom, I’ve found a family here that provides comfort, guidance and even opinions about furniture. It’s never an easy process to grow into a new place, but I’m settling in and making lemongrass out of what once seemed like lemons.

And P.S. how do we feel about this couch?