Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lotta Rock in Little Rock

This past Monday, the airplane I was on almost went down due to turbulence.

I realize that no airplane (at least in recent history) has been taken down by turbulence, but every time it hits, I’m convinced it’s over. In this instance, the bodies would have landed in Little Rock, Arkansas, and as we bounced and swayed our way towards Atlanta, my central thought was: I’m going to die and it’s been seven days since I’ve seen my husband.

I was coming back from a weeklong trip to Vegas and like most business trips, it was a lot of work with a little fun. You can take on a revised persona on a business trip and while I was in Vegas, dancing into the early hours of the morning, I felt young and pretty and even a bit adventurous, which anyone who knows me can refute. (I could tell you what I’m going to do on a Tuesday a month from now. I hate adventure.) But on that plane home, rocking back and forth and wondering if I could clench the hand of the stranger next to me, I just felt…weary.

Yes, the world’s an exciting place but what’s the point if you are forever bound to see it with those that you send the most emails to, but who don’t know that you can’t do simple math and only learned to use (okay, handle) chopsticks 4 months ago? Something continues to build inside of me and I’m finally starting to pay attention. I want a smaller world.

I don’t mean small as in the politically correct eco-sense of “we’re all neighbors and I buy my Chapstick from a woman who makes it in Mongolia” small, I mean actually small. (Not that I disagree with being neighborly with the world, but I get my Chapstick from the CVS.)

How tedious yet reassuring to spend my days picking up the dry-cleaning from Rebecca and her dog Angel, then swinging by to the Italian take-out place to grab dinner. (And possibly say hello to the manager who after 8 years has finally deigned to recognize me.) “The boredom! The boredom!” some of you are shrieking. But I see only calm – a plain backdrop on which to manage life’s real problems.

There is a book I admire even though I can’t remember the name or the author but the crux of it is that a woman who traveled frequently spent her flying time writing letters to her children. Touching and smart. For me, however, the only letters I plan on writing will be those I send to my children’s summer camp. And the rest of the year, when the children are tucked into their own beds, I’ll be right there with them telling a story. “Once upon a time your mom and your dad traveled everywhere and met some very smart and semi-famous people and saw the world and felt energized and exhausted all at the same time.”

Once upon a time indeed. As the plane made its final approach into Hartsfield, my heart hummed. Home sweet home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Homeland Security

As I love to do as often as possible, this last weekend I spent some time with my two year old granddaughter. (An aside: apologies to any of you who have two year old daughters, nieces, siblings or granddaughters because I have to say that MY granddaughter is the cutest, sweetest, smartest and most wonderful two year old in the ENTIRE world. She really is.) Anyhow, as we were playing with lots of toys strewn on the floor, Sweetums tripped and fell down hard. She wasn't hurt, but it certainly startled her and was quite enough to set off some loud wailing. Her mommy scooped her right up and began soothing her, but the crying continued, loud and clear. But between the sobs, I heard her making a request...."I want my blankie."

And so begins another generation of blanket love. Before my first daughter was born, I had been warned not to allow her to get too attached to one blanket as that presented all sorts of problems for laundering or loss. That seemed like an easy problem to fix.... I bought TWO blankets for her crib. Little did I realize at the time how quickly she would form an attachment to BOTH. Although my original plan had backfired, when little sister came along two years later, she surely couldn't be given less than the first baby, so again two blankets. And again, quick attachment to BOTH blankets. Now, don't get me wrong, my children were not at all Linus like-- the blankets were for home use only and were not dragged along every time we left the house for an errand. But for sleeping, or comfort, or just hanging around, those blankies were a MUST. And not to seem like a slow learner, but ten years later, guess how many blankets were given to the new baby? And guess how many she loved? Right..... two.

I never made a big deal about when it would be time to say goodbye to the beloved blankets. We got rid of pacifiers when baby teeth started being misaligned. We said adios to bottles when ear infections set in. Stuffed animals were loved for awhile and then deserted in favor of something new. But not the bankies, as they were called in our house. Years passed and they were still with us. The blankets went on vacations. They went to overnight camps. They went to sleepovers. They went to college. They showed their age becoming filled with holes and worn on the edges. Still, they were loved.

My youngest daughter had to retire one blanket when it became too "fragile" but she still has her other. It resides on her bed at college and is almost always found wrapped around her neck as she studies or watches tv. As far as I know, none of her friends have ever teased her about the banky; it's just a part of who she is. Smash still has both her blankets; her blankets are of heartier stock -- both waffle weave. Smash travels with only one blanket -- too risky to have both -- and after a particular scary incident of lost luggage, the one making the trip always goes in carry-on. Smash tells me that after a particularly hard day at work, she will come home and put her face into her blanket until the world looks a little brighter. Smash's husband has accepted the blankets as part of their lives. My oldest daughter has put away her blankets, but they are still on a nearby closet shelf, ready if needed. And it is her daughter who, when hurt, sad or tired wants her blanket. The torch has been passed.

I've often asked the girls how their blankets make them feel. What about them lend that sense of comfort and well-being? None of them have ever really given me an answer and I really do want to know. I want that feeling. I too want to have that special something for the times when anxiety is creeping up or bad news is settling in. I think it's something we all could use. I want my blankie.