Insecure

Posted on | June 1, 2018 | No Comments

“What’s wrong?” He asked, as I moped through my morning routine of layering product on my skin. “Is it work?”

I shook my head.

“Did I do something?”

I shook my head again, answering in a small voice:

“You don’t want to hear it.”

He sighed. He knew what was wrong with me now… it was the same thing that often was wrong: I was feeling fat.

I know it frustrates him. I know he hates to hear me belittle and talk down to myself. I know that I’m supposed to love myself in all my faults. I know that being the feminist I am, means I’m supposed to love myself even and especially when my body and face isn’t perfectly airbrushed like the cover of a magazine. I know all those things.

And yet I still find myself pinching and pulling at loose skin and rolls of fat where no rolls used to be. I still find myself inspecting cellulite, pulling taut the skin of my thighs and wondering when they became so “other.”

I don’t often recognize my body in the mirror any more. It is soft and pliable. It is rounded in the places society wants straight. It is curved where magazines tell me it should not be. I remember the 22 year old in her white pants and crop top and I wonder where she went and if she’s hiding in the folds that seem to be all I see when I look at myself these days. I wonder if she’s gone forever. I wonder if I’m supposed to want her back or if I’m supposed to age gracefully into my size 10 jeans, pulling them rough over my too wide thighs and squatting down, again and again to be sure they pull all the way up. I wonder if I’m supposed to be content with the body that three pregnancies, two children, and one food-filled divorce left me with.

I want to smile when I see my reflection.

I want to notice the curves and fluffs of my body and appreciate that it is who I am. I want to tell you that I’m learning to appreciate myself as I am, that I feel comfortable in a bathing suit… that I don’t care that there are two numbers in my size.  But then… I also want to starve myself for several weeks in the hopes that 20 pounds magically disappear. I don’t know how to tie the two together. Sometimes I think that only thin people can get away with telling the rest of us to “love ourselves.” I see Pink on the Grammys in no make up and sweats telling me that Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken and while part of me says “YASS GIRL” the rest of me says “Easy for you to say, you svelte b!tch.”

Maybe I can be happier if I exercise more.

Maybe I can be happier when I am thinner.

I have always, inexplicably, been happier when I deny myself the things I love… pizza, beer, french fries. Like I’m winning an award for self deprivation. I fear my whole life has been and will be a cycle of “don’t eat too much” and then “whatever, eat it all, fatty” when I can’t seem to reach the figure I want. Because no matter how thin I’ve been in my life, it’s never been thin enough. I will always see myself in comparison to someone else and someone else will always be thinner. Or prettier. Or smarter.

He lets me huff and puff around my make up for a while and then sighs again.

“We’ll join a gym,” he offers, trying to help. “I know you’re happier when you exercise.”

“Yeah… you ARE fat” is what I hear, no matter how many times he says otherwise, and I rip off one shirt to find another… one more forgiving… one that doesn’t stick and cling quite as much to all my insecurities.

 

The Best Years of Your Life

Posted on | May 22, 2018 | 1 Comment

When I was younger, everyone told me High School was the best years of life. At the time, I would scoff and tell them that if these were the best years, NO THANK YOU to the rest of my life. But I think that high school can only truly be appreciated by us middle aged folk who look back on it with our rose-colored bifocals, glossing over the angst and turmoil and focusing on the laughter and the late night dancing and the unexplainable love of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine” complete with foot stomping. (Sidebar: I literally can’t hear that song without picturing myself on Ocean Drive at Myrtle Beach with a circle of friends and maybe a little alcohol… sorry Mom.)

I wasn’t one of those people who kept in touch with my high school friends. I see on Facebook that many people did, and they host get-togethers and know each other’s significant others and children. I watch as their lives continue to seamlessly slide in and out of their high school world and sometimes I find myself jealous that they still have people around them who see them as unlined, unmarked teenagers. And sometimes I find myself wondering how they do it; how they managed to maintain a friendship for so long, through so many different variations of themselves. But maybe not everyone does that, I guess.

Me? I find I’ve changed so many times throughout my life that I’m not sure my high school self would recognize all of the “me” that I’ve been. Certainly my high school friends wouldn’t. I’ve sort of tried out all the different shades of Karen throughout my life, but as I look at myself now, I find I’m closer to the me I was in High School than to any other me I’ve ever been. And maybe that’s what they meant, all those years ago… the person you are in your early years of high school is so much closer to the real you… so much more in tune with who you are meant to be… than you ever would have been comfortable with at the time. Did I have fun in college? Oh yes. Did I enjoy my time after college? Absolutely. Law School? A BLAST. Parenthood? So fun. But did I enjoy high school?

Not so much.

But as I look back on it, I think it was because I wanted so desperately to be all the different people I became throughout my life. I wasn’t content with just being “boring old reddish haired, pleasantly forgettable, emotional, sensitive Karen.” I wanted to be brighter, louder, more vibrant. And so I became that for a time. I let myself be all the different sorts of Karen there were out there to be and now, at forty, I realize that boring old reddish haired, pleasantly forgettable, emotional, sensitive Karen is absolutely who I want to be. So NOW and only now can I look back at High School and realize that the people who knew and loved me then, were the people who knew and loved ME… before the attempted finesse. Before the alcohol and cigarettes. Before partying into the wee hours of the morning. Before I discovered that being boring was my flavor of awesome.

Looking back at her now, I can see that high school me was pretty awesome. She cared a little too much about what people thought and a little too little about her health, but she loved big and she was open-minded and she believed she had something amazing to offer this world. She wrote from the heart. She spoke from the heart. She was, quite often, severely misunderstood especially by her own mind, and she was, I’m sure, severely mocked for her inability to see people as they truly were… only as how she believed they could be.

And she hated all of that about herself.  But all of the bits and pieces of myself that were so jumbled and confusing at 16 have ironed and pressed themselves into someone I now embrace. I’d love nothing more than to go back to tenth grade, sit on the outskirts of the circle of girls unpacking their lunch bags in front of the G Building and hug the one with the bag full of pre-counted carrots. I’d like to squeeze her perfectly normal sized body and tell her she’s wonderful. I’d like to tell her that high school girls can be mean, but they weren’t always being as mean as she imagined in her mind. I’d like to let her know that it doesn’t matter that no one in high school found her beautiful… she was beautiful anyway.

She wouldn’t have believed me. She was too busy believing what she wanted to believe… that if she lost weight some boy would like her. That if she smoked cigarettes, no one would know she felt like a fraud every day. That if she wasn’t invited to this or that girl’s party, she wasn’t “cool.” She wouldn’t have believed that one day the things she hated about herself would be the things that made her the most loveable. It’s hard to believe that at 16.

I wouldn’t say that High School years were the best years of my life. I couldn’t say that, not as a parent. But looking back, I have a new-found appreciation for the people who loved me then. The friends who rolled their eyes at me and folded slips of notebook paper notes into tiny hearts and squares. The friend who skipped creative writing to sit at Yum Yum hot dogs and eat lemon ice cream with me. The friend who drove around and around and around town on a Friday night, listening to music and singing their hearts out alongside me. The friend I shoved out of a sailboat at summer camp. The friend who taught me how to use a tampon so I could go swimming at her house. The friend who sat at a playground and cried with me when one of our teachers died. The friends who danced to Shag music with me on a moonlit night in the middle of a road in New Irving Park.

Those were my people then. They are, deep down, still my people. Even though I don’t see them every day. Even though I’m terrible at keeping in touch. Even though maybe, some of us have lost sight of who we were then because of all the people we have been in the meantime.

It was so very hard to be different at 15 or 17. I’m sure it still is hard to be different in high school.

But man is it special at 40.

 

It is Good.

Posted on | May 4, 2018 | No Comments

Somehow it gets harder to log in and write here.

I don’t know if it’s maturity coupled with the fear that something I write may have negative repercussions long in the future, or if it’s just that I’m slogging through motherhood and I can’t seem to find time. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. But I miss this space and feeling like I had a platform to come to… somewhere to voice my opinions and maybe find a few like-minded folks scattered around the world. Life seems a little smaller without this space.

But for however small it is, life is good.

My life has moved so quickly and ferociously towards middle age that somedays I don’t recognize myself in the mirror and I certainly don’t recognize my reflection in other people’s eyes or behavior towards me. I’m suddenly owed a certain amount of deference and respect because of my age and experience. People tend to listen when I talk. As if by magic, I’ve become “ma’am” and someone of wisdom, even while feeling more lost than usual on the inside.

Middle age is a curious thing, I guess. I feel more myself than I ever did when I was younger. I still give myself pep talks before going into new crowds, but now I go with my head held high and I don’t often slink to the corners to stay anonymous. I feel like this is the me I was supposed to be all along, strong-willed, emotional, certifiably crazy, but in the kind of way that says “It’s okay, I’m not going to kill you… I’ll just make you laugh a lot and then you can talk about me behind my back.”

And kids. Oh man the kids. Nothing in life can really prepare you for the heartache and happiness that is parenthood. Every day is magic and mayhem and beautiful, beautiful trauma, to borrow from P!nk. I love my boys with a fierceness that is overwhelming at times and often I have to take a step back and remind myself that they actually do have to make their own mistakes and they don’t need me to constantly come along and clean up their messes. It’s hard, though, when you love them so much, isn’t it.

Then there’s marriage and the constant struggle to find that exact right balance between time for yourself and time for yourselves. Because you’re a team, even though sometimes it feels like you’re playing different sports. I love my husband so much in spite and because of the fact that he frustrates and challenges me daily. Because life shouldn’t be easy, right? If it were easy, you’d miss all the nuance… all the joy in discovering common ground. I truly believe we are stronger because of our differences and our often oppositional ways of looking at the world. He makes me think and laugh and sometimes cry… and it’s ugly and beautiful through all of the ups and down.

So I guess what I’m saying is… I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m putting one foot in front of the other. And every day is a struggle and a challenge and an adventure. Some days I feel like I’m at the bottom of a really steep hill, just waiting to be climbed… and some days?

Some days I’m at the top, looking out over this life I’ve created… these lives I’ve created… and it is good.

It is so good.

Getting Older

Posted on | March 28, 2018 | No Comments

The thing about being forty is this:

I don’t feel forty.

Let’s face it, when we were kids and thought about the future, forty was OLD. Like full on decrepit old. By 40 there were going to be flying cars and robot butlers and we would all be living life Jetson-style in our circular glass apartments. Forty was what we’d turn when we were established in our careers as astronauts or famous authors or whatever else… with our 2.5 kids in their pre-teen years. No one told me forty could be like this… with a one year old and an eight year old and a rickety old house with windows that let in all the cold or warmth from outside. No one told me forty was  starting over at work, starting over at marriage, starting over at being… well… me.

When I look at my life and where I am in it, I feel thirty at the most. Thirty seems a reasonable age to have a one year old and to consider more kids. Thirty seems reasonable because then my parents are in their fifties, not their sixties and I have ten years to get to that magical forty number where I’m well-established and legit. But being forty and feeling so … wayward… is strange. I don’t feel established. I don’t feel legit. I don’t feel as though I have the gravitas to tell anyone anything about life or love or how to be a lawyer. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to speak on motherhood or careers or hell, anything! So how did I get here?

Age is such a funny thing, really, isn’t it?

Forty seems so much younger than it did when I was a child. Sixty seems so much younger than it did when I was a child. I feel less like I’m middle-aged and more like I’m still coming into myself, still learning and growing and reaching towards the top of the hill. Certainly not OVER the hill.

And yet… forty.

They say that age is just a number but that’s only true when your number is over thirty. Below thirty and age feels relevant… crucial even. And then you turn 31 and suddenly it’s just a number. Just an arbitrary categorization you mark on an information sheet. Just one more box over to the right, nothing to see here, thank you very much. And then one crazy day you turn 40 and you’re marking that next box over… the one so much closer to 60… while juggling a bottle and a baby and wondering to yourself “How in the hell did I get here?” Or maybe “Am I here?” And then your body starts doing strange things that it didn’t used to do and suddenly you’re just… older. Everywhere.

But I don’t know… even with all the aches and pains, I’ve been forty for nearly four months and it still doesn’t feel real.

Maybe it’s the baby.

Fear

Posted on | March 27, 2018 | No Comments

It was cold in the emergency room.

Not the kind of frigid that makes you uncomfortable, just the kind of cold that makes you want to take a long nap under a very warm blanket. My husband was reclined back in one of those avocado green ER chairs, with an IV in his right arm but nothing attached to it. Although a nurse had come in once or twice, I’d yet to speak to a doctor of any sort. We were curtained off from the world, hidden in a sterile corner of the emergency room.

And my husband was in pain.

Not just a little pain, but pain that crumpled him from the knees to the chest. He tried not to, but occasionally he let out a soft grunting moan that I imagine would have been louder had I not been there.

Finally, they came; two surgical residents in scrubs and tied off head scarves, looking like they had just stepped out of a television drama… or an operating room. They’d let him go home, they said, everything was fine. Just a weird and rare infarction of the omentum that would heal itself. Nothing to worry about, really, they said, as my husband nodded through his pain. They stepped away to call their attending physician and said they’d be back.

It was a long time before anyone came back, pulling aside the curtain at 1:00 am, 10 hours after we arrived, to tell us he would be admitted for observation. To tell us that for some reason, his kidneys were failing and needed more fluids. For some strange reason, not in any way related to his pain, they said.

I left him there, in his avocado chair, and went to be with our boys. At 1:30 am I let the tears fall… all the many tears that had cramped and kicked their way into my chest as I watched my husband fight off pain. We slept together that night, me and both boys, all three tucked and tumbled into the same bed.

My husband slept alone.

When I arrived back at the hospital the next morning, he was still in the emergency department.

Nothing had changed.

No one had done anything to help. No one could explain the pain.

Twenty seven hours after arriving at the emergency room, my husband was finally transferred to a regular hospital room.

Twenty. Seven. Hours. Later.

Twenty seven hours of kidney numbers failing. Twenty seven hours of waiting for answers. Twenty seven hours of “any minute we’ll let you go home, oh wait no your kidneys are failing.”

Twenty seven hours of watching my husband grimace and curl with pain and discomfort, watching the fear slide slow across him, dripping down with the fluid in his IV… seeing the numbers come back lower and lower, evidencing the damage the emergency room physician had wrought on his kidneys.

“A perfect storm,” they said.

“Shouldn’t have given him that IV Contrast,” the wonderfully kind surgeon acknowledged.

“Could have been avoided,” I heard, bouncing around and around my head.

All of this. All of this pain and agony. Some his, some mine. All of this fear and worry. All of this could have been avoided.

The worst of it was the being alone. I was so alone… carrying the weight of my husband’s illness and my need. Carrying the weight and worry of two boys who need their father. Carrying the weight of a woman who needs her love. Alone. I sat alone by his bedside, watching him rest, finally, when the pain medicine kicked in. Alone. I have done alone before, my heart screamed, I can not do alone again. I wanted someone there… someone to hold my hand as I held his. But I was alone.

“I can’t lose him,” I sobbed to the nurses. “I can’t.”

He is my everything, I spoke to myself, He is my only. With him, I am not alone and I can not, I will not be alone. I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick and punch my way to answers. I wanted to save him so that he could continue to be my salvation. I can not lose him.

“You won’t,” they assured me. “Totally fixable. You won’t lose him.”

And I didn’t. We were lucky. He came home, not the same but better. He came home and still I heard the nurses in the back of my mind, reminding me that I wouldn’t lose him. Reminding me that this fear was temporary.

Their promises wove into my heart, bolstering my confidence to leave him at home, alone, without my watchful eye. But deep in the back of my mind, a voice whispers still a truth I dare not speak aloud:

“You will lose him, Karen. Someday. You will lose him. Just not today.”

And Fear reclined back, terrifyingly comfortable in his curtained off corner of my heart.

Starting Over

Posted on | February 3, 2018 | No Comments

When I looked at my life on December 31st, I felt…. stagnant.

Yes, I realize that’s a ridiculous thing to say when you’re 40 with a new-ish baby, and a new-ish husband. But I’m one of those people who needs new adventures. I need something on the horizon… something good, something bad… just SOMETHING.

So on January 1st, I wrote an email to an attorney I admire. It was nothing more than a spontaneous reach out to soothe some of the anxiety I was having at not going anywhere.

But then he responded nearly immediately.

And one week later I was sitting in an unfamiliar office with two familiar attorneys, laughing and talking about career options.

One week after that, I had a job offer and a decision to make.

For those of you who have been around a while, you may recall that when I got divorced, I had to haul it out of Savannah at rapid speed. I was so lucky to find a firm back in Macon who wanted me and I signed on the dotted line. I started to work there on June 1, 2011.

On January 19th, 2018, I sat across the desk from my boss of nearly 7 years, and told her it was time for me to move on.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made thus far in my life, and I don’t say that with a smirk.

See, when I joined the firm 7ish years ago, I didn’t just start a job; I started a new life. Shortly after I started, we hired another attorney. Then six months later, we hired a third attorney and a law clerk. Then six years went by and those three people were three of the best friends I’ve ever had. 

The thing about being a lawyer is that shit very often gets incredibly real. And nine times out of ten the only people who understand the realness that comes with being a lawyer are other lawyers. These three in particular, knew nearly exactly what my life was like for six years. They experienced the highs and lows alongside me. They were the unofficial planners/photographers/cake wrapper-uppers at my wedding. They love my boys like their own.

And leaving that sort of environment… where you work with your people… is incredibly difficult. It felt so much like closing a door instead of opening one. It felt like abandoning ship in the middle of the ocean, with no life raft, while an incredibly awesome party was taking place on deck.

But sometimes you just have to hold your nose and jump. And so I did.

I start my new job on Monday morning.

Here’s to new beginnings all over again. And if these three think they’ve seen the last of me… they are sorely mistaken. Because Goonies never say die, y’all… and dammit, I love you guys.

 

Turning 40

Posted on | December 13, 2017 | 1 Comment

Yesterday, I had a cardiologist appointment.

Luckily, everything is fine and I can continue living in blissful ignorance of whether or not my heart is beating. But as I sat in the waiting room, populated with people who seemed much older than me, one thing loomed over me like a black cloud.

There on the paper in front of me, in stark black and white, it requested that I list my age, and for the first time in my whole entire life, I had to write in the number “40.”

As if it weren’t bad enough that I was at a cardiologist. As if it weren’t hard enough to be running on no sleep thanks to a habitually sick baby. As if it just weren’t tough enough being alive and forty… I had to see in on paper.

The thing is, I know it’s just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did last week when I was still in my thirties. I don’t really feel any different than I did ten years ago when I left my twenties. It’s just a number.

Only… it isn’t.

We prize youth so much in our culture. We put it up on a pedestal and celebrate it with advertisements and cosmetics and everything geared toward making most especially women look younger. Sporting wrinkles, showing spare tires, feeling the brush of thigh against thigh, placing reading glasses in pockets? These things are hidden. Tucked and pulled and pressed and injected to disappear, to be eliminated, to be covered up with “Anti-Aging creams and lotions.”

Know who doesn’t slather on anti-aging cream?

Men.

But somehow growing old as a woman is like growing obsolete. It’s like being told to move to the back and let the 20 year olds shine. Our beauty is not celebrated unless it is celebrated for looking younger than we are. No one looks at a woman over 40 and says “Oh you look gorgeous!” unless they follow it up with “You don’t look 40 at all!” Or 50. Or 60. Or 70. Or whatever age we are that is past the point of society’s acceptance of beauty.

Turning 40 as a woman in America feels like the end of being beautiful. It feels like the end of being accepted into a particular club of women you never knew you wanted to join.

I don’t feel older, make no mistake. I feel the same as I did twenty years ago.

What I feel is somehow…. disenfranchised from being a woman. Like I’ve graduated into being just old… not female… not a woman… just… old.

And it stings.

Especially when I stare at 40 on the intake sheet at a cardiologist.

Building a Village

Posted on | November 13, 2017 | 3 Comments

I was talking to a good friend of mine today about our town being “clique-ish.” Okay… talking is the wrong word. I was complaining.

And I was complaining for the same reason most people complain: I don’t have a clique.

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, or maybe it’s because I’m mostly exhausted all the time, but I see all these people having fun with each other, their kids running around together like long lost brothers and sisters. Every time those images flash up on Facebook I think “Why am I not in a group like THAT?”

Not too long ago, the couple who set Banks and I up went on a camping trip. They went with a group of other families and the pictures were fabulous. It looked like everyone had a wonderful time, and it turned out we knew most of them. My first reaction was one of jealousy. That was a group I could be in, right? I could pack up a back pack and brave the wilderness, yeah?

But then I remembered….

I don’t sleep on the ground. Ever. Also? Bugs.

One “clique” down.

There are country club cliques and private school cliques and church family cliques and somehow, I always feel a little on the outside of all of them. I’m no longer a country club girl. My kid attends public school. I’m lousy at remembering to get up on Sundays for church.

It’s not that I don’t like the people in those groups… it’s just… it never seems like I’m the right fit for their groups.

I couldn’t hear my friend laughing at me as I complained, but I knew she was.

“You have to build your own,” she told me.

And I realized she was right. It’s not about fitting into little pre-fab cliques. It’s about pulling and choosing your village from among all the groups around you. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard for me. I’m really exceptionally lazy when it comes to leaving my house for things other than house fires and work. But I think if I want to put down the roots I’ve been longing to plant, it’s time to step outside my comfort zone and look for people to build MY village with.

Maybe I can put out a personal ad?

“Desperately seeking friends. Women with children have first priority. Must love to laugh. Beer-drinkers preferred, though any alcohol consumption is fabulous. A love of sports is a definite plus. Must love people who are indecisive, moody, messy, often irrational, and overwhelmingly nuts in all the best ways and some of the worst. Applicants may apply via walking across the grocery store to let me know that I have failed to zip my pants, button my shirt, or that there’s something in my teeth.”

If only it were that easy.

 

Love Like Cheryl

Posted on | November 9, 2017 | 1 Comment

Everyone has that moment: the one that knocks you backwards and steals your breath away. The moment that whispers in your ear “You are temporary.” Some people are fortunate and they only have to hear the message once to fully appreciate where they stand in the grand scheme of the universe. Some of us need to hear it over and over again.

On Friday, my husband called me at work, his voice shaky, to tell me that the 42 year old wife of one of his friends had suddenly passed away. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. No warning. No explanation. Nothing to pin point as to why her heart simply stopped beating at that precise moment on Friday morning. Cheryl Ogle was many things to many people: a wife, a teacher, a friend, a guardian angel. But the role of hers that struck me in the chest was that Cheryl Ogle was a mother. She was the mother of two boys, barely older than my oldest.

Some things just hit you where it hurts.

I wasn’t close to Cheryl. We’d met a few times and I remembered her as being exceptionally kind with a Southern drawl that was 90% sugar with a splash of water. I couldn’t say that we were friends, though I think, in retrospect, that we would have been.

I watched the people move in and around the cemetery, holding pink flowers and hugging on the two boys and their father. I saw the signs lit up around town, reminding everyone to Love Like Cheryl Ogle. I listened to the minister speak about Cheryl and what she meant to her family and to her community.  I listened as her husband spoke to mine about his wife, I heard how his voice caught briefly in his throat, how his eyes misted over as he looked back toward the bright white casket adorned with flowers.

His was a woman who loved big.

She was a woman who was loved big in return.

As we left the cemetery hand in hand, my husband looked at me.

“We have to do better,” he said. And I nodded. Because I knew what he meant.

This is a big world. And it needs more people to Love Like Cheryl Ogle did. It needs me to love bigger, to be more patient with those around me, to remind the people I love just how much I love them. And to love the people around me, even when it seems nearly impossible to do so.

So today, buy the car behind you a coffee. Give a dollar or two to the homeless woman on the corner. Buy a new book and donate it to a school library. Tell your husband how much he means to you. Hug your kids just a smidge tighter before you say “have a nice day.”

And when they look at you funny or ask you why? Tell them you’re doing it for Cheryl.

I think she’d like that.

 

It’s Tricky

Posted on | November 2, 2017 | No Comments

Way back in the early 2000’s, when I lived care-free in Orlando, Florida, I worked in a burrito restaurant. I lived in a dirty little apartment with my roommate and a dog, and life consisted of dancing, drinking, and going to work then repeating the cycle again and again.

Most of the time, I am sublimely happy with my life here in Georgia. I love my boys, I love my husband, and most days I can even find something to love about the challenging job I do from 8-5. But on some days,  I drop the boys off at their respective schools and an old Run DMC song comes on my Spotify playlist. Like magic I’m transported to a little bar in Orlando, belly up to the bar with my roommate while the same song blares through the speakers.

“It’s a sign,” she says with a pleading smile. “Don’t go to work!”

We banter back and forth, sipping margaritas and staring longingly at the pool table.

“Seriously, it’s a sign,” she says again.

And I believe her. So I call in to work, and we stay at the bar and drink margaritas and laugh and shoot a game or seven of pool with some guys we know from around town. I think we stayed all day, just goofing off, enjoying the outdoor patio and the sunshine, tasting the sour-sweet margaritas and being young.

That day stays with me. The pout of my roommate as she begged me to skip work, the sound of the song in the amplified speakers, the crack and slide of the pool balls across a felt table. I can taste the margaritas, feel the sun on my face as I lean backwards with a smile.

Today, “It’s Tricky” came on as I pulled out of daycare. The thought occurred to me that those days are long gone… the days when I could just “call in” to work and drink margaritas. The days when I was young enough to spend a day in a bar with friends. The days when I could lean back in a chair on an outdoor patio and smile without wrinkles, without worries, without wondering if maybe I’ve had too much to drink or where the boys are or what time the baby sitter has to be home.

Most days, I’m sublimely happy with my life.

But on some days, like today, I want to call my husband and beg him to play hooky. To belly up to a warm, Florida day. To drink in sunshine alongside margaritas.

And to laugh, as though no one in the world has any cares at all. Least of all me.

As the last notes of Run DMC played loudly in my car speakers, I pulled into work with a sigh. It’s not a sign. Not today.

But maybe one day, it will be.

Until then, I’ll keep longing for those days when nothing else mattered save being young.  And happy.

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    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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