Over the weekend my daughter was invited to attend a birthday party held at the local roller skating rink. I tend to stay at the birthday parties my kids attend, mostly because I know how exhausting it is to be the adult in charge. It is a big old barn of a building and smells a little funny, as if thousands of sweaty folks have encircled its space for the past forty-odd years. Which, we can assume, is exactly what has been happening.
I stood alongside the wall for 2 hours as I watched my daughter stubbornly move around the rink, progressing from that painful mincing shuffle to small glides on her rented skates. It was great to watch her gain confidence and see her smile get bigger and bigger. It was also a 2 hour trip down my own memory lane.
When I was a kid, I lived about 80 miles from the nearest skating rink. It was the 70s and I lived outside a very small town. If adults organized a field trip, we elementary school kids did just about whatever it took to get to participate. And being a farm kid, I really lived for those field trips.
I’ll never forget the sense of freedom those trips to the skating rink gave me. Rollerskating was like heaven made real amongst the wheat fields and sage brush of eastern Washington.
My mom would send me off with a $5 bill and a signed permission slip. For several hours, I didn’t have chores to do or animals to feed. There were no irrigation pipes to change or grain to shovel. I could just be a kid and eat McDonalds and be free from my normal responsibilities.
It was like heaven. The big yellow school bus has always symbolized freedom in many ways for this farm girl, but on field trip days, the bus didn’t just take me away from the farm, it took me to the city and freedom from mere walking.
To rollerskate is to be magic. To be birdlike or something other-like. There was popular music playing loud over the speakers, crazy lights bouncing off the disco ball and lighting up the faces already lit by smiles. There was the chance to hold the hand of a boy and pretend.
Sure there were hard falls and bruises and injuries. But for a few hours, I was as close to flying as my earth-bound self could get and I loved it. The pain was worth it.
Watching my daughter make her way around the rink, I kept my hands still and hid my fear of head injuries and broken bones. I stopped wanting to keep her safe and instead wanted her to find just a bit more bravery.
I wanted her to go fast enough to feel the wind on her face, to feel just a bit like what it must be like to fly.
If I could give her wings, I would. Rented roller skates will have to do for now.
I know that according to my bio, I may appear to be one of those creative types, but that appearance is much better on paper than in real life. No whimsical long skirts or beaded necklaces here. No clouds of patchouli or dread locks. Nope, I look like I could be an accountant or maybe a cashier at the grocery store.
What’s more, I never have been a poster child for creativity. I was a serious child who didn’t play like other kids. I didn’t play with dolls much, I didn’t dream about my future husband and plan out my children whom I would name Sebastian and Josephine. I didn’t create play worlds out of my Tinker-Toys and Lego. I was a strange little child, indeed.
But we all know that what is seen is not all there is.
The truth is, I really am one of those creative types, perhaps trapped in the body of a nondescript middle aged lady better suited to life in accounts receivable. I built my sister houses for her Barbies, I organized my toys and clothes into patterns of colors and sizes. I gathered my classmates around me on the playground and told them stories and jokes. And I lived in the worlds found in the books of my public library.
I am creative, just on the inside more than the outside.
There are stories always in my mind, their voices just waiting to speak. There are pictures in my head, people in my heart, and songs on my tongue. And they all clamor to be let out into the world.
But there are times when my creative passion must take a backseat. I wish this wasn’t my truth, but it is.
When I am stressed, I eat sugar and carbs. I drink more coffee and alcohol. I break out in hives and have heart palpitations. I wake up at 2:30 am and obsess over my to-do lists. I lose my temper and I wear an expression that looks far from a smile. I cry. I stop baking bread for my children and buy them Pop-Tarts instead. Instead of thriving, I settle for simply surviving.
But most importantly, my passion for creating the arts of my heart hides from me.
These days, I am stressed. We are selling our house and trying to buy a new one. If you’ve ever done that particular bit of joy, you understand. If you are a writer or painter or dreamer, perhaps you understand why there is no creative juice left in my hand that aches from painting baseboards.
My day job is heading into its busiest time and there are even more pressures on me than usual. The news is filled with sad stories, scary stories, frustrating stories. My pants are too tight and my paycheck too small.
So my creative side? It doesn’t fit these days either.
I am living on black coffee and the hope that everything will work out sooner than later. But I’d really like to be able to pack up my laptop and go sit in a coffee shop and just write. To take the story living the loudest in my heart and breathe life into it. Instead, I’ll reschedule the carpet cleaners, pack up a box of stuffed animals, and make another cup of coffee.
And I’ll dream of the day that my need to create doesn’t take a backseat to my other needs.
Some days you wake with the sun shining and nothing short of a tragedy can dampen your good mood. And then there’s the other days. Like the kind of day when you read the news and wish you hadn’t because it’s like a bit of your soul was sucked from your self and flew away, leaving you reaching for it like a toddler’s lost helium balloon. Today, even though the sun is currently shining, it is a day of lost balloons for me.
The news broke today that the religious police of Saudi Arabia have decreed that their Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will cover any women’s eyes that are deemed “tempting.” “The men of the committee will interfere to force women to cover their eyes, especially the tempting ones” he said. “[We] have the right to do so.” (The Beast, “Saudi Arabia’s Religious Police Outlaw ‘Tempting Eyes’”.)
I am sure there are three reactions to reading that article: horror, agreement, and apathy or dismissiveness. Read more…
It seems like these days my whole world is hard to decipher. Literally, I can’t hardly make out street signs anymore. I guess it’s time to see the eye doctor again. Of course, as often as my regular doctor dropped some variety of “at your age” I’m not too keen to go see my Doctor Payne. (I’m not making that up, btw.) Last time I was there he brought up “readers” — this aging thing isn’t for sissies, I tell ya.
I’m actually fairly chill about needing reading glasses because it’s just part of life. The other signs that are so hard to read, on the other hand, are making me far from chill.
Here we are, the weekend before we turn the calendar from March to April. I’m sitting in the kitchen typing this post with a cup of coffee and Littlest next to my right elbow. This is a typical Friday morning for me, except for the having Littlest home. Normally he’s at school right now doing all those first grade things he loves so much. But not today.
Because yesterday he started running a temperature. He got off the school bus and went straight to the couch where he lie in a feverish state until he headed to bed. This morning his fever is gone…mostly. Compared to 102.8, his temperature of 99.8 looks pretty good. But because his normal body temp runs in the low to mid 97s, that means whatever germs are playing tag in his body are still running amok.