Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Missing Piece

When I first read Silverstein's Giving Tree, moved to tears I read it to my son over and over again so he would KNOW that giving all of yourself to anything is a mistake, then there's nothing left over for you and instead of love all you have left is resentment and I couldn't understand for the life of me why the last line of that book wasn't, and the tree was happy. BUT NOT REALLY. Perhaps for Silverstein it was about the fact that giving made him happy and for me its more about the balance of it, giving and getting back.

I never juggle that balance with the Best Friend. It's an understood, the joy of sharing and when she bestows those treasures back this way I am truly blessed and this morning I awoke missing her. I missed our Saturdays. We hadn't spent a Saturday in some time without an agenda. Now when she visits or I am with her its about cramming so much in seeing everyone you can see in a short time span that it's seldom about the lazy Saturday. I'd find her at the Elevated train platform and off we'd go on some adventure at a bookstore, wandering through the stacks of books, me pouring over one poem again and again and she reading an entire book in an hour or two to my amazement. Every time we'd find ourselves there she'd forget she hates the tastes of coffee and have me doctor up something that resembled milk with a little coffee color and somewhat cold. I have wondered ten thousand times why she wouldn't just get chocolate milk its what she really wants but the cosmo in her wanted it to be a coffee drink, so there it is, a coffee drink.

Sometimes a Saturday would start as one thing, the quest for the most perfect dress to wear to that thing with the guy who was currently the crush of the month. Will it be a blue dress or a white or is this THE job interview suit that had to have some sort of funky flair because it was after all something we would wear, not a drone always remembering that under the head full of book stuff there were women. After two hours of trying things on until your hair looked like you were in a fight with a ceiling fan we'd head off to a park with some dominoes and diet Pepsi sometimes with Richie, sometimes without. If Richie were there we'd have to speak in half phrases to make the other smile, what we do now when the nieces and nephews are close. And one in the woods playing on a rickety picnic table we heard the breaking of branches and she jumped startled sure there were monsters in the woods, monsters who lived what? ten minutes outside of the Chicago City limits? I don't think there's be a large bear or a cougar there hiding in the woods but to watch her jump about anything gives me such amusement. Richie had no idea that if there were a monster in the woods, he'd be lunch and she'd be running to the car for her life keys waving in her hands above her head.

I missed that this morning, the stolen afternoon when time would move ever so quickly because it was treasured time, time you can't get back other than if you hold them in your memory and dance with them a little and wait for the next time. Her last visit on Christmas evening she turned on March of the Penguins for the 3rd or 4th time, entertained by their ritual and the sweet frenchman's voice in the background and I wondered how many times she'd fall asleep to this wonder of nature. I was making Christmas cookies, decorating tiny Christmas house cookies with four different colored icings and tons of little candy pieces, all stretched out on the coffee table the house smelling like sugar cookies drinking tea, happy. I couldn't have been happier. She was programming our phones, with their google wonder, setting mine up so I wouldn't have an excuse not to answer some wacky text message that would make me laugh later for days. She calls my kid sure he has the answer as he's tucked back into school after the ride home in the snow. I can hear little pieces of their conversation and then I hear "Richie, if this thing came with a manual would I really be talking to you right now?" Yes, she's home, here with me and all is right with the world. Merry Christmas, in the midst of turmoil and some sadness she's here and its the best Christmas I could remember in years.

This morning I went into the spare room to find a flannel sheet in the cabinet where I keep those things and there was the lamp. This lamp is by far the most unusual thing I'd ever seen. I found it's sister at a garage sale one afternoon and I knew it was the best friend's lamp. It has a giant blue glass base that lit up independently from the top of the lap and had a giant jewel at the top. It looked as though this was something directly from Persia, if Persia were in Missouri at a horrid lamp shop. The perfect lamp. I was so excited to give it to her, knowing there was no other lamp this beautifully ugly. It has everything, the color, the shape, and it was huge, a lamp that would light the jet fighters up that would pass her high rise right before the air and water show (her reason for standing naked in the window for a few days straight). Not even two days later I am tooling around looking for my favorite bead shop and I find this lamp AGAIN in green this time. We had the world's ugliest most beautiful almost matching lamps in the world. Neither of them work now of course, the nature of beautiful ugly things, a little broken but too precious to part with, like many things I love.

This morning we talked of lamps, and planting, of lost Saturdays and Leprechauns. I am perched at the mail box waiting for something, she's glad the week is over. I made a pot of coffee for the first time in a very long time and I am savoring the cream part and of course the smell. The giant pile of laundry that has been beating me up is now just a load and a half of almost finished joy. The kittens ate their real first cat food meal this morning which means they are ready for their release into their real homes, the places where they will be loved and kissed the way I love and kiss them here. I am feeling stronger and I'm letting down some of the burden of worry, leaving it next to the lamp in the spare room. My brother tells me he can fix it, let him fix the other as well.

I went looking for my missing piece and there she was and I couldn't help but think of Silverstein's story and decided to share it here. I love the part where he found what he was sure he wanted and then went to sing and found there was no room and just set it down gently. Inevitably we are own our missing pieces I suppose but how I do love carrying around pieces of those that allow me to love them and that I find the joy in loving in return. The moments in my life when I am the happiest are those moments when I take time to "watch a beetle" and find a way to take care of me, paint a little and find my voice here. The world is melting, I am healing and the earth is turning on and on and on.

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