After our evening ride, which happens slightly more that fifty percent of the time, I have a little ritual. I wash my face with Seabreeze on a cotton ball, a tiny part of me believing that if I use the same stuff I used when I was fifteen, my forty-four year old skin will forget that it isn’t fifteen. I wash up with a soapy washcloth. I think about my mom telling me and my three siblings to take a duck bath on summer evenings. That thought leads to memories of running and laughing in the humid summer air, of swinging and sliding, of catching fireflies and sneaking off to look at the little pond, of creating elaborate games where the mimosa tree is a castle and we are princesses. I always pause there and just remember.

Of course, those memories lead to more and I find myself longing for other things. I want a round cardboard box full of powder, topped off with a puff that has a silky back. I want to press the puff into the box, then tap-tap-tap it on the side, then tap it on my shoulders, under my arms, on my belly. I want to surround myself in a cloud of talcum-tinged air, to breathe it in and out again. I want to slick my body with a skin of pure white, to soak up that sweat that is bound to sneak out when I’m asleep.

I want a jump rope, a red one with barrel-shaped plastic handles. I want the rope to be just a little too long so I have to pull it into one of the handles and knot it again, making it smaller. I want to jump and hear it slap-slap-slap the sidewalk under my feet while I chant “Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack, all dressed in black black black.” I want to jump until I am out of breath and my arms feel like spaghetti and my feet tangle in the rope and I stumble and fall into the sweetly green summer grass and giggle to myself.

I want a Beverly Cleary book, or a Madeleine L’Engle. I want a thermos of orange Kool-Aid, my book, a great big pine tree. I want to climb up and up and up, until I can see the tops of all of the cars and find a spot where two branches make a vee. I want to sit there, trunk at my back, the smell of pine soaking into my pores, words and stories soaking into my soul. I want to lose myself, completely, for an entire afternoon.

I want to be in the back of the station wagon with my brother and mom’s friend’s son Johnny, listening to him “crack wise.”

I want to be at a summer fair, hands sticky from cotton candy, lips stained from Popsicle, stomach roiling from my sister’s mad tea cup skills.

I want to be lying on my back, on an old quilt, watching fireworks bloom like magic in the sky.

I want to be seven, or eight, or nine. I want to be carefree and young, strong and tanned, with my whole life in front of me and nothing to do tomorrow but explore and read and be alive.

And then I remember this real world of mine. I remember the words in my head that push to come out, and the man who loves me. I remember filling two sides of a sheet of paper practicing my new last name and how much I love vegetables, now. I think of how strong my legs are, how far I can ride, the fact that I can get ice cream when I want instead of waiting for someone to buy it for me. I put on my nightgown and go into the bedroom where Wayne is waiting, where my Kindle is waiting, where a cold beer is waiting. I smile and think how grateful I am to have memories, but how very much more wonderful this middle-aged life is than I had ever imagined it would be when I was jumping rope and climbing trees.

Since the list post, I:

  • Nursed a princess
  • Broke stuff, and then fixed it
  • Read a whole bunch of awesome stuff (I am on a poetry kick, thanks to what Wayne is doing in school)
  • Read Divergent (good), started The Handmaid’s Tale (amazing)
  • Got to the lace in Multnomah! (I know!)
  • Lost more weight. I am simply wasting away to nothing.
  • Decided to eat more
  • Practiced my new signature
  • Painted and sanded the book shelves Wayne made for me
  • And of course, organized my books
  • Wrote a chapter in Megan and dreamed about HPS
  • Counted the days until my last name changes
  • Picked what might be my wedding dress

Before I post again, I might:

  • Finish a couple books
  • Harvest some cherry tomatoes
  • Fix a pair of shoes
  • Finish all of the prep work for a super-big go-live
  • Buy a dress to get married in (and shoes too?)
  • Get a new computer

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