There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,
and my mind has been known to roam.
There are four walls and a roof that wait for me,
and long for me to call it my home.
The mass of buildings and lanes of traffic
are replaced with hills and trees.
The soothing sounds of Mother Nature’s lullaby
truly put my mind at ease.
I am homesick for a place I’ve never seen,
a place where my heart is replete,
a home where my soul is understood
and a home where I feel genuinely complete.
The barren land beckons, the rolling earth lures,
I hear it calling my name.
I know when I finally find this haven
my life will never be the same.
I will shed the layers of the pretense I’ve lived
and genuinely feel at peace.
I will feel naked among the rocks and the trees,
and my life will have found a new lease.
There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,
and my mind has been known to roam.
I hope to one day discover this place,
and forever call it my home.
Working in the hospitality business goes hand-in-hand with working long hours. I can adapt to the hours but my dog is the one who takes the brunt of my lifestyle in the summer months. I will never leave her outside on a chain to battle the elements. She is firmly ensconced in our home, lazily spending her hours watching the wildlife from the comfort of my bed while the air conditioner keeps her cool. I have several people who are more than willing to come over and let her out during the day because she is such a happy dog but having her be the excuse for me to leave work for thirty minutes is wonderful.
(a much younger Callaway)
During these long days, I often wonder how she invests her time. Is she reorganizing my kitchen cabinets? Has she mastered the satellite remote? Does she inventory my refrigerator? But each day when I get home from my struggle to survive my sometimes 10-12 hour days, she is there to greet me and nothing in the house seems out-of-place. Until recently…..
I returned home from my usual work day and I was greeted by the reassuring excitability that I have come to expect. The house, as usual, was completely intact. The garbage was untouched and the serene ambiance wrapped its arm around my shoulder and pulled me into its embrace to welcome me home.
My attention was immediately diverted to the duvet cover on my bed and what seemed to be a single article of clothing bunched up in the middle of the bed. It wasn’t shredded, however the entire shirt was extremely damp. She had been licking my shirt and focusing her attention on the armpits of the shirt.
Now, you have to understand that my closet is hidden by a decorative cloth shower curtain that poses as a makeshift door. Somehow, she was able to get behind the shroud of the curtain, move the articles of clothing she had no interest in and gingerly lift that particular shirt from the middle of the pile of laundry in the basket. She also strategically replaced the curtain so nobody could catch on to her devious plot.
As much as I miss her during my day, it broke my heart to realize how much she truly misses me during her day. The writing was on the wall, or in this case on the bed. My scent comforted her during her lonely day while she waited for me to return home.
We are more than halfway through our busy season and soon my work days will become shorter and more structured. My time with her will increase and perhaps her need to be close to my deodorant-saturated shirts will abate somewhat because I will be here with her and not spending long days at work. I am grateful every day for her patience and her love and look forward to the moments we can spend together in the fall.
Yesterday was my day off. I get one day off a week this time of year so I have to pack as much into it as I can to make the way I spend it last until my next day off. My timing was altered slightly but I still managed to get everything done I wanted to do and enjoy some time with a friend in the process.
After my morning shopping and a few other tasks, I headed to my friend’s house so we could detail my car. He is a recent Honda owner and we both love our Hondas and take great pride in them. Mine has been sadly neglected over the past few months and in great need of a thorough cleaning. My friend, who has an entire Rubbermaid bucket labelled “car care”, was more than happy to help out and we spent a few hours making my car look like it did the day I drove it off the lot.
Every inch of my car was washed, dried and polished. Even the difficult globs of pine tar were beaten into submission and eventually removed. If you look inside my car now, you would never know I have a dog who sheds like crazy, drools everywhere and puts her nose on every piece of glass in that car.
As much as cleaning a car is about the details, so is friendship. It’s about the fact that you can have fun doing menial tasks, that you can laugh at pretty much anything and just enjoy each other’s company without having to feel like you are putting on a show for anyone. It’s about being you and knowing that the details of you are truly appreciated by someone else. And it’s about knowing that a true friendship may collect a little dust but it takes no time at all to polish it and bring it right back to where it should be.
I can’t recall our first meeting but I can tell you it was love at first sight. My curious gaze met his warm, brown eyes and the rest is history. I was a year old, and he was a stuffed bear, but ours is a love story for the ages.
When I couldn’t fall asleep, Winnie was there. When I was excited to read my new poem or short story, Winnie was there. And, sadly, when my roommate’s dog escaped her confines and ran up to my room, Winnie was there. After some moderate facial reconstruction and many tears on my part, Winnie, or a new version of his former self, was still there. He is still slightly angry that he had bad plastic surgery.
He may have slightly faded with time, as have I, but he still remains the same stoic character that I have come to rely on over the last 48 years. We celebrate our birthdays together. My mother created Winnie from a 1965 McCall’s pattern and he was my gift on my first birthday. Although I have the benefit of one extra year of wisdom, each year is just as special because he is there to celebrate with me.
He has been my confidant, my best supporter and the shoulder (albeit padded) I know I can cry on whenever I feel the need to shed a tear or two. He, like me, has experienced an encyclopedia of reference material when it comes to life events but we have come out remarkably unscathed.
Happy Birthday Winnie! May the scars of our past help carve the road that leads us into our future.
In the crusade to get my blood pressure back to a normal number, I have been having regular visits with my doctor. During one of our discussions about why my numbers might be up, I disclosed a few things that have been making me feel anxious, things that never were even a blip on my radar a few years ago but now sound alarms like I am at Defcon 2. I am nervous about driving at night. I now take my dog to work as often as I can in the winter because I am paranoid about the heater in my basement catching fire and Callaway being trapped inside the house. You get the idea. My doctor merely smiled and nodded, leaned back, laced her fingers together and told me I was experiencing “The Grandmother Effect”.
Never having had children of my own, I was mildly perplexed as to why I would be showing symptoms of a phenomenon that I should not be experiencing. She went on to tell me that “women of a certain age” begin to worry more about the things that had never bothered them before. It comes part and parcel with the beginning stages of the dreaded menopause, or as a dear man in my life used to say, “the meno”.
Women’s bodies are finely tuned to develop certain idiosyncrasies as they reach certain ages and their minds are hard-wired to react to those stimuli. I am certainly at an age where I could be a grandmother and, with an imagination like mine, I could begin to conjure up all kinds of horrific scenarios that may happen to the next generation of my family, had I had children. Or perhaps I am projecting those fears in regards to my nephews and worrying about them as they navigate their way through this life. As my doctor explained it further, I could truly comprehend why I was having these irrational feelings and worrying about things that had never bothered me in the past.
The “meno” is coming. It is inevitable and a necessary step to get to the next plateau of my life. I have experienced my first full-on hot flash in the middle of the night. I can only say it was like being on fire but being soaking wet at the same time. Sadly, the water didn’t extinguish the flames. I have decided that, from now on, I will refer to any future hot flashes as ‘my personal summer’.
Knowing that my worries are explainable has helped to slightly ease the stress. Now I can only peer into the opening of the “meno” tunnel and hope it is a quick trip to the other side.