Winter Sports

Tropical Menagerie
Cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream
Skier carving a turn off piste

Don’t Call Me “Snowbaby”

I like winter sports when OTHER people are doing them; I hate to be cold and wet. My favorite destination is the ski lodge where I can sit beside a burning, magical fire and talk to the flames that warm my face. My favorite beverage is hot chocolate with whipped cream so I can wrap my hands around the cup like a hug and sip the sweetness very slowly. When I imagine a get-away it is never to someplace cold and snowy; it is a tropical island where the clear aquamarine water and tiny striped fish nibble at my pink, polished toes.

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Hey Ba, I Think It’s Now

a bird nest

Image via Wikipedia

I’m beginning to think that”these days may just BE the good old days” and I want to stop and appreciate them as much as I can. I want to  savor my children’s laughter, energy, and yes, even fighting. I want to enjoy family dinners served with a sauté of sarcasm and lumpy cheese sauce with laughter. I’m not saying that things are great but they are definitely good enough and  that’s just fine. My husband is still unemployed and our kids are just about to skip from home to college and I will be living in my own new reality, as an “empty-nester” which is both incredibly sad and exciting.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend Barbara and I would alternate saying “Laur, when is it gonna get better?”or “Hey Ba, when is it going to get better?” I don’t even remember now what was so bad back then. We asked each other this as we were selecting French pastries from a small patisserie: the fruit tart or the chocolate mousse? Two Libra girls in an enchanting bakery meant only one thing: both. Now, thirty years later, back then seemed like it WAS better but it was just different. “Youth” is wasted on the young” my mother used to mutter. We laughed and knew she didn’t know what she was talking about. We have all said the exact, same thing to our children as they look back at us and roll their eyes. How can we expect them to understand what no other generation ever did before?

Rereading the book Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg is helping to keep me in the present. It’s a book about a woman dying of cancer and her loving friends. It makes you stop and think about your life. For me, these are the good old times. Are we silly enough to think that things will get easier as we get older? They don’t. I prescribe reading Ms. Berg’s book surrounded by tissues and as Oprah would say “a-ha” moments.

Now, while we still have our two children home, at least for a few more months I am relishing my time with them. I want to freeze these days like photographs on our mantel. My son, my first born, a Senior, is always running out the door, his black and orange sneakers barely trailing him. He has about four and a half months before he leaves home  for the summer to be a Counselor at the camp he attended for many years. Camp is my son’s other home; it is a magical place that helped shape him as a person. My first-born,  has the same temperament as I do; we understand each other with a casual glance. He’s waiting to hear from colleges in the near future. As much as I try to spend time in the present, I miss him already.

My daughter, a Junior in High School came home from “College Night”  and sounded like a newly opened bottle of soda; her enthusiasm and excitement was contagious.  “I want to go to college tomorrow, Mom” she chirped.  I will have a whole year with just her where she doesn’t have to share the limelight with her older brother. I am not even ready to think about what life will be like when she goes off to college. This beautiful young woman will always be my baby.

I would like the world to stand still so I can try and burn memories in my heart. My nine year old dog is sleeping at the foot of my bed. The children laugh, fight, shout and antagonize each other yet their love for each other is incredibly obvious. I know my husband will find a job eventually and I just want to hold on to this feeling of our family; for as long as I possibly can. Here is my life lesson: cherish each moment; it’s as simple as that.

Most Romantic Thing Ever

Love, Young Love

copos de nieve / snowflake

His name was John and he was visiting from England. He had twinkling blue eyes and a slow, easy grin. He was absolutely gorgeous. I was in my mid-twenties and I was living in Boston;  I was in-between apartments and ended up staying at a local inn. One night there was a knock on my door, it was Barbara, the Manager of the Inn inviting me to dinner in her downstairs apartment. Barbara was an amazing cook and soon we became best friends. We ate huge, Italian meals by ourselves or with an expanded set of friends. We laughed, we partied; Barbara would sing for us with her rich and beautiful voice; we watched ice-skating together and ate fabulous home-cooked meals. During the day, after my work, Barbara and I clutched each other as we skated on the frozen sidewalks picking out French pastries for dessert. In a short time we all had become each others’ family.

One day she introduced me to a young man named John, from England, who was staying at the Inn. Barbara, kind of heart and spirit, always invited “orphans” for dinner. I met John and I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like me either. We fought and argued and disagreed about most everything. Apparently when the fighting was bad, Barbara asked our friend Steven (known as Stella to his close friends) if she should separate us at the dinner table. Apparently, Steven, sensing something, said “absolutely not.”

Honestly, I don’t know how, why or when the switch was flipped but soon John and I had quite a bit to talk about. We were laughing and smiling, hardly realizing there were other people in the room. When it was late and dark, John asked if he could walk me home and I said “yes.” Stella smiled smugly as we left holding hands.

We spent all our free time together, getting to know each other well in the upcoming weeks/months. On our first official date John arrived bringing a bottle of wine, flowers, a tiny stuffed bear and a T-shirt that he actually had made up for me. The T-shirt was beige with big red and black letters that read: LLBBF: 11:11 (initials for a nickname John invented and my favorite time in the world, 11:11pm.) Only Barbara, John and I knew what the nickname stood for. I had never been treated with such sweet kindness ever before.

Thirty years later I still have the tee-shirt, hidden deep in one of my closets. I haven’t thought of it in a long time but today it reminds me of a wonderful, warm and magical time in my life. Romance was blossoming, I was young and John and I walked, arms around each other, amid the glittery, sparkling snowflakes.

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