I hate putting it that way. I feel like a kid – especially a girl – isn’t bound to compete at every turn. I don’t want any of my girls to feel obligated to take up the fight, for themselves, their families, their race, their gender … their anything.
I learned a ton when Grace took the high road before.
So she didn’t sign up for the LEGO Ninjango Obstacle Course a few weeks ago. I wrote about it here on the CD. She’d even picked out a friend to sign up with. She’d planned it all out, which parts she’s excel and which were better suited for her friend. We’ll call her Jaylen.
On a Taco Bell/Dollar Tree run for two bean burritos (no onions), triple-layer nachos, earbuds, deodorant, and peanut butter wafers, I noticed the damage to Gabi’s hood. Dings, that grew. Dings, that, with miles and sun and more miles, started to peel.
Gabi’s Stormtrooper-white finish, pocked with primer and rust spots.
She’s not the only one. I once could claim months, years, even, of sick-free existence. Lately, germs and conditions seem to be parading on my doctor’s file. It happens without notice. One day, you’re motoring down the highway. Next, you’re on cinder blocks.
I’m not talking given names, such as Geneva, Angelica or Noel. I’m talking a species identifier. He’s repping today’s word, dinosaur, nonetheless. He’s got a nasty disposition and major dentition going on. Who wants to mess with that?
Until science catches up with him, he’ll be known simply as The Writing Beast.
See, Elise won him at a beach-side arcade, and gifted him to me. I kept him close, and a funny thing happened: I wrote fiercely. I left him in my bag – and wrote non-fiercely. It’s a simple correlation, really: The Writing Beast begets monster writing.
On Sept. 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall in Charleston, S.C., in Category 4 glory. When the storm reached Charlotte, 85 miles away, he still packed hurricane-strength winds. I woke up after 3 a.m. to find my cat, Cybill and turned on the radio.
(Side note: We had TVs back then.)
I stepped outside. The wind seemed to push and pull at once, the heavy smell of salt water all around. The sky glowed a menacing sea-green then yellow. Trees snapped and transformers blew to punctuate Hugo’s howling winds.
We watched Elise cross the stage with friends on Saturday, turn her tassel, and set her eyes on college. Spirited and memorable speeches. Friends and family and fried chicken. A day to recognize a 13-year race finally won. And a new one to begin.
Friends and family dropped by for fellowship and fruit and cheese and frames.
The word for today, frame, took up two tables on Sunday. Grandparents and aunts and uncles got their pick of photos of Elise. Soccer Elise, prom dress Elise, Elise in a burgundy dress in the falling leaves at Frank Liske Park.
It’s in the teams I coach. It’s in my teammates at work (of whom I’m old enough to be a big brother.) It’s constant, with my girls. Especially its evident on graduation day. One hundred-three seniors let fly their caps on Saturday, and look where one landed?
Grace served as an enthusiastic (and sassy) human hanger for Elise’s cap and gown.
Youth’s also still within me. I might creak and groan when I get up. Maybe I can’t cover ground the way I once did. I’m just as good once as I ever was, as the song goes. At times, I’m an old car with a fresh tank of gas, and that’s good to go.(That’s Elise, by the way, in the background, in the peach dress.)
Or, cookies. Traffic. Egg burrito. You call one of those words for the Photo a Day Challenge, maybe I’m not struggling to conceive of some creative way to document brushes. Brushes. Brushes with the law?
Every time I have one, I’m concentrated on not pissing myself. Not photos.
“Can you snap a shot of Elise’s paint brushes?” I asked Grace. We were in Walgreen’s printing pictures she would use in a collage for her friend, who’s moving to a different school. We pushed the 10 p.m. closing time. On a school night.
The word’s bubbles for June 5 in the Photo a Day Challenge from Ashley. Rather than the Hubba Bubba or wand-and-soap-concoction variety, I wanted to step back and enact a defiant act from my childhood. (Why do parents get so pissed at this?)
At the risk of teaching my kids another act of defiance, that was plan A.
My girls came up with something better. Elise and Grace snapped shots of bubbles spewing not out of dad’s milk straw but into their fish tank. They captured the beauty in a 10-gallon enclosure with all of $2.97 worth of tropical fish like it was Jacques Cousteau.
I won’t call it stealing, or cheating. I’d waited all day for sunshine, and when it came, I was inside. I drove through angry storms from Mooresville to Charlotte, through flooded streets and below thunder-crackling skies.
I picked Elise and her friend up from the mall.
The sun shone through and my phone battery died. I told her about the challenge, and that I needed a shot of sunshine if she could manage one. She’s a creative photog herself, so I knew I was in good hands. She took Elise’s senior photos, in fact.
We count down the days ‘til it starts. We long for it in the depths of winter. Give us sun and sand, sleeping in and summer vacation. I’ve never been on board. Cooling autumn winds, short days and chilly nights sustain my soul the way the sun does others’.