Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dear Tresses

Dear Tresses,

You are hair today, gone tomorrow.


I just cut off 12+ inches of my hair.

Snip, snip.  All gone.

And now I ask myself, why didn't I do this earlier?

Why I didn't do this earlier:
  • I am cheap.  It pains me to have to spend money on my hair.  The reason I had long, flowing, healthy hair was not because I thought it was beautiful or womanly.  Not cutting it was saving money.  I was saving money by not having short hair, which requires frequent trimming.  (Says the person who incessantly buys hair clips and rubber bands to tie up said hair.)
  • I am lazy.  I don't like spending time on my hair.  Having long hair means one of two things: ponytail or bun.  Time it takes me to get ready in the morning: about 60 seconds.
  • I don't like putting hair products in my hair.  Short hair often requires some sort of styling product of the sticky or waxy sort, which challenges my tactile sensory hypersensitivity.  Ewwwww.

What finally made me chop it all off:
  • The amount of hair I pick up off the bathroom floor and shower drain daily should have been enough reason for me to do it last year.  Between Dear Daughter and myself, we could have made wigs from fallen hair alone.
  • The realization that the beautiful, shiny, long, black hair on my head is only beautiful, shiny, and long for the mere 3 minutes I am in front of the mirror in the morning.  After which, it is only in a hair-clipped bun, lest I want it to 1) always be caught under my shoulder bag strap, 2) perform anti-gravity electrostatic tricks, or 3) be in a ridiculous race with any foods ready to enter my mouth.  
  • I realized that I had the opportunity to donate my hair to help people who are less fortunate to have a head of healthy hair.  

The last reason was what sealed the deal for me.  I didn't want to go just a little shorter and waste a chance to donate some serious hair.  And I really was ready for a change.  

I found--through a friend--a salon that gives free haircuts for hair donations!  At the salon, I asked for a bob at the jawline with a little shaping in the back.  The hairstylist knew exactly what I wanted and went to work.  She first rubberbanded four sections of my hair and braided them.  

Then I started to cry.  

Out of one eye.  

No, I wasn't getting cold feet.  Something fell into my eye, and if you wear gas permeable contact lenses like I do, you'd know of that glass-shards-in-your-eye feel.  Anyway, after about forty snips, they were all gone.  (It was amazing how much work went into cutting off one braid!)

I wish I could give myself more credit for donating my hair, but the truth is, I got out of it a great haircut and a really needed change.  I love my new do.  I feel so much lighter.  And about the lazy part of me?  Well, now it takes about a quarter of the time to blow dry my hair, so a little styling time is no biggie.  I'm still working on the styling products issue, but we're very careful about taking baby steps.  

I don't know what will happen to my braids, but I hope that they will one day dangle over a pair of ears and brush her neck like her own hair would have.  Or tussle in a gentle breeze above his crown like his own hair could have.  I am lucky to have been able to so easily give something needed by others.  

Yes, I really am the lucky one.


So, Dear Tresses, I forgot to mention one more reason why I didn't chop you off sooner: people with short hair wake up with bedhead.  

Ask me how I know.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dear College Buddies

Dear College Buddies,

An ode, to you.


If your old college buddies will be in town, they'll ask to have a get-together.  You will eagerly anticipate the visit because you haven't seen them for nearly two whole years.  You will meet some brand new family members, and some "old" ones.  You will be so excited to catch up.

First, you'll give and receive big hugs and kisses all around.  You'll talk about how no one looks any different from the good old college days.  No one will actually believe any of that, but you'll all smile and think: if only.

Next, you will be amazed at how big all the kiddos have gotten.  You will think about how crazy-accurate genetics are and how the Mini-Mes are fascinating reproductive products of their parents.  Upon seeing your friends' merged faces on youthful, little Mini-Mes, you will suddenly feel very old.

Once you've finally mentally accepted the kiddos' growth, height, and looks and locked those into your memory bank, you'll start having conversations with them.  You'll ask about their likes and hobbies, their clothing sizes, their health, and their eating/sleeping/pooping habits (some answers are understandably provided by parents).  You'll exchange presents (for the kiddos) and marvel at the "newest" trending craze of their ages.

Being surrounded by kids will inevitably make the parents announce a few Parenting Truths.  I have not had a private bowel movement in <insert number> years.  I no longer own any clean clothes.  And I cannot remember the last time I bought myself new clothes to replace my dirty clothes.  Speaking of memory loss, I cannot even remember life before kids.  Nor things that happened three months ago.  Or yesterday.  Everyone will chuckle.  Then everyone will sigh.

The conversations will eventually get to be all about the grownups.  Move over, Facebook: cue RealLife status updates.  Job highlights, low-lights, lack thereof, and potential new offers.  Professional discussions will invariably lead to talks about major possessions, including houses on the market (and the need for a miracle) and possible new car purchases (none for our family).

After getting the big things out of the way, you'll talk about the little things in life.  Those little things we cannot live without: cell phone upgrades and iDevice updates.  There will even be a couple of hands-on tutorials and forced pictures- and videos-sharing.

At about this time, a couple of kiddos will have to nap, eat a snack, or have a diaper change.  After all, it is all about the kiddos.  <Insert intermission break here.>

When the group reconvenes and the kiddos' batteries will have been recharged from sleep or calories, they will have acquired enough heat to break the ice and finally play together.  At which time you will not be able to shut them up so everyone will end up talking over everyone else.

Next on the agenda will be sharing important news from cousins, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and mutual friends.  You will hear about good news and bad.  The birth of a baby.  A promotion.  New marital statuses.  A schooling fail.  Unresolved mental health issues.  Family crises.  The death of a pet.  You'll feel overwhelmed to learn these news, and shocked at how life can so easily turn on a dime.

You will get melancholy over such heavy talks, and someone will suggest an early dinner.  The men folk will go fetch food while the maternal clan tend to the kiddos.  When the food comes, everyone will scarf down comfort food from a favorite restaurant, which will remind you about how this group used to eat in college: like  locusts.  You'll reminisce about the good old days when you could eat a restaurant out of business.  And then you'll realize that either you've gained a couple of waist sizes since then, or can only eat a fraction of that obnoxious amount now.  Or both.  Either way, it'll make you feel--yes, very old.

As your children announce that they are done eating, you will be amazed at how much they ate.  You'll think about how much food they will be eating in the next few years, and you'll start worrying about your pocketbook.  You'll put away the food and begin to wonder when you will all meet again.

You'll be overcome with that cozy feeling of having been friends with the same peeps for as long as half your life.  You'll remember that fuzzy feeling back in college that you knew these were going to be your life-long friends.  And after two decades and many little Mini-Mes, you know for sure you made the right friends when you were a couple of silly goofs in college.

Which will make you eagerly anticipate the next reunion.  You'll wonder if it'll be another two years, though you'll hope to be sooner.  As you do the goodbye hugs and kisses round up, you'll be reminded to take in the sights and sounds of this encounter, because that's what you'll have to ride on until the next time.

Someone will ask when the next get-together will be.  And chances are if someone asks about the next get-together, college buddies are going to be in town.


Until the next time,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dear Anchor

Dear Anchor,

You are the stability that we seek, the rock that grounds us, and the tether that keeps us from drifting away.  Some of us spend much of our lives trying to grab hold, while others might feel your weight tugging at their transient spirits.  For me, it seems that if my anchor has finally dropped and settled.


Every now and then, I count the number of years we've lived in our house, usually because something breaks and I think it's only been this many years and it needs repair already?  It's always easy to do the math since we moved in when Dear Son was 5-months-old.  We've lived here as long as DS's years in age.  Six years.

I look around the house and sometimes catch sights of it showing its age: smears on the painted walls, stains on our light-colored carpet, dents and scratches on the wood floor, and the increasing number of repairs and replacements we've needed.

As I looked out my bedroom window the other day, assessing the progress of the house being built in our backyard, I naturally compared the age of my house and the new house I was looking at.  This time, when six years entered my mind, it suddenly occurred to me that in all my forty years of life, I've never lived in one same place for six consecutive years.  In fact, the longest stretch I've ever lived in a residence was four years, and one such four-year stretch was in our last townhome where Dear Daughter spent the first four years of her life.

All my life, I've moved and moved.  And moved.  I lived in at least five different homes in the first five years of my life.  I went to six different schools between Kindergarten and high school.  I lived in seven different homes (apartments) between ages five and seventeen.  Once I was on my own after high school, I moved six times between college and our first (owned) home.  I'm tired just doing the math!

These numbers may seem numerous for some, or a walk in the park for others.  Depending circumstances, everything is relative.  In the time that we've lived here in our little suburban town, I've met many residents that have lived here all their lives.  They were born here, raised here, maybe went off to college elsewhere (or right here), got married and settled, again, here.  I have come to know people who attended a grade school and later taught at the same school until they retired.  Our school's principal is going on her 27th year there.  When I meet such peeps, I try not to let my jaw drop out of proper etiquette and respect, but I can't help but think how vastly different their lives have been from mine!  No better or worse--just different.  Completely different set of life experiences.

It wasn't easy, moving around like that.  Perhaps it sharpened my ability to roll with the punches and adapt to new environments quickly, or perhaps it made me a person who despises change.  Maybe it allowed me to see more parts of a locale, or maybe it challenged my sense of belonging.  Perchance it made me into who I am today, or robbed me of who I might have been otherwise.  Each time I lowered my anchor, I did so half-heartedly, knowing that it wouldn't be long until I'd have to set sail again.

It turns out that birds of a feather do somehow flock together.  Dear Husband's number of moves in his life nearly matches mine.  After he thought about it, he also declared our current residence as his longest one, ever.  When we purchased this house, we both knew that we'd be here for a long stretch of time, for the kids' elementary and secondary schooling, at the least.  But now, six years later, I still almost feel a little surprised that we're still here.

DH and I finally don't feel like neighborhood/village newbies anymore.  We finally know the school system, the city commerce, the surrounding towns and attractions.  At last, we find our spirits beating to the rhythm of all the people around us.  I'm finally beginning to feel like I belong.

And in all the crevices of this house, memories continue to build.  Oh, there's that ding in the wall where I ran the vacuum into cuz I was so sleep-deprived I had no business handling a vacuum.  That's the spot where the Bjorn potty used to sit back when someone refused to use the toilet.  That's the space where a mattress used to be for when little feet would pitter-patter to our room in the middle of the night.  And those are the spots where paint chipped off because of an overzealous birthday decorating parent.  As the years pass, our bookshelves continue to grow books, and our walls keep sprouting new picture frames.  This home now houses more sentiments than any place I have ever lived.

You play the cards you're dealt with.  DH and I set permanent anchor later in our lives, but this will not be the experience our children will have.  They are dealt a different set of cards.  They will have the stability of a residence that we didn't have, but they will not get to experience the sort of adaptation and survival strategies that we learned.  They will have a sense of belonging in their community, school, and with their friends, but will not have the opportunity to experience several different ones.  Their anchors will feel less short-term and more secure than ours ever did.

In the spirit of giving thanks this November, I write this post because I am grateful for my home.  It may not have a finished basement or any furniture in the formal living room (aka playroom full of toys galore), and it may not have the upgrades or big backyards other homes in this subdivision have, but it is our home, our haven, our sanctuary.  I am thankful to be able to have the means and circumstances--at this point in my life--to stay anchored, for better or for worse.


So, Dear Anchor, you must be as relieved as I am to have been grounded for six years (and hoping for many more).  I would be happy not to see any moving boxes or trucks for a long time.  Unless, of course, they belong to other people.  And as the house in my backyard nears completion, we will soon have new neighbors arriving with their boxes and moving truck.  As exciting as it is for a family to move into a brand new residence, all I can think is, better you than I.


P. S. On a related note, during this difficult time for the people of the Philippines, my heart goes out to those who have lost their anchors and loved ones after Mother Nature hit hard with Typhoon Haiyan.  I hope for the chance for those in need to recover, rebuild, and re-anchor, and that the rest of us do what we can to lend a hand to help during that long, hard process.