That’s it. I’m done with winter. The time changed and the winter blahs have settled in for, well, the winter. Never mind that winter only officially began on 21 December, I’ve had enough.
Right now I’m sitting by myself at the kitchen island with the TV on the Hallmark Channel where some mushy movie is drowning out the silence of this big house. My aged dog is spinning in a circle trying to get comfortable on the sofa. It’s dreary and the downpour outside has steadily progressed as the time ticks away.
When you’re an extrovert, being by yourself can be painful or depressing. I guess I’m in a funk these days because the thought of leaving the house is completely unappealing. And I really miss my family.
They say you can never go home. I don’t know who they are, or if you can go home and they got it wrong. It will be different of course, but it’s still home, isn’t it? Just because I never moved back doesn’t mean I don’t miss my family every day because I do. At this point I’m even wondering if I can go home to North Carolina.
After joining the Air Force, my mom and brother dropped me off at the MEPS station in Philly in January 1994 and I never came back. One downside to being in the military is that you usually don’t live near family. Each year I spend some time with my family in PA. Of course I visit as much as possible, but it’s not quite the same. Often I miss important things like birthdays, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. It’s been almost a year since I started drafting this and so much has changed. Again.
While stationed in Colorado, I met ex-husband Scott and we had Juston. He was born on my 25th Birthday. Shortly after, we moved to North Carolina and planted our family roots. Now, as much as I love PA, and Bucks County in particular, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than North Carolina. Yet that too has changed. My new life is split between South Carolina, where I work and North Carolina, where most of my life remains.
I miss North Carolina. I miss my friends at Fort Bragg and at the DEQ in Raleigh. I miss the food, my surroundings and my little house. There was an ease about my life while living there and while my new town offers a lot, it’s not the same. It’s lonely. I’m lonely.
My mom turned 70 last year. In November, in fact. If the realization of your parents age doesn’t make you stop and take a moment to think, I don’t know what does.
My mama turning 68 gave me pause. Sixty eight. Wait. What? How did that happen? I imagine it happened much like my own age: one day I was 21, the next day I was 25 and giving birth to Juston, and before I knew it <poof> I’m 29 with many, many years of experience. It’s a good thing I’m funny and charming.
So, back to mama… My mom turning 68 was a huge wake-up call for me. We’ve always been close, but I never thought about her getting older. To a certain degree I still don’t and she turned 70 last year – a milestone birthday. My mom doesn’t look her age and maybe that’s why it seems odd to me. Regardless, when she turned 68 that scared me – a lot.
My dad died when I was 15. He’s been gone for so long that it seems like a distant memory. On the other hand my mom has been here forever. She’s witnessed every aspect of my life, good and not-so-good. No matter what, she’s there for me, usually as the voice of reason. Even today she’s there when I need a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen to me when I need to share happy news. The realization that she’s getting older hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not ready for the day when I call her and she’s not there.
When my dad was sick and in the hospital, my brother and I spent a lot of time together. School ended at 2:30 for me so I was home before Josh. Long before 24/7 Cartoon Network you got a little bit of kid programming in the mornings, after school on weekdays, and Saturday mornings. That was it. As kids we lived for those few hours on Saturday morning. We bonded over cartoons after school. One of our favorite things to do was watch Scooby Doo re-runs (those meddling kids!), but we also caught up with the Transformers, ThunderCats, G.I. Joe, Garfield, He-man, Inspector Gadget, and Darkwing Duck. It was about the only time as kids we weren’t trying to kill each other.
Going home now is strange at times. My brother owns the house we grew up in and lives there with his family while my mom lives in the attached apartment where my grandma used to live. Like most guys, he’s not overly chatty on the phone and not into texting. I miss our silliness. Sure, we tried to kill each other as kids, but if anyone else tried to kill us it was game on. Families are good like that.
I love visiting my family. Squeezing on my nephews and planting an endless supply of sugars is happiness. The downside is that when you see your family only a few days each year you try to maximize your visit and divide your time. It leaves me exhausted. I want to spend time with my mama because she’s older and won’t be here forever. But balancing that out with spending time with my brother and sister-in-law and the two most adorable nephews you could ask leaves me feeling guilty and torn.
It’s been months since I started writing this and the time has flown by in a blink. I’m trying to wrap my head around how time went by so slowly when I was younger and how I can barely keep up with how fast it goes by now.
Maybe this is the “midlife crisis” people talk about? I wonder if this lamenting about all you’ve done (or haven’t done), your choices, where you are now and where you thought you were supposed to be is the “crisis” part of getting older.
As a kid I remember watching Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. Father Time enlists the help of Santa to find Baby Happy, the New Year baby, so the New Year can chime in as it’s supposed to on January first. Baby Happy is missing.
Happy ran away because he was being teased about his big ears. But Eon the Terrible, the evil vulture, plans to kidnap Baby Happy in hopes of preventing his eventual turn into ice and snow at the conclusion of the year. Rudolph, General Ticker, Quarter-Past-Five and Big Ben race against time to find Happy before Eon the Terrible.
Eon eventually finds and takes Happy to the Island of No-Name. Rudolph and his crew attempt to rescue Happy, but Eon causes an avalanche and the team is stuck in the snow.
Rudolph once again saves the day with his nose. He tells Happy about his nose and how he too was laughed at, but that all changed and Rudolph encourages Happy to leave his hat off forever. Eventually they return to Father Time’s castle in time to celebrate the new year.
Why am I telling this? Because we’re all a little bit like Eon, are we not? Our mortality is hanging out in front of us and all we can think of is how to keep it away, to keep from turning into ice and snow. Why else do we use potions, lotions and creams to look youthful? Or buy a zippy car or date someone half our age? Unlike Eon though, a good laugh is not enough to stave off the eventual.
Father Time and Mother Nature keep moving forward, with or without us as willing participants. I’m trying to come to grips with the fact that my dog is 15, turning 16 this month and declining quickly. My mom turned 70 last November. My son is going to be 24 this year. I keep saying I’m 29 with a lot of experience, but we all know I’m not really 29. Trying to get my brain to come to terms with my actual age is a bitch. So far my brain doesn’t want to hear it, but my knees know all too well. So do the wrinkles, fat and everything else.
So there you have it – I’m done with winter. Seasonal depression and shorter days only serve to highlight the reality of time marching on, whether we’re ready or not. I’m ready for spring days filled with lush green trees, flowers abloom and the warmth of the sun. Hopefully it will help me forget, if only for a short while, that time is slowly marching and it seems to be doing most of it across my face. Thanks for the wrinkles Father Time, I really appreciate them.