SCRATCH THE SURFACE

A friend sent me an email asking all respondents to list ten things that no one knew about them. I didn’t answer. I have, however, been thinking about it ever since. It seems as if my life is an open book, even more since I have started blogging, but underneath it all are some things lurking. These are scattered, some silly and some very serious to me. No one knows them. Maybe it is time to put them out to air. I am certain that the emailer who sent me the question did not have this level of self disclosure in mind, but I am going for it:

I have always felt that my husband and children are my spiritual guides. They seem to be on this earth to teach me things. This became very apparent to me after Charlie suffered his stroke. Suddenly, my children were spouting wisdom, and I was leaning on them. Calls in the middle of the night were made from ME to THEM, not vice versa. At the very beginning of the saga, my older daughter told me that the event was most certainly a gift and not a tragedy. That one sentence was my lifeline. Then, suddenly, Charlie began his trip back into the world, and every day was a revelation about how one small man could turn the tide against a seemingly insurmountable disability. And these days, my “baby,” who lives nearby, amazes me with her sensibility, self awareness, and stolid devotedness to her life’s passions. Her groundedness is an example for me every day.

I have recurring dreams. My favorite one features me tap dancing with much talent and gusto. Another one has me discovering two extra bedrooms and a bathroom that I had no idea were in my house! The one I dread having, though, is the one in which I am at a fancy dress ball in a strapless gown, and I look terrific! But then I discover that I have forgotten to shave my underarm area. Shattering. A variation of this one concerns the beach, a bathing suit, and you guessed it!

I worry about being alone some day. After having nearly lost my husband, the thought of widowhood is always lurking somewhere in my subconscious. I try to think about how I will live in the house, solve problems alone, and if I will talk out loud to him. Will I meet the challenge bravely? Soldier on? Or wither? I have promised myself that I will be a “good” widow. What that means will only be revealed to me if and when it happens. Meanwhile, I brood a little bit.

I think I am stylish. Really. I realize that if I showed up at a toddler’s birthday party uninvited, that every child there would just assume that I was an attendee’s Grandma. However, I would NOT be the grandma wearing anything supportive, orthopedic, or in any way necessitated by arthritis. At my age, I still wear the same Katherine Hepburn inspired slacks and shirts that have always looked good on me. Everyone with any style sense knows that turned up shirt collars are simply stunning on the right woman.

I am proud of my grammatical prowess. I can proofread with the best of them. This isn’t always apparent in the blog, but that has to do with the fact that I sometimes toss them off and publish them with slapdash speed and enthusiasm. But I feel that I might do very well in some sort of proofreading Olympic.

I could eat every single night in a restaurant. I could even go to the SAME one every night, if the menu was extensive enough. The whole ritual of shopping, preparing, and presenting food to a loving family is not one that has ever impressed me with deeper meaning, the way it has for many people. For them, food preparation is almost like yoga in its relaxing and meaningful aspects. For me, it just seems like working on a giant nutritional assembly line: pop the potatoes on the plate, slide on the chicken, spoon on the peas, and do it all over again. Like Lucy at the chocolate factory! But restaurants offer solitude, mood lighting, opportunities for romantic conversation, and waiters. Bliss, in other words.

But there is a thing about me that I have kept to myself since childhood, and it is a true indicator of my core personality. It is embarrassing. I think it reveals that perhaps I am either obsessive, or is it compulsive? Maybe I am just a little pent up. But when I can’t sleep, I ROLL MY HEAD BACK AND FORTH ON THE PILLOW. I also do this on the sofa sometimes. My husband is used to this. My kids see it as a sign that “Mom is tired, and if somebody doesn’t stop her, she will fall asleep IN THE LIVING ROOM.” I tend to head-roll also when bored or nervous. The temptation to do it in Doctor’s waiting rooms is almost irresistible. So far, I have controlled myself. But as I age, will I become the crazy head-rolling woman in the beauty salon? Will patrons at the library notice me head-rolling in the stacks? Will I start doing it during traffic jams?

And there is a woman whom I see regularly at the grocery store. I run into her about once a month, and have been doing so for years. I like the look of her, and I wish she and I were friends. I don’t know anything about her except that when she was a young mother, she always looked fresh and athletic—just the opposite of me. Now that we have both aged, she looks wistful and slightly faded, but still extremely interesting. I smile at her when I see her. That’s all. And I regret that.

There you have it. Pieces of the real me. From behind the screen…

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