This morning I woke up early and drove from the condo back to the house to see the girls. It was my first night away and it was hard, but we all survived. My daughter's iPad won't charge, I'm having the same problem with my phone. She was sobbing about it when I came back to get my toothbrush. I hadn't really planned on spending the night, in a way it was good that it was so suddenly sprung on everyone although I still cried when I had to say goodbye to Jill and Jane. I couldn't sleep last night which is probably not too terribly shocking. It was so cold that I finally got up and turned up the heat to 65 even though I'm trying to be mindful of the money. There's no sense in being so cold you're unable to sleep when you're under layers of covers, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, scarf, and winter hat. Hardwood flooring is great, but it isn't as warm under the feet as carpeting is and the condo is very box-like as a structure with high ceilings upstairs so a lot of heat goes up and gets wasted.

My bed is in the dining room because we still need to install flooring upstairs. Someone smokes and the smell leaks out into the hallway and seeps through my walls. I woke up with some tightness in my chest and a longing for the cleaner air at home. I've been putting off transplanting some houseplants and that's moved up on my priority list as they will help clean the air over there. It's actually somewhat cozy having my bed and table right next to each other. I could easily live on the lower level of the condo which makes me think that perhaps in the future I could get a roommate. There are downsides to roommates, but there are upsides too. I don't want to do anything right away, but it's something in the back of my mind that would help cut costs, give me some companionship, and maybe help another person who needs a place to stay. Last night we had a talk about the future. Maybe someday I'll write more about what happens when you bury your head in the sand. He's gone and all it took was him signing a sheet of paper that would convert our separation into a divorce so I guess I don't have to worry about an attorney after all which is shame on me. 

He met a woman on an online dating site. It hurt to hear that. She's thirty-eight and owns her own business. 

***

Just lost a couple of paragrahs that I had typed and I need to get going so this is goodbye for now. Lots on my mind and things that I'm going to act on today... 

Many, many years ago when the school or youth group (I no longer remember which) had us swimming at the local YMCA, I had completed my swimming lesson/session and was walking back along the corridor to the bus and the front entrance.

The YMCA in this particular location didn't have doors to the changerooms, but relied on a short corridor with 90 degree turns to prevent those outside from looking in, while preventing people from hitting outgoing folks in the face with the door if they were entering in haste.

Which meant I was immediately startled by a very small, toddler aged girl, tow-haired with ringlet curls and wearing nothing but a smile on her face, charging gleefully out of the changeroom, laughing the kind of primal laugh only small children can produce. It was pretty clear what had happened: she had been shed of all the fussy little items covering her body, and was having a field day streaking around. It was a distaff version of the infamous Calvin and Hobbes drawing of Calvin bombing down the meadow in a state of complete undress with a giant smile.

She stopped, seeing me, and crouched slightly, giving me a conspiratorial giggle - laughing with the kind of "naughty me" guilty smile that showed she knew on some level she wasn't supposed to do this, but didn't care.

And right on her heels was clearly Mom, though I only saw little more than an arm reaching almost supernaturally from behind a brick wall. I caught a glimpse of towel held like a shield crudely in front of a mom body, one arm cuddling it and fighting it trying to fall to the ground. She was interested only in it cloaking her nipples and pubis, so most of her breasts and the entirety of her side was in full view, and a random flutter could have exposed her genitalia. She was MORTIFIED. A look of blind panic from a bob-haircutted new mom. She snatched her little girl by the arm and whisked her off the floor, shrieking with laughter, back into the gloom of the changeroom. The girl sharing a sly wink at me had given the chasing mom just enough time to catch up with her before risking exposing her own nakedness beyond the entrance.

As she flew back, she threw her head back, her arms out, and her legs open wide, in the kind of movement they socialize girls NOT to do pretty early on. She was clearly revelling in that all too brief moment of freedom before being marched back to cold showers and itchy bathing suits. I listened for the sound of crying or a smack or some other evidence that there were bad consequences for these actions, but none came. Part of me was very happy about that.

And in that brief, shining moment, a very unsexual moment, and I stress this because of the age of the child involved lest this come off as creepy.... it gave me a truly insightful view into the twin pressures on a woman. There's no better allegory or image for me than the pre-pubescent girl with nary a care in the world and the mother, protecting her child and herself from Male Gaze, seeing taboo and societal judgment and possible threat from a geeky, awkward pre-teen boy who just happened to be minding his own business walking down the hall.

I sometimes wonder what happened to that little girl. I hope somebody or experience or life didn't kill that joy, that spark, that happy moment inside her. I imagine her, hopefully - as a young 20something woman kicking off her clothes with an equally aged boyfriend and running gleefully through a secluded California landscape, or, maybe hiking elsewhere in the country, skinnydipping on a whim and splashing her friends with cold mountain lake water. STILL not sexually, though - just free, unfettered by care, enjoying the sun on her skin and the wind on her hair. 

It's a shame I'll never know.

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