As you may (or not) recall, Biggy and I got married on George's B-day, back in 1999 (Oh, and when I said Biggy painted the swingset to use as an arbor, you thought I was kidding!). And, yes, that was the same year Lola was born--8 or 9 months later. I wasn't getting any younger, after all, so after we were engaged in October, we started "trying" in March, a few weeks before the wedding. I never imagined, at 36, I'd get lucky the first time.
So, truth be told, Lo was at the wedding with the rest of 'em. And, unlike the rest of the kids (and unbeknownst to us), she was also in Costa Rica--hiking, horseback riding, drinking beer...
I wanted to post some pictures from our honeymoon. It's hard to believe the amount of time and life that have transpired since then. We've been through some really tough times, but also made a lot of wonderful memories, and learned plenty.
I believe I've made my way back to happy; however, whatever normal might be, it ain't us and never will be.
Here's a sample of the past--to compare with the pics we'll take next week:
We stayed in the honeymoon suite at the Sueno del Mar. It was like being in a beautiful treehouse.
We went on a seven-mile (3.5 each way) hike to the waterfall you see. We were the only two at the falls, so Biggy skinny-dipped. Nobody sees me naked in daylight.
Me and Lola having a cocktail in the hot springs at Arenal (the volcano). See the little tummy already at a mere 2 weeks.
I'd wanted to get married in Vegas, but Biggy's parents disapproved. I have to say this was the next best thing.
La Fortuna, the little town where Arenal bubbles.
In Costa Rica, they have these outdoor bars where the kids surf all day, taking breaks to drink the cerveza and nap on mats.
Dogs are everywhere.
And below are some of the reasons I'm so excited about taking Lola:
More monkeys than Grandpa's got war stories.
Frogs bigger than muskmelons.
Bugs that would scare Gary Busey.
Bonus: we can show the kids where McDonald's hamburgers come from. No lie.
I had Georgia by c-section on a Monday and went home that Wednesday. This was back in 1989, when they still made you dance the jitterbug within hours of surgery, without the benefit of plug-in pain meds. I'd made the huge mistake of walking around with Georgiababy in the hall, proving my superhuman resilience, so they discharged me with a Motrin prescription so strong I could have pulled my own teeth. No one knew I was allergic, so my first dose landed me in the emergency room around 3 a.m., with eyes swollen big as golf balls. Nothing like being blind on a stretcher in the hall of an overcrowded ER, with milk-engorged breasts and staples in your gut. Yet all I could think about was the fact that my husband was sitting in the waiting room with my tiny infant, where she was probably being exposed to Ebola and Smallpox. We were out of there several hours later, though, safe and sound, and my (ex)husband felt well enough to leave me in Atlanta with the baby so he could go to the Masters tournament in Augusta for the rest of the week. Good times.
This is one of my favorite pictures. I wish I could remember what we were looking at.
Gorgeous George turns 18 next Wednesday, and since we will be on our once-in-a-lifetime-whole-fam-damily trip to Costa Rica, where we have dreamed of taking the kids ever since we went there for our honeymoon so many years ago, and where I will most likely NOT have Internet access; and since she's being so predictably and stereotypically mean to me lately--what with getting ready to leave home and cut the apron strings; and what with my really and truly being her best friend in the world (something she seems to have forgotten), the person who shared my body with her for nine months and then held her 24/7 for the first six super-exhausting-nonstop-wailing months of her life, the one who knows her better than anyone else; and since I still love her, even when she's OTR and being a colossal biotch and saying the cruellest things she can pull from her evil arsenal--well, I believe a little Georgia-Kelly-Retrospective is in order. As I think of things--in no particular chronology--and find the pictures between now and our departure, I will post them.
First on the list, back when she was 8 and looked something like this:
GaGa LOVED this:
First on the list, back when she was 8 and looked something like this:
GaGa LOVED this:
If I could give my girls one thing, it would be a sense of their own self-worth and the power that comes with it. I would save them thirty years of figuring out that their value lies in who they are and not what they look like, though they're indeed beautiful. They'd consider their beauty a blessing, like their health. I'd spare them years in the mirror, have them spend more time looking out at the world around them.
I've always loved this Pamela Gemin poem, for its regret and its message to the young: Love yourselves. Now and always.
SENIOR PICTURE, 1971
I take it all back,
each dirty, lowdown thing I ever said
and felt and thought about you, honey,
and all I put you through.
I take back your Clearasil zits and Midol cramps,
take back those cheap 4-inch gold plated hoops
that infected your earlobes
and snagged your silk shirts;
I take it all back to the K-Mart for you,
stand in the returns line
with armfuls of too-tight bras, blue eyeshadows,
Uncurl and water weight pills.
I take back the menthol stink of those nasty
fags you smoked, breathe in the foul clouds
you blew out your bedroom window;
take out the butts you double-wrapped
in kleenex, sprayed with Glade,
snuck out to the backyard trash can;
take back the pink frosted lipstick
and jasmine cologne you stole from Hudsons
take back the drive-in nights
you puked popcorn and apple wine
out the windows of fast-moving cars,
take back your dancing wild at the Bowl-O-Drome;
your animal, rabid fear of touching
and being touched; your fear of boylust burning
bright as a thousand votives
in St. Joseph's vestibule;
fear of the Lone Airborne Sperm,
fear of the Lord's cool hand
set down hard upon your backside,
fear of His crown of thorns
set down hard upon your hairdo;
take back your venial sins chalked up in fives
on your blank slate soul.
I take back your fear of fat, stronger
than your fear of God, the fear
that kept saying no thank you,
none for me, please; that whittled you down and down
with your chocolate milk lunches
from 116 to 106 to 96 pounds
that Easter you went to Florida;
and even with studio-tinted cheeks
and hair the photographer made too red,
naturally wavy hair set straight
on juice cans and Depot-Doo the night before;
and even in spite of that goofy far-off someday look
the picture pulled out of your face
from God knows where,
I can see it so crystal
clearly now, decades too late,
see your momma was all along right
you were one sweet bird,
one inside/outside beautiful
Lo is in Target, the accelerated learning program. She spends Thursdays in a special class, studying more advanced subject matter.
This afternoon, in the car, she started the conversation by talking about turtles--not an unusual topic. Then:
Lo: Do you know what a furtle is?
TR: A cross between a frog and a turtle?
Lo: No. It's an animal that lays eggs in the spring.
TR: A certain kind of animal?
Lo: No! It can be any kind. If a butterfly lays an egg, it's a furtle; if a cow lays an egg, it's a furtle. We learned it in Target.
And some things never change--the big hair, the knobby knees, the weird things I do with my hands...
Today is my birthday, and in honor of officially making it to my mid-forties, I'm posting one of my favorite poems, by Larry Levis.
This poem is the story of all our lives--if we live enough, risk enough, and learn enough.
My Story in a Late Style of Fire
Whenever I listen to Billie Holiday, I am reminded
That I, too, was once banished from New York City.
Not because of drugs or because I was interesting enough
For any wan, overworked patrolman to worry about—
His expression usually a great, gauzy spiderweb of bewilderment
Over his face—I was banished from New York City by a woman.
Sometimes, after we had stopped laughing, I would look
At her & and see a cold note of sorrow or puzzlement go
Over her face as if someone else were there, behind it,
Not laughing at all. We were, I think, “in love.” No, I’m sure.
If my house burned down tomorrow morning, & if I & my wife
And son stood looking on at the flames, & if, then
Someone stepped out of the crowd of bystanders
And said to me: “Didn’t you once know. . . ?” No. But if
One of the flames, rising up in the scherzo of fire, turned
All the windows blank with light, & if that flame could speak,
And if it said to me: “You loved her, didn’t you?” I’d answer,
Hands in my pockets, “Yes.” And then I’d let fire & misfortune
Overwhelm my life. Sometimes, remembering those days,
I watch a warm, dry wind bothering a whole line of elms
And maples along a street in this neighborhood until
They’re all moving at once, until I feel just like them,
Trembling & in unison. None of this matters now,
But I never felt alone all that year, & if I had sorrows,
I also had laughter, the affliction of angels & children.
Which can set a whole house on fire if you’d let it. And even then
You might still laugh to see all of your belongings set you free
In one long choiring of flames that sang only to you—
Either because no one else could hear them, or because
No one else wanted to. And, mostly, because they know.
They know such music cannot last, & that it would
Tear them apart if they listened. In those days,
I was, in fact, already married, just as I am now,
Although to another woman. And that day I could have stayed
In New York. I had friends there. I could have strayed
Up Lexington Avenue, or down to Third, & caught a faint
Glistening of the sea between the buildings. But all I wanted
Was to hold her all morning, until her body was, again,
A bright field, or until we both reached some thicket
As if at the end of a lane, or at the end of all desire,
And where we could, therefore, be alone again, & make
Some dignity out of loneliness. As, mostly, people cannot do.
Billie Holiday, whose life was shorter & more humiliating
Than my own, would have understood all this, if only
Because even in her late addiction & her bloodstream’s
Hallelujahs, she, too, sang often of some affair, or someone
Gone, & therefore permanent. And sometimes she sang for
Nothing, even then, & it isn’t anyone’s business, if she did.
That morning, when she asked me to leave, wearing only
The apricot tinted, fraying chemise, I wanted to stay.
But I also wanted to go, to lose her suddenly, almost
For no reason, & certainly without any explanation.
I remember looking down at a pair of singular tracks
Made in a light snow the night before, at how they were
Gradually effacing themselves beneath the tires
Of the morning traffic, & thinking that my only other choice
Was fire, ashes, abandonment, solitude. All of which happened
Anyway, & soon after, & by divorce. I know this isn’t much.
But I wanted to explain this life to you, even if
I had to become, over the years, someone else to do it.
You have to think of me what you think of me. I had
To live my life, even its late, florid style. Before
You judge this, think of her. Then think of fire,
Its laughter, the music of splintering beams & glass,
The flames reaching through the second story of a house
Almost as if to—mistakenly—rescue someone who
Left you years ago. It is so American, fire. So like us.
Its desolation. And its eventual, brief triumph.
Terry Jacks released this super-corn in 1973. I was ten. We liked to sing the alternative lyrics, "But the hills that we climbed were too rough on our behinds." Love this factoid from Wikipedia: "Jacks claimed on a VH1 special to have written "Seasons In The Sun" after a friend of his just died. The song was actually penned by Jacques Brel with the English translation by Rod McKuen."
The 70's were filled with this kind of musical pablum (And oh how we loved it!). Here as a bonus is another, from Paper Lace, 1974:
Having mastered Horse With No Name and Little Boxes, I've moved on to learning my favorite song of all time. Embedding has been disallowed, so I couldn't simply post the video. Angel From Montgomery was written by John Prine, who sings with Bonnie Raitt in this clip. Bonnie made the song famous, but John Prine's beautiful lyrics are unforgettable. Especially the third verse, which still makes me cry.
*I stole the image from an online mag I just discovered, which then led me to Tom Chambers Photography.
Sunday, Lo's guy-friend J came over to play. They spent some time running around in the sprinkler, rushing the season, and then I fed them a sliced apple and cheese singles (Let's say it was a healthy snack by choice and not because it was all I had in the house). As they picnicked on the front stoop, deep in conversation, I messed around in the yard, turning off the hose, picking up Biggy's toys, etc. Then I tried to squeeze by them to go back in the house:
Lo: Is beaver-hole a bad word?
TR: [befuddled, speechless]
Lo: Is it?
TR: Where did you hear that?
J: I heard it on South Park.
TR: Hmmm... Yeah, I'd have to say that is DEFINITELY a bad word.
Lo: Well, what does it mean?
J: My brother said if you say that word, it's bad against your mother.
TR: Smart boy.
Lo: What does it mean?
TR: It's an ugly word for a woman's private parts. It's insulting. Let's never say it again.
J: What if I really see a beaver going in a hole?
TR: You might try 'beaver house' instead.
Satisfied we'd settled the issue, I went to find Georgia so we could laugh about it together. I found her in the kitchen:
TR: Lo just asked me if beaver-hole is a bad word.
Georgia: Is it?
TR: George!!! You know---beaver?
Georgia: What does that mean?
TR: [gesturing like Vanna White]
George's friends Anna and Taylor celebrated their 18th birthdays with a joint 80's party at Anna's house. And what better way to celebrate your birthday if you were born in 1989? To think they almost missed that whole remarkable decade.
When we were dating, everything about Biggy excited me--his Eddie Munster hairstyle, the way he preened like a girl in front of the mirror, the fact that he ate generic pasta with generic tomato sauce for dinner every night. Even the smell of his sweat turned me on, and I'd go the day or two between our visits without washing my long, frizzy hair, which held the odor like a Motel 6.
Eleven years later, I roll my eyes as he sculpts and cuts his hair every morning. When he asks me--for the eighteenth time--if the sweater he's wearing makes him look like a choreographer, I find it annoying, not endearing. As for his post-game body odor, its allure wore off sometime during a seven-mile hike on our Costa Rican honeymoon, when my morning sickness kicked in. Since then, I have purchased every extra-extra-ultra-max-manly-man-goat-herder-strength deodorant on the market, but nothing can beat it down.
To make matters worse, he comes home from working out or riding his bike, takes a shower, and dries off before his skunk glands have stopped producing the stink. I can walk into the bathroom and be knocked down by the stench wafting off the towel rack.
And this morning, I took a CLEAN towel, fresh from the dryer, and hung it next to the tub. When I got out of the shower, I grabbed it and gave my hair a good rubdown before starting on my body. By the time I got the towel belly level, I could smell that rancid chicken-soup aroma exuding out of my damp head.
Now, what would Heloise say about that?
Because of the miracle of statcounter.com, I can see how visitors to my blog get here. I can't help but feel sorry for the people who google "colossal breasts" and click on this,
or those who google "dream kelly" (some young hot bod who has quite the following), only to click on this.
Lo fell off a trampoline on Saturday and landed on her left arm. She was spending the night with Mamoo, of course, in the Land of Dog Bites and Broken Bones (Sorry, Mamoo, I just liked the phrase).
She was a little sad and quiet when she came home yesterday and woke in the middle of the night hurting, so we got an appointment with an orthopedic doctor this afternoon. When we arrived at 1:00, the waiting room was full of geriatrics, a couple of them on oxygen, several with walkers or wheel chairs. The only magazines to be found were AARP and Golf Digest. Lola took one look around and asked, "Are you sure we're in the right place? These are all old people." Two hours into our wait for x-rays, we'd pretty much decided they'd all been young when they came in. But before anyone actually expired before our very eyes, we were finally called back.
Turned out she has a fracture, which means no softball this season and no bike, scooters, running, climbing etc. for six weeks. The doc told her it was safe to do her homework, though.
Oh, and she can't pick up anything heavier than Racky (pictured above), so Jack will have to be her personal slave.
Lola came home the other day bearing an invitation to the SPECIAL! GALLERY-STYLE! ART SHOW! at her school next week.
Gone are the days when your child's art would be Elmer's-glued to a big piece of black construction paper and taped to the walls in the first-grade hall for you to take home later FOR FREE. Gone are the days when they'd lure you to PTA with promises of open house art with butter cookies and fruit punch.
Nowadays, a for-profit company comes in to plan and run the show. They take your kid's masterpiece and put it in a frame you could buy for 4.99 at WalMart, display it on a big foamcore backboard, and charge you 30 BUCKS! for it.
They urge you to "See it. Share it. Celebrate."
And don't they know we celebrate every green cat and purple dog, every birthday poem and certificate of honor--that we are surrounded by our child's genius--on every wall, stuck on the fridge, and piled in the tops of our closets--that we can get it for free and frame it for pennies?!
So now they're going to SELL it to us, and we must buy it or risk crushing our darling's self-esteem?
It's an insidious shakedown.