Skate the Day Away!

skates

Yesterday was not very Valentinetastic for me but then I didn’t really expect it to be. I am, afterall, decidedly single. Bug, however, had a super valentine-tastic day. She got flowers from her dad AND we went ice skating! Wooo Hooo! High fives all around! It was pretty cool if I do say so myself.

working her way around

The apartment complex we live in emailed out free tickets for one session on Valentine’s Day. I figured we didn’t really have anything much better to do and the sessions are usually quite expensive so why not? The rink is in a nearby outdoor mall and quite small but it’s still charming. And they play music loud so Bug was down with it in spades.

this is hard.

Bug started out hugging the wall all the way around. The ice was really slippery and quite cut up from all the other people skating. I tried a few rounds myself and even though I can roller skate decently, I had to go back and change skates to a smaller size. I just felt so wobbly and scared that I was going to fall and break something.

Buglet

It’s a whole new ballgame of worries when you’re 40 and you have crappy medical insurance with a super-high deductible. My Dad broke his arm when I was a baby from ice skating so I always have that in the back of my mind. The smaller skates helped a lot but after a half hour of skid-sliding around, I thought I better sit it out and cut my losses. So I grabbed my camera and tried to capture the fun that Bug was having instead.

half smile

Don’t let the half smile-smirk fool you. She was loving it.

hi Mom!

Things got exponentially better when her friend showed up. They are both so tiny and mighty with their personalities that are bigger than they are. They trekked and slid around that little rink over and over and over. They got pretty good at it and soon were doing their little shuffle-skate moves in the middle, far away from the floundering beginners at the wall.

buddies

Three hours passed and they were still going strong.

Here’s a little video of Bug doing her thing:

Not quite skating but getting around none the less.

The interesting part for me was that I forgot my phone at home. In the olden golden days this would be no big deal but just like everybody else on this planet these days, I have gotten quite addicted to all the fun aps and social media connections that I can check into every other minute. Being forced to sit there and people-watch hour after hour was really mind-opening.

The Bug Shuffle

I apologize for opening up the dark side of my life on this post but you know it’s been there lurking. You’ve probably been wondering how I’m doing when I don’t blog. Among many other reasons (like being busy or boring or lazy…) I’ve been going through some “stuff” lately. Every time I find myself in a low place and tears start to flow, I have to remind myself that there is a giant iceberg of hurt inside me and it’s going to take a long long time for all that to melt.

I always think I’m so strong and I can just buck up and get over things in a snap but I’m fooling myself. You don’t get over stuff in a snap. You just think you do and then it creeps back in disguised as some other disappointment and before you know it the dam breaks and you’re crying buckets. Not over the small disappointment but over the years of disappointment. Anyway. That is too sad and too depressing to wallow in. I just wanted to say it because if I think of the iceberg melting, it makes me think that maybe I’m making progress. That maybe someday I’ll melt this damn thing.

Sitting there watching all the Valentine couples skating around and nearly falling on their cute little I’m-out-on-romantic-date-outfitted butts was a good exercise for me. I wasn’t that jealous of them. They were funny and silly and they made me smile. I didn’t have my phone or food or Netflix to escape into so I just sat there and thought about where I am in my life and where I want to be and how I want to be a better mom to the one and only most important person in my life. I could go into that more but this post needs to wrap up.

skating the night away

So this morning when Bug woke up and could hardly move her legs because they were so sore from skating, I had to smile with pity. Poor thing. They had had a Jump Rope For Heart jump-roping session at her school earlier on Valentines and then adding all that skating really did her in. So it’s no wonder my brain is a little sore. Ice melting is hard work too.

Death in the Sticks

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I found out yesterday that one of my neighbors from the sticks finally lost his battle to cancer. He had a brain tumor. He was only seventeen. Just a kid. I can’t believe I knew him and now he’s gone.

He wore his pants baggy, almost falling off. His boxers hanging out the top by at least four inches. He often wore a trucker cap crooked on his bald head. One of his hats had fake dreads handing out the back. He was one of those gangster types that you usually try not to stare at too hard because they might ask you what you’re looking at and start a fight. I hate to admit it but I was afraid of him because of what he looked like. I think the feeling was mutual.

As we lived next door to him and we saw each other day after day we began to trust each other. He’d saunter off down the street to score some weed to get high and take away the pain and he’d nod his head at me as he walked by. Sometimes he’d even smile. A really small smile but it was there.

Over time I made friends with everyone in the neighborhood. Even the riff raff. Everyone had a story. Everyone had a reason for why they turned out the way they did, why they became criminals or drug addicts or alcoholics. Everyone had family problems. Everyone had pain. It wasn’t so black and white. I couldn’t just turn my back on them because they were down and out. I knew them. I knew their stories. And so I became friends with them.

Sometimes they would come hang out on my patio and smoke and drink. I tried not to let it be a bad influence on Bug but at the same time I wanted her to learn compassion. When she was gone with her dad I would let them come hang out and take a little break from their crazy lives on my patio. It was a fine line to walk, letting them in but not getting sucked into their worlds.

Some day I would love to write a book about all the crazy neighbors I’ve met in my life, especially on the journey I’ve been on lately. I could tell so many tales. But what’s amazing about it all is how they’ve touched me even more than I’ve touched them. Their stories are full of twists and turns, unfairness and pain but deep inside everyone I’ve met, even the craziest ones, there is a gold nugget of love and humanity.

I don’t want to say that all people are inherently good. I know there are messed up psychopaths who deserve no compassion but I have learned that if you listen to someone’s story, you will be amazed by the challenges they’ve been faced with, the breadth of adversity they’ve been up against, why they made this or that bad decision. It’s a lot harder to judge someone once you’ve heard their story. And everyone has a story.

Allen had a story. He didn’t really tell me too much about it. Little bits and pieces here and there. It’s not the kind of thing you tell the “crazy white lady next door.” I knew his dad was in jail for beating up his girlfriend with pipe on the freeway. His siblings were in and out of foster care and there were like twenty of them. I knew his mom, she was such a kind, sweet woman who always said hi to me but she kept to herself. I can’t really share her story, but know that it was not easy. So, so, so, not easy.

Allen wasn’t really going anywhere in life. If you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up he’d just laugh at you like it was a joke. He knew he wasn’t going to grow up. It was just one day at a time for him. Just figuring out where his next high was going to come from was all that mattered. He had tattoo of a cross on his arm and he liked to tell me that he read his bible every day and he prayed. I believed him. Bug and I prayed for him too. For a time there we thought we prayed his brain tumor away. But then it came back.

And now he’s gone. I can’t believe I knew him. But I’m glad I did.