Monday, November 29, 2010

All About Moderation and Kernels in Your Teeth

The kids are back on the Michael Jackson hit parade and as much as I myself was never a really big fan, I have to admit I kinda like watching Rosie start to dance when the rest of them start singing, "Black & White" rather loudly and off key.

Of course, this fascination with MJ's music is bringing up one of the most treasured conversations at our place: why all of our favourite singers are dead. And, more importantly, all the lovely aspects of their timely or untimely demises. Fun, fun, fun in the car, YOU BETCHA!

For example, heading home from the big city the other day, Bubba-Love was trying to understand just how Michael Jackson could have died from taking too much medicine. In his little mind, that children's pain reliever, with the fabulous strawberry simulated taste, just doesn't seem so m├ęchant.

The Man and I decided to hammer the whole drug abuse, over dosing thing to the hilt so we went to town talking about how taking too much of anything can cause addiction and even death. We talked about how you have to be really careful to take the right dose and only let mom or dad give you medicine. And even then, you have to respect the right amount of medicine or you could end up like Michael.

"You know, Bubba, mommy and I have a big pot of headache medicine in the kitchen. We only take one little pill to help our heads when they hurt, not the whole pot or that would kill us."

Bubba stared back at his father's reflection in the rear view mirror and with a shocked look on his face asked, "But you can eat the whole pot of popcorn, right?"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shall I Sign Her Up for German Next School Year Just For Fun?

The other night, The Princess starting thanking her big brother profusely for all that he and his people had ever done for her. Since this was a whole new conversation I had never heard before, I decided eavesdropping was definitely in order.

"You know, MH, I really thank you and daddy's grandparents for all they've done. Really, I mean, if it weren't for you guys and all those people mommy's related to, all of us French people would be speaking that language that sounds like strassagagha urghresha, halmgie, ichblaga right now."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Phoenix

When my aunt Mary Pat died, the sense of loss was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. The suddenness of that void her death caused still haunts me to this day. Everyone in the family misses her in their own way, each of us wishing for her in our own way. For me, I just wish I still had a chance to see her, to make plans for lunch, hug her, tell her that I love her. But as we know and suffer with death, those things can't happen. She's gone.

When things got shitty between me and The Man a couple of months ago, that void came back to me in a whole new way. An ugly, horrible, empty void caused by the death of our marriage. A death of who I had thought I was and who I thought we were. There is no question in my mind that I have been mourning so much, regretting so much, wishing things hadn't turned out like they did. There are moments when I feel the void swallowing me whole with doubt and worry, with fear, with the shadows of emptiness that chase me through the hallways of my mind.

But the funny thing with this void is that it isn't just mine. The Man is in it here with me. He feels the pain, he suffers, he regrets. We died as a couple over the last couple of years, of that I am certain. But the funny thing with this death is that he's not gone. Nor am I.

We meet for lunch, we tell jokes, he hugs me, we tell each other that we love each other. We talk about what happened to us and why. We mourn the good times we had and try to understand the bad. We talk about who we were and thank God for the chance to talk about who we can be. When he comes home at night, I tell him how glad I am that he's here. Here with me. Alive and moving on.

He's not gone. He's here in the ashes of our marriage, holding my hand.

We're not gone.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's A Blanket That's Been to Paris and L.A...

Every evening, when I pick up Rosie from the creche, she's got this rather large red plastic suitcase next to her. It's about the size of a small hand bag and tough enough to be thrown around, banged into walls, and even used as checked luggage on an Air France flight. Best part about this little red case: it's just the right size to stuff Stinky in.

The wonderful women of the creche have told us that Rosie goes for the suitcase almost immediately every morning. She grabs it, opens it up, and stuffs her teddy in there and the gets on with her day. She hauls the case to the climbing area, she puts it next to her when she paints. She tries to hit everyone and sundry with it when it's time to change her nappy and it now even has it's own chair next to her at lunch time. It's become "la valise de Rosie."

As I look at her standing next to her red suitcase, I wonder if the ideas of moving and travelling are already at work in her little 18 month old mind. It makes me wonder if our youngest miracle might just suffer from a good case of genetic wander lust. Is it possible that it'll be she who will tell her parents at the age of 18 that really it'll be fine if she goes to a university the other side of the planet? The one who will decide that she needs to go spend 2 years in Indonesia just because she can? Perhaps she'll be the one who's own children will carry more passports than she does.

I look at the little face, full of awe and wonder, full of joy as she frees Stinky from his case and gets her coat to go home.

I'm so glad to see her. So glad to love her. So excited to see where she and Stinky get to go.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The People in My Neighbourhood: The Parisians

There a quite a lot of second homes in the village, places people either have inherited from aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins or houses that by some strange twist of fate now belong to people from Holland, Germany, or *gasp* even Paris. Estrangers who have bought old places and fixed them up during their short and infrequent visits to the mole hill.

I like it when they are all here. They open their shutters and turn on the lights and the life of this village changes. There are more bisous to give, more stories to share, and more good excuses for a lengthy dinner by the wood stove. Not to forget, the best excuse for grabbing a bottle of wine from the reserve section on the wine rack. 

There's a couple from Paris, so to speak, who bought their house about the same time we bought ours. They had moved all over France with His job over the years and after spending time in the Auvergne, decided it was here, in the sticks, that they needed to find some quiet. I can recall numerous vacations and long weekends when She would be here, working late into the night, sanding and painting, just to get their old house looking as wonderful as it does now. I'd see her in her work clothes, smudged with dirt and dust and then on the day she'd be leaving, this beautiful woman would appear at my gate, wearing shoes fit for Paris, and say good bye till next time.

I didn't get to see much of them this year since He had been transferred to another job in Eastern Europe. A massive life change for them which meant changing everything about their lives. They left their apartment in Paris, had to figure out how to get their three not-quite independent children set in various schools and towns around the country, and then move themselves to a place where they had no contacts and needed to learn a language that most of us have forgotten exists.

It's been hard for them. 

The Man and I sat with them in the lounge last night and talked about how hard this year has been. How hard it is to be in your 40s (or almost) and realize that this isn't really where you want to be: full of stress, anxious for the future and worried that your children will resent you for choosing to do as you've done. We talked about how difficult it is to take risks and not lost sight of who you really are. We talked about how being together in our couples is so much more than one could have ever expected when we said those words, "I Do" ever so long ago. 

We pondered 'why.' We tried to understand how things have gotten to this point in our lives, not sure that we have any good answers to any of the big questions, knowing that we are basically fumbling blindly through this life. We talked about how when it comes right down to it, the thought of giving it all up and running away to a shack in Idaho sounds just about perfect...

It's been a shitty year for so many people.

I don't blame them for not opening their shutters this time.