Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Garbage Man

His truck is a work of art. A gigantic, belching, rank, marvel of lever technology. It has a claw. An enormously frightening, squeaking, crunching claw. I am postively riveted. Fascinated, really.

I love the groaning engine, the hissing brakes, the smack of the bin against the hungry chomping mouth. I love the way it gobbles the trash like a gloriously ravenous beast.

I want to be a trash man. No, no that's not it. I want to be a trash truck. I wander the house all day with my arms cocked to one side, squeezing the life out of anything in my path before dumping it upside down. My bin of Lincoln Logs, my case of racecars, my baby brother... No NOT your brother my mom says quickly.

I hear it. I think I hear it. Hurry! Let's go to the driveway and watch. Get a chair, mom. Put Charlie in the stroller with a bottle. We can sit together and wait for him to come around the corner.

But I can't sit. I want to see. I am giggling and straining my eyes far down the street. Now here it comes. Janie's house. Todd's house. Mom, its here! Look it has our trash! Watch it lifting the blue bin into the air like an angry monster. I cannot contain my excitement!

The trash man waves at me as our trash can falls limply to the curb, happily empty, with its lid flopping open. The trash truck poofs out a smoggy snort from its rear and drives away. I watch it go. I watch until it is just a gentle rumble in the distance.

Trash truck, I love you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Nights

I don't even clean up the supper dishes after we eat. One minute, our table is alive with the sounds of our voices: me cajoling Toby to lick a chunk of banana, Toby driving a tractor around his plate obliviously, Greg recounting his day or dreaming aloud about a car he wants to buy, and Charlie interjecting nonsensical babble with hearty ten-month-old conviction. The next minute, our spoons sit dejectedly in their bowls on a lonely puddle of taco soup while we dash outside to enjoy the only survivable portion of a Texas summer day.

I use "survivable" loosely due to the ravenous mosquito squadrons hunting and feasting on the blood of my innocent children. Since one bite has Toby swelling up like a bloated puffer fish it can be a real obstacle. Don't go all crazy commenting on Skin-So-Soft or Spring Fresh Off. Here in Texas, our mosquitoes are like super-powered biologically mutated versions of any insect deterred by a sweet-smelling non-carcinogen. We practically hose our kids off with deet before we send them out in the elements. (Okay not really so please don't actually do this.)

What I love about our summer nights are the subtleties, the inconsequential images that burn into my brain's very matter. Toby riding his trike barefoot down our sidewalk with his sweaty buzz-cut melon head flashing me a dimpled smile. Charlie crawling around the grass on only his hands and feet like a baby Spiderman. The neighborhood kids catching toads and insects while dripping Popsicle juice down the front of their t-shirts. These are the times when I know I am blessed. I sit next to Greg in a cheap folding chair and chat about life and hopes and love while we watch it all unfold under our noses.

When it is too dark to see, we gather up all the chairs, and toys, and Popsicle sticks and herd everyone into the house for a bath. We're sticky and red-cheeked, but peaceful.

If you told me at twenty-one the perfect evening started with a hasty soup dinner and ended in the tub scrubbing grass-stained toes I would have contested you vehemently.

But I what did I know?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thirty Years

It sounded like a long time twenty years ago. That was when my laugh lines showed only when I laughed.

Back when I knew, that at thirty, I would be rich and famous. A published author and former Olympic gymnast. Married to a... yuck. Not married. Boys made me barf.

It was a show my mom watched. Thirty Something? It was about old people.

It was older than my science teacher who still wore braces, but younger than my English teacher whose coiffed hair slumped over her forehead in an eerie black swoop. But not that much younger.

My dad's thirtieth inspired "Over The Hill" balloons from my mom. Because he was so old.

Thirty. A very long way into life when you are ten.

Today is my thirtieth birthday. Some of you crossed this bridge already and are now sailing sweetly into mid-life bliss. Others still dangle in the twenties wondering if your thighs will explode with cellulite once you are here. Either way, it is not the kind of number you float over unawares.

I thought it would feel lousy today, saying good-bye to the decade of searching and transition while a fog of predictability looms over my head. Instead, it is liberating. I know where I am going. My hallway once branched into a thousand open doors, each proposing its own adventure. Over the last ten years, I found the one I wanted and walked through.

In my twenties I finished college. I said "yes" to Greg. I got my first real job. I moved to a new state and started a new life. I got pregnant and gave birth to the single greatest boy in the universe. Then I did it again. My twenties were passionate, grievous, joyous, and humbling. I began them as a girl, and ended as a woman.

Thirty isn't what it used to be. Its better.