by heart

Today, we’re going to my Nanny and Poppy’s cottage.

This is the epitome of the cottage experience. Many miles off any regularly used road, on a back lake small and sheltered enough to very rarely be so rough that a boater would not venture out.

As you turn off the highway, the flea market is on the right. Full of musty books and cracked mirrors. People wandering around, searching for that lost treasure.

Continuing down the road, the trees creeping in on the sides of the road. My brother and I reach our arms lazily out the window, hands moving as if over waves. The branches seem close enough, but never brush our outstretched fingers.

Left turn.

The house on the left with all the painted plywood people cut out. The silhouette of the man waving, the woman with the red dress and white polka-dots bent over in the garden.
The farm on the right with the long driveway. White wooden fences surrounding the emerald green pastures. I imagine myself riding my beautiful dapple grey, Chief, around the fields. “I’m going to live there someday”, I tell my Mom.
“It will be a long drive in the winter”, she always replies.

Right turn.

The little house with the piles of wood. It always looks as though no one lives here. It looks abandoned, having fallen into such disrepair that there is a trailer parked beside it. I imagine that the owners live in that instead of the house.

This road is fun. It mimics a roller coaster with its undulations and it twists and turns. Mom is nervous, as she always is at this part of the trip. The road is narrow, and at many points, the sides drop away into streams and steep embankments. No guard rails have yet been installed. My brother and I spur Dad to drive faster over the hills. As the road drops sharply away from the apex, the feeling of reduced gravity causes our stomachs to jump. We throw our hands in the air and mimic a roller coaster. “Wheeeeeeee!!!” Mom’s knuckles are white on the armrest.

Right turn.

Past the Hickey’s farm. Mrs Hickey sits in the window of the rickety sunporch. I wonder why a woman that old would want to live all alone so far from any town.
I guess she isn’t scared of anything, much like all old farm wives.

Another quick left and the road is only wide enough for our car. Grass grows down the middle of the lane, and the sand and rock have become saturated with a deeper brown than the regular sand. Now we can literally touch the branches. I grab handfuls of leaves as we continue down the lane.

Stay left at the fork.

The spring where all the cottagers go to bottle the crisp, cool water that runs from the rocks. The spring that never stops flowing. Ferns grow at its edge, tickling the stream as it flows down the hill, wandering through the woods towards the bay.

As we descend the final hill, my heart starts to race. We’re nearly there! The exposed rocks jutting through the grass, countless forts and hiding places where we will disappear for hours on end, no-one worried, no-one looking for us.

In the driveway… the little white sided cottage with the red deck surround. The front yard slopes to the water, birdhouses freckle the yard, the boat rubs gently against the dock, quiet bumps caused from the rippling wake of a passing boat.

Let the holidays begin.

*******************
Nan and Pop are both gone now, and the cottage with them. I will always remember the drive to that special place. That little piece of heaven on the little bay with the rolling hills will remain in my heart. I will remember it by heart.

This post is brought to you by RemembeRED – a memoir meme
“This week, as the school year is wrapping up and we’re on the cusp of summer, we’ve decided to go easy on you.

We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?”

TRDC : the unseen

The monotony of the everyday routine is killing her.  She needs to be noticed. 

She rises before everyone else at 5 am.  Quietly sliding out of bed, careful not to wake him, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.  Out of habit, she slowly opens the bedroom door and listens to the rhythmic sounds of her children sleeping soundly, smiling to herself at their beautiful quiet. Tiptoeing down the stairs, she sets up the coffee maker, laces up her runners and zipping her jacket, steps outside into the frosty morning.

The run was quicker than usual this morning…  what usually takes 27 minutes only took 25.  She attributes it to the cold weather.  She is flushed and sweating as she steps onto the porch to stretch.

He is awake.  He sits at the kitchen table, slowly sipping his coffee, the hum of the morning news on the television in the next room.  His glance at her is only sweeping, as it always is.  That disapproving look that one might throw at a dog which has roamed into the house with muddy feet. The indifference hangs in the air like thick smoke.

She wants him to notice.  She waits for it… searching his face for any recognition.

“Everyone still sleeping?” she whispers, giving up.

“Yep”

“I’m just going to jump in the shower quickly and I’ll be right back out.  That ok?”

“Yep”

She rolls her eyes as she heads to the bathroom. Another conversation wasted. Another moment passed.  She rubs her arms, feeling the blood rushing back into them. She closes the door behind her, leaning her back against it and gently banging the back of her head against it, exhaling slowly.  This will never change. She steps into the hot shower.

As she dries off, she catches her form in the mirror.  Her nakedness is not horrible.  She has stretch marks on her belly from two pregnancies, stretch marks on her arms and legs from weight gain and loss, the silvery spiderwebs a constant reminder of the body she once had.  She runs her fingers over them, feeling their smoothness. 30 pounds later, she is proud of these marks. They remind her of how far she has come. Why doesn’t he see it? Why won’t he just say something?

Their marriage had become tedious. They had separate lives within one house.  On the outside, they were that socialite couple. But if you watched them closely, you would see his apathy was apparent.  The more she tried to be included in his conversations, the more annoyed he got, until finally she would give up.

She tried everything to get his attention again. Counselling – he went twice and said it was a waste of money, she lost weight – he had yet to recognize it….

Another new outfit.  Something form-fitting. She bought it on a whim, spending more than she normally would have, but knowing that it looked good on her.  She buttons the shirt, her eyes fixed on her own in the mirror, giving herself strength.  This is it. He only has one more chance to claim these changes she has made for himself.

The morning continues, as it always does. Breakfast for the kids and him, everyone dressed for the day. Lunches packed – check.  Backpacks – check.  Coats, hats, boots, and out the door.  She watches as he hugs the kids and rubs the top of their heads.

Now? This is it… if she walks out that door…

He looks annoyed by the sound of her heels coming across the kitchen floor.  No kiss goodbye, barely eye contact.

In the car, she adjusts the rear-view mirror, looking deep into her steel blue eyes.  She has made up her mind.  She will be unrecognized no more.

Today, a new woman is born.

*************

“For this week’s prompt, let’s talk about sloth. Emotional or spiritual apathy. It’s not doing what we think we should.”

This is my first attempt at writing fiction in many years… constructive criticism is more than welcome 🙂

…sting like a bee

“Hit me”

“No”

“Just hit my damn stomach”

“No – I don’t want to hurt you”

<chuckling> “you won’t hurt me…trust me”

Hubby is a Thai Boxer.  He has studied the art of Muay Thai for about 10 years now and is extremely impressive to watch… but what’s more impressive is that he is constantly learning.  Even after that long, there’s still a lot to learn.  Well.

Hubby decided (before he was hubby) that I would be a great training/sparring partner.  In theory, I absolutely wanted to be a part of this. We went to the gym together most days (being friends). He was impressive to watch as he would explode on the heavy bag. I would sit on my stability ball, completely enthralled, completely forgetting the exercise I had been doing. Also, I’ve been a fan of UFC and martial arts in general for as long as I can remember.  But that was on TV. Not in the living room.

So I let him attempt to train me.  First step: learning to wrap your hands properly. I have to admit: having your hands wrapped up and the gloves on makes you feel pretty tough…and strangely sexy.  And the good Lord knows we could all use a little more confidence – who doesn’t enjoy feeling sexy?

Next step: pull on the gloves… do the little “float like a butterfly” dance that must accompany every form of boxing. Get in trouble for it. And hit something (or in this case, someone). That first jab was probably the most liberating feeling in the whole world.  I poured everything I had into perfecting the jab, cross, hook, combinations with roundhouse kicks, foot jabs and thai knees.

I’d had a pretty stressful year. Divorce, moving in with my parents at 30 years old, trying to find a suitable place to live for my boys….love, loss… all these poisons that built up inside me, eating away at my confidence, pushing me closer and closer to the brink of depression.  I was fighting with myself constantly. Until I put those gloves on.  No one could hurt me in those gloves. Every ounce of stress, every angry thought, every self-serving thought was released through the gloves.  And hubby holding the pads or shouting his encouragement to me only helped. I fought my way through the anger, the pain, the depression, and the self-pity.  Being physically stronger helped me be a mentally stronger woman… who knew?

That was 3 years ago… I got hurt a few months back and hung up the gloves, much to hubby’s dismay.  I’ve realized how much I miss it.  I miss that connection that we had when we sparred ~ how many couples actually fight each other and don’t have the cops called on them?? It is a special bond that we share… and I like that he’s teaching me about something that he loves so much.

The new house has a big basement…. might have to be the new ring. 🙂