Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear Dad, Please Send Money

Hi Dad. I got your letter in the mail. Well, actually, Mommy got it. I can't quite reach the mailbox yet, so she had to help me. She read me the parts that you wrote for me, too.
I miss you, my sweet little boy, who I hear doesn't like grass, but loves going outside, and is not so little anymore.
Dad... I do love grass. At first, it made me nervous, and I would lift my feet as high as I could to avoid it, standing like a flamingo while Mommy laughed and held my hands. But today, I ran all over the backyard, getting soaked by the sprinklers, stomping on the wet lawn and listening to it squish beneath my toes. I even learned about water balloons!

I wish you had been there, Dad. Every day, something new happens, and you keep missing it. And I keep missing you. Or, at least, I think I do. Your face is fuzzy to me, and I'm not sure how to miss something I never had. But the expectation and wonder on my face is unmistakable, every time I meet someone strong and firm, with a deep voice and kind eyes. They're not like Mommy, and I keep thinking one of them should be mine.

Sometimes, when Mommy is playing with me or feeding me dinner or singing along with the radio, I lose her. Just for a moment, she slips away, submerged in a far-off memory or distracted by a shiny illusion that never quite seems within her grasp. And then she looks at me with a smile and a sigh, saying, "Little C, you would have had so much fun with your Daddy." She tells me I'm a lot like you. And then I find myself wondering which parts of me come from the missing part of me...

I've got a little freckle next to my right eye. Sometimes Mommy rubs it too hard when she forgets and thinks it's just some leftover jelly. Is that just like you?

I always help Mommy blow on my food to cool it off. I pucker my lips and blow through my scrunched up nose. And I practice feeding myself, too. I love, love, love to stir my spoon in my little cup, and give everyone bites when they say please. Is that just like you?

I know what I want, when I want it. When I'm finished with my milk, I push the bottle away and point to my bed. No hugs, no kisses. Just put me down and let me sleep. Is that just like you?

My laugh is infectious. My eyes twinkle most when I'm being mischievous. My best smile is accompanied by wrinkled-up eyes and seven and a half teeth. Is that just like you?

I keep watching for someone who will stay with me, love me. I am missing my dad. I'm afraid he will always be missing. And soon enough, I'll know, that is just like you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Because Every Day is Better with a Little Goatie

It cannot be described. It cannot be duplicated. It is only known as...Goatie.

p.s. My apologies in advance for the mystery substance. No idea what that is. I'm hoping for rice and beans.

Friday, June 19, 2009

End of an Era

It was an odd pairing from the beginning.

I was eleven. Penny had gray hair. Her frame was thin, frail. My round face and chubby thighs didn't qualify as thin even in the kindest of circumstances. But I desperately needed a friend. And she found purpose in comforting me.

And then she peed all over my floor.

And let me tell you, there's nothing like waking up in a giant litter box to start your day off on the wrong foot. Patient and forgiving, as eleven-year-olds tend to be, I banished her from the house.

From that day on, my cat and I shared a tense relationship. She was a gift for my birthday, and as such, I had predetermined that she must always prefer my lap for her resting spot, purr adoringly in my general direction, and reserve her hairball issues for occasions when 1) I wasn't around, and 2) someone else was available to clean up. Bitter at her inability to live up to my standards (Do cats inherit their human family's genetics? No? Sure?) and make everything in my angst-riddled junior high years come up smelling like teen spirit, yet shamefully guilty (Seriously, no?) every time I pet her unkempt, mangy, outdoor-cat coat, I kept my distance during each driveway encounter. I didn't need her pathetic cries and wild, feral eyes penetrating my soul with the stinging reminder that I'd abandoned the creature that was supposed to be my best friend.

(It wouldn't be the first or last time I refused to acknowledge the pain I'd caused someone else after running away when the going got tough. But more on that later.) (And seriously, peeing on the floor (repeatedly!!) is grounds for immediate dismissal - I don't care who you are.) (Pay attention, Little C. Mama loves you, but Mama loves her some hardwood floors more.)

Fast forward 16 years to a nondescript Thursday night, as I tote the baby up the steps onto the front porch of my parents' home to visit for dinner.

Curious. Has Dad been running a fish market out of the garage again?

The stench grew to overwhelming. I frantically searched for my keys, a fruitless effort when lugging a squirming toddler and a purse the size of Kansas. Handheld Yahtzee? Check. Banana of questionable edibility? Check. Four size-too-small disposable diapers? Check. Empty tupperware from yesterday's leftover lunch? Check. Keys? Ch- no, no check. Gah.

My fingers clawed at the front door as I sank to the ground, my throat tight in the clutches of the all-consuming stink. My eyes darted violently, wondering at what point the orange oxygen masks would descend and reminding myself that proper emergency procedure is every man (or baby) for himself. (Ear muffs, Little C. Mama doesn't mean that.) (Kind of.) Just as my vision closed to a dark tunnel, my dad nonchalantly cracked open the door. Gasping, I slithered inside and kicked it shut behind me.

"....Dad. Something has gone awry on the front porch."

"Oh yes. That. I don't want to talk about it."


"Just, no."

"Seriously. It smells like a rotting meat convention out there. Septic line back-up?"

"We're sitting down to dinner. It's not dinner conversation. Forget it."


Halfway through the meal, my mom mentioned one of the dogs was due for a visit to the vet. Then an afterthought: "And speaking of which, has anyone seen Penny lately?"

And suddenly, my dad stopped chewing. He stopped moving altogether and stared fervently at his pasta, adopting the "play dead" strategy that surely translates from woodland survival to table talk. With the dawning of understanding, my gaze turned from inquisitive to accusing and a gasp escaped my gaping mouth.

"There's something under the porch!" I eeked out.

I groaned, the weight of our failed friendship and her lonely, undignified death heavy on my shoulders. Dad looked defeated. "I don't want to talk about it." He paused, an awkward moment of silence in memoriam. "I do, however, want to know who's volunteering to start removing the floorboards out there. We've got to get it out."

"Not me!" I quickly volunteered. "She peed on my carpet. Hateful beast." I snatched up Little C, mumbled something about bedtime, held my breath, and made a mad dash for the car.

Because that's how I show love to all God's creatures entrusted to my care. (Kidding, Little C.) (Kind of.)