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2:09 p.m. - 2012-08-20
Books and Boys (among other things)

When we last left our intrepid heroine...

I was doing pretty much the same stuff I'm doing now. Cooking, writing, keeping my fingers crossed that this on-the-edge-of-my-period-without-actually-getting-my-period feeling means what I think it means. It's rolling up on two weeks now so signs are hopeful. Then again my body has never really liked me much and is probably just jerking me around. I don't really blame my bod, I've never been very nice to it. Revenge, you know?

While the kid was gone on his camping trip Mick and I did many exciting things like getting new tires for my Escort and seeing the new 'Bourne' movie. (The movie sucked brass monkey balls and LA the Critic gives it negative 3 stars.) We did, of course, indulge in an astonishing amount of grown-up time activity. The uppy little secret to being empty nesters which nobody ever talks about because the idea of carnal pleasures and less than youthful bodies tends to give most people the willies. To wit: my doctor never even asks about my sex life. She's 33 years old. To her I'm simply a bundle of potential elder-care diseases. High blood pressure? Early onset dementia? Arthritis? Type 2 diabetes? Rectal polyps? Absolutely. That my nearly 50 year old self is capable of having an orgasm? Not even on her radar.

I wonder what my young doctor would think if I told her about my friend Nora. Nora was married to her husband for 64 years. Nora once confided in me that she and her Michael had had sex at least once a week for their entire married life including the week he died at age 81 and that the worst thing about being a widow besides just missing her beloved's company was that she wasn't getting any anymore.

While I'm on the topic of cool old ladies, one of the best things about my Chanel grandmother was how she gave me books. Grandma didn't share her daughter's staunch anti-intellectualism and once pinned my mother's ears back when she'd whined something about how I'd be useless at doing my chores that week because Grandma had given me a new stack of books. Grandma told my mother to stop being such a fool. If I was reading then she (my mother) would just have to do her own goddamn ironing that week. Too bad. I was astonished and pleased by my grandmother's support, but was wise enough to know she'd go back to NJ and I'd be stuck with my nudnik mother. So I figured out how to read and get my work done at the same time. To this day I find it difficult to sauté or stir pasta without a book in my other hand. And the cool dim subterranean recesses of our apartment building's laundry room was THE perfect hideout on hot summer days. While the clothes chugged around in the washers and flopped and spun in the dryers I was off and away with the characters in my books, only coming back when the buzzer sounded to add the fabric softener.

My grandmother gave me dozens of books but the ones I loved best were the 'Green Knowe' books written by LM Boston. I've often wondered why I was so fetched with the Green Knowe books. They were an easy enough read for the most part, but the very British vocabulary and historical references were beyond me, yet I read them compulsively over and over. I love them still and just recently ordered a whole new set including the one Green Knowe book I'd never read. It was published much later than the others and long after my grandmother had stopped giving me kids' books as gifts. Most of my original copies had gone missing over the years so I was thrilled to get these new ones and have spent the last week in a happy daze catching up with my old friends and adding the new one ('The Stones of Green Knowe') to the gang. Maybe this is a little psychobabble-ish but in thinking on it I believe the reasons I was so taken with this series were because all the protagonists were kind to each other and that neither adventure nor imagination were frowned on. Things my real life lacked in spades. At Green Knowe it's okay to love people, be mindful of history and nature, and accept that odd things happen without the deviation from the norm being seen as a negative.

Strange as it sounds, the ex-husband got all the friends in the divorce. Well, I kept my online friends and a few 3-D friendships which pre-dated my marriage, but he got all the couple friends. Why? Can't say for sure except that I am a challenging sort of person who's often prickly and the ex is (to others) an easygoing sort who will fix your car and your water heater when they go fubar...for free. Always a one for running off to help anyone except his own family. I remember one time when we lived at the old house our furnace had conked out and despite me begging him to do something the kids and I huddled up in the morning room wrapped in blankets wearing scarves and jackets and hats for over a week yet when a guy Mike knew from the Plumb King called to say his furnace was on the fritz the ex ran right off and fixed it on the instant. Left us in the cold but some random guy got his heat back within the hour.

Anyway, one of the couples Mike got in the divorce have this big barbeque every year. Yesterday was their big bash. The former friends have a farm and their party has hayrides and they rent a huge water slide for the kids and there's a ton of food and some of the guests play music. It's really a good time. The ex was busy but asked if I'd take Wolf. The kid has been going to this thing since he was 4 years old and has made friends he sees every year. Wolf loves the yearly barbeque at the farm. So we took him. I'd been iffy about this, not from stiff-necked pride, but it's a very, very recent thing to be able to trust my son not to go all whack-a-doo and outrage people with his potty mouth and Aspie lack of social manners. But he'd just come off a week of camping away from home and had done just fine. I crossed my fingers and took him to the farm. On the way over I freighted my son with a zillion questions and reminders about how to behave. For certain I said hello to the host and thanked him for having Wolf as a guest and asked if it was okay if Wolf stayed there on his own. It was. So my kid was on his own for several hours yesterday. After dropping him off I got leaky thinking about how much things had changed. The relief! Wolf is doing okay. Better than okay. Aside from the age thing, there's no way in Hell I'd have been able to leave him at a party three years ago. Back then Wolf had an uncanny knack for saying and doing the exact thing guaranteed to hurt and scare people most. Inappropriate sexual remarks. Hitting. Grabbing food and toys. No lie. My kid was a stinker.

Then this morning thanks to a pre-dawn potty run I woke up comfy and disinclined to jump right out bed. I flipped channels for a bit and stopped on a show about wayward kids being scared straight by prison inmates. All the boys on that show were Wolf's age. 15 year olds with police records, drug habits, filthy mouths, gang members, graffiti taggers, petty thieves, bullies, and otherwise societal wastes of space. I laid there and watched with horror and gratitude. That could have been my son. Those anti-social scrawns with their fiercely guarded hurts and their outward anger. Their indifference to authority and consequences. I saw how easily Wolf could have walked out with them. Sure, it's bit harder to become an urban street thug living out here in the boons but it's not impossible. Our wee village has its wastrels. And Wolf could have joined up with them. He could have stopped fighting for himself and a better future. Just a few degrees off the path he's made for himself and there's no way I'd have been able to let him go camping or hang out at the farm barbeque on his own. I wept again.

With my tears I thought about how grateful I am. For books. For good sex. For having a love that'll sustain me even when I'm older than Nora. For having this incredible son whose path has been anything but smooth and yet he's doing okay now.

Sappy. Soggy. Off on flights of fancy. I know. Trust me. On the whole I'm here- grounded, doing the chores and using coupons. As I said at the top- my big thrills this week were getting some paperbacks from Amazon, a bargain matinee showing of a lousy movie, and putting tires on my car at Sam's Club.


Okay. An O-count in the double digits wasn't too shabby either. ~LA


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