Archive for the ‘Polka Dot People’ Category

‎Some days I find myself with a single word looping through my head, over and over again. Each time it happens it is a different word but I can’t seem to get it out of my head, can’t seem to move on to the next word unless I write about it.

For the last couple of days that word has been “missing.”

I sat at the soccer field the other night and acutely felt the absence of my parents. Thankfully they are both well and good, not “missing” in the most awful sense of the word but rather simply missing from our daily lives because they live 3,000 miles away. I watched my son score a goal and instantly thought “they missed it” and then “I miss them” and a happy moment became a sad one.

I’m realizing that you never get over missing someone. My parents and I have now lived on different sides of the country for more years than we l‎ived together. I have been missing them for half my life and it doesn’t seem to get any easier.

And when we are together it is great, and yet not the same as it was, or as it would be. It always brings with it the feeling of being temporary and fleeting. Even when we are together I find myself focusing still on the things they missed leading up to the visit, and all they will miss when they are gone.

I know I am lucky to have them; lucky they are well enough to travel and have the means and time to visit; lucky that at least a couple of times a year I can still place my head on my dad’s shoulder and feel small and cared for within his strength; lucky that I can hold the hands of my mother and my daughter in the same moment and be humbled by the completeness of it all. And I try, I really do, to focus on those things, on the gifts I have been given and yet all too often the other creeps into view, just beyond the corners. What is missing.

I am also missing my friend who is so far away. We keep in touch just the same as we did when she was here but I still acutely feel her absence during the most mundane parts of my day. She is still a voice in my head telling me I can do it and a hand on my back pushing me to continue but I sometimes fear I will lose it. That I will lose that sense of her and when the day finally comes that we are together again, it won’t be the same, that even though we are together, something will still be missing.

I sometimes feel as though I have defined my life more by the things that are missing than by the things that are present. Moving on often brings with it the need to leave things behind; it is often only after we say goodbye that we understand that in making room for the new we have created a hole.

Sometimes I write because I think I may have found an answer; this is one of the times when I write because I have too many questions.

So my heart will hurt a little bit today, as it does sometimes, and maybe tomorrow, when I wake up it will hurt a little less. And maybe there will be a different word looping its way through my head, one that focuses more on what has been found, and less on what is missing.


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‎She wore a bright pink rain jacket, the sleeves turned up at the cuffs and the hood bouncing against her back as she ran.

It was the colour that caught my attention as I sat in my car, about 15 cars back from the stop sign, waiting. I fiddled with the buttons on my stereo, trying to find a song other than Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Not that I have anything against Katy Perry, per se, but is it just me or does it seem like that particular song is on the radio all the time?

As I fiddled with the buttons, out of the corner of my eye I saw the pink. Bright pink. I turned my head and saw her running down the sidewalk, the smile on her face so big and wide that I couldn’t help but feel myself grin just watching her.

I guessed that she would be about a year and a half, determined b‎y nothing else other than the fact that she was running at a pretty decent pace but still had that “I could fall over at any moment” look about her. I had forgotten that I remembered that look.

The mother in me pulled my eyes away from her long enough to confirm that someone was there with her, and I saw what I assumed was her mother trotting along behind her. She wore a thin cardigan that she tried to pull tighter as she walked, an obvious attempt to keep herself warm in the cool winds of early spring.

Of course she made sure that her daughter was bundled up tight in a rain jacket and boots but she didn’t even remember to grab a jacket for herself. How automatically we mothers tend to put ourselves second. I wanted to get out of my car and give her my jacket, believing desperately that mothers also need someone to mother us sometimes.

It became obvious to me that the little girl was not running away from her mother but was rather running towards someone. I turned my head to see if I could catch a glimpse of who ‎she was running to, but my sight line was obscured. I imagined it was her dad, just off the train, walking quickly home to her, desperate to see her smiling face and little legs pumping as fast as they could carry her.

I imagined that’s why her mom was smiling too, because dad coming home meant she had made it through another day. How intensely I can remember that feeling from my own time at home when my kids were little. The feeling of crossing the finish line (finally) and having some help (finally) and maybe, just maybe, a warm bath and ten minutes of peace and quiet (finally) would be in my future.

It may not have been her dad. It may have been someone completely different, or even something completely different and not a person at all. But I’m choosing to believe it was her dad and that when they finally got close enough to each other, that he dropped the bag he was carrying ‎and lifted her up into the sky, spinning her around a few times before hugging her tightly to his chest.

I’m choosing to believe it because sometimes it’s nice to imagine the happy endings for a change, instead of always seeing the unhappy realities.

Every now and then it’s nice to see past the dreary grey of the world and let in a little bit of bright pink.

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I’ve been working my way through some of the great suggestions I received in response to my “stuck on repeat” post a little while ago and tonight it’s time for another one.  This time it’s one that came from my fab friend Fahrin, who is an amazing writer herself – check out her regular column “Behind the Brim” over at Little Miss Wife.  Thanks for the idea!

“Something you appreciate now that you don’t have it anymore.”

When I first read this prompt, one answer came to me immediately and I dismissed it.  No, that’s not right, I’m meant to be digging deeper and finding something very different than one my first instinct was.  I bounced it around in my mind for a few more days before deciding that I should have just gone with the first response.  First instincts are first instincts for a reason, usually because they end up being right.

So here it is, not deep or earth-shattering or soul-changing but the truth, as I see it right now anyway, for whatever that matters.

The thing that I appreciate now that I don’t have it anymore is…my boobs.

I know, probably not what you were expecting but it wasn’t what I was expecting the answer to be either, until I realized it was.

Growing up I was never particularly well-endowed.  I always looked on with envy at the girls who started wearing training bras early in high school while the most I could justify was a camisole.  I soon realized that was to be my lot in life and tried to focus on the positive.  They never got in the way when I was playing sports.  I never had to worry about embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions when out with my friends.  I never had to worry that a boy liked me “just because” of what I looked like.  To be perfectly honest, for most of my high school career I was skinny, shy, and possessed the holy trifecta of teenage wallflowers – the perm, the braces and the glasses.  If a boy was going to like me at all it was definitely going to be more about what was going on on the inside.

As I grew up, I ditched the perm, the braces and the glasses and slowly began to come into my own.  Well-endowed I would never be, but I was a comfortable B.  Nothing crazy but I was proud of them in their own little way.

Then I got pregnant and the world decided to provide me with what I had always dreamed of but was afraid to wish for…a solid C.  It was wonderful, so wonderful that I hardly noticed the growing belly that went along with them.  I was just so excited.  I could fill out tops that I’d only dreamt of wearing before and was actually more willing to be seen in a bathing suit than at any other point, expanding waistline be damned.

But, of course, as with so many other aspects of pregnancy and birth, I was not provided with the whole story.  I didn’t realize my beautiful C’s were not mine to keep, but were, in fact, only on loan. And the payment for my blissful year and a half as a woman with a “decent rack” was actually far higher than I ever expected.  When they went, they also took with them the beautiful B’s they had once been, leaving me with the chest of my previously 13-year old self.

I went through the process again when I had my second child, only this time I appreciated every minute they were mine because I knew how fleeting it was.  I wore tops that were perhaps a touch low-cut and maybe a tad bit tighter than they needed to be because I knew, soon enough I would be back into the land of push-ups and padded bras, faking what used to be there for real.

On the rare occasion when I decide to “treat” myself to undergarments that I don’t grab at the grocery store on my way to the freezer section for ice cream, I am disheartened to discover that I can’t even get my size in the store.  One day, after what seemed like hours spent combing the racks I finally gave up and asked the smiling sales girl behind the counter, only to be told that I would have to order “that size” online.  Sure, a DD they carry but a 36 A is just too much to ask?  Are you kidding me?  Has the entire world become more busty as my poor chest moves in the opposite direction?

Some days I try to be okay with it.  I try to accept the fact that that’s the way it is going to be and I tell myself it could be worse.  And it could, let’s be honest, there are about a million things more worthy of complaint that the sad state of my boobs but, at the end of the day, it matters to me.

I wish it didn’t.

I wish I didn’t care but I do.

I know that the sum of who I am can’t be measured in a cup size and that beauty of any kind is fleeting, I just wish I could have appreciated what I had while I had them, and rocked that string bikini when I had the chance!

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Because she taught me not to apologize for who I am.

Because whenever I’m around her, we laugh louder than I ever thought possible, and I don’t even realize it until someone leans over to tell us to keep it down.

Because I don’t have to explain myself to her; I don’t have to give the background or the context.  She gets it because she gets me.

Because she doesn’t realize how a room changes when she walks into it; how everyone is instantly drawn to her.

Because she cheers me on when I need it; and calls me on my shit when I need that too.

Because sometimes I still feel like she’s too cool to be friends with someone like me, but I know she doesn’t think so.

Because she believes I am better than I have ever believed myself to be.

Because she knows that accessories don’t make the outfit, accessories are the outfit.

Because she remembers things I said long after I forget ever saying them.

Because no matter how exhausted she is from taking care of a feisty little girl, she always has time to listen, to answer a text, to reply to a message, to pay attention.

Because she never lets me off the hook.

Because whenever I tell her Jann Arden is coming to town, her response is always “are you getting the tickets, or am I?” even though we’ve already seen her a dozen times.

Because she knows the four best places in the entire world are the library, Michaels, Chapters and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Because she believes in the power of red lipstick.

Because she admits to watching the Kardashians.

Because she sends me little gifts in the mail when I’m feeling down.

Because she makes me want to do great things; and makes me believe that I actually can.

Because she has changed almost everything about her life and yet still stays true to who she is.

Because she knows that celebrity gossip is just as important as world events.

Because she reads amazing books and then tells me about them.

Because she understands the healing power of a cup of tea; and the important role that chocolate should play in everyone’s life.

Because she is an amazing mother who makes no apologies for talking about how hard it is.

Because I can’t ever imagine a day when we will run out of things to talk about.

Because she doesn’t try to smooth over the rough stuff; instead she reaches out her hand and tells me we’ll get through it together.

Because I know she will cry a little when she reads this.

Because I can’t imagine who I would be without her.

Because even though we were born two weeks and hundreds of miles apart, sometimes it feels as though she is the other half of me.

Because she is the best.

Because today is her birthday.

Because I’m thousands of miles away and can’t give her a birthday hug so for now these words will have to do.

Happy birthday my bosom friend.

Because you are special to me every single day; today just seemed like a good day to make sure you know it.

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my friend

We met by chance on a VIA Train heading from Ottawa to Toronto. We were both getting off at stops before Toronto so we ended up on the same car. As luck would have it there was an empty seat beside me and she politely asked if it was taken. It wasn’t, and invited her to sit down. We did that thing where we looked at each other, trying to place where we knew the face. We went to the same university, were in the same program, had a couple of classes together. We exchanged pleasantries and settled in for our long trip.

It could have ended there. It could have been but a single moment in our lives, quickly lived and then just as quickly forgotten. Instead, for some reason, unknown at the time, it turned out to be not an ending, but a beginning.

That was, if I can do the math correctly, just over 16 years ago, in October 1996. So much of our lives have been lived since then and, because of that chance meeting, so much of it has been lived side by side.

She is my friend.

Today is her birthday.

It amazes me how some friendships start, like an ember burst from nothing, and continue to burn, seemingly without end. I don’t know what brought us together that day, on that train, but some larger force knew that I needed her in my life, then and now.

She is, without a doubt, the best person I know. She is the kind of person who you can call in the middle of the night, no matter how late, no matter if she just went to bed half an hour before and has to get up two hours later. She will answer your call, convince you that no, you didn’t wake her up and yes, of course she has some time to talk. She will listen to your problems. She will probably even ask if she should come over. Do you need a hug? Can I bring you a cup of tea. She is that person. If there is a bed and a couch, she will insist that you take the bed and make it seem utterly absurd that you would even consider the alternative.

I don’t think I could ever be that person. I think mean things about people and I’m not very good at hiding them. I’m moody and sarcastic and if I don’t like you, you probably already know it. However, the mere fact that she sees fit to be my friend makes me feel like maybe there’s hope for me.

I don’t know a single person in the world who has met my friend and doesn’t love her, almost instantly. She is the kind of person who greets you with a hug and tells you that you look great. And she means it; she really does. And because she says it in such an honest way, she makes you believe it too, even if you’re dressed in sweats with your hair in a ponytail and wearing no makeup. She thinks you look great, and you believe her, because she would never lie to you.

She is the most trusting person I know. Her openness and willingness to throw herself out there have always amazed me. She has written a novel; and has actually let people read it. She has run a marathon. She has weathered storms in her life and continues to get back out there, continues to try, continues to find the best in people and, in turn, they seem to give it to her. She is the kind of person you don’t want to disappoint.

She has amazing taste in books and desserts. She is always accessorized to perfection, is a wonderful cook and is the most patient and loving mother I have ever seen. She is perfect in her imperfections. She never makes me feel like there’s anything wrong with me (which, at times, there definitely is) and she never acts like she is a better person than me (which, as outlined above, she usually is). She is funny and witty and makes it all seem easy, although I know it’s not. She has struggles and difficulties and problems just like everyone else and she is not afraid to share them, to admit she doesn’t always know the answers and that makes her real, and human, and accessible.

She is a better friend than I probably deserve, and I consider her a gift. A gift from someone out there who knew that I need her in my life; that I need her there as an example of how to treat people, how to find kindness and joy in life and how to be a better person. She allows me to be her friend, and not just in name, she lets me earn it. She asks me for help and listens when I offer it. Some friendships travel through time without tests, without work, without earning their keep. Our friendship expects more from us. It expects phone calls, cups of tea, glasses of wine and legs folded on couches. We have talked through the problems of the world together and made them better for no other reason than because it confirmed that we are not alone.

We are a long way from being those two girls, forced together by a chance meeting on that train. We both now have husbands and kids, responsibilities and jobs, houses and to-do lists that are way longer than we can ever actually tackle in one lifetime. We have said many goodbyes since then, to relatives and loves, and also to dreams and expectations of what we thought our lives would be like.

But we are still friends. We have seen each other through a lot in the past 16 years and I have leaned on our friendship more times than I can count. And each time I have needed it, it has been there. No matter how much time has past, no matter how much it has been neglected due to busy schedules and conflicting calendars; it has remained. Willing and able to jump up when it is needed, to provide the support and strength that is lacking and then to settle back, a constant.

I don’t know what I have done to deserve a friend like her but I appreciate and never take for granted all that she has brought to my life. And today, on her birthday, I struggle to know what to give her to show her all that she means. It’s not something that can be wrapped in a box and tied up with a ribbon, although she deserves that and so much more.

And so instead I give these words, in the hopes that today of all days she will read them and realize she is special, and loved and thought of, not just today but every day of our friendship.

Happy birthday my dear friend. I don’t know what I would do without you.

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