I've been running on "E" for awhile. I'm sorry if I haven't been able to support you the way a good friend should. I've been hyper-focused on my son's issues for a few months. Not necessarily the "right" approach to life, but sometimes the right approach isn't even an option.
But at the insistence of my therapist I did two things this weekend. One was to NOT read parenting books or "take care of my children" when they aren't here to take care of...she saw a pattern in me that I need to be taking care of my loved ones all the time and make no room for myself.
The second thing was she insisted I plan some sort of outing. I'd confessed that my weekends alone had become a time of shutting myself in from the outside world. She insisted that I get out, even if it was just to go have a cup of coffee by myself. So yesterday I went to Walgreen’s to pick up my antidepressants and some Excedrin, and I discovered I was hungry. I lingered in front of the frozen dinners at Walgreen’s for a moment, but I knew I really hadn't fulfilled the spirit of the "getting out of the house" prescription and a tasty deli sandwich suddenly sounded very appealing. I drove first to the South Union Bakery, where I've had a good bite once, but found sadly that they were closed and on to Crave on 6th Avenue...also closed. I was bummed. I suddenly remembered a coffee shop that's been mentioned to me by a number of people and recently featured in one of my company's publications, a place called the Ritual Cafe...so I decided to give them a try.
The Ritual is owned by a pair of life-partnered lesbians (now see folks, wouldn't it just be easier to say "a married couple?"). It is very hip and urban...when I went in there were old hippies arguing politics in one corner and a little family with the mom happily nursing her baby and munching on a salad in the other. A woman who I can only tell you looked an awful lot like my former roommate back in Denver, Monica, waited on me. I felt instantly at home except for the slippery very rounded far-too-narrow-for my-big-ass bar stools. They serve only vegetarian food, so I ordered up a Grilled Veggie Panini and perched atop an uncomfortable stool and began sifting through the daily newspaper.
Two articles jumped out at me...one was a story about Kevin Costner returning to the small town, and indeed cornfield baseball field, where Field of Dreams was filmed. It was a lovely little report of the festivities they had and the kinds of crazy idealists such an event attracts. FOD has always been a favorite movie of mine, despite my intense dislike of Costner, more as a person than an actor admittedly. The idea of unusual paranormal activity bonding people across time and space made me love the movie...that and James Earl Jones who makes me think I should have been born in a different time and place so that I could curl up next to that big booming chest and let him murmur me to sleep each night. Sigh.
The second article was about the Mesqwaki tribe's annual pow-wow, a well written piece about how generations of the tribe join together each year honoring the rituals of their ancestors, whether they consider them religious or cultural, it being an important part of who they are as individuals and as a community.
And it all made me think.
It made me think that sitting in the Ritual Cafe, reading about two very different, but very life affirming rituals must be telling me something. I finished off the yummy veggie panini and headed out the door. I had to get quarters for laundry and I had a $20 in my purse, but had missed the deadline for getting to the bank, so I headed for the local grocery store, Dahl's, as I knew their customer service counter would help me out. And while I was there, on a weird impulse, I bought myself some sparkling water. I used to live on the stuff, back before man or children. And I came home and instead of tackling the reading list or the laundry I sat back in a tub, sipping my lime flavored sparkling water and I thought about rituals. My abandoned, personal rituals like lime flavored sparkling water, white candles and hot baths on Saturday afternoons. Like reading cards for hours because I wanted to, like watching Little Women in my pajamas with a chocolatey coffee drink in hand. Hanging new swags on the living room window to add the colors of my life or spending hours finding treasures at the Salvation Army on South Broadway (oh and if any of you know Denver at all...you know what a treasure trove that place was...it was where the donation bags of Cherry Creek ended up - 'nuff said.) I drew and painted and listened to the woman deep inside of me...
And it seems like all I've been doing since then is listening to my husband and my children and the society of motherhood. And while I love motherhood and certainly loved my family, somewhere that woman got packed away in a closet like a well loved family game...where every time you look at it there seems to be more pieces missing. So yesterday I got her down, dusted off the box and taped up the split corners. All that was left inside was a bottle of Perrier a couple of half burned candles and some bubble bath. But it's a starting place.
I think it's time to refill the ritual box.