and I’m left to discover on my own
It seems like everything is gray
and there’s no color to behold
-- "Fine Again" (Seether)
I dropped Erik off at school today after having weeks off due to the holidays and the weather. I absolutely dreaded doing it, knowing the break would set us back eons in terms of his coping skills. Thankfully, I arrived 15 minutes early, beating the chaos of the school buses and most of the other families, and we were able to loiter a bit on the way into the building. I allowed Erik to stall for time and provided my usual zippy commentary on the things we saw. He admired the leftover snow and puddles that had transformed into patches of icy-black glaze overnight. I finally convinced him to enter the building, and we were greeted by a few members of the staff. After I unzipped his jacket, he took it off without any help whatsoever. I helped him hang it up, kissed him on the cheek, and made my way out of the classroom. The women who had greeted us led him off, talking in soothing tones and apparently giggling in response to his charming banter.
That was easy. Now what?
The world outside my car and my home is so gritty and filthy now. I have always loved winter, but the clean, white snow that sparkled like iridescent sequins in the sunshine years ago seems to be a distant memory now. There are only rounded scabs of aging, dirty ice, and piles of leftover cinder rock used to sand the roads turn everything the color of dried blood.
Instead of home, my Jeep took me to the parking lot of a local department store. They had remodeled the building, and everything was new and bright as I walked in the door. Paperback novels were on sale, and I chose three of them, something I usually never let myself do unless I'm trapped in an airport somewhere. I wheeled my cart through the pink and red Valentine's Day displays and inhaled the sweet but cloying scent of cheap, waxy chocolate. As I passed the footwear section, I spotted the shoes I wanted to buy Erik, which were almost half off, perched on a top shelf as if they were waiting for me to find them. Score! I bought two pairs in different styles and a couple new sweatshirts for him to wear to school and day care. Next, I crouched down in the makeup aisle and located the undereye concealers. Apparently, the one I chose before is specifically formulated for slightly stressed-out grade school girls, because it doesn't begin make a dent in my dark circles. Instead, I end up looking a bit like a figure in Madame Tussaud's wax museum. Perhaps that's why Madeleine Albright comes to mind when I look in the mirror these days.
I eventually made it over to the grocery section and found a package of bean sprouts, rice stick noodles, and bottled fish sauce to put into the shrimp Pad Thai I am creating for dinner this evening. Another wonderful distraction from my problems I have rediscovered is cooking. Since I adjusted my diet and began to lose weight, I have only enjoyed cooking that much more. Last night I baked a bulging Mexican-style pizza piled high with black beans, peppers, jalapenos, spinach leaves, onions, and low-fat cheese. Brian gave it a thumbs up.
After the checker very patiently bagged my things in the fabric bags I brought, I drove home through the grit and realized how much I want spring to arrive. I want Easter baskets, the Kentucky Derby, cherry blossoms, and the birds to begin migrating back home. I want...
I want the world to just be clean again.
I twisted the stereo volume knob and felt the first song on my iPod begin pulsing from the speakers around me. I made my way through the morning traffic, hiding behind my dark glasses and feeling my stomach growl, reminding me I was still alive and quite well.