As I sat in the clear Caribbean sunshine this winter, with nothing doing but my mojito, a well-
packed prepared bartender, and a fitness instructor named Jesus, I contemplated life and all that it had to offer. Actually, I first eliminated all of the cosmic waste that had accumulated up there in my small but mighty mass of grey, and then I contemplated life. It was less crowed that way.
Stretched out by the sea, being served delicious food and cold drinks I noticed first of all something that was relatively surprising; I was happy. You see, in the past I was too busy getting what I wanted to enjoy what I have, and I, after a mojito or two, and a sweaty blast of body blitzing with Jesus, noticed that I was a happy gal indeed.
You see, I’m about middle-aged at this point. Well, sneaking up on middle-aged based on the longevity of my grandparents. Throughout my entire adult life I have desperately wanted a husband, a family, a thriving career, two cats, a dog, a fabulous figure, and a fail-proof retirement plan. Well, that is, I thought that’s what I wanted despite a long line of very entertaining Jesus’s. That’s what we’re supposed to want right? That’s what’s inspired this crazed, self-rebellious “mommy war” crap that the rest of my generation has bought into.
Unlike my peers, I started early. No better way to get a leg-up on the capitalist dream and fuel the global greed machine than being the early bird right? So, instead of taking time to ‘find myself’ after a mediocre, but overpriced Canadian university education, I jumped right into marriage and childbearing. Wee-ha!
That ambitious plan has landed me smack in my umpteenth year of single-parenthood, living as a single, in my own home, sustaining my own living, and quite frankly, enjoying it all quite a bit despite failing miserably at the capitalistic driven dream. It wasn’t as if I just aimlessly sailed here without working toward what I was supposed to want. I tried. I really did. After one last ridiculous non-relationship which would have required astrolinguistic interpretation, I realized that he was a turd. Not a surprise right. What was surprising was that through his turdishness I discovered that what I wanted had changed.
GASP! What I want is something different from what I had been socialized to want! This went against every two-car-garage-mortgaged-to-the-hilt-two-point-four-child-married-to-a-man-who-knew-nothing-but-what-his-mamma-told-him-and-who-gives-a-damn-about-relating-in-a-relationship-so-long-as-we-live-in-the-right-neighbourhood article and news item I had ever read. Holy hell catwoman, get your nose outta the milk bowl!
What I wanted was what I wanted before training bras, and first kisses, and newspaper subscriptions. I wanted to be happy.
Resting on a lounge chair in the sun, skin glowing under the perfect Caribbean sunshine, glistening with salt water,I realized that I was happy. Hmm… Imagine that. My decisions about relationships and commitment in the past had all led me away from that dream of coupledom, but closer to what my heart was singing about. So, for many days I marvelled at how wonderful life was. I swam with bright fish, sailed, laughed, listened to great latin american music, and quietly gave thanks for the joy that I had created in my own life. My relationship with Jesus didn’t hurt either.
I no longer yearn to feel my belly swell with life. My child is almost raised; taller than me and better with electronics than I am. Surely this is a sign that it’s time to seize the day and enjoy every succulent second. I am a mother, regardless of the number of children, and it is an honor. My dreams have changed.
My extended time in the sunshine of the south lead me to contemplate how I had achieved this elusive happiness despite not having, owning, and being mortgaged. No, I did not let Jesus into my heart, I simply contemplated summertime. You see, it used to be the fall that wooed me. I always had a school-girl heart, and the shorter days, and watery autumn skies made me nestle in, sharpen my pencil crayons, get organized, and ready to master another year of study. But now it is every season that I savour, and having the advantage of being sun-soaked and refreshed in the dead of winter got me to thinking – this ain’t so bad.
So, instead of taking time off during our beautiful summer and rushing madly about, I have decided to indulge daily in what our beautiful seasons have to offer. This is a summer of baseball, boating, running and celebrating each fresh crop of produce that we are so fortunate to have. This is my summer of simple things which I have missed so much, and are so dear to me; not rushing to get home after a ball game, sleeping with my windows open, reacquainting myself with old friends, training on the river and running every day. Most importantly I will not be catering to someone else’s dreams or demons.
Last weekend I kicked off my summer by winning my very first medal in an athletic competition. This weekend it will be picking strawberries and making homemade jam; something my grandmothers and my mother did every year, and something I feel punctuates the start of a season of freedom and wonder. But don’t fret dear readers, I am not lost in complete sanctimonious bliss. I still love the word jack-ass, and have little patience for stupidity, meanness, and turdishness. This will not simply be a weekend of domestic jam making. It will be made after a girls’ night of champagne and strawberries in the pool with my friends. Giggling, sharing stories and making new memories together, followed by crashing of the party by husbands and potential husbands. Yes, there is a waxing story here, a bathing suit story, and a set-up in the works. But that is all the side dish to my entrée of reaquaintance with the leisurely summers of the past, spent with friends, laughing, discovering, and feeling whole.
Perhaps after the jam I will head to the art gallery, take in some wine while looking out on the park, or taking my chance with synchronicity at the little movie shop I’ve fallen in love with on Baldwin street. My writing beckons, and I know that there is a studio at the end of a country road waiting for my art to seduce it.
I am back my friends, and I am so happy to be able to share my silliness with you again as the summer begins. If all else fails, I will seek solace in the fact that this winter, I may once again find Jesus.