Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Going Home

I just got home from spending a long weekend in my hometown. What started out as a two-day trip somehow extended a few days, and before I knew it, I was out of clean underwear. Luckily, I was at my mother’s house, a home where the washing machine is mine to use as I see fit. I went up by myself (ok, not by myself; just Sam and me, but Sam doesn’t contribute to buying gas or taking a turn driving, so he doesn’t count) on Thursday, saw some old friends (which was awesome), and then came home, sank down into bed in my childhood bedroom, and slept the sleep of someone whose mother is going to get up with the baby in the morning. So nice.

Friday night was the June birthday party, where we celebrated Pookie’s second birthday, Rachel’s nineteenth, and my, ahem, twenty-seventh with octopus cupcakes and a dip in the pool. Sam didn’t want to get out, which makes me regret having taught him the sign for “more”. Every time we took him out of the pool, he asked for more. More swimming. Poor kid was all pruny, and he wanted more swimming. But he asked so nicely, we just kept swimming, just kept swimming. Husband, who had stayed behind in SC to work, decided that he simply could not bear being away from us for more than a day at a time (thus the beautiful codependence that is our relationship) so he drove up Friday evening. Sam was so excited to see him. So, quite frankly, was I. Husband is pretty awesome, after all.

On Saturday, my grandparents came over for breakfast (let’s be fair; they came over to watch Sam eat breakfast) and we had a nice visit, and then Husband and I...WENT ON A DATE. We did! We left Sam with his Nana, and went to see Up. I really liked it. I don’t agree with the people who say it’s Pixar’s best movie yet, but I enjoyed it. I cried a lot…like…heaving sobs. Not just a single tear drifting elegantly down my cheek…no. We’re talking huge, heaving, mascara running down my face, not being able to breathe sobs. Weird reaction to a Disney movie, but there you go. That’s me. The old man was so sad! How can you not be touched by that??

We did receive some sad news this weekend, though. My dad’s cousin Linda Mae passed away. She was one of the seven cousins all born the same year as my dad. They called themselves “The Magnificent Seven”…apparently, 1942 was quite the fertile year in Chuckey, TN. Something in the corn, I guess. She was a wonderful lady, beautiful and funny, and she will be greatly missed. I stayed in Tennessee for her funeral, which was last night. It wasn’t a service, just a huge covered-dish meal. The entire clan got together at Horse Creek Church of God and weighed down several tables with casserole dishes and just sat around and ate and talked about how great she was. It was fitting, and it was beautiful. It was also really, really weird. I haven’t been around my dad’s side of the family much over the past few years. It’s not by choice, just a matter of unfortunate timing. And being around them just makes me miss my dad that much more. When I was little, my dad’s family got together all the time. So as close as most people are to their aunts and uncles? That’s how close I am with me second cousins, twice removed. I remember, when I was little, being loaded up into the car to go to Mamie’s house for a cookout, or to Horse Creek for a picnic, and asking “Who is going to be there?” (Kid-speak for “is there going to be anybody there besides my brother to play with?) And Dad would say, “You know. Everybody.” So “everybody” became the blanket term for all my dad’s aunts and uncles and cousins and all their kids. And…okay…they all look alike. So it was really nice, as a kid, to be able to just go climb up on anybody’s lap and know that it was okay. I mean, so what if I didn’t know exactly which lap it was? I knew it looked like a family lap, so the person that lap belonged to must love me a whole lot. And I was right. They did (do) love me a whole lot. Because they loved my daddy a lot. And now, they love my son a whole lot. What was really strange was to walk into that fellowship hall last night and SMELL my family. Well, not my family, per se, but my family’s food. Trays and trays of deviled eggs, homemade pickles, baked beans, potato salad, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, baked grits, fried chicken, smoked turkey, green beans, ham, ham biscuits, ham salad…it’s what coming home smells like to me. All those smells, all those voices, all those people…even if I can’t remember a name, I can always recognize my nose on someone else’s face. My chin on that cousin, my cheeks on that aunt. My smile in that photograph that was taken a long time before I was born.

It was a wonderful thing, to be feeding my baby at that long folding table. He hadn’t ever met most of these people, and yet he walked right up to them and gave them hugs, blew them kisses, and waved at them. People just scooped him right up and kissed him and squeezed him…just like I’m sure they did with me when I was a kid. He ate pickled okra and dilly beans, mashed potatoes and coleslaw, cornbread and deviled eggs…and he fit right in. He was introduced, not as my baby boy, but as “Steve Hensley’s grandbaby”. And I liked that a lot. Linda Mae’s granddaughter, a beautiful blonde girl about four years old, started playing with Sam. It was really beautiful…they had never met, but they went right up to each other, and she gave Sam a big hug and they rolled a beach ball back and forth. I think we figured out that they are second cousins, twice removed. So at least when Sam asks me “Who is going to be there?” and I say “You know. Everybody.”…he’ll know there is going to be someone there he can play with. And that the deviled eggs are out of this world.

Homemade pickles, by the way? Worth their weight in gold.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2009 Spark Awards...pomp, circumstance, and frivolity

So, in my role as a stay-at-home mom, I have very little opportunity to wear a tiara.
I mean, sure, I have the good fortune to spend most of my day in pajamas if I so choose, but that can bring a girl down after a while. So imagine my excitement when I opened the e-vite for the 2009 Spark Awards (if you don't know what this is, it's the celebration of the end of FIRE's first season- awards, merriment, food, etc.) and I saw what may be my favorite word in the language of invitations: "formal".
In these troubling economic times, it seemed irresponsible to go out and buy a new dress for the evening, so I went to the attic and brought down a couple of "pre-baby" dresses. To be fair, the baby wasn't really the blame for their banishment to the attic. The fault lies in being with a man who loves to feed me cake (see "Songs for a New Word, and a New Me"). ANYWAY. I found a dress that I wore to an event in college (the induction of my parents' research into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame) and thought, "Hmmm." And so here we are, six years later, and the dress fits again. Huzzah. Very exciting.
Here's the thing: I love getting dressed up. LOOOOOVE it. I have never been one of those girls who took her shoes off at the prom, and I think women who change into flip-flops at their wedding receptions should be taken aside and told that it's only one day (or two, in my case, but who's freaking counting? Don't you judge me.) and they need to suck it up and keep their freaking heels on or they are going to look like idiots in the wedding pictures fifty years from now. But I digress...wearing pretty shoes and fancy hair is one of my favorite things to do. I do love an event. I love everyone looking their best, everyone feeling celebratory and all the good vibes that fly around when everyone is happy and all is good with the world. I also love wearing sparklies. That's fun, too.
Husband looks great in a suit. We're the same height. This leads many people to say things like, "Oh, so you have to wear flats around him?" Um. No. He's secure enough in his manhood that my wearing heels doesn't intimidate him. And I, at 5'4", don't have any height-related psychological issues. So, yes. I wear heels. Pretty much all the time. Why? Because they're fabulous and make my legs look nine miles long. Will I sacrifice that feeling for something so trivial as COMFORT? No, ma'am.

Anyway. Husband looked amazing, my friends looked amazing, and my hair was a thing of miracles. All in all, it was a grand time.

I took home "Best One-Bite Banana Eater of the Year" and "Best Exaggeration of a Body Part".

Husband won "Best Bearded Impersonation of His Own Child".

Sam has added yet another title to his collection, and is now "Wee Mister Henry Street".

If none of these make sense to you, you should have come to see more shows this year. Remedy the situation by coming to more of them next season. It will make you a better person.

On a more serious note, I was extremely honored to be given the "Inspire FIRE" award, voted on by the cast of "Godspell". This show was my first with FIRE, and it was a show I had wanted to be in since I was four years old. It was an incredible experience, and it really meant a lot to me. I didn't say this Sunday night, because emotions make me uncomfortable, but thank you, FIRE. My life is better because I'm a part of this amazing group of incredible, talented, big-hearted people.

I'm ready to rock next season. Rehearsals for "Musical of Musicals, the Musical" start tonight. The show runs the last weekend of June. Please try to make it; it's hysterical, and four of my favorite actors will be in it with me: Anita Sleeman, Charlie Stoop, Emiley Kiser, and Steve Schultz. It promises to be a thing of fabulocity.