Tag Archives: Boston

The Very Best Day

Sorry I have been neglecting my blog! I have been pulled into this NaNoWriMo thing and have become a bit obsessed.

NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is a contest of sorts where writers are encouraged to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November.  Sounds easy? You think you can do it? Go ahead, I dare you.  This is hard work, almost like writing a dissertation in thirty days, but unlike a dissertation, it is actually fun. Also unlike a dissertation, there will most likely be no reward at the end, no cap and gown, no ceremony, but for some crazy reason I need to do this.   I know there is probably no way I will finish my novel in time but the contest has at least finally got me to sit down and put on paper a story that I have been mulling over for a long time.

More on that later.

November is National Adoption month and Saturday is actually National Adoption Day. National Adoption Month is dedicated to educating people about adoption and honoring those involved in the process: adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, foster children, foster parents social workers, judges , etc. Whew! It takes a village! Funny that November is Adoption Month because November 17th is Eliza’s, my youngest child, actual “home to stay day.”

On November 17th, four years ago, we returned to Boston after a wonderful and life changing trip to the Middle East. A trip I never would have taken if it were not for this one small baby with big brown eyes that called me there. I met members of my husband’s family that I probably never would have met, and saw things I never would have seen.  We were treated like royalty, marched around to parties and dinners, tasting wonderful food, visiting villlages, seeing ancient ruins and beautiful underground caves filled with pools of aqua blue water.  The people were so gracious and wonderful yet through it all I felt unsettled and anxious. A piece of me was far away, across the ocean. I needed my kids.

It was freezing cold when the plane finally landed in Boston, the wind howled and snow was whipping about.  We piled into the warm limousine that was waiting for us outside, and started the last part of our journey home.  The drive to our house seemed to take forever. When we were finally passing the shops on the main street of the town where we live, I looked at my husband and said, “Now, I can breathe.”

We pulled up to a house full of family, friends, and balloons.  Eliza was passed around, we all hugged and chatted, and I felt my heart come to a quiet, peaceful rest. The next morning, long after all the well-wishers had left, I awoke to a quiet house.  I picked up my baby and went downstairs. There were plates of leftover cake and empty cups scattered about. It was wonderful. Soon the other kids ran downstairs, there was breakfast to make and cartoons to watch and I thought… this is it.

This is the best day of my life.

And…that’s what I wrote about. The wonder of being a family, the sense that the real miracles of life don’t occur with lots of fanfare and glitz, (sorry Kardashians) they occur in those small windows of time when you just breathe in each other.

I thought I would honor this special month on my small little blog by reprinting the story I wrote about that very day.  This is the original book that started this whole crazy blogging-writing thing. It was published in Adoptive Families Magazine this past summer and I placed a link to the book on the sidebar of my blog, but I never really placed the book here for all to see.

I look at this book now and think, it really isn’t just about Eliza, it is about all of us. All of the pieces of our journey, our family, our friends, near and far that brought her to us.  I also think this book could just have easily been written for biological children as well, and I may just do that one day. Here’s a start:

I remember painting the walls a foamy green, and stenciling a school of silly fish on the nursery wall.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair, my hand wrapped around my big, bloated, belly, feeling you dance inside.

I remember daddy struggling to put together the crib, swearing that several pieces appeared to be missing and the directions only came in Chinese.

I remember the excruciating pain as your big head…

Okay, wait; maybe I should work on this book a bit more.

No matter how they come, plane, or pain, all my kids are special, all are loved. Happy Adoption Month everyone.

THE VERY BEST DAY

Mommy, tell me again about the best day ever.

The day the social worker called and said you could adopt a baby, was that the best day ever?

Well, that was certainly a very wonderful day full of wishes, and dreams and hope, but no, it wasn’t the best day ever.

The day you opened the mail and saw a picture of me for the very first time was that the best day?

That was without a doubt a truly marvelous day full of happiness, excitement, and joy, but that was not the best day.

The day you went on the airplane to come and get me and bring me home, was that the best day?

That was such an extraordinary day, full of luggage, and taxis and lots of rushing around, but no, that wasn’t the best day ever.

How about the day you held me in your arms for the very first time was that the best day?

That day was so very close to being the best day.  It was definitely a miraculous day, full of love, and wonder, and awe, but it was still not the best day.

The day you, and me, and daddy all came home and there were lots and lots of people at the house having a big party with a huge painted sign saying, ”Welcome Home” that spread across the whole front porch, was that the best day ever?

That day was utterly special, incredible, amazing, and fabulous! It was a day full of hugs and kisses, meetings and greetings, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends, cakes and cameras and gifts, but still, still it was not the best day ever, because…

While all of those days were wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary, miraculous, special, incredible, amazing and fabulous none of them were the best day, because the best day, the absolute very best day ever, was the next day.

The sun came up,

the dogs barked,

birds chirped

and you were there

There were empty cups scattered about the house,

and paper plates with crumbs of leftover chocolate cake still stuck to them.

There were scraps of wrapping paper and brightly covered ribbons covering the floor,

and three clunky suitcases waiting to be unpacked in the corner.

And you were there.

Daddy fed the dogs,

got out the flour,

and cracked some eggs into a big bowl…and you were there.

I put on a pot of fresh coffee… and you were there.

Your brothers and sister came running downstairs and suddenly there was laughter and yelling and sticky pancakes

…and you were there.

The snow started to fall quietly outside… and you were there.

And what could have,

should have,

been just an ordinary day was suddenly

wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary, miraculous, special, incredible, amazing and fabulous because you were there.

Now that, THAT was the very, very, very best day ever!

A Cool Change

Glove box with owner's manual.

Image via Wikipedia

This writing thing is fun…and a bit scary. It is scary to put your thoughts out there for all the world to see, to be scrutinized and critiqued, but you know what…I am 45, so screw it! It’s time to live dangerously. (I am such a rebel.)

“Forty is the old age of youth.  Fifty is the youth of old age.” French Proverb.

My Readers Digest Contest is still going, the contest goes until November 15 so please vote a few more times! Or…enter yourself.  You might get hooked like me. (If you vote for me, I’ll vote for you…)

http://apps.facebook.com/yourlifecontest/node/

(If you highlight this address, right-click, go to the site and go to Editor’s Picks, you should see my entry (Sunday Car Ride, Anne Sawan)

I actually just entered another competition put out by Writers Digest. This one is a story of 750 or less, and the topic is, “You are pulled over for speeding and when you open your glove compartment to get out your registration, something important falls out.”

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/promptly/your-story-prompts/your-story-3

Pretty interesting, right? Could be a lot of things: a hotel receipt, a can of forgotten Spaghettios, a photo of someone, a report card, an overdue library book, that lost check you and your spouse fought over, your child’s pet hamster…anything…

Funny where writing takes you if you let it. Sometimes you start off thinking one thing and end up with a completely different story.  I sometimes feel like it controls me more than I control it.

This story is a bit different for me as I usually write children’s books, so we will see how it goes. I think it is good to challenge yourself once in a while. Change things up. Why not try your hand at it, let those creative juices flow, see where it leads you…

The Letter

The blue and white lights flashing in my eyes made me dizzy, and the starched grey pants pressed against my car door made me sick.

I held my breath, hoping he wouldn’t be able to smell the scent of alcohol. It had only been two, three, maybe three and a half or four glasses of wine.

“Registration please.”

I leaned over and opened the glove compartment,

Papers spilled out: old car registrations I had never thrown away, a few parking passes from the university, some gum wrappers.

I bent down, hoping to find a piece of forgotten gum to cover up the smell of the wine, and I saw it.

White with just a tinge of blue.

Bile began bubbling up in my throat.

The evidence of my cowardice.

The note I wrote to Jimmy.

We had met freshmen year in college. He sat behind me in chemistry class. I noticed him right away because he had this terribly annoying way of slurping his coffee, and because his big brown eyes made it all okay.

Fridays we went to Copperfields. The cigarette smoke was always thick and the place smelled like spilled beer and old sweat.  It was fall in Boston, if there was a Red Sox’s game the television would be on. I watched, I cheered. Jimmy grabbed me, sliding his hand behind my neck, and pulled me close.

Everything was changed in that one drunken moment in that small, smelly bar. After college we moved into a cramped basement apartment. Jimmy sailed through law school; I struggled to complete my doctorate.  Jimmy sat up with me as I typed away. He listened to me complain about my Goddamn professors and my useless research.  He wouldn’t let me quit, even when I cried. He would just shake his head, and quietly put the cups in the dishwater.

When my dissertation was completed, my cap and gown were on; he popped a bottle of champagne, got down on one knee, and asked me to be with him forever. I said yes.

We had sugar spun autumn leaves on our cream cheese frosted carrot cake and traveled to Africa for our honeymoon. We loved each other, we breathed in each other, we were each other.

I started my new position teaching at the university after we returned, becoming one of the hated professors I had complained about so bitterly. We bought a small house in the suburbs, Jimmy cut the grass, I painted the bathroom Seashell Blue, then Sienna Red, then back to Seashell Blue.  Jimmy wrapped his legs around mine one night and whispered, “Let’s have a baby.”

He pressed his knee into mine under the conference table.  I didn’t move.  His fingers touched mine in the elevator. I didn’t resist.  He held an umbrella over my head as we walked across campus. Then he asked me out for drink, after work. I knew what he meant; I saw it in his eyes. That’s how it began. Then came the stolen kisses in the hallway, afternoons in hidden places.  He urged me to say goodbye, to end it quickly, for Jimmy’s sake.

I stopped at the mall on the way home. There were cards for everything: cards for births, for deaths, for marriages, and anniversaries, holiday cards, leaving work cards, broken legs cards…but no, “I am going to break your heart” cards.  No cards to say, “Goodbye, I am a cheater. I am a coward. I need to go…”

I bought a card with a teal and gold peacock spread across the front, wordless inside.

I filled it with the empty language of “I am sorry,” “I don’t know what happened,” “You deserve better.”  I slipped it into the white with a blue tinge envelope.  I would put the card on the table for him to see.

I pulled up to the house. There was a police car parked outside and an officer standing on the newly painted front porch.

I slipped the card into my glove compartment.

“Mrs. Cummings?” he said, stepping carelessly onto the lawn my husband had fertilized and watered so lovingly the day before.

“I am sorry Ma’am. There has been an accident. Your husband… his car… off the road…So sorry.”

The policeman came back to the car, handed me my registration.

“I am letting you go with a warning.  Watch the speed please.”

I sat there trembling, the taste of cheap wine rising in my throat and I began to vomit.