Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 34
Finding footingFinding your place in the world is tough when the world keeps spinning
BY SHELY CONE
When you’re young and beautiful, you can’t fathom that there will come a time when you stop and reflect on your place in the world. After all, the world revolves around you—you already know that. Then one day, bam!, you’re sitting in the middle of a vineyard, sipping wine and having deep philosophical conversations about your place in the world. I don’t know, maybe being older and lost is no different than being young and lost, with the exception that you can now afford expensive wine to facilitate your contemplations.
What I do know—or rather, what I figured out about me—is that the only thing that matters is where I stand in the lives of the people I love. And that where I stand in perspective to their lives will always be in flux.
My nearly adult daughter thinks of me as almost non-existent. Rather, she believes I think of her as non-existent. I’m never there enough, I don’t acknowledge her enough. In essence, by way of her perceived lack of acknowledgement of her, I have become something of a figment of her imagination.
My oldest son, however, wishes I was a figment of his. More accurately, when his friends are around, he wishes I would just disappear.
He tried hard to manifest this desire recently at the school carnival as I approached him so intrusively with the game bracelet I just purchased for him. As if I were a mist of warm air, he simply held his arm out so that I could wrap the game pass around his wrist. Then, in much the way I suspect the son of Medusa would behave, my oldest son averted his eyes from me, continued his conversation with his friends, and, the moment the bracelet fastened, ran off without a word.
In his defense, perhaps there is something to the Medusa idea. Once—in my former, single life—a young man paid me what to this day remains the prizewinner in the category of botched compliments. He said, of my wild curly locks: “Your hair is so cool. It looks like that girl’s. You know the one. Oh, yeah, Medusa.” This, folks, was never someone I ended up dating.
My middle guy just views me as a sometime inconvenience. I’m a pain in the butt when it comes time to do homework or chores, but it’s still pretty great to have a mom there when things get scary. Like when you jump out of what you’ve aptly named “The Treehouse of Horrors” in the YouTube video you made, and there’s now a gushing gash on your knee. Great time to have a mom.
Or when there’s a scary tree-dropping-acorns-on-your-roof sound that might possibly be a something-else sound in the middle of the night, and you know your mom sleeps with a bat by her bed and a pocketknife under her pillow and that she may or may not be packing heat. (You know, like, I heard that some moms do.) Not a bad time to have a mom around.
Then, of course, there’s my baby boy, who at 4 years old thinks I’m the sun and the moon and the stars, calls me a princess every single day, and nearly insists I wear a tiara. No, seriously, he’s the reason I wear that tiara every day. My little guy is always great for an ego boost.
My husband, fortunately for me, has a similar view of me. His view somehow got stuck in the late ’90s when this huge glowing gold dust storm came through California and clung to a young, trim girl with Crayola-red hair creating a halo effect that persists to this day. Either that, or he is badly in need of glasses.
No matter. The result is conversations like this:
“Oh my God, look at how much weight I’ve gained over the years! I need to lose 10 pounds like, in five minutes,” I’ll say.
“What? Are you crazy? You’ll waste away! What are you like 120 pounds?” he’ll say.
That halo glow, which quite possibly was toxic sludge that gave me yet-undiscovered super powers, still hovers around me, apparently masking my imperfections. I must remember to practice my abilities to fly—just in case.
Then there’s what I think, which is summed up by the gal in the mirror. You know the one. Every 30, 40 and 50-plus-year-old has this same mirror. The lying, deceiving Loki of all mirrors that likes to stab you in the chest just when you are feeling your hottest, most super hero self. Then that trickster of a mirror, instead of flashing your greatness, shows you a picture of your mom—or dad, which, either way, is a big downer in terms of libido. In my case, there is a woman who stands there totally not looking 23 years old, whose freckles have become more like the beginnings of age spots and who—judging by the cracks starting to grow deep within her brow—looks as though her skull is not subject to California’s unreinforced masonry laws. I mean, she seems pleasant enough, but damn, the old lady is kinda putting a damper on the party, know what I mean?
That woman is smart though. For one thing, she likes to give advice. Like, “Stop eating those vegetarian burritos at that one place. They make you sick. Every. Single. Time.” Or, “Really, it’s OK. You won’t miss anything awesome if you go to bed before 3 a.m.” I rarely listen, though.
Most recently, she gave me the best advice of all. When I looked in the mirror, she looked me straight in the eye, squared her shoulders like a linebacker ready for a charge and said, “Suit up. It’s time for a new adventure.”
So I listened. Where I stand in my own world may always be in flux: I may be a disappointment, an embarrassment, security, the world. That will change. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep moving and evolving now. So it’s time for a fresh perspective on life. I just hope this new perspective doesn’t jostle my tiara too much. ∆
Arts Editor Shelly Cone is reclaiming fun and kicking stress to curb. Laugh too loud along with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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