Her giggle awakened something in me. A laugh, a chuckle that had not been there for a long time. Or maybe it had. Maybe I’d just forgotten it.
It was one of those situations that come up. Just on a whim – out of necessity, really, I volunteered to take my thirteen (almost 14) year old niece shopping for school, which was to start in three days. It would be a two day week, and when my sister told me that Allie had nothing to start school with, I offered, “Surely she has enough for two days.”
“Not really,” was her response. Carol had been sick with some virus that had been going around, and just getting her day to day duties fulfilled was quite enough. Carol is a cosmetologist (MY cosmetologist), and she is eleven years younger than I. Her children are more like grandchildren to me than nieces and nephews. So it just seemed natural that I would volunteer to take Allie to get a couple of things to make it through that Thursday and Friday, the first “week” of school.
The mall was only about a ten minute drive from Carol’s house and salon. I had an appointment at 4:30 for a highlight and a cut. Both needed desperately. I told Carol I’d just get my hair done and then run to the mall with Allie.
I had decided that I would take Allie to Applebees to eat. Just get appetizers or something like that so it didn’t cut into my pocketbook too much. We shared our food and I suggested Allie get a virgin Bahama Mama, which normally comes with rum in it, but we got them without, which made them taste a bit like orange juice mixed with fruit punch. They came with a wedge of pineapple on the side and a marachino cherry. Allie giggled guiltily every time she said the name of the drink. Bahama Mama.
We stopped first at the department store where I purchased some new foundation and lipstick. Then we went to the teenie bopper store. I had already warned Allie that I was clueless as to the new fashions; I was a geek. But as we rummaged through the sale racks, I found myself suggesting combinations of items, and an awakening of all the advertisements I’d seen or something occurred. I was surprised at what I knew about young fashion. And Allie was excited and impressed by my suggestions. She declared that I was fun to shop with! What a compliment to someone who figured she was way past being fun to a fourteen year old.
We added price tags and did some figuring, weeded out what she didn’t HAVE to have to leave room for the future purchase of “skinny jeans”, which the store we were in was out of.
We headed down to J.C Penney and were excited to find that the skinny jeans were on sale! She tried them on and tried on some of her purchased tops from the other store with them to make sure this was the look she was going for. While I paid, she ran to Claire’s to look for the UGG look alike boots that she was determined to have for school. Disappointed, she came back to declare that they didn’t have the ones she wanted anymore.
I got the change from the clerk who told us we had saved $63 on our purchases! Allie and I looked at each other and said, “Wow!”
“Okay,” I said, “Let’s go back to Maurices and get those boots there that you wanted.”
“No, I don’t have enough,” Allie replied.
She was carrying $21. The boots were $29.
“I’ll pay the difference, okay?” Then before she could protest, which I could see on her face she was about to do, I added, “You can clean my house sometime.”
We both giggled and turned into the store.
Allie tried the boots on and fell instantly in love with them. We took them to the counter, and when the clerk rung them up, they were only $4 more than what Allie had! They were on sale! Allie and I shared our excitement, and as we made our way to the car, we went over what great deals we had gotten!
Relaxing in the car on the drive back, I found myself flashing back to the days when my daughter and I would hit the mall and indulge in our need for color and fashion together. I thought of our lunches at Panera – Chicken Caesar Salad for me, Tuna Salad for her. The guilty pleasure of stopping at Starbucks for a Venti Raspberry White Mocha and her a Carmel Macchiato. I fought back tears. Times gone by.
It had been at least a year since Abigail and I had gone on one of our shopping excursions. Abigail had moved to Indianapolis, which was a longer drive, and I wasn’t as comfortable driving there. Plus with her work schedule, her best friend and her boyfriend, the time we usually spend together now is spent with the rest of the family. It seems the mother-daughter shopping trips are over. At least for now.
Funny how life keeps changing. I spoke with my youngest sister, Amy, at lunch. Today is her oldest son’s first full day of first grade. For the next twelve years, he will be leaving her every day for the whole day. Days of lying sleepily in bed with her boys, or spending afternoons hanging out with them will be limited to the short summers. The days will now be spent readying for school, saying good-bye at the bus stop, homework in the evenings and soccer practice. This is when things excellerate and with each blink, eons of time fly by. Before she knows it, she’ll be packing up blankets and towels and sending them off to college.
The thought of it gives me chills. I feel so scarred by it. Like the time flew by so fast that it left marks on my skin. I guess they are called wrinkles.
Some might think that I am wishing to go back in time, but I am not. I’m glad to have the hardest job in the world behind me. But it is those difficult things that leave you feeling the most fulfilled. And I guess that is motherhood included.
I’m still floundering around in this empty nest state. I like my freedom, my new activities, the quiet time and less responsibility. But there seem to be a lot of empty spaces. Emotion seems on this pretty even keel most of the time. No real laughing, no real crying, no real excitement. Like I’ve reached the part of the river where you have to climb out and push the canoe, as there’s no real current to keep the boat in motion. And if I don’t push, I’ll just sit there in the stagnant water.
So here I am, pushing along. I’m hoping with time, I’ll gain some momentum. Until then, an impromptu shopping trip with my niece to send a ripple through my ride was just the thrill I needed. I’m not looking to ride the rapids, but a nice lazy river ride might just do it – enough current to keep me gliding right along.