QUAIL MUTTERINGS #42. Stretching Out (October 2016)
I’m actually stealing away for about half an hour or so during a prep period in a substitute teaching job. It’s rare, but when this happens I seize the opportunity to write. I feel fortunate today that I get to be outside most of the day overseeing PE classes out on the track. At least I’m not cooped up inside behind closed doors under florescent lighting. Carpe diem!
This weekend was bitter-sweet for me as our youngest flew the nest. Again. For a mom, each time this happens it creates a tug on the heart strings even when I know that it’s for the best. First, his coming and going during college breaks; and then, returning home after graduation. Working locally, it made sense for Chance to live at home and pay rent. Almost a year-and-a-half later he’s moving down the hill, to the city, to live with his sister, Kali, and her family. This will help them with their mortgage and he will be closer to the kind of energy that seems to fuel a millennial’s psyche. Logically, it’s a win-win for everyone and I know it’s what he needs. But I still have to go through my own grieving process as Chance moves out yet again. However, this time feels more permanent.
Milo, our big yellow cat, will miss him too. He’s used to Chance carrying him around outside on the porch for a shoulder ride, almost daily. For an inside kitty this is a special treat. I’ll miss the little unexpected connections we share. Just the other evening we watched three deer frolic on the hillside. We’ve often seen a big doe wander through the front yard and stop for a drink from the water trough fountain. At dusk a bobcat’s whisper-bark grabs our attention. A few nights ago I woke to a coyote’s yipping just outside the bedroom window. In the mornings, pre-dawn, as we are all up by then, the owls serenade us in the last hours of darkness. I’m grateful that I’m not moving to the city.
(One week later: During the next sub job’s prep period)
Chance isn’t the only one stretching his wings. I, too, am trying to reach beyond the usual parameters of my life. It had been a year of not hearing back from a literary agent who had agreed to re-read a manuscript I’d written, if I reworked it as to her suggestions. When I’d mailed it I had included a self-addressed, stamped envelope for her response so I should have at least gotten that back. I finally got up the nerve to call the phone number for the agency and, after punching the numbers for the appropriate prompts, I actually reached her. In person! She had moved her office and had not received all her mail so she gave me the new address so that I could send it again. I’m not keeping my fingers crossed, since the likelihood of actually getting picked up by a New York agent is next to nil, but I had at least followed through to the best of my ability. I’ve done what I can.
My husband, Kent, is upping his game too. He is going to run in the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Florida, this December. He’s joined a team of seniors to race together in Tallahassee. My spouse has found a new niche with these guys. He looks forward to the races where they share fun camaraderie afterwards no matter how they have placed. And, of course, he still runs a million miles every morning.
We’re looking forward to our adventure in Florida. We’ll probably visit a few relatives, speckled throughout the state, during the week leading up to the competition. Neither one of us has ever been to the Everglades so we plan on checking out the swamps and coastlines in that area as well. There’s always something to look forward to when you shake up your routine every so often. It feels good to spice things up a little and add to the old memory banks. We’re trying to do these kinds of things while we still can.
Chi Varnado is a contributing writer for The San Diego Reader. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail are available on www.amazon.com. Her collection of essays, Quail Mutterings, can be found on www.chivarnado.com.