a hazy August morn in the mid 70s, I was college bound.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 11 a.m., and I had the jitters.
This was the biggest transition Id ever made goodbye
to friends, parents, grandparents, and my hometown. Plus, I was
going to have to give up smoking because smoking was banned at
this college. Oh, well, I told myself. Ill
cross that bridge when I come to it. Yeah, I crossed that
bridge, all right, about 10 minutes after touchdown. Smokers,
like other drug addicts, have a gift for scouting each other out
and finding great smoking hideouts. There is a dangerous recognition
I have thought of that August morn many times. My parents were
downstairs, spazzed out and scurrying around like hyped-up Coneheads.
My father had irrational fears of being late to the airport, and
my mother tended to chain smoke and twirl around in circles whenever
she got nervous. Our family could have easily been called The
Frightened Family, but thats another story.
I remember climbing the steps to my bedroom one last time and
sitting down on my bed. Id lived there for years and never
seen it in that way The Wizard of Oz on the
bookshelf, the window seat with a great view of the walnut trees
on our downtown street, the built-in chest of drawers with socks
and t-shirts hanging out of it. The bottle of Mateus on my windowsill
with a melted candle stuck inside. The pewter piggy bank my best
friend had given me for my sixteenth birthday. James Taylors
Sweet Baby James staring up at me from the floor,
reminding me that at least the song and its memories would remain
I sat on the bed and noticed that everything seemed still, as
if the moment were frozen in time. It was a new sensation
one I later felt the night my mother died and one I am
feeling right now.
Its called change. I sat on that bed, aware that if I didnt
get out of there soon, my parents would have simultaneous heart
attacks. But I took a long look around, knowing that when I returned,
things would never be the same. Its like that when you go
away to college.
My daughter leaves today, and I know that when I walk into her
room, that same stillness will be in the air. There will be childhood
pictures left on the dresser and flowers left in the vase. Shell
leave books and clothes strewn on the floor, but theyll
be remnants of a life well spent, one that has already accomplished
much. Shell move on and shell do well, but things
will never be the same.
I recently spotted a bottle of Mateus and envisioned a dripping
candle sticking out of the top. It would look perfect on
my windowsill! I told my husband, who had that whatever
you say look on his face. For the life of me, I couldnt
understand why he didnt get excited about a candle sticking
out of a bottle of Mateus. Do you know how long its
been since Ive seen this stuff? I asked him. I
thought it was extinct!
He popped the cork a couple of days later and turned up his nose
like a pig in a slaughterhouse. Skanky, he said.
I turned on Free Bird and turned up my wine glass,
anxious to re-live my 70s moments. After a few sips, I had
to admit the best thing about Mateus was the candle stuck in the
top. Life is full of realizations, some slow and some sudden.
Heres a toast to the future, with all its uncertainties,
and to the moments of our pasts, when time taps us on the shoulder
and makes us stand still.
Anonymous Mother lives in Middle Tennessee.
In July 2000, the editor of The Daily Herald in Columbia,
Tennessee, replaced a nationally syndicated humor columnist with
The Anonymous Mother's weekly column because he felt the writing
was funnier and reached a broader audience. Anonymity is
a big no-no in publishing, she says, but somehow this
works. The mystique has created a certain appeal that allows for
a freer voice through which others can vicariously live. I write
about the things people feel but are often unable to express,
and this provides much-needed relief for us all.
Anonymous Mother Website
The Anonymous Mother
The Anonymous Mother