The other day, I found myself at the mall considering the purchase of a banana yellow sweatsuit.
The last time I’d seen such a sweatsuit was while I was watching an episode of the show “Grace and Frankie,” featuring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The show is about two women navigating senior citizen life, and in this particular episode, Grace and Frankie find themselves being checked into an old folk’s home at the insistence of their children. After their jarring arrival, the next scene shows them submissively wearing pastel, monochromatic sweatsuits alongside the resident senior citizenry.
The sweatsuits are the punchline.
Yet, here I was considering this purchase. In part this was due to my social media feeds, which have been jam-packed with ads for athleisure wear over the past few months. Touring the mall for the first time since the pandemic began, I saw the fashion industry as a whole has made a 180-turn with their spring lines. Everything is designed to either lounge or Zoom or sleep in.
Well, guys, I just watched a 3 minute and 27 second video about an office chair. Watched it beginning to end, fully engrossed, didn’t even think about fast-forwarding.
I was particularly interested in seeing what they had to say about arm adjustment and lumbar support. Alas, no one spoke in the video, there was just a woman wearing slacks showcasing the different functions of the seat.
As she sat and adjusted, they had overlaid the video with helpful red arrows underscoring the angles and movements of the chair so you could really appreciate all that it could do. In the meantime, there was “do-wee-do-wee-do” elevator music playing as a soundtrack, music I subconsciously realized I was tapping my fingers to while watching.
So there I am, driving down Highway 39, when I see something large in the road up ahead. Thinking it’s a shredded tire or something that flew off a truck bed, I slow down. As I approach, this thing comes into focus and soon I see it’s a very, very large turtle making its way across the road.
Now, I have been friends with Candice Pace — a girl from Pikeville whose grit and tender heart landed her at Auburn University so she could fulfill her dream of becoming a vet — for quite a while now. And long ago, Candice told me she has never once passed a turtle in the road without stopping, picking it up and helping it across.
Yesterday evening, I was standing at the front door getting ready to cover our plants in preparation for the night’s frost. It was the very last thing I had to do before I could relax before dinner. Know that feeling? When you get kind of desperate to just be done so you start to act a little crazy? You throw toys into toy baskets like you’re being timed. You sprint to check the mail. You vacuum like Drill Sgt. Hartman is screaming he’ll stomp your guts out if you don’t go faster. You just want a few minutes to sit, to be blank, so you fight for it. You rush.
Anyway, that was the state I was in.
So I’m standing on the top step with my arms full of towels. Likely, I was about to put on my flip flops, though I don’t quite remember. All I know for sure is somehow my foot slipped and all of a sudden, my whole body was leaning forward at a 65-degree angle toward the bottom of the stairs and, beyond them, the paved front walk.
Let’s say it’s 2011 and you have plans to go for a walk in the park with your friend and your perfect Boston terrier puppies.
As you get ready to go, you round up a few things to take with you. You’ll need a few dollars in case (i.e. when) you stop for ice cream. Pooper scooper bags. Your phone. A credit card in case of an emergency (like more ice cream). And a collapsible water bowl for your perfect Boston terrier puppies.
You hunt around for a catch-all to put everything in. A backpack is too big. A pocket (even several of them) is too small. You know exactly what you need but you also know that you would rather die than use it. So you settle for a cross-body purse, dump everything in and head off.
Well, I’m in love with mom jeans.
They make my bum look a foot long. They accentuate my belly pooch. And they make my legs look shapeless. But guess what? I love them anyway.
In fact, I can honestly sit here and tell you: our moms were onto something.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve been able to see my family. And, yep, I miss them terribly. In fact, I could throw a really elaborate pity party — tear-shaped cakes, Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome,” blue balloons — but I know my situation isn’t much different than anyone else’s. In fact, I’ve secretly felt like if I do complain, people’s response will just be, “Well, that’s the risk you took moving so far away from home in the first place.”
Last night, I made my pitch. It was after dinner and a bit of wine had smoothed off the edges of the day. William sat in his usual chair in the living room, and the dogs were playing relatively peaceably on the floor.
“So, I’m thinking of painting my office this weekend,” I said.
I watched William purposefully arrange his face to make it look neutral.
“Oh yeah?” he said.
“Yeah. You’re working anyway, so I think it might be a good use of my time.”
There was a long pause.
“Have you done a lot of painting in your life?” he asked.
The other day, I received this Facebook message from a woman in Laurel County:
“Hi, Tara. My daughter Kirsten works at Lake Cumberland with your husband Dr. Baker. She had given him some beef liver before, and he said he really liked it. My husband and I are going to be in Somerset tomorrow. If you wouldn’t care to meet me, we have five packages of beef liver that we would like to give to you both. No one here eats it. Let me know if that works for you.”
After I finish some writing this morning, I am taking the afternoon off to do something I haven’t done in a while: cook a fancy dinner. There is no special occasion. There are no guests. But it’s a sunny day, spring feels soon and, well, I want to. It’s reminded me what a great feeling it is when the horizon of your day doesn’t involve anything more complicated than chopping, kneading, and stirring white chocolate. Read more