All the pictures we did not take

We rented paddleboards on the Tennessee River this past weekend and there are no pictures to prove it. We took the kids and we met up with dear friends, but you won’t see any selfies of our imperfect formation in the wake of a passing motorboat. We traded kids and played in eddies and explored McClellan Island. We balanced and wobbled, we fell in and then we dove in. But there is no hashtag #riverlife to accompany the nonexistent Instagram post. We didn’t have our cameras. We didn’t bring anything save for our sunglasses and our holiday spirits.

Here in this digital space, The Blog or whatever is most en vogue to call it, I purport to preserve life’s moments and lessons. But this all is a pantomime, a chasing after the wind with a plastic bag from Tarjay. I am merely a scribe pressing key to pad, uploading and downloading, but never truly etching anything of real permanence. Nothing is solidified in amber here. There is no fire to singe or moth to destroy this album. There is also no firewall strong enough nor anti-viral software to guarantee its immortality.

 

This past weekend, we smelled all the seasons of putrid sweat that our life preservers absorbed. And we tried to absorb the life that we could not preserve.

There was no perfect filter to best capture the glistening waves, the silhouette of the Market Street Bridge.

No likes, no faves, no hearts, no mentions; only the feeling of total insignificance against nature’s majesty. And the wonder of having captured nothing but being filled up full of every good thing.

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Drinking Icees, Slurping up forgiveness.

I check my Swatch watch when I wake up. It’s darling but it always needs to be wound so the time can’t be right. I putz about the bathroom and find my other watch. Oh mercy.

The kids are both still in their pajamas. They’ve probably watched 286 cartoons between the two of them today.

“Guys, Mommy slept in. It’s already noon. I’m so sorry.”
“WHAT?!”
“We missed my swim lesson?!”
“I know. I’m so sorry.”
“WE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!”
“No, baby, we just wasted the morning. Mommy forgot to set her alarm.”
“Mommmmmaaa, I wanted to go to my swim lesson!”
“I know. How about I make it up to you and we can go to Lake Winnie today.”

***

The kids are moving in slow motion and all I want to do is reverse the clock, sit down and eat a bowl of granola and drink coffee and not feel frantic. Swimsuits elude us. Applying sunscreen is work.

“What’s going on, Little Man? Can I help you?”
“Mom, I just feel grumpy.”
I’m proud that he has accessed a feeling instead of casting blame.
I sound like a self-esteem manual from 1989.
“Mom, I’m grumpy because I’m sad I didn’t get to go to swim lessons.”
“I know, Son. I hope you can forgive me. I messed up.”
“I forgive you.”

***

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giant side

We are walking back to the car. We have laughed, we have floated on the lazy river inner tubes several times. We have eaten funnel cake. We have had a good day.
“Mom, I’m still really upset I didn’t get to go to my swim lesson today.”
I don’t remind him that he got to shoot down a colossal waterslide, drink a giant Icee, and ride all the rollercoasters he could handle for the last six hours.
I don’t tell him that a whole afternoon at Lake Winnie beats any doggie-paddle lesson any day.
Instead I tell him the thing about forgiveness that is so hard to do.
“If you forgive someone, you can’t keep bringing it up. You know just like how God says when He forgives us, He casts our sins into the sea and doesn’t remember them anymore?”
“Yeah.”
“That’s what we have to do.”

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***

The next day he is unlocking the front door and turns to me as he opens it. “I forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”

***

The day after that, he hugs me unbidden and says, “I still forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”

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As good as I imagined it: Being recognized

It was as good as I imagined it, friends. A woman came up to me at a restaurant and said, “You look familiar. What’s your Twitter name?” We proceeded to confirm our social media identities. This transaction took place in front of my children, which is important inasmuch as my children, who believe their mother to be a loser who exists only to buy the Uncrustables and to embarrasses them when she has parent chaplain duty, is actually Twitter famous. We made a mom date, the Twitter lady and I. We talked about writer dork things and compared podcast notes. So I made a new friend and my kids think me slightly less of a loser mom. Win win. Go follow my new friend Bethany on the Twitter. She’s fab.

Two ladies enjoying a day out at the races, Ascot racetrack, Brisbane

***

Earlier in the day, I had entered a court room. I immediately saw a co-worker, who will remain anonymous. It felt good to recognize someone in a sea of strangers, even though none of us would be anonymous for long. We sat and watched the courtroom proceedings. Names were called. Charges were announced. “So public,” my co-worker commented. Some in shackles, some in suits, some in the summer shorts attire. Whatever the uniform, we were supposedly all equals before the law. I stood before the judge of my municipality. He called my name, a name that reminds me that I’m in the South: “Miss Layyy.” Miss Layyy. I squeaked, “Present” and stood in a panel of other lawbreakers. We had driven above the speed limit. We had “forgotten” to brake at a stop sign. Our charges were dismissed, however, given our good driving records. “Except for Miss Layyy. Charges will be dismissed but she must pay cost of court. She was speeding through a school zone and that’s a no-no.” I waited in line with the other perpetrators and handed the clerk my card. I signed my name, she who owned the card, she who did the crime and paid for it, she who wants to be recognized known, just not for a no-no.

Susannah Adamson, arrested for stealing a man's purse

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