Full House

Reggie looked like a puppy again. He lowered his head, licked bits of snow and came up with snow clinging to his nose. At 13 years old, he’s definitely getting up there in years. His colors aren’t as defined; the grey almost overpowers the reddish brown in some places. But he’s still a puppy.

JuneBug, on the other hand, shivered from her spot on the path between the porch and the driveway. Last winter was her first experience in snow, and a limited one at that.

Reggie welcomed it and JuneBug didn’t know what to do.

Ollie would have been out there tonight bounding through the freshly coated lawn. His ears would flop and he’d come back to the house with snow balls clinging to his furry poodle legs. I wish I would have seen that tonight. Ollie loved snow, too.

Grady will be out there playing soon. Finlay will join come Christmas Day.

Our house will be filled to the brim with brothers, significant others and canine companions (not to mention our two feline friends).

Maybe it’s all been a dream and Trevor took Oliver back to Long Island with him and never told us. Ollie and Finn will fly out of the car as soon as the door is opened. We’ll be so happy to have a complete family. Oh, and maybe they’ll have Papa with them, too. I know Papa would love JuneBug.

We’ll have a full house soon. And I’m definitely not complaining.

I’m actually wishing it could be filled exactly to the brim as it should be.

An insomniac’s tick

Oh hey, 2:30 a.m. Nice to see you again for the fourth or fifth time this week.

My mother has insisted that the candle in my window be on a timer. The timer ticks. Anything that ticks makes me tick. She knows this. But, at least I don’t have to turn my candle on every night. I’ll just turn my fan up a notch and hope the noise will wash away the ticks.

I had trouble sleeping as a young girl. “You think too much at night,” my mom would say. Why wouldn’t I? There’s so much to think about. My brain never stops.

I’d stay up late, light candles and write poetry. On balmy nights, I took to my favorite haunt: the roof outside my window, the one above the garage. With my pillow under my head, I’d look at the sky or watch over a sleepy neighborhood. Sometimes I’d have brief visions of falling off, hitting the driveway and cracking my head open, but they never came true.

Once or twice I stayed up all night to sit on the roof and watch the sun rise. I’d carefully crawl up the incline and perch at the top to watch the blue turn to pale pink. All by myself. Just my thoughts and me. The birds joined with the sunrise, but I never minded.

I’d stay up until two, three, four o’clock, just reading the book I’d retrieved by riding my bicycle to the library. Down one big hill, up another; all for an endless supply of books. My library card gave me the power to finish what The Boxcar Children started and learn many life lessons through Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series. I had to stay up and finish my Nancy Drew book to solve the mystery. And with Laura Ingalls, I had to be sure she and Ma, Pa, Mary, Caroline and Grace were going to be okay before setting the book down. Don’t even get me started on Harry Potter. We all know how that goes.

It’s a rainy and windy first “morning” of winter. I wouldn’t dare venture out onto the roof, though it would be an easy feat with the screens off my windows. I already read as much as I could of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’m not writing poetry, but at least I’m writing something. Some things never change, I guess.

While the rest of the country is obsessing over end-of-the-world hashtags, I’m just thinking that, in 24 hours, I’ll be doing this same exact thing.

Use toilet. Wash face. Brush teeth. Pull back covers and settle into sleeping mode. Read bits of good book. Put book down.

Toss.

Turn.

Turn light back on. Initiate productivity.

Oh hey, 3 a.m., nice to see you again! Time to sleep.

For everything there is a season

It was like greeting an old friend as soon as my feet found the pavement. The snow had melted just enough and the air seemed balmy in all its glory of forty degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve always found it amazing just how different forty degrees can be, depending on the perspective you’re taking. When the seasons change from summer to fall, 40 degrees seems like the coldest temperature on earth. But, when the winter chill backs off a bit and lets in some of that 40-degree air, it’s as if spring has come early. It’s the same temperature and yet, it’s different.

I had considered making up a quick playlist of songs I could listen to while I ran, but I opted to leave my iPods at home, instead. The birds sang as I left the cul-de-sac I have lived on my whole life and let my legs carry me out to the main road and down the hill. I was surprised at how good I felt and let that carry me through the pain as muscles were put back into use after remaining dormant for nearly two months. The pain gave me something to think about and something to distract me from the mountain of homework I had to do and the hardships I had been dealing with on a regular basis.

When I was running, I didn’t have to feel anything but the pain from the exertion I was putting my body through. When I thought about it hard enough, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, but if I just let my mind wander and let my legs do my thinking for me, nothing really mattered. I ran by a business that owes my dad money and considered trashing it. But, I didn’t. I kept running and made my way toward the hill that stood menacingly in the not-so-distant distance.

My energy deteriorated once I reached the top, but I kept on running. I reached my halfway mark and kept going. I thought about how natural it is for me to run and how effortless it can be once I am in good shape to do it. I thought about the summer and how the three of us took part of this same route in an effort to be in shape for cross-country season. I thought about how fast the time goes and how it doesn’t make sense to try and cherish every moment. If you’re too busy cherishing, you’re not living. You’re just trying to keep it in your memory forever. A memory should be something you remember effortlessly, not something you save onto the desktop in your brain so you can click on it and wait for it to load.

I decided against taking a shortcut and instead went the whole way around and back to my street. I took a left, ran down to the green Pennysaver box and then took a right, thinking in my head about that last 200m that I face with every race I run on the track. I ran halfway up my slushy driveway and then bent over to catch my breath. I always do this, and then I bend my knees carefully before reaching my full height (5’2″ if you were wondering) and then walking around a little bit, my hands over my head.

I entered through the side garage door, made my way through the traffic blocking my way to the house door (sleds, snowshoes, etc) and shed my running sneakers (New Balance this year – a brand I never really gave a chance until over the summer), grabbed my already-full glass of water off of our butcher block-esque island and downed it in a second.

My ears stung from the cold and my breathing was wheezy with each inhale and exhale I made.

“How’d you feel?” my dad asked.

“All right,” I replied. “I started out too fast and was dead by the end, but it felt good to run. I’m gonna go lay down now.”

I entered the family room and plopped onto our brand-new couch to catch my wheezy breaths. After thirty minutes passed without my daddy turning on the TV, I went upstairs and grabbed The Lovely Bones and continued reading from where I had left off right before daddy had picked me up at the school just barely an hour previously. We sat there, father and daughter, reading our books of choice: his a Yankee book that someone had gotten him and mine a novel that had been made into yet another movie based off of a book. He wore one of his many pairs of $0.99 reading glasses and I wore the sweat and dirt of a girl who had almost made it through one of the toughest weeks of her sixteen years of living, and was coming out on the other side unscathed and perfectly fine.

At 4 o’clock, I tossed my book down and ran the shower upstairs in the bathroom that all of my brothers had vacated and bestowed unto me (we painted it a light brown and pretty light blue and got rid of the old Mickey Mouse theme that had previously reigned).

Before shedding my clothing, I focused on the length of my hair in the mirror. Back in ninth grade, it was a shock of bright-red curls. Now, it’s back to its normal color (brown/blond/red depending on the season and amount of sun received), though the curls have been kept (I have not dyed my hair since November 2008). I’ve decided that I want it to be long for when I take my senior pictures. I thought to myself Oh yeah, it will be long enough by the summer after this one!

And then it hit me.

I will be taking my senior pictures this summer. It’s crazy just how much time flies and how one change in your thoughts can create a chain-reaction of changes throughout your entire mind. At the moment, I am halfway through my junior year of high school. In June, I will sing in the Chamber Choir and watch some of my best friends ever don those white and blue robes and graduate from our little sliver of the universe and move on to bigger (and better) things. This hit me hard because I realized that I haven’t exactly enjoyed my high school experience that much. In recent months, Misery had taken over my entire being and forced me to look at everything pessimistically. But now, happy little Emily is back, and she plans on staying happy and little until she is forced to grow up in a year and a half.