Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mothers Day and Moving On

 As I write this, I’m making two glorious mistakes: I’m writing while listening to sad music (cue Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, a heartbreakingly beautiful combination) and drinking. While flying in turbulence. I’d count that as three mistakes if I was in charge of the third problem, which I am clearly not.


I had intended to write the first part of this post Sunday, but decided the time was better spent with my mom, poolside, enjoying a glass of homebrew after a long run. Life was pretty rough in Florida, let me tell you.

Part 1: My Mom, My Role Model.

My mom is totally awesome. Aside from how creative she is (If you haven’t seen her work, shameless plug, go check it out here: www.niftyartgirl.com), she’s an incredible mom. It’s not uncommon for me to prefer spending Friday night drinking a glass of wine and talking to her on the phone. I do this to Katie, too. Basically, my mom is one of my best friends. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve shared our thoughts and feelings as only you can do with your mom. I remember spending hours at night walking with her (to wring out our little dog’s bladder…RIP Queenie) and talking my mouth off. From having my heart broken by my first real boyfriend to concerns about college, internships, my first period, my first kiss, all that. We’d walk and I’d spill. I’m sure she knew that “Mom, Can we go for a walk?” really meant “Mom, I gotta talk to you.”

My mom often sends up a box (without telling me) filled with post-race goodies from bath salts to chocolates and fuzzy socks. Nothing better than coming home from a marathon or Ragnar to a box, addressed to me, with that familiar handwriting. I learned how to anticipate people’s needs from my mom.

I could fill an entire blog with how awesome my mom is, but what I really wanted to talk about how I got into aerobics and how my mom was a big part of that. I grew up in San Antonio and remember many mornings, afternoons, evenings, spent in a little nursery/play area with my best friend, playing with dolls and trains and whatever else was around, and occasionally, getting lucky enough to have the woman who watched us lift me up to watch my mom through a window while she did honest-to-God 80’s/Early 90’s aerobics. You guys, this stuff is the aerobics of my dreams. Leotards, tights, leg warmers….it was epic. And I remember thinking how cool it was that my mom could do that.

I had an aerobics birthday party for my (6th?) birthday. I HAD A LEOTARD, Y’ALL.

People ask me every now and then how I became an instructor. I can tell you how I did it (a course at GW taught by the very talented J. Skarka), but the real reason is why: aerobics and fitness was in my life from a very early age. My mom has always told me how important it was and how good it felt to work out and be active. So, thanks, Mom!

Part 2: Leaving Home (Dear Mom, please don’t read this. I am excited about the move to Atlanta).
I know they say you can’t go home again. I just had to come back one last time. Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam, but these handprints on the front steps are mine. Up those stairs, in that little back bedroom is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar. And I bet you didn’t know, under that live oak, my favorite dog is buried in the yard.

Whew. More stupid songs to play on the plane.

We moved to Florida right before my 8th grade year. What I remember the most about that move was how little I cared that I was leaving Texas. I don’t think anyone believes me when I say I quite literally cried once: when I realized I would never ride my favorite horse regularly again (I was lucky enough to go back once and ride). Truly, I loved Florida. I loved my new school, my new friends, my growing-up-ness. I had a wonderful high school experience growing up in Florida. Going home for the summers in college, while maybe not the highlight of activity, was still a very peaceful and happy time for me.

When my parents called last fall with the news that they were moving to Atlanta for my dad’s job, the information took a while to wash over me while I sat in the Boston airport.

I cried when I got home to DC, my head in Chadd’s lap. This is increasingly a unique activity for me. My emotions seem to be pretty tapped out by the time I get home from work and teaching.  Event by event of my life came up in my mind over the coming weeks:
-       My first day at Trinity
-       My birthday party at the Red Bug Lake park where we played football for hours
-       The pool parties we had that summer (there must be pictures, but I refuse to try and find them…I thought board shorts were a good idea at the time)
-       Long walks with mom and the dog
-       My parents hosting a homecoming dinner for all of us in 9th grade
-       Re-doing the kitchen and burning a cake in the oven the first chance I got to use it
-       Slumber parties with Lily and Jessie, my high school best friends
-       Throwing my AP US book across the living room at 2 in the morning because I’d had enough
-       The first time Chadd picked me up for a date and how I made my dad open the door for him
-       Christmas every year in the living room
-       Running errands for Kimberly my senior year
-       Packing for college after the hurricanes knocked out our power
-       Painting my room during college with Chadd to feel more “grown up” and crying a little when I painted over the lyrics I’d written in pencil on my wall
-       Training for my first marathon
-       Staying up till all hours with Will during vacations

The list quite literally could take hours and hours to write. That’s 12 years of memories to record.

But as sad as it made me, the economy in Florida has been pretty crappy and the housing market is even worse. I was able to pretend for another holiday season that my parents weren’t moving, that nothing would ever change, and I could revisit my childhood whenever life got to be too much.

The news came early last month: there was an offer on the house. I told Chadd this and he said “well, when are you going to go back?”

Naively, I believed I could avoid the topic all together. Almost every weekend in the coming two months was booked, except for the weekend before they intended to move. “We have professional packers and movers, you don’t need to come home to help,” Mom said, “we’ll just have them pack everything and you can go through it later.” This was a very tempting proposition, not because I didn’t want to see my folks, but because I am terrible with goodbyes. You can ask Chadd. I used to lose my mind the day before he’d go back to college or when he’d go back to Americorps. I was in no mood to say goodbye to 12 years of what I’d called home.

But, as is usual in our house, Chadd was right, “You know you’ll regret not going back one last time,” he said, “Remember, I didn’t get a chance to do that with the apartment I grew up in; I suggest you make some time.”

My bosses are good about letting me work remotely, so last Friday morning, I got to the airport at the ungodly hour of 5:45am and flew home.

I tried to relive every moment of Florida.

I took the afternoon to run to my old high school. I walked around campus and saw all the changes and it was just like reading a much-loved book you haven’t read in a long time. You know how it all goes, but you love it, even though it will never be new—but it’s never quite the same as it was. Like a different life that you once knew.

I came home on the same training route I used when I first learned to run.  I still remember running 9 miles for the first time. In totally inappropriate running gear (in case you didn’t know, Victoria’s Secret shorts = chafe city. Bad news), in the pouring rain, I finished my 9 miles and felt total victory. I hurt like hell the next day.

I sat at the kitchen table with my family most of the time, or lazed about outside (something I should have done a lot more of).

I went to the place where we buried my two childhood cats.
I walked through every room time and time again and did what I hate to do: say goodbye. I always have to remind myself that goodbye hurts in the moment, but I usually bounce back pretty quickly afterwards.

I got to DC where Chadd picked me up, drove me home and made me dinner. The house was clean, the cats wrinkled their noses at the smell of Harold then promptly demanded my attention. I fell asleep with my head on Chadd’s chest as he played video games and the cats slept at our feet.

I realized that the things I loved about Florida have never really gone anywhere. The items that trigger memories, sure, the house held many of them, but where that was, a new house will be with new memories. My family, my friends, my boy, they’re not gone.

And I hear Atlanta is pretty cool anyway.


  1. Hi Mia,
    I didn't pay attention to your note and read your words anyway. You are wonderful and dear and your memories are too. I am glad you came home and could take the time to file through your yesterdays in Florida. It was a wonderful 12 years, we had lots of good walks/talks and they can continue whenever we find ourselves in the same place or available by phone. I am so glad to be your mother and so incredibly glad you are my daughter...love and leg warmers...Mom

  2. This is so beautifully written. I have never been to your home in Florida, but I had such a vivid image of you spending time there and growing up.

    A home is always so hard to say goodbye to, even if you haven't lived there in years.

    I'm so happy that you took the trip!

  3. It was good that you took the trip (and good on Chadd for encouraging you to do so). I can't imagine how hard it is to leave "home" but I am happy you'll be in Atlanta for the holidays. Hooray Turkey Trots and shopping!