Rite of Passage

At the house where Martie and Coach now live is a creek that we used to play in as kids. All of us, Brother Bear, Brother Boo, Martie and I, spent countless hours in that creek, boating, fishing, swimming, bathing, frog gigging. Yes, bathing, even though the cows peeing in the water upstream likely rendered our shiny clean hair less clean. That’s how life in the country works, and if that means we can’t be friends, just remember that you have eaten insect legs and rat hairs (it’s in your chocolate – true story – www.FDA.gov).



While we all spent countless hours in that water, the boys were always far more adventurous than the girls when it came to creek swimming. Martie and I climbed down the dock steps to tentatively feel around in the icy water before committing to a full dunk, but the boys took turns swinging off the rope tied to the tree and jumping off the abandoned bridge that covers the water. The wimpy boys jumped from the bridge itself and the brave boys jumped from the top railing, over and over again, never really swimming more than the few strokes it took to reach the bank and start all over again. I don’t remember any wimpy boys, they were all brave, and I certainly don’t remember any wimpy or brave girls. We girls liked our dock steps just fine, thank you very much, and our floats and our tentative full dunks.

Cuzz, Brother Bear, & Brother Boo jumping backwards off the bridge

Cuz, Brother Bear, & Brother Boo jumping backwards off the bridge

Actually, we liked it just fine until one day Martie got a raging wild jealous hair and decided that she was coming off that rope swing, just like the boys. Not the bridge, mind you, but the rope swing which was just as scary because if you didn’t let go of the rope in time, you’d come back to shore and smack into the tree. Plus it was kind of high above the water and you were in full swing and letting go was the hardest part because you couldn’t see what you were falling into. Martie set her mind to it, though, and expressed her intentions and Brother Bear was all in. “I’ll help you,” he said, “whenever you are ready.”

“I’m ready now,” she said, and then marched down to the creek, swimmy suit on, creek shoes tied, chin set determinedly. She clamped her hands on the rope, stepped back to get a good swing, and then faltered. For forty-five minutes. Brother Boo and I were in the creek already waiting for her to leap in. I mean, we were waiting but then we got bored so we got out and then got back in and then Brother Boo jumped off the bridge a few times and then we had a snack. Brother Bear never left Martie’s side despite the temptation of the bridge jumping and the snack having. He never walked away from encouraging her. He stood there the whole 45 minutes until Martie finally said, “screw it” and swung in. (She didn’t really say “screw it” because in our house you didn’t say words like “screw it.” You also didn’t say “shut up” or “yeah” because “shut up” got you a mouthful of soap and “yeah” instead of “yes” got you ignored.) She came barreling up out of that water with her eyes shining and pride just blazing out of her. Actually she cried for a minute when she came out of that water but after that she was a total peacock.

Bridge and rail

Bridge and rail

That rope swing is no longer there as the tree is no longer there. It died and got swept away or cut down after we all left home. The dock remains, though, as does the bridge, and this year when Brother Bear and his family came for a visit, the whole family crew built a zip line. There’s a bicycle handlebar and lot of steel cable and more bravery than I’ve ever possessed to take you from the top of the bridge to the middle of the creek.   (I still like the dock steps and the tentative full dunk, thank you very much.) Brother Bear’s kids were all over the zip line, all over the bridge both top and bottom, back and forth, drop in, get out, do it again, and Martie’s kids watched from the side lines on the dock steps as they tentatively full dunked. They were just fine with that, thank you very much.

Rigging the zip line

Rigging the zip line

Until they weren’t. Tigger, having watched all the fun for the better part of the day and getting a raging wild jealous hair, expressed her intention of riding that zip line and jumping off that bridge, just like everyone else. “I’m ready now,” she stated and then marched over to the bridge, swimmy suit on, creek shoes secure, chin set determinedly. She was in; we were in; everyone was in. Tigger’s daddy, Coach, jumped in first to wait for her at the bottom. Martie waded into the water from the dock steps and waited for her at the far end of the creek. The family and friends we’d invited over crowded around on the bridge, everyone encouraging with anticipation.

Zip line

Zip line

Tigger stepped to the edge of the bridge, clamped her nose shut and faltered. I sat down next to her, dangling my feet over the edge, and we waited. Tigger put her hand on my shoulder, clamped her nose shut, and again faltered. This will not surprise you, but Brother Bear never left her side. He and his lovely wife Shell stood next to her the whole time she wavered, camera sitting on go, just waiting for her to let go. We all waited. For thirty minutes. (Poor Coach – do you know how cold that water is? One other word we are not allowed to say in that house: “shrinkage.”)

I was looking off down the creek at Martie when I felt Tigger’s hand leave my shoulder. She didn’t make a peep. Just let go of my shoulder, held her nose, and stepped off the edge, easy as you please. The hollers and whoops from those of us on the bridge were deafening, and I have to be honest, I got all choked up. Tigger came barreling up out of that water with her eyes shining and pride just blazing out of her. Actually she cried for a minute when she came out of that water but after that she was a total peacock. Shell captured it, and its just gorgeous. See for yourselves.


Don’t wish you were that brave? To just stand on the edge of your fear, look it full in the depths and let go? I want that. I think I’m going to try it.

I Didn’t See This Coming

I had dinner with Martie, Coach, Pooh and Tigger last night.  Its summer break for them and since my hometown has zero good shopping opportunities (excepting Home Depot, of course), they came up my way for some good eats and some good spending.

Right in the middle of a story I was telling at dinner, I looked over at Pooh and noticed that she’s suddenly become a young lady.  Her roundy little face is not really roundy anymore and her chin is suddenly all pointy and sweet and her cheekbones are making an appearance and she looked so grown up that I couldn’t stand it.  I started crying halfway through a sentence.

Coach was astonished, although probably not as astonished as an outsider would have been.  I mean, he’s been a part of Martie’s life since forever and Martie and I are what you call emotional at times.  I think he was particularly torn because while he was sitting next to me as I cried into my napkin, Martie was across the table from him and suddenly crying into her napkin, too.  I could see his dilemma – he wanted to race around the table to her, pat me on the arm, look proudly at Pooh but since we were all in a circle, he could only dart his eyes around in a panic.  Tigger just sat there like, “wha . . .?”

Back when Pooh was a toddler and Tigger wasn’t even a two-celled being, Martie and Coach bought Pooh a swing set.  She loved to swing but she hated bugs so getting her to go outside was super successful until a fly buzzed past, then she was hell bent on heading for the sofa on her squeezy little toddler legs.   We all thought it was adorable because everything toddlers do is adorable, but I also thought it could be changed so I tried that.

Pooh and I were happily swinging one day when a buzzy creature whizzed past.  Pooh got off the swing, covered her eyes and wailed, waiting for me to take her inside.  Instead, I spotted a butterfly on some of the marigold plants in their rock-walled planter and developed a plan.

“Come with me, Pooh,” I said, taking her by the hand.  “Let’s go look at the pretty butterfly.  Not all bugs are scary.”  She, ever trusting, took my hand and willingly followed.

At the planter, I bent down to brush the dirt off the rock wall and then curved Pooh into the crook of my arm as I sat down.  As I held my hand out to the butterfly, I felt a small stick on my behind.  I ignored it because the butterfly was flitting toward my fingers and I was excited to show Pooh the beauty of it.

I felt another stick on my behind, like maybe I was pressing into a sticker bush.  I scooted forward.  Then I felt another and another and another.

“What the . . . ?” I thought.  “Do marigolds have thorns?”  I looked behind me to see what I was sticking my butt into and saw the most horrifying sight.  Fire ants.  Fire ants!  Oh, geez.

Apparently that dirt I brushed off the rock wall was their home.  I just whisked it right off into oblivion which, as you know, will piss a fire ant off like nobody’s business.  Whoops.  In retaliation for my destruction they attacked my behind numerous, numerous times.

I stood up abruptly, knocking Pooh over, and did the only thing I could think to do.  I stripped off my pants.  Which, in case you are unfamiliar with how clothing works, will leave you virtually naked.  Realizing that neighbors were likely now peeking out of their windows due to the loud squawking next door, and realizing that being naked in my sister’s backyard with her squeezy little toddler was in no way sane, I stuffed myself back into my fire ant-riddled pants and ran for the house.  I did remember to get Pooh and as I ran, I tucked her under my arm like a football, screeching the whole way.

As we ran, Pooh very calmly touched my behind with her finger.  “Ant,” she said.  She giggled.  “Ant,” and then she’d poke me again.  “Ant, ant, ant,” all the way to the house.  I set her down on the laundry room floor, stripped myself again and threw everything into the washing machine while Pooh said over and over in her toddler language, “Ant.” Har, har, Pooh.  Very funny. Got over your bug phobia, didn’t you?

I’ve told that story a thousand times.  Used to Pooh would ask for it, and then would tell it to Tigger in her own language which often made no sense. The two of them would cackle in the backseat of my car, highly amused at my injured behind and my naked self.

Now if I told that story, Tigger would giggle to be polite and Pooh would give me a half smile and then text her friends something that has nothing to do with me.  They both still hug me tightly when we get together and we still have big fun talking about boys and clothes and nail polish, but one day soon they are going to flit off with their friends right after giving me that tight squeeze and talk about boys and clothes and nail polish with them, not me.

I’m so, so excited for them and their young little lives, truly, but man . . . . that really hurts.


Reposted In Honor Of My Best Friend: Happy Birthday, Martie.

Happy Birthday

A million memories are not enough to cover the expanse that is sisterhood.  I’ll share a few today, in honor of one of my favorite people. 

I don’t really remember when Martie was born.  I was too little.  But I feel like I remember it because someone took a picture of us:  me sitting up in an armchair holding this tiny baby with gigantic eyes and a shock of black, explosive hair.  I was grinning like a loon and you can see someone’s arms hovering around me to prevent me from dropping her I guess. If my feelings about Martie now are any indication, there is no way in the world I would have ever dropped that baby.   

I remember when Madre took Martie to the beauty salon and had that explosive hair permed into an afro.  It was the cutest afro you’ve ever seen on a tiny girl. Her kindergarten picture shows a little girl with giant eyes and a curly mop wearing my favorite Winnie the Pooh dress that I handed down.  I love that picture. 

I remember having a fight with Martie in high school.  We were mad at each other (I think I’ve told this story before), and I was grandstanding in front of our friends.  I spit my gum in her face.  In retaliation, she went into the house, grabbed my purse, stuck it under the tire of her VW bug and ran over it a few times.   

I remember when Madre married Poppa and we got two brothers.  (Let me say in aside here that my family is complicated.  I have step siblings and half siblings and full siblings and four sets of grandparents plus some grandparents that we adopted.  But you know what?  My family is only complicated in terminology.  They are my family – full blooded, fully loved, full hearts, all the way.)  At first, the transition from three females living alone to six people living together, three males, three females (we were the Brady Bunch, sort of) was tough.  We had growing pains.  I had always been the peacemaker and the quiet one.  That was until one of the brothers took Martie’s sand dollar and broke it open after she expressly told him he could not do that. Her eyes teared up and as the youngest of us, she got trampled on a lot.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was so mad.  So I hit him, really, really hard.  And I think I knocked him out a little bit.  Apparently you don’t mess with my little sister, I don’t care who you are or how much I like you.

I remember seeing Martie’s face when she was in the OR and they put Pooh on her chest, right after she was born.  That is one of my favorite faces of all time.   

I remember graduating from high school and after I got my diploma, I looked up and saw Martie’s face covered in tears.  It was the end of an era – we would no longer share a room.  We would no longer share clothes.  We would no longer fight over the radio or the light in our room or our makeup.  We would no longer stay up all night talking about boys.  We never again listened to Thriller in our pajamas and ate giant Hershey’s kisses.  I was leaving for college and that moment, when I saw her face, my heart broke a little. 

I remember the moment that I realized that there was nothing Martie could do, ever, that would make me stop loving her.  Of course I probably realized it early in life but this particular moment was one that I could articulate.  Right then I called her. I told her that.  I told her that there is not another person on this earth who knows everything there is to know about me and loves me anyway.   I know everything there is to know about her and I love her anyway, love her because of it, love her because she’s Martie and she’s awesome.  I can’t imagine my life without her.   

I remember Martie calling me once.  She was so upset, so heartbroken.  Someone had hurt her badly and I remember the anguish in her voice when she said brokenly, “I don’t love a little bit.  I love all the way.  There is no little bit for me.”   That’s who Martie is.  She is full of life.  She does nothing halfway.  When she’s in, she’s all in.  It’s beautiful. 

So I say this:  I don’t love you a little bit, Martie. I never did.  There is no little bit here.  I love you all the way, as full as you can get.  A million memories for us.  A million smiles.  A million tears.  A million hugs.  A million of all good things for your birthday because you deserve it all, as full as you can get, and once we get to the end of a million, we’ll start all over again.  Happy Birthday, my forever friend.  I love you. 


Vegas, Baby!


#TBT: My Boys

I was eight years old when I got brothers.  They were older than me, not babies, so I was leery at first.  A baby brother would have been a dream because I could tote him around in my dolly stroller and dress him up in my dolly clothes with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of bossiness.  (Martie never let me boss her around even though I was a full 20 months older than her.)  Instead I got these wild things who ran non-stop into and out of the woods, who double-dog dared me to launch myself into the creek from a rope swing, and who sometimes pushed me out of hammocks onto some very pointy rocks.  I was crazy about them.


All the girls that we went to school with were crazy about them, too.  Martie and I got phone calls all the time from these much older girls who’d ask, “Vawn nere?”

Martie would look at me, her forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and hold out the phone to me mouthing, “I don’t know what she’s saying?”

“Hello?” I’d say, and then I’d hear, “Yah, Vawn nere?”  I’d look back at Martie, my forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and shrug.  It took us a little bit to realize that Popular Girl Tammi wasn’t really calling to talk to Martie or me, despite her asking for us, but was calling to determine if Vaughan (Brother Bear) was home.  Oh.  Vawn nere? = is Vaughan there?

“He’s fahr,” another girl said admiringly of Brother Boo.  By this point I’d caught on to the lingo.

“Yes, fire would be a good descriptor for him,” I’d say, knowing that my version of fire and her version of fire were two different fires.


After the boys learned to drive, and it was early as they had been clamoring for that privilege since they were able to sit upright, they’d worry the mess out of Madre and Poppa to go somewhere.

“I’ll run over and get some milk from the dairy farm,” they’d promise and then roar off in the old Cadillac, always returning with the car but sometimes not with the milk.

“I’ll just go get the dog food, no problem, can I have the keys?” they’d ask, right before they disappeared down the country dirt road, not to return again for two hours.

“I’ll mow the grass,” Brother Boo yelped, and he’d drive lines up and down the yard all afternoon.

That grass mowing business left me raging with jealousy.  I had been begging to mow grass since I was too short to even reach the push mower handles.  My cousin, Reid, was tasked with that chore before we got brothers and then afterwards, the boys took care of it, so Martie and I were never allowed the privilege.

“Show me how to do that,” I remember asking Brother Boo.  “Please, I want to do that.”

Y’all, for three whole minutes he patiently taught me.

“Let the clutch out slowly, you want it to be smooth,” he said as I positioned myself on the seat.

I tried slow and smooth just like he said but at nine, slow and smooth were not yet in my vocabulary.  I wobbled all over my one line, mad at him because I couldn’t get it right.

“Are you sure slow, because this isn’t working,” I snarked.

That soured Brother Boo on the game and he said, “No, actually, it’s easier if you just pop the clutch.  I was messing with you before.”

So I, ever trusting, popped the clutch and nearly flew backwards off that lawn mower.  Brother Boo laughed at me, claimed his rightful place in the driver’s seat and smoothly drove off to finish his mowing.


Later, once we all knew how to drive and had cars with which to do it, our brothers would drive theirs until they had no gasoline left, and then ask if they could borrow ours.  Brother Bear was particularly charming in his requests and he’d fly off after we handed over the keys.  Hours later, he would return from his party or his game or his date and he’d leave the car in the front yard with almost enough fuel to drive three miles to the nearest store.  Oh, it was irritating!  It happened EVERY TIME he borrowed a car yet Martie and I still willingly handed over the keys when he asked for them.

As kids do, we all grew up and turned into our own people.  My brothers started a band and played on big stages for a while.  They got married and had families and pursued other dreams when the band faded away.  Sometimes we stay in touch with regularity and sometimes we have to have marathon sessions for catching up because it’s been too long.


Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

When Poppa got sick, Brother Bear was able to fly in to lend his support.  I picked him up from the airport and drove him to the hospital where we sat with the rest of the family in a vigil for hours.  We soon realized that the vigil would continue for longer than hours, more like days, and Brother Bear and I took turns staying overnight with Poppa because he couldn’t be left alone.  I’d drive home at midnight to sleep and then in the morning would relieve Brother Bear so he could take a turn at my house.  He’d take off in my car, pick up food and then crash for a few hours before coming back to relieve me.  It was a terrible time.

After a particularly trying night, I left the hospital, weary to my bones and sad.  The two of us knew before anyone else, I think, that Poppa as we knew him would not be coming home.  I got in my car and started it up for my drive across town.  I glanced down at my dashboard and you know what I noticed?  My brother had filled up my car.  My tank was full.  I laughed through my tears all the way home.


This Thanksgiving, the four of us could not be any further apart.  Not one of us will see the other today.  It’s okay, though, because we don’t need to see each other to know we are loved.  Our hearts are connected by more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!




This cute little thing is DJ, Lynnette’s little boy.  He is obsessed with Spider Man and when we asked him to pose for his Halloween picture, this is what he did.  Don’t you just want to squeeze him till he pukes?

Spider Man!

Spider Man!

This year, instead of giving out the standard 50 pounds of chocolate to my neighborhood kids, I got to see how the other side lives and take my own kids trick-or-treating.  Pooh and Tigger live out in the country, and while they can trick-or-treat at the measly three or four houses around them, they don’t really get the experience of neighborhood trick-or-treating.  You know, the kind where you get so much candy that you can barely lift your pillowcase anymore and your parents are screaming for you to quit with the chocolate already because it’s 12:30 am and you are still bouncing off the walls due to extra high sugar consumption.  That kind of trick-or-treating.  The good kind.

Coach, their daddy, drove them up to my house where we slapped on makeup in a frenzy and changed into costumes lickety split and then sat on pins and needles waiting for it to be dark enough to go spooking door-to-door.  All that anticipation from Pooh and Tigger, and also DJ because he needed to trick-or-treat in a friendly neighborhood, and we only walked through two cul-de-sacs before these children had more candy than they’d ever seen in a lifetime.


Dead Softball Player (why?) and Goth Fairy

Dead Softball Player (why?) and Goth Fairy

“We are done, Aunt Jimmie,” they said, and I looked at them aghast.

“You’ve not even walked half the neighborhood,” I said.

“Yeah, but my bag is too heavy,” said Pooh.  “It’s too much.” Tigger nodded, and let her bag droop to the ground where it could rest on the concrete instead of her arm.

These children are amateurs, I tell you.  Total novices.

You know how I tell you all the time that I don’t want children? It’s the truth.  I don’t want any, and aside from all my physical and selfish reasons, that is largely because I already have the two cutest ones in the world.  (I’ll take three if DJ ever lets me count him as one of mine.) The whole point of this story before I got off on the trick-or-treat tangent was to tell you about the game that Pooh and Tigger love to play, the one I catch them at most often, because this is just about the cutest thing I ever did see.

One date night weekend I walked into Martie and Coach’s house to find Tigger wearing her purple fluffy skirt, her pink kitty cat sweater and her black boots. She had on her fake glasses and was carrying an old briefcase that Madre bought new in 1974.  Tigger was very earnestly finger-wagging at Pooh, saying, “You need to clean this place up. This is a disgrace.”

Finger Wagging at It's Finest

Abby Mace is Tigger’s Alias

She then withdrew a portfolio from her briefcase and selected a hand drawn form upon which she had written instructions.  She scribbled earnestly on the form and then in flamboyant flourishes wrote a number.  She handed the form over to Pooh who sighed heavily and looked around in dismay at her surroundings.  Tigger then marched off, boots whuffing as she breezed down the hall.  It was officious and intimidating and adorable because she was wearing a kitty cat sweater and a purple skirt.

“What are they doing?” I asked Martie.

“Playing health inspector,” she replied.  “It’s their favorite game.  They dress up in their most professional clothes and take turns writing each other up and assigning public health food scores.”

Monthly Schedule of Inspection Visits

Weekly Schedule of Inspection Visits

Oh, you guys!  Oh, my stomach!  I laughed so hard that Tigger walked off in a snit.  She takes her job very seriously.  I tried to tell her that I loved it so much, that I could not get over the cleverness of it, but I couldn’t really get my words past the tears in my throat and the giddy laughter that bubbled from my mouth.


Officious Form

Sarah Marcs is Pooh’s Alias

I’ve worried these last few years about the effects of video games and lame crafty ideas and apps on a phone that do everything for you.  I worry that our children will have no imagination left. I guess that was needless on my part.  Give my kids some paper and a pen and pair of fake glasses, and the games they play will blow your mind.

Also, before I forget, I updated my last post about my date night with Pee-Tah.  You should check that out.

Reason #498 For Jimmie To Not Have Children

What you see here is my niece, Pooh, playing softball.


And what you see here is my niece, Tigger, ponytail flying, socializing with her friends. That is her sport. She’s very good at it.


What you don’t see here is me, sitting on the bleachers, sniveling and carrying on because these children are growing up too fast for my liking. Every accomplishment they attempt makes my throat close up and my eyes sweat. Pooh plays the trumpet in the band. Tigger reads at a level far above her years. Pooh is in middle school. Middle school! She fixes her hair now and wants to look trendy, and sometimes the three of us talk about boys!

These poor children. They want to live their lives and do all the things their friends are doing and I’m cheering them through it on the outside, but inside I’m begging them to stop. Just be babies again, just for a minute. My heart cannot take this, and my eyes are puffy enough what with my being over 40 now.

Still, I take it on the chin like every self-respecting adult. Like a grownup. When Pooh runs off the softball field, eyes shining and words tripping breathlessly out of her mouth in a rush to tell us that her coach is proud of her, I do my level best to croak out a “Me too, baby. I’m proud of you, too,” and then wait until she flitters off back to her friends before I let the tears fall. It’s what an aunt does. It’s as close as she can get. I don’t know how you parents do this.

Among Other Things, A Series Of Selfies


























I was packing my walking shoes for the trip to Key West I was taking with Madre when I noticed that I’d worn out the bottom of my shoes. There was a large spot in the center of the shoe that only separated my foot from the sidewalk with thin pieces of rubber and stuffing. I suppose that says a lot for the amount I’ve walked since Easter, when I bought the shoes, and a lot for the amount of work my pedicurist had to do when I last visited her. I crammed the shoes down as far as I could and zipped the case closed.

Madre and I had been planning this trip since Poppa died but only 18 months later did we plan it in earnest. I think Madre didn’t want to leave her comforts, her safe places, and I had other trips already planned with My Girls. But plan it we did, and on a Monday night we flew out of Nashville into Miami on a puddle jumper that rattled in uncomfortable ways.

For six days Madre, Auntie Anne, Auntie Susanne and I enjoyed nearly every nice thing the Florida Keys have to offer. Aunties Anne and Susanne have lived there for a while now, so it’s lovely that we can visit whenever the hurricanes are not in season and when the Aunties are not travelling elsewhere. I get my love of travel from Auntie Anne, the person who took me to Chicago at seven, New York at twelve, and Europe at nineteen. I celebrated my twentieth birthday in Chamonix, a chilly little ski village in France and found myself an Italian boyfriend for two days in Sienna thanks to her. Not everyone can say that, I assure you.

The four of us packed up Auntie Susanne’s boat one day and headed out to the Marvins, the one place I was desperate to go. All the pictures in green, the ones that don’t look real, those are the Marvins. Madre and I walked around the island in the middle of the ocean, swishing our feet over the sandbar and swimming in the tide around the parts that were too deep. We nearly proved ourselves inadequate for that task, but we made it around the island feeling tired and virtuous. I could happily spend the rest of my days on that island, but it seems to me that I say that about every body of water I’m parked near. I guess I’m a water baby.

I met Seaborne, the dog you could tell was over me and my selfies. I met Chico, whom I’d have taken a selfie with but I had a suspicion Chico would have eaten my face off had I folded myself Indian style next to his carriage. Auntie Anne is the one with the very short hair, Auntie Susanne is the one fiercely captaining her ship, and Madre is the one with the sponge man, a strange yet delightful Key West oddity. The car door has a car painted around it and can be found on the wall outside of my bedroom at the Aunties’ house. The tarpon you can see underwater probably weighed nearly what I do. The trees are Banyans. They grow in ropes and are massive. The art belongs to the University of Miami, where Madre and I took a walk and got soaked in a torrent of rain about a mile from our destination, rendering me a liar. I’ve now been in public in a wet t-shirt. The snail was simply scootching along, minding her own business, enjoying the heat and the humidity.

Speaking of the humidity, I’ve never in my life had such unruly hair. In the normal state of things, humidity and heat cause my hair to go limp and sit lifelessly on my head. In the Keys, however, my hair took on a whole new persona, one that was fluffy and large and often unmanageable. If you think that upset me, you are sorely mistaken. I reveled in the bigness of it and gleefully tried to comb it out every night, admiring how the sides of it barely fit into the image I saw in the mirror. My skin was hydrated, dewy (sweaty) and covered in mosquito bites by the end of the trip. My body was relaxed after days of lounging in the pool or lounging in the hammock or lounging in a chilly bedroom with a good book. I read five.

Madre and I packed our belongings to come home. I stuffed in my walking shoes, even thinner on the bottom now as Madre and I walked every day and zipped my case closed. It was fatter than when I arrived (shopping) and at the airport, they made me unpack it so that it would fit in the carryon bin of our puddle jumper airplane. I tried rearranging everything but finally resigned myself to the fact that the shoes were not coming home with me. I threw them in the trash, re-zipped my case and passed through security with flying colors. Madre and I discussed how I would get a new pair of shoes when I got home and how she now knows that she can leave the comforts of home for other comforts and not worry. She can let go and relax and not hold everything on her shoulders that she and Poppa used to shoulder together. She has others who will shoulder it with her and for her when she wants to visit her sister and take some time to laze in a hammock.

Thank you, Auntie Anne and Auntie Susanne, for allowing us to be your houseguests. I’ll be back soon, Woney in tow, and let her see for herself why your house is such a wonderful place.

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