Grownup

This morning I do not hit snooze and grope sleepily for my covers. This morning I have jam, pizzazz. Instead of throwing on my yoga pants and scraping my hair back into a pony, I put on creased slacks, a dress shirt, a vest and a string of pearls. Lizard clasps my shoulders in a quick prayer, squeezes me and instructs me to be bold. Off I go to stand in the ring.

Mom-In-Law is at the A&W waiting with good, strong coffee. She is going to be my chauffeur to the bank—my potential place of employment—which is a forty-five minute drive from where we live. On the drive we chit chat and drink our coffees while I nervously fix my collar and touch up my lipstick.

So maybe being a bit of a grownup isn’t all that bad of an idea, as long as I don’t lose myself in a title. Maybe the growing pains will finally flesh out an extra inch. Maybe there’s a blessing to be unfurled. Maybe.

I feel that I’ve given my all. I feel that my enthusiasm has caught fire. I feel hopeful. Maybe I can stand up tall and sing and shout!

The phone rings, “I didn’t want you to have to wait all weekend for an answer, so, how would you like a job here with us at the bank?”

Brother In Arms

Tonight I spoke with my ninety-year old Uncle John, the brother of my Grandma Johanna. After speaking about my current undertakings, and expressing twice—for fear Uncle John didn’t understand what I was saying—that I was now married, I was told frankly that he knew I was married, and I didn’t need to speak so loud. Though he can’t see a thing, his hearing, apparently, is fine.

Uncle John was overjoyed to have a listening ear to which he could relay all sorts of colorful stories from his life. Like the one about the teller lady at the Bank of Commerce on Bernard in the 1950’s, who was ever so lovely and hallowed, and held the only key to the bank vault. She reasoned that the savings locked therein would get her oodles of plays on lotto 649, and could be replaced easily when she had won the jackpot, no fuss, no muss. When other bankers were also entrusted with keys, the tally came up short—a few thousand. “What happened to that lady, I do not know. Find an old timer from Kelowna and ask them,” was Uncle John’s advice.

I was happy when Brad walked through the door—happy to introduce John to my husband, and ready to switch the phone to a fresh ear. Brad, my good-natured husband, was gracious, genuine, and did not have to be told to quiet down. He has an incredible kinship with the elderly, and a love for wartime history which earned him initiation as Uncle John’s new brother in arms.

The borders are smudged on “my” story tonight. An old book, the internal binding exposed, worn and overlooked, gets taken off the shelf and opened. I become immersed. Grey tones merge into texture, color, providence, and an old chapter merges with a new.

Backseat

I thought it would be easy to write today. Words were lively and strong in my mind as I trekked to Mitsy’s, but they fell into the crack in the sidewalk on my way in. Instead I appreciate the way my coffee and date square mix, enhancing one another, tasting something wonderful. The market hub near our home has pleasant life to it this morning. The sky is hazy and bright, pulling out the shadows in the shop. People are speaking in congenial tones and rock music is pumping lightly behind it all.

It’s a good morning—a good morning to buckle myself into the back of an old Reliant (like the one we owned in ’85) and resign myself to a long, stiff drive as a passenger. I am not relinquishing control; I am just realizing I don’t have much. The only thing I’ve got is the wait. Oh, and I get to look out the window. A man in a black T-shirt with big sunglasses and a compass tattooed on his elbow glides in front of the coffee shop windows on his longboard.

My teachers never told me I had limitations. Sometimes in life, all you can do is sit in the backseat and watch the scenery go by.

Generation Net and I

I’m always applying to be a grownup. I have a great resume. It’s the interview that gets me. I end up saying too much, revealing my insecurities; squirming in my chair like a child on time out. Can you blame me for wanting to make a buck—for trying to work smarter, not harder? It’s for my yet-to-be children!

We meet Henry and Heidi tonight at church. They look worn and common, and as we cluster together to pray with them for generation net, our brilliant youths, they squeeze our hands.

“I will always receive a rebuke from a child,” confides Henry.  “One time I was standing with my grandson watching Heidi make pancakes. I noticed that one was a bit warped and darker than the rest and commented that the pancake was warbled-looking. My grandson simply stated, ‘Opa, I think you should stop complaining and eat the wonderful pancakes Oma is making!’ I wanted to scold him for chiding me, but the Lord gently stopped me. I respected the little guy’s request and ate my pancakes!”

On the teenage generation Henry is passionate; “I need to get an iphone to text my grandchildren! Their phone may vibrate at the moment when they need me the most. We may not reach them perfectly, but we need to do what we can… we need to do what we can!” His eyes are full of life and he shakes with intense conviction.

The upcoming generations are looking for authenticity. I am grappling with being OK with Jess, the woman writing this blog.

I am thinking about applying to Canada Post online tonight. Their requirements and training are very rigorous. I could be a delivery girl; I could make something of myself for my family. Yet as I begin to fill out a profile, something feels amiss. I log out. I don’t squirm on my chair—I rock gently, with bliss, like a child. On Monday I will be back at the bakery, slicing bread, and my yet-to be children will be better for it.

Lizard

Lizard is in a funk. Last night his tonsils swelled up and his head started drumming. Today he is all groans and sighs and is strewn about on the couch. I poke him and prod him, I sing to him and sit on him. Nothing.

Lizard and I bike to the chiropractor to get popped. We ride up Gordon and swing into Mitsy’s for a coffee. I buy medium roast and lizard saves his money. I relish my morning brew and lizard looks idly into the distance.

I come home from work and lizard looks a bit perkier. He has played Skyrim, watched Top Gear, paired his socks and ate pizza. Watching cars at play and dragon-slaying makes for a happy lizard. We stuff our socked feet into runners, our phones and keys into pockets, and jaunt outside to catch the last of the flush pink sky.

We breeze by the quaint little blue house with the loft. It’s for sale. We notice the plenteous field in the back of a cluster of townhouses. But then there’re strata fees. Better to buy a mobile. We dream. I see our yet-to-be children’s faces peering through the windows of a robust and elegant brick heritage home.

Smoothies, grilled cheese and chicken soup make a late dinner.

I forgot to mention I married a lizard, aka Brad.

Cut In Half, Please

I walk down three flights of steps, through the parking garage, out the heavy door and into the alley. The heartfelt sun sings and I take off my hoodie. Today is a jeans day. Everyday is a ponytail and socks day at the bakery, but jeans or yoga pants is the decision that starts off my morning. My red and white runners now pad through powdery dirt mounds in a lot strewn with abandoned excavators and bobcats. It’s not the two seconds I shave off my trek that begs me to walk through the lot instead of around it; it’s the clouding of silty earth as I step; it’s the dodging of machinery; it’s the invitation to throw down my morning banana peel; it’s the interest factor.

One block to the old motel, and kitty-corner to that is my place of employment. I walk through the door with a couple minutes to blink and coffee up. The light cheerily lunges through the windex smears on the bakery case. Kasey and Tina say good morning. Bucky is filling up the hot case.

Vienna. Portugese. Italian. Winnipeg rye. I put up the bun signs with scotch tape and stack the salads in the cooler. I flip the sandwich station. I unwrap the desserts. I do what I’m told. It’s not cuisine-science here; the instructions are something like, “Place these dough balls three by three on this cookie sheet,” or, “cut these buns into one inch segments.” Tell me to follow a recipe or use my own ingenuity to organize the beverage stacks and that would really glaze my doughnuts—if you know what I mean. I slice bread.

“I’ll take four Nanaimo bars, two date squares—what squares are your most popular here?”

“I’d say we sell a lot of the brownies, coconut brownies and butter tarts.”

“How are the lemon streusels?”

“They’re really good. Tried one last night.”

“How about two brownies and two lemon… the butter tarts are popular you say?”

“Yes.”

“Two brownies and two butter tarts; cut in half, please.”

I cut and box. The lady has lovely lines around her eyes. “I hope you enjoy the occasion you are buying these goodies for,” I say.

“Oh, well…” her eyes look down, “they’re for a funeral. My friend’s husband died in a motorcycle accident. She wanted me to help her with some baked goods…” every precious line in her face looks deeper. I am slicing bread and she is sloshing thigh high through grief. Both our eyes water and well for a second. A husband. I hug my sweet husband tight and close in my mind in this very present moment.

“I’m so sorry,” I say, and watch her walk out the bakery door. I resolve to pack each square, cookie and bear claw more lovingly today.

September

I’m in transit on the number 8/College/University, driving beside pastureland on Springfield. I want to write about the peace I feel, as I look out the window at the field, all-glorious in light, from a bus full of Wednesday people. The man who is sitting beside me has smoked all he can today, I’m sure, and has a roughed up nature. His shirt hangs open and his flat belly protrudes all that one can make a flat belly bulge, and the man decides he wants to be near me. Across from me is not near enough so he moves in beside me and our presences mix. I dish out a smile because I feel he needs one, and I make it genuine. He notices right away and says it’s pretty. I am polite, trying to give as much as I can to the fellow without letting him tiptoe on my socks. God loves him too.

The college is all buzz and knowledge and September. I love the feeling of it and I long for it. But I handle cash and bread. Really. That’s what I do; I scrub cutting boards, ladle perogies, wash windows and bag donuts. This is my day job, my bread and butter. This is my harvest sourdough rye, and I’m only at the college to return books.

A man in the student laboratory thinks he knows me. He thinks I’m that nursing student he jokes around with. I am excited by this mistaken status; I could be her! I puff up for a moment, fade, and then recover with, “No, I am in Arts”; the art of slicing bread.

But I’m slicing bread a little earlier now. I’m slicing bread a little later. This is it, you’re reading it, and I’m doing it one slice at a time. We’re talking words here, not grain. We’re talking words.