For a word we use and even just think so often “miss” has more to do with “failing” in the dictionary than I think most people realize. But I don’t fail when I miss people. I don’t fail in my nostalgia. I don’t fail when I reminisce.
Rather, in all of these situations I am feeling. Not failing. I submit that “missing” is “feeling the absence of someone or something or some time or some situation or some summer or some lake house or some pink bike or some Simba stuffed animal.” More like the one below in 2 (and not at all like the example two bullets above that–yamahama!)
This week has felt very adult, to me. I’m a grown ass woman. To me, this means I am strong enough to handle my problems. I am humble enough to cry with big “gahook” sounds when I need to. I am able to speak up when I am having a hard time saying goodbye to Grandma Freida because it makes me think of five months ago when I said goodbye Gram Mary Lou. I am bold enough to speak what I think. I am real enough to call my mom and dad and my sister when they’re the only ones who get it. I am able to be a support for my husband. I can have two desserts if I want to. And I am crazy enough to pour myself out on this website every week.
But wow, there are some things I miss and will continue to miss–in the truest sense of the word. And growing up means physically letting go, even if not emotionally or mentally. This shit is real. I will “feel the absence of someone or something or some time or some situation or some summer or some lake house or some pink bike or some Simba stuffed animal,” to quote a grown ass woman writer I know.
So here’s a poem-ish thing. I can write those if I want to…because I am a grown ass woman.
To Feel The Absence Of
I already miss Grandma Freida and how she so nonchalantly beat everyone in board games with an offhanded, “I think I won.”
I’ll miss the way she said “yais” in her old fashioned Vermont accent and how she giggled with Cindy over their cute inside jokes.
I will miss her fleecy clothes and her tiny frame and how she always started sentences with “Ohhhh!”
“Ohhhh, is it good to see you!?”
It goes without saying that I miss Gram Mary Lou. I miss her fingernails and her stacks of mail.
I miss her dollar store-purchased snacks and her completed crosswords.
I miss her squishy hugs and her Cold War style food storage in the basement.
I miss the sun through her skylights and her itchy carpet where I’d sit and stretch while we’d talk.
I miss calling her and saying, “Hi, it’s me,” so that she could respond without fail, “Hi, me!”
I miss her thin ceramic plates and her ham sandwiches and her year-round Christmas-themed water glasses. I miss knowing where to find a rubberband in her drawer and how she folded her plastic bags so endearingly, like they mattered. Because she treated everything like it mattered, especially us.
I even miss her bumpy driveway and the rusty pole I always nearly scraped against and waiting for her to make it to the back door to let me in.
I miss the tile floor in our bathroom growing up. I miss those classic black and white squares and rectangles and how they gathered dirt and hair and felt so cold on your feet in the winter.
I miss the maps in the hallway with Mom and Dad’s pins and stopping to look at them for the thousandth time, like they were completely new to me.
I miss thinking the railing in the upstairs hallway was so long.
I miss silent cleaning on Good Friday while Jesus hung on the cross from 12-3.
I miss knowing the sidewalk on Kennewick Road well enough to rollerblade to the right or left at the exact right time to avoid a stray crack.
I miss making mud pies in the alley and hiding in neighbor’s bushes and feeling like summer would be always.
I even miss scraping my knee and getting glass stuck in my wound like a badass.
I miss fishing at 5 a.m. on Lake Oxbow and Dad and Uncle John teaching us how to be so silent and so still, through our yawns.
I miss the smell of gasoline mixed with sunshine and waiting your turn to go tubing because that was the crux of the day.
I miss collecting sand crabs and playing god with their tiny, crunchy lives.
I miss flush and gush in the waves and being at the beach for seven days straight.
I miss Ben and Zack’s baby giggles from the openings of their tiny matching pajamas. I’d shake ice in a tupperware container, sprawled on their kitchen floor and they thought I was a circus clown–but not the scary kind.
I miss being able to read in the car and ride the alien spaceship ride at the State Fair–the one where you got stuck to the wall and could flip upside down at will.
I miss feeding bread to the ducks in the Harbor with Aub and Mom on days off and making sure all the ducks got some, even the meek ones.
I miss picking up photos at Safeway, not even waiting until we got to the car to start looking. And how Mom always made doubles.
I even miss the ’91 Honda Civic hatchback and how it couldn’t do hills. I miss how the passenger seatbelt would move on its own when the door closed.
I miss playing board games at the Doran dinner table. Aubrey would never charge Mom rent in Monopoly because she loved her too much.
I miss walks across the street and the field on the other Kennewick that seemed like it was a mile long.
I miss running around like weirdos while Dad took candids.
I even miss that mockingbird that attacked our Dog Nike, because, isn’t nature amazing?
I miss Girl Scout cookie order forms and working for the stupid gifts they offered for Catholic school top fundraisers.
I miss the spaghetti dinner and the feeling of love at 12 years old.
I miss the freedom of being out of uniform for gym day and wearing my coolest Adidas tear-away pants.
I miss writing notes to my middle school friends with pre-texting abbreviations all over them. LYLAS, luv, TTYL, TTFN, wulda, cuda, shuda.
I even miss the Y after school program for kids with moms who worked and making fun of the snack and setting leaves on fire with a magnifying glass out of sight of the adults.
I miss knee high socks and chewing gum in secret.
I miss finding change under the vending machines with Sarah and then when we had enough buying a pre-packaged chocolate muffin to delicately heat in the microwave and then share.
I miss the accomplishment of finishing all of my homework before it was due.
I miss free periods and wasting them usefully by playing games and wandering the school aimlessly.
I even miss the feeling of heartbreak at 16 because I’d never felt something so strong and Ms. Cummings sent me a candy gram and I cried for my broken heart and I cried that I had an adult looking out for me in the way that I needed to be looked out for.
I feel the absence of so many people and situations and life phases and memories and days I’d go back to and even ones I wouldn’t. We all feel this, I’m sure.
And sometimes, I think we just need to be able to do more than fail to reach something or someone or some time or some experience.
We need to be able to welcome and hug and embrace feeling the absence of those things. Memories, nostalgia, and reminiscing are all kind of beautiful.
And even if life is grand or even if it isn’t, it’s nice to be able to say, “I was there.”