Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I leave my therapist’s office, get on the elevator and press ‘LL’ until it lights up.  My brain is weary from all the talk. I feel typical and middle-aged and lavish and, not a little bit, mentally ill.

Mother issues, blah blah blah,
Adoption issues, meh.
Spiritually searching, sigh.
Mid-life… can’t even.

I’m leaving my therapist’s office in Bevery Hills for godsake.

The elevator stops and in rolls a mother, wheeling her daughter, maybe 3 or 4 years old. The little girl is strapped into a wheelchair. Not one of those temporary wheelchairs that you see on TV being used to move a new mom from the hospital to her car (with her brand new baby) or transporting some skier or skateboarder (with a freshly set cast) down a crowded hallway. It’s one of those wheelchairs that is lived in. With food crumbs deep in the crevices  With extra pouches and pockets to carry necessary things. Like medicines. And probably shots. A change of clothes. And wipes.

The strapped-in daughter writhes, randomly contorting her body, her spirit determined to be freed. The mother doesn't seem to notice these jarring jerking movements, or her daughter's head as it thuds against the worn fabric of the wheelchair. She is used to this. This is not new to her. But she is weary.

I am weary too, I think. But not possibly that weary. For godsake, how dare I compare? I actively shrink myself, fold my feelings, a spoiled napkin, the messy parts inside, making it smaller and smaller, until it’s an indistiguishable wad.

‘LL’ lights up and we all exit the elevator, I scramble to help, awkwardly extending my arm to keep the door open, it hasn’t tried to close, but I need something to do.  The mother manuevers out with ease.

She turns right and I turn left.

But the wad is still there, compressed in my chest. I try to remember we are both allowed our weariness. I try to remember that my portion is mine and hers is hers. I try not to judge myself for being grateful that mine is mine and hers is hers.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Perfume Counter

I am standing at a perfume counter. It’s a place I rarely find myself standing for two reasons. One, I’m the kind of girl who likes deals and would rather tear samples from a nail salon’s year old Cosmo than pay full price for a bottle of liquid that will likely evaporate or spoil before I get my money’s worth.  And two, perfume counters rarely give out actual samples anymore, those cute little tubes with the brand name in miniature across their length, and the idea of committing to a signature scent from a few squirts on a thick strip of gourmet paper, seems absolutely irresponsible.

But I have a gift card from my best friend and strict instructions.  So I’m standing at a perfume counter with a lush-lashed lady who is leaning across the polished expanse of counter between us, with just a glance of appropriate Neiman Marcus cleavage. I’ve decided to trust her because she is wearing a somewhat reasonable amount of make-up.  She reaches for my wrists and I extend them obediently, giving in to the inevitability of leaving with a headache, no matter what perfume I purchase.

She dabs my wrists, a different scent for each pulse point, and begins elaborate descriptions. Her words vaporize as the scent on my left wrist transports me to my mom’s little glass tray, on her side of the deep double sink, in their bathroom. Her pearl earrings lay on top of their reflection right next to the pretty bottle of white perfume.  Gardenia. Yes, that’s it. I can’t remember if that’s the actual name or just the flower it’s fashioned after but it makes me smile to remember the summer I saved my strawberry picking money and gave her the smallest bottle for her birthday.

My right wrist conjures my Grandma Felton, my dad’s mom. Her bedroom was always dark and cool, with any light leaking in from the curtained window fighting its way through the dust. I see on the dresser her pink Avon puff, fuzzy and soft, resting on top of the silky white powder, the same silky white powder that would rest on her wrinkled white skin. I would stare up at Grandma Felton’s skin, either while sitting between her and my cousin Christy on the slippery church bench, as she dug into her purse for hard candies, or while kneeling on a kitchen chair pushed up against her sea-foam green counters while stirring sticky melted marshmallows through a bowl of crunching jumping Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

I will ask my mom if she still wears that perfume. 
I will ask my dad what he misses most about his mom.

I scoot down the counter, nodding my head and dutifully bringing one wrist to my nose and then the other. I want the clerk to know she has done a good job, that she has pleased me. Not because I will buy either one but because the headache will be worth it.