by Sonja Salcido aka Soni Cido
The online event page read:
Please come to Shelby’s, ‘Next 50 Years’ Launch Party
The the responses flowed onto the page, and everyone was coming. Texts were lighting up her phone with sudden fervor.
Shelby panicked and fired up the teapot.
Her house, although eclectic and stylish, had suffered some neglect:
–There was the puppy that chewed like a beaver
–The cat that clawed like a chainsaw
–The unending flow of friends of her children
All normal wear and tear of course, but suddenly she realized how visible it all was.
Maybe she should cancel.
She dunked her tea ball and assessed the situation– the cake was on order, the piles of decorations were hung, the checkerboard of notes and lists on the refrigerator were nearly completed. Peppermint steam rose from the cup, she breathed deep and pressed her lips to the rim. She thought about her daughter teasing, “How can you have another fifty years, when you already had 50?”
She smirked, “No insecurities, Shelby,” She sipped, “Or no party.”
That meant, that anything hideous, in the house, had to be fixed immediately.
She carried her cup to the entry, set it on the cherry console, pulled her toolbox from the closet, and sighed, “Might as well dig in…”.
First, the big nick in the front door from a pot-bellied mover, who acted like he could widen the door by shoving her desk into it. Then, she worked on a small ding in the frame–that was made the day that the wedding gifts arrived.
The one above it, from her travel case, as the new couple rushed to make a flight to their honeymoon destination. “So, so long ago,” She muttered, as she shut the lid with the whack of her hammer.
She stirred the sheet-rock plaster, then pushed a glob deep into the perfect print of the doorknob, it bubbled up in protest and she pushed it flat then scraped it level with an upward swipe, as if to erase the memory. That was the day that the door slammed open, but quickly closed on a chapter of her life– it was the crash, that shook the wall, that broke her heart, that left its mark –that final dispatch of anger, marking the last day of her marriage.
She quickly moved through the house and by late afternoon, she found herself on the floor in the bathroom painting under the vanity. It was at that point when she realized that it could go on for days, certainly for weeks, and maybe even years!
She shook her head, her house had definitely seen better days. It had been cut in half, bounced down a road and put back together with a com-along. The kitchen had rolling hills, the doors wobbled, and it sagged in the middle.
“Kind of like me,” She mulled, as she swirled the paint brush in a bucket of water, then wrapped it in a damp rag. She stared at a burn on the counter, nostalgia crept in as she could almost hear the sounds of her girls and their friends fussing before a dance with music blasting, blow dryers whirring, and curling irons sizzling. So much fun! So many memories…
She didn’t mind the idea that she’d never have a cottage on a beach like her sister, nor marble floors to show off, like her brother. Her house, in all its marked-up glory, told a story about her life, and of those she loved.
Besides, would her guests even notice?
She looked up–Oh, no! The mirror had a crack on the corner that was creeping toward the center… a heavy lump slid into her heart, and landed with a plop. Now the temptation to cancel the party was overwhelming. A sharp pain shot up her spine so she stood to stretch it out but winced as another pierce her elbow. Suddenly, she realized that her body had its own nicks and dings, and it accrued more every decade.
She pulled up her shirt and glared. The mirror reflected a road map of scars trekking across her belly. “Well”, She sighed, “I am certainly not getting a new one of these,” She thought about her life, the trials and troubles, the harder than hard times and then leaned closer to study an old scar near her eyebrow from a car accident. She frowned at a new, deep line above it, “Great. Welcome to my face!” She said with a sneer.
Off to the kitchen to brew fresh tea.
As she breathed in the sultry orange and lavender aroma, she set her eyes on the picture of her grandmother hung near the sink; then started to feel settled. She kept Grandma Mable near as a reminder that even though life was tough, Grandma never hid it, she was always so real. She could still hear her grainy voice intruding and instructing, as she pointed a bony finger, “Reflection is to be had, especially when had with tea.” Of course, at that time Shelby didn’t like tea, so she wasn’t even sure what her grandma meant, but these days, she knew all too well and she wished that she could tell her. Grandma’s advice had carried her through many years, once she left the rebel child behind.
She scuffed her feet as she walked to the living room to settle into her favorite spot near a window full of crystals; a collection from every trip she’d taken. The sun streamed an orange shimmer through the sheers–a perfect palette for little rainbows. She reached up, took one in her hand, then gave it a spin. The colors cascaded across the bookcase, walls, and floor, in merry little dances.
She juggled her tea as she plopped down, then stretched across the loveseat. Sipping slowly, she toyed with her phone. “To cancel or not to cancel, that is the question,” Her cat, Geode lifted his head as if to say, “Oh, you again,”.
Geode was curled up on a soft stool in the sun, now too old to do any damage, and too fat to move much at all. She kind of missed the days when he’d leap around the house like a bouncing tiger, chasing Jim Bob, the family dog, who had long since passed on. She missed Jim Bob, and some day, she’d be missing Geode. Time sure has a way of changing things, she thought, “And time is short–” She said, as if he could understand.
Maybe she should adjust her thinking and see it all another way.
After all, the marks on her house were just etchings that told a story; a busy happy story.
Kind of like graffiti on the pages of life. The wear and tear on her home, her body, and her past, was proof that life had gone on, in good times and in bad, and nothing had stopped her yet.
She realize that her scars were all perfectly crafted, just for her and nobody else. And by the way, she had left a lot of marks on life as well–raising a family, taking in animals, traveling around and caring for the sick– significant proof that she was actively engaged in this wonderful world.
It was like a shout-out to the Universe: “Shelby was here, and you felt it!”
Suddenly she wondered, “How many more years do I have left? How many more
opportunities will life grant me? I need to crack out the colors, continue the graffiti and mark things up! It was time to party, to share and to bless, to dance and leave memories.
“Geode,” She stood and scratched his head and pulled on an ear, then giggled like a mischievous little girl, “You’d better prepare for a lot of commotion old man, it’s time to celebrate my next 50 years!”
She posted on her event page:
“Thank you for your responses! Can’t wait!!”
Then she laughed like a crazy woman, and shouted so loud that Geode jump from the stool and ran to the kitchen, “Shelby is here my friends, and yer gonna feel it!”