welcome back my smile
welcome back my style
welcome back my choice
welcome back my voice
i welcome my love for me
i welcome my ability to be free
i welcome the girl from the hood
i welcome the woman who’s no longer concerned if she’s understood
I wrote this poem at 52 years old, when I finally realized I had faded. Trust me I know what I speak of, you see the definition of fade is to lose freshness, strength, vitality, or brilliance. And I was losing all of my essence. I was fading into the background of my own life. I had people in my life that called me friend because I was always there to listen, assist, and counsel them but they were never there for me. Not my friends.
My kids had all grown up and moved on into their own independence and didn’t need their mom as much anymore. My marriage had ended ten years ago and he and I rarely spoke anymore. Thank You, Lord.
My job was killing me not so slowly. You know, understaffed, overworked and underpaid. No social life except an occasional drink or dinner with a co worker or acquaintance.
So when I say I was faded, I was nearly invisible. I hadn’t had a hardy laugh in more than a year. That kind of joyless existence is lonely. It can cause a person to go insane. One day looks exactly like the next and the previous one, nothing to look forward to, and basically nothing to look back on. The silence of my home life was deafening. I wasn’t interested in losing myself in the lies of the TV, nor did the synthesized sounds of the radio interest me.
I realized I was teetering on the edge of depression and I could not allow myself to fall into that pit of despair. I decided it was time for a change. Time to bring some color back into my faded existence.
Change was necessary, I knew; but how? How do you change a life that has become as comfortable as an old house shoe? You know, it fits your foot but no longer gives support. Where the pressure of your foot is the strongest there is no more insole, only holes; you’re walking on the bare rubber of the sole. That’s what my life had become, an old useless, worn out slipper. This life had become molded to me. My imprint was in it, it was shapened around me but it was no longer comfortable or supportive. There was still, a certain comfort in the discomfort of it all. But the discomfort was starting to become overwhelming, it was time to make a change and I knew it. I knew if I didn’t do something I’d be stuck there for the rest of my existence and that thought made me cry.
I cried for the first time in forever. I thought of how miserable and faded I’d become and I sobbed! I sobbed through my sad little dinner of oatmeal and dry toast. I sobbed through my bath until the water was no longer hot but lukewarm. I sobbed into my pillow, it was soaked with my tears.
I woke the next morning determined to change my life for the better. I had some vacation days saved up at work, cause I hadn’t taken a vacation in about five years. I went in to work and took a month’s vacation effective immediately. Now I have an entire month to focus on me.
First things first, I went to visit my kids and arranged a family dinner. I figured it was high time to for us to start interacting more like a family. In the next few days, I took each of my three grandchildren on a date. Beginning with the eldest, fifteen year old, Harper, and working my way to eight year old Nixon.
Harper and I began our day at the nail shop. “Alright Harper, choose a dynamic color for my fingers and toes. Something that will pop and bring some color into my life.”
“Ok, G-mom, I got you.” She smiled. “And you’re gonna wear any color I choose?”
“Yes, just don’t have me looking like a clown.”
“I won’t. I wouldn’t do that to you. That’s something I’d do to my other grandmother, not you.” She laughed.
“What girl? Why’d you say that?”
“Cause she’s aggravating. She’s always criticizing me. I don’t look right or act right according to her. So I just try to avoid her as much as possible. Mama says I have to respect her but I don’t have to hang around her, so that’s what I do. I interact with her as little as possible. I would never agree to spend a whole day with her like I am with you today.”
“Well, baby, your mama’s right. And I’m glad you don’t feel like that about me.”
“Never G-mom. You’re quiet but you’re cool.”
“What do you think about these colors?” She said, presenting a neon green and bright orange.
“Oh my! Will those look good with my skin tone Harp?”
“Girl, yes, that beautiful brown skin looks good with every color.”
“Ok, the green on my toes and the orange on my fingers.”
“Yeah, and I’ll get the green on my fingers and the orange on my toes.” She said. “Let’s do it!”
After the nail salon we went shopping. Harper helped me find some beautiful flowy sundresses that are filled with colors, one of which I wore out of the store. I bought her a cute little outfit that she decided to wear today as well. We went to a high class restaurant for dinner. She ordered a martini for me and a virgin margarita for herself. Harper caught me up on all the happenings in her life over our meal. Before bringing her home we decided to go to the park and swing on the swings, something neither of us had done in some time. I had forgotten about the tickle in your stomach as the swing descends from its highest peaks.
“Thank you G-mom. I had so much fun today.” She said as she kissed my cheek before getting out of the car. “Me too Harper, we’ve definitely got to do it again.” She got out and turned back to wave goodbye before she opened the door, and I noticed more color in her face than had been there this morning.
The following day I spend with Mila, my thirteen year old granddaughter. Mila loves jewelry so our first stop was a well known accessory shop. Mila had a ball trying on and coordinating bracelets, rings and necklaces. We visited several vintage and antique shops. I’m proud to say Mila helped me score some beauties at great prices. She’s quite a little haggler. Of course she had a pretty sizable haul herself. Some of the shop owners were so impressed with her maturity that they threw in a few extra pieces for her. “Where’d you learn to haggle like that Mila?” I asked after leaving the third shop. “From my daddy. He said there’s no need to pay full price if you don’t have to and it doesn’t hurt to try to get more for your money.”
“Well this is true honey.” I said.
Mila and I had lunch at a little eatery that was modeled after Tiffany’s Blue Cafe in New York. Instead of Tiffany’s signature blue everything was a pretty pink, almost orangy color. Upon entering, the hostess was handing out long white gloves. There was even a stand where they sold tiaras. Of course Mila had to have one and convinced me to get one too. “Oh G-mom, this place is lovely!” She said in her most fairytail voice. “Yes my dear, it is absolutely enchanting.” I said in my royal voice. “Would you like some tea and crumpets to begin our meal, me lady?” I asked. “Oh yes Grandmama, that would be lovely,” she said emulating my tone.
Mila and I dine the afternoon away eating little foods, drinking from small glasses and tea cups with our white gloved pinkies ointing upward. We ended our date in a photo shop having antiques pictures taken in our tiaras and white gloves.
“Thank you G-mom! This is a day I will never forget as long as I live. I had so much fun.” She said as she gave me the biggest hug ever. “You’re welcome my baby. I had so much fun with you today. I love you.” I said, planting a kiss on her forehead just as her mom opened the door. “Be good baby girl”, I said.
The following day, I stopped at a toy store and picked up two nerf guns before going to get Nixon. As I pulled in front of their house, I called my daughter and asked her to send Nixon out. When he opened the car door I bombarded him with body shots from my nerf gun. He seized the one I placed on the back seat and began to return fire. I got out of the car and ran around to his side and fired on him from another angle. Hearing our screams from the house, his mom opened the door to see what was going on and we turned on her, showering her with a borage of bullets. “Mama you and Nixon have lost your minds!” She said and she slammed the door.
“Come on buddy, get in the car.” I laughed as I kissed my grandson on his forehead. We piled into the car and headed to the laser tag station. I know he’d prefer paintball but laser tag hurts less, lol. “Where are we going G-mom?”
“We’re going to play laser tag babe.”
“Yes!” He exclaimed.
Nix and I played several rounds of laser tag before moving on to the theatre to see the latest Marvel movie with lots of popcorn and snacks, and then off to the trampoline park.
“Come on G-mom, jump some more with me.”
“Baby I’m tired. I’m not as young as you. I’ve reached my limit, but you go on and get your jumps on. After this we’ll go have dinner at Timmy’s.”
“Yes! Timmy’s is my favorite!”
Nix and I had a small dinner at Timmy’s and lots of desserts, his reason for loving this place. On the way home we stopped at the toy shop and bought some more darts and batteries for the two machine guns we were playing with earlier. His mom’s gonna love me for sending them home - not! I laugh at the thought of my stuck up daughter being sneak-attacked over and over again. Special joy!!!
Well that week with my family was the beginning of regaining my brilliance. The following week, a high school friend of mine contacted me just to say hi and to see how my life was going. She and I talked for hours, we both talked and we both listened. She was as interested in my life as I was in hers. We talked the way we used to back in high school.
I told her how faded I had gotten and she suggested I get dressed and go have dinner at the bar of my favorite restaurant. I often eat out alone but never sat at the bar. Well guess what? Sitting at the bar alone was a great idea. I met a terrific guy named Jason. He ended up buying my dinner that night and asked me out on a date on the following Friday. Jason and I have been going out for a year and a half now.
Of course my life isn’t perfect but it’s no longer faded. I’m no longer living a hohum nonchalant existence. I’m happy. I smile for no reason and laugh from my soul. I truly welcome me back to myself.