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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Children get older. . .

It isn't easy, Kids

Yesterday was last minute get-ready-for-college shopping day with Liz. After breakfast among Harley riders and fashionable east siders at the Cafe Hollander, we headed to Greenfields to look for posters. In case you haven't been there, it's the kind of store where I'd have bought flowing skirts, incense, and posters for whatever Madison apartment I had in 1970.

 Liz is a big Salvador Dali fan. This is very cool, but there is Dali, and there is Dali. This is the sort of Dali that appeals to Liz.

 



And there are roommates, and there are roommates.

"Liz. Don't you think you might want to get to know your roommate a little before you put up a poster that might be, you know. . ."

"SCARY?" she completed my sentence. "You think this would be better?" unscrolling a bold red-and-black floor-to-ceiling Che Guevara banner and looking at me with feigned innocence.

"Erm, well, it's very. . . arresting. But the colors might be a little off-putting. Besides, it might not go with her stuff, and she might care about that." This is, by decree of the big dorm room furnishings purveyors, a brown and pink and green year with lots of orange, purple, and teal thrown in. A very un-revolutionary colors year. I don't even have to go where the politics might lead this discussion.

 "How about this," I ask, finding an unusually sweet Dali with butterflies and no naked bodies or Blessed Virgins or melting clocks. A lifted eyebrow is reply enough, but my daughter is trying to keep me calm and so she says, kindly and gently, "it's just not me, Mom." 

She finds something that's imaginative, thought-provoking, and unlikely to make her roommate call for an exorcism. I am relieved. I buy her two beautiful scarves and we head to the car. There, Liz is captive, and I can waterboard her with 18 years worth of pent-up advice, praise, and Mom-neurosis. 

"I'm channeling Sally Field again, right?" I ask, coming up for air myself.  In case you haven't seen Brothers and Sisters, Field's character, Nora Walker, is so much like me that even I can see it when my kids point and hoot during a familiar scene of excessive, sure-to-be-thwarted, mother love.

Time to shut up and turn on the radio. Strains of the Dixie Chicks:

I took my love and took it down, climbed a mountain and turned around, and I saw my reflection in a snow covered hill, well the landslide brought it down

. . . can I sail through the changing ocean tides, can I handle the changing seasons of my life?

. . .Well, I've been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you, but time makes you bolder; children get older, I'm getting older too. .

I'm about to launch into my usual exegesis on why the original Stevie Nicks version  of Landslide is superior when the song hits me and the tears start. "This is about us, isn't it?"

Liz, always much wiser than I am, nods. Later, she will let me hug her longer than she has ever let me hug her. 

This morning, she packed her dad's truck. I handed off a plate of zucchini bars with caramel frosting for the trip, and they were off to Steven's Point.

Take this love and take it down, children. Climb a mountain.  But now and then, turn around.

 

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