The Small Moments

Centennial Park, Nashville

Four generations in Centennial Park

A screened porch during a thunderstorm.

Turning the music up, and turning it up again.

Pulling the car over to dance in the middle of the street.

Seeing that it’s a letter, not a bill.

When the flowers at the office are for you.

Kissing him the first time and thinking, I will write this down.

Hearing them for the first time and thinking, I will buy the whole album.

Shaving your legs in a river.

Seeing your name in print.

Laughing louder than anyone else in the room.

Crossing a finish line at the end of 13.1 miles.

Ordering a bloody mary in an airport bar.

Bicycling to the top of a very steep hill.

Flinging your shoes off from the middle of the dance floor.

Good lives are often boldest in their smallest moments.

Yes Day!

Shelby Bottoms: skipping / throwing rocks in the Cumberland

Today, we had Yes Day.

We did not plan Yes Day. It just sorta happened.

Our group had decided around a fire pit Saturday night that Sunday would call for giant hamburgers, so around noon on Sunday six of us headed from my house in Franklin to the new Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden in East Nashville.

Thirty-minute wait? No problem.

It’s January in Tennessee! With highs in the 60s, we let the two little girls with us – my Lily, 10; and Ryely, newly 9 – run around the back yard of the place.

We had a hard time figuring out what to order, what with 4,000 possible toppings (curry catsup, stroganoff bechamel, wasabi aioli) and an entirely separate menu for homemade fountain drinks, or “phosphates” with names like Kentucky Mint and The Ricky (which happens to be Matt’s alter ego when he is playing cards, which is why he ordered it). So we pretty much said YES to everything, sharing each others’ dripping, ridiculous burgers, tater tots, dipping sauces, sugary drinks…

Maybe it was Matt’s wife, Alicon, who was the first reckless yes. Even after we told the little girls, “No ice cream before lunch,” she ordered a chocolate shake and slurped it down pretty much before her veggie burger hit the table. Continue reading

The Sweetest Little Moments from 2011

Keeneland; Lexington, Ky.

In no particular order, though I numbered them just to make it easier to read – here are some sweet little moments from my 2011. I think when you’re having a great time, every little bit of it sparkles.

1. Lily in the Heathrow airport: It is a complicated airport and we were racing to catch our connection to Bangalore, India, and we had to ride a shuttle, a train, and pass through several security clearances. Just getting to this point had been a bureaucratic nightmare, and I think my mother and I had our doubts we’d ever get to India. My daughter Lily, 9 at the time, never waivered. My favorite moment is standing on a shuttle, feeling a certain peace at our lack of control over the situation. I looked at Lily and she said very calmly, “We’ll make it.” I thought for the first of many times on that trip – Damn, she is so grown-up.

Continue reading

When Awesome Stops By

Spotted him on Christmas Day, 2011

Sometimes you look for Awesome, and sometimes Awesome finds you.

Awesome rescues you from a blown-out tire at 3 a.m. Awesome brings you dinner when you haven’t shopped and caffeine when you’re hung over. Awesome finds a Golden Girls marathon at midnight and then a Jersey Shore marathon when there’s a sad, Rose-misses-her-dead-husband episode.

Awesome runs with you – 11 miles on New Years Day, the park after work. Awesome rides with you – through weird places and beautiful ones … awesome places. Awesome cheers you from the marathon course, and Awesome puts you on the back of his motorcycle.

Awesome flirts you up in a random airport. He holds you in the hotel bar. Awesome pushes you against the window of an Italian restaurant, and he cradles you in the rain. Awesome carries you across the parking lot and loves you outside in the cold.

Awesome tells you, “I’m giving my uncle a kidney.” “We’re adopting a baby from Africa.” “I’m going to live with your grandmother while she recovers.”

Awesome hand-sews you a black pencil skirt. Awesome builds you a fire pit. Awesome makes her own marshmallows, and Awesome goes to Paris alone. Awesome saves her bake sale money and buys her best friend an American Girl doll.

Awesome dances on tables. Awesome sings with the band. Awesome plants things. Cooks things. Fixes things.

Awesome climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro with her mother. Awesome moves to be close to her daughter.

Awesome reads. Studies. Prays. Paints.

Awesome starts an absurd conversation before 7 a.m. Awesome says to her mother, “This fish only lives in waterfalls that are only in caves. More high maintenance than you.” Awesome says to his daughter, “You are a great kid, and we will work all this out together.” Awesome drinks tequila at noon on a Monday because the conversation needs to continue after coffee. Awesome comes to your house for Christmas.

Awesome keeps a blanket in the car because you never know when it might be a good time for a picnic, and flowers in the guest room because you never know when More Awesome might stop by.

A Living Will

A living will:

If I am ever incapacitated…

If I am ever chained inside my body or – God forbid – my mind…

If I am connected to machines to keep me breathing, and if I’m disconnected from the world that has kept me alive, please, please dear loved ones, know this – Know I am still here. I am still a part of this world. Do these things for me: Continue reading

Cranes, and other gifts from above

My grandfather Bob Hall died on Oct. 7, 1998, in his bedroom in Lake Martin, Ala., with my grandmother at his side.

In the 13 years since, certain things have always happened to make the sad anniversary feel sweet: my grandmother has received flowers, and I have received birds.

I know where the flowers come from. I send them.

The birds? That’s different. Continue reading

A day’s gift

Early Saturday morning: I eavesdropped on politicians over eggs and toast in downtown Franklin.

I shopped – bought myself a cocktail ring and a necklace to go with the outfit I was wearing that very moment – before meeting up with my little girl at the Starbucks on the corner. She drank a hot chocolate, then we walked back down Main and bought stationary at a favorite shop.

We drove to Nashville, windows rolled down. Alternated between her music and mine. Taylor Swift and a mix CD compiled by a creative friend several years ago.

We sat in the middle of Centennial Park, writing letters to people we love…

Continue reading

A Timely Wind-Down

Tim Zurowski Photography

This weekend was domestic, pony-tailed, picket fences bliss.

I cleaned my house – really cleaned it.

I mowed the yard, pulled weeds, chatted with a neighbor who edged my part of the sidewalk just because he’s nice.

I spruced up the garden and planted fall annuals. Purple aster, yellow pansies.

Built a fire pit out back with the help of friends. “Dual-burning”, with sides for both hotdogs and s’mores!

Bicycled Williamson County’s mega hills and music star farms: Lynnwood Way, Hidden Valley, Moran Road, Del Rio Pike…

(My lovely riding partner was patient when I almost died on monstrous Lynnwood.)

Read a book on my patio, Billie Holiday tunes in the background.

Watched college football at my girlfriend’s parents’ house while our children played in the yard. (Both our alma maters lost, but the company compensated for it.)

Let my daughter hold a bake sale with cookies she made herself.

Ate Chinese delivery on the screened porch when I burned a pot of bean soup. The little group who ended up at my house Sunday night minded not a bit.

I watched hummingbirds – two of them (male and female) – flit around my backyard. I don’t have a feeder; they like the wisteria tangled through the fence.

I saw deer, twice; once on the street behind my house, and again on a pot-holed lane at the bottom of a giant bicycle decline.

I was softer, more patient with my child and her gaggle of neighborhood friends.

I shrugged off small disasters – the burned soup, et al.

I didn’t take the interstate anywhere. I didn’t stay up later than 10. I didn’t shoot any tequila.

My bike ride into the country was as far away from Franklin as I ventured – a first in more than a season’s time.

After a busy summer, it was a gentle reminder of how much I love my home, how nice it is to slow down, and what peace can come with a well-timed wind-down.