March is like trying to party with a hangover…
Greetings my Dearies!
I received a kind email last week from a reader who said “I would love to see you do a blog about what Spring does to one’s life.” So I decided to act on the suggestion Right Away—partly because I adore mail and am anxious to please, and partly because I haven’t yet thought of a better plan; I’ve been crazy busy as a result of What Spring Has Been Doing To My Life! I’m definitely the self-inflicted victim of some March Madness that includes the arrival of a tiny, orphaned Shetland lamb (who has taken up residence in my bathtub until better arrangements can be made) and the purchase of a 32-string Celtic Harp. Why I decided to ratchet up the ambient nuttiness by setting an adorable yet hyper-active miniature farm animal loose in the house while I am attempting to sound terrible on eight times as many strings as I am used to can only be ascribed to utter lunacy—which makes sense, since today’s full moon is a Super Moon and coincides with the first Day of Spring. There is much Magic and Madness about!
I’m not sure what happens to “normal” people in Spring, but here in the Enchanted Forest, the transition is not exactly smooth. There is a lot of robbing going on. The government took one of my desperately needed hours, just as I was busy forking over my last sack of gold to its Income Removal Service. I’m fine with redistributing the money; I bitterly resent the loss of the only hour during which, I am convinced, I used to get anything done! I too am on the take—continually robbing Peter to pay Paul, I am now robbing the chickens as well. They have taken to laying their eggs any damn place they please—including places that are hard to reach due to snow. The eggs I don’t collect promptly freeze and break their own shells from the inside. I am waiting for the weather to warm up enough so that I can move the most incontinent dog and the lamb into the hay shed together. I am tired of shampooing carpets and excited about planting peas. We are all waiting for the Big Thaw…
In the shop, the annual Glitter, Glam & Lace Parade has begun—pale, spotty, sunlight-starved teens are coming in to exercise their right to bare arms, backs, midriffs, legs, you name it, all in the name Fashion and the competition to see who can bleed their parents’ bank accounts the most before Prom. My current bet goes to the lass with not one but TWO full-price Sherry Hill Gowns, averaging $650 a piece. “It’s disgusting, when children are starving,” mutters Prudence, “why the hell can’t she wear the same dress to two completely different proms in two completely different towns?” (Apparently, there is a law against wearing the same dress twice that people follow with more far more ardor than traffic regulations.) My favorite dress so far belongs to a young woman who comes in with her grandmother. The grandmother tells us the girl worked hard at her job after school, earned her own money, and bought this used Sherry Hill gown for $200 on Craigslist. (It’s still a waste of Money, if you ask Prudence, who thinks all prom gowns should be made of flannel and button at the neck and wrist.) The girl who sold it, sold it filthy dirty and in tatters around the hem and bustle. I agree to fix it, taking special pains to repair all the damage and make it look as good as new. Then we have it dry-cleaned. It’s perfect. Her happy radiance when she tries it on at pick-up makes my heart sing all day. Other delightful moments include explaining to a young man that everything goes with navy blue, except navy blue (he is trying to put a navy jacket with navy pants and call it a “suit” but they aren’t the same color “navy”) and fitting a girl with Down’s Syndrome for her prom dress. She has been invited by one of the most popular boys in the school. Her parents could not be happier as she spins and admires herself in the mirror. Stories such as this feed my soul for days.
Well, we have the Other girls. The Queen Bees and Wanna Bees. A mother-daughter duo arrives at the shop and the girl slips on her dress. It’s a fabulous bright orange strapless with a mermaid skirt. She fits this dress like a fruit smoothie that is exactly the size of the glass. Every seam lies quietly without straining or flaring. There isn’t a single bulge or pucker anywhere. Prudence and I don’t like strapless gowns generally (for differing reasons), but even I have to admit this is flattering to her figure. I assume we just need to hem it but the girl is turning this way and that, looking into the mirror and sneering. The mother is looking exasperated. “W-h-a-t?” her mother asks, rolling her eyes like she too is sixteen. “What now?”
“It’s just boring. I don’t like the back. It’s so plain,” she says to her mother.
“She doesn’t like the back,” the mother says to me, as if there is something wrong with my hearing, or perhaps I need a translation. The girl continues. “This back is just so…I don’t know…boring. My friend’s dress is interesting. It has this ribbon thing...” Prudence is ready to explode with one of her rants about the difference between a complaint and a request. I bite my tongue.
“How are you planning to wear your hair?” I ask, noting that waves of thick, straight hair totally obscure the dress down to the middle of her back.
“Um… down,” she says. “Yeah, down.”
“Well, then no one is actually going to see the back, really, so why waste money changing anything?” I point out. (I truly am a lazy seamstress!)
Her shoulders sag. “But it’s so Boring…” she moans.
“Only Boring People are ever bored,” grumbles Prudence inside my head. I try to get the part of me that never judges anyone to kick Prudence but that person is too nice. She slinks away to daydream about planting a garden while Prudence goes off on a rip about Complaints. “My dear Madam,” she says internally, while I hastily line my lips with pins, “I take exception to your habit of announcing that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable to you with the implied Assumption that everyone around you will subsequently make all haste to correct conditions to your liking. Complaints are not good currency in conversation. They tell us Madam is a spoiled brat but they don’t actually tell us what Madam WANTS and I have no patience for guessing games.”
Complaints that are not attached to specific requests are one of Prudence’s Pet Peeves. (Prudence has so many pet peeves there could be an entire blog on them alone…) When my children were small and made proclamations like “I’m Hungry!” I used to put out my hand and shake theirs and say “Howdy Hungry! I’m called Mummy!” which annoyed them no end but trained them to say things like “may I have a snack?” instead. When they said “I’m Hot/Cold/Tired/Mad/Lonely/Bored/…” I would say, “hmm… Good job identifying the feeling. Now, what is it you Want?” (By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, this Inspired kind of parenting never really went down all that well. More often than not, it had the effect of inciting a full-blown, total-body-thrash tantrum and accusations that I just did not Understand. Nothing sends a teenager round the bend faster than calmly meeting their distress with questions like “Ok, I hear a complaint. Where’s the request? What would you like me to do for you? How can I help you?”
In my experience, Teenagers, Toddlers, and Women over Fifty are some of the wildest people I know. Like March in New England, they are both thrilling and miserable to deal with. What do they have in common? Frequent Bad Manners and the fact that they are all in the midst of a massive Transition. People in transition do not yet know who they are. They are emerging. They are lions and they are lambs. They are fresh new crocuses poking their heads up through dirty snow and last year’s leaves. They are mud with ice. You need all sorts of rain gear around them. They melt and freeze without warning. They are faced with daunting situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, in traitorous bodies they no longer recognize. They understand change is inevitable and they are willing, even excited, to grow. But then come the moments when their balance is so off they fall. They fall hard and cry loudly. They are embarrassing and embarrassed and their shame tempts them repeatedly to abstain from being themselves but they cannot help it. Truces must be navigated.
This is the Light overcoming the Dark and the Future taking the reins from the Past. This is New Life. It’s a wondrous, exhausting, and exhilarating MESS. It is a churning upheaval bursting with possibilities, laughter, and a new kind of music mixed with the bleating of young lambs who capture our hearts and soil our carpets…. This is Spring. At least from where I can see it.
May you bravely clear away the Old and celebrate your own New Shoots, Dear Ones! Wishing you many Unexpected Blessings and a very Happy Spring!