It’s been a long hiatus here on the blog. Life went sideways but Keeper Hubby and I have left Oklahoma and landed mostly intact in our little apartment near Lexington, Kentucky. I hope to be posting more often now.
A funny thing happened on the way to Kentucky… not really. I injured my hip during the move, and developed a severe case of plantar fasciatis. Left hip, right foot. Not much locomotion happening now. I’m continuing to heal thanks to physical therapy, but in the meantime I’m mainly confined to the house. It’s very frustrating when you’re used to being independent and going places whenever you choose, and then you can’t. I’m anxious to begin exploring my new surroundings, but I’ll have to listen to my body for now.
The isolation has given me time to reflect on this new season of life.
The nest is officially empty: Artist Daughter and her hubby Saint Nick have gone off on an adventure of their own in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Poet Son likes it there, too.
Musician Daughter, Musician-In-Law, and Destined-To-Be-A-Musician are still in The Middle happily expecting to make their group a quartet in the fall. I’m happy for them all, but find myself nostalgic, the phrase “Remember when…” popping out of of my mouth almost daily.
I’m working hard on focusing forward, working on my health and my writing. Write Anywhere venues will be limited during my rehabilitation, however. My goal at this point is to get out once a month, at least until I am physically back to 100%, to discover new places to fuel creativity.
In the meantime I was fortunate to have one last Write Anywhere outing in Oklahoma with my youngest before we all went our separate ways. Artist Daughter invited me to spend the day with her. She advised I should bring my camera, because photography would be the main activity. I love taking photos, but little did I know I’d not only be preserving the trip in photos, but preserving my time with her in my heart.
Write Anywhere #76: Bone Museum
Artist Daughter had the whole trip planned out. She’d wanted to visit the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City for a long time, and this was her last chance before leaving the area. We’d drive two hours to the museum, then grab a bite before heading back. She printed a map to get there, and prepared a list of restaurant possibilities. Artist Daughter doesn’t plan things, so I knew she was serious about it. I decided to put aside my trepidation at visiting a museum filled with skeletons and tag along.
The weather started out clear, but as we drove west, clouds began filling the skies. It didn’t matter, it was sunshine and smiles inside the car. A.D. chattered away about her coming move to Montana. In between her thoughts on mountain air, snow, and her new job, she’d check the map and tell me to turn this way or that. When we finally pulled into the parking lot of a German restaurant on the northwest side of the city, she realized she printed out the wrong map. We were supposed to be in the southern outskirts of OKC instead.
Points for trying.
We laughed about our ‘extra’ trip while the temperature plummeted and fat raindrops followed us to the museum.
The Museum of Osteology is the only skeleton museum in the country. It houses over 300 skeletons, both animal and human. They focus on educating patrons about the importance of skeletal structure and its function in living creatures. I thought it might be creepy, but I was willing to endure for the sake of Artist Daughter. She wanted to photograph the exhibits for a series of sketches and oil paintings she planned on completing. Unlike many museums, this one encourages photography.
Cars filled the parking lot to capacity around the small nondescript building, which surprised me. I thought we’d be the only ones checking out skeletons on a Saturday afternoon. What looked plain on the outside was anything but on the inside.
Greeting us in the foyer where we purchased museum entry were an array of horned animal skulls, such as gazelle, mountain goat, deer and elk along the walls.
A whale skull towered over the entrance. Amazing.
In the corner of the foyer, a glass exhibit showed one of the more efficient ways the museum and the company Skulls Unlimited prepare the skeletons: dermestid beetles ‘clean’ bones by eating all the tissue off carcass bones. Fascinating but gross.
Some of the collections include primates, reptiles, birds, forensic pathology, and Oklahoma wildlife.
I made my way around the museum, then made a second pass. Among the Girl Scouts completing the museum’s scavenger hunt, young couples, and parents pushing strollers, I spotted Artist Daughter. When I had already walked through the museum’s two levels twice, she was only at the third exhibit, painstakingly taking photographs of each and every skull and skeleton. I took about a hundred photos, she took thousands. When it comes to her art, she is focused and meticulous.
I found a bench in front of a television monitor showing ‘Dirty Jobs’ host Mike Rowe’s visit to Skulls Unlimited, and pulled out my notebook for a little writing.
Bones are foundational structures. They are strong, giving shape and strength. Bones grow with the organism, protect it. They are at the same time delicate, and with the wrong pressure can be broken. Mothers and daughters have a similar journey.
little fingers and toes.
how she used to grind her first front teeth.
tiny girl with porcelain hands and sapphire eyes.
her bones grew straight. Her teeth didn’t. She endured the never-ending orthodontia like a trooper.
my shock at her stubborn streak, and my greater shock when I realized where she got it from.
her laugh, which she hid in the folds of adolescence for a time, now fills the air like wind chimes in the breeze. Saint Nick has a lot to do with that.
I watched her snap photos, so focused, so excited for her future, thinking how proud I am of her, and the woman she’s become. The finality of my children leaving hit me. I stared at a display case of shark teeth, trying not to cry.
Like bones, our relationship is solid. Same as my other two, but also completely different. Add to the mix a layer of new: new ways to communicate, new ways to let go and let them choose, decide, live. New ways for me to advise, cheer, accept.
And always the memories: her first step, the time she survived falling down the stairs in her walker, the time I survived her bald haircut, piles of paper filled with sketches, layers of curls and lace as she walked down the aisle.
We finished at the museum, but not before A.D. bought a replica skull of some critter to add to her ‘collection’.
We finished out the day with Thai food and lots of conversation. I knew I wouldn’t get to see her for a while, so I savored the words while I sipped the Tom Yum. Even though we’ll talk and text and Skype, I will miss her every day.
I miss Poet Son and Musician Daughter, too. But somehow my youngest child is a bridge between two lives for me.
My first life: three children, evenly spaced enough to experience each ’stage’ of maturity at different times, but get the flu altogether at Christmas. Homeschool field trips and macaroni and cheese. Piles of laundry, Oklahoma red dirt and hot wind. Sunday school verses and Barbies. Arguments and piano lessons. Oldies on the radio and Pokemon cards across the floor.
I can always visit my first life through the stories. Writing them, speaking them, sharing them. I will always love that life, without regrets.
My second life is unwritten. A little scary, the deadlines seem closer, but it’s time to start writing it. Time for new adventures. Time to collect new stories. Ready, set, go.
Where did you write this week?