I Measure in Cups

While loading the dishwasher I ran out of room on the top shelf, now overflowing with mugs. I lifted some out to examine them: an old freebie from work with a United Way logo on it, a hand-me-down from Mom with a huge chip on the side, and a thrift store find in a hideous shade of green with words painted on the side that reminded me to love Jesus. Not that it matters, but I bought that one for the size, not the words.

The mugs disgruntled me. Not because I don’t appreciate the goals of the United Way, or Jesus for that matter, but because not one of them was special, just screwball stragglers from the hard-to-reach side of the cupboard.

Several years ago, during the height of Mom’s disease, unwashed beer glasses filled my counters. You know, the slender ones that won’t fit in the dishwasher because they’re too damn tall. They stood like hangover trophies next to the sink, taunting me with my bad decisions until I washed them for the next round.

After Mom died in 2012, wine replaced beer. Most nights of the week, I‘d have two drinks or more. Stemless glasses shared a small amount of the top dishwasher shelf with sippy cups and my other coffee mugs, the grey Gordon Ramsey ones that came in the set – a gift from my husband.

I like wine. Love it, even: it’s the friend that comforts me on a cold night and eases the stress after a long day of chasing children and folding other people’s underwear and the therapy that numbs the burn of grief lingering from losing Mom.

I’ve said more than once that I am never drinking again. I fooled myself and made promises about staying away from those bright red blends that I wasn’t ready to follow through on.

So what? We all make mistakes.

I haven’t given up. I’m mapping out the person inside part by part, good decision by good decision.

For the last year, I’ve been drinking less and less alcohol. Each week I have to remind myself drinking wine isn’t my friend or my therapy. Sipping hot chamomile tea with a drop of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey can comfort and ease me in a similar way. It won’t take away my grief, but that’s something I need to work through on my sober days.

I collected my misfit mugs in a grocery bag to donate and wrangled my child from her Elsa dress in her playroom to her car seat outside.

After unloading my band of unwanted oddballs at Goodwill, I hopped over to the new Hearth and Hand section at Target, which I’ve been drooling over since before Christmas. I’ve dreamt about Chip and Joanna Gaines renovating a fixer-upper for me, complete with a shiplap kitchen backsplash. Adding their coffee cups to my cupboard would be a distant but decent second.

I paced in front of the Hearth and Hand display, in complete awe of the details on the cream-colored stoneware, the sturdiness of the clay, the simplistic design. I grabbed one from the collection and Mom’s voice reminded me, pinch your pennies, Danielle. Hard times come fast, so save where you can. “But splurging can be fun and rewarding,” I said. Those mugs wouldn’t ever go on sale, and I could find cheaper ones on clearance, but they molded to my hand like they belonged there.

I bought four.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Join me for this week’s challenge over at YeahWrite!

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Two Inches From Losing It All

Thirteen years ago, when my husband was my boyfriend, before we had our two beautiful children, two crazy dogs and our forever home, before our degrees and jobs and life together, before we created our happily ever after, we could have lost it all.

***

I was sleeping on the blue leather couch, our first purchase together, and the television was on. Some lady was trying to sell me cheap jewelry on QVC when I was startled from a dream. I looked around, unsure what woke me. I looked outside my 19th floor window onto the empty city streets below. Nighttime lights twinkled in the empty office buildings that dotted downtown.

What time is it?

Something wasn’t right. I looked at the clock.

After 2:00 a.m.?

My boyfriend should have been home by then.

Where is he?

He’d gone out with friends. “A guys’ night out,” he told me. I picked up the cordless phone to call him. His number, our shared cell phone number, was on the caller I.D. three times. I had missed three calls in ten minutes from him.

Was that what woke me? The sound of the phone?

My heart started palpitating and a mass started swelling within the walls of my throat. Before I could dial him back, the phone, again, started to ring.

“Shit,” I gasped. It rang once, twice, three times before I finally gathered enough courage to answer “Hello?”

“Babe,” he responded.

“Where are you? Is everything okay? It’s so late,” the words started falling out of my mouth faster than he could answer.

“I’m at the hospital. There was an accident, but I’m okay” he responded quietly. I dropped the phone, quickly found my shoes and keys and drove to the hospital as fast as I could safely.

***

I ran inside the hospital emergency room and found my boyfriend with a broken arm and scratches across his face and head. Aside from the arm, he had mostly minor injuries.

As it turns out, his friend’s friend, the driver, made the choice to race someone in his souped up car on their way back home from the bar. He didn’t realize a cop was behind him.

The officer tried to pull him over, but he didn’t stop. He thought he could outrun the radio. He raced through parking lots, flying over speed bumps and barely missing pedestrians with his front end. He sped through a 40 mile per hour zone going over 80 miles per hour. He eventually tried to make a turn, to hide on a residential street, only the tires refused to grip the pavement and he spun out, wrapping the back of his Mitsubishi Eclipse around a telephone pole. The wooden beast came crashing through the backseat, where my boyfriend was sitting. If my boyfriend would have been on the other side of the car, he would have been crushed instantly.

A paramedic and firefighter assisted my boyfriend, getting him out of the car. They explained to him that there was a live wire, hanging only two inches from the roof of the car. Had that wire touched it, the three of them would have been electrocuted.

Upon being breathalyzed, it was found that the driver was well beyond the drinking limit.

He offered to be the designated driver.

***

Thirteen years ago, when my husband was my boyfriend, before we had our two beautiful children, two crazy dogs and our forever home, before our degrees and jobs and life together, before we created our happily ever after, we could have lost it all to an idiot, a friend of friend, drunk behind the wheel.

Photo courtesy of Jilbert Ebrahimi/Unsplash