A chapter I’ve been working on this week…a little rumination never hurt anyone, or does it?!
“Distractions are the pinnacle of rumination. It’s a cycle, a bad one that keeps me going back to Steve. An addiction, if you will.
There was no changing the fact that I opened the door to Steve again. I shove all of those thoughts—the second-guessings, the self-doubt, the poor choice in character – to the back of my mind. What kind of married woman, a mother of two does such a stupid thing? Steve is a one-sided battle I fight, my distractions the victor.
I try to funnel attention to my family. I make a list of all of the things I want to complete before summer’s end. One by one, we’ll mark them off. Family picnic…koi spawning at the local botanical garden…camp out in the backyard (note to self: get the makin’s for s’mores)…ice cream at the old-fashioned ice creamery…take Kenna and Madi to downtown Naperville for new shoes.
And so there I a in a park, communing with nature a la family picnic. An item to mark off my list; to push time forward and anchor me in the present. Away from Steve.
When I added this little adventure to my list, I envisioned the perfect nuclear family and, of course, the perfect setting. A red and white checkered blanket spread amongst the fecund landscape, a real wicker basket packed with wholesome, nutritious foods like ham and swiss on croissants, fresh grapes, and homemade cookies—the kind from that sneaky chef person with chickpeas mashed inside for added health. The girls would be dressed in their Sunday best and Joe and I would raise a glass of cool, crisp white wine—a toast to a summer’s eve.
Only our picnic isn’t my vision.
I ran out of time to bake. There was no wine chilling in our fridge, only the sticky strawberry jam that leaked from its squeeze bottle, gumming the Temperlite shelves, a strawberry glace. The diaper bag doubled as a picnic basket, crammed with 6-inch Subway sandwiches. We had cookies, only they were the institutional kind baked on a conveyor belt.
Even the weather doesn’t cooperate with my expectations. For a picnic, it should be light, airy. A gentle breeze of halcyonic lilt.
But it’s hot. Really hot. It reminds me of a Georgia summer. Thick, sweet air hung in the distance.
Sometimes, nothing matches my high expectations.
I stand, brushing the crumbs off my lap as I survey the scene. A sense of quiet tranquility settles amongst us, just our family and a lone teenager jogging on the other side of the lake. Everyone else is smart enough to stay inside, air conditioners humming.
I wipe my brow and pick up the remnants of our family picnic, tossing the paper sandwich wrappers in the rancid-smelling garbage cans. The smell of death and decay. Despite the heat, I shiver.
Sweat rolls down my back as I stand at the precipice between the lakeside pavilion and the bike trail. The summer’s evening closing in on us, the setting sun a soft pink, whisps of purple spin through the sky like cotton candy. Kenna and Madi scamper along the wooded path searching for rocks and wildflowers. I arched my back and shaded my face for a better look even though their giggles and chatter reassured me.
You can’t be a helicopter parent. Let them explore.
I shake my head. I wish her wisdom would stop. My mind feels fluid, as if it’s floating around in my skull. I am ruminating, one of my worst qualities. What had she said about ruminations…they were nothing but a dream past its expiration. I got lost again, my mind running through files of dreams. Who was in them, what we were doing—who we were becoming—Steve.”
[This is an original work of fiction for my novel-in-progress, “Slippery Slope.”]