“I guess I better stop bragging,” he said. “You were a big shot, and now you just work retail.”
“I’m still a big shot,” I responded between gritted teeth to the man who’s supposed to love me more than any other. But in 46 years, he’s never gotten the memo.
Ironically, the apparent loss of bragging rights, from the realization that his talented multitasker of a daughter couldn’t quite pull off a full-time job in television production while running a business that operates seven days a week until 11 p.m., happened in the middle of the most euphoric period of the shop thus far. From mid-January through the Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend, business was booming more than a two-month-old endeavor probably has the right to enjoy. Then came the blizzard and restaurant week.
Those who aren’t hunkered down in their layers of sweatpants and sweaters saving up to properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for the entire month of March (at least that’s how it goes in Baltimore) are braving the cold and ice right now to go out to dinners that they can only afford one week out of the year. Either way, the end of February has brought with it my winter doldrums.
I’ve now spent a week wondering if the previous month was a figment of my imagination. It doesn’t help that Lent has started. I don’t even want to think about the number of folks in Charm City that have given up sugar for the next six weeks! Calmly navigating the rollercoaster of retail may be a greater mental challenge than surviving black sash training.
Speaking of kung fu, I miss my kids – those who aren’t mine and the two who are, as well. This unwanted hiatus from the adrenaline rush of being busy comes while I’m in between teaching sessions at the gym. I awarded four sashes at the end of last session – one white, one yellow and two green. My first green sashes mark a transition for me as well: I’ll be teaching my first intermediate-level class, starting this Sunday. That will include intro instruction in staff work, the very thing that has attracted students to me in the first place and the part of kung fu I love the most. I can’t wait!
I can however wait for my daughter, who is days away from the fourth of her six black sash tests, to finish growing up. Leaving a training session at the gym last week, I had the horrifying experience of watching my little girl get checked out for the first time. The guy who couldn’t take his eyes off of her after saying hello twice (she didn’t know he was talking to her the first time) was wearing a college lacrosse shirt.
Even if you’re only a freshman, you’ve got five years on this girl, which makes you a virtual pedophile! So move it along!!
That’s what I wanted to scream at the perfectly normal looking, red-blooded, athletic man waiting, like us, for an elevator to the parking lot. But I managed to simply step between him and Ava, silently. And so it’s in the winter doldrums of 2015 that I’ve first come to miss that little girl of mine who couldn’t possibly have been mistaken for a woman.
As for the child who’s already wearing black around his waist, I can’t remember the last time we were in a kung fu class together, and that used to be our quality time. We don’t know when they’re getting on our last nerve complaining about eating the broccoli or brushing their teeth that we’ll wind up wishing those days were on a loop. My son dropped his gym membership (which was the second place we spent the most time together) and has a new-found social life that, frankly, fills me with dread. I’m being well-prepared for his departure from my daily life at summer’s end, if not sooner, and I’m caught between gratitude and grief.
For seven years, I knew with certainty the bulk of what the day would bring. I had obligations to fulfill as a producer, a mother, a kung fu student and a spouse, and most of those obligations had predetermined, expected outcomes. Now, I wake up with a head full of questions on the day. How much will I make? Can I get her to train harder? What will he realize? How much can she help? Almost everything feels out of my hands – at least until I create a new recipe, hit the gym with my staff or both.
I can control the quality of my food and my kung fu, and I don’t yet have to miss either. Those facts will always make me feel big – hold the shot – even in winter doldrums.