Miranda arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and found a seat by the wall of windows. She ordered a glass of wine, and began to make a list of things to get done: organize the drawers and cupboards, clean out the garage, go through the closets – including her own. It had taken her half an hour to find something to wear for tonight. She had wanted to change her look a bit, but everything she tried on was too tight. So she had settled on the usual black skirt and her favorite blue sweater. But she wore her hair loose for a change, and put on a brighter shade of lipstick.
She brought her hand to one of her earrings, the lapis lazuli drops Clara gave her for her birthday, and remembered her comment: “You should dress up more often, Mom.”
Clara was right. She needed updating. There were things in her closet she hadn’t worn in over twenty years. She needed to get rid of things, start fresh. Though there were some pieces she just couldn’t part with. Clothes that reminded her of her younger days, when all her life was before her.
She gazed out the window, remembering how she used to dress in velvets and satins, Victorian jewelry and long 1920s necklaces, vintage blouses and dresses. Everything Bohemian and dramatic, though it hadn’t seemed so at the time.
She used to ride her bike to school in long skirts, dress up to visit galleries, and work at her various part-time jobs wearing clothes from vintage stores, consignment shops, and import stores – many of the shops located in the Pike Place Market. She remembered the thrill of adventure when she escaped her department store job and explored the Market over her lunch hour. Running down the stairs in Post Alley, and then wandering through the maze of stores, delighting in the Tibetan beads, the Moroccan vases, the antique lace collars, the incense and oils from far away. More often than not, the adventure ended with the purchase of a few pieces of rose-flavored Turkish Delight – the pale-pink, translucent candy dusted in powdered sugar came to symbolize the promise of future travel.
Miranda gave a deep sigh. Youth should be a time of hope and promise. She saw that in the kids now, especially in Clara. For the past several years, Clara’s dreams had also been her dreams. She had convinced Clara to take two weeks in the summer to travel, before settling into her classes in the fall; and it was as if a part of her was making the trip as well.
Miranda looked down at her bullet points – cleaning out closets and drawers? That is one boring list, she thought, wadding it up.
Some part of her sat up and wondered why middle age, or any age for that matter, shouldn’t also be a time of hope and promise. Why should youth be the only time of discovery? Why was that early dreaming self at odds with her current sense of self? She remembered the feeling of being all fired up by starting a new painting, whether it was a medieval miniature or a whimsical landscape, or experimenting with silk-screening, or learning how to use a potter’s wheel.
But without the dreams that accompanied youth, such pursuits now seemed like dead ends. Some vital connection was gone. Her garden, her home, her kids – that was her life. And those things had filled her, until recently. Had it been turning fifty? Or the fact that the kids had left home and moved away? Did she even have a purpose in life anymore?
She saw Ben enter the restaurant, and a feeling of happiness washed over her. His presence often served as ballast to her wandering thoughts that sometimes carried her too far away.
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