Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thank You, Jodie

by Amy Ruhlin

On the night of the Golden Globe Awards I watched the news as my husband cooked lemon garlic pork chops and mustard greens.  Our plan was a quiet dinner. We had no intention of watching the awards show; it’s really not our thing.  But during a commercial break from the news, I caught a glimpse of the red carpet interviews.
Over the hiss of sizzling pork I asked my husband if he wanted to watch the Golden Globes, just for fun.  He said sure, so I found our old bamboo TV dinner trays in the pantry and we parked ourselves in front of the television to take in all of the glamour and glitz.

I knew our college-aged daughter would be watching. I knew that this was something that we could really talk about; something that I could text and tweet to her that would get her attention.  Sometimes she ignores her old mom’s silly texts and tweets.  

I looked for her in my twitter stream. I tweeted about Anne Hathaway’s hair; my daughter adores her and we both think Anne’s short hairstyle is terrific. I sent her texts about Adele and Amy and Tina, three women whom I know she admires.
And then Jodie spoke. And I wondered if my daughter had seen any of her movies. My daughter is 20 after all, and Jodie is my age.  I wondered what she thought of Jodie’s speech so I sent her a text: “Did you see Jodie Foster’s speech?” I wasn’t expecting a reply but she surprised me and texted right back: “Yeah.  She’s so cool.”

Jodie made me glad that I ate my pork chops and mustard greens on a bamboo tray.  She made me proud to be fifty.  She bridged a 30 year age gap between my daughter and me with her simple yet powerful words of love and with her honesty in expressing the universal longing to be understood and to be seen.
Thank you Jodie. Thank you for being a model of vulnerability, authenticity and true strength. This fellow 50-year-old mom and her 20-year-old daughter both think that you are so very cool.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Wish For An Ordinary Year

by Amy Ruhlin                   

It's New Year's Eve and my husband and I are at home. We are dressed for the evening in our favorite sweats, soft slippers and fuzzy socks. We sit in front of the fireplace as our dinner simmers on the stove. The food smells good and the fire is warm. We open a bottle of red wine and it tastes especially smooth. "It was on sale," my husband says, and we grin as we take our first sips, enjoying the pleasure of a good wine at a cheap price.

Our son walks into the room and shows us that he is dressed for the evening, too."Do I look OK?" he asks. He is wearing dress pants, a collared shirt and a striped bow tie. He is 17 and tall and handsome.

"You look terrific," we say. I can see the excitement in his face as he anticipates his evening: dinner out with a large group of friends and a bonfire at midnight.

Our daughter is away on a trip. She bought a new black dress for the occasion and tried it on for me before she left. She looked young and beautiful and for a moment, I wished I was 20 again and off to New York in a black dress to celebrate the New Year. The morning she left, I could feel her excitement.

When our son leaves the house, my husband and I turn on the television to watch a football game, but the power goes out and our home becomes dark and quiet. We light candles and talk about the past year and our memories seem especially sweet as we share them in a room illuminated from the light of three small flames.

From our window, we can see that the entire street is dark, so we step outside to take a look. There is no electricity for as far as we can see and the light from the moon shows off the bare limbs of the trees in winter. It is cold and the night looks especially beautiful .

Later, when the power is back on, my husband watches the football game while I read in another room. We both have our cell phones nearby in hopes of texts from our children. We don't hear from them, so my husband sends me texts, pictures of himself making silly faces and it makes me laugh. He has been making me laugh for 28 years, but tonight I think he is especially funny and tonight I laugh especially hard.

Sometimes, I miss the excitement of my youth, but tonight I do not. Tonight, I realize that I have exchanged it for something even better: I have exchanged it for the ability to see that our extraordinary times often happen in our most ordinary moments.

And I realize that as this year begins, I am no longer concerned that I have no list of resolutions. Instead, I am content knowing that my only wish is to have a most ordinary year.