The Crush of Returning Spring...

Some nerve I have, feeling sorry for myself! Dragging around the house all night, painting the trim in my bedroom and crying like a baby. What a pitiful sight that must've been! It's that single mom thing rearing its ugly head again. It's hard. Sometimes it feels like I'm trying to paddle my canoe upstream and not only don't I have a paddle...there's a hole in the boat!

Dear me!

Clearly someone forgot to count her blessings!

No one's dead. No one's sick. No one's coming to take the house. The power's on. I have a book contract. I have happy boys. And I have amazing friends.

Have I forgotten already the way the day started?

It's Spring. I walked outside this morning and the tulips were just opening their petals, offering their sepials up to the warm sunlight. The rose bushes had thousands of buds on them. And, even better, my youngest son and I were on time to drop him off at school without getting stuck in the early morning, late drop-off, carpool line.

Love was in the air. My boy has his first, sweet girlfriend and I am soooo not allowed to talk about it, or watch too openly, or dare discuss how it feels or how it felt when I was just a young girl in love with my first boyfriend!

Spring is for love and crushes.

Everything is new and green and beginning all over again. Just like a new love, or the fresh kiss feel of a flirtation...

I love the excitement of discovery. I can't begin to write a new romance without falling slightly in love with someone. I am forced to wait until just the right one comes along to trigger my fantasies...

In Sophie's Last Stand, which comes out May 1, I saw my crush in a small deli in New Bern, NC. He was standing with a small boy. His hair was cut bottle-brush short, his eyes were an electric blue that sparkled as they met mine from across the room. He smiled and I melted right into him.

He sat in a booth across the room from me, but every time I looked up, there he was, smiling...his blue-gray eyes promising me a lifetime of fantasies.

My sister said, "He's staring at you!"

I knew it! And what did I do?

I ran right out of the deli! Just as I knew he was about to approach me, I ran!

What a scaredy cat! But hey, a great romance novel came out of that one!

I thought about that today. I thought about how few men have ever admitted to having a crush on me and how delicious it feels to learn that someone "likes you!" It is rare and sweet and utterly the stuff that fantasies are made of.

Take Miss Annie for example...

I walked into her room at the nursing home today, sat in the chair across from her rocker and admired the hundreds of cow figurines that cover every nook and cranny of that small, cinder-block room. She was wearing a pearl necklace, ornate with a huge pearl medallion that dangled against her thin chest. In fact, as I studied her, I realized Miss Annie was dressed up, as if going to church, but this was Tuesday and Bingo was long over.

"Oh, yes, I went to Bingo," she said. "My young man took me." Annie blushed and gave me a sly little grin. "Do you know him?"

I'm thinking, a new orderly? A male nurse? A volunteer?

But no, it's Otis, the man who lives in the room next to Annie. He's 82. She's 91. That makes him her "young man!" Annie has a suitor! They go to all the activities together, and this after she asked the social worker if Otis was "a little slow" because he didn't immeadiately comprehend Four Square Bingo!

"I've been to his room," she told me in a conspiratorial whisper.

Oh, dear God, too much information!!!

But no. "He's quite fastidious! Not a speck out of place. I do adore a clean man!"

Ah, and they are so hard to find, too!

I left Annie, daydreaming of love and wandered on to Walter.

He is dying of Huntington's Chorea. 50 but looking so much younger, the staff sits him up in the hallway because if left alone he tries to hurl himself from his wheelchair. It is all he can do...paralyzed, sentenced to watch his body seize up and abandon him, knowing that eventually he will go insane and shake uncontrollably...Walter's wife and 2 babies left him after he was diagnosed. He's watched his father and 2 brothers die.

He is mine and I am his.

He watches me as I walk down the hallway. His eyes glisten. His face is frozen in a perpetual goofy grin. He is patient with me, repeating over and over again the simple phrases that I work to understand. He sighs and tries again because, perhaps, I will understand, finally...just as I did that first day we met. He struggled, fighting to form the words yet again, sighing and trying until at last the lights came on and I looked at him, comprehending. "You miss your mother?"

"Yesh, mish mo-har!"

"I miss my mother."

The boy missed his mother. Such a simple and yet basic thing. I called her and she came that weekend to sit by his bedside.

Now Walter says the same thing every time he sees me and I no longer work to understand him. He looks at me, eyes bright, and says "I love you. I love you."

And I take his hand, touch his arm, and say "I love you, too."

How can I feel sorry for myself when a man like Walter loves me? When Spring is in the air and my boy has a date for the 8th grade dance? When Miss Annie grins and beats Crazy Pearl away from her table in the dining room saying, "I'm sorry, this seat is reserved...I have a young man coming."

What match are bills and pride when put up against the shining face of Springtime?

The baseboards are painted. The tears have dried. And tomorrow is a new day in Single Mom Land. We'll kick ass tomorrow!


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