A sign of your closeness to someone else often is a nickname you have for them. These terms of endearment range from the classic (dear, darling, love) to the more creative (boo) to the downright delicious (honey, sugar, sweetie pie).
The ones we love best, we rarely call by their given names. This is based on my personal experience, anyway. I love my husband’s unique first name (Stanton), but hardly ever address him with it, instead using the shortened form “Stan”…and some other pet names that I won’t embarrass him with by sharing here.
Both our daughters’ names are deeply meaningful to us. Still, I usually shorten the already-short and sweet “Grace” to “G” when I greet my older daughter. We call Grace “Gracers” too. I’m not sure how this silly but affectionate habit started. And I have no clue when or why I began calling my younger daughter, Anna, “Stinky,” which may be as silly as you can get.
The other day, I overheard another mom call her daughter “Turkey.” I had never heard that one before, and it made me smile. The mom told me that, like “Stinky,” “Turkey” just kind of happened…and stuck.
Soon after, Anna looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, ‘Stinky’ is not a good nickname.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said. I promised to try to stick to “Anna” or “boo,” my other frequently used phrase for her. Then we headed to Perfect Blend, our favorite local coffee shop.
The ones we love best, we rarely call by their given names.
Right now, one of the seasonal blends at Perfect Blend is Kenyan Peaberry. It’s really good. I ordered a medium size for myself, and a couple of other items. Then I opened my wallet to pay, and saw my credit card wasn’t in there.
Note to self: Do not let the girls play Grocery Store with my wallet again.
“I might have enough cash,” I told the young man behind the counter.
He kindly told me not to worry. “We could start a tab for you,” he said. “You’re always here; you could pay next time.”
I thanked him for being so kind, and I did pay then. I did have to laugh, though. Was I really always at Perfect Blend?
“Yes, Mom,” Anna told me. “This is your favorite place.”
Sometimes the ones we love best know us better than ourselves.
I do love Perfect Blend. As a good local coffee shop should, it provides a warm, welcoming space for folks to gather, to replenish.
Many times I stop by with one or both of my daughters. Sometimes I meet friends there, or go alone to write.
On our most recent visit, Anna was rummaging through my bag. She pulled out a My Little Pony mini puzzle, Owl Diaries paperback, and handful of notebook paper. Anna waved the paper at me.
“What’s this for?”
I sipped my Kenyan Peaberry. “Mom always has paper in case she comes up with a good story idea.”
“Did you, Mom?”
“Well, the pages are still blank, Stinky…Anna.” (Life is one long lesson in humility, as J.M. Barrie once said.)
Anna stuffed the paper back in my bag, and got to work on the mini puzzle.
“This is your favorite place.”
Sometimes when I’m out and about, I overhear snippets of conversation that strike me. I don’t set out to eavesdrop (really!), but every now and then, my ears perk up at an especially quote-worthy moment, and I wonder about the rest of the story. For example, an older gentleman at Perfect Blend once said to the other older gentleman with him, “Now that was a good fortune cookie.”
Months later, I still wonder…what did that fortune cookie say? I wonder too…did the fortune come true?
(Let this be a lesson to any of my local friends who may be reading this: If you see me at Perfect Blend, and I’ve got notebook paper with me…lower your voice, lest you end up in a blog post. 😉 )
Yesterday evening, both my daughters and I went to another of our favorite places, the Rail Trail. We took a walk and ended up at a nearby park. The girls started playing hide-and-seek.
There are lots of good hiding spots—behind trees, benches and stones. I watched for a while, and then the girls begged me to hide. “OK,” I agreed.
“One, two, three…”
I hid behind a stone. Seconds later, Anna found me. She laughed with delight and then said, “Now we get to chase you!”
“What!” I laughed too, and ran away.
Grace caught me easily enough, and the three of us collapsed on a bench, still laughing.
Anna rested her head against my chest. “Wow,” she said. “I can really feel your heartbeat, Mom.”
I didn’t have any notebook paper with me, or my phone or laptop. But that sentiment—I can really feel your heartbeat—struck me, and I knew I’d incorporate it into a piece of writing.
In my writing life, my goal is to get one piece of work published every year. Just one…at least one. A short story, an essay—anything to keep my portfolio current, and my standing as a writer credible.
It’s June now, and that hasn’t happened yet this year. One literary journal editor did email me one of the nicest rejection letters I ever received, and I appreciated his encouraging feedback on the short story I submitted. Still…no publication.
It can be easy to feel down when things don’t go according to plan. It can be easy to default to doubt.
I’d been feeling some doubt.
Then Anna told me she could really feel my heartbeat.
As unexpected as it seems, there’s amazing grace in hide-and-seek. There’s awesome energy in childlike games like that. Moments that allow us to really feel our heartbeat.
Moments in our favorite places, with the ones we rarely call by the names we first gave them.
Anna’s right, though. “Stinky” is not a good nickname.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.