From Home Depot to Pulp Fiction

Boys in Summer 2000

“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

When my teenage boys were small, chores outside the house were actually a chance to enter a world filled with wonder.

A trip to Home Depot: Look — a toilet in the center of the room! A room full of lamps! Once, the boys and I discovered a dark and snugly cubby under a groaning shelf of paint, with ladders on one side and tools on the other. My husband, who was not consumed by our sense of wonder and just wanted to find the goddamn Q-clamps, adopted his most rage-filled voice and ordered: “Get out of there!” First one boy and then the other crawled out abashed and ashamed at behaving so badly, so imagine his wrath when after a pregnant pause I crawled out of there too, busted, just trying to have a little fun, and what’s the harm?

From ages two to twelve, these times continued unabated, or so it seemed. Of course I don’t remember the exhaustion, the temper tantrums, the tedium, the worksheet-filled afternoons of angst. I have no photos of any of that, so they must not have been important. Everybody gets brainwashed by the slideshows that play on their computers, right?

For the last few years, I’ve caught myself staring at old photos of their little boy faces like Gatsby staring at the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. An aching sweetness fills me. Oh, those boys. But you can’t repeat the past.

Those little boys I’ve been missing are still here as fine young men. I first truly embraced this new phase when my husband and I decided they were old enough to watch Pulp Fiction with us, and I saw it again through their wonder-filled eyes. My husband’s laughter merged seamlessly with their shock when Jules dared, “Say ‘What’ again!” after shooting “Flock of Seagulls” on the couch.

The old me who loved making magic reindeer food out of oatmeal and glitter is now the new me who gushes with fake admiration, “Check out the big brain on Brad,” like Jules from Pulp Fiction, or explains news events by saying that Republicans are evil, and my sons can really get it. They are meeting the me who’s nerdy, clueless, but kind of funny and admirable in my weird enthusiasms. You know, the real me.

Boys in leaves 2004

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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16 Responses to From Home Depot to Pulp Fiction

  1. zoe says:

    Watching them grow up is a real bittersweet sort of thing. But your right about the authenticity of seeing you differently too…. its kind of a great thing, right?

  2. Karen says:

    Marcy, this is such a sweet post. It seems like those two cuties have grown into fine young men. Nice job, mama!
    Karen recently posted..Murder By Proxy and Other Revelations of a Bad BuddhistMy Profile

  3. Gina says:

    They are too cute. My kids, now 20 and almost 23, now know the “real”, adult me too. They think I’m just as nuts as I was. They grow up too fast.
    Gina recently posted..Yeah Write: The Grateful Dead Concert at Solider Field, 1991My Profile

  4. Not going to lie, I loved this line: “or explains news events by saying that Republicans are evil, and my sons can really get it.”

    My daughters are now in their twenties (I die a little every time I say that) I love the conversations we now have, the things we can laugh at, the fact that they sometimes act like a parent to me. I completely get this post….
    William Dameron recently posted..Comparing Yourself to Others: The Game Nobody WinsMy Profile

  5. Mamarific says:

    “The exhaustion, the temper tantrums, the tedium, the worksheet-filled afternoons of angst”…I am right in the middle of all of this with my kids. It is so hard to see beyond it in the difficult moments. Thanks for reminding me to slow down and savor their baby faces while they’re still babies (sort of).
    Mamarific recently posted..Beyond the Black CelebrationMy Profile

  6. Watching Pulp Fiction with the parents – a right of passage if there ever was one. 🙂 Oh, those memories, they get me…
    Natalie – The Cat Lady Sings recently posted..A Trip to the HospitalMy Profile

  7. I love your writing, Marcy. This is such a beautiful story and those boys of yours are heartbreakers! Pulp Fiction is one of my favorites too!
    Mary @ A Teachable Mom recently posted..Blood TestMy Profile

  8. sarah says:

    How wonderful!
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  9. I think of this often with my own boys. It’s hard when the little boy phase ends, but the beginning of the new phase of relating to them on a different level is so much fun. When you can joke with them, watch different things with them on a different level – it’s a kick!

  10. Love the Gatsby connection. And oh how I wish I looked forward to the growing up more! 🙂
    That Unique* Weblog recently posted..Parenthood: Call of DutyMy Profile

  11. Once you get past the longing for having your little boys back, you’ll be free to enjoy the men they become. I love seeing my grown sons with their girlfriends and schoolmates, living out the values I was teaching them on the aisles of Home Depot. Of course, they would never acknowledge that. But I know.

    Good work, mama. And good writing. 🙂
    Lisha @ The Lucky Mom recently posted..The InboxMy Profile

  12. “…imagine his wrath when after a pregnant pause I crawled out of there too…” Hilarious! Great piece Marcy!
    Laura@EmptySpoonful recently posted..A Lesson Learned the Hard WayMy Profile

  13. Abby says:

    SO laughing at the image of you emerging out of the cubby at Home Depot!

    It really is an ever changing relationship with our kids. All good!
    Abby recently posted..at daycareMy Profile

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