It's 6:30 am. The Weepies sing The World Spins Madly On as my alarm begins to go off. I lay in bed allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness before I hang my feet over the edge deciding on an exit path that won't involve me stepping on Ellie who is sleeping peacefully on a pallet on the floor beside my bed.
I carry Ari, who was also awakened by The Weepies, down the creaking stairs, across the cold, wooden floors and through a darkened house straight for the coffee pot. God bless my mother for always making the coffee ahead of time! Ari watches with interest as I pour myself a cup, black, with a splash of sugar free hazelnut creamer. I walk quietly into my parent's bedroom, holding Ari with one arm and clinging to my coffee with the other. "Mom," I whisper. "Mom, it's time to get up." I hear shuffling in the darkness and a few minutes later she emerges in her bright red terry cloth robe, her and Ari both in head to toe red, seeming overly festive for this dark and early hour. I hand her the baby and head up the stairs with my coffee.
My pants and shirt are laid out neatly on top of the dresser; I ironed them the night before. The girls clothes, socks and shoes are also laid neatly out on a cardboard box, the shirts and sweaters resting above the pants and the shoes below them as if they were once filled with the bodies of children who suddenly just vanished. There is a list in the kitchen outlining for my mother what my children normally do in a day, what time they eat and sleep and what games they like to play. Two bags of breast milk sit on a shelf in the fridge waiting to be heated ad poured into bottles.
I'm going to work. I have never left Ari for more than a few hours and I have not had a job for almost four years. I'm apprehensive but excited. Outside of my writers group, this is the first thing I've done for ME since I was pregnant with Ellie.
After I've showered, done my hair and put on my makeup, I gather my things: my purse, a computer bag, and my breast pump in it's discreet black shoulder bag. I kiss my children goodbye and head out the door feeling as though the majority of my heart is still there behind the glass waving with sticky, syrup covered fingers. So, this is how working women do it, I think to myself. How do they do this every day? How do you leave your life, your children at the door and put on your work face? I'm about to find out.
Although I am joining the ranks of working women today, there is nothing typical about this day or this job. I climb into the waiting car driven by my father. He has decided to go with me. You see, I'm working at a golf course for part of the summer as a cart girl. This place was my home for many summers and two thirds of the rest of my family are nearly permanent fixtures here as well. I don't play golf, but I grew up surrounded by it; I have a dog named Fairway for God's sake. Of all the roads diverged in yellow wood that this Dilettante has travelled, THIS one is my favorite.
We pull up to the clubhouse and I open the heavy wooden double doors and step inside. The pro shop at first seems empty, but then a familiar mop of dirty blond hair atop a bespectacled head pops out from around the corner. It is attached to a tall, lanky body covered in a lime green polo shirt and white pants. It is my brother and just like the rest of us he marches to the beat of his own drum and those white after labor day and before Easter rules go in one of his ears and out the other.
So many things are the same and yet so many things have changed. My first year working here was over seven years ago. My brother and I were both still living at home, he was in high school still, just as tall but even lankier. I was in college, early twenties, and looking for a summer job. At that time my brother and a few other high school kids washed and put away the golf carts at the end of the day. Just as I'm doing now, then I was a cart girl. I was scared that first day, nervous about maneuvering the steep hills in the beverage cart, nervous about talking during someones swing, but mostly just scared of the unknown. "Don't worry," my brother said, "it's just like Caddy Shack out here, you're gonna love it." And he was right.
Today, as I walk down the limestone steps to the snack bar and look out over the cart path and the first tee, I am flooded with memories of this place. They come in fragments and faster than I can absorb all of them as if this part of my life was flashing before my eyes. I see myself younger and laughing, always laughing, as I speed around the narrow asphalt cart path, I hear The omnipresent sound of The Dave Matthews Band in my ears, I see warm summer evenings and fireflies, I see myself hand feeding two orphaned raccoons and several deer in a manicured, Wonderland like setting, I see spilled drinks and bets about drive distances, I see swarms of cicadas and kissing in the cart barn, I see me at twenty three and it's as if I've blinked and now stand here turning thirty. In an instant I see everything that's occurred to the wild blond girl from then to now. And here I stand in the same place, surrounded by the same people and the same things, in the same skin and bones I wore almost a decade ago...but I am not the same.
TO BE CONTINUED...(with MORE pictures)