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SOAPBOX: Spring in Phoenix brings bittersweet mix of memories and the present

On KJZZ's  SOAPBOX, The Show turns over the the mic to listeners. In our latest series, listeners tell their own true stories on the theme of Missing. 

A spring evening got Phoenix writer Molly Mudick thinking about cartwheels, pork chops and so much more.

It’s spring and everything’s blooming, and I can’t concentrate. It’s not just the allergies; this time of year always gets me. Spring is the season of new life, but it always sends me back to the past. A few weeks ago, sitting at my desk by an open window, the scent of acacia and orange blossoms drifted in and I just couldn’t sit there anymore. I walked out to the backyard as the sky was turning pink and heard the kids next door playing. I really should have been at least thinking about starting dinner, but I just stood there, taking it in. A dog barked somewhere in the distance, and another responded. I started thinking about the twilight bark from "101 Dalmatians" and settled into a lawn chair and began to imagine what they might be saying.

Oh, I’d love to be a kid again tonight, I thought. I’d love to be outside with my friends under the trees in front of our house, working on our cartwheels, talking about boys, and putting off going inside until the very last minute. My mom would be trying to keep an eye on us from the steamy kitchen window above the sink. Every night, no matter what, she made mashed potatoes and some kind of meat. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years, but found myself thinking about her breaded pork chops.

I look back in awe and more than a little shame now. Mom had a full-time job as a nurse at the university health center, a busy husband, six kids and a dog and still had dinner on the table every night by 6 p.m. I don’t remember helping with the cooking or the clean up very often. I took so much for granted.

Sometimes I feel so guilty about my lack of appreciation back then and my lack of interest in cooking now. Sitting there in the dusk, I tried to think of what I could throw together for dinner, trying to remember what we had in the freezer. As I started to pry myself from the lawn chair to go back inside, I felt my phone vibrate. It was a text from my teenage daughter:

Can we have pizza tonight? And can Julia and Hannah come over?

And wanna watch "Dr. Who" with us?

Yes! And, yes! I texted back.

I closed my eyes and settled back into the lawn chair until the sky turned dark and I got chilly, letting my mind wander in that heady spring air, thinking about the twilight bark, and Dr. Who and Amy Pond and River Song, and my old house and my best friend from seventh grade and how much I miss my mom.

→  Hear more SOAPBOX essays