The Thing About Windmills

Remember the car games your parents would start to keep you and your sibling(s) from fighting, arguing, or screaming, “MOM, HE’S TOUCHING ME!”?

Most of you probably played the plate game, where you look for license plates from all 50 states; or maybe “I Spy,” which was always really fun to piss the other players off by changing what you “spied” because DUH, the car was moving; or maybe Cruiser Bruiser, or Slug Bug, or..or..yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

The point is, you were always looking for something.

We never stop looking for things: a sign from the universe or God that you’re in right place or making the right move or with the right person, the meaning to something you don’t understand (like, life), the lowest gas prices, or the best deals on groceries.

At some point, looking becomes habit. You start to see things, but don’t absorb them. What I mean is you see something but it holds no meaning to you, no significance, because you’ve seen it a hundred times before. For instance, you come to realize that the gas prices at Casey’s General store drops $.05 on Thursdays (it used to, anyway) so you begin to regularly go to Casey’s every Thursday to fill up your tank. But you don’t think about what that means for you – that you’re saving five whole cents every week.

Then something happens, a spot of cold water in the warm pool, that gets your attention. You’ve been a robot for who knows how long, doing the same thing every day for every thing. What’d you miss? What happened when you weren’t looking? What didn’t you see?

Windmills. Windmills were what I always looked for when I drove to Colorado from Nebraska and back. There are plenty to see, with a wind farm in the eastern part of Colorado. Looking for them also gave me the to chance to see the beautiful hills and fields and pastures of the countrysides.

But then my momma passed away . . . a cold spot in my water. On the way back to Colorado after her funeral, I saw a windmill and my body started to lean toward my husband, “Windmill!” almost sneaking out of my mouth.

“Windmill” was the car game mom told my brother and I about: “When you see a windmill, you have the kiss the person you’re sitting next to.” I think she did that because that was how she made my brother and I make up: a kiss and a hug and tell each other sorry. It was a preventative game to keep us from fighting in the first place. We didn’t like that version, for obvious reasons, and changed it to punching each other when we saw a windmill.

Now that I’m married and have someone to play the original version with, my husband and I have a jolly good time searching for them and shouting it out and leaning over the center console to share a smiling smooch.

Windmills don’t have the same meaning for me anymore. I don’t want to play “Windmill” with my husband. I don’t want to win by spotting the most of them. I don’t want to kiss him when I see one.

When I see a windmill, I think of my momma standing in front of that windmill in the middle of bumfuck nowhere with her eyes closed and a smile on her face, arms out wide, free of pain, feeling the wind.

That never happened, but I like to think that’s what she’s doing right now.



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