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Archive for the ‘autumn’ Category

The summer was a pause that often felt like held breath when it was supposed to be a reframing. I know it’s not over, but the autumnal weather of this Monday morning is tricky. And as I usher through yet another transition, my heart is open to the message of the breezes and clouds and potential for rain. The leaves look suspiciously altered against the grey of the morning sky. I am ready for this change.

In the face of the flight from the radio and the yellow kitchen table, chipped and marred and worn thin by history, I write 6 pages by hand and feel the start of a new place, or rather of finding what was already lurking beneath, in wait. A darkness and frankness seen with open eyes, run on sentences and the skillful use of commas. A mind of madness punctuated by an occasional line of grace. Of forgiveness and audacity.

Falling asleep, I lose myself  in fantasy as distraction from the unceasing panic. The boy who kissed me last Tuesday and then called the very next day. The anticipated sweetness of seeing Seth and Geoff next month, collapsing into Vermont, in tears, (because I’m a girl who always cries). Sky Lake Lodge. The battle between the simple letters of M.A. and M.F.A., of Boulder Utopia and standing up right here. This may be my final flight of madness, and it will either kill me or I’ll pull into a new form – still me but less blown over and torn apart. At times I cannot honestly tell which it will be.

And when I think I have nothing to say, I’ll keep writing it down anyway, in one sentence, 22 words or less.

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NOVEMBER 11th

Time moves slow.  The ache of the heart a long slow cracking after the initial break.  Thousands of aftershocks that travel across a year, add months, count the days.  New mistakes stream in and stretch out inside the ravines, touch the canyon walls, and flow on top of the scars.

Take stock of the present.  Orange lamp hangs overhead and casts its familiar glow on the pillow and couch, on my fingers as they move over keys and trace lines in my journal.  Silent apartment, save the passing the planes and occasional scuffing of boots on the sidewalk or wheels turning over wet leaves.  Yesterday’s breakfast pan soaks in the sink.  A cold beer on the windowsill.

From my ledge I see other people in the open sky.  The vast space around them as they touch hands, unwrap gifts from tissue paper, smile in ways that communicate the complexity of joy and sadness and living.  I see what I hoped for in my life and my family and my love, and know that it didn’t complete me the way I thought it would, the way I wanted and needed, because I wouldn’t let myself be whole.  I cannot imagine building a new life, although I know I’m doing it everyday.  Dish by dish, word by word, moment to moment.

2010 harvest moon photographed by chris updegrave

Notice that my body marks its own time, with signals that fall outside the calendar of dates and anniversaries.  Another harvest moon rises and pins me to the spot, to the moment.  Memories stored in the quality of light, released by the Fall chill settling in the air.  The memory of organs swell the body.  The well of sadness opened by the senses and the body’s recollections.  But this time there is a quiet joy marching alongside.  It’s new and weak at times, but gaining strength and momentum.  I stand on this edge and my lungs clench.  I see the size of my wounds, so long in the making and don’t know if I can cross to the other shore.  If the scars can soften and stretch and let in the light and air.  I hear another bottle break on the sidewalk outside through the closed window and know there will be something to clean up in the morning.

Time moves fast.  OWL’s growth, so ordinary and so exceptional, impossible to track.  Loose notes on the calendars waiting to be transcribed into a baby book.  The feel of those moments so vivid at the time hardly seem describable now.  Watch as baby C, now 4 months old, gorillas sits with his fists on the floor as he slumps forward, and marvel as he pops up.

NOVEMBER 7th

In the morning after a previously amazing day and an evening spent writing in tears, I lay across my bed and mark what is right.  What is going well.  A two page list in columns, turquoise ink.

OWL is healthy.
He talks & talks & signs.
Trots around with little stroller.
Sleeps clutching books like The Secret Life of Plants and Crime & Punishment.
We have heat.
The cat snuggled me through last night’s sadness.
I can read.
I have a practice.
I write.
I walk and run, and sometimes cartwheel.
OWL stomps through puddles in frog rain boots.
OWL & baby A hold hands.
He kicks a ball.
I laugh, cry & feel.
Sweep the floors that ground us.
Cook the food that nourishes us.
We ride buses.
Have teeth to brush.
Bodies to wash.

On the cushion later that morning, the sangha shoulder to shoulder in staggered rows, I open without cracking.  I carry myself back up to that eye-level view of Mt Rainier, and sense my presence among the other mountains, my icy peaks rising above the blankets of green.  The sky passes and mingles, the clouds appear and dissipate.  And I think, I could do this anywhere.  On my feet.  In a courtroom.  At breakfast.  I can be this mountain among mountains anytime.  Struck by the sheer confidence of the open sky.

By nightfall, I slip back down.  Self-arresting, I land not at the bottom, but catch myself in a point of utter aloneness that is sad but not sorry.  It carries me a ways outside the room.  To a place without walls.  All I want is OWL in my arms, in this room, among these friends.  Wait anxiously as the openness battles the rising fear of seeing the ex in the coming exchange.  The fear of directly seeing the embodiments of my failures and success from the open sky where my heart beats raw and tender.  I feel exposed by the moment where everyone around me seems transformed and held by something that I’m not even sure I get.  I feel quiet.  OWL arrives and my world tumbles together and in to pieces all at once.

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Halloween.

I want to write but I’m exhausted.  Exhausted by this day and this month, only an hour away from being over.

OWL’s owl costume that I started last year, a seemingly simple Martha Stewart piece, sits in the same state it was in this time last year – pieces.  The three sections of each wing unattached.  The elastic bands for securing the wings to the arms missing in action.  The ears cut but without a hat.

Start the day in a haze of 3 hours of sleep (my fault) and Larabars and dozing on the couch between readings of Where the Wild Things Are and Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? and Farmer Grover.  We brunch on 15th – OWL drinking cream from the small dark green pitcher, using a big fork to stab eggs & polenta & sausage.  Excitedly signing egg and meat and milk while shrieking moo.  Booster seat in the wooden booth.  Pointing at the walls.  Bird!  Dog (really a deer)!  That!  Steps into his store-bought hand-me-down elephant suit without struggle.  Wiggling tail as we walk down the street.  He says tickteet before we get inside any of the stores, and I help him hold open his canvas tote bag with the jungle print.  The bag I sewed for him.  An October sun is shining and warm and the clouds overhead white.  Red and yellow leaves line the dry sidewalks.  My elephant waves hi and bye to people who stop and smile, and to people who hurry past with iPod buds wedged into their ears, eyes down.  We miss our friends for trick or treating, so we do none.  At 8:30 pm we slip back into the suit.  He visits the upstairs neighbors.  I let him walk our street in the dark, standing a few paces behind as he teeters forward, beeps into reverse, and trips over the cracks in the sidewalks.

And for all that perfectness, for all the sweet wiggles of his tail and shrieks of delight, I can’t help but feel the sting of having not done it quite right.  Of doing it alone.  A splinter that is still growing out from under my skin.  Surface unbroken.

The rain starts to come down, moving with force and sound.  This day and this month less than 30 minutes from over.  This moment already vanished.  In five days I turn 33.  I remember that time last year, at dinner with family and friends, then-husband turned traitor sitting at our house in which he no longer lived, watching our baby.  I drank coffee then wine.  Walked among Calder sculptures suspended from the ceiling and encased in glass.  I wanted to be swallowed up by the earth.  Immersed in culture and life and the rain and the cold and my sister’s umbrella.  But I felt so dead and sad and hopeless.  I smiled.  I ate.  Laughed.  I even remember having fun.  But tonight, in some ways, I still feel the same.  Like there’s some answer out there, out there and not in here.  Like I could be different.  Like I should be different.

Heart and soul on the floor in pieces.  Partially sewn together, still needing to be joined.  The anchor to hold it together MIA in the closet-that-holds-everything, in a pile among stacks of books and toys and and fabric and grocery bags.

Tomorrow it’s rabbits if I can remember.

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First pumpkin ale of the season.  Car ride home discussing autumn soundtracks. The poetry of being left recorded and imprinted, a map of notes and newsprint and digital information.  Span of our history.  San Diego Times.  New York Times. Pitchfork. Background music on a home loan commercial as our house sits empty, winterized by a stranger’s hands.  Hands that never sliced bread or made love or pulled stumps from the ground or swooped up a crying baby at 4 am in that house. Hands that never held on under that roof during hard times.  Seasons of asking questions only to be reassured only to become a living-breathing-sad-generic-pop-song. Honeymoons and camping trips.  An unborn & unknown baby OWL.  Ghosts. Outside, behind garage doors, the 8-track records.  In heated and dimly lit space I sit, immerse in the act of breast-feeding, give my body again & again.  Sustain and nourish this new life, this life that I grew & carried & birthed.  Terrified.  Sore. Elated. Depressed.  Layers peel among laundry piles and wet diapers and more time sitting on the couch then seems humanly possible.  The act of being present.  Being one with another human being.  The depth of lies reflected, apparently, by the number of stars in the sky.     

In one month I turn 33.  Recall hostessing then-husband’s 30th birthday party, OWL a full on swimming being inside my low abdomen.  Body swells with rising organs.  Fall asleep among jackets & purses & scarves strewn across my bed.  Scent of cigarettes and perfume and cold air mixing with the dirty pillowcases.  Cat curled warmly among the layers.  Love’s Forever Changes skips on the turntable in the next room as friends chatter over the sounds.  Carrot cake forgotten & stiff in the freezer.  People like waves wash over me.  Sleeping, I imagine bringing OWL into this world of friends & food & great neighbors & music.  Relief.  Anticipation.  Joy. Remember the year before, walking into the basement and hearing that first new song.  Water.  Desire to hold so strong it had a taste.  Letting go again & again.

Everything these days is touchy ground.  Everything a memory.  A place or a drive or a wedding dance or a laugh.  A gesture.  Whisper in the dark.  An offering.  My new autumn soundtrack needs to be the antidote.  Falling leaves carry introspection. Calls for redemption.  A need to set things right & prepare to start anew.  Sow seeds that emerge strong in spring.  Reconnect with the basic ground.  Redefine home. Family.  Work.  Cats and dogs and rooster calls….

Try as I might, I cannot pick myself out of the past, out of our shared life, out of the years at that house.  Out of who I was before we met.  Before we fell in love.  Moved in.  Bought a house.  Got married.  Had a baby.  And autumn has me reaching for Nico.  Leonard Cohen.  Devendra Banhart.  Bob Dylan.  At least Bruce Springsteen was always mine….  And there is the sound of my scarf wrapping around & around my neck.  The sound of sweaters fresh from the dryer.  Leaves crunching under OWL’s eager feet shrouded in little yellow rubber boots.  His breathing from behind the pink animal-print curtain.  The sound of his hair as he turns clockwise over & over again on my pillow in the morning as he settles in to finish sleeping.  Wind through changing & drying trees.  Times for coffee with the ex, with papaOWL. Random texting about Sesame Street, how everyone other than Big Bird is a puppy. About making OWL faces & making OWL sounds.  Reports on lullabies.  The smell of heat turned on for the first time.  Pumpkin ale and baking pies.  Afternoon sun.

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