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Archive for the ‘sister’ Category

(mountain-eagle-warrior-flying)
(into 2011)

I have not been writing.

It is December, and I think something like this happens every time this year. There is a still quiet, a silent revolution of words and ideas rumbling around with no exit, and no desire to go anywhere. I write beautiful things in my head then quickly scribble flattened words after hours of procrastination and fall asleep.

My mind turns over this year, my first year, and I see it was characterized by loss and the depth of my experience of what was lost. How I leaned in to its sharpness, the cold metallic feel of its reality, the emptiness of bed and home and speech. How I sat and sat and sat again in practice, letting the tears and aches have their place and days.

My mind wanders over the people who filled this time of darkness with the most delicious richness and texture – OWL’s warm nuzzle under my arm and his sweet sing-songs from the back seat of the car, the warmth of mittens knitted by a new mama’s hands and the cooing and laughter of her foxy little babes as we talk-cook-sit-listen, tree-shaded walks through rabbit holes with wounded animals and talks and coffees with the children running ahead or lagging behind, the rise and fall of a lover’s body next to mine in sleep, the soft coat of the cat against my bare leg, acoustic guitars melodically joining teenage voices and hand-crafted gift tags, the growing bellies of mamas-to-be, falling asleep on a boat in the May heat of Florida and hot spring swims, the ballet and dinner, late night phone calls full of tears and laughs and love….

The freeze up of loss and loneliness is not so solid after all. The lake is full of the cracks and fissures of a continuing life, a current below the surface. A slow and steady breeze winding through the constriction picks up speed.

Open-eyed in yoga, I move through mountain to eagle to warrior 3 to standing split with my hands wrapped around my ankle, finger tips gently tap and sweep the floor with grace to regain balance as I laugh out loud. My heart  fills with green grass and a sky painted golden and pink by the rising sun, a light blue sweater tossed off to the side. A lotus blooms in the mud as the sun warms my face and arm through the southern windows. I see and feel and know the openness of the coming year, and greet that mystery with curiosity. With a smile that knows the transformative power of the eagle, and that starting fresh is not the same as starting from scratch.

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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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Quite a week or weekend around here, or whatever the semi-graciously unemployed call 5 sequential days.  Forms at the doctor’s office.  Sex: female.  Children: yes. Marital Status: foreclosed.  I mean, divorced.  Divorcing, actually.  Mind wonders back to the first question.  Sex: maybe, eventually.  Hopefully sooner than later.

A Saturday to clean.  Top to bottom.  East to west.  OWL’s walk-in-closet-turned-bedroom, my bedroom, bathroom, hallway.  Living room, the clothes-sewing-crafting-photographs-storage-closet.  Look for thoughts & lessons & learning between reshelving scattered board books and discovering 3 of the 7 stacker rings under the bedroom blanket.  Tender flood of excitement about a good friend’s pregnancy, knowing that one day soon she too will find these treats hidden in their bed.  Sooner than seems possible, but I see how quickly time marches & swirls forward & about these days.  Imagine lessons & hopes under clean sheets warmed last night only by me and the curled up cat.  Clean floors.  Folded clothes. Empty dresser tops.

Sit at an old table.  Beer in the early evening darkness.  Light rain kissing the air on its way down.  He wears a shirt I’ve never seen before.  Looks faded & old & soft, like something I want to curl up against, feel the heat of his shoulder through the flannel threads.  Instead we exchange books, keys, a mug.  Words say part of what I want to say, but so much of it is a feel, a spectrum of time & place – a currency I cannot exchange over drinks.  Drive home under the weight of absolute ease turned to an absolute goodbye.  Who would have thought ironic detachment was bullshit? Well, me.  But I always second guess myself.  Move on to the kitchen.  Dishes. Countertops.  Pantry.  Table.  Dust shelves and baseboards.  Mop floor.  Sulk out in the cool wet evening to avoid watching a scary movie alone.  To avoid 9 pm sleep on a Saturday.  To avoid the silent & blank screen of my phone.  To avoid no more words.  Sometimes it feels like life is only for other people.  But the rain runs rapids down 15th Avenue East, pools and moves on.  Recall the texture in the gap between the out & the in-breath.  My life runs in those rapids, snags on branches & rolls over leaf jams & around crumpled potato chip bags.  It’s just not very glamorous.

Rain cascades in sheets, white-orange under the glow of street lights.  I dry & sit & drink & stand & listen & drink.  And talk.  Life without the details, without the storyline.  Feel human.  Memories in this place strong.  Late night dance floor spins with the sister.  Wedding song slow dancing.  Sold out club.  Me, at the end of the night.  Standing.  Dancing.  Beaming.  A million years ago.  In the rain I discover that I was a witness, too.  Select groceries & cook meals.  Buy textbooks & study astronomy.  Performances.  Tears.  Witnessed you curl your fingers around OWL’s endlessly small fist minutes after he was born, hold his face against your cheek. Stand in the room of this bar and see my life in the running rapids and hard sheeting rain.  Feel my life in the smoke as it drifts inside towards the warm air. People come & go.  Short exchanges & extended stays.  Long breaks.  Years of friendship. Rekindle & break.  Kids as common ground.  I cycle through it all – roar like a lion and sleep like a lamb.

Four full days in solo mode.  Four days of decadence & endings.  Out late. Foreclosed. Mopping floors.  Nyinthun in hangover.  Hostessing & food & wine. Good friends & old friends & new friends.  A little little baby learning to roll & watch this world.  Pick up OWL from his papa only to find, within a few hours, an absolutely transformed creature shouting & twisting & convulsing with “no-no-no-no-no’s” and the strength to back it up.  Goat-like resolve.  Tangle in car seat straps.  Walk home carrying his crying shaking body parallel to the ground.  Shrieks induced by everything.  Diapers.  PJ’s. Stroller parking.  Socks.  Sweatshirt.  Bathtub.   Hand-washing.  A 5 minute temper tantrum is an eternity.

I’ll say it again.  A 5 minute temper tantrum squeezing through the lungs & throat & mouth and twisting body of a 16-month old is an eternity.  And there I am in that eternity: foreclosed, divorcing, solo, incapable of doing it all, not everything, faking my way through, not x-y-z enough, jobless.  No gaps or breaths or breaks, no full nights sleep.  In that eternity, there is a full sink of dishes, unswept floors, laundry spinning about in machines & reproducing in the corners, diaper covers to air dry, a noisy cat to feed & scratch & snuggle, the next snack to prepare….

It takes every ounce of my strength & courage at 6:27 am to throw the blankets over my head, find my silly voice.  The voice, with an audible smile, giggling “Where’s Mama?”  Peek out & hear the echo of my giggles.  Duck back under as happy snorts dry big puffy tears.  Footsteps racing to the bed.  Outstretched arms.  Lift & snuggle. The courage to coo and play.  Fearlessness to let the eternity dissolve into the emptiness.  To let my solid mythical self dissolve into the emptiness.  The compassion to come back to it again & again.

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The days are roaring by.  The rain feels like it’s setting in for its seasonal stay, with bursts of afternoon sun allowing for barefoot puddle splashing and early evening strolls to the bookstore.

There was a moment late this morning where the rain held a rich presence.  Laying down shaped like a C snuggling around OWL’s sleep resistance, listening to two new shastris, the rain making the most intense sound.  Like beads falling from the sky in perfect formation.  Intentional.  Life giving.  Like auditory oxygen.  Thirty seconds of pure sound where there was nothing separating me from the rain from the empty zabuton from OWL’s wiggling torso from the cherry trees and their yellowing tooth-tinged leaves from the acres of spider web from the sleepiness that was descending from friends & strangers from the chickens we visited on our walk to the morning’s festivities….  A moment of sheer awake.  OWL’s resistance wins as he crawls his way from my arms and I sit up to my sister’s tears saying how much she misses her mother.  Just felt her in the rain.  It is that kind of rain. Taking my first oath, with OWL’s left foot plunged down my shirt as I read my commitments aloud, and the rain, alive and pregnant, dancing around us all and dissolving the boundaries.  A glimpse of life without a top.

And then there was sun.  Beautiful and glowing and high.  69-degree sun with a sky speckled in white clouds.  OWL splashing barefoot & pants free in the patio puddles as we eat and drink champagne.  He nibbles bites of beets & quinoa & pears & bread & cheese between the puddles and the rocks, between my lap and running free.  He climbs up his first step on his own two feet and still crawls down backwards.  He walks in the long grass, imitates passing airplanes, visits the trees and their raised mossy roots.  And, when it was time to go, he signs “socks” as I slip his warm stained feet into the striped cotton.  We walk an urban trail through an alley restored with wood chips and tall native vegetation until we come across a laboring cat.  He smiles & giggles & shrieks meows.  We drink homemade lemonade from a styrofoam cup purchased for $1 from a corner stand staffed by 2 very serious little girls, a small river flowing from the corner of his lips to the folds of his neck. Walking up to the front steps of our apartment under the glow of sun, a soft, full and steady rain drizzles down.  Quiet like a breeze.  OWL toddles the incline, hands on his head, growling in delight at the sensation.  The cat, left outside all morning, is not so delighted at OWL’s slow pace in climbing the hill, crawling each step with the effort of a long day with little sleep and a wet diaper.

Inside, I watch him devour book after book after book, pulling each one off his shelf in the living room. Toting more out from his walk-in-closet-turned-bedroom. Delivering, with such clarity, Dr. Seuss’ ABC The Amazing Alphabet Book to the kitchen where I am preparing his afternoon snack.  We sit on the floor.  I read this book aloud for the 23rd time today (and not the last), and bribe him into the highchair by placing it on his tray with two slices of avocado.  I turn to finish grating the cheese, and by the time I’m sprinkling it on the corn tortilla in the skillet, he is signing (new since yesterday) and saying (new new at the moment) “more” and staring down at an empty plate.

During dinner I scratch down a laundry list of things OWL did today.  New things and funny things and heartwarming things.  Those lines, in all the beauty and love and living they entail, also show a loneliness.  It is hard to bear sole witness to so much. Heartbreaking.  I call the ex-husband to arrange tomorrow’s exchange.  To report the new and share information from OWL’s doctor.  He answers on the first ring.  I hear a familiar ache in his voice.  A deep sadness.  A sadness that I want to wrap myself around like a warm blanket.  Like a safety net.  Like the same way I want to turn my head and ask, “Did you just see that?”  and catch one of OWL’s new tricks at the same time, bear joint witness in the same room.  The changing of the seasons, he says.

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