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Archive for the ‘the seasons’ Category

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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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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Hard pressed to find a starting point on this Sunday evening, so I’ll just name what was and what is here.  Typing at the kitchen table:  job application, email begging someone to work magic to get me an interview, this post.  The other day a small stream of warm light ran through the stained glass flower hanging in tribute to my mama as I waited for OWL’s return.  Lentils cooling on a cooking sheet next me. Beets cubed on the cutting board by the sink.  The day’s sermon from across the street ringing through the cracked window declaring “It’s not my fault!  It’s not my fault!  The world makes me this way!”  But tonight the air holds a chill at my fingertips as they move.  Sink full of hastily made dishes.  The smokey pulpit silent. Moon nowhere in sight.  Calendar turned to a new month.

Been in a state these past few days.  Decisions looming.  Heart opening & slamming shut at the sight of the space before it.  At the feel of cool air and water.  Riding the downs wherever they care to go.  Remind myself that every passing, no matter how small or how big, deserves its moment of recognition.  Hard to name.  Gratitude mixed with appreciation mixed with frustration mixed with a drop of loneliness.  A hint of missing.  So many endings in my story these days, I wonder if the beginnings that everyone assures me will follow really exist.  Out there.  In the world where everything changes & erodes & passes & reforms (supposedly).  In any lingering sadness I also know that this is what I wanted, needed, to reclaim that open space. To move back in.  Let my feet dangle over the edge a little bit longer, my toes dip a little deeper.  A release that goes both ways, serves all involved for the better.  And that I am made better by the whole of these experiences.  I found so much compassion for myself in that time, dug into reserves I didn’t even know existed, and relaxed enough to just be in the moment.  To feel good & truly smile.  Whispers in the dark.  Spoons under January blankets.  Moving boxes & empty rooms on days off.  A river under the moon & stars.  Bikes & beers.  Open books in the park.  New recipes & pizza boxes.  And so much compassion in making space for someone else.  Started feeling the boundlessness, even though I do not always practice it.  Grateful for all I worked through & out.  For fabulous companionship & friendship.  Been through seasons and it is hard to watch it go.  Give myself the time to stand still. Let it slip away.

Finally understand that equanimity is really.not.my.thing.  Oh, I want it alright, which is actually hilarious in a way.  Good example of the farce disguised as tragedy. At least there are some laughs from my side these days.  Operating under the belief that I occupy the gap between endings and beginnings, a free fall of nothingness, but with no end (new beginning?) in sight.  Letting go brings perspective.  I see the space is anything but lifeless.  More like the gap between the out-breath and the next in-breath.  In that open texture, perhaps there is no difference between the ending and the beginning.  No fine line or marker or event.  Perhaps they are one in the same, a fluid moment without much reference.  Breath myself back in to the sky, above jagged ranges and canyons and lakes.  Eye-to-eye with Mt Rainer, I bow a thank you to the you standing on the peak, looking back out the world. Reflecting so much wisdom.  Showing so much strength.

Today, OWL was full of my favorite kind of his laughs.  Where something totally random sends him to fits.  He erupts and pauses, waits for me to make a slurping sound, and erupts with even more gusto when it does.  Sides move up and down from his ribs.  Rubs his bare feet together.  Head whips side to side.  Lying on the floor with Baby C, only 11 weeks old, I move my glasses from my eyes to my head to my eyes and his head snaps back and forth in delight.  Mouth turns upward in a whole face smile.  Eyes big and blazing and alive.  Cheeks stretching.  Ears inching upward.  Big new laughs.  Body shaking.  Full body smile with moving arms and hands.  Watching these new human beings learn to laugh is indescribably amazing. From Baby C to OWL, I see my own lost laughter and know it is in there, right now. Seeing & feeling & hearing these laughs, in my moment of mourning and in my year of sadness & endings, the heat cools and settles to a soft breeze.

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About this time two years ago, I was hiking the mountains and lakes of Wyoming in pure happiness. Feeling so alive. Completely myself. Open. In a place I dreamt about visiting, and there I was. Finally. My end-of-the-summer tour-weary then-husband was not as inspired, I think, but it did little to dampen my mood although it did limit my activity. He was ready to sit. To settle. Be home. Down time. Read without interruption. I sat in the shallows of Leigh Lake  alone, watching the water slip over the rocks as a raven on the beach picks apart a large rodent. Herds of elk roamed under the full harvest moon, their eyes aglow in the flash beneath the orange. Riding stubborn horses over narrow trails. Stars & moons & skies so large I disappeared seamlessly in my own smallness. Lakes & jagged peaks & blue like I’ve never seen. Sperm met egg.

This time last year, I watched the blazing harvest moon on a long walk home. So low in the sky it could be held. I was lost in its enormity. My smallness now a disconnect. OWL, a few days shy of four months, slept without effort, cradled safely against my chest, the warmth of our blood and skin and bodies still inseparable. Then-husband’s declaration of leaving only a week old. Weeping. The view bringing me back again and again to him. Our neighborhood. Our hill to climb. Our street. Our neighbors turned friends. Our maple tree. Our house. Our moon. Between breaths and night nursing, I manage to scribble some words.

Walking home in the full moon & sadness. Shared view so familiar & so far away. Light years from where I want to be  The moon felt like home. It was so clear & I was so empty. Have things come so far apart they cannot mend? I wanted to take a picture. To always remember, like it was something I’d never see again. Harvest Moon. Longing. Marking of time. Loneliness. Sadness. Stay. Stay in the moment.

And this year, I type from the small kitchen of our “new” one-bedroom apartment while OWL feeds himself rice and plums and pears, makes tofu and rice soup in his blue speckled camping cup. My body twists and cramps, swells and aches. A sleepiness beyond sleepiness. An embedded memory of pregnancy, a physical recollection so strong I drew blood just to be sure. Apparently, this is not uncommon. That is how much we hold in our hips and organs and hormones. OWL is that deeply recorded under my skin. His imprint in the muscles and tissues. The veins and charkras and centers. This year, I celebrate the harvest moon under cloudy skies and rain. Mark the time and the passing of so many changes. The unseen moon is full and it is the night I start looking at Fearlessness.

And then, it falls apart. My evening plan disintegrates. My friend is sick.  OWL is unnapped and unfed and lays his head down on the cardboard cat scratcher. On the bathroom rug. On the footstool. Rubs his eyes. I go through my list without success. I call my soon-to-be ex, desperate for this time to myself. Especially after the week and the day and my body having its own memories. He needs more notice. I lose it in tears. Wanting so badly to call out of my own life, just every now & again. He asks to call me back after dinner. Decide that OWL comes with. I clean the apartment just enough so I can walk without dodging piles of books and wooden blocks. I warm up pad thai and brown rice from last night’s family feast and slice up the rest of a pear. Pack the diaper bag with books and a toy while OWL experiments with chop sticks. Blow dry his wet pajama top. “Adventure!” I tell him through a weary smile as he rubs his whole face while I pull his arms through his orange flannel coat. We are out the door. He sleeps within minutes. This is my life, our life…. In the end, the soon-to-be-ex came through, without complaint, and watched OWL so I could go solo….

Not feeling so fearless, walking in tears in the face of feeling used up and out-dated and discarded. The sky fading to night. Feeling the lines of age and stretch marks, without makeup, without a full night’s sleep. But, I keep walking. I arrive. Take a moment to let the rest out through my eyes, and take stock of the physical moment. The trees with shifting wet leaves and the orange shed. The open wooden gate, dark from an earlier rain, swung wide at the mouth of the driveway. The light from inside illuminating flowers and friends. I dry and enter. Sad and ready.

Fear is a heaviness that sits in front of and all around me. A feeling of forever, a permanence in never being enough. Of deserving the mess. Sometimes I can see the open space on the other side, but cannot move towards it. I freeze at self-created comparisons, naming everything and everyone under the sun that is better. New houses and weddings and babies with parents under the same roof and jobs to complain about and friends and night lives and new lives…. I can go on. If we conquer our fear by studying it and knowing its nature, if that is the path of fearlessness, I must be on it. So many layers shed. The exposed pieces raw and basic. And in my glimpses of letting go, of surrendering to the moment and wheeling OWL down the hills of Seattle, allowing myself to lean into that sadness for a bit, I feel its truth. And I pull a bit of confidence out of my pocket for seeing my fears, for naming and feeling them, and let it all penetrate me.

Tonight, I cannot see the harvest moon through the clouds, but I feel its presence and know the gift of my smallness.  I am sad and grateful.  I snuggle and sing and rock OWL for 20 minutes after he wakes up in screams, an unbreakable connection growing and manifesting beneath the changing moons and seasons.

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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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