Laundry, the surprise


At some point in the Aging/Accumulation process, I lost my capacity to recollect previous days’ events.

As such questions like: “How was your weekend/vacation/winter,” are real stumpers.

Which meant that emptying my laundry basket this morning at the end of a long week served as a surprise, revealing as it did, what I had already forgotten.

Oh right! I drove to the ocean & back.

Oh right! I led a YogaDance Event.

What was even more surprising, given our longstanding antagonism, was the role Laundry played in boosting my spirits on this dreary Monday morning.

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Not even summer…

Weeping Beech in spring

Songs about September already make me wince.
The red of the maple buds on the hillside catch in my chest.
It’s not even Solstice yet.
This must be what it is to grow old
To know the ending, inside
the beginning…
To feel the loss
embraced by the gift.

Possum

I’m afraid of easy,
Suspicious of effortless,
Terrified of sudden.

I like to earn it.
With struggle.
Suffering.
Angst.

Even the simplest things.

Otherwise,
it’s not fair.

Otherwise,
I’m apart
instead of among.

Otherwise
I’m at risk.

Which is to say,
I’m happiest,
In retrospect.

The safest way to play.

The past is past.
Preserved.
Protected.
Untouchable.
Unseen.

~

(“happiest in retrospect” line from: TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT by Maria Semple.)

On Turning 55

Michael McGurk

If 50 was raising the timber frame; 55 was me climbing the timbers & tacking an evergreen branch to its peak. (That happened. There was no photo.)

“50 is the old age of youth,” it is said, “And the youth of old age.”

And it’s true. The fifties are all that.

Or is it just me?

I lost Lila at 55. She had more than a dozen grandbabies by then. But with time’s passing, it seems impossibly young to have been taken.

My older sister died last summer at 55 too and just a few years before her—my aunt.

My mother had 2 years on the 2 of them, alive until 57.

Which is to say—While the sun is shining, I’m making hay.

that photo you once hated

2017

My husband took this photo of me when we were out at a cafe last summer which is a rare feat. Not the cafe, which is a regular feature of our weekends now that the kids are aging out of our lives, but the photo. He rarely thinks of photography and so we have albums filled with family photos relatively absent of my existence, except for the annual  shot of me lighting the birthday cake for one of my boys.

“You look so pretty today,” he said, “Can I have your phone?”

I always believe him, but then I look in the mirror or at a photo and it’s just me. Nothing special. Or more often worse than I imagined or hoped for, like this one.

I really didn’t like this photo, and I still don’t like it, but you know what, I don’t mind it now like I did before, and it’s only been a year.

I take this as a good sign because typically it’s like a decade before I appreciate a photo that I really didn’t like at first.

Soon I may like myself almost right away.

Which brings me to this letter that I wrote as part of a writing assignment with the women who journey through the chakras with me. We had to write directly to ourselves which turns out is kind of hard…

Dear Kelly, 

(Boy, it’s hard to begin that way.)

Dear Kelly,

(So much more at stake.)

Dear Kelly,

(No place to hide.)

Dear Kelly,
Dear Kelly,
Dear Kelly,

For all the times that name was used as a curse,   
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

For all the times you’ve found yourself occupying the ugliness of another’s version of you,
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

For all the times you assumed that ugliness as a safe haven from feeling the deeper pain of loss and separation,
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

Let it go, Kelly,
Not because it doesn’t matter,
But because you do.

Precious.
Always.
Now.

~Kelly

Mothers Day Nightmares

On Mothers Day night, with both sons at home, I wake to the sound of my youngest vomiting in the toilet, and I realize that I have had a nightmare. “A dream about the Patriarchy,” my husband offers in the dark.

In the dream, it is daylight, and there is this charismatic man who I find attractive and then threatening as I watch Him weave his way through homes & classrooms & workplaces, alternatingly charming then murderous. Slitting throats, dividing families, orphaning children.

Each time I get wise to Him, I sense the great vulnerability of going against such cunning, and something else–I see how willing others are to oblige this power and destruction in blindness; and so I become absorbed with protecting myself whenever He appears, until I see Him follow a family into the loft over the Great Room, and doesn’t He kill the young father and then the mother, as their child toddles unprotected toward the open railing.

Terrified, I dash past a bureau and a hutch and sweep the child up into my arms, where she becomes an infant, and with little time to spare, I dangle her through the bars of the railing thinking I could drop her to safety if only someone would appear in the Great Room below.

And then I see him! My father! But although he hears my calls, he cannot see the child, even though I direct his attention toward her again and again.

I consider dropping the infant to the floor, but just then my youngest son enters the room, and seeing the dangling child, puts out his arms to catch Her.

And with that, the Patriarchy disappears.

I bow to the mothers

I’ve experienced Motherhood–from desire to conception, to pregnancy (and miscarriage), to labor, to nursing & sick bed tending & to the never-ending-letting go–as a fierce initiator into the feminine mysteries–surrender and sovereignty and something else, equally potent: raw, messy, earthy wildness–all of which radically reshaped/reshapes my life–from the inside out.

I wouldn’t wish it on everyone.
I wish all those who wanted it would have it.
I wish those who didn’t wouldn’t.
Body, mind, spirit transformed.
Unimaginable from the other side.
Never, ever complete.

I bow to the mothers.
To the earth.
To the life givers before and after me.