I once said goodbye to a boy named Andy. He played guitar and wrote songs. Some of those songs were about me. They were love songs. When I listened to them, it was the first time I really understood how someone could know and love me. I felt embarrassed when Andy would sing them to me. Then Andy gave me a recording, so I could listen to the songs whenever I wanted to. Alone I held those songs so close, I’d breathe in every word of them. The summer I was six, I learned how to ride my bike. My dad ran alongside me holding the back of my seat and yelling for me to pedal. I wanted so much to ride on my own. When I looked back and didn't see my dad's hand there, I wondered what it meant. Had I lost something? Where was my little girl self? Was she standing with my dad watching me ride away? I wanted badly to have a second child even though having the first had been filled with challenges. Before having another one, I wanted things to get easier in our lives. I waited for a long time for things to get easier, but they never did. In fact, for awhile, they got worse. My persistent illness had become unmanageable. By the time I recovered, I knew I had to protect myself, which meant not having a baby. But the unbearable longing never really goes away. My sister Jen called last night to tell me that she thought Reese's time had come. Initially, Reese had been my dog. Jen took Reese into her home when I started dating and later married, Josh, who has bad allergies. Jen sobbed while she told me how she thought Reese had suffered a stroke. Jen said she was having trouble walking and that her hind legs could be paralyzed. Reese is such a dear family member. Although, she is old and has had a remarkable life, we're hardly ready to say goodbye. The writing challenge has had its ups and downs for me. It has been hard for me to write every day and to not take myself and my writing too seriously. However, with practice, I think I'm getting better at loosening up and posting crappy first drafts as Anne Lamott would say, which I think takes wonderful courage. I received some meaningful comments on my writing and read so many great slices. I'm hopeful that I can continue a daily writing practice even if it's only for 10 minutes. I'm grateful for having been apart of this community.
A youth choir singer, Lutheran, believer, a tomboy, a free spirit, forest trekker, tree climber, a runner, reader, pianist, studier, procrastinator, English major, a concert dancer, sound collector, a romantic, a best friend, lover, giver, heartbreaker, a loner, a misfit, a stranger, a questioner, wanderer, dreamer, stargazer.
Before I was here at the kitchen table thinking of something to write, and getting tangled up with thoughts of the moonlight filling in the shadows of the back porch railing, and deciding to go exploring for the moon, which wasn't at all hard to find, as she was centerstage in the sky-- heavy and full and almost perfect bathing the fields and shallow ponds with her rich, silvery light. Before I was here at the kitchen table thinking of something to write, I was asleep, my son curled up next to me, murmuring a dream.
*I used a page from the book of Jane Hirshfield’s essays, Nine Gates.
- tender morning light - this quiet place to write - letting go of perfectionism - my heavy clay coffee cup - geese honking their return - soft-spoken daffodils - new books from the library - packing up to drive south - wearing a favorite t-shirt - time set aside for rest and play
Why do we stop asking so many questions? Where do the tears that won't come out go? Why does the sun come up on rainy days? How do we take care of hate? Why can't everybody be an artist? What questions am I not asking? Why do memories fade? Why does loneliness come back? Who decided on the colors of the rainbow? How many chances do we miss? Where can I find a friend?
Some see shadows at the gates. Some see droplets of light tumbling in the dirt. Some see skittish, windswept leaves, touching. Some see paths to adventures, games of Follow the Leader, a chain of holding hands maneuvering twists and turns. Some see the passages of time, summers of yesterday, their childhood spirits calling out. Some see what it might be like to vanish. Some see the last days of summer, the striking contrast of green and blue, the million golden fireworks.
#1 As a child with dirt plastered to my feet at day's end, a blessing. #2 When I stop treading these harsh waters, it wasn't that I was drowning. #3 Sun taps at our window, golden footprints traipse across our kitchen floor.
d is a half-note sitting on the treble clef, it sings dooby dooby doop doop! For safe-keeping, d has a zippered pouch. d is a dependable shoe for a stick figure. d is deeply-rooted, but don't forget dazzling and daring! d is a kickstand for a bike, a trusty putter on the golf green. On its side, d is a speed bump, backwards, an imposter. d dilly-dallies behind a,b and c. d says "drats!" when something's lost. Facedown, d dreams of being a dragon, but come dawn, d's delighted to be d again.
We say good night to our neighbors with the new baby and walk back to our house across the alley. The moon hovers high in an otherwise barren sky. The night air still holds the excitement and warmth from the spring day.
We open the alley gate and enter our backyard. All afternoon we worked and played here. We raked up the lingering leaves, turning over the rich, fragrant soil beneath. I filled the bird feeders and greeted a smattering of spring buds peeking up at me. Josh and I took turns holding on to Gussie’s bike seat and cheering wildly when he pedaled himself across the yard.
Now, as we make our way to our back porch, I hear the murmurs of other neighbors in their yards. I see the glow of a nearby fire and shadows gathered around it. Through the darkness, Josh calls out a jovial good night to them. A flurry of good nights embrace us before we step inside.