Wednesday, October 8, 2014

...a symphony of whistling and peanut butter.

Tonight I am sleeping in my old bedroom in my childhood home. All the bedrooms are above the garage. Mine is right next to my parent's. I stayed out here for a few weeks after my father died. First in bed with my mom. Reaching my arm out in the night to calm her when she sobbed in her state of half sleep. Eventually I moved into my old room. The first few nights it was like having a newborn. Getting up each time she cried and showing her I was there and confirming for her that he was not. One night the scream that came from her tired body was so terrifying. Strangulated and forced. Getting louder and more urgent. My whole body ached for the weight of her grief. She clung to me that night. A look of sheer terror in her eyes. She told me that she had felt her body being lifted off the bed. She was sure of it. She had seen him. And he was taking her. Eventually we gave up on the idea that she would be able to self soothe and achieve peaceful sleep. She began taking medication to sleep and has done so ever since. 

I haven't stayed here much since. The odd time when my sisters are here or at Christmas. But tonight I am alone in my old room. There are incredibly familiar sounds. The very faint sound of traffic on the distant highway. The rise and fall growl of an engine passing the house on the road out front. The constant sound of the vibration of the railroad tracks. It could be an hour before another train whistle blows but the tracks seem to hum perpetually with the friction of metal wheels on metal rails. And then the whistle. The comforting whistle. I don't even know how often a train passes through. The sound is not jarring enough for me to take note. It's just there or it isn't. Yesterday afternoon I know there were 3 during the funeral service for my uncle. 3 trains in that half hour. I reckon there might be fewer at night....

And tonight I am deafened by the sounds that are missing. My dad used to read insatiably. He would read in bed and fall asleep with his book in hand. He eventually installed a timer on the light. It clicked in rapid fire. Much louder than it should have for a device of it's size and purpose. It would make one loud click as the light turned out and then sort of fizzle out after that. That click and shift to darkness would often wake my dad and he would cough, roll over and turn the timer again. If that sound didn't wake him the sound of his book falling to the floor would. I think my mom slept with a light on more than off for most of her life. I often wondered why she didn't resort to sleeping in another room. 

There are other sounds missing. The whir and sigh of the air compressor, the ratcheting sound of something being lifted on a hoist or jack, the clang of indeterminate metal on metal.... The radio. The whistling. Oh and.... It's all flooding in. It's like a symphony.... The sound of a plastic bag having the twist tie removed. The slide and click of the toaster. The twist of the top of a peanut butter jar. The scrape of knife across toast. And the creak of that dining room chair....

It's strange coming home.  

Friday, August 22, 2014 in the waiting.

Sometimes you contemplate a line up and wonder if it's worth the wait. Dozens of people agree that standing on the sidewalk in the hot Seattle sun for a Caribbean sandwich is worthy of the hour it will cost them. I had to believe they knew what they were doing. My choice that Friday afternoon was to wait in the guitar store with a fidgety five year old while her sister and daddy shopped or move slowly down a sidewalk with a mass of "committed" individuals on the quest for roast pork and caramelized onions. 

Miss Lola and I walked the two blocks to join the sandwich throng and.....wait. I held her hand. Tried to keep her contained. Maintain our spot in the queue. Let her wiggle but not annoy the crowd around us. This lasted for..... 38 seconds. "Hi. I'm Lola. I'll be your friend" she stated confidently to the small child holding the hand of his young father a few spots in front of us. I shrug. That's all there is to do. This is her way and I will not stop her for the comfort of others. I occupy myself with my own people watching, looking up the menu on my phone, calculating how far we have moved and how much time we have left to wait. Lola has purloined the child's bubbles and is blowing them while he runs around bursting the little glistening orbs. He laughs. She chatters endlessly. She has discovered his name and that he's hopeless at blowing the bubbles himself but she's determined to teach him how. I make very half hearted attempts to reign her in but the truth is I'm inspired by her. She checks in with me often enough. My gaze meets that of the boys father enough to make sure he's ok with Lola's uninhibited friend making. He isn't entirely but I shrug again and smile. 

Behind us in the line is a Korean family. Multigenerational. All of them smiling. No one even remarking on the length of the line up. They are laughing. Talking about their order. And I notice.... The eldest man in the group has plucked a thick piece of grass from a vacant doorway and is weaving it. Slowly and deliberately. A half smile upon his lips. 

A fish. He has woven a fish. He quietly hands it to one of the children in his party, disappears for a few moments and returns with another blade of grass. The wait continued. The fish multiply.

At about the halfway point on our inch by inch journey to sandwich nirvana there is a vibrant man in a yellow shirt playing jazz standards on a flute. He enthusiastically speaks to himself between tunes and manages to keep the energy of his show alive by simultaneously being both artist and audience. Lola is captivated. She had found a nickel in the pavement earlier while blowing bubbles with her new best friend. After a good five minutes of summoning up the courage she drops her nickel in his hat. Doubling his earnings for his lunch time show. He plays "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". I sing. Lola dances. The crowd talks amongst themselves. The man weaves fish. Kieran blows bubbles. The line shuffles forward. 

The man is working on his fourth or fifth fish. Lola has stopped being bashful about watching and is standing directly in front of him.  He continues to smile like Buddha. She looks up into his face earnestly and asks for a fish. When he completes it he hands it to her. His smile broadens. She returns to snatch the bubbles out of the pocket of Kieran's father. I laugh and attempt to scold her utter lack of personal boundaries. God I love this child. This hot afternoon on the sidewalk in Seattle. The wait.


A lot of living happens in the waiting.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

...a horizon.

I never thought I would be that mom. I had never imagined this moment in my life. The moment when I would gasp for breath at the realization that my baby was not a baby anymore. The tears would burn in my eyes and my head would feel damn near exploding at the thought that within the month I will have to decide where she will go to kindergarten. Yep, that's it. No big deal right? BUT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND...

I suddenly feel as though I have squandered these years. We didn't attend a single kindermusik class, I didn't take her down to the musty smelling community hall for baby gymnastics or hang out with the other moms at the public library story time, no Saturday afternoon baby ballet... I took her to work with me. She was dragged to fundraising meetings and coffee dates. She was my sidekick, under my feet, my blonde tornado, my partner in crime... she's been raised on a steady diet of roller derby mania and passive physiotherapy. She thinks it's normal that we have friends named Diva, Sweaty & Easy and there is an extra adult kid living in our house named Kitschy. She dresses herself in clothes built for comfort, favouring shirts that have a catchy message. Her hair is untamed and seldom washed. She can't print her name, sing her ABCs or count to ten. But she's along for the ride and she doesn't care where it's headed.

Suddenly all that time that stretched out before me has become remarkably finite. Years have turned into months and my time with her buzzing around making creative messes while I clean will soon come to an end. And tonight it has never felt so heavy. It's so ridiculously cliche to stand on this threshold and tell my tender mama soul that I should have cared less about my clean house and my healthy meals in favour of sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor singing songs with my toddler. But there it is. That's exactly where I am. And I'm wondering just how big a mess I can stand over the next few months. Cause that floor looks awfully inviting.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

...a garden.

Bernadette and Gail make me feel warm all over. They have the garden plots on either side of ours. I haven't been there at all this summer. It's David's garden. Farmer Dave.

They introduce themselves in a peaceful and non threatening way. "You must be David's wife. I'm Bernadette."

They say kind things and they don't even know me.

"How are you feeling?"

"David said you were under the weather"

"This barrel has more water"

"Don't strain yourself."

I looked over at the bench and garden table at the side of the plots under the tree. There is a mason jar half full of coffee with cream. And a couple of mugs. There are other people at the garden but I know this is theirs. They have set up home.

Their gardens are beautiful. They are harvesting lettuce and peas.

Our garden is sad. Rabbits ate the onion tops and I've kept David from the garden when he should have been planting and tending.

"Your garden will take off" Gail says. "You'll have tomatoes and squash."

She's too kind.

I wonder if they have pickles or buttered toast to have with their coffee.

"You look like no more than a student yourself" Gail says. I blush and laugh. I don't know what to say. I always know what to say. But it's peaceful. And slow and no answer seems needed.

I fill my watering can half way each time and walk slowly back and forth to our small plot. Swinging the can. The water sloshes. I try to decide where to water and where to walk. I'm in no rush. The sisters are in no rush.

There are teens with their dogs in the abandoned tennis courts across from the garden. They are peaceful. Happy. Quiet even.

Bernadette is smoking and pouring herself a coffee from the mason jar. Gail joins her. They are both wearing straw hats and denim shirts. I don't want to leave but I'm done watering. I can't stretch it out any longer. I turn and wave and call out "goodnight".

There's a lone hat on the picnic table in the park. The swings are still.

Someone will claim it tomorrow. When the park comes alive. When the children with their Popsicle sticky hands and wide eyes and unabashed friend making prowess descend on this place again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 6, 2012

...a snow storm.

Some days are quite simply much harder than others. Kind of like a swirling vortex of shit really. All the little things that you can normally deal with effortlessly all fly into your path at once and your capacity to cope is tested to its limits or beyond.

Yep. Today was one of those days. No major obstacles. Nothing earth shattering. Just a shit storm. Cause you know, a few snowflakes at a time are magical, but billions upon billions can bring a city to its knees. We had a real life blizzard here yesterday and I followed it up with my own metaphysical one today.

In the quiet of the waning evening of yesterday's blizzard I looked out my window to see the moonlight reflected off the snowbanks like billions of tiny diamonds. The branches of every tree enrobed in crystalline white. The quiet and stillness so profound. It was breathtaking. And in the quiet waning evening of my shit storm today my sweet nine year old squeezed me tight around the waist and told me how incredible I am. How there is no other mother on earth as fine as me. And on my outward breath I could see the diamonds in her eyes. I could see that the day long tantrums of my exasperating three year old were simply billions of synapses firing and that the beauty of that growth was revealing itself. I could see that the swirling vortex of all the people in our lives are
small blessings that serve to make our existence richer. And I was able to sit down and have a great conversation with my kiddo about the finite nature of patience.

And now all that's left is to curl up in the arms of my partner and remind ourselves why we chose to weather this storm together.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

...a leap.

Today seems like an appropriate day to be back here. Leap Day. The day we catch up. Make up for the imperfection of our calendar. The day we rectify our calculational deficiencies.

Today was to be significant in another way. Today I was hoping to be given part of my life back. To catch up... To leap. Today I had a date with Glen Sather. Or more specifically I had an appointment at the Glen Sather sports medicine clinic. I was hoping to get the news that I would be cleared for "combat". I wasn't. Four and a half months ago I suffered a temporarily crippling knee injury at roller derby practice (that's right - I'm a derby girl and that is another post all together). For weeks I hobbled around, I couldn't drive my standard car because it was my clutch leg and my knee had lost all bendiness, I barely slept because it hurt in every position and I watched my fellow fresh meat skaters pass their skills test and leave me in their dust. It was tough, scary and yet I found my way. Physio 3 times a week, ice, heat, ice, strengthening exercises, ice, doctors, MRIs, x-rays, ice... Its a new road. I have never been an athlete and figuring this shit out at 39 with two small children has been challenging. Some days all I wanted to do was kneel down to help my baby put her boots on. To be at her eye level and kiss her face. I found patience that I didn't know I had and a resolve that was reignited. And today I walked into that exam room with in my striped knee socks and taped up knee, holding the hand of my miniature moral support in a bumblebee back pack. All I wanted to hear was YES. YES, go hit those bitches. The answer I walked away with was not so affirmative and the statute of limitations on my patience has run out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

...abundant love.

These two girls of mine know love. It's all I've ever wanted them to be sure of. That they are vessels of abundant love. That they are conductors of abundant love. That they are abundantly loved.

And between them is an intensity of love for each other so electric that it could light a small town. Blows my mind every day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone