Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sometimes Making Stuff is Hard. Oh, well.


If you wait on the arms, if you hold them still at your side, if you walk down the hall in a straight line with them clasped behind you like a tanglefingered bunny tail.  If.  That's the question. 

How loudly are you allowed to play your music on the second floor of your office building?

Answer:  Always.

From the first floor of the farmhouse, she sits above a pile of basement cast-offs:  the interior of a fish tank with its lights and breathing tubes goldfishless, all the crocheted afghans that can't be cast off after so many hours at the fingers that conceived you and the tangled yarn you slept below.

The antenna lights blink red from seven miles east.  The little girl is sleeping and the mice have all been caught.  Not a creature is stirring for miles but for the pigs out back and the farm cats now curled beneath the burnt rose bush.  I expected them to swell earlier with kitten.  Now with Fall in the night, I noticed today the low swing in the calico belly.  I'll tie a box filled with old blankets to the back porch rail for the winter.  The wind has a tendency to blow these houses around.

I huddle over the keyboard expecting a fire, expecting the fingers to conceive just a small piece of light.

And if they ask for whom you write, tell them you write for writing.  Though this won't be true at all.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

All is gift. Love him. or The Kind of Love I Want for All of You

I've known Tom for over ten years now, and when I sat down to pray about his reemergence in my life across hundreds of miles and who knows how many corn fields, the answer was simple:  All is gift.  Love him.

So I did.  And do.

What greater gift than to be loved as a not fairly normal woman, still the quiet student in black hiding in the bathroom during lunch or in the art room covered under the private soundcave made by her walkman.  Too sensitive, maybe.  Weird.  Bookish.  Depressed.  Annoying.  (He'll love that one.  When I admitted that I felt this way, he just said, "You're right.  You are REALLY annoying."  And suddenly I'm laughing at the ridiculous nature of my claim.  This is the blessing of allowing someone to see your wounds and watch as his love tends to them.)  Or the grown woman, sometimes outrageous and self-absorbed, often stubborn, covered in dirt and self-doubt.  He loves that one, too.

This morning in bed watching the rain almost fall, there is this epiphany:  he loves me the way God made me.  And this is part of the work we are given in our most sacred relationships--to love as we have been loved.  To cherish through another's eyes, what we have perceived until this time of opening to another, the quirks and the conflicts, our painful histories and the broken, ugly places we know within ourselves.  We use the term "unconditional love" to describe this, but I think it's more a matter of loving each other with all our conditions.

I know my Love and my Love knows me.  And when your Love offers you something fragile and unsure, extended in trembling hands, hold it for them, with them.  And give them the same opportunity to hold something broken of yours.   I have a tendency to keep my hands in tight fists (the body doesn't lie--ready for a fight, scared to open up, self conscious about how sweaty they always are or how they break out in eczema).  With Tom, I'm learning to uncurl them.  And, trust me.  There is peace here.



And when he sends me off on the plane with two grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread, I understand the gift of being fed all day by a single person.  He sustains so many people through the gifts he was given, the ones he won't keep for himself--his patience and presence as a father, his cooking, his ability to hear and record another's music, his belief in his students.  You should see him leaning over a cookbook, reading glasses hovering, eyebrows raised, lost in the process.

The gifts pass between us.  And I'm so thankful for the gift of him.  Yeah, I'm talking to you, Tom.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Counting Them

1.  As for kindergarten, Nora did great.  I did laundry.  When I walked into the empty house and saw small patches of the living room carpet showing through the second strata of Barbie paraphernalia, I almost turned around to wait in the truck for the next five hours until it was time to pick Nora up.  Everything was so still.  So quiet.  I was terrified.  Instead of facing the suspicious calm around me, I got to work cleaning and doing laundry.  Maybe tomorrow I'll face the silence.  Nope.  Wait.  I've got meetings all day.  Oh, dang.

2.  The garden is a towering jungle right now.  Those pole beans I rigged up on that cattle panel have exceeded anything you might see in a cartoon rendition of Jack and the Beanstock.  Seriously.  I'm still canning and blanching and freezing.  And on Friday nights, I still throw on my boots and get to work weeding and picking and cursing the lawnmower.

3.  In Georgia where Tom lives everything grows everywhere.  The problem in comparison to Nebraska is not how to get things growing--it's how to stop things from growing.  I don't think I've been out there yet when we didn't go for a walk accompanied by the sound of whirring tree trimmers and weed whackers from every direction in the neighborhood.  If you stand still for too long there, you need clippers just to undo your tennis shoes from the ivy that's grown over the top of them.  And, yes, I love that.  There's no place greener.

4.  My classes start in a little over a week.  I've been a gardening, falling in love, mamma recluse all summer.  I've enjoyed the falling away of words to describe a life that is so completely Alive.  But I can also hear them whispering something about telling my story in case it helps someone else along the way.  Maybe you too have gardened or fallen in love or been a mother or father.

5.  Part of the deal is that words can't "capture" your life.  When you write about something that's happened to you, you're not describing it.  You're actually adding another layer of complexity (or simplicity) to what you've lived through.  Language isn't a camera.  It's another appendage, another nerve.  It allows you to move and feel even more "about" your life.  I've never had much luck recreating my experience through language.  But I have had some luck in enlarging my life through language.  I suppose it was worth the three easy payments of $19.99 after all.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kindergarten or How Nora Got Her Groove Back


For five and a half years, I've lived with this blond-headed, comb-protesting, wild fire of a girl--the one with the elevated vocabulary and the desire to raise chickens and dinosaurs.  She's starting kindergarten tomorrow.  I'm not going to get mushy here.

Because this is far from a mushy moment.  She came with injections twice a day for nine months.  She came not breathing at two months old with a monitor around her chest for six months, and she moved through a divorce and skinned knees and dead birds and a working mom, and she would never say to you, "Life has been hard on me" even when I've moaned about it under my breath at the kitchen sink crying lonely or scraping uneaten dinners into the scrap bucket. Because her laughter happens daily and often.  Because she tells me jokes from the back seat of the truck:  "I'd forget my hair if it wasn't attached to my head!" Because she walks on tip toes like the really fast foals and yells and kicks her way through the "no's" I say to her even when it would be more convenient for me if she'd just say, "Yes, ma'am."

But I was never yes-ma'am, and she isn't either.  Though she is loving and polite and generous.  She is not yes-ma'am.  She is Yes.  So as Grandpa always said, "Don't hold back, kid--there ain't no reason." 

As if I could every stop you.  God bless your journey, Nora.  I love you, kiddo.

That was pretty mushy.  Ah well.