Julia and I began a new one on New Year’s Day although we hardly made any progress until this weekend. 1000 pieces that when finished will be a Venetian scene.
I love Venice and I hunger for traveling, so it is a bitter sweet endeavor. As I separate the lavender sky pieces from the butter colored Doge’s palace pieces, I wonder and wonder if I can begin to make summer plans. To Venice or London or, Julia’s desire, Japan. I know, the first two are cities and the third a country. Japan would take a lot more planning; I know nothing about Japan. Julia, however, has texted me the address of the park in Tokyo where cosplayers gather on weekends to show off their costumes. We will make that stop.
Last week, an acquaintance on the HILR email list, wrote that she was looking for ideas for a summer trip to northern Italy. I immediately responded, with a longer than expected description of Orta San Giulio, including restaurants, walks, the mysterious island in the middle of the Orta and the hydrangea in gardens in August. My enthusiasm leaking out of my fingers.
Winter break has been over for three day. I mean, this is the third day, and I have this overwhelming feeling of wanting to be alone and quiet. This morning after Julia boarded the school van, I took a deep breath and bathed in the house silence. I did not want to say a single word to anyone, and the usual morning pleasantries to the van driver (who is a very sweet man, by the way) were an incredible effort. Peculiar thing is that Julia has had three very easy mornings following a relatively calm and easy winter break.
The only challenge of the break, and indeed of the coming month (or so), is that she could not do her regular activities. There was no rowing last week and her zoom theater workshop was on break. The rowing class has now been cancelled for at least a week with the possibility of an extension. Oh, how that email read like the first school closings in 2020! The theater workshop which was rumored to go back to live meetings will stay on zoom, starting in February. Both these activities are important to our week, to her sanity. I hate to lose them for any time at all. She will still have meetings with her therapist and her art mentor. And for these, I am so grateful
“For the sake of old times!” As close as I can get to a translation that makes sense to me of the words “auld lang syne.”
“Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon”
A slight variation of the Robert Berns words, but the words that sang out to me this morning. Yes, I admit to wanting to not cast too many glances back. It has been a hard year. It has been a brutal almost two years, and all my heart wants to do is to turn and face the winds of the new, hoping and praying that the new will be much, much more pleasant than the old. As a friend wrote as a wish to another friend, a wish for a more cooperative new year.
I have kept a blog for a long time. Julia came home from China in 2006, my first post on my first blog was in September, 2005. The focus has changed over the years—adoption and its fall out, diagnosis and more fall out, more diagnoses, more fall out, therapy, school programs, transplant, death, single motherhood, autism, attachment, travel with my girl, moving, transitioning, shut down, covid and all of its fall out. And through it all I’ve kept writing, not always every day or even extremely regularly, but I’ve kept at it and, dare I say, somewhat improved in saying what is in my heart as much of the time as possible.
The process of writing is essential in my existence but rarely have I studied the process or routinely subjected my work to critique, save the kind words of friends and visitors to this blog. David was the one who took the courses, got the graduate degree, taught multiple kinds of writing; and he was successful in finishing and publishing novels. I have merely and persistently written—mostly journaling since a teen with a few forays into fiction.
But now. Now. Now. With a new year. I feel the tug of what may be next.
“[W]henever well-laid plans are unlaid in an instant . . .”
Melissa Kirsch wrote in the NYTimes two days ago in How We’re Holding It Together: “These lines keep coming back to me — when a long-anticipated trip is shelved indefinitely, when my family decides to postpone gathering for the holidays — whenever well-laid plans are unlaid in an instant”
By the time I read her lines, our holiday plans had already been upended. Julia and I went up to Conway, New Hampshire, as planned, to spend time in the enchanting land of snow with the good company of Justin’s family; however, absent from the gathering were Cheshire and Justin due to positive Covid tests.
Justin who has worked from home for years (and not just since the 2020 shut down), travelled for work for the first time in two years two weeks ago and came home with a bad cold. A take home Covid test the day before we were all to leave for NH was positive and Cheshire followed two days later but only after a P.C.R. test, her rapid test was negative.
Whew! Yes, I’ve gotten this far. This far into this year and this far into life. But I’ve been wasting more than my usual share of days dithering. I wonder if I am alone in this? Courtney Martin, whose, newsletter I subscribe to, called this a “liminal pandemic moment.”
“We’re opening back up. We’re not opening back up. We want to open back up. We sort of actually don’t. We forgot how to socialize with a wide variety of people or in larger groups, so it all feels heightened—like waking up from a nap and being violently thrust into a brightly lit room of smiling, chatty people.”
Well, I am not intending to burst into any rooms of chatting people in actuality or even figuratively. Still, I feel the liminality of the moment. We are gathering tomorrow with our ‘pod’ from the last two years—Cheshire and Justin, his parents, Julia and I–which is quite comfortable. There remains, however, the rest of life–transitions, community, and what the future holds.
Man, what an emotion ladened weekend! I have been weepy, tears just behind the eyes, catch ready to happen in my throat for two days. Yesterday, some of that was relieved by a walk around Walden Pond.
It was an incredibly beautiful fall day, a bit warm for my still Wisconsin standards, but delightful to walk. I was looking for a contemplative walk in the woods, a la Henry David Thoreau. Instead, the biggish beach and the tiny beaches all around the pond had families, picnickers, swimmers and kayakers chattering and enjoying the day. And the path around the pond has a layer of small stones and our shoes made noise as we moved along. Julia didn’t mind at all and I had to smile that I actually expected a quiet, mystical stroll. There were a few moments, a few feet of the path every so often, where there were no small stones and where we were not close to those playing in the water. And for those few moments, it was blessedly quiet—once I turned around to make sure Julia was still in back of me. And the quiet captured some of what was in my heart.
20 years. I remember so well going through the metal detector at the federal court build in Indianapolis. The security guy telling me that the world trade center was hit by a plane and we assured each other it was a fluke. A mistake. Then, upstairs to my office and then into a judge’s chambers to watch the second plane hit and the buildings collapse on tv.
I remember trying to wrap my head around the unimaginable in the midst of distress, chaos, sorrow and worry. But a tender memory from that time, in the days and weeks afterwards, midwest friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances, remembered I was from there and asked how I was and how my family and friends were. I had lived in Indiana since 1989, and it was never that easy being from New York. People could be downright mean at times, talking about where I came from as if it was the pit of hell. Not everyone but enough to make David and I shy about that ‘where are you from’ question. During the days and weeks after 9/11, everyone became a New Yorker. Suddenly, I was just like them because they were just like me. I hadn’t expected that and I felt for almost the first time there, that I had community.
First day of Julia’s transition program at Community Connections designed to teach her independent living and employment skills. They have a huge hill to climb.
Anxieties of the morning: The van didn’t come (It showed up at 9:15, a half hour late) and it was less stressful for me to drive her than for her to wait for transportation. She brought drawing materials with her to the program and I encouraged her to use them if she has time. Julia has a brand new rash on one arm (although it might be moving to both arms). I don’t know what it is. There is Sarna in the front of her backpack which works to calm the itch much of the time. She also brought her phone which has proven to be disastrous at times but it wasn’t worth a morning tussle.
Julia has waited for two years to go to a big “Con.” We could have gone in 2019 but it was right after we moved and I couldn’t manage it. That Christmas, she wanted costumes and wigs to get ready for 2020. But like everything else the 2020 FanCon was cancelled. The 2021 FanCon was moved back and last weekend it happened. I think it was not as big as it has been; however, Julia had a wonderful time. We had 3-day tickets and she and I went each day. Julia’s wonderful therapist accompanied us on Friday evening, and Cheshire was with us on Saturday and Sunday. Masking made it a bit weird. I mean, in a superhero costume with wig and mask, I could have walked right past anyone!
Julia went dressed on Friday and Saturday as a female Deku cheer leader for UA, the Japanese high school that develops heros. In the animation, Deku is male; however, lots of young women like to become a female version of him. On Sunday, she dressed as a blue haired student at UA which may be her own character.