I want to capture Autumn and Fall in words. I start over and over again. And fall short of my expectations and so don’t post. And Autumn and Fall move on. Oh, the metaphors. How many stories put aside in search of better words?
Half of the trees, maybe more, stand naked. There is a brilliant mix of orange and gold in the background interspersed with faded green and divided by the dark bare limbs of the giants who are the first to retire to their long sleep. There are fewer trees that are seemingly lit from within and I stare hard at those that remain, memorizing the effect. The days have turned warm again which enhances the sweet smell of decomposing leaves that crinkle under my feet by the back door. Does anything smell as good as fallen leaves?
And I have a little bit of myself back again.
I had a week of guerrilla health care. An x-ray and MRI exposed a degenerated disc between my L(lumbar)5 and S(sacral)1 bones—the culprit responsible for my pain. I look for reasons; I look for remedy—in pain, last week, the remedy took precedence. Just get rid of it! Both were offered by my Western and Eastern practitioners, a naturopath and even my spiritual advisor. Each in their own lingo offered that I am out of balance. Today, I find this close to amusing. For five years I have been careening from one big emotion to another, my insides, coldly logical and wildly emotional, have been on a roller coaster ride that challenges the ferocity of the Thunderbolt in Coney Island. But for awhile now, I have moved towards an evening out—Mindful Circle teaching, Quest facilitating, the journey to Italy, the camps this summer, and the emerging pondering about home and Julia’s ninth grade year abroad—and I find myself claiming a self that is no longer half of a partnership, I am coming into my own. Crawling out of the chrysalis. Even the lingering reluctance to claim the self without David is fading. I stand as I am, on my own and for myself. I am independent in a way that I have not been before. Small compensation for the losses but compensation nonetheless.
And so, the notion that this body, which has rather patiently endured the turmoil and disinterest now needs attention and healing from being thrown hither and yon is not surprising. For the moment, the pain is under control with Aleve and nerve blocker. The naturopath gave me two very simple exercises that done daily three times offer relief from the ache that remains when the pain is dulled. My acupuncturist’s work put my in a good place for almost three complete days, perfect for fall weekends when I want to be out and about with Julia. I see a PT next week (damn the wait) and a yoga teacher with PT licensing sooner. One sure thing is that I will have to be much more aware of my body’s need for movement and correct nourishment—I have known this forever but it has taken this pain for me to take it seriously. Finally, my spiritual advisor asked me to examine what I still need to let go of to be the crazy independent old lady that I imagine.
I will heal.
I sip cafe aux milk and chew pain aux raison at an “Authentic French Bakery” by the mall. So, laugh at that if you will. The baker and the old woman at the cash register, presumably spouses, are authentic and grumpy as any Frenchman serving a non-speaking tourist. The coffee good, the pastry not excessively sweet. Right now, the cashier is trying to explain a pastry to a customer whose touch with French is even less than mine. I listen and smile at her. She glances in my direction in French frustration. My smiles are real again, not pale acknowledgements of the possibility of happiness. She smiles back and offers more coffee. “Completely free.” We are a conspiracy. I think she knows I belong on the side of the ocean where she was born. Next time I come in, and we both know there will be a next time, she will correct my fractured French and I will say “merci.”
Yesterday, I made my first pot of pea soup of the season, bacon and sage corn bread, and honey pesto salad dressing. I bought a pretty cake and a bottle of red wine for a birthday dinner. At noon, I washed windows with my handy man—him on a ladder to do the outsides and storms windows and me inside. We did the upstairs and the back porch in three hours. We saved the Halloween decorated first floor windows for November 1 and both talk about that golden year when I will replace the old windows and cheap storms with double paned, energy efficient, tilt out cleaning glass. The new windows in the kitchen, last spring’s necessary home repair, take a very few sweet minutes to clean and prepare for winter. I know, I know. If funds were unlimited there would be replacement windows in the whole house and I would move to Italy for half the year.
But more on task, I do all that and serve and eat dinner with friends and today, I feel no worse for the activity. Not to look too far ahead, but raking may be part of the weekend.
And on moving to Italy for six months a year. That is a future dream; however, when I returned in July, I vowed to begin learning Italian so that when I return, I would not need to be mute or incomprehensible. I have been waiting for my daily round to ease before I decided how to attack this mission. I might be waiting another 30 years for that! So, I will email Silvia, my friend in Turin, today and start before the end of the month. “Buongiorno. Voglio tornare in Italia!”
Noticing. Things. New Julia things. Some not new but resurfacing.
We were in a fabric store two weekend ago to buy material for a Halloween costume. Julia wants me to make the blue Christmas gown from the American Girl story about Felicity, a girl from the American Revolutionary period. I was expecting something from Lord of the Rings-big crush on the elf king, Elrond or someone from Star Wars. Instead, after years of dinosaurs and wizarding robes, I welcome a pretty dress for a child who has had such a struggle identifying with her humanness.
In the fabric store, Julia spotted a display of new sewing machines. She stared in awe. Almost reverent, she asked about them. Were they sewing machines? My machine is old and limited. It sews forward and backwards. It belonged to David’s maternal grandmother who died years before we got married. But I sew once or twice a year making more of an investment sort of silly. Julia looked at those new plastic wonders with lust in her eyes. What is that for? What about that? She pointed to knobs and button that turn the machine into an embroider and fancy sticher. I could almost see her brain working. Working in a way that I have not seen before. Julia, imagining what she could do with these machines. How much easier sewing would be with any of these. Forward thinking! So new for her. At least so new to verbalized it to me. I could have bought one on the spot!
I cut on Wednesday and by Friday night, late that night, the dress is finished. A bit big oh Julia but she will need something warm beneath the gown in another week. She loves it and had fun wearing it to church for Saturday’s pre-Halloween parade. She is the only one from her class in a costume, but she enjoys being pretty so much. So, so much.
When I cleaned up my sewing stuff, Julia spotted the left over fabric. She asked whose it was and what had to be done with it. I told her it was hers and she could do what she wanted. She has ideas.
Days ago, on our way to a sensory evaluation, the first in years, Julia was writing her daily school journal. She wanted to write about people in her classes. I started her writing this journal last year to work on memory and to see what she retained of her school day. So, my aim was to have her write about the content of math and social studies and science classes. Last year, she wrote single sentences and sometimes more with urging. This year she has volunteering more about actual classes, not always of course, but more than ever before. Yesterday, however, I noticed that she was writing about what was going on in the classroom. What a teacher said to a student and how the student responded. I started to tell there that this journal was not for school gossip but her studies, and had to bite my tongue! She was noticing other people. Other people for what and who they are. Not only in relation to herself. “How do you think he felt?” I asked. Yes, this is movement and maturing. She answered about the person she described. A showing, at least somewhat, of some theory of mind.
Post sensory evaluation, we are brushing again. Haven’t done it in at least five years. I was surprised that Julia is completely okay with it. I expected some kick back. Perhaps it makes her feel good. I’ve also noticed that she is wanting to wear some tight clothes. There was a time that she did not like wearing tights. That has changed. The other day, however, she put on a pair of last year’s pants bought for a strings concert. They still fit around the waist but the legs are very tight. I asked about them and Julia said they felt great. Perhaps her body needs that kind of stimulation now. Something new for her. Puberty changes everything.
Skating again on Sunday afternoon. I can’t go on the ice yet. Julia picked up where she left off, still pushing off with just one leg but with much more speed and surety. The person who runs the program asked us to stop in the office after class. She fitted Julia with a more supportive boot and will be looking for blades that fit next week. She believes that Julia’s skates offer no support making balance much more difficult for her. Thank you, thank you. Julia has angels and many blessings.