So much moving, nothing stops time, nothing stops emotion ebbing and flowing. There are lessons of impermanence around every corner.
The bullet points of the now:
-We have a place to live! Last Thursday, Cheshire and I saw the first floor of an owner occupied 2-family victorian house, 3-bedrooms, good kitchen, laundry hook-ups in basement, off street although not garage parking and relatively close to stores and restaurants and pretty. I made application on Friday, was rushed along when another prospective renter expressed interest, the RE agent called me (in Indianapolis, thank goodness, we don’t need land lines anymore) and broke the good news. Lease signing, check sending, other document signing was a stuttering flurry over the next few days. I think I can safely say that we have a place to live in Newtonville.
-I do have trouble asking for help! I am exchanging my foam mattress for the company upgrade. The box came yesterday and I need to get it to my second floor. Julia and I can handle the box—probably close to 100 lbs. Friends have offered help. I am having a hard time reaching out to friends who have repeatedly offered help. Foolish independence, when will my deep inside accept the need for real community.
-Julia had a hard day on Wednesday. The school has a fine arts festival running all week during which many performances of all kinds take place. Students are allowed to go to performances instead of classes and indeed some teachers take their students to the performances. The disruption, even as pleasant as it was, wreaked havoc on her delicately held together scheduled life. Transitions were hell and there was lots of swearing and inappropriate threatenings. When she arrived home, she explained her day and I asked if she wanted to take a nap. Julia slept hard for 45 minutes and reclaimed her day. She took a shower and dressed for her last choir concert. She could be proud of herself for pulling herself out of the day’s hole.
-Julia had a splendid concert! In December of Julia freshman year, I emailed Anthony Cao, West High’s incredible music director. I told him that although Julia reported that she liked choir, I though she needed work on appropriate stage behavior and presence during concerts and I suspected during class. I did not expect that she would pick it up from those around her or even from the teacher’s admonishments (if there are any) to the entire group. I wanted to come up with a few guidelines/rules/strong suggestions for her behavior. We came up with three: 1. Stay standing in your assigned place; 2. Eyes on the teacher; 3. No talking while we’re supposed to be singing. Simple indeed, direct for sure and completely necessary. I know there have been some less than successful days in class over the last two school years, probably more than I know about, and I’ve watched her manage these expectations during choir concerts, usually not entirely successfully. Wednesday evening was a complete success! For the choirs three songs, she did what everyone else did — for one piece, the choir sat in a close spiral on the stage floor and did movements — she stayed where she was assigned, she sang and she watched Mr. Cao. There was no fidgetings or fixing her dress or talking to the person next to her or wandering slightly when it was time to move. She was into the music, attentive to Mr. Cao, and actually did small and very appropriate hand gestures. I sat in tears watching, very proud of her progress and performance. In one sense it is a lesson in what it takes for her to learn a new skill. Many kids in choir followed our three rules from the first day of class, some needed until the first concert freshman year, a few strayed outside Julia’s rules for a longer time and I knew of at least two who broke rules that we had not articulated just last month, but for Julia it has been a long, steady climb to be this singing scholar. We did make one mistake. When Julia registered for choir this year, she was placed in the first year choir which is mostly filled with freshmen. We should have put her in a second year choir with kids she had been going to class with. She still sits with some of those girls during concerts and she would have been more comfortable singing with them. But for this mistake, choir has been a main stream success! Expecting Julia to measure up to what her peers do, at least in this instance, encouraged her to strive and succeed. I don’t believe that there was a way to learn performance behavior without this experience.
-The same night, I was disappointed that Julia did not have any piece of work in the Art Gallery for Fine Arts Week. As I looked at the work presented, I worried that Julia would never develop the sophistication and insight that she will need to make art making a vital part of her life. I would like one think to be easy! And that is all me. Art is what Julia does and the timeline to her future work is not to be discerned by me right now. She draws everyday. Most days, I assign her a picture to copy—a character, an exercise in body or parts of body shape, an example of perspective—and she does it. Many times, she does it very well. This is movement towards, this is success. This is not the little girl who insisted on only drawing dinosaurs. It is this that I need to celebrate as surely as I celebrate her performance behavior in choir. I still have so much to learn.
-Living in Newtonville, puts us in the Newton North High School district. It is a fine school but a second choice to Newton South. I am asking the wonderful Sped head of Newton South if it is worth asking for a transfer placement. I am sure both schools would do well for her; however, the Newton North cheer squad had never had a kid like Julia on their team, the South team welcomes her.
-The easy packing is done. No more days of packing many boxes of rectangular objects. I pack one box, maybe two a day and it is a struggle. Where do you put big baskets? What about all those long things? When do I take down what remains on the walls and what am I going to put them in? How few dishes do we need to survive another month? How heavy can the boxes really be? And what size and shape boxes do I need right now? A sigh and a giggle, I must do intentional packing now. And I must give into the free fall of complete displacement. Okay, maybe next week. Next week, for sure.