letting go

I wrote the following yesterday.  It doesn’t have an ending that I am satisfied with; however, the week will only get busier.  So, I’m posting it today.  Perhaps some ending will come.  Perhaps not.

An online friend suggested we keep our expectations low. Which ones? The expectations that I usually hold close are diminishing, falling like leaves after the first frost.  Truth be told, I’ve always juggled such a plethora of hopes and dreams, long and short term goals complete with due dates, many expectations, many hopes for possible futures.  I have lived for long periods of time holding expectations as a nervous bride clutches her bouquet.  But today, after a year away from my old Wisconsin home and loving community, after 10 years away from the love of my life, after 17 weeks of quarantine, I bear witness to an increasing number of plans, goals and expectations dramatically dashed upon rocks or quietly slipping away. If there be a life lesson here, it must be that living in the present is what is essential.  Life can be, at times, gently shaped, tended more like an orchid than a row of sturdy marigolds.  

The heady plans of last fall to complete the novel by the end of summer have faded—there is no way to homeschool and/or be attentive to school zooms, as well as offer non-screen entertainment, and devote sufficient time to writing anything.  I don’t have sufficient concentration to journal about my days or edit some journaling to post here.  If, indeed, Shakespeare wrote Lear, Macbeth and Cleopatra during this own plague quarantine, I suspect that he did not have a teen in the next room wanting to spend entire days trolling the internet.  Did he even shop and cook for himself during those days?

Pre-March, when I contemplated the summer, I wondered how I was going to fit in some travel. I had such wanderlust. Julia was going to be at ESY during all of July; Cheshire’s wedding was in late August.  I vaguely remember that in February, I blocked out the two weeks between the end of school and beginning of ESY and a possibly long week in August to go somewhere and wondered if I could satisfy my travel longings with a short driving holiday in the UK or a visit to Torino.  Gosh, today that kind of planning seems to belong to another person living in another century.  Julia and I would not even be allowed to enter those countries, but that is a rant of a very different kind.

Of course, the change of wedding plans has made for more tasks.  In six short days, we leave for a house on a lake in New Hampshire where the immediate families of our bride and groom will gather for a week of diversion punctuate with the most happy union of Cheshire and Justin.  It is not the wedding they planned, but the weeks of alternative planning have swept away most of the sting of disappointment.  I have DIY tasks of preparation, many more than I would have had had the bigger event gone as scheduled.  I have done those tasks slowly with great care, indulging in the luxury of time that in the normal scope of things I would not have had.  I have some cooking to do, shopping for food and packing but I am almost finished with my tasks. I know that come late July, I will miss this purposeful time of preparation and anticipation.

In March, I was just beginning to feel my way at HILR, almost enjoying lunches on campus and venturing out for an evening dinner with the HILR Newton women.  I could see the possibility of new friendships, of some burgeoning community.  I was cultivating that same feeling at FUUSN, finding ways to include Julia on Sundays so I could sing with the choir. None of those ventures has completely disappeared but zooming class or service puts everyone at a distance.  I have been lucky with zoom links—although my classes at HILR did not go online, my mentor swept me into her delightful class on musical comedy and through FUUSN, I taught an Awakening Joy workshop online.  However, the expectation of building relationships has faded and in its place, I have the joy simple social interchange brings.  

And although I do not feel I have built many new relationships, there has been time to connect with friends who are not near.  If we were all going about our daily rounds, I know it would be more difficult to have those long FaceTime calls.

Hopes and dreams of a better high school experience and fuller transition experience for Julia flicker.  Right now, so much stands in the way of a productive senior year—engaging online classes have little to offer her and she has remains the ‘new kid’ with absolutely no social interaction beyond structured classes.  Would it have been different in Madison?  I have no idea. I’ve abandoned expectations of summer enrichment beyond ESY and do not make charts of what her time should look like.  Today, we’ve spent a long time getting her blog caught up, gathering her daily drawing, taking photos, editing and posting. On the best days of which this is one, we move slowly, take on a single task, spend some time together and apart, watch a movie or another anime series and maybe cook. Yesterday, we ventured out to our favorite kayak rental place and spent a few hours on the water.  It was about as safe as possible—online reservations and payment, masks and distancing on the dock, equipment cleaning between each customer.  It was glorious on the water.  We saw a heron dive for fish, ducks with blue-black necks, water lilies and some purple flower I did not recognize.  I wanted to take pictures but my phone has been wonky and had no camera.  But to be on the water . . . ah, such pleasure.

And my small garden. I do so miss the gardens I had in Indianapolis and Madison.  I miss the possibility of a full out garden here and wonder if there will ever be another perennial garden with spring bulbs, some moving water and sedums in the fall. But for now, there are vegetables, more than I expected although I planted and tend each plant. I’ve had lettuces for weeks, a cucumber a day the last week, a tiny ripe tomato now and then (much too early for most varieties I planted) and as much rainbow chard as the two of us can eat.  Our wandering pumpkin vine is a source of entertainment and a plethora of weeds keeps us busy. 

And this is where I stopped—run out of steam, I guess.  I’m posting now so I can get fully into the wedding prep mode.


4 thoughts on “letting go

  1. We all run out of steam sometimes. The uncertainty of the pandemic has changed us all.
    We move a little more slowly. We take baby steps, trying to figure out just exactly what
    we can lean on. The plans we had are gone, replaced by everlasting survival mode plans.
    No fun. So it seems. But we are learning to accept quietness. This is not easy. We are learning
    to find fun standing in place.

    1. You remind me that I’ve been thankful at times to be born into a generation that had the luxury of education and a stable middle class life. It is these privileges that have allowed me to dream of travel and writing and the arts. My grandparents, immigrants from Ukraine before WWI, were not educated, worked very hard all their lives and had much narrower lives than I’ve enjoyed. We’ve had “all the crazies you get from too much choice.” And now this . . . learning quiet, letting go, acceptance. And then, the challenge of taking our place, whatever that may be, in the post-pandemic world.

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