unpacking

“It’s Wisconsin,” Julia said Friday morning as she stepped outside.  As if Wisconsin was a season or a a weather description like sunny or cloudy.  It was cold yesterday and overnight and this morning it is colder—cold enough to run a bit of water in the kitchen sink to make sure the pipes don’t freeze.

But it is hardly Wisconsin.

And I check myself to see if I miss those brilliant sunny and frigid days in Madison.

Yes, somewhat.  What I miss is my people, my community, my chalice circle, my Quest group, Julia’s teachers and therapists and some very good friends.  

I do not miss the cold.  I could feel nostalgic for every one of those people if temperatures there never once dipped below freezing.

We are a week in the new house.  There are fewer piles of boxes in the corners, there is a somewhat comfortable arrangement of furniture in the living room, there are some books on shelves.

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moving

Sitting in the small built-in nook beside the fireplace, the same one Julia sat in when we first arrived at the blue house, the day before furniture came from Madison.  I snapped a picture of her looking both wistful and content that day.  Or is it just that I am feeling that way today and projecting onto an old picture that I only dimly recall?

I have spent the best part of a month packing and with the help of my VNM have moved everything we could possibly carry to the new apartment.  This is not like the last move or the one before that when I packed up everything and moved very far away.  Right now, those moves feel so much more organized—labels on every box and everything in a box, except for me and Julia and Muta and the cello, a few plants and a carry on bag. This time we carried boxes and plants and plastic bags and clothes on hangers. I labeled a lot but not everything and the piles in the new house are not orderly. Why does it feel like so much bigger a job?

The movers—three very nice guys—have worked hard for the last two hours, emptying the house of what we could not carry.  The head of the moving crew, Mark, comments on the moldings and built-ins and wooden archway and we fall into conversation about the empty flat.  And I cannot help but start missing this pretty blue house. I get wedded to spaces. They are hard to leave.

 

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my new year

 

Frank Bowlings’ Julia at the MFA

This is a time of deep diving into chaos and it is not over yet.  

We are leaving the blue victorian house that has held us safe and warm since we left Madison three and a half years ago.  It has never been the perfect space but it has served us well through lock down and Covid, through the rough months without services for Julia and through her toughest transitions—the last of which was a bit more than a week ago when she turned 22 and aged out of school-based services.  

The end of her transition services program, Community Connections or “CC”, was marked by a pizza party with most of the students and faculty and staff of CC.  When her Inclusion Facilitator and I first talked about her party, we thought that something small with a few students would fit her best.  Something like going out to get nails done, Asian noodles and a bubble tea with a few people.  But Julia knew what she wanted and she wanted a big party with cake she made herself.  She invited me and VNM but when we joined the party and I asked if we could sit with her, she preferred sitting with the teachers and aides who have been part of this experience.  It was great to see her chatting and holding court. It was great to see her happy.

She misses everyone at CC and especially those staff members who she spent time with.  I think she is texting with at least one of them and she wants to go back to visit. Connection has always been so important to Julia and it was good to see that she had made some in this program after those last years of high school which were so isolating and difficult.

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sliding into new years

On Christmas Eve morning, I wrote: there is a feeling of the jiggling of a snow globe, of not-quite-righted-ness, possible-upsidedown-ness of the day, and also feelings of those shape shifting holidays of the early years after David died when we were untethered from what had come before and striking out, however clumsily, reaching for something that was akin to honest hope.

I had no idea when I wrote that overlong sentence that I had captured this holiday week spot on.

It began on the Thursday evening before the Friday, last day of school which was called off due to the possibility of wind, rain and ice, a storm that never materialized. Friday morning was gray and chilly but only a little rain and a a few gusts of wind.  And I put 20 bags of cookies into the freezer, 20 bags that Julia was going to bring into teachers and staff of her transition program that day, 20 bags that I had spent the best part of week baking.  

Then came the Christmas plan.  Cheshire, Justin and Wilbur were scheduled to travel to Colorado in the early evening of Christmas Eve.  Earlier in the day, we celebrated Christmas, opening presents, with a bit of Hanukkah slipped in so we could light candles together. The plan for the rest of the day was simple: after late lunch I dropped the little family at Logan Airport, and Julia and I went to the VNM’s family Christmas Eve celebration. And much later, Julia and I went to church in time for choir rehearsal and the 10:30 pm service. 

The plane did not take off at the scheduled 6:30.  Instead, they were delayed from hour to hour. I texted with Cheshire around 8:30 and she expected to board any minute. Then, as choir was rehearsing close to 10, their flight was cancelled and Cheshire tried calling and texting me.  Unfortunately, my phone was in my coat pocket back in a pew.  After we rehearsed, and Julia and I were settling into our seats for service, I took out my phone and saw the texts and phone calls.  

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perhaps it is always

Sunday morning we sang Where the Light Begins (music by Susan LaBarr, text by Jan Richardson) (a pretty version to listen to here): 

“Perhaps it does not begin,
Perhaps it is always.
Perhaps it takes a lifetime

“To open our eyes,
To learn to see

“The luminous line of the map in the dark,
The vigil flame in the house of the heart,
The love so searing we can’t keep from singing,
from crying out.

“Perhaps this day the light begins,
Perhaps this day the light begins in us,
We are where the light begins.

“Perhaps it does not begin,
Perhaps it is always.”

This is one of those songs, whose melody and words pierce the heart like an arrow.  I sang it every day at home last week to learn it. Sometimes it takes me so long to learn music, but singing it every day moved me closer to meaning. And after singing it in choir amidst many voices, I carried around a lump in my throat all day.

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cook, talk, laugh, eat

I’m up before the alarm, that I turned off last night, would have sounded and ready to . . . back in some old day, I would be . . . um, I wonder how far back I should be going to say what I mean to say today.  This is the traditional time of gathering beloved souls together for cooking and eating and hopefully taking a walk before falling asleep in front of some movie on a cushy couch.  And this time has been hard won.

I cast the net far enough back to state that my mother’s traditions did not fit me well; and during our East Village days with baby Cheshire in tow, we started to cook for ourselves and our friends. Cooking and talking and laughing and eating.  Sometimes too many people crowded into our tiny apartment on First Avenue and sometimes we all went to Park Slope and celebrated in Carolina and David’s sprawling apartment.  On a marble topped coffee table with one chip out of the wood frill frame, Carolina served glorious antipasto and David made margaritas.  And we got to the turkey much later.  Cooking and talking and laughing and eating. 

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an equinox

Two weeks old

I went up to Cheshire and Justin’s house on Wednesday with the promise of holding Wilbur for an hour or two.  Two weeks old and not spending too much time with eyes open.  He had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the day and it tired him out.  He nestled in my arms, moving his extremities the way a new baby does—random and without purpose.  Amazing how dear such movements can be.  And I cannot help but remember when his mother was that age and we brought her home to First Avenue in the East Village.

All is well at Wilbur’s house.  Baby sleeping in adequate chunks of time; his bodily functions all working at full tilt.  When else is farting charming? He has a good suck, fills his diaper regularly and cries in protest every time his little body is without clothes. Mama and Papa are content, and not as exhausted as I remember being.

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baby boy!

Baby Boy, now officially named Wilbur David Borick, was born on September 7, at 3:02 a.m. Cheshire did a great job, getting through a long labor ending in a C-section. She birthed a beautiful little boy who is a joy to behold. And lots of joy holding the little man.

like no other

So, here we are.  The 25th of August.  On my calendar the day is marked as Cheshire’s due date and although I am completed schooled in the idea that due dates are approximations and not to be planned around at all, my eyes opened this morning and I am all expectation.

I cannot compare it to my own due date either to give birth or to meet my child.  I cannot compare it to first days of school—mine or my girls. Not wedding days—mine or Cheshire’s. The plans for those days seemed solid.  We had set paths that only needed to be followed and at the end of the aisle was a known quantity. And it is not like meeting someone and falling in love—those dates are never circled on a calendar. There may be some hazy hope but no definition expectation.

This waiting time is all possibility and unknown. How will he fit into our lives, take up our time, burrow his way into our hearts. This is the possibility of a new reason to open eyes and start the day.

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prayers & carrots

Leftover 4th of July firework

Prayers!  Maybe a few thoughts too but definitely prayers!  Please. I don’t necessarily believe in a micromanaging god that will rescue me although I’ve always been partial to the BVM.  A touch of divine intervention would not go unappreciated.

Backstory: Months ago when Julia’s transition program began, she was adamantly opposed to talking about future work, employment, volunteering, etc.  This went on for what felt like a long time.  Some of it was fear of new experiences and more transitioning and some of it was just plain digging in her heels.  She digs deep.

The one employment that Julia was always willing to talk about was working at a Comicon—now rebranded as the FanExpo.  This is something that she has mentioned in her IEP meetings for years now, and something the I dutifully tried to talk her out of as an unrealistic aspiration. I mean, Cons are 3 days long once a year in any given place.  This is not a career!

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