I journaled for years on paper and I expect to be doing it in some form until my last days. In short summary, I teach mindfulness to parents of kids with challenges; I garden as often and as much as I can in Wisconsin and I am working through the threads of grief six years after my husband’s death. I am very grateful for finding and chasing the joy in this unexpected life.
Third day here, first time sitting down to write. We done a lot of walking and have seen a few of the big mansions. This morning, Julia wanted to go to a beach, I made a wrong turn and we are at a shell and sand bay beach where she can play with sand a bit. It is warm today. I think it is heading towards hot but it rained most of the day yesterday and the humidity today is very low.
Comparing the vacations that my Facebook connections show—I have a cousin in the Grand Tetons snapping trees and rocky sunsets, a friend whose is traveling in Spain with her family. I note that some of her Madrid photos remind me strongly of Paris, a young friend posting pictures of her wedding and another friend posting her daughter’s wedding pictures. There is such a surfeit of wedding pictures these days. I still marvel at how we are burst at the seems with places and activities.
Morning. Almost two hours after Julia leaves and I am getting down to the writing that I wanted to do since I opened my eyes. This morning the round of tasks, not overwhelming by any means, has induced anxiety, enough to notice. And I wonder if my anxiety can be compared to the way that Julia feels whenever she is asked to do more than two things when she is intent on something else. It appears that she cannot hold all of that—two asks and her desires—in her head and get to what she wants to do.
Alarm goes off at 7:15 and Julia does come into my bedroom to wake me up shortly afterwards. A great start to the day. I have a burning desire to start writing, immediately—something which definitely does not happen every morning. I can’t do that but I consider that there will be only a short hold on the writing.
Julia and I ate breakfast on our back porch—something she loves to do that I usually drag my feet about. Too cold, too hot, too buggy and it is morning and we need to get on with our day. But today, we woke up on time—Julia responding to the google wake up on the small speaker, something we have been working on this entire school year, something she sabotaged last week, something we had a talk about at Community Connections (a serious conversation at her program can make more of an impression than a similar talk at home), her program, and something that she encouraged me to reset (although I’ve only reset one of the three speakers she disabled—damn my holding on by my fingertips device knowledge.) lat night.
So, she woke up, did what she needed to do (although she still needs some kind of list to make sure she remembers everything. And any kind of reminder is anathema to her) and there was time to eat on the back porch.
Finally today, I have caught my breath. From the long holiday weekend and the catch up week that followed. I still have an overdue phone call to my advocate at Healthcare For All and another call to MassHealth. I’m saving that which I know will be frustrating until Monday.
It was a good weekend.
Justin’s mother and I threw a baby shower for our children and their impending baby boy. It was a bigger shower than it would have been had there been had there been the planned-for wedding. We invited more people and people from further away than we might have. Still, there were those from too far away who were missing.
I prepared to read a story adapted from a blog post a few months ago. It was for a very small storytelling symposium called Newton Speaks-voices of our city. It was moderately attended, there in the middle of the day on a Tuesday but nevertheless, I prepared. Everyday for a week, I read the story out loud—such is the practice of an old stutterer preparing to speak in public. I did the same when I’ve spoken in church over the past two years. Those readings were mostly done via zoom, although I did read two poems on Christmas Eve in the church building. Those readings of my own work and the work of some poets went well. I felt I could be expressive and I was not overly concerned about my speech which was not perfect, but not bad. This time, I was interested to see what I could do, how I might feel about the reading, how I judge my expression to be and my speech. Everyone was still in masks. Recently, going without masks into a few places has got me thinking about more of the implications of mask wearing. Apart from health concerns, masks hide, masks protect, masks make it hard at times to communicate which sometimes reduces the number of words spoken, ideas exchanged. Masks hide reactions and expression. And walking around the world masked can feel very safe and comfortable. I hadn’t understood that before this pandemic.
10:00 a.am. I get a email from Julia’s inclusion facilitator that Julia is upset that she left her wallet at home. I am more or less ready to do some errands, so I jump in the car and bring the wallet over to the program. I want Julia to have as good a day as she can. She has had some very good days this week . . . talk about that later.
I read a blog post (and I can’t find it now to link it) about a mom who has a child with autism who had reached middle or high school and was more independent than he had been a few years prior. The mother felt some room open up, some possibility of freedom for herself, and asked a trusted therapist if she thought that the mom could enter the regular work force again. She had cobbled together part-time work through the years but missed a full-time job and building a career. The therapist, who knew her kiddo, told the mom that if she “needed” to work, she should, but that kids with the best outcomes have full-time moms.
My housing history after I met David was: two apartments in Cambridge, two in Summerville, two dorm years in Bronxville, New York, five apartments in NYC including one in the East Village and one in Park Slope, a town house and a house in Bloomington, Indiana, two houses in Indianapolis, one house is Madison, Wisconsin and now, one flat in Newton, MA.
I come from a family who generally planted themselves in one place and never moved—my parents lived in two houses in two north Jersey towns, David’s parents lived in one apartment and one house in the same Jersey town, my aunt moved to the second floor of her mother’s house when she married and stayed there until infirmity forced her to move to her children’s home late in life, my sister has lived in two homes in Jersey and one horse farm in Virginia. Had there been an available horse farm in Jersey, I imagine her never moving from there ever. And I imagine that Cheshire and Justin, who moved last year to a 300 year old house, are planted for a good long time, if not for the rest of their lives.
The pace of life is picking up and has been for a while although I admit to becoming aware of it long after other people who are more of the busy world. I know many people who have already gone to far away places, stayed for a month and come back with healthy looking skin and bright eyes.
This coming Sunday, I am scheduled to teach pysanky writing at my church and a friend wanting to sign up noted that there are two others events going on—a zoom Moth Story hour and an in-person music rehearsal. Wasn’t it just last week when every gathering happened in front of a computer monitor? How glorious that there are now conflicts. How glorious that travel time is now part of many plans!
But I live a small life.
On Sunday, on our way into church—we arrive an hour before services begin to go to choir practice—Julia and I noticed perfect small yellow narcissus blooming in corners around the back of the building. Without a spring garden of my own, I notice and cherish those brave little yellow blooms. I know that even though the day may be warm and sunny, there are cold days ahead. Silently, I wish the brave blooms are sheltered enough to survive another freeze.
And I wondered, had I seen blooms in this place before? I might have just before we were locked down two years ago, but what I remember from that time is only the spring flowers we saw on our Covid daily walks. I think it is probable that these little narcissus bloomed in 2020 after no one was walking into the church building and last year it was the same. I think to thank them for their perseverance and persistence, their willingness to be so beautiful even when no one was looking.
A few friends, knowing of my Ukrainian heritage, have asked me about the war. One asked if I was writing about it and I stuttered my way to some answer. What can I say to possibly add to the conversation? I know what I read in the Times and hear on NPR. I hardly belong to that part of the world.
I watch. My heart breaks. I am angry. I want the world to respond. I understand why it doesn’t. I have no answers. The fact that I have the privilege of sitting, of watching, of thinking, of even writing that I have no answers breaks my heart again.
My job, to ready Julia for adulthood, is ever present. She hears the news I listen to. Sometimes she comments. She wants to know about the war. She is a black and white thinker. She does not understand inference.
So, when she asks if the war is wrong and bad, I quickly say yes. When she asks if Putin is bad, and when she asks this she remembers that Trump liked Putin, I say yes again. She is able to put together that they are both bad people and she would never vote for them. Then she asks what will happen.
For Julia’s birthday, we were ultra careful. No eating out, no movie theater, no concert, no activities where we would be with many people for too long a time in close quarters. Sometime during last week, possibly in the days after the cello break, I grew very weary of the ultra careful life.
And so, on Saturday, Julia, Cheshire, Justin and I went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was delicious and as Cheshire commented, it was food that would have made awful take out. Julia had asked earlier in the day if she could have an alcoholic drink with dinner. She has never before asked for such a thing, didn’t even ask about it for her birthday, but she is 21 and I would rather have her experiment with us than on her own. And considering that she does not go anywhere on her own right now, it would be some undisclosed time in the distant future before she could order her first drink.