“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.
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.
Julia had a very bad day at her program on Friday—perseverating on her body that she finds many, many faults with, making lots of self-harming statements, banging her head against the wall, putting hands on a staff member. After an initial melt down with lots of shouting, it took 40 minutes for her to gain some calm which is far longer than usual. She took a walk with staff which seemed to restore equilibrium, but once back at the program’s building, she slipped back into melt down.
And I did the unthinkable. I was not available and could not be immediately reached.
I am not feeling badly or guilty about this absence, but the fact remains, her team tried to call and text me and I was not available—available to talk to them, available to talk to Julia, available to come and get her. And my unavailability made everything worse. And she does not have the tools she needs to self-regulate, to regulate with the help of people who know her well. There are times when she can not regulate without my direct intervention.
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.
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.
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.
Snail slow and in ever decreasing increments, I come back to and move onto some completed changed old self. Never walking into the same river twice, but stepping on the same stones, recognizing the direction of water flow. The books strewn around the house—some closed with bookmarks, some open, face down on the coffee table, on the desks, on the edge of the bed far from where I sleep—they were not there six month ago. I walked around the house this morning looking for the book that I’ve decided to start my mornings with. I almost cannot write, cannot think a single thought before I read the reading for today.
I am my own delicious throwback to days before Covid and quarantine and autism and moving and death and heart transplant and a wild child. Who was that me way back then? I have almost, but not completely, forgotten her.
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.
This was not the post I intended to write this morning. No, what follows is what I expected to write. It is this morning’s latest catastrophe that I did not expect. Julia turned 21 this weekend and I guess I should have written and posted with pictures before this morning because . . . well, because stuff happens and in this house, it happens like a hurricane or a tsunami.
We had a long, quiet weekend—celebrating with a big shopping at H Mart, an Asian supermarket, where Julia picked out old favorite noodle packs, candies and cookies. We found frozen pork buns and the best frozen dumplings we’ve ever had. She ventured into a jar of kimchi, found BTS merch and of course, we got some mochi. It was a black sesame mochi ball that held the lit candle that was ceremoniously carried into Cheshire’s dining room after we had feasted on Korean take out. We sang, Julia blew the candle out. I wished that we could have some sort of a normal birthday celebration at some future time, at the same time grateful for the generous scraps of what we have.
“For the sake of old times!” As close as I can get to a translation that makes sense to me of the words “auld lang syne.”
“Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon”
A slight variation of the Robert Berns words, but the words that sang out to me this morning. Yes, I admit to wanting to not cast too many glances back. It has been a hard year. It has been a brutal almost two years, and all my heart wants to do is to turn and face the winds of the new, hoping and praying that the new will be much, much more pleasant than the old. As a friend wrote as a wish to another friend, a wish for a more cooperative new year.