I keep my journaling in files month-by-month. It is not as satisfying as the various soft covered writing books that I wrote in and then lined up on book shelves but far more practical and convenient. I still carry a small paper journal but it is for quick jottings that, if I am still interested in hours later, I transcribe to this screen. Where I was once meticulous to finish each journal before moving on to a new one, I am likewise meticulous about keep each month’s scribblings in its own computer file. And so, it is odd for me to still be writing in the August 2021 file on September 3. I know the intent yesterday was consolidate what I had written during our days in Maine and to publish something with the Maine photos, but I could not concentrate on a vacation summary. Descriptions of charming towns and water and sky slipping away into explanations, systems of ideas explaining our present reality. Trying to make sense of my own present “where.”
Friday was the last day of Camp Echo Bridge. Julia has only been at this city day camp for two weeks and I think it has been the best part of her summer. It is an genuinely inclusive experience for her. A very healthy mix of typical and kids with disabilities in the younger groups. Julia’s group—the tigers, clearly a name that was made up by some of the boys—was young people 14+ with disabilities; however, it is a smallish camp and the entire camp does some things together. The staff is careful and caring but most of all enthusiastic.
One glitch: One swim day Julia got bored sitting in the grass reading—she didn’t want to go into the water—and she decided to walk from the lake to the school where the camp meets. She didn’t tell anyone she was doing it and when counselors realized she wasn’t there, I hear there was 10 minutes of panic. I can count on one hand, this time included, the times Julia has wandered off from anything. Staff handled it all well and low keyed. Julia apologized and they asked her not to do it again. I think she was also scared when she didn’t really know how to get back to the school.
On Friday, in the sweltering humid, sunny heat, there was a camp show. Each group did something like a skit (or told jokes) and danced to a pop song. No pressure to perform. Julia was willing to be “on stage” with her group but not willing to stand to dance. And so, she sat while others danced. Later, when the whole camp was “on stage”—two poles with a sheet stretched between them on part of the paved school yard—she did dance. And she loved it.
It is telling that after two years I only noticed on Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. that my street has no street lights. We are catching a 6 a.m. plane Boston to Philly and then a later plane to Dayton, Ohio. It was China Sisters Reunion weekend. A Facebook post announced that this is the 16th reunion if our trip to China is included.
Ah, a trip to China. I am still marveling that Julia and I have not gotten on a plane for more than 2 years. How is that so?
And yet, we were picked up and dropped off at Logan and entered into the swarm of early morning travelers. The check in lines and kiosks buzzed with people. People everywhere! Carrying and pulling, asking questions and commenting excitedly, making people noises that made something of a soundtrack as we made our way to the departure gate. I remember but I am hearing it all for the first time. Like riding a bicycle, we quickly adapted to the old routines—printing boarding passes, finding security, getting into the TSA line, showing identification and pulling down each of our masks for a moment to make sure that the picture on the ID matched the person carrying the ticket. Julia asked if she had to take off her shoes and we both forgot to take our phones out of jacket pockets.
We are home and . . . .
We left on Friday, early in the day. There was the threat of rain but there was also Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite places in the entire world, a bit more than an hour north. On the way home. Almost. It never rained but it was cloudy and clammy. Julia complained, but I was not to be dissuaded from indulging in the garden. We did some walking, less than I would have liked, more than Julia wanted. Compromise! Beds of color do not impress her, but the water fountain with musical accompaniment was pretty thrilling. Best of all was when I found the plant that is her favorite. I almost didn’t find it. It was in the very last exhibit, behind the green house, in a corner of the water lily ponds. Mimosa pudica, also called the sensitive plant. The tiny ground hugging plant with leaves that fold at the slightest touch is of never ending fascination to Julia. And she was thrilled we found it.
23.5 degrees. The tilt of the earth on it axis, the axis which points directly toward the Sun. The pointing happens twice a year during Earth’s orbit and today in the northern hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year.
And we are in the first day of filming.
Repetitious backstory: We travelled far too long on Friday, found a place to sleep and headed out again on Saturday. It was Jersey that defeated me! We crossed the George Washington Bridge, AKA George Washington Parking Lot, just after all light was gone and were dumped into maelstrom of Jersey highways. Given too many signs that all seem said the same thing, or to be fair, slight variation of road numbers and directions that contain no logic to one no longer a Jersey whisperer. I took a wrong exit, recognized the mistake immediately and searched for a way off the speedway. When I recalibrated and got back on the road, I found I was traveling at 50 MPH where others travelled at 70 MPH. I could have pushed myself at 50 but I couldn’t keep up with 70. I needed sleep.
Pause. Perceive time. Defined by ticking timers with bells at the end, clocks and calendars is one time. Linear, predictable and plodding. But time. My time. Our time. Is different. It rushes ahead, it slows to as thick slime over cobbles, it slides sideways, quickly, irreverently, without regard for wishes, dreams or clocks. Over the long covid spring, summer, fall, winter and early spring, time lurched and sputtered. Time lost themselves is a foggy reality of days that lost their names. There was too much, not enough of it. It was not manageable no matter the breath and depth of my schedules and calendars. There was no corralling it for me. I did not write my Lear. I did not read Proust. I read and digested a few poems. Very few, very short. I was anxious and scared. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and grabbed onto a lot of outstretched hands. I wrote some. I dug two gardens. I pushed Julia’s interests and her future doings along bit by bit. Like Sisyphus. Didn’t he write emails and phone calls to agencies and people? A modern Zeus would have surely assigned him to tackle DDS, SS and DIB. Chasing genius ideas to the dead ends of realization—there should be a word for the feeling of frustration and failure when lots of energy has gone into a promising lead that is chased to an unsatisfying end.
The quality of time was a small ball of clay that could be removed from the greater river of time in which we all swim. We gathered via zoom with others but there was a sense of privacy—not cherished and beloved privacy but something like a hidden shame, even though there was no shame—we were visible in our small, regular zoom boxes with backgrounds of books that grew to be familiar and to a much lesser degree to the peopled world from noses up.
The week before spring break it was hard to believe that a few days at the Cape would be anything near lovely. And it wasn’t perfect but it was wonderful to get away to Provincetown, to see the ocean, to walk in sand and to eat something that I had not cooked.
A jumble of thoughts, events and musings today.
Snow day for Julia. During the last big snow, there has been only one serious snow before this one, Newton decided not to call a snow day but to merely go all remote for classes that day. I think that most students were zooming in from home anyway, so it was only the high needs students (of which Julia is one) and some very young students who would have their school day changed. However! However, there was an uproar from all corners of town! How could NPS steal precious snow day activities from children already deprived of so much of their normal? The children should have been building snow people and sledding down hills, not stuck in front of computers all day. I don’t know what the internal (or external) politics were, but the next day a traditional and completely unnecessary snow day was declared.
The time rolls on; once again, days melt into one another. Everything is effort. The news comes to us via radio, youtube and the nytimes. I don’t think that Julia hears and comprehends much of it; however, she is quick to say that she doesn’t want to go to school and catch the virus. I tell her that I will not send her if it is not safe and at the same time, I gather information on how to send her to school and what to do when she gets home. I tell her we will listen to the teachers and the scientists, even though no one has definitive advice. Julia does not do well with gray. I fall and fail with the continuing ambiguity our time.
The chrysalis stage of a butterfly is my favorite metaphor for transformation. What a miracle that a caterpillar makes the container and turns itself into a gooey substance before transforming. Where are we in that process right now? Who is in the process now? Can we have as much trust as a caterpillar? Continue reading
Lake house. Day 3, if you count Saturday when we packed up the car, unpacked, sorted and generally unwound. This morning, Julia and I took our rented double kayak out for an early morning paddle. We were out for a bit less than an hour. I was somewhat apprehensive about finding the house on the way back. Tonight or tomorrow, longer.
Most of the household is hiking this morning, a few went food shopping, Julia is doing zoom school and I have a few minutes on the porch alone to tap on this machine. The porch faces the lake and if I move the drying beach towels, the view if lovely. The sound of water is lovely. I type in 25 minute intervals with 10-15 minute breaks to tell Julia to get outside during her breaks and to sign in for her next class. Her video is not working today. I have followed all the instructions given by support last week. Video is intermittent and re-booting and/or getting closer to the router works once or twice but with no regularity. Julia is getting used to the intermittence. When I return to my typing, I move chairs, trying to stay shaded. Continue reading