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My Mother once told me a brief tale about my grandmother.

A friend stopped by my grandmother’s house one day to visit. In the course of the visit, this friend told my grandmother that one of their friends had passed. My grandmother said, “Well, why didn’t she stop by? It’s not like her just to pass without stopping.” Oh. Duh.

Monday was the seventh anniversary of my Father’s passing. I didn’t really think about it on Monday, but I have had a dim recollection of roses all week. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? Part of it stems from my resolution to post images that I’ve taken of flowers in order to hasten spring along. Tied into it are recent dreams of my childhood home, and memories of my Mother’s garden.

Many mornings in the spring and summer, she would cut a red rose from the big rosebush outside the kitchen window, wrap the cut stem in a damp paper towel, wrap that in tinfoil, and give to my Father to take to work with him. It would stay on his desk, greeting visitors and staff, until it was time for a fresh rose. We never talked about it, but it is one of those little gestures I recall that showed the love between my parents.

The  year after my Father died, the anniversary was very hard. The whole year had been very hard. I had been grieving in ways I didn’t even know about, but suspected. One evening, I went to a lecture put on by our local Hospice folks about grief, and halfway through, it was all I could do not to put my head down on the table and try to sleep. I realized then that I was still experiencing some deep grief, and that this desire to sleep was the way I was expressing it. And that it tied into my depression. I worked very hard to get through that time.

The next year’s anniversary was still hard – but it was a tiny bit easier. And then the next, a bit easier still. Last year was the first year that I did not deliberately dread and thus remember this anniversary. I felt guilty when I realized it had passed without my marking it, as if I had somehow forgotten my Father and his importance in my life. But I was rational enough to dissuade myself of that notion.

Remembering today that I had not attended to the exact day this year did not spark any sense of guilt. I have not forgotten my Father. I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t think of him (and of my Mother) in some way, on some level. It might be a memory, or the sight of something he would have liked, or an experience I wish I could have shared with him. It might be a few tears of missing him, or wishing he was here to advise me. It might be  quiet contemplation of where he is now, and what he might be doing, and when we may meet again.

Yes, he has passed. He stopped with me for a long while. And now, time is passing, not leaving him or his memory in its wake, but simply moving on. As time does.

Time Playing On Wazee

Time unfolds before me in a flutter of silk,
Unwinds behind me in a sweep of rain,
Full, rich, nurturing
Soft, swift, sweet

A thread of sunlight creates shadow
Mingled with silence
As a silhouette pauses poised against
The metal exoskeleton of a wall
Suspended,
waiting for something.

My steps echo on the cavern of the street
Too early to be busy,
Too late to be so still.
A figure emerges from a dead alley,
Pauses,
Lights a cigarette,
His hat tilted rakishly over one eye,
Dark suit, spiffy shoes,
When did men stop wearing hats.

And the silence roars and laughs,
Chortles and moans.

Time holds sway with me,
Playing, taking me with it
As it plunges and traipses across this street
This morning
Until it settles, tremors finished,
Exhaling
back into place.

 

I feel the need to extend my apologies to you. I’ve been providing you with visual yums in the form of photos of the day, and I love doing that, but I haven’t been regaling you with word-treats on a regular basis.  I have a lot of half-started posts and tons of things to say.  In fact, I have a ridiculous 280 drafts sitting in my “Posts” folder here on WordPress. Some of them will never be finished, and I know that, but I’d say at least half of them are ripe for the picking.

There are always excuses for not writing.  Believe me, I know this.  Every writer does. It takes a discipline that I never imagined, and as we know, discipline is not my long suit.  It was easy to work on the novel when that was my focus, but with the jobs, the houses, and trying to steer towards the star of my future, I just haven’t been able to recapture that focus.

I know I’m writing now and I could be writing something far more engaging than an apologetic post, but I felt it might assuage my guilty conscience.  On the hopeful side, the move is scheduled, the house is coming along, and I am optimistic that once we’re a bit more settled, I’ll be back to a more settled writing schedule.  So I’m asking you, please, to bear with me.

I promise I’ll be back. 

And I am under it.  Why now??

I have been lying in bed for the last 20 minutes listening to my heartbeat and writing the most excellent narrative in my head.  I so wanted to get up and get my computer to put it down on “paper” – or at least gat a pen and actual paper.  But I ached too much.  The only reason I got up (and got my computer) was because my landlady, who has just gotten over this same bug, called and warned me what would happen next.  And so now, I have consumed Tylenol and am going to try to sleep it off.

Sorry, bug – I only have about 10 hours to spend with you.  Then you’ll just have to be gone.  There is no room at the inn for influenza.  You can just take your bug-ass somewhere else.

Today is Ray Kroc’s birthday – did you go to McDonald’s to celebrate?  It is also Improve Your Office Day.  I wonder what Ray Kroc’s office looked like?

During my travels this weekend, I had a lot of windshield time, with very limited radio reception, which is always a good opportunity to contemplate life.  Among the things I gave thought to were:

Why do we have dogs as pets, and how did that start?

What do you DO when you live in the middle of nowhere?

What is going to happen in 2012 (and as a follow-up last night, Kelsea asked me why there were so many movies about the end of the world in 2012.  I think I should ask Theresa her opinions about that.)

Why are all drivers except me so incredibly stupid?

How do entire towns come to die?

What am I going to do when this contract is up?

I could, and probably will, write on any and all of these topics.  But today, I choose to write on the topic of age and time, because it kept coming up over the weekend.

I am of the opinion that we are all always every age.  I’ll sometimes joke with Kelsea about this.  She said this morning that she can never remember how old I am, so she hedges on the low side.  I told her that was always a wise idea when speculating on a woman’s age or weight. 

At any rate, I have noticed particularly since I’ve been a mom that I sometimes parallel Kelsea’s age.  That’s what made me such a good playmate for her when she was little-little. I could play dinosaurs, or Harry Potter, or restaurant, for hours.  I could make bath toys talk (and sometimes they would argue with each other, which was really creepy).  I made up voices and characters by the dozens.  I found my inner child, and sometimes she would get sulky if Kelsea didn’t want to play her way.  But I almost felt more like a child with her than I did when I was a child myself, when I was always in a hurry to grow up, and wasn’t kind of pissed off about being here in the first place.

I remember my Mother coming into my room when I was about 14, sitting down on the bed and bursting into tears – which was something she almost NEVER did – and saying that I was 14 and she was almost 50 and I was older than she was.  She was not lamenting my excessive maturity, but her own sense of missing cosmic wisdom, which I never saw.  I always considered her completely capable, sound, and a spiritual role model.  As a mom myself now, I sometimes feel the same way about Kelsea.  She seems so much wiser now than I have ever been. Interesting.  Perhaps it’s a generational legacy of some sort.

I can feel as young as Kelsea (or younger).  I can relive moments (some that I don’t want to) as if I were actually there.  I spend most of my time these days feeling like I’m in my early 20’s, likely because so many things are changing and my life is opening before me, heading in unknown directions.  Every so often, physical reality catches up to me, in the form of pain from the cold, or a bad mirror, and I recall my real age.  And some days, I feel as old as the Blue Ridge, tired, settling, still growing, but worn down by the years I’ve seen for eons.

But I’m as comfortable hanging out with most infants and most seniors as I am with my peers.  I’m so not the typical Rock Creek mom that I am comfortable hanging with Kelsea and her friends on occasion. (I know the time is coming where SHE won’t be comfortable with this.)

Guess as with many things, I’m all over the map.  And I don’t mind a bit.

My Mother was always amazed when she looked in the mirror – she didn’t know who that old woman was looking back at her.  Despite her cancer, she felt inside as if she were still in her 20’s – just as I do now.

FH000005

Enough about age.  Now, onto time.  They are related, you know, though exactly how I have yet to figure out.  It’s not as obvious as it might seem.

Time warps exist.  I’m convinced of it.  We’ve all become such slaves to time and clocks and deadlines that we have locked ourselves into a certain reality of time.  I myself haven’t worn a watch in years, though I still mostly wake up to an alarm clock.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes a trip that takes 5 minutes feels like it has taken 15?  Or how the sign said 32 miles, but it took you an hour and a half to get there?  I am an occasional practitioner of time control.  I firmly believe in playing with time.  I’ve practiced making minutes stretch when I need to be someplace and don’t have enough time to get there.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

That curious phenomenon called “Island Time” is perfectly compatible with my philosophy that time is both relative and fluid.  Depending on how you choose to play them, days on vacation, and particularly on an island, can last forever, or can go by in a blink.  I choose the forever path.  I can spend four days on an island and feel like I’ve been gone for 10.  On one trip where I was gone for 13 days, I felt as if I’d been gone a month.  Is it that there is no prescribed time for most things, with the possible exception of ferries?   And even then, if you miss one, another soon come?  (Or if not, you wind up spending a night on another island – boo hoo.)  You eat when you’re hungry, you drink when you’re thirsty, you sleep when you’re sleepy.  It gives time a totally different quality.

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I need to get my ideas more clearly thought out before I write more about time.  Is it possible that it’s ALREADY time for another road trip???

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I’m off-kilter.  I don’t know if I’m having some kind of existential crisis or anxiety stream or what.  Yesterday was spent breaking into tears at the drop of a hat.  Today, my neck feels like an old cast-iron radiator.  Kelsea leaves for Europe tomorrow, and I suspect that’s a lot of my angst.  I am feeling generally insecure and down.  I know in my heart that all things are moving in the right direction and according to ‘plan’, but it’s hard to believe it sometimes, especially when the future that I am working towards feels so far away.  I need some resolution and some solace.  I need peace and pleasure.  But, one step forward, two steps back….I continue to mark time.

I don’t quite recall when I started measuring time by full moons.  I think it was after my first trip to the islands,  5 years ago.  It seems unbelievable to me that it has only been 5 years since I have been going down there.  My travels have changed my life in more ways than I would have thought possible, and opened me up to a wealth of experiences and people I otherwise would never have known.

The moon has always played an important and mystical role in my life.  It has been a touchstone, a pearl in the night sky that has watched my tears splash on my thighs, a sliver that has cradled my waking dreams, a semi-star that has connected me to people I love thousands of miles away.  It’s brightness has awakened me countelss times, and I never mind – each time that happens, I am wonderous.

It’s the planet of my birth sign, it influences the tides of the oceans that flow in tempo with my blood.

I have never wanted to visit the moon, but have always enjoyed being able to see the topography of its surface on bright, full nights.   On a less romantic note, I think about all the trash we have deposited there in our efforts to explore and understand it, as if we can ever understand a planet – we can’t even take care of our own.

The moon is an important component of so many of my memories.  Karen dropping to her knees and saying a prayer to it in the K-Mart parking lot when she saw the moon rising huge and orange over the horizon.  Watching it eclipse from a railyard with a near-forgotten waiter from Pyewacket, while dogs in all directions barked and howled.  Skinny-dipping beneath its beams in White Bay.  The first time I laid eyes on the beach in Tulum, lit only by moonlight and bright as day.  Sailing on Temujin in Lake Michigan and watching it make a slow track through the sky.  Improvisational dancing to Sam’s “Ode to the Moon” during a multimedia performance when I was 17.  Holding it in my hand after tequila on a warm Mexico night.

On my first trip to the Islands, I went to the famous full moon party at Bomba’s on Tortola.  I was so sunburned from snorkeling I could hardly move, and I attended with a friend I’d made on the beach a few days before.  I was so not into it.  I couldn’t move without hurting, and everyone seemed to be standing around waiting for someone else to do something interesting.  It reminded me of a Frat Party.  My friend was jumping around, having a good time, drinking mushroom tea, but it just didn’t work for me.  It’s one of those things I’d try again though – could have been my state of mind that night.

Bomba’s aside, the moon on the islands, on the water, was magical, and once I got back to Colorado, I found myself looking for it in all its phases.  My once-in-a-lifetime trip turned into every six months (or more often if I could squeeze it in), and I started counting by full moons – only 5 more full moons until I go back, only 4, only 3…

Time has always been a game for me – sometimes I can control it, sometimes I can’t, but it’s something I play with.  Sometimes measuring things in terms of days feels longer than weeks, months feels shorter than days, it just depends on me, on the thing I’m measuring, on the day itself.  But measuring by the moon offers me a stable, reassuring feeling.  It doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily be returning during a full moon.  It just means that there will come a day when the face of the full moon will shine down on me, and shortly thereafter, I’ll be by the sea, letting its rhythms charm their way into my body and soothe my soul.

Each month, having that moon grow full and round, edge up into the sky over the plains, sink down behind the mountains in the early morning, provides solace and comfort, a reminder that some things, like love and the moon, are constant and eternal.

Just one more thing to be thankful for.

August 2019
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