I stood outside on a very breezy, chilly November morning last weekend and watched my daughter run a 5K. My daughter was running a 5K. I couldn’t believe it. I cried a little, trying to fathom that ten years ago at this time Bella was inside of me – growing steadily larger for her spring appearance. Nine months of growing in that dark world, then bursting into springtime’s irises and lilacs. And now … tick tock … running races, waving with a smile to the crowd, giving high fives, hugging her teammates.
Such goodness rubs right up against the darkness of the season. I’ve been gobsmacked at the sudden DARKNESS, like someone slammed a door and the sunshine of summer went BOOM / NO MORE. I had a picture book as a kid that began, “November cold and gray the day.” I have some of my old books, but sadly not this one – nor can I find it via an online search any more. I could just a few years back, but now it’s disappeared into the ether. I remember its pictures were like the words: brown and navy and gray punctuated by little bits of color. Especially a so so red cardinal. Which is what I long for now: Bits of brightly hued fabric, patches of sunlight, the unexpected black-eyed susan I found doggedly blooming in a neighbor’s yard yesterday. Or the yowzie pleasure of this cat made out of veggie stickers.
I find respite, too, in words I’ve saved. I come across them accidentally – while cleaning off my computer desktop or going through an old journal. “What’s this?” I wonder at my mind from 6 months or two years ago; what seemed worthy of saving? Sometimes, the item no longer resonates. Other times, it’s spot-on, like this excerpt from a novel: Her body recalled the simple contact that had once existed between her and her children, the ease with which she used to touch their skin when they were smooth and rosy, the freedom with which she kissed and pressed them against her stomach. Iran’s longings rushed backwards, reversing the direction of time, which had complicated and ruined everything. She longed for the time when there was no need to justify caresses, when the self-explained embraces did not produce anguish, when the countless, endless, insatiable kisses were still only kisses. She missed the mighty force of her motherhood, which could heal any insult, remove all misery, resolve all pain. She missed her children’s childhood, the body that she and they formed together, one big warm flesh. She thought about the honesty that families lose as they mature, and the gaps which appear when the individualities take shape. She recalled the tickling on Saturday mornings in the iron bed which was filled with children and laughter. Thinking of their separation, she entered her home. ~Dorit Rabinyan from Strand of a Thousand Pearls (emphasis mine)
I am cold and so my eyes seek heat. I can’t imagine sweating in July, swimming out into the middle of a lake; it was perhaps the freest I’ve felt in years. Now, I feel housebound, and so I ferret out adventure…
But perhaps monotone is safer, stiller, more in tune with the present.
And I return to words that I’ve read before but which mean something new now at 44 than they did at 30 or 23. I love that about words, how they change with us. How something startling or staid at one age can suddenly make perfect sense at another; as though to say, “Why, of course.”
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again,
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
Which reminds me again of Bella who I possess but do not possess, who I know but do not know. Who runs away from me and back to me, her arcs growing wider, her smile more confident.