Daily last summer, on any of those glorious days, I’d open the front door just to stay closer to green. The sugar maple out front was lush with leaves, and even in the rain I leaned out to drink in that verdant hue. Looking ahead, all I envisioned were more luscious moments, more sweet air, and more bird song.
After the last suture was stitched, the mohs surgeon said he was going to cover the incision with glue. This guy is the best. You wait months to be in his surgical chair. And he’s funny, so I thought the glue comment might be a joke. But no, his intern told me with his eyes, glue is the next step. And then, as he applied the sticky goo across his handy work, my Dr. broke into another chorus with his favorite group, Supertramp, who had been serenading us during the whole procedure through the portable speakers.
Take a dream on a Sunday
Take a life, take a holiday
Take a lie, take a dreamer
Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream along
Tonight I celebrate my mother’s would be 90th birthday. Yes, I know she’s gone, although a force like hers can’t be contained in a simple afterlife, right? Of course I’m sad not to have her physically with us, but wow, did we have spectacular fun these last many decades. Holidays and vacations and just spur of the minute plans that would always turn into something fabulous.
It really isn’t because I’m reading Claire Dederer’s latest memoir, Love and Trouble, but I must admit, she’s gotten me thinking. About how I wished I wrote with her daring pen. About all those crazy-ass years when I was running straight into the black, and these slightly more stable years, when some of that crazy is boomeranging back. But it isn’t totally that either, it’s my job and the demands that are clear insanity but you can’t actually admit to it because it’s your job after all and you need to keep it a few more years; it’s the guy in the White House who I can’t bring myself to call president or give his title a capital letter but still, you know he’s there and the whole world is acting like he didn’t in fact steal the election but somehow might be qualified even though he’s the very definition of shit show; it’s about summer’s abrupt end and my love of drinking a tad too much rosé, okay my addiction that hasn’t stopped even though I know better and one should stop drinking Summer’s Water; but ultimately it’s about racing and racing every day ahead of just about every deadline so that I can feel like I have it together but know I don’t. Yeah, today, it’s all of that.
As June melts into July, and we settle into yet another new home, there is plenty to fracture and divide our time from our desire. There is unpacking and all those decisions of where to hang this mother’s portrait or that Bowie painting. There are boxes of cleaning supplies that look too much like work, so I vote to banish them to the cellar while she might actually want to use them. There’s me wandering on the front lawn in my bathrobe to catch the early light and getting sidetracked by raindrops on broad leaves instead of finding the lid to the pot still stuck in a box somewhere. Me wandering. Finally, I’d add. Stop the lists of to-do’s for a single moment and feel dewy grass.
A few years ago I wrote about graduates. In the ensuing years I thought that was all I ever wanted to say about that topic, that edge of time, that walking off process, that bravery. Until now. Because as wonderful as the notion of moving on is, it is also terrifying. Often impossible. Sometimes only accomplished by crawling. And stopping. And being nudged until you crawl forward again. As we applaud those who boldly walk and do so with ease, there are many who can not. Theirs is a walk of anxiety and missteps. Of not showing up. Of hanging back. Of not joining in. Of fearing what lies ahead far more than driving on. Their achievements seem to pale in those celebratory moments. What of them? I wondered as I sat in the packed gymnasium filled with graduates and their families.
As much as I want to start every morning ready to face whatever comes my way, there are those days that knock me down, saw off my legs, and leave me to crawl through the mire; those days I curse change, especially unasked for ch-ch-ch-changes, and feel stuck. Helpless. During those moments I wrestle desperately with myself. You know that feeling? It’s two steps forward and one back, until you are either worn down by the whole affair, or you move yourself into the light.