Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Old School Summer

I’ve always had a fairly ridiculous memory. I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that much of the way I passed through many of my high school and college exams was to memorize rather than process the information. But the way I would memorize it would be to literally transcribe every single word. I would copy everything down. There was something about the process of transcribing that changed the way I was able to take it in, to remember it.

When I write words down, they go in the vault. They become part of my official mental and emotional record.

I started this blog in March of 2012 and made a commitment to write here every month. I’ve always called my blog “cheap therapy.” It gave me an opportunity to examine moments and feelings in my life on another stage. Here, I could dissect them and reflect on them in ways I was not otherwise able to do so. But there has been this other thing at play over the past few weeks and months.

My husband, always my best editor because of his ability to be exceptionally candid about my writing and to just generally see through my bullshit, said it best last night: “You’re restless. It’s something. I can feel it. You want to start something. You want to dig in.”

It’s ironic really. Here I’ve been trying to write for weeks now, and almost effortlessly he was able to find the one word I’ve been searching for: restless.

I’m restless.

Because of this, I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from writing out my feelings, and just spend the next few weeks and months immersed in them. I’m going to just summer my way right through this restlessness.

I hope I’ll be back here, to you, to anyone who has ever come to read this blog. I’ve truly enjoyed writing it. That said, I plan to continue writing. I’ll be moving offline though and kicking it old school. This summer, number one on my bucket list is letter writing.

Just the other day Dylan got a little note from a friend in the mail. I knew that look of delight on his face when the postman brings you something special that someone took the time to write just for you. It’s antiquated and slow. But, it’s nice too. That idea that someone sat down with some special, fancy paper and took the time to tell you how they are, ask about you. To share a piece of themselves just for you. I’ve spent three years sharing my words with all sorts of folks which has been wonderful. I’m going to take the summer to write some letters and share them with just a few.

I’m kind of excited to dig into this more micro approach to writing. To slow everything down. It’s just what I’ve been craving. To me, it is everything summer is really supposed to be about anyway. Slowness, richness, lots of flavor. I am hopeful it is the cure at least in part for some of this restlessness.

So it’s so long for now. I’ll post here from time to time on great pieces I’ve read that I want to be sure catch your eye. Or maybe you’ll even find me in one of your mailboxes someday soon. Hopefully, I’ll be back here in the fall with some great summer reflections, and cool stationary finds J

Until then, here’s to a great summer. I wish you long days and even longer nights full of warmth and color and flavor and all of the people and places you need to really feel alive.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Baby Steps

My daughter and I shuffle carefully over the bridge. She is still trying to figure out how to maintain her balance while she walks. Each step is equal parts small yet deliberate. Slowly, we make progress. She is almost there but still she needs me and my one finger, more to mentally reassure her than anything else.

Just one week shy of my 7th Mother’s Day as a Mother, I am standing inside the circle of seven years without my own mother today. And from such a strange vantage point as it always has been from nearly the moment I became a mother, it strikes me how much both grief and motherhood are exactly like this: slow but deliberate steps forward.

Each year at this time, the blogosphere is filled with pieces about what we’ve learned from our mothers. I’ve written extensively about the wonderful lessons I learned growing up with my mother. But not every lesson we learn from our mothers happens when they are living. Only now, seven years inside the circle of grief, does it occur to me that one of the biggest lessons she taught me is that a mother’s love is not in any way limited to the span of her life.

I look down at my daughter and wonder. Long after I’m gone, will she still feel me? When there is no one to quite literally grasp on to, how will she find her balance? How will she steady herself?

As we walk we pass a mother and a boy that she is pulling in a wagon going in the opposite direction on the bridge. The boy calls out, “What’s your baby’s name?”

“Her name is Hope,” I call back, as we both continue in opposite directions. And indeed she is just that.

It is this cyclical nature of daughters becoming somebody else's mothers which fills me with a kind of hope for the future, enabling me to continue forward. It makes less painful the notion that there are no arms outstretched to encircle me if I can reach out and bring three little ones inside my own grasp. It is in this space where I inherit the world she once filled and where I find peace. That is love. That is her love. And it never dies.

Hope keeps trying to turn around and look for the boy in the wagon. But I whisper to her, you cannot go back. You must go forward. Inside I know this is true and has little to do with our passage on the bridge. I point to her daddy and brother and sister. “Let’s go toward them!” I shout encouragingly, and we toddle along together slowly making our way.

She wobbles and steadies herself. She holds tight to my finger. The sun is high and her grasp is strong. The opportunity to be her mother will be finite, but my love for her will not. Long after I disentangle from her grip, I know she will still feel me.