Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

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Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

MY STORIES

...a somewhat edited freewrite

Squeaky Clean


If I inhale deeply, I can still smell the lingering sweetness of apple pie. It's raining lightly, steadily, soothingly. My hands stop for a moment, allowing my mind the opportunity to pounce, to catch up, to stop me in my tracks. I'm not about stopping right now though. I'm about letting it burn and writing anyway, letting it hurt and writing anyway, letting them not like it and writing anyway. I want to be brave, not scared. Yes, I will burn through this trail they left and leave my own. I will. I will.

I went to bed at 10:00ish tonight, slept soundly for three hours and woke with words in my head, sentences about her; about how she came, how she left behind the scent of Downy, bleach, and homemade apple pie. It's not about function or practicality with her. It's about clean, clean, clean. It doesn't matter if you will ever find it again, whether you can reach it, whether you really liked it or not, it's about what you can't see, what you should see. She scoured places I had never considered cleaning. Not with a mop, or a rag but with a toothbrush. Picture this; a middle-aged woman on her knees, spray bottle in one hand, worn toothbrush in the other-scrubbing. Her whole body joined in as she sprayed and scrubbed and sprayed and scrubbed. Such resolve.

One day I walked into the laundry room to find her leaning over my washer with Q-tips, scrubbing the mold off the inside, the little pockets underneath the lid. She went through quite a lot of Q-tips. Who does this? Am I the only person who has not yet recognized that this is necessary to sustain oneself. I have to say though, I'm a little embarrassed that the molding washer had escaped my attention. I mean, yuck.

And that is not all. She scoured the top of my stove until it shined. I thought the brown gook was a permanent fixture, but apparently not. And the teapot, it too is scoured and shining. She moved furniture, rearranged whole rooms, bought new bedding, ironed curtains, hung them, fluffed pillows, dusted, mopped floors, vacuumed, baked a pie, washed dishes, cleaned a window or two, made beds, bathed my girls, read to them, tucked them in, sang them songs. She cleaned more than I have all year. And it's almost January.

So I sit here now in an emptier house. Instead of a subtle-urine scent (my two year old tends to dribble), my bathroom smells of bleach and Dove soap. The new, meticulously ironed red curtains, hang with pride. The pillows on the couch sit fluffed and lovely. The whole house is buzzing with clean. I can almost see it smiling with its new found look and smell.

I think back to this evening; all seven of us sitting around the table, taking bites of spinach linguine, tossed with tomatoes and spinach, swimming with feta cheese and garlic. We sipped our Pinot Noir between bites and words. We held hands and said our "thank yous." All of us thankful for our week together, all of us dripping tears of gratitude and the sadness that comes with soon goodbyes; for love, for family, for warm food and warm hands to hold.

They fly through dark skies now, thousands of feet above. Back to their homes, to their warm beds, their Vermont lives. I miss them. I miss her, with her toothbrush and constant arranging and rearranging. But they have left behind a trace-their presence still felt-held in the quiet of this rainy moment.

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Coffee Shop Boy


I’m sad for the children of the world. I am sad for the little boy who sits eating his yogurt, ignored by his jabbering mother. He does not try to speak to her; he has learned that his words don't get her attention. He is a burden for her, you can tell. He can tell too.

It’s not a sweet way to start life, feeling ignored and a burden. He sits alone while she swears and complains with her fat friend. She twirls her hair and sighs and shakes her head every few minutes; bored and disillusioned with life. She does not look at him. She does not see the beauty sitting right before her.

His sweet brown eyes scan the room, looking for something he thinks he does not have. He has learned, already, that life is a struggle. He has learned how to stay quiet and seated. He has learned not to ask questions, that it isn’t okay to explore and be curious. He has learned how to complain and blame.

He has not yet learned that bundled inside him, all safe and sound, is beauty like he has never known. He has not learned how to love and be loving; how to smile sweetly and give unconditionally.

He wanders around now, as all four-year-olds do, she tells him to sit down NOW. He spills his water on the floor; she says, “AH CRAP!” She carries him back to his chair--it’s the most attention he’s gotten all morning.

I want to take this sweet child in my arms and tell him he’s beautiful; that he is not a burden. I want to rain kindness down on her, soften her heart somehow so she can see what is in front of her, so she can uncover what is buried deep inside of her.

I want to splash an ocean of goodness in and throughout every single suffering being ; take the pain of the world, in its enormity, and blow it far far away.
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An Autumn Afternoon

The leaves are changing from deep green to various shades of red, orange and golden. Outside, the wind blows the acorns off the Oak trees, they meet the wooded deck with a loud crack. Our gray-muzzled dog is sprawled out in the sun-filled patch of grass.

My five year old is at school-her first full week of kindergarten. My two year old is taking her nap. There is a chill in the house. My hands and feet have lost their heat and are craving warmth. I do not have a hot cup of chamomile beside me or a full bowl of homemade chicken soup, but that is what I think of now as I type these words. I look out the window and notice the way the sunlight hits the hundreds of oak leaves, the way the wind plays with branches. An occasional leaf lets go and dances through the air for a few seconds before it takes its place on the ground. The Oak trees stand tall, so deeply rooted and sure of themselves, questioning nothing, comparing themselves to no one. I envy their ability to let go of old leaves, stand naked for a while and so gracefully grow new ones.

My heart longs for something I can't put my finger on. My breath is shallow, my chest heavy. What is this weight I carry? I too want to shed old leaves, let them drop and dance and find a new home so I can stand rooted and naked, complete and full. Wanting nothing. Being, simply, all of who I am.

2 comments :

  1. Sweetheart--What a wonderful tribute to me!! As I write this, I have tears in my eyes. But they are happy tears to think that I touched you in such a way for you to write Squeaky Clean. I love you and thank you for all the memories from Corvallis that I will hold in my heart forever. You're the best..Mom xoxoxoxoxoxoxxo

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  2. You are an amazing, insightful woman, Julia and your words are changing the lives of others around you. Simply enjoying the present is a gift we should all cherish. Hopefully, in a world full of hustle and bustle we who ponder will spread our serenity.

    I have forwarded Squeaky Clean to my mother and my husband to enjoy. I am so proud to be your friend.

    I shine and radiate when I'm with my family nurturing and loving them. I am so happy I stepped away from feeling like I needed a paycheck to be of value. How could I have believed that? I'm happy it only took me thirty days! Bliss is right here, right now, in me and in my family.

    And so it is.

    Love and light,
    Kellie

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What are you thinking/feeling? I'd really love to know...

♥ Julia