Oct 21, 2011

Here it Comes

It fell into our laps today. The sky cracked open and out spilled lemony sunshine and balmy soft breezes and blue blue blue as far and wide as the eye could see. And I sat and watched you. The both of you. Your bigger hand wrapped around her smaller one, running head long and fast as lightening, into the last days of fall. You ran far and wide and roared your throat hoarse because of course today, you were a lion. And she was too. You hugged the neighbor's cat thinking it looked a little sad today with a "mama, sometimes we all just need a little extra love". You drank water from the hose. You collected acorns and rocks and found a turquoise bead buried in the grass.

And I sat and watched you. And with every spinning second you were growing up right before my eyes. The both of you. And I fell in love all over again with gratitude and humility at being so lucky to be the one to bear witness to this.

4 hands digging in the dirt. 4 hands throwing hedge apples into the road. 4 hands reaching out and hugging each other senseless. 4 hands chasing ladybugs and grasshoppers too slow to escape your enthusiastic grasping. 4 hands humming songs with flying fingers holding golden leaves.

Small but mighty. I see the sheer magnificence of your perfect small selves in these perfect bodies fearlessly tumbling and dancing your way through the world. And I feel this catch in my throat at how today, this day where I get to watch you living out the stories of your lives, fell into our laps. Just like that. Maybe one day when you are both older, I will tell you all about that fall day "when you were 3 and you were almost 2" and how I watched you both bravely and with great delight, set out hand in hand, to concur the world.

Jul 8, 2010

Dense Joy

We came from all over the place. Some from Chicago and Missouri. Others made the road from New Mexico or from closer to home destinations like Kansas and Oklahoma. We descended in droves on a farm in the middle of Benton, Kansas for the day of days. There was a circus tent and a sandy little beach. Bean Bag tournament and whiskey drinking in the middle of the day with a whole roasted pig and homemade cobbler thrown in for good measure. Did I mention the rain? The deluge did not deter this band of merry-makers who raised their collective heads and scoffed at the blackening sky with smiles of childish glee plastered on adult faces. Cowboy boots and pink prom dresses. More ink on more shades of skin than any up close and gorgeous painting I have ever seen in real life. Big embraces and loud belly shaking laughter pouring out of beautiful mouths playing catch up. Hands on shoulders, faces tilted close, sparkling eyes and the lean in closer, yes closer please, listen.

It was a wedding. A wedding of two so very much in love that they made sunlight wherever they walked. Parted clouds and glowed rainbows in their wake. It was this moment that brought together this motley family, both in blood and in intention. We celebrated under a tent strung with lights with the cacophony of this amazing collective hum making it's way into the coming night. A band capable of shaking the very dirt under your feet taking the tiny makeshift stage set up in the only dry spot left just added the necessary soundtrack. Toasts. Toast the bride and groom! Sing her a song, Ike! And he did, Tom Waits style with her just melting into a puddle of tears over the obscenely amazing boldness of this gesture in front of all of us. More toasts, more laughter like your chest might just burst from all of it, like when you were 5 and your dad tickled you until you couldn't breath. It was like that. And then the fireworks cracking the sky like a million fireflies taking synchronized flight. Arms wrapped around sweaty necks faces tilted upwards, catching the brilliant glow of gunpowder and ingenuity.

And it went this way until sore dancing feet and too much whiskey and the undeniable need to lay down overtook everyone and we meandered our way to trailers and tents pitched under the arms of awaiting trees, tucking in to more open arms and dreams and old quilts. A wedding. A family created and chosen bearing witness to the new fork in the new road of two so very loved. I find myself tearfully grateful and deeply honored to have been one of the ones watching with awed eyes and an open heart the clasping of those two sets of hands and the words that were spoken. And in this moment it becomes so wonderfully clear, family is not only what you have, it is also something you make.

May 15, 2010

Black Hole

Ragged. Wiped. Weary. Exhausted. Spent. Loopy. Glassy-eyed and the walking barely functioning dead. I would not make a good movie zombie as I don't want brains or blood. Instead, I want sleep and coffee. Lots of coffee. But good zombie or not that's pretty much how I feel most days now. Like I am tied together with bubble gum, sheer will and good intention rather than the sound and sturdy structure that is my corporal body. I feel floaty and flighty. I bump into stuff. A lot. I forget what I'm doing and where I put things. I don't remember the last time I ate something hot. I am consumingly thirsty. My hair, my god. My hair may potentially require its own post which I don't have the energy to write right now. I am living in yoga pants and tank tops and willing my body daily, to miraculously shrink itself in leaps and bounds so I can fit in my normal human non-elasticized clothes again. Welcome to the other side. Welcome to new motherhood. The days roll by in a slow blown out psychedelic haze that just eats the hours so lazily I rarely notice if the sun has risen or set.

I remember some of this insanity after Joaquin was born. But it's truly amazing just how much I had forgotten. How much slipped through the cracks of my brain which is still in the throes of sleep deprivation from the arrival of my first baby. I am now wondering how I wasn't more prepared for this. How I didn't just nap more or beg to be frozen cryo-genetically until Wayah was born. How I didn't go into silent and still meditation in some hillside ashram. I wish I could roll over my sleep minutes but neither my life (or my cell phone plan) allow me to do that. So I worship at the alter of the French Press. Heed the clarion call of the dark roasted San Francisco Bay blend I am buying weekly by the armful, at the Spice Merchant. I don't dream of vacations to Thailand anymore. Don't fall into easy reverie over powdered sugar beaches and indigo and azure water and young coconuts cracked open and spilling into parched mouths. I dream about sleep. About how I can beg borrow or steal from Father Time, 3 hours in a row and how it would be the most decadent delicious thing that has been bequeathed to me in years. Yeah. I know.

Then there is the other side. And contrary to what I have written so far there is one and it is this; Wayah's sweet and cherubic little bird cooing side. The impossibly little feet in the palms of my hands side. The watching the sea shell pink and butter yellow dawn breaking with two tiny sleeping baby bodies curled like new ferns around my heart side. The warm quilt and sleepy nap side with my husband and now two children side. The my heart is fit to burst daily side. In these moments though I am slow to admit it, sleep is overrated and I see the wild and unrestrained beauty of a life lived in the changing and morphing half light.

May 7, 2010

Coming 'Round the Mountain

We had been waiting. Quietly and loudly. Patiently. Obnoxiously. Pacing and pleading. We had been waiting in lament and in begging. In indifference and in hope with the sureity that one of these days, for it had to happen sooner than later, that all this waiting would culminate in her arrival. It seemed like months but in retrospect it was merely weeks though time took on a new and varied texture in its passing. But that day. That very ordinary day something was different and with bated breath the waiting transitioned into something else entirely. It became the whittling down of hours and minutes to the arrival of the paradigm shift. The day when three would become 4. When our collective tribe of family and friends welcomed the newest one. The traveling one. The slow poke or lazy girl or stubborn soul who was not if nothing else, taking her sweet sweet time in making her dazzling appearance.

And then the long slow work of the long hard road began. I walked and wrote. Talked and read and more than anything else really, just cooked. Filling the ice box with salad after salad and fruit and anything I could possibly crave or desire after the work of her labor was in my hindsight. But I am getting ahead of myself. Very very far ahead of myself.

Slowly. The unfolding of this labor was a slow burning flower of magenta and gold. It was a gently tended tiny fire in the palm of my hand that with small whispered breaths and tiny encouragements was finally, becoming the engulfing flame I needed it to be. 12 hours after my water broke at 5:30am in a tinkling trickle that left me no doubt of the impending arrival of my daughter, the real work began. Drizzling honey start. Maple syrup at the bottom of the bottle rolling like lava in the thick of time beginning. Moving at the pace of glaciers she was. Talking with Rufus and my family in easy laughter and anticipation not knowing what I was really in for this second time around. Not even in the slightest.

And then. Then. The Mack truck. The train of fury and pain and dizziness that nearly leveled me took hold, without abatement or reprieve, for the next 2 hours. And I sank into the dark. Alone. Eyes closed. Animal breath. Keening and shaking. Cresting and tumbling and trying to remember that this work, that this consumptive and tidal and black and burgundy blooming behind my eyes work, was the most difficult work a woman can be faced with. I held onto the ribbon of husband's voice. Felt the solace of his hands on my back. His encouragement and the gentleness of his eyes keeping me in this present place reminding me with each crashing break of what felt like bone and skin and all that was human in me, I was going to make it across the divide of this into the new and waiting light. Work. I was doing the work. Hands reaching out to comfort and soothe. Drink this. Breath. Walk. Rest. Sweat. Cry out and don't try and swallow the words. Remember that you are alive and take the moment and be in the thick. Be in your body. Sway and hang on. You won't drown though that's what it feels like. Trust in it. Twist. Bend. Yell and hit and moan like the dragon you are. Roar. Push. Weight. Wait. Water bursting. Pressure. Breaking. Tears. Blood and blood and wet everywhere. And then, release.

Small slippery body pushing with all her tiny and ferocious might for that first breath. Perfect evolution of ten fingers and toes. Your eyes disbelieving. Your heart bursting. Your body, exhausted and proud and resilient. Your husband slowly like a meteor shower, falling in love. Baby. Daughter. Welcome to the world darling sparrow. Welcome home.

Apr 20, 2010

Recycled Words or, It's New to You

I am a chef and can make a mean mushroom ragout. That and I know how to cook the perfect medium rare steak.

I miss living in San Francisco.

Being a mother is much more complex than anyone ever lets you in on. It is profound, humbling and awe inspiring but also tedious and boring too. Try entertaining a 3 month old and then we can talk. With that said...

The sun rises and sets for me with my son. He has taught me how to be still in a way that I have never experienced before.

I gave myself my first tattoo when I was 15 in the basement of my parent's house while listening to the Smiths and eating Cheetos during the winter of my discontent.

I love cheese. The more unpronounceable and French, the better.. stinky doesn't hurt either and while I was pregnant with Joaquin I ate a whole wheel of Brie and called it dinner...don't lecture me and don't judge.

I can build a decent campfire, even when its raining, all by myself.

I know how to shoot a gun.

I have kept all my old love letters, since I was 17 and in my first relationship. Sometimes I take out the dusty box they live in and fall into the past like a warm bath.

I have kept a diary/ journal since I was 11.

I love old country music and bluegrass and own too many pairs of cowboy boots for an arab girl.

I value communication in my life above all else- pure authentic open(ness). I am not afraid of confrontation and will let you know a few things if you don't act right. But, I will also let you know a few things if you do.

I love my family, dysfunctions, joy, distance and all, more than is humanly possible to explain. They are the measure of all that is good and true and right in my life.

I love my husband and think he is a remarkable man.

I can keep a secret.

I am not afraid of dying and when I do, I want to be cremated.

I once ate 8 dozen oysters with a friend and we could have kept going but I think the waiter was scared and we realized too late, the grace that comes along with exercising something like self restraint.

I may just one day finish the book I started writing when I was 25.

I spin in music alone in my living room and sing terribly off-key. There is no shame in this. Unless of course, someone is watching.

I tried to learn to play the cello when I was 19 and living with a shy boy who stuttered and had freckles like summer's first strawberries in Ohio one summer; I failed miserably at both the cello and the boy.

I am painfully shy of speaking in public or in front of large groups which makes me want to run away screaming and beat myself unconscious with my own arm rather than face the attention.

I eat lots of toast and read books with a voracious appetite.

I take pictures of old barns and am irrationally drawn to them.

I used to have a cat named Sophia Loren because yes, she was just that gorgeous.

I lived in Rome alone, for 6 months when I was a much younger version of myself and jilted by a boy who surfed and loved his mom too much.

I once collaged the walls of my room with paper flowers because I missed the spring and the east coast winter was as dark as a shadow around me.

I love the color red.

I love moonbathing and black tea with lots of milk.

I think words and how they are used and their intention is everything.

Apr 9, 2010

I'll Tumble for You

He fell off the back steps a few days ago and managed to scrape a fantastically belligerent red welt right down the middle of his face. A bruise the size of a small quail's egg on his forehead angry with purple and gold leading the way to his nose rubbed raw from being scrapped against the sidewalk. His chin survived almost unscathed with the exception of a nice little scrape. This is what happens when you don't realize you have feet attached to your body. Joaquin does not realize that his legs attach to these unfathomable things called feet, that get him to where he needs to go. Rufus and I are constantly pleading with him to watch where he is stepping. Sometimes this pleading is plaintive and gentle but most of the time it's shouted and rushed out in panicked voices too late to do anyone any good. A test. This is all a test of a sanity I did not know I needed to possess to have a child. You need to have a steely constitution for this work. This raising of a human being is queasy business fraught with a constant and never ending worry so encompassing it has the capacity to age you in a heartbeat.

I am not a worrier by nature. I am not anxious or prone to easy panic. I would like to think it takes a fair bit for me to get seriously stressed out. But. But that was before. Now is another story all together. Since Joaquin was born, I have this insane existential worry that can sometimes be both debilitating and consumptive. It is encompassing in its scope and depth. I have these horrible thoughts about things I hate having horrible thoughts about. About him getting hurt. Or lost. Or in an accident. Drowning. Getting hit by lightening. Tornadoes. Bitten by dogs or rabid raccoons. The list is endless in its minutia and it makes me insane that I can be this insane. I know. Cliche. It's what everyone talks about once they have a child but it doesn't seem to stop it from being painfully and glaringly true.

My mother has four children. Along with myself there is one brother and two sisters. We have long since lived out from under our parent's roof but still, my mother, worries. And for years I didn't have a context for this. I thought she was just being dramatic and overly cautious. But now I know. My mother is a mother the same way that I am now a mother myself. I am destined for this life of toeing this delicate line. The line between taking care of this blooming becoming person and my own need to keep him sheltered and safe. My mother and I now understand each other in a whole new light. This is beautiful and validating but also sad to me somehow as well. That for all those years I couldn't see what that look in her eyes was telling me. It was saying be careful. You are mine and I love you....and yes, I will be sleeping on the couch until I hear you come home, no matter what time it is....because I am your mother, that's why.

I have written about this before and now I am reminding myself of those very words. It is not my job to keep my son static and small. It is my job to lead him into the world, brave and strong on his own two little sturdy legs with feet he doesn't know he has, and set him free to run into the unknown of this life. Even if he loses a tooth. Even if he gets hit by lightning. That is my job after all. And no one said it would be easy. But damn if it isn't the most exciting thing I've done so far.

Apr 7, 2010

Waiting Game

It's maddening really. This waiting. This rushing and stockpiling and then nothing but static. The house is ready. And by ready I mean it's overflowing with this mystery baby's stuff. All the trappings in place for this mythical invisible child that we are all pacing the floor waiting to meet. Bursting at the seams and tucked into corners are quilts made by her great grandmother, just waiting to wrap her up. Hand knit hats soft as the belly of a kitten made by the hands of those we love stacked in piles wishing to kiss her wispy little head. Cotton and wool in dusty colors jumbled like a New Mexico sunset bursting out of dresser drawers and enough diapers to keep her and us, housebound for at least a week should we wish the seclusion after her birth.

And we're ready too. But she is stubborn. She is comfortable and no amount of walking or spicy food, sex, tea, castor oil, cajoling, jumping jacks, pleading and begging, pelvic tilts or praying is obviously changing her mind. She seems perfectly happy where she is and I am within an inch of reaching in and pulling her out myself. Yeah. It's like that.

So I pace the floor. I drink tea and enough water to float a battleship because my midwife loves to tell me just how dehydrated I am. I try and read. I write. I spin the hamster wheel in my brain. I do not pass go. I do not get to collect my two hundred dollars. I snap at my husband though by god the man is beyond destined for sainthood at this point and this is (no matter what anyone says,) not his fault. Though he did have a hand in my present condition he has born this journey with patience and understanding...that and lots and lots of beer. Or maybe it wasn't his hand that got us into this mess now that I think about it. See! I can't help it~ mean! I am mean mean mean. I feel my feet on the edge of this precipice and all I want to do is jump and I cannot. Maddening.

The hours tick by slow slower slowest until I find myself prowling the empty and quiet rooms of this house in the long moonless hours when I should be asleep. The half light from the amber lamp casting warm shadows on the walls and books as I hear the contented sighs of my dream-bound boys asleep in the other room. And I twist and sigh. Heave my enormity around the furniture like some insanely uncoordinated amazon woman trying not to crush the villagers with my reckless clumsiness. So I sit here and try and make some peace with myself. Try and get comfortable in this massive and planetary body of mine and try and remember my level. My balance. My quiet and still. I am attempting something like grace here. So I wait for the arrival of this daughter of mine and try and remind myself that this time is almost over. That soon, I will get to meet this star traveler and gaze into her knowing little face and then time will take on a whole new speed.

Breath. Slowly. Almost.