Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Small Change", Time Waits, and Other Borrowed Lines...

     Because I could not stop for Life,
     And It wouldn't stop for me,
     The calendar just rolled along
     And turned a page or three...

     Tomorrow's the first day of school in these parts which means that Summer is done, the leaves have gotten their eviction notices, and what have we to show for it all. I'm not really sure. I did do a lot of outdoor creating with paint and water and wood. I spent some time with good friends and family now and then as well. I spent way too much time in hospitals and doctors' offices. And like parents everywhere I stand at the precipice, under some invisible banner which calls us to celebrate "Tomorrow" with no idea how to do so.

     It used to be August 1st was the saddest day of the year, but that was back when Climate Change was just an infant in our minds. Seems it's the middle of the month now when the light changes and it just plain doesn't look like summer anymore no matter what the thermometer reads. Everything is changed and you cannot go back and unfix it. It's done, summer's done, and you did what you did and missed what you missed, (suit)case closed.

     So with that imaginary banner flapping in a warmish breeze over my head, I needed to do something to mark the occasion. And (pardon me again, Miss Emily) because I could not rearrange the furniture, I murdered my Twitter account. I have 30 days to dial up the Governor of Twitter's office to request a stay of the execution, as it were, but I don't think I'll do that. I think it is guilty and it knows what it did.

     You know though, it wasn't It so much as it was Me. I changed. And just as the slant of light gets lower and thinner and spreads over a smaller and smaller territory with every passing day, so the world inside my head (Science, help us all who have to deal with that horror of a place!) must shrink as well. I can't seem to cast my light quite as far as I used to; I'm like a dying battery powering a big old lantern, poorly. Ain't no sunshine in my soul and on those days I can most certainly hide my beams under a bushel basket...probably under a thimble. And the seamstress is working tirelessly on the weak point where evidently I've come undone.

     So many tiny infractions, with as many accompanying frustrations, echo in my recent memory, but as is usual in these times, it's the amorphous blob that most vexes me. It was and I did and now it's not and I can no longer do. So there. But I did do a whole lot more than last summer...a little voice somewhere pleads. And I am in possession of tons of new keys which have unlocked some very old mysteries, some going back for decades. The voice and the keys seem at times like a rope and pitons, promising to get me out of the holes I find myself in. My internal Google Machine can find "Smile" a lot quicker than it did before I acquired these tools.

     Tomorrow morning the familiar echoes of months ago will return: the laughter of children walking to school, a bus passing by, a distant bell calling the elementary children inside, the hum of many more cars than usual on our street, and then the quiet...the heart-stopping sound of no children in the house. I remember this day several years ago when I still had a child at that nearby elementary school when, as I came out of the building, I was met with another mother, grande fancy coffee of some sort in her hand, who just smiled and said to me in her best deadpan, "Best day of the year." But I also recall the feeling of driving out of the parking lot of the middle school, even on mornings when my kids had been terrors and had stood firmly on my last nerve, when I went from agitated to alone in a matter of milliseconds: In the quarter turn of a steering wheel, in the nod to a crossing guard, in the wave to a neighbor. Alone was huge and came crushing down, sitting on my heart it pushed all the air out of me, leaning on my lungs it made me want to cry.

     It's the thank-goodness-you're-okay-now-let-me-beat-hell-out-of-you-for-scaring-me-to-death syndrome that's gone through every parent's mind whenever a kid does some reckless thing like dart across a parking lot or wander off momentarily. One moment they're pressing your buttons, the next their touch is gone and much as it hurt, you miss it terribly. And this is just the first day back, less than eight hours out of sight. What happens when they start to drive? Go on their first date? Go off to college?

     There are a few summers left between now and those fateful days to come and I hope to build on whatever it is I've created this time around. It's all a blur of course, like sweat running into your eyes on a hot day outdoors. By now, if it wasn't for the signs of my efforts in the yard, I wouldn't believe any of it ever happened. June was a million years ago, a billion thoughts ago, trillions of emotions passed by. Another tough summer for our slice of the rhubarb pie in general of course, but no intensely personal tragedy or loss to speak of. We look back with gratefulness and forward with hopes of many snowfalls to come to our high and dry hills...and a slowly-paced runoff season, thank you very much.

     To everything there is a season, and to every season there is a purpose...if for nothing else, they cause us to appreciate the one just ended or the one yet so far away. And while I may well pine for warmth when it's 20 below, I'm glad I live in a place with changing seasons. It hurts to say goodbye to leaves, then flowers, then berries as a bush reverts back to its sculptural, winter appearance, just as it pains me to drop the kids off and drive away. But the chokecherries will return and the choked-back tears must remain as a right of passage. The only thing to do with Change is to accept it: For though it may not be exact, it will happen. And it'll rattle around and drag you down if you don't spend it well.

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