We moved to Brooklyn when Douglas was 18 months, and I felt exhilarated and terrified … and even more lonely. The bigger and more crowded the city, the more it seems we build little imaginary walls around ourselves in order to stay sane while squished thigh-to-thigh with perfect strangers on the train. The desire to Not Get Involved is huge, but so is the ability to rally and connect and help when big things hit.Read More
We moved to Chicago when I was seven, so Dad could manage Bible Truth Publishers, and my social circles shifted hugely. No local family other than my siblings and parents, a much larger meeting, and a growing awareness of politics and unspoken rules … still with a lot of love, but the rules had very obviously changed and the stakes were higher.Read More
We're boondocking, in Oklahoma this time, needing a couple days to ourselves in-between visits. There's an increase in the down time we need, and I think it speaks to our desire to settle somewhere coming very close to the surface. It's been simmering for months. It means I've been thinking about community and fellowship a lot. Soaking it in where I can. Craving it. Studying it.Read More
I found out a few weeks ago that Eugene passed away. An old neighbor emailed me, knowing how i felt about him. it happened the day after his 94th birthday. i haven't been able to get much info on what happened, other than the fact that he was in the hospital having surgery when it happened, and that he'd also been found at home, unresponsive. i'm sure it was heart related, he had a pacemaker and was having valve problems a few months ago. once again, i'd had it written down to call him, for weeks, but hadn't gotten around to it. brooklyn, and the world, just lost a priceless treasure.
i tried to call his girlfriend Louise, but found that she too was gone. the hospice wouldn't give me any info on her other than that she wasn't there anymore, but a lot of searching online turned up a one liner in a local funeral home's listings, and the date made sense. so did the fact that there were three comments in the memory book, all rather vague but loving, and no record of an actual funeral. no children to mourn her, and no family left. apparently eugene's services were over before anyone heard about them, so i assume it was just the surviving nephew and his wife. they lived on long island, and eugene said several times that they were really too busy and too far away to come help out very much. his only living relatives. i know they were to inherit the house ... the one Eugene's father had bought 80 or so years ago, and that Eugene had lived in for the entire 80 years, minus a couple years away at college.
a friend still living on the street (thank you Kizz) let me know that the cleanout of his place was swift and brutal. that it looked like maybe the reason he showed me several apartments in his building, but not his own, was that it was perhaps packed to the gills with stuff. 80 years of stuff, piled on the lawn and mounding up a dumpster. his precious (and delicious) fig tree cut down and tossed on top. hearing all that gutted me. and made me angry. not that i expected the world, or even his neighbors, to all find him as lovely as i did, but that it just felt like the vultures had come in and picked the place clean. i don't know the details, and can only go on assumptions. it just didn't feel right.
honestly, it's making me glad i left brooklyn when i did. maybe living in PA has changed me more that i realize (and i know it's a lot), but the stuff i read on FB and in the local papers there is contributing to this idea that everything that is being branded is "brooklyn made" is no longer just cool creative stuff, it's "special" stuff. so special you can only get it in the tiniest batches, cooked in the tiniest kitchens, harvested from one 8 foot square plot on a rooftop shaded by the only surviving sorghum oak left from the days of the Lenape. or something like that. /sarcasm
i grew up trained to be special. to see myself as special and "other" and just a bit more worthy or holy than the poor unenlightened friends around me who didn't go to my church. the depth of that poisonous crap has only become clear with age, with some help from the writings of my friend Mike. maybe i'm backlashing against it in an unhealthy way, but it's really started to get to me. i don't have a problem with small batch wonderful stuff, special talents, or special places. it just feels (from my current vantage point) that the special stuff is more important than simple human connection, and the special people are being forgotten way too fast.
yes i'm mourning my friends, my rotten friends, the 4 of them that have passed away since february. they've become symbolic to me, of folks that know how to "sit a spell" and found technology wonderful but not really that important. the porch mattered. the conversations mattered. the time spent conversing, listening, sitting. we used to joke that charles (our old landlord) talked too much, and that it was hard to break away when he got rolling. there were more pressing things to get to. what crap. eugene always used to thank me profusely for stopping by, and i allowed myself to feel some measure of pride that i'd taken the time, or made the time. more crap. it was the least shred of honor i could give to someone older, wiser, and lovelier than i could ever hope to be. ever.
i don't want to worship special. i don't even want to be special, or eat special every night, or think about special things. i want to have deep relationships, time to listen, time to learn, and the joy that comes from connecting, loving, and feeling the deep messy beautiful itchy stuff that is found in the cracks and the broken places. where we all really live. (but like to pretend sometimes we don't.) please, be broken with me. not special alongside me. and call me out on it if i preen my special feathers in your face, forgetting who i am or where i'm from.
we have a truck!Read More
the summer has been packed already, and it's only half over. i've been more than overwhelmed for most of it, between trips, work, more trips, and trying to sort out the bazillion details of how to pack up 4 lives (make that 6 ... the beasts are coming along now) and get them on the road. it's not just about paring down possessions, but about addresses and taxes and phone service and bank accounts and insurance and computers (my lovely big monitor, sigh ... ) and deciding on rv vs trailer vs 5th wheel and and and ... my mind stutters and grinds to a halt.Read More
last weekend, it started to sink in. the knowledge that if things go as planned, my life will be hugely upended by September. an upside down and backwards shift that i'm equally delighted and terrified by. the last time i had this exact feeling, i was staring at two lines on a pee-test stick, having just discovered that douglas was on the way. it's a heady feeling, like you're about to step out over a cliff, and have no idea if the road will steady on under you, or if you'll start skidding down the side of a cliff.
my heart started to trip over itself at the farmer's market last saturday. our block was full of friends and neighbors, the grey clouds skated past without surrendering a drop, and i had just enough money to get the few things i wanted at the market. oh, and i got to go alone, a rare and heady treat in itself. i stopped by my favorite veggie/herb vendor as i was leaving, having seen a pile of green and yellow things from across the way, and finding myself with $6 left in my purse. i gathered my parsnips and celeriac and paid, and as i turned to go said a quick hello to the farmer who was standing off to the side. his hello back was of the "oh it's good to see you again it's been a long winter how are you" kind of greeting, and while i didn't stop to chat it was a nice interaction. which poked a hole in my heart, and started the drip.
when we moved up here, the intention was to stay a year, save up some cash, and move further south to start building a place of our own. a place to really settle and put down roots. the deep, tangled, dirty-but-strong kind. a crappy lemony car choice sucked away all the savings that first year, and this second one has been one of rebuilding, with more just-skating-along than we'd hoped. we also had an experience last fall that moved another "someday" dream up into the slot in between leaving here, and building our own place.
so why did the farmer's hello pop my heart open? simply that i realized the roots here have gone a lot deeper than i bargained for. neighbors wormed their way into my heart (and my kid's hearts too), the river's become a balm to my sanity, and my wider network of vendor/friends has become strong enough to actually be seen. touched. connected to.
my heart just grew.
it's the little things that add up, the daily drift of experiences that suddenly make you realize you're not standing on muddy shifting silt, you're on rock. rock that you've built, one piece and comment and interaction at a time, and it suddenly becomes something real. you can sit on it, be warmed by it, rely on it. another relationship, another country in your heart.
one strong enough to weather snow and floods, and still surface again with aplomb, if not a bit battered. it works, it's real, and it's ours to enjoy. until we walk away, and have to rely on media, memories, and phone calls to keep it alive. not impossible things, what's real lives on, and i've got proof of that in every corner of my heart.
so i have no real doubts about it being time to move on, i just expected to escape a bit more unscathed in the root-pulling department, but know that like everything else in life, the love makes it richer ... even if it's more painful in the end.
last weekend also brought the first really tangible step in the "get on the road in a camper with books and tools and wander for a bit" project. which we hope to do in just a few months (the camper hunt is on, for starters.) we gave away Sloop, the red-eared slider that we've had for about 4 years now. bought on the curb in Cadman Plaza in bklyn, she's grown into a formidable and voracious beauty. one that really wouldn't travel well, nor fit, into a camper. we gave her to a neighbor girl who already had a younger red-eared slider, and initial reports indicate a very happy couple who are getting busy :).
i don't know where this dream will take us, but i know it's something we all want to do. badly. terrifying-but-excitingly. stepping out with our skills and connections, some tools and a laptop and a map of north america, and the knowledge that we'll be living on a wing and a prayer. trusting God to work out the details, and that we'll know where to go, what to do, and have wisdom in when and where to stop. to put down roots again, ones that i hope to be able to work on for decades. to stop moving, and start building. spaces to live in, to warmify, to sculpt, to share. to heal and feed and connect. to make home and be home.
to keep growing, because i need to. and we want to. onward ...
for a good 20+ years now (no i don't feel old, i feel marinated and rich) i've had a "rotten kid club". it all started with a delicious woman name jackie, who was a grandmother by the time i met her, and as full of warmth and fun as they come. she used rotten as a term of affection to kids of all ages, and told me about a neighborhood boy who came to her home for the first time, and when she didn't call him rotten like the others for fear he'd misunderstand, he felt slighted and left out. so she tucked him under her wing and flew on. jackie was special. rotten herself.Read More
words, i have few. very few. pictures ... the camera is starting to warm up as i do, so sharing a wee bit until words are found again.
last weekend, i auditioned for the nyc version of the listen to your mother show. it was my first audition ever, for anything, and i had a ball. yes the pits were sweaty and i read my piece a bit too fast, but i'm so very very glad i did it.
the show features a cast of about 15, each reading their own 3-5 minute piece about motherhood, and will be at symphony space on may 4th. i attended last year's show, and fell in love with it. the richness of the voices, the perspectives, and the gamut of emotions shared. i wanted to add my voice to the mix.
my piece didn't make it in this year's show, and while yes i'm disappointed, i'm not crushed. i know that they work to put together a cohesive show, and that not being chosen doesn't necessarily mean they didn't like it. i love what i wrote, i labored over it like nothing i've ever written before, and i'm very glad for the thought processes it put me through. i know myself better, and feel less ashamed. i don't need as much armor anymore.
it loses something when it's not read aloud, but here it is:
big shoes ...Read More
the year's turned. i've rested, and spun in circles, sipped, and dreaded. i don't want any fewer answers than i already thought i had, but they seem to be slipping away, melting through the cracks like the ice disappearing between the boards of the porch. it's a waiting place, this month.
m leaves tomorrow to go back to work, and the interlude together has been rich and savory sweet. not productive mind you, the measuring stick by which i've always labeled days as good or bad, but that's slowly starting to shift. good books, pictionary with the boys, or simply getting along for the majority of the day. these are good things, very good things, and the less i plan the more they seem to happen. and the laughter when fynn's drawing "gas mask" for me to guess, and lets go with one of his famous farts? it does a body good.
this year is one that holds new things, including growing plans for change, and i'm finding myself sharing some of m's visions that i've never been able to support fully before. though i find them absurd. this particular one is something i've always found insanely embarrassing, but it's only my pride getting in the way. it IS funny.
i think it's going to be a deep breath year. i'm settled in to life in the woods ... finding friends, outings, longer trips, knowing when i need to just get OUT and breathe the fresh air, and yet i know we'll be moving on before too terribly long. so i take a deep breath, and know that the roots i have here are just as real as any i've left elsewhere, and they'll hurt just as much to pull up. so let 'em grow, and grow deep and fast. i can't live on the surface, and i can't live half-rooted. it doesn't feel right.
i'm a worrier by nature. worry handles things, right? keeps it under wraps, under my control, and in my hands. not. i can plan, hope, work, and all that, but there are no guarantees. back in the bklyn years (as they're rapidly becoming known, not sure how i feel about that but i can't seem to stop it either) we lived in an apartment we never could afford, in a neighborhood we couldn't afford, eating food that we sometimes couldn't really afford either. freelancers, new baby added to the mix, and when you look at it on paper i have no idea how we survived. but we did. and left without debt. God does work miracles in my book, and that's one of them.
i used to get so very stressed though, the tighter the money got, and more and more shut down. in everything. irritable, uncommunicative, unresponsive. wound up in my little cocoon of worry and anger and fear. fear of what could happen, anger at my husband for not worrying as hard as i was (or at all quite frankly), and worry that my pride would take another hit. M would eventually get a bit fed up, and suggest we pray together. which i did NOT want to do, knowing it might crack my shell, but guilting myself into doing it anyhow. so we would, and inevitably he'd start off with what we were thankful for, including never really lacking for anything and always having things work out in the end, without drama or damaged relationships, even with our landlord. and i'd seethe next to him, feeling like he was pointing an unfair finger at my worries, which were what was keeping us afloat, dammit!
sometimes i'd hang onto my worry even tighter after that, and let it become a bigger wedge between us. sometimes, i'd be able to let it go. rest in it, knowing that it always does work out, somehow, and that the worry really is a curse.
that there's always some bit of deliciousness in there somewhere, even in the not knowing. that there's tremendous freedom in letting go.
i don't expect i'll become a non-worrier, or a calm and never flustered mom (hah!). but it seems that with age does come a bit of that weight-of-experience thing, and when i look back and see that we really never have gone hungry, or roofless ... yet ... i've come close enough to trust that even if we do at some point, it will work out.
and if i do start freaking out because we hit a new low somewhere, remind me of this, will you? i'm sure i'll need it.
deep breaths, and not just the sighing kind. warm breaths, because i'm close to someone i love. slow breaths, because i'm savoring. short breaths, because i'm laughing.
these are my hopes for the year.
trips taken, friends visited, sun warmed, loneliness felt, body crashed, clouds watched, thoughts chewed, life lived.
between my birthday and the holidays, it always seems to trigger introspection that often slides into depression. this year is no different. in many ways it's been the least stressful year i've had in a long time. finances are better (at least temporarily), there are few obligations and lots of free time, and we've gotten in lots of trips and visits in the last 12 months. my day-to-day interactions are far less frequent than they've ever been though, and while i feel like my introverted side is becoming more prominent, it needs to be balanced by deep-enough interactions that i don't get too lost in the well. i seem to be leaning more towards small groups or 1:1, the pull of a party crowd is not what it used to be.
i especially miss female friends to chew the fat with, though the local homeschool meetup gives me a couple hours a week of that which i'm very thankful for. face-to-face is much better than phone and email, though i'm glad for that too. it's something that i'm looking for more of in the next year. xo.
i'm sitting listening to a playlist that i made last night for a friend of mine, and the tears are rolling down my cheeks. the list happens to be for a friend who's in a space where she doesn't want to communicate right now, and i'm scared for what that means for her, and bereft for what it means for me. i hope it hits her even a fraction of how it's hitting me. the history goes deep. she knows bits of me that no one else does, and you don't exactly dig those out and serve them up to someone else. they stay there, for the knowing if not for the sharing, right where i put them. with someone whose viewing point i've relied on for years, for a myriad of reasons.
the tears are mingled, selfishly, with a few for my camera which was stolen out of the car last night. the camera that is pretty much an extension of my right hand, and has helped me tell my stories for the last 3 years. it's changed my viewing point a lot, and is what's helped me tell my stories when the words won't come. which is a lot of the time lately. earlier this week i'd made peace with the fact that this might be a photo blog for awhile, as i really need to get stuff out, even if i can't write.
perhaps i have to find the words, or go crazy.
I saw the word "people pleaser" a few minutes ago on FB, and it reminded me of some thoughts i've been chewing on this week. i *am* a people-pleaser, at least by nature. i routinely think i've failed if i don't manage to please everyone. which is crap of course, not possible, and utterly unhealthy to boot. but very ingrained.Read More
we just got back on monday from 12 days on the road. 12 good days. great days in fact, except for the squabbling that naturally ensues when 4 people travel 2500+ miles in a dodge Neon. i won't really talk about the "padiddle" game either (and no we don't play the racey version), which in our family inevitably devolves into heated and loud arguments over who saw the car first and whether it really did have a headlight out or not, whether the slap was wiped off properly and fast enough, etc. you get the idea. it's a good way to stay awake after the first 400 miles though! but i digress ...Read More
... and this was unquestionably the highlight of her day here. she asked for a ride, mike cheerfully obliged, aaaaand they saw a bear cub ... which added immensely to the excitement of tearing around on a quad. a very good birthday.Read More