Last night I was up with Pearl from 12:30 to about 3:00am. She ate a bowl of oatmeal with milk and raisins. She squirmed, she fussed, she puttered while I checked email. Finally, belly full, she konked back out by my side in Aviva’s bed while Aviva slept snuggled in next to Greg in ours. Musical beds, I call it.
This morning, Pearl was predictably out of sorts. Greg took her downstairs. I showered, coveting the clean, the hot, the cleanse, the wake-up, while she clawed her way back up the stairs towards me. Amazing that after a whole night together, she could still want me that much in the morning.
Yesterday, I got caught in a downpour on my way to pick the girls up at school. It was a last-minute decision to walk; I felt a few drops when I set out but decided to keep going. And then, sure enough, I was in it, drenched, soaked to the bone as the rain blew in from across the lake.
By the time I got downtown, my vest was so wet I had to ring it out; my cheeks were flushed from running; my ponytails dripping down my back; my jeans looked two-toned from being washer-wet in front and perfectly dry in the back. I stopped in the bathroom to dry my head off before picking Pearl up. I looked in the mirror. I actually looked great. All rosy and fresh.
Last night I looked in the mirror just before bed, around 11:00. I did not see rosy and fresh. I saw lined and drawn. I heard the judgment, followed by mind-chatter and more judgment about the judgment itself: Man, look at my skin. When did this happen? I am so vain for caring. Really, aging is a good thing. I’m getting wiser. Jesus, are those wrinkles really mine? There are so many more important things to think about. Go to sleep, Jena.
An hour later, Pearl got up for our midnight rendezvous. (And I wonder where the lines come from.)
This morning, I left both girls crying at drop-off. This doesn’t happen that often anymore. I feel vaguely like I have water in my ears. The sticky breakfast dishes sit unwashed, the clean dishwasher waits to be unloaded.
So far, this has been an ordinary week of accepting that there might not be any brilliant blog posts or projects or epiphanies or peace deals or book advances. This has been a week for applying for a new part-time job, and for volunteering, and for serving my clients and Greg’s business and my soon-to-be-former employer, for celebrating my very first poetry-for-hire gig over at Evolution. For slinging hash in the all-day, all-night diner that is our kitchen. For not sleeping. For my period.
Yesterday, as the sun came back out over the mountains and the traffic backed up down Main Street, the five of us (don’t forget Bobo) walked home together. Aviva ran ahead and behind and all around, so excited to be outside with no coat, collecting old beer cans and picking up trash. As she squished in the muddiest mud puddles she could find, her inimitable way with words came bearing joy: “Now you’re talkin’ to my boots!”
This has been a week of average, ordinary living. My average, my ordinary, my living. Because that’s what we all get. No matter how much we might want to believe that “other people” have something other than average and ordinary, something more glamorous or less stressful, luckier or easier.
In a culture of comparison, where “you can never be too thin or too rich,” this blog is my way of keeping myself honest, forcing myself to say the words: I am thin enough. I am rich enough. I am, simply, enough.
And so I receive the blessings of this ordinary, average life: The musical beds and the worn, wet clothes, the un-career path of my own making and the accidental entrepreneurship Greg and I find ourselves embracing, the homegrown and the patchwork and the crow’s feet and the muddy boots and the jewels in the crown of my rejoicing. And what better day than this to bless it all, to say thanks for the layers of life that I woke today not seeing?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to bed.
Artwork: Layers of Life, Micha Archer