OK, I am getting off of Pinterest now, where I have been sucked into looking at fall harvest recipes for a wedding potluck, and also tattoo ideas–birds, bridges, and Hebrew lettering. I know I could spend hours, after which I would look up slightly dazed, wondering where the time had gone. So I’m switching gears to see what happens if I actually try writing.
I’m taking the week of from work, just to hang out with the girlies. We have no plans per se; today we drove up to Blue Star, alternately listening to Barbra Streisand and Taylor Swift (Aviva brought her iPod). We said hi to Paul, who runs the farm with his partner Pam. Then we visited with the carriage horses before going to find our friend Doug, who was reliably out with Tex and the other draft horses.
The most gorgeous animals, sleek and muscular and gentler than you can imagine–or maybe you can. Aviva spent some time brushing Arthur’s mane, before nuzzling with Whiskey and asking Pam if she could come back later this week to work. Pam asked how old she was, and when said, “Almost 12,” Pam said, “That’s a GREAT age,” then made sure Aviva understood she will really have to work. We’re going back on Thursday, early. “But then you have to leave,” Aviva was sure to clarify for me.
Pearl lolled a little in the hammock, hot and ready to swim. So we drove down to the meadow, the spot where Mani and I will pitch a chuppah in September, which the girls hadn’t yet seen. We changed by the car and Pearlie was in the river before V and I had even dunked our feet. Before long, though, the three of us were swimming around in the cold spots and the warm spots, gliding through the skein of fallen pine needles, feeling for the slight current where the two rivers meet. I wondered how far down river I’d be able to swim if I were there alone; maybe some other day I’ll find out.
After we got out and dried off, V asked if she could drive. So we scooched the driver’s seat as close to the wheel as it would go, put the car in neutral, and pulled down the emergency brake. “Press the clutch down with your left foot,” I instructed, showing her how to put the car in first and then, slowly slowly, give it some gas while releasing the clutch. The first few times she gunned it and we stalled, laughing. She got the hang of the ignition pretty quickly though, and then she DROVE, for maybe five or six seconds before stalling again, but she did it. She was pumped.
“That was kind of thrilling,” she said later, as Pearl sat on my lap and steered us back, shirtless and still cool from the river, on the dirt road through the meadow past the crops and to the entrance.
Naturally, we were all in the mood for ice cream after that, so we went to Flayvors at Cook Farm in Hadley and sampled half a dozen flavors before ordering a scoop each and eating in the shade. All their bickering from breakfast hours earlier had dissipated. And this, I thought, is why I am taking a week off from work. Not because we have a lake house or a beach house or anywhere to go but our house, our apartment here in the center of Amherst, but because it’s not often that we get to just hang out and have loose plans that can just kind of morph into a day of grooming and swimming and driving lessons.
I find myself carrying some habitual tension sometimes, some residual worry at the beginning of an open-ended day. I might actually even pray a little, for ease, for peacefulness, mostly as a way of setting my own self straight when I forget that I can relax.
A couple nights ago, Aviva was upset about something. I sat on her bed for a minute before saying, “It’s ok.” “What is?” she asked. I thought for a second, then said, “Everything.”
I started reading a book today, “Fugitive Pieces,” by Anne Michaels. On the first page, this short sentence leapt out at me: “No one is born just once.”
It’s so true. We are, and we’re not. We are born once, from our mother’s body–it is the absolute, only way to get here. Beyond that, though, life sees us through so many gestations and deliveries, so many awakenings, bright lights or soothing voices or the shock of how the air feels or the instant comfort of the right hands. I am more and more convinced that we bring our nature with us, and then we show the world and the world responds and we adapt and shape-shift one birth after another, until our dying day–which of course could be this one.
That’s the catch, the catch in my throat, the catch that stops me from being an addict of mind and a prisoner of thought, when I can mistakenly start believing that I’m not sure where I am or what I should be doing. I catch myself, the proximity of being born more than once and of death that can come so swift and surprising–these keep me here, on the ground where the horse shit is still warm and the riverbed is invigorating and the thrill of my girls in the driver’s seat, born once and then again, every single one of us, here and then not here–
How could I worry? How could I wait?
Too short to worry and too long to wait–life’s just right. Life’s happening today and today already happened and so tomorrow will come, a whole new day without work or school or plans. So rather than tightening up in my chest about how we will spend it, I will wake up and pour two mugs of coffee and just let the day be born, be delivered into the morning which will turn to afternoon no matter what we do or don’t do, and I’ll probably whisper a little:
Help me remember. Help me remember.