Saturday morning, the girls and I went to Shabbat morning services; someone we know was becoming a bat mitzvah, and it was nice to be there among her family and some of ours, in community, to witness and celebrate her. The girl’s older sister offered her a blessing at one point. And later, in the car, Aviva asked Pearl if she’d please, please, PLEASE do something like that for her bat mitzvah, which is coming up next month.
Pearl basically said no way, not (so says their mama) because she doesn’t secretly harbor great affection for her big sister, but because the idea of public speaking is probably one of Pearl’s inner circles of personal hell.
Pearl went to a friend’s house for the afternoon, while Aviva spent the entire rest of the day cleaning her room in preparation for middle school. She even offering to clean Pearl’s, too. (Wayne Dyer, RIP: “I am realistic — I expect miracles.”) I called Pearl at her friend’s house to ask if she’d like V to clean her room; something in me knew that the outcome of something seemingly so sweet could end up backfiring, big time. But she said sure, as long as nothing got moved around.
Fast forward to dinner time. Pearl came home after her marathon playdate, only to find that her “clean room” also included a pile of unfolded clothes, which Aviva had moved from on top of Pearl’s little trampoline over to the corner of her not-so-big room. Pearl lost it. She was tired, angry, and tired some more.
Earlier in the day, at synagogue, Pearl had made her way through the long-to-her service by playing with each of my rings and bracelets. At one point, she was holding the bracelet a beautiful writer friend gave me from Israel–alternating small, blue beads to ward off the evil eye. I watched her handle it; how she instinctively fingered each bead, one after another, as if in prayer. Maybe, without realizing it, she was.
I believe Aviva’s intention to clean Pearl’s room was pure. I was a bit stumped myself as to how a pile of unfolded clothes constitutes a clean room, but I also expected to see and hear some gratitude from Pearl towards her sister for the idea and the effort. It seemed like maybe Aviva threw in the towel halfway through, lost steam, and stalled out. Regardless, she waited self-righteously for an apology. In this case, I actually backed her up, until finally Pearl calmed down and offered it up in a genuine enough voice that I could tell she meant it and wasn’t just trying to recoup her screen time.
The new day brought, well, a new day. It is so cool the way it does that for us. Sunday brought me and Mani to a long budgeting session, something we haven’t done together for months. It brought me and the girls to the Holyoke Mall, where they both got back-to-school clothes, and I even bought a couple of things for myself for fall and winter (Mani is teaching and reminding me not to always put myself last when it comes to that kind of thing).
And then we got a flat tire. I don’t have a jack and I really want and need to learn how to put on a spare myself. Alas, I have not yet learned this sexy, badass skill, so we waited for AAA near the pretzel place by the Macy’s entrance on the Upper Level. V coped with headphones and Pearlie rested her sweet head on my shoulder. I sat there shifting my thinking from “Oh, shit, money,” to “Oh, thank God we can cover this,” appreciating, too, that we weren’t driving on the highway or in twenty-below weather or somewhere remote when we ran over something sharp.
Last night, I told my Dad on the phone that I feel like I’m on a six-seater plane, and it’s that part where we’re on the running but we’re moving, and the plane is a little wobbly, shaking from side to side. I feel the speed picking up, but the wheels are still on the ground and there is that question in my mind: Is this plane actually going to get up into the sky? And this one: Does that pilot know what she is doing? And then: Wait, I am the pilot! And then, a final thought, the one that makes me exhale: God is my co-pilot. Seriously, an oldie but goodie. Plus, Mani is my other co-pilot, so I figure we have to be fine between the three of us.
After my Dad and I hung up, Mani and I talked to Aviva on speaker for a little while, hearing about her first orientation day at her new school. She is ready for school to “actually start,” she told us. Also that she likes the library and the librarian. She sounded tired, which was kind of shocking given that this night owl of ours has stayed up till all hours this summer. Must be September. New month, new season, new school year, new rhythm.
A second image came to me, so vivid it was almost physical. I suddenly felt like a little kid on a two-wheeler. That wobbly feeling again, but this time my Dad was standing behind me. That body-memory of his hand on the back seat, his presence behind me, the bike shaky, and of not being able to tell the moment of letting go, of riding on my own. It was really tender, that moment of remembering and experiencing that sensation.
Sisters. The bursts of thoughtfulness, intense squalls, and day-in-day-out togetherness of them, of us. Prayer beads and first days and six-seaters and two-wheelers. Each of us getting our balance, standing behind or beside, holding on, letting go, cheering a little, if quietly, to ourselves and each other. (you can do it you can do it you’re doing it!)
And as always seems to happen when I get into the zone, I don’t know now what I’ve written and it doesn’t matter all that much.
What matters is that yesterday morning, waiting in line at Firestone Auto, Pearl stood in front of me, her back to my belly, my arms wrapped around her shoulders. What matters is that while Mani may have 27 or so pounds to go to her optimal weight, she is looking healthier each and every day. What matters is that we were able to buy clothes and repair tires, and that first days are happening.
Hello, September. You’re here!
Come be the sky to my little plane, the smooth, open road to some mad (if shaky) new skills. Come bring your last summer light and your warm afternoons, your first frosts and your Days of Awe. I’m ready enough, with the prayer and the beads, the unfolded clothes and the patched-up tires, the apologies and the wobbly ride, the brand-new beginnings. The take-off, the flight.
I didn’t know it would, but writing this post resulted in my sharing all of the ways you can writer, practice, and connect with me this fall! Click here to read and/or share my latest newsletter.