One of Pearl’s birthday presents was a little one-piece plastic basketball game, the kind where you catapult an orange marble into a tiny hoop. After assembling a solar-powered robot and placing it on the kitchen window sill Saturday afternoon in between birthday shin-digs, she sat down at the kitchen table and started playing the basketball game. Within moments, two of the three marbles had shot across the room and rolled under the stove. I’m sure they are joined there by all manner of dust and ancient food debris… come to think of it, just the kind of thing I should probably be starting to think about cleaning before Passover.
But cleaning for Pesach has been the furthest thing from my thoughts this week. Between last week’s flu and this week’s hormones, let’s just say I’ve written and deleted three sentences already here, unable even to quite find the words, or at least ones I want to use and share.
It’s not always pretty. It’s not always easy. It’s not always anything. How is it I can burst with love one week and fold into existential oblivion the next? Hell, forget one week — sometimes this will happen not only in the course of a day but at the same exact moment. Yesterday, I had one of those huge cries — the kind that rock me to the core, remind me of all the other times I’ve been rocked, and feel brutal, like it’s all I can do to hold on tight and get through it to live and love another day.
Luckily, I have someone here who gets it, gets me, and holds me tight so that I can actually let go and go there. It’s not something I seek out or set out to do; on the contrary, these storms come monthly but their form remains unknown until it’s upon us, and is usually a surprise.
The particular trigger — does it even matter? Not really, because it will always be something. I have to remind myself with all my might that NOTHING HAS CHANGED externally.
The magical mystery tour hasn’t ended abruptly, leaving me and my charges stranded roadside without so much as bus money; the angels haven’t forsaken me and moved on to someone with more spark and potential; and I’m not yesterday’s news. In fact, I’m not tomorrow’s news or today’s, either. I’m not news at all. Being news is not my aim; being stable and happy and kind and generous is.
And so when everything logical and good is occluded by the sudden, inexplicable plague of darkness known as Part of Being Human, what is a girl to do? Fuck. No, no, let me clarify — I didn’t mean, a girl should fuck (although that actually is a very good release)! I meant, fuck. As in, sometimes it just feels relentless and brutal, this being alive business. Bone tired and one day at a time and wearing so many hats and desperately not wanting to sink into the stink and mire of self-pity but going that way fast, all of it pouring out, my marbles rolling across the floor, under the stove, into the dark and unswept corners better no one sees.
Better no one sees.
That’s the thing. It seems better that no one see this me. This one who isn’t sparkly. This one who isn’t wild and successful and wildly successful. This one who goes under dark waves of pettiness and envy and doubt, right alongside the gratitude and connection and joy. Better keep her under wraps, right? Better to share just the “good stuff.”
Rabbit hole ahead!
The minute I become someone I can’t be all of… what am I? The minute I start shunning or judging parts of myself I think of as less lovable… who am I?
My life and work are so inextricable, and sometimes I think I mistake this for “having to be” a certain way. But there are no parts of me, any more than there are parts of you. We are not neat and tidy creatures. I was scared last night, that my heart might permanently harden. I reached though my grumpy exhaustion for Mani’s hand and placed it there while we watched The Americans. She promised me it wouldn’t.
Today I woke up and made coffee and got kids of to school and grocery shopped and had a wonderful coaching call and then got a call from Aviva that she didn’t feel well and could I come get her and dragged my weary ass over the Notch to her school then back home again, where finally I made a tuna melt and got to work. Life’s a Lot of Work, I’m Tired, remember?
But it’s not as pithy as that. We live in a culture where so much is distilled into bullet points and numbered lists and trackable timelines, and I’m so not feeling it. Last night, I took Pearlie to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get cleats and baseball pants after her first practice — she liked it so much that she asked if she could play baseball every year and did I think maybe she could even get a scholarship someday?
She brought her excitement right into the store and was very commanding when it came to trying on cleats and sussing out the right size for her rapidly growing feet; I was trying hard to be patient but it was well after 7:00pm and I also wanted to get home to eat and, well, get home.
Later, Pearl thanked me for cooperating with her. I wasn’t even sure what to make of that; isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? But I am pretty sure (or at least choosing to believe) that what she meant was she appreciated my patience with her at the store. She knew I was tired–and it had also been my idea for us to go then and get that errand done.
It’s nice, when people and things cooperate, isn’t it? What I’m seeing as I write is that I get angry at life sometimes, for the ways it hasn’t cooperated with what I thought I wanted. I get angry that Mani’s body doesn’t cooperate with her mind. It’s not always an easy or simple “reframe” or “shift in perspective” to find a different way or relating.
I do a lot of driving, cooking, cleaning, and working. Every now and then, I do a lot of crying. I also do a lot of loving, napping, playing, laughing, and creating. A lot of talking, listening, singing, and seeing. A lot of imagining and experimenting and trusting. I do a lot of wishing and waiting and diving in and doing. I defer and deter and deflect, and I also relish and risk and free fall.
Over and over and over and over, I land. I am anchored here. I am safe. I am loved. I stay.
Which is the default? Does there have to be one?
I am all of this. I am all of this. I am all of this.