I Am Here. I’m Here. Here I’m…

Hi. I am here.

I am here where I so often am, in a blue chair at the kitchen table. My back faces north and my front faces south. On my left is a pantry. A fridge. A coffee mug with a “J” on it. On the right, a wall with a bit of peeling paint on the molding. My right wrist rests gently on the edge of the laptop. I take a deep breath and this feels good so I take another and a third, through my nostrils. It’s nice to have clear nasal passages. The kind of thing you so often take for granted until a bad cold hits.

I am here and it’s Wednesday morning. The house is quiet. Mani is in our room. She might be meditating. Aviva is still asleep. Pearl rode his bike to school about half hour ago. Earlier I had music on, but now it’s just the sounds of the keys clicking, and the breathing, and if I listen closely, a faint humming kind of sound outside, the source of which I can’t identify.

From here, the mind goes in so many directions. To a dream I had last night, where I was holding a large, sharp knife in the middle of a busy intersection. I was standing on some kind of median. Plenty of people were around but nobody said anything about the knife and I was alarmed that they weren’t alarmed and knew this was privilege in action. I had no malicious intent. And then I realize I’d sliced my own leg — the back, inner right thigh had a fairly gaping wound. I was bleeding and ran inside to strip off my pants and see how deep it was. I also had my period and so there was a lot of blood.

I am here, still, even as I remember the dream.

For many years, “hineni” is a word that has spoken directly to my soul. God asked Abraham, where are you? Which in itself is mysterious, right? I mean, presumably God can see where everyone is, in whatever way it is God sees. But my take on it is that God was really asking Abraham, do YOU know where you are? Like, where are you REALLY? And Abraham answered, Hineni. I am here. I hear this as, I am here, and also I am HERE. I am here and I know I am here. The two are not one.

I am here and I know I am here.

I am here and I am not here.

I am here and I am a body and a mind and a miracle of all systems go. I am here and typing and imagining you there, which is another miracle. My god. My God. God, do you see how many miracles are taking place right this very minute? I sound like a religious fanatic and I’ve probably said it before but I am ok with that.

We started watching “Alias Grace,” a show based on the Margaret Atwood book. In fact, Atwood is one of the producers, which makes me happy because it indicates her approval of the show’s translation of her writing for the screen. Back then, did you know they didn’t use contractions? So there is a lot of “I do not” and “You will not” and “We are going” types of phrases. These lend a certain gravity to everything, and it fascinates me that a tiny symbol like the apostrophe, the slightest closing in of things, can cause an entire shift in tone. Suddenly everything sounds less important, more casual.

I am here. I’m here. Here I am. But “here I’m” doesn’t work without a gerund to follow it. I’m here writing. I’m here being here. I am here, gratefully so.

“There are days we live”

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

— Li-Young Lee, “From Blossoms”

There are days we live

we live the days the days pass us by we pass each other by we pass by windows we pass through doors we pass through moods we pass the salt we don’t eat meals together we pass the kids’ stuff back and forth we pass gas we let it all hang out.

We pass by roadside vegetable stands

where asparagus is called Hadley Grass where flowers so full they’re verging on obscenity hang from rusty hooks we pass through countryside landscapes windows down tobacco barns and storm clouds and air thick with impossible weight of all the grief we’ve not let bury our joy we pass over into joy.

We pass riverbanks we pass school playgrounds

old cemeteries and painted window boxes we pass stop signs and hospitals and we pass through all the times we wanted to lash out at life we pass karma and the smiling faces of saints who walk among us we pass the homeless woman who stand in the median on Route 9 her skin darker by the day we imagine track marks on her arms, withdrawal or overdose we pass her a dollar or three we pass the ATM to get cash.

We pass streams of ancient chants

we pass stories we pass saliva we pass hope we pass patience we pass it along we pass it back we are impossible we are here being and what I want to say is

What makes you blossom?

What I want to ask is

How can you think anything is impossible?

What I need to hear is it is really ok

to stumble to forget a peach to miscount to miscalculate to fall to let go to let down to stop smiling to stop striving to stop worrying to stop proving to stop stop stop. Stop.

That is the impossible and that, too, is the blossom

I long to devour. All I want is to close my eyes in the new hammock swing, to be fed cold peaches, to stop clenching my teeth, to sit back. And here is where resistance comes rearing its head up, dragon fire breathing.

I want.

I want the summer by the lake, the ocean.

I want — it feels impossible to say I want, to allow for that moment of wide-mouthed honesty. I am so tired but that is the impossible truth where words have led, where truth and blossom coexist, coffee and impossible sweetness conspire, where inspiration grows in well-tended soil.

Neglect is not a strategy.

So sit with me and

let’s watch these fields grow wild with peaches, let’s pick them slice them bake them devour life devour these days not let them pass us by unnoticed.

If I’m tired, let me rest.

I am to here to serve, please keep showing me how.

You’re Grounded

Photo: Matthew Smith

Photo: Matthew Smith

From crushed velvet to Krishna Das tickets… I’m starting to think about Mani’s birthday. It’s both fun and problematic to want to give someone THE WHOLE WORLD. She turns 39 the day after our 2nd anniversary, and I think we’re also going to try for another weekend getaway the last weekend of September.

The truth is, I started this as a Facebook post but it’s really about being grounded. Oh, I love feeling grounded. But this morning, the only image that came to mind was of a plane. A grounded flight. Bummer. A plane that cannot take off. A plane that is stuck on the ground. A plane that will not be transporting you somewhere new, so there you are stuck in the airport for who knows how long. You go to the bookstore and look at the shelves and think about all those people who’ve written and published books. You being me, me being the plane.

Yes, this morning, I got bowled over by ungroundedness. By letting things shift and change. By not knowing exactly how things will go. I want to busy myself with thinking about Mani’s birthday and the truth is I’m down today, a little sad, a little unsure, a little needing something I’m not saying which is to win the $1,000 a week for life scratch ticket, I bought 2 of them today after riding my bike up to school to lock up Pearl’s bike, since she forgot the lock.

I feel ungrounded in my freewrite but at this point I’m just going with it rather than ditching it and coming back to write something better later. There might not be a better. There might not be a later.

What if, what if. That’s like the bird call of ungroundedness. But sometimes the plane not taking off might actually be the best thing ever, because otherwise you know, you never would’ve met that amazing person who changed your life who was also stuck in the airport that day. I love stories like that.

My what ifs so often come down to money, and then it’s easy to think, oh, it’s nice having structure and colleagues and all the grass is greener stuff. But then I remember, no, it wasn’t nicer. What’s nicer, what’s grounding, is hearing Ben Sollee playing in the other room, where she’s back on her feet at least for part of the day, and I’m sitting here typing and trusting and soon will pick Aviva up at the bus after her first day of 8th grade which is the beginning of the last year of middle school.

What’s grounding is being their mama. What’s grounding is not being scared, or being scared but feeling for what’s solid and here, letting her give me reiki, then taking a rest together because we want to and we can. What’s grounding is a good cry and telling the truth and being loved. Still being loved, even then. Especially then.

**

This was today’s 10-minute freewrite from my current 2-week writing group. From time to time I like sharing these here, because this is where I practice not only writing but showing up — unedited and imperfect and real. (I did add paragraph breaks and a few italics.)