our house is bursting with so much delight and happiness these past few days. accompanying such swirling glee is a bit of frustration and exhaustion, as to be expected.
it is a beautiful experience to be so close to my children, observing the finite nuances of their personalities each day. they love to try and keep me tangled up in their every move. i have to take a step back now and then for a breath.
what a gift a camera is. what a gift these girls are.
i decided this morning to select a few photographs from each season to tell their story. some i may share here. i envision the photos adorning a wall in our home or using them to create a short storybook of our year.
through a storybook they can make up their own words to go along with the photos each time they read through it together. i hope those times will be a moment in their days that will be effortless for them to share.
(a sweet auntie bearing scented nail polish is a wonderful thing to have.)
i took my lovely L to the mall this morning. i have not been to one for many months. do you remember the thrill that accompanied a trip to the mall as you were coming of age? among the peers in our small town, it was a source of high culture (we thought) as buying clothes there would reveal our identities to a cruel world (until the treasure hunt of thrift store shopping was discovered) and finally take us to new heights of cosmopolitan living revealed in glimpses of Vogue and Seventeen (not easily achieved in the few stores nearby). did city kids have the same feelings on the mall experience?
upon reaching my later twenties, thoughts of the mall meant nostalgia and laughter at my own short-sighted and naive perspective. in particular, recalling how in my girlhood i would cry the entire car ride home when i hadn’t gotten what i thought was enough or deserved! (i am still guilty of these “it’s not fair moments!” now and then.)
today i sat on a bench with a few rare moments to watch passersby. there were parents on dates with their children (like me) and women whose bodies showed the proof of years of caring for their families (also, like me) and awkward teenagers trying to fit in the adult world around them. i saw two ladies with face lifts, one fellow with triumphant eighties rocker hair, and countless women that forget to put themselves in the rotation of care each day (i fight this undertow daily). i wonder what a visit to the mall was providing each of them on this day.
for my lovely L it was a perfectly thrilling first ride on the escalator (which became six perfectly thrilling rides in all) just like Corduroy. happily, we didn’t see him there since he had already found a perfectly happy home with the little girl named lisa.
this morning before we left i felt very much like Corduroy. thankfully, i had my own little girl to bring me back to where my true home should be — a place of perfect, immaterial joy. (i am graciously humbled.)
between the ages of 18 and 31 i moved 12 times. it was exhilarating for me. i loved the possibility of each spot, viewing each apartment/house through my highly romanticized filter. i had a single houseplant that only survived two moves in all of the time i lived in any of those locations. one had a kitchen inhabited by the largest silverfish ever. in another i got to indulge views of the tops of trees, watching swirls of birds flock in the dawn and dusk. i worshipped bacchus in more than one and practiced meditation in another that led me to levels of consciousness patterned by streams of colored matter.
at the age of 34 i was barely expecting sweet S and our lives together with all of our girls were beginning to dovetail as happens when the youngest turns one. even so, the idea tinder was sparked and we were off to find ourselves our own house. we stalked the internet, the western PA countryside, every penny we had (including $300+ in the change barrel my husband once kept) and many wishes. and then, our home found us.
it was unwanted and unexplored. the dated snapshots showed a bleak, snowy homestead unusual for the spring bliss of may. driving past became pulling up the drive became parents-only sprints around the property became languishing moments of play and daydreaming. we felt quieted and power-surged every time we would sneak onto the property to look in the windows hoping for purchasing insights. there were signs but nothing that you would find on a home buyers checklist. it was the sound of their feet pulsing along the large porch, the scent on the wind of chilly evenings and balmy afternoons, the feeling of shelter provided by the giant pine buffering the house. but more than anything it was how miss C daydreamed Little House fantasies aloud or how lovely L let her baby toes snuggle in the grass. they already knew through their magical intuition that this was their place — their home.
when i was a little girl i loved to explore and hide in the woods surrounding our housing plan. the journey to them began with making my way down the tar-bubbled roads until reaching freshly tilled fields. these were a tricky exercise each time as they required trying to find a balancing rhythm atop the deep grooves with my sneaker-shod feet. there were narrow creeks to cross through leading to the bold sense of bravery swelling as the icy water ballooned through my shoe seams. and finally, the magical entrance into the tangle that was soothing and haunting.
after hitting empty logs with sticks to remove rotting bark. or standing as long as i could with my head fully tilted back to try to unlock the sensation of light splattering through giant trees. it would be time to play my favorite part of this game i engaged in with my solitary self playmate. i would find a spot to hover and be tucked in at the needle-blanketed base of a pine to imagine if i could stay forever. i would move through the points in my mind of how i could subsist and be sheltered. as i grew a bit older, the narratives would come to include wondering if i would be missed and for how long. i was quite intoxicated by the distilled sense of being isolated, a lulling sense produced by twigs cracking, birds calling and the breeze that made the leaves brush against themselves.
my girls are not me. i am aware that they each have a girl inside them that will find a secluded spot in childhood they will return to that i’ll likely never know until they are grown. sometimes i think i catch them in the act of being lost with their lonely playmate selves. it reminds me that my role to care and give means also protecting that those adventures can be made. i can watch closely, i can intercede if it seems their woods are luring them too far away.
today i have come to visit some woods near my home. this time i am sitting in a clearing and listening to count the bird calls. i am watching the bugs working among some stonework around me. there are grasses and weeds struggling to take over the planned nature along this path. my present joy is to sit and admire that which is not a woman, that which has no drive to analyze intentions. it simply does. i don’t truly fit here and can’t stay, but it is soothing to pretend.