My computer is back in the land of the living, which means I’m slowly but surely catching up on all my pictures. I sure do take a lot of those puppies. I’m not sure how many of them will make it up here but I know I’ve at least got to put up these pictures from our trip up to Illinois for Thanksgiving. It breathed life into my weary soul. How I love that place and my grandparents’ home.
After 38 years of trying to eat salad (well, probably more like 35…) I am ready to make a definitive statement on the subject…
Dun ta da dun…
I don’t like salad.
There. I said it. It’s out there. It’s irrevocable; just like a trust.
Today I tried again, just like I do every day. I loaded it on my plate. It looked beautiful, like salad always does, which is one of the reasons I always think I’m going to like it. But when I settled in at my desk and evaluated the things on my plate, I didn’t want to take a bite of the salad first. I wanted the cheese grits. And then I wanted more of the same. And when I finished with them, I moved on to the barbecue salmon. And it was so incredibly good that I kept taking bites of that until it was gone, all the time looking at the beautiful salad still sitting there, untouched, and promising it that I would eat it next. Just like I always do. But I am liar (which is kind of the opposite of a trust).
Because I never ate the salad.
I thought maybe if I chopped it up, I would want it more because I recognize that one of the reasons I hate salad is that the lettuce pieces are so big and awkward to eat and they always end up half in and half out of my mouth. I hate that. So I chopped it up and I even tried a bite. But something about eating salad always makes me picture the little elves that live down in my stomach having to work overtime to digest that stuff when it hits. I picture them with pick-axes, singing “Hi-ho” while swinging away at all that roughage. And it makes me not want to eat it anymore because I just don’t want them to have to work that hard this afternoon.
So, like always, I am now headed back to the kitchen to throw away the salad that I myself put on my plate. And I will get a dessert bar instead. I think the elves will like that.
Maybe tomorrow I won’t put salad on my plate.
Life hasn’t really turned out like I expected.
Every once in a while these young women that I live with do things that remind me of when they were my babies. And that’s when I realize why it is that moms always talk about how their kids haven’t changed at all since they were babies. It’s not because it’s true. It’s because we need to believe that it’s true in order to make sense of our world. It’s not because they’re still the same people they were back then. It’s because there’s almost nothing left of people they were back then and we don’t know how that happened. They grew up. And they’re still growing. And life didn’t turn out like we expected. But sometimes, just sometimes, we catch glimpses of who they used to be. And we transport to a time that can’t be retrieved by our wills. And the unexpected memory of it paralyzes us as we realize all that we’ve been through to arrive right here, at this moment. All we have left are the vestiges, which show up in the moments whose arrivals we have no way of predicting. They rush over us before we know that they’re upon us and then there we are, swimming in them for as long as they’ll let us.
Which is never very long.
Once upon a time, a girl met a boy who sang real good. She liked to accompany him on the piano and sing harmony to his melody. She wrote him love songs and he did the same for her. That boy and that girl dreamed of their future together. He wanted to be a rock star and she wanted to be a mommy. They married and moved forward into life. His dreams almost died before they matured as hers were fulfilled. As his focus turned towards the church, her babies grew up. Today he runs across freeways and compiles traffic data for a living, and she gets in an elevator every day with strangers who don’t look at each other or talk and rides it to the 17th floor. And the kids go to school and come home again.
And somehow, that’s so much more beautiful than it sounds.
Because there’s life in there that can’t be seen in the words. It’s inside the words and in between the words and all around the words, swinging high and dipping deep. It’s in the studying and worshiping and growing and communing. It’s where there’s dancing and laughter. And it’s where there are tears. It’s a life that’s incredibly rich and worthy of living.
I never expected it.
Speaking of tears, Over the Rhine has done it again. Thank you, Linford and Karin, for helping me to remember things. Thanks for dreaming my dreams out loud with me.
The dreams I dreamed, I give them all to you now
I’m not really sure what shape they’re in
Maybe they were all just too expensive
Maybe after dark we’ll try again
(Click song title to listen to the entire song)
I woke up to sounds rarely heard in this world. The ice fairies were speaking to each other in their own language loud enough for the rest of us to hear while the thunder roared its gentle laughter in the background in a low, steady murmur. In those magical, pre-dawn hours, the ice fairies danced to the deep bass rhythm while the spikes on their wings brushed against our windows and their voices could be heard rejoicing in their language made up entirely of F, S, T, P and K. Psk tpks kft! They sang as they flung themselves about in the wind.
And when we awoke, the world was transformed.
I knew that it would be for last night I did my Winter Storm Dance. I danced us right out of the 75 degree days we called January and I danced us into Winter. The February kind. I danced on the trampoline underneath the hazy night sky, while my husband wrapped himself in a blanket and bounced along while I danced. I danced hard and I danced high. I lifted my knees as high as my face and I ran circles around my bouncing, cocooned husband. The middle daughter joined us at one point and did a little dancing and a little bouncing herself. But not a lot of talking. It was not a night for talking. It was a night for dancing the Winter Storm Dance. The eldest daughter opened the kitchen window at another point and said “You’re ALL out here?” And we said no, not all. The youngest was in bed. Would she like to join us? She just looked at us like we were crazy and shut the window. And I danced on.
And it came. Like I knew it would. The world was transformed by morning.
I drove to work in that world. I listened to my music and I sang along loudly, while gliding over solid sheets of ice. I like ice. I like gliding. I like only seeing through one tiny circle of clear space on my windshield. I like watching the tiny circle grow wider slowly, even though I can’t see where it goes. I like when the little figure of the car sliding on ice lights up next to my speedometer and beeps at me. It’s helpful. How would I ever know I was sliding if it didn’t tell me? I listened to my music and I wondered while I wandered.
I felt compassion for the cars that I passed driving along with their hazard lights on. I know some people get mad at those people, but not me. Yes, we all know it’s bad weather and we’re all driving slow and they really don’t need to turn their hazard lights on. But I feel like they’re trying to send me a message. They’re saying “I’m scared. Please keep your distance.” And I get that. I really do. I feel sorry for them because it sucks to be scared. Fear can be debilitating. And I have compassion when I pass them.
I, however, am not scared. I’m rarely scared of the physical. I love it. All of it. The heat and the deep freeze, the wind and rain and thunder, the highest heights and the lowest lows. The jumping and the running and the kneeling and the falling. I never get when people say “Be careful out there.” Careful? Really? I feel like I’m ALWAYS careful out there. That’s the easy part. If I could hurtle my body with the ice fairies, believe me, I would. But I am human, so I settle for Winter Storm Dances on the trampoline on a January night. And I try to figure out for one more day how to navigate the most truly scary place I know of. It’s not out there at all. It’s the opposite of out there.
I don’t even begin to know how to go about being careful in here. And I don’t know how to turn my hazard lights on to warn people.