29 March 2012

Rocket through the wilderness

The son and I are sitting in DFW en route to DCA. We've been shunted back and forth from gate to gate. I already have a far too intimate acquaintance with Concourse C from years of flying in and out of here.

This is a trip I really didn't want to take, but an expensive and life-important decision is riding on the weekend. This is how it goes. This is how we roll.

Last weekend, we went to see The Hunger Games. It's one of those stories that resonates differently with different generations. My kids, of course, thrilled to the action, the wise and wily children. For me as a parent, the idea of children battling to the death... There aren't even words.

Perhaps, though, the defining moment was near the end when Cato sobbed that this was what he knew, that he'd only been trained to kill. I just looked at the spouse. While we don't train our children to kill, we do tend to train them to a single purpose. Right now, I couldn't even tell you what that purpose is.

Like Katniss, I've never wanted what's been foisted on me with regards to raising my children. Insofar as it's been possible, we've avoided The Path, or what I more commonly refer to as the recipe or the cookbook. And in the process, I've pissed off a lot of people because my way has paid off. I've lost friends for following my gut and letting my kids follow their hearts.

Do I think my way is the only way? Gods, no. But for us, I still believe it was the right way. Could I have done it better? Gods, yes. Still, here we are. The boy, I think, is equipped to do amazing things if he so chooses. And now, it's up to him. And in time the daughter will follow.

This is how it goes. This is how we roll.

So here I am on airplane and despite my brave words, I feel a certain terror, hoping that I'm right and that I've done well by this child, that I've trained him to live a life, not just get into a top-rated university or several.

Go listen to some good music: "Roam" from the album Cosmic Thing by the B-52s.

Sent from my iPhone

13 March 2012

Here in my own skin

The infernal machine is cranking up again.

(There's more than one, you know.)

I'm off to Washington, D.C., in a couple of weeks. Of course, the cherry blossoms will be peaking early this year, before I get there. So it goes. And this time, I'm sort of sneaking in. No notification of my dear extended family. There's been so much chaos in the last year; I need to be away. Just me, in a city.

The gears begin to gnash. The wheel squeaks a bit. But I'm well enough for extended travel. So, I'm going back to Europe. I try never to pass up an opportunity when the cosmos offers it. I've learned--God, I've learned and learned--that you never know when that opportunity is your last.

I'll never ride a horse again. One of many reasons that I'm so glad that I grabbed the reins and rode that damned bitey horse in Iceland. But on the upside, I can probably still ride a bicycle.

It's a war of attrition, this body of mine. My doctors tell me I'm too young, tell me to stay active, but when I suggest an activity, I get quelling looks, conditionals. A lot of "don't." It sounds more like they would have me spend a lot of time not.

To hell with that. I'm too young. I haven't even reached 50 yet.

So Europe. There will probably be a bicycle.

But there is a lot of work that needs to be done between now and then. We know how that goes. The risk (and pain), the reward (and, probably, pain). Coming back takes time. You've got to want it.

I don't really know how to live any other way, even in this body of mine.

Go listen to some music: "Deep Blue" from the album The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.

05 March 2012

I know my faults

We'll skip the dream landscape. Last night was nothing but zombies.

Today started with me behaving badly. I don't precisely regret that; I just wish I could learn how to do it differently. I'd like to behave badly in a useful fashion. This is what I seek: better bad behavior.


Go listen to some music: "Civilian" from the album Civilian by Wye Oak.

04 March 2012

...and now it's found us

I dream of you. You and I inhabit gardens I've never seen and night-dark streets crowded with the nameless and faceless. But it's always the same garden and familiar streets.

Crowds frighten me now as they never have before. I fear being jostled. I fear being body-slammed. I fear losing my balance. I fear damage. I sit, finally, exhausted and in pain. The exhaustion is part of the dream; the pain is real.

You always find me. You have some amazing radar, some keen sixth sense that sends you where I am. We are bound by some otherworldly thread, and as you never fail to locate me, I hear you at odd times when you are nowhere near. I can't explain it and I've never tried. We both seem to accept it as part of the logic of whatever relationship it is that we share, of the strange and happy circumstances that threw us together, of that moment of recognition years ago where it all began.

You are willing me to see you, to look past the milling masses between us and to acknowledge you there. I want to--oh, you will never know how much I want to--but the crowd is insurmountable, and simple fear keeps me pinned to the ground. Fear and doubt. I am so sure that I am right; I am equally sure that I am so wrong.

I feel rather than see the slump of your shoulders; your disappointment in me manifests itself in the language of your body.

"Here I am!" my heart cries out. "I am here."

But you know where I am. And while you wait for me, you also choose not to move through the throng in the street dimly lit with old-fashioned lamps. We are chess pieces in our own game, locked in stalemate, each with compelling reasons to move forward and to hold back. I wonder if fear and doubt binds you as much as they do me.

Today, I worked in the garden, setting out new plants: flowers that are beautiful and herald spring; herbs for the food that I make. The sun was hot, and I washed pots and filled them; raked last autumn's leaves out of beds; and methodically set plants to grow alongside the seeds I planted. I watched the moon rise in the east as I worked, while the sun moved toward the horizon in the west.

I thought of you, of the seeds we've sown, of what may yet grow.

Above me, the sky turned to blue velvet and the stars sparkled in sharp relief.

Go listen to some music: "The Lightning Strike" from the album A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol.