potluck

Just an assortment of things, almost all beautiful:

  • Since I won’t be here on Oliver’s third birthday because I’ll be in Bali that day, I spent a few hours with him yesterday. I had some kind of seriously awful gut thing going on so it wasn’t as long as I’d have liked, but it was so wonderful being with him. He and I went to one of the neighborhood parks, the one on the elementary school grounds where he will be going in just a couple of weeks. He played on the equipment, we blew bubbles even though it was too breezy to make chasing them much fun, he ate lunch, and he ran around. I watched him wandering around, running, talking to himself the way he does, and my heart ached so hard. Oliver has something going on — the current educational diagnosis is in the autism neighborhood — but most difficult is his pretty profound speech delay. So I watched that beautiful, darling boy running around, in his own world, and I cried pretty hard because I so want to know him. I so want to share things with him, know what he thinks without guessing, hear his wonderings and his wants and his needs and his funny. At the moment that’s not how it is to be with Oliver, but I know it will be one of these days. I don’t think he feels lonely; he seems keenly aware of how much he is loved. One fun thing to do with Oliver is to look at the phone together. We had the camera on and turned to selfie mode, and he was grinning as he held down the button for dozens of long bursts. He caught the really beautiful shot I included here. See the delight on his face?
  • My dear, dear friend Becci (hi darling Becci!) sent me a Crazy Zauberball. I have always wanted one, and somehow she chose a colorway that I always wanted, too. The other day I opened my mailbox, expecting the usual day’s allotment of junk mail, and instead there was a nicely wrapped box, fit snugly into the mailbox with my name facing outward. I had no idea what it might be, even when I saw Becci’s name and address in the top right corner. I literally ran into the house and unwrapped it (even more nicely presented inside the outer brown wrapper, with a “just because” note) and when I pulled out the ball I jumped up as if I’d been electrocuted. It was the last thing I expected, and I instantly started crying with all the joy — the joy of having a friend who would do such a thing (and just because), the joy of her thoughtfulness and knowing, the pleasure of the long-wanted yarn, and the delight of finding just the right project for it. I decided on a project that others have made with the yarn, a scarf called Baktus, because it looks amazing and it’s a simple knit—I want to make it on my upcoming trip. In the way these things work, forever more I’ll feel all the love and joy when I wear it, remembering Becci, remembering making it in Indonesia. That’s one thing I love about knitting, it holds the space for all of that.
  • I can’t properly talk about how humiliated I feel over having that hangover on Tuesday. I feel such shame about it. I’m 58, I have so many ways to manage upset, and I drank enough to have a hangover? It’s hard to talk about it but I feel like I must — maybe this is some kind of self-flagellation, maybe I shouldn’t, but shame and humiliation is exactly what I feel. I mentioned that feeling to Nancy, and she looked puzzled, which puzzled me. Shouldn’t I feel shame? I talk relatively often about AA, which I only know about because of my husband; I know that they believe self-loathing doesn’t get you anywhere, and certainly not to the same place that self-compassion will take you. I’m trying that, trying to have compassion for myself that evening, acceptance of myself and what I did. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again; I sure learned a lot, including the fact that a hangover can be a really terrible mood, which I didn’t know. I’m sorry I did that — I say that out loud, and to myself. It’s funny; I even find this beautiful, even though it’s such a dreadful feeling. But it’s beautiful to stumble along, fall down and get up, bruise yourself, heal yourself, and be helped along by others. I think that’s really beautiful.
  • We just lost Derek Walcott, a poet whose words have meant a lot to me over the years. I first encountered him in 2001, when I knew a poet who loved him. I’m sorry this is in a jpg instead of text, but I can’t find it copy-able and I don’t want to type it all out. This poem relates so beautifully to the end of my last bullet point:

  • Tonight I will sit with the women in my book club to talk about this month’s book, which I didn’t like at all I’m sad to say (The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood, review here). But I will love being with the women, who share my political world view and who are SMART, screamingly smart, and compassionate. We meet at Joyce’s house tonight — she picked the book — and she’s making us a vegetable pie and salad, and I’m bringing Topo Chico and dark chocolate, and I look forward to the communion with all my heart. For now, though, I pack for Indonesia. Happy Sunday, everyone.

love

OH I had such a moment yesterday via facebook, and I want to put it here so I’ll have it for safekeeping, and say more about it. Marnie’s husband Tom has a sister named Andi (what does that make her, to me? If he is a son and she is his sister, then she’s my daughter[-in-law] and I am confused.). Anyway. Andi gave me a tremendous gift yesterday, and it came at such a tender, cracked-open time. Quite literally, I was sitting in my chair feeling sad and missing my husband and thinking about all of that, and here it came. It’s one of my favorite Derek Walcott poems:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

But before I go on, that poem. Of course it’s absolutely perfect for me, at this moment in my life, and Andi knew that. She said it reminded her of something I’d write, and I take that to mean the spirit of it, not the beautiful poetic words. And it is something I’d have fumbled to say, at some point. It describes a moment I’m walking toward. I keep turning around to look backwards at what I left, grateful not to turn into Lot’s wife, but filled with yearning. And then I face forward again and keep walking toward this moment where I will do just what Walcott said.

I keep wanting to comment on the poem, but when I look at the lines I start crying and my words disappear. I have at least figured out it’s the line, “You will love again the stranger who was your self” that breaks me down. I feel this spasm in my heart.

In a perfect coincidence of music in the background, when I was first reading it, my favorite old hymn was playing at the same time, Softly and Tenderly, and right after that came the gorgeous song from the Spring Awakening soundtrack, Whispering. (Links take you to a video of each song, which I recommend with all my heart. And not for nothing, Softly and Tenderly is about home, come home.)

Here’s where I wish I was a poet, I really do. Because I can’t possibly tell you the feelings I experienced in a way that will make sense. I felt washed in brilliant emotion, untangleable. Grief and sorrow and happiness and hope and love for and connection and love from. It’s almost mystical, how it’s possible to feel all those things at the very same moment. This is why it’s essentially a wordless experience, because I need all the words at once.

I do want to be home. I have longed my whole long life for a home of my own. I want to welcome myself home. My whole life, I’ve felt that yearning, which is why I love that hymn so much. It says, “ye who are weary, come home.” Every time I’d sing it at church as a child, I’d think oh yes, I am so so weary. The trite, cliched thing to say here would be “I was home all along” or “I had a home in myself all along,” but even aside from my abhorrence for cliche, it’s also just not true. As I said in my post about beauty, it took me an extraordinarily long time to grow into myself, to even know my own skin, and I’m only just learning how to be comfortable in it.

Happy Sunday, y’all.

The good thing of the day today is poetry. And someone to send you just the right one.