Friday, July 21, 2017

of water

I stood in her kitchen.  The not-her-kitchen-any-more, kitchen.  The one she never stood in cooking dinner and correcting homework. In the room she didn't meal plan or pack bento box lunches. She didn't pull banana bread from the oven or stir pots of marshmallows to make rice crispy treats.  And yet, somehow, even after she moved out it remains her kitchen. 

When she came into the house a few minutes behind me, she came with the smell of campfire and 2 ratty looking young girls. They met with the 2 young ladies I had brought with me; 2 teens dressed to fly off to gymnastics camp. 

My campers in search of a camera to stash like squirrels into organized roller bags.  Her campers in search of cleaner clothes.

We were each only passing through.  Meeting like the last high tide and the last dry sand in the not-her-kitchen-any-more kitchen. Sometimes timing is everything.

She made herself a cup of coffee in the not-her-kitchen-any-more.  It looked so familiar because it was something I have done.  A long time ago I had a never-was-my-kitchen in my ex husband's new house up on the hill. It had all my dishes, my pots & pans, and my tins but it wasn't mine.

On his weeks to have the kids I would go to his house, make myself a cup of coffee while the kids got ready for school then I would drive them. 

She asked me what I was thinking and I told her that the house still has the feeling of a mother.  I said, even as flighty as you are as a mom- it still feels like a woman lives here.

I thought of the next woman who will come to stand in her place and wondered if she will see it too.

Really? She questioned me looking around the counters for the evidence of what I was saying.  Looking for things she might have accidently left behind.  Looking for forgotten scraps of motherhood.

But I don't think she could see what I see. 

Women, especial mothers, we run like rivers.  We all come from the same blueness but we each take our own paths. 

We twist, we converge, we break apart, some run dry, and some over flow their banks.  We carry life.  And death.  We cut through mountains.  We get trapped in cities and go underground. We get facelifts.  We get polluted.  We get rescued.  We get forgotten.  We get protected. We get angry. We come right in the nick of time. We get weepy and we throw ourselves over cliffs. We gather  our strengths together behind dams.  We get called beautiful. We create waves.  We grow shallow.  We get deep.  We run fast.  We sink.  We rise.  We give birth.  And we die. We disappear into the sand and into the ocean.

We are not forever but our impact, for better or worse, can be lasting.        

Sitting together in the kitchen I didn't have time for coffee or for the antics of the cat carrying around a dead bird- but I lingered with her. For a little bit. It is something I have had to learn to do.  It is not in my nature to be still. 

Then when I knew it was time I took my 2 girls with me (one of which actually belongs to her) and we left.

At the airport I was the only mom who cried.  My daughter looked back from the security line and seemed surprised.  I think it surprised the other moms too.  But it shouldn't. 

If I am a river, each time she grows and walks away the channel slipping towards the estuary grows wider and clearer.  From here I can see the blue of the ocean. I can see where her own river begins. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

beyond maybe

It only takes four and a half words. "Wouldn't that be nice." And it's over before I even had a chance. 

BC laying on the downstairs sofa his hand draped over his face in exhaustion for a long day at work. 

All the planning and the figuring, the favor borrowing, it's all for nothing. I am not slipping off into the mountains to make my second attempt to find the overlook between Millcreek and Big Cottonwood canyon at either Little Water Peak or Reynolds- or both.  They are only a couple of miles apart.  

My first attempt last week was derailed by my dog and a watershed sign.  My second, by four & a half words. 

"Please, don't," I say, "you say that to me and I won't go.  You know that..." 

"All I said was, wouldn't that be nice...." he repeated.

"You did this to me last year, please don't," I begged.

But it's already too late and he said nothing else.

His silence allowed the words to crawl like spiders collecting old fears and doubts as they came.  You don't deserve to go, is what I hear.  Of course he doesn't realize all of this.  I say he should know but how could he?   

How could anyone know how hard I have been fighting this summer to keep above all the voices telling me what a total wreck I am.

I let BC nap in the coolness of the house.  I watered the garden. I sweep the floors.
I cleared the kitchen of the remains of dinner.  The whole time trying to talk myself over those four and a half words.  But for me words are so much harder to climb than miles. You can still go, I tell myself- I know I won't. 

I won't even though I know he won't even know whether or not I do.

I argue with BC in my own head, I supported you through a year in Moab, through every empty October when you hunt, all your side adventures and boy trips, your extra ski days when I can't go because I have to drop off and pick up our kid. 

This is a half a day, one day a week at the most in these 3 miserable months of the year.  I don't even ask anything of you.  I find all the rides, all the back-ups, all the safeties.  I slip out leaving behind a clean empty house and I return to a clean empty house.

But it's not about him.  It's about me.

Hiking is my only escape from the madness summer ignites in my head.  The solitude of pine needles baking in the sun 3 miles up a mountain, physical tiredness that matches my soul.

And I can dredge up mountains tired and sore.  I can keep going when I don't think I have anything else.

Yes, it would have been nice.  It would have been nice to have this summit under my feet before I head into a series of 11 hour shifts at work. 

Nice to have the memory of it in body when I stand beside the bikinis basking on the shore and me with my sensible suit and my matching shorts. 

Nice to have the view of standing on top of something when I call my ex to ask if it might be possible for me to spend a few hours with my son while he is here in town- visiting my ex's dimes.

It would have been nice and it would have been hard.  My back is still not well neither are my toes.  I would have had to fight for it but on the mountain I would have won. 

Down here in the valley where the heat robs the days out from under us I wear myself out trapped in my own mind.  Trapped in my own past.  Trapped in a black and white woods somewhere far, far beyond the edge of maybe.

her space