In another place, another town”
There are three of them. There’s also a secret library. I haven’t told you this, but the current house expansion (that began in late summer and was supposed to be done by Thanksgiving) has pretty much doubled our house. One of my favorite smells in the world, like coffee grounds and woodburning smoke, is the smell of new construction. I think we can narrow that down to one thing – new wood. When I was five, my mom married my dad, we became the Brady Bunch, and we (my parents, really) designed an expansion to my dad’s average-sized house to be a three-story, six-bedroom busy house with lofts and balconies and plenty of new wood. I got my own room, the biggest one to belong to a kid. It overlooked a forest with deer, and a gurgling stream filled with crayfish and salamanders. It was a tumultuous time; after my father’s death.
Now, is a tumultuous time. I stopped lying awake at night worrying about money, because worrying about money won’t make money problems go away, says Cassidy. In fact, it can/does make them worse, if the stress causes medical problems. I can’t stand medical problems and I’ll do anything to avoid the doctor. And I don’t lie awake at night much – I sleep deeply and flat on my back in between Rider feedings. I’ve been plagued by clogged ducts and mastitis, twice, so I can’t lie on my back or my sides. For nine months, I was told to not sleep on my back and now I have to, and it’s no relief at all. I can swear lying flat like that, that I can feel milk flowing. It’s a burning sensation, and it’s complemented nicely (or poorly) by worries, not about money, but about politics and COVID and chaos. My dreams are both vivid and murky, and you know what?
“It doesn’t feel real,” I said, as I went through places in the house I used to know, that are now constructive and future sites of secret doors and secret libraries. Revolving mirrors, forest murals, and a nursery facing the glowing woods. Wooden walkways, chicken coops, and sunrise/sunset views. I was referring to a minor thing – like one hallway out of this gigantic expansion. None of it feels real, though. Not the glowing sunset views, the glowing baby views, and the secret passageways that must be lifted right out of a storybook, but better. Realer. Sometimes you have to fixate on details, in order to slow down your brain, unable to wrap itself around the big picture. Otherwise it’s all a blur of color and noise; chaos. Where’s the constant?
Out in the street walking around
A face in the crowd”
And still the worries keep me up at night, on the nights I’m not flattened against the bed – deep in both vivid and murky dreams. Flattened by the worries and the weight; the fear of turning over or sinking face down. So flattened I can feel the beats and the flow throughout my body; healthy, so healthy, despite my worst fears that it isn’t so. Deep in the beats and the flow, they carve out a rhythm, and there are no secrets or landmines hidden there. I think I know this; have known this. In my vivid and murky dreaming and waking life passings and passages, I can feel a story being written. It’s pumped and pumping; steady and steadying. I need only look right or look left to see a face sleeping peacefully, or looking back at me. I never could have imagined.
Into my heart, into my life”
I gave up trying to keep track of, or trying to wrap my head and heart around the big and little things. They used to bowl me over, like a heavy bowling ball against my ten lightweight pins. Sometimes it’s one after another, slowly, and sometimes we all fall down together. The things we are capable of, these days, both fascinate and horrify me. The things you think, and do, and push and pull through – when one of your worst phobias (pandemic) comes true, the same year as one of your best phobias (pregnancy). Eventually they all pile up, after falling one by one.
And these are the days. So trying. So triumphant. Our stories are not only written out in our heartbeats and breaths at night, but we are writing them as they come. We lift those words and actions from deep within our chests, and with what we see and hear and take in with current events. It’s amazing to me the things I couldn’t have imagined that 2020 brought. The tumult, yes, but even the good things were and are beyond my comprehension. It astounds me that his gazing face was something I never knew, and now I feel like I’ve known him for 20 years. And it astounds me to think of all the beautiful faces I can’t see in a crowd. Some I’ve seen on Zoom, some I’ve seen in person, but masked, and all are missed. Time flows swiftly; it overwhelms.
A face in the crowd”
When I put him to sleep, awake, I rest a hand lightly on his chest while touching each cheek softly. When he wakes up, hungry, I pull him to me in the dark and shine a small light into my face so that he sees me. When he cries, longer than a few minutes, since he’s way too young for sleep training and doesn’t need it anyway, I touch his face and put mine slowly into his focus. All days, I need his face as much as he needs mine. Most days, now, we all need each other’s faces.
Looming slowly and gently from the darkness. Coming into view. All days, most days, these days, as we fumble through the fog, seeing what we never could have imagined would be; could be.
Into my heart, into my life
A face in the crowd
Face in the crowd”