It’s only 9:40 in the morning. I have been awake for the last three hours and, in that time, I’ve enjoyed my cup of coffee, breakfast, a brief chat with my husband, a huge jug of Gatorade to prevent possible salt-depletion migraines, watering and weeding the vegetable gardens, cleaning up the front gardens, and starting the process of changing the texture and patterns of one of the front gardens.
As I am going through the front gardens, pulling up hosts and a dying azalea bush, the newest Mumford and Sons album is playing and I am riding on the harmonies of contentment which is ironic because their lyrics are all about questioning which suggests discontentment.
But I am content. Completely and utterly content which, for me, is huge. I have spent so much of my life in a state of existential anxiety and questioning. And I know that I will return to those states possibly in five minutes, possibly in five days…I don’t know. It never ends. When my shadow is cast in sharp relief against what I consider is society’s definition of normal, my nervous system starts ticking and prickling.
But for now, my shadow is hidden thanks to the clouds that populate the sky, a blanket of dirty grey that remind me of late snow melting in early spring. But this keeps away the body wearying sunlight that I hate in the summer. I wish I could love summer more. I love being outside. I love sitting on the swing on my front porch (where I am currently sitting). I love being in my gardens. Hell, I even love mowing the lawn even though I have assigned this as a chore to the Girl so that she and her brother never make that stupid misconception of what is “woman’s work” versus “man’s work.” You have hands. You have legs. You can do it.
That and I pay her ten dollars per lawn-mowage which is a lot of money in her world.
Right now, Mumford and Sons are singing about how they “don’t even know if [they] believe.” I can’t tell if this is a song about lovers who are struggling to understand what is happening within the heart, soul, or mind or if this is about religion.
What’s funny is that in listening to this song about questioning, I find that my sense of questioning is lessened. I know what I believe and I am content with my beliefs.
I know what I feel for my husband, my children, my family, my friends. At this moment, I know.
And that is enough for me.
I don’t know if this is a side-effect of finally getting enough sleep that is not punctuated by alarm clocks playing NPR “Morning Edition” while following the chimes of an electronic bell that pushes me from one train of thought to the next. I don’t know if this is merely because my mornings are spent hiking upwards of five miles followed by going to the gym and doing a second work out.
I don’t know if this is because I am worshipping God while I walk through His cathedrals of trees and sunlight.
I don’t know.
I don’t care.
And that is enough for me.
The academic in me is screaming. I must answer these questions. I must rationalize all of these emotions and experiences. But the writer in me just sits on her silken pillow, burying herself deeper within its embrace and says,
“This is enough for me.”
Taking a break from the anxiety, the neuroses, the fits of “I don’t fit in and it bugs me….” this is enough of my skin to feel like it conforms to all the obtuse angles that don’t find complementary acute angles. I don’t have ninety degree right angles within me. Everything is left. Everything feels wrong.
Except for now. Now, I am suspended on white plastic bench that pendulates (this is a word…I just looked it up!) between time, a wall, the front porch railings, and my sense of contentment mixed with the knowledge the this is temporary.
I will cling to this. This will be enough. For now, this will be enough.
Other things….yesterday, during my walk around the lake, I found the junction of where a creek empties into the lake. A tree has fallen across the creek, forming a bridge that I have walked upon with my children. And when I was at the peak with my daughter, her feet slipped and she fell from my grasping hands. She landed first on the rocks and bounced before landing on her face.
I thought she had broken her leg, her teeth, the beautiful skeletal structure of her face. And she screamed piercing screams that perforated the silence in which bird song could not even intrude because my beautiful daughter was screaming because she was possibly broken.
But, when I gently rolled her over and searched for the splintered teeth and the ripped skin, all I found was….nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
She was bruised. She was hurt. But she was whole and intact and, in the end, fine.
I have never gone back on that fallen-tree-bridge again. But I took a picture of it yesterday because it is the focal point of my novel and seeing it reminds me of the ghost words that need to be glued back together one more time and then I need to let go of everything. Send it to agents. Put it on a digital shelf.
But it’s time to let Michael and Beth go forward into their own horizons, even if those horizons don’t really exist. But they are there, in my dreams, in the clydesdale-thumping of my feet on the treadmill.
All right, poetry time. By the way, I am going to try and write a poem a day for the summer. When I’m on the AT, I will still write but the world will have to wait and see it until I return to the zone of electricity and WIFI.
The Seams on my Skin
They are a bit puckered from all the times I have picked
picked at the edges, at the folds, at the white lightning zigzags that look like scars
But have no incredible story to explain why they are there.
Someone I know once said that stretch marks are the “footprints of time.”
They are paths, roads that mark my pregnancies, my mistakes, my eating binges
My plummeting through sorrow and then hiding everything beneath layers of ill-fitting clothing.
Today, I look at my skin, at the pock marks of bug bites that I keep scratching
Until the scab falls into the pocket of my fingernail and I bleed…
But the irritation is soothed.
And contentment is temporary.
Today, I look at the freckles, the long white scar on my thigh, the purple
Mass of veins that sit just beneath the surface of translucent tissue….
And I see the roads of changes that I walk.
The directions that I have taken. The compass points I want to explore.
Too long, I have hidden within sagging shells and broken shadows.
Too long, I have felt sorry for myself when I have no reason to grieve.
My funeral is over. I broke open the casket, smashed the urn, stepped out of the mausoleum.
This is my declaration of independence..
From myself, from society, from the norms and the rules that I never wrote nor signed.
I will always pick at the seams, smooth out the puckering wrinkles from where God
Didn’t iron me as flat as I wanted to appear.
But I will walk within this roadmap of imperfections, draw the lines that will connect
The dot-to-dot blemishes and rejoice.