This Moment inspired by Amanda Blake Soule at soulemama.com
Walking along the rail tracks,
reckless empowerment grips me—
if I really wanted to, I could jump a train.
I start to count the ties,
lose track, and head back home.
I want to be an open vessel for otherwise unthought thoughts;
a tranquil glass of tequila, ready to be injusted and enjoyed.
A single rain drop or snowflake or tear stain or puddle splash;
content to have had one moment in the sun.
I want to be the echo of swallow calls in a cave;
light refracted from window to wall;
diamonds reflected from stilled waters.
The Allegheny River and a cup of coffee at 7:30
When my kids were younger I wanted to instill grand ideas; how to be a kind person, how to have empathy, how to be honest, how to have good manners. They were so little and I was so adamant.
Now they are teenagers.
My ideas have changed. I remind them to wear coats, I remind them to eat. I remind them that mistakes happen, sometimes, big mistakes happen. What path is to be taken after making those mistakes? What wise choices make themselves available? Will they avail?
Be happy, not necessarily behaved. (but don’t get arrested)
Be strong, not necessarily compliant. (but don’t get expelled)
Be true to yourself, not to society’s expectations. (but don’t break your curfew)
This part of parenting, this evolution and expansion of thought makes me wince and smile and stare out windows with glassy half-closed eyes in the midnight solitude.
Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew the rules, I knew the consequences. As the years go by, I know less and less. Who’s rules do I follow? What really are the consequences?
How can I know less now than I knew then?
Make mistakes, take chances. (but be safe)
Take a risk, don’t always take the safe way out. (but be wise)
Strike out a new path. (but don’t forget where you came from)
Of course, it’s just a matter of what I thought I knew. Now I really know, that I don’t know anything.
This Moment inspired by Amanda Blake Soule at soulemama.com
laughing with Philip
watching birds fly
the smell of old books
morning cup of coffee
jewelry with exotic stones
soft white rice
the moon reflecting on the water
BellaDonna following me from room to room
books about art
the smell of pencils
a new notebook
the sound of geese
the smell of spring
the blue light of dawn
a pot of rosemary
the smell of a simmering breakfast
gin and tonic
1967 Shelby Mustang
a worn side chair
steamy cup of tea
a walk in the woods
the sound of a distant train
fresh black pepper
friends on a porch
Day One — Today I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my husband, for our apartment with the views of the river, for my warm safe bed.
Day Two — Today I’m grateful for my work. I get paid to pick colors and move images around on a page. That’s amazing, and I am so grateful for this.
Day Three — I’m grateful that I have good friends. I’m grateful I live in a beautiful city.
Day Four — I’m exhausted. I’m not feeling grateful. I’m feeling spiteful. Should I start a spiteful list?
Day Five — I know I’m supposed to pick something to be grateful for even though I don’t want to. I’m on day FIVE and I’m feeling done with this exercise. I am an ingrate.
Day Six — I’m grateful that I take Lexapro. Clearly, I should be taking more.
Day Seven — I’m grateful for my family. Also, I like chocolate.
Day Eight — Today I yelled at a guy in a parking lot who was sarcastic with me. I should have let it go. It wasn’t important. I’m grateful that I didn’t slap him.
Day Nine — I’m grateful that my kids are really nice people. Most of the time. My kids are teenagers and they do things that teenagers do. I’m grateful that I don’t want to give them up for adoption. Most of the time.
Day Ten — I’m grateful I can say “I’m sorry” when it matters.
Day Eleven — I’m grateful for strong black tea and pumpkin scones.
Day Twelve — I’m grateful for the sparrow that visited the table yesterday while Neve and I ate Brioche at a cafe.
We always had to talk in hushed whispers. Occasionally my grandmother would forget, her voice raising, her r’s rolling. We were strange, we were strangers.
Those old farmers, in those old Ohio fields tilled my native state’s soil and yet, I was a foreigner.
To be a first generation American is always an experience in divided loyalties. To be a first generation Latina in the 1970’s in the rural, flat expanses of mid-west corn rows, was a lesson in split personality disorder.
In the summer of 1974 we visited my cousins in Spain. We walked along cobbled-stone, narrow roads while the neighbors shouted, “The Americans are here!” to one another.
Earlier in that very year, I had started school. Dressed in a pristine, pressed dress with patent leather shoes and tightly braided hair, my casual t-shirt and jeans-clad classmates had sarcastically asked me, “What planet are you from?”
These memories float around in my mind 40 years later as I ride along Route 376 in my adopted industrial city of adulthood.
I’m riding behind a shiny red pick-up truck. A bumper sticker reads, “You’re in America now, speak English!”.
I hear my grandmother’s voice, her laugh, her forceful cadence. I see her in my mind’s eye, asking for the heads to be left on the fish at the market. And I recall the horrified looks on the faces of those meat-counter ladies at the downtown Kresge’s.
“You want the head left on the fish?”
“Si, si la cabeza, thank you!”
They would exchange a look of disgust.
But these native Americans were not Native American. Their story wasn’t so different from mine, the main difference is that it had been played out a couple generations before me. They had forgotten their own history, their customs, their language, the stories of
I do speak English, Mr. Pickup.
And I remember, I remember everything.
I see this river every day. Herons fly past our windows and geese call out through the early morning mist. Sometimes I see fish breaking the surface of the water and riding a perfect arc on their splashy return. Barges sail by, heavy and intimidating throughout the night and day. Ducks with iridescent colors swim the quick current downriver towards the city.
I am grateful for this beauty today.