I wake up in an airbnb near Sarah Lawrence College, shower in a bathroom with a scar on the wall where the original toilet paper dispenser  fell off, where duct tape covers a gap between floor tile and wall tile. My son and I have slept in a bedroom with outdated white furniture with curlicue hardware and when I look at the wall, after making us tea and gathering croissants from a lovely spread laid out in a kitchen overlooking a yard with three broken down cars and a crumbling terra cotta planter, minimal grass, I find on the wall of the bedroom a diploma from Columbia, written in Latin, with the name of a woman I can only imagine is the daughter of the couple hosting us. long gone, though her debt no doubt lingers in the house with the collapsed porch roof, with roller marks stopping partway up the wall over the stairs, where imagine the owners stopped being able to reach, and I wonder if they knew about roller extenders, life savers for all painters, could they be unknown to this pair of highly educated airbnb owners?

We cancelled reservations at the Radisson, then at the Hampton Inn. Last time we had stayed at the Hyatt Place, placed finely in the midst of the Cross Town Mall parking lot, had breakfast in their lobby with young families eager to try out the waffles. Today we wake up overlooking the highway, having been shown to our rooms by the hostess while her husband napped in a living room chair near midnight.

I am happy that we did. There is nothing like visiting a very expensive college to which you imagine your son might be well suited, after talking with him in the car about your shared love of work and the possible work study options, to remind you of your place in the world. There are those that can have this and there are those that cannot. There are also those who want it and push themselves too hard and end up buried under crushing debt. I hope we will make a good choice. Yesterday we were washed in a sea of families touring UMass, had a lovely lunch with my nephew who studies and seems to be thriving there. Saturday we spent the day at Clark, a school which floored us both by both offering us a day to spend with lifelong friends, who happened to be standing in the lobby when we arrived, and by telling the whole auditorium of accepted students and their families about a fine applicant who had attended an alternative school and written his essay about how he tried to make sure everyone in the School Meeting got a voice, and who also works and performs at Improv Boston. That is my boy, who also happened to be wearing his Improv Boston hat, having performed the night before and worked till one am, and overslept so that we arrived late. Since my boy isn’t a big shot type, he pocketed his hat, went undercover, and very much enjoyed the day.

We don’t know which place he’ll end up. Last weekend was Emerson, a showboat of a place for those interested in theater and film. Next Monday would be Hampshire, if we make it that far and can find a way to lower the price tag. It’s a process I’m glad to be doing with my boy, also exhausting and hard to negotiate without some cash. Even the folks at UMass looked relatively well heeled. We imagined as we all strove to hear from the tour guide who was not able to project over the crowd where we should go next that others are looking at community colleges, at smaller state colleges. We had been to UMass Boston. The range is quite enormous. Friends’ kids are at posher places, Harvard, Tufts, Cornell. We are here, now, wondering where my boy will find his home. As his mom, I’m both heartened and frightened to be doing so from someone else’s modestly maintained home, having talked with my boy about the fact that if he wants to come to Sarah Lawrence I’ll find a way to rent rooms to cover some of the cost. This could be my future, too!

I’m writing from Northampton, something I rarely do. The younger kids are with their dad, the older one is with his gal, returning today to Denmark from a three day visit to Paris, returning tomorrow to NYC and on to Troy, from his spring break trip to see his gal. Richard is trying to sleep. I am trying to get @*! done, at what I hoped would be the end of a long stretch of getting @*! done. Turns out mid-life is not like that. The getting @*! done part doesn’t really end, or even take a break.

For the first time in eight years, I haven’t written on this blog for nearly three months. I could blame the getting @*! done or look for something else to explain this shift in habits. I can’t say I’ve thought a whole lot about it, but this morning, when given the choice of getting @*! done or writing here, I chose this.

In the two and a half months since my last post, a lot has happened, and not much has, been a stretch like that. My son finished his college applications..wahoo! This month he’s started hearing back with news, mostly good, some ok, some still on the way. I have been reminded of a spiral bound notebook my mom kept after I was born. For the first many months, she wrote about my milestones, about getting to know me as her child and herself as a mom. Then around 11 months, she made an entry about the fact that I was starting to toilet train. Many months later, no entries in between, she wrote that I had learned to use the potty. Getting a kid into college this round has been a bit as I imagine toilet training a toddler in the sixties must have been for my mom, pretty absorbing and a top priority, clearly the kid’s job, but also a bit hard to step away from as a mom. This month and next, we’ll sort out the acceptances and waitlists and rejections as they come, attend the accepted student events at the places my boy might choose, weigh the financial aid and costs and programs and feel of each of those places, sort things out between my son and his dad and me, and if all goes well, by May 1st, put down a deposit and begin to prepare for phase 2, boy leaves for college, which I must admit, hasn’t been so much on my mind as finding a good fit. When the last application was submitted, I realized my boy was in his senior year, wondered aloud to him how he was going to enjoy it now the college applications were done. He smiled, and I couldn’t tell if he, too, was just realizing that senior year was meant for celebration, of if it was just me who had been thinking so much of the future I had trouble remembering now.

So, college applications and learning to say good-bye to my second kid have been part of getting @*! done, but there has been more..taxes and setting up a new retirement program for the day care, financial aid applications for my son and sorting things out with his dad, day care enrollments, scheduling and budgeting, budgeting, budgeting, paying bills, paying bills, paying bills, keeping my house clean and my internal state in order, given the budget cuts to housecleaning and mental health services, learning to fit in yoga and writing, to forfeit a clean house or do it myself in place of paid housecleaning, to cultivate habits of mindfulness and self-care, friendships and self-reflection in place of weekly talk therapy for pay. Those luxuries got me through phase one of separating my old life from my new one, house cleaning and therapy for the newly overwhelmed, time for phase two of things, moving on, learning to rely more on myself and to make a sustainable life, giving up for now on home renovations and/or a dramatic change of life, working on being here now and seeing what comes, accepting some of the mess and dealing with what I can, seeing where that takes us. Wish me luck.

One thing I’ve noticed, in the spirit of this blog’s title, Thinking About How We Learn, is that the longer I’ve lived on my own, the less I’ve had time for friends and the more I’ve needed new sources of community and self-care. At this point, given a choice between cleaning my house or going to the grocery store and Thursday morning yoga class, I’m mostly choosing yoga. That’s not to say I’m not giving up yoga more weeks than not, for appointments, for time with Richard if he’s in town, for a co-worker who needs time off, but given a choice between cleaning house and shopping and yoga, I choose yoga, thus the Peapod delivery subscription for the year and the early morning and late night bouts of vacuuming when the cat hair becomes annoying. Learning to keep my house clean and the day care and family fed while also caring for my body and inner peace has been a long time sorting out, but for now, this is where I am, yoga or walk plus errands on Thursday morning, versus grocery shop and vacuum. Just to have the Thursday morning is a luxury, and I will likely not have that next year, when I return to Sudbury Valley carpool duty, no student driver in the household once boy number two is gone, but for his year, anyway, yoga wins. And on Monday, every other week, when I’m in Somerville, not Northampton, there’s been writing class, from ten to twelve, which I hope I might sustain even when the carpool calls next year, but that may be a stretch, so again, sticking to the now, I’m good, looking ahead, more change, surprise, surprise, change will come again.

The writing class has also surely been a contributor to less writing here, along with getting @*! done. I’ve wanted to try writing for a different audience, to try writing poetry and creative nonfiction and to get feedback from a small group of people who mostly write poetry, and from a teacher I once knew only as a day care parent, then as a friend for an occasional walk or talk, and now know as a fine host of writing workshops in her home, where I had visited once or twice to admire her daughter’s doll house or to pick up my friend for a walk or talk, but now seeing it as a home where writers meet, my teacher’s home strikes me fresh each week as a place I enjoy being, and inspires me to think about my own home that way, not as a place to be renovated or rented or sold, but as a home to be kept in a way that works for guests as well as family members, which takes shape around the ones who live there and the ones we want to host. I admire the floor to ceiling bookshelves, the white slipcovered furniture in the living room that can hold a writing seminar or family and friends, the white walls hung with colorful tiles and art from around the world and from my teacher’s children, the long rough hewn wood table in the dining room that holds us writers as well as family meals and, I learned this week, is where my teacher does her writing. I admire the small bathroom off the kitchen with lovely green walls and a big japanese wave print, a tiny sink and a beach towel for drying hands, tiny bathroom across the hall from my teacher’s son’s bedroom, which is only identifiable as her son’s bedroom, as is my son’s, now empty most of the year, by the stickers on the door. My teacher’s teenage son’s bedroom door is closed, hiding who knows what. My son’s has been open the last year, since I decided to reclaim the space and tidy up after he’d been gone two years. It takes time to adjust to great change, the growing of our kids into teens and then young adults, into people who live with us, but not so much, into those who live on their own, who come back and want a room of their own, and who eventually have homes of their own and don’t need ours so much. Being in my teacher’s space and in the writing class I’m thinking of how the inner and outer changes mix and go together.

This year my oldest son will graduate from college and my younger son will graduate from high school. The boys are two years apart in age, but did things their own, way, thanks to Sudbury Valley which creates space for students to move on when they are ready, rather than at a certain age or after a certain number of years or credits or courses are completed. In my boys’ case, one left “early” and one will leave “late”, first one at seventeen, second one at nineteen. My gal, who is fifteen, imagines she will leave “right on time”, which is to say, at eighteen, and in her own way, not in the way of her brothers. Sounds about right, but I’m not counting on anything until it happens, which is what we parents of SVS kids learn to do, wait, watch, wonder, don’t expect too much or too little, take it as it comes, be there now, the theme of this piece, coming through again.

Which reminds me that I am here now, in Northampton, while Richard sleeps, and that my goal when I got out of bed just past five was to get @*! done, which is what, I now remember, I was often able to do after writing here, mind cleared, story told, life put in some semblance of order on the page, focus restored. Wish me luck again, more paperwork, more sorting out of finances and logistics and life, more solitude and communion with the early morning hours, waiting for the sun to join me again in the world.

I wake up with my hand across my chest, just as it fell around midnight last night when I drifted off to sleep. My three kids are back, after a week of sleeping at their dad’s. My man is gone, after a week of being here. The life shifts are challenging.

I wake up wanting to write something, to read something inspiring. I read the Writers’ Almanac, which is a poem from a father to his son’s girlfriend. It rings true, but doesn’t feel inspiring. On Facebook I find it is my son’s girlfriend’s birthday. I feel badly I forgot last night when I asked my son about his plans for the day and he said he was spending most of it away from home, was going out to breakfast with his gal. I post her a happy birthday message, wish her a good time hanging with my son, begin to write here.

I thought first to edit my writing class pieces. For tomorrow I’m meant to have put together a small booklet of the work I’ve done the last ten weeks. I worked on it Monday, the first day of the vacation my son and I sat at the kitchen table working on his college applications, and haven’t gone back to it since. Betwixt and Between is the title I’m giving it. Feels about right for my life, which is what I’m trying to make sense of when I write, not that different from my son putting together his college applications, trying to make sense of his life while he writes, or my older son sitting at the dining room table writing to an employer last night, canceling an interview for a job he thought only a week ago he wanted. We change our minds, we convince ourselves, we make up a story we can believe, one we can follow, another we wish we didn’t have to, we connect to what we hope is our true self and with the world outside which we hope is ready to receive us.

I spent New Year’s Day mostly in bed and on the couch, watching the second season of Transparent, reading a new book I got for Christmas, M Train. I can’t say either one has inspired me in the way I used to think of the word, leading me on to a better place, to be more productive or good in some way. Instead, after watching and reading, I feel connected to the loss in the world, to the struggle that allows us to go on trying and loving, even when it’s hard.  I had expected to spend New Year’s Day with my guy and his friends at a party in Western Mass and then at home with my kids, eating dinner together and helping my son finish the college applications due at midnight. None of that happened. Besides watching tv and reading, during the middle of the day I drove halfway to Western Mass thinking I was going to the party and back to get my gal from a sleepover, reversing plans on an offramp from Route 2. At dinnertime I made pasta my gal and I ate at the table before she and I sat on opposite couches awhile where she was on her phone and I read my book. Around 7:30 my son returned from his dad’s and a frisbee game and ate some leftovers at the dining room table near where my daughter and I lounged on the couches. Near midnight my son applying to college invited me by e-mail from his father’s to edit an addendum to his transcript, the transcript which because he has attended Sudbury Valley is really blank, so the addendum is it. Life in 2016, some subconscious and conscious parts of me must have been thinking, is not what I expected.

As I pause to reread and edit what I’ve written I get a pop up window responding to my Craigslist post offering the stove on the curb for free. I hope he’ll take it, have some trepidation that he will. My friends brought me their stove yesterday, an old and well-loved electric one to replace the like new but smelly gas stove I bought some years ago and can no longer trust for oven use because of a high CO reading and bad smells. The new/old one won’t work until the electrician installs a new 60 amp outlet  on Wednesday and who knows if that will be easy in this old house without updated systems which I have been told will need electrical updating if I am ever to remodel my upstairs kitchen and bring it up to code. It’s that kind of house, each small problem solved can easily create a large one that makes me feel on the brink of keeping it all together..so yesterday when another friend who happens to be a day care parent posted on the Facebook page I’ve subscribed to in order to increase my day care business by connecting with local families, I wrote her back expressing interest in the free appliances she’s about to put on her own curb, a smaller gas stove and two fridges, as both my fridges are old and the ones she’s getting rid of are small, which I need if they are to fit in my small kitchens,and newer, and I’d just as soon have a gas stove as an electric, if I knew it wasn’t emitting CO into the room. The whole kitchen renovations aren’t happening here. They may be happening in my friends’ home in Rhode Island, or in my friend’s home across town, but for now, I’m still taking things others don’t want or need and making due. Which isn’t to say I don’t have choices, which I do. I bought my daughter new snowboard gear this year, from coat to pants to boots to board to bindings, not without some anxiety about the money I was spending, but hoping it is a wise decision to buy rather than rent for four more years, now my gal’s stopped growing, and like her brothers before her, is ready for her own gear. I bought our holiday food at Whole Foods, spent more than I usually do for some fancy cheeses and chocolates, piles of clementines and Satsuma’s, fixings for taco night on Christmas with my sister’s family and mine, celebrating the holiday with the dinner my Christmas birthday daughter had requested which made us working moms and busy kids all happy.

At ten thirty I’m planning to be quiet in the Meeting House in Cambridge. It’s a hard call. My son will leave before I do for the day with his gal. My other son and daughter will leave just as I arrive home from Meeting, on their way to the Cambridge Y to work out in the gym. I’ll miss the chance for a breakfast or lunch with them in trade for quiet in the Meeting and coffee across the way. It’s a trade I question as I write it, wonder if I’ll be able to make once it’s written. Time with teens is fleeting. It involves a lot of waiting. The best it gets some days is a conversation at the table, or time on opposite couches with our devices and the paper or a book. The only outing we had together this vacation was to my sister’s for those tacos. It’s that kind of place in life, betwixt and between on so many levels even the writing here can’t seem to tidy them up. The kids and I are on our way somewhere on some as yet unclear path and I’m searching, we’re all searching, to find the next place to put our feet.

Richard kindly painted two rooms of the day care over the vacation, the front room and the entrance. I helped a little bit in between working with my son on his college applications. The day care now looks fresh and clean and warm and happy when you enter. I moved furniture around, hoped to clear out more stuff, must return today to secure a tall cabinet and a mirror we moved to paint, return the kitchen table and chairs to their positions from yesterday’s stove project, make a menu and buy groceries we can cook the first part of the week without a stove, put away the bags of stuff that travelled downstairs from my home over the vacation. I talked with a young woman who might share the place in the new year,  an art student from Lesley College whose mother and grandmother are friends of my friends, so perhaps I’ll also be cleaning out the back room to make space for her and her things.

Standing at the day care kitchen counter yesterday talking to my man on the phone, scrubbing the new/old stove with Fantastic with bleach, I wondered how I’d leave this place and how I wouldn’t. That is one of the big betwixt and betweens, how to change a life for love, as my friend might say, the one who advises me when I feel I’ve lost my way, who told me last night when I thought I had that if we follow love we won’t get lost, but in her own words I can’t remember. I want to believe she’s right, even as I scrub the new old stove, talk to my boyfriend on the phone about how on earth I will ever shift my life enough we’ll really be together–while saying good bye to my children as they grow up and leave home (and me)–shut down my business, clear out and sell or rent my home, leave friends and connections of thirty years, find new work, new friends, new community two hours from the only home I’ve known since twenty four, make a new life with a man fifteen years my senior, all in anticipation of being alone again, assuming statistics prevail. I don’t know how to do it, I tell him through tears, I haven’t got a clue. And yet, I haven’t got a clue how to part ways, either, and he isn’t moving here.  Big betwixt and between. But that is work for another day. Time to shower and get ready for Meeting, assuming I’m going, or to make my kids a nice midday meal, assuming that I’m not. Wish me luck in all the decisions, big and small.

***

After writing here I got a note from the guy coming from Quincy to get my stove. I had checked in the midst of writing to see if the stove was still there, wrote him saying it was and that I’d put a note on it to save it for him, and not to worry, and when I went down to put the note on the stove, it was gone. Feels symbolic, how we count on something, believe it will be there when we’re ready, and just as we are ready to claim our prize, it vanishes (into someone else’s hands, truck, life, story). Weird.

My house is making me happy today. All three of my kids have been home since last weekend. My guy was here last weekend and his kid even showed up to join the party. This afternoon I had three teens, my gal and her two friends, circling the kitchen table decorating cookies and laughing and listening to music while I cut and baked the dough. My oldest guy has a job post graduation, and is home and happy, out shopping for his sister, texting me to make a decision. My younger guy has been working on his college applications, enjoying his life at Improv Boston and SVS, and is upstairs wrapping the gifts he bought with the money he’s been earning. My guy is out walking his “Davis Square loop”, just having arrived from his home where he had a few days with his kids and other family and friends.

My house is also a bit of a disaster, lived in, a bit Weasleyish, if I take the compliment I received more than once about our home when my kids were Harry Potter age. But there are happy places in the clutter. The Christmas tree I dragged home when I was losing steam was taken off the car by my older son the next night, cut loose from the wiper and mirrors where the elderly guy had attached it with twine, sawed off with a saw my former husband bought when we first bought our house and hadn’t a single tool, no longer very sharp, and dragged up the stairs where he and I and my younger son stood it in the stand and where it stood a couple of days until my daughter and the same friends who came today to decorate the cookies decorated the tree.

The boxes of leftover decorations are still at the top of the basement stairs, blocking the way down from the kitchen as is a basket of laundry due to be washed. I’m taking a break to write, with the cat by my side on the living room couch. On the floor beside me are the gifts my daughter wrapped earlier in the week which she’ll take to her dad’s tonight for Christmas Eve dinner, the slippers my son left at home when he went to college that I bought at Old Navy last year, clear seconds to the ones Richard gave the kids from LLBean, which seem not to have made it back from college and a pair of Hanna Andersson fleece socks I gave the kids many years ago, on their way from my daughter’s drawer to my son’s, who still loves them.

Across from me on the couch are my daughter’s friend’s bag and coat, my son’s book and sweat pants. The photo albums my daughter and I looked at several weeks ago are on the shelf by the couch and the game someone took out and didn’t put away earlier this week is on the floor beside the shelf.

On the dining room table is a bouquet of flowers given to me by the day care families, one of five bouquets spread around Cambridge, Somerville, and Malden in the homes of our four current and one recently retired teachers, who stopped by this morning to get hers.

I’m listening to some old John Hiatt, which I listened to over and over and over again the year my husband moved out, when love songs filled the car to and from school, and my daughter and I loved this one best, and my son had had his fill. The album needed a break after that, but I’m ready for it again.

My son comes down with his presents wrapped saying his dad is texting him wanting to know the plan. Soon the kids will head to their Cambridge house for dinner. I’ll tidy up from cookies and the week of kids hanging around. Richard and I will have a quiet dinner at home and I’ll hit the new wrapping station my daughter and I made out of the chaos that had become one end of our third floor, where the boys once slept, but haven’t in a few years,where before that their dad had his office, where my daughter’s doll houses, Playmobil castle, American Girls, and Barbies had been buried in bags of castoff clothes and books as she’s cleared the girlhood stuff out of her room and I’ve cleared old projects out of mine.

The job took us hours and there’s more to go. The uncovering of layers of our life is less loaded than it used to be.  Five years after divorce, six after the kids and their dad got another place, the ghosts have subsided a bit, the rearranging is now more about the kids growing up and me becoming more of my self again after years of being wife and mom, and about making space for Richard and the teenage and young adult friends we welcome into our home.

I’ve been loving my writing class. Because I’m writing for that and writing for the day care, and because I’m not quite sure of my audience here, I haven’t been posting here so much. As I work on more potentially publishable pieces and some poems in the class, I’m both happy for a workshop of writers and readers to learn from and with and happy for the years I’ve spent writing here by myself. Big change for me required writing. Sometimes it was hard to know if the writing was leading or following the change. I don’t know what this new phase of writing will bring but I’m curious and hopeful.

Time to get up and tidy the kitchen and the house so we can have a dinner date in a more peaceful space and the kids will return to a home that looks like it’s ready for a holiday and not a disaster zone. What I remember about writing here when I did it almost daily was the way it restored my soul and hope and a sense that my life would again find clear direction. Thank you to the blog format for that. Writing what came, putting it out there, seeing that someone was reading got me through some of the loneliest, hardest, most transformative years of my life. Gracias, merci, danke shone.

I think that might be a line from the Rolling Stones. Been a long time since I heard it, matter of fact, even longer than the time since I last wrote here. A friend and sometimes reader wrote me privately awhile back to see where I’d been. Working on assignments for a new writing class, working on a new day care web site, I answered, but also, I realized as I thought about it, not here, just not here.

I’ve been writing this blog a long, long time, since the fall of 2008. A lot has happened in those seven years. I’ve had a lot of projects, a lot of traumatic shit’s gone down, my kids are nearly grown, whereas when I started writing here they were my whole world.

Much of this time I’ve been thinking and dreaming a lot, differently than I have for much of the rest of my life. I’ve read and reread a book that captures it better than I can, The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. Still working on that bit, though I’d like to think I’ve made some progress.

Tonight I spent another few hours of midlife in the company of my favorite every other Wednesday night people in the Sharing Circle at Cambridge Friends Meeting, where folks who’ve been in prison and those who care about them meet for a good meal, conversation, and a sharing circle. This particular circle was lead by a man who was recently released from a very long prison term. He chose to allow us to remain in silence until one of us felt moved to speak. Much to my great pleasure, that was a long time. The longer it was silent, the deeper I felt the group going into our own quiet places, and perhaps as a result, once it began, the sharing tonight felt especially deep and moving.

One regular member shared news of a health issue which sounded quite serious and which he is choosing not to diagnose or treat. This news deepened our listening, and what followed was so moving I want to write a little about it here so I don’t forget. He talked about heaven and how he likes to think about it. He talked a long while about his belief that if the Creator made humans so beautiful, so individually unique and so amazing as a group, that same Creator must have created a heaven where each human would experience the things he or she was by nature perfectly suited to experience, but had been unable to experience and most wished for on earth, whether the joy and freedom and abandon of a child for those who did not have true childhoods or the experience of a deep love as an adult for those who were unable to experience that. The speaker talked about heaven in such a way I had to use the back of my hand and my shirt sleeve to wipe my tears and drippy nose. I can’t do justice to his words here, but they have caused me to reflect on his beliefs and my own.

It’s been a long time since I’ve believed in God or a Creator or Heaven or an Afterlife. Yet this man’s yearning to spend time in these realms, imagining how they might rightly be, caused me to question my own lack of faith. His descriptions this evening and the last time he talked about this fascination referenced beauty, the human capacity for joy, the great and wondrous diversity and complexity of the earth and all it’s inhabitants, animals and plants, his belief that the justice that is not served on earth will somehow be served in heaven. All these things make me wonder if I’ve stopped short, if I’ve missed out in not allowing my own mind to wander in these directions.

It’s not weird, he assured us as he closed his statements. It’s not like I’m thinking about aliens with three eyes. It’s human nature to think about these things. I found myself wishing he would get better, get a diagnosis and treatment, not only for his own further life, but selfishly, so I could go on listening to his thoughts as they unfold. I wondered what further revelations will pursue him as he continues to live his mainly solitary life contemplating it’s end. I felt the awe of a deep listener privileged to hear the wonderings of people who I hardly know outside of the Sharing Circle.

I wonder as I do whenever I write here about other people’s stories, and especially about stories shared in confidence, if I have a right to share this story here. I hope I do. If not, please let me know I’ve shared too much and I’ll take this post down.

For now, I’m going to try and keep writing here. I’m not sure why my heart’s not been in it. Perhaps seven years is long enough to keep on with one project. I never thought about how this blog would take shape, much beyond the initial wishes that it would help me figure out how to make a new school, which I never did and may never do. By the time I realized that I had grown so accustomed to writing here, I continued, though much less in the vein of learning how to make a school and much more about how little of life I understand, how much is a mystery, and how hard and beautiful it all can be.

For now, good night. Sweet dreams, farewell until we meet again. I do my best these days to keep up my writing habit, but it’s shifted away from free form blogging to attempts at creating content for a more professional day care web site and to working on poetry and creative nonfiction that might feel wrong to share here..At my last writing class I was encouraged to work on a series of short pieces and to think about how to work on publishing. That felt great, far off, unreal. I’ve wondered about creating something less ephemeral than this blog, haven’t known how to begin or where I’d be headed. Maybe someday soon I will. Wish me luck or suggest direction or tell me what you’d like to hear. Can’t hurt.

Friday as I was anticipating spending my first Halloween across The state from my kids I tried and could not remember the last time I took them trick or treating. Could it have been the year we dragged my daughter the ghost bride along with my son’s young teenage friends, her energy flagging until at last we arrived home frozen and worn out only to discover her fever? She seemed so young in my memories and photos of that night I can’t believe it was our last, and I can’t remember going together again.  

How many other lasts have passed unnoticed? I wondered Friday as I served breakfast to my day care kids who asked me if my kids would be trick or treating.  I wrote down the title of this post while they are in hopes of thinking more about it when I had time this weekend. 

I don’t remember lots of things, not the last time I saw my father alive, nor being at his funeral, though I know I was. Yet I remember the light on my aunt’s stairs as I came to greet my mother returning from the hospital to share the news afte my father died and I remember the conversation on my grandma’s couch shortly after hearing the news. Why those two memories stuck and not the others, I don’t know. 

I don’t remember the last holiday we spent in my mom’s home, though I remember a Christmas I cried in my room after opening my gifts, including turtle necks I’d chosen myself and a makeup mirror my sister had wanted and I had not. I remember the sadness and confusion crystallized in that moment of transition from childhood to adolescence, but still can’t say what caused the sadness to run so deep. 

This year my teens and young adult children did their thing on Halloween, one in Watertown at a sleepover with friends, one at work at Improv Boston, one at college at Rpi. Late afternoon I sent them a texted photo, along with my mom and sister. Richard had me climb into a coffin in someone’s Shutesbury yard after we’d been hiking with friends and and my daughter had texted me Happy Halloween. Other years I would have seen my sister for her Halloween birthday. This year we met over text, sending well wishes and photos back and forth across our group messages.

Later I carved a tiny pumpkin Richard bought at the farmers market while the two big ones the kids had chosen on our way back from Ashfield on Columbus Day sat on our Somerville porch uncarved and alone, no one home there to give out candy or light them up. Richard was pleased with my carving.  I asked him when he last carved a pumpkin. He didn’t remember.  Ah, well. We lit the tiny jack O lantern and put it on his Northampton porch to welcome the trick or treaters that never came. Richard carried it through the neighborhood as we walked to friends’ for dinner, and it lit up the table during our kids free dinner party, stayed the night after we went home to Richard’s quiet house.  

Richard left early Sunday morning, after a weekend of barely being together. The kids left Monday night for the week with their dad. Kids and partner will return over the next three days, arrival plans TBD. It’s been a rocky stretch…hard news on many fronts..death, illness, hurt, sadness. In between low points were lots of highs. I heard a fab talk Friday night at the Museum of Science with Richard and Jonah, spent Saturday morning with Ben who was playing Ultimate at a tournament at Yale and made time for lunch with his mom, found some solace in Quaker Meeting Sunday morning and a quiet Sunday evening at home with Jonah and Isabel, followed by a fine Monday visiting Hampshire College and UMass Amherst with Jonah, including surprise visits with an old friend from SVS and my nephew Harrison at UMass.

Still, I miss my people. When hard news comes in droves, I need the comfort of my loves.

Tomorrow is the twentieth anniversary of the West Family Day Care. Our license went into effect October 23rd, 1995, when my son Ben was ten months old. This month Ben is working on finding a job. He’s got interviews from companies all over the country. He plans to graduate May 28th with a dual degree in Applied Math and Computer Science. Bright guy, promising future, funny feeling to watch my boy start on his young adult way as I find my way again in middle age. The good news is that all that playing around when he was young didn’t hurt him one bit. I’d like to think it helped a whole lot. Play away kids. At 20 you too could be looking for full time work, which may or may not offer you the opportunity to show off the lighthearted, passionate self you brought into the world. My wish for WFDC and for Ben is that the kids who start out with us will hold the feeling of doing what they love so that when they see it in adult life they can go for it and not hold back, just as they did when they were playing here with their friends and on their own.

Monday was also the first day of my new writing class. I skipped it to be with my son. This coming Monday I’ll be there, sandwiching that and my kids’ annual check ups in between time with my visiting mom and Richard. I haven’t got a clue what I’ll bring to workshop, haven’t written much of anything worth attention and revising in awhile. Last night at Sharing Circle a friend talked about being careful with her time so she could spend three hours a day working on a new book. After the circle, I talked to her about her writing..her inspiration, routine, her love. Made me happy to hear her starting a new project, wishful that I could find one, too. Hers came to her in Meeting for Worship. You never know what might be born in that fertile silence that draws me back again and again and again.

All for now. I’ve been looking forward to reading my book since last night at bedtime when I was too tired to read, Dorothy Day:  A Radical Revolution by Robert Coles, author of another book I mentioned here, The Spiritual Life of Children. This one came to me at the Ashfield Fall Festival book sale. The other one turned up at the Montague Book Mill a year or so ago. Tonight I’m thanking my Western Mass life for inspiration, even as I mourn that my man is there and I’m here. Good Night.

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