December 2015


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.

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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.