songs


The house is chilly. I check the thermostat and find it’s 65. While someone on Facebook copped to turning on the heat for the first time ever in September, I use the oven today for heat. I resist the urge to wear a sweater, three quarter sleeve t-shirt and jeans, ballet flats, instead of short sleeve t, skirt, and sandals as far as I’ll go to acknowledge fall is in the air.

This morning I woke just after 6 feeling close to death, a dramatization, but the pain was bad. I had one of those migraines I used to get, sick headaches a good name for them..four hours later, I couldn’t imagine getting through the day, nausea, sensitivity to light, cold, movement, touch all laying me low on a day I hoped to get my act together, cook, shop, plan for a big party we’re having tomorrow, hang with my kids. Thank the good lord for Excedrin Migraine and a boyfriend who knows his medicine. I followed the useless early morning tylenol with a midmorning heavy dose, and soon was on to greener pastures, making frittata for the kids and me, first time since before Spain, chosen over Spanish Tortilla, which my daughter requested early in the week, mostly because the thought of the runny eggs in the ones we had in Spain came too close to triggering the nausea I still felt, and because of the abundance of frittata ingredients in our house, spinach from my gal’s stash for green smoothies, potatoes from the farmers market on our vacation, heirloom tomatoes on sale at the store, likely the last we’ll see this year, broccoli I cooked earlier in the week, leftover in the fridge, eggs, cheese, onions, garlic scapes pesto left from early summer, and herbs from the porch, still out there til temps drop a little lower and they have to come in or freeze. My kids and I enjoyed the frittata at the kitchen table, along with chunks of melon and conversation about the tastiness or lack of it with melon, this one particularly nice.

Moments like that confirm the research connecting family dinners with children’s success in life.

After I clean up from the frittata, its time to scour the cupboards for the ingredients for flourless chocolate cake, the treat I’ll offer at tomorrow’s retirement party for Alice, better than the sheet cake I think I ought to get, because it’s traditional, not because it’s great, and better for Alice, who goes gluten free. The batter in the bowl is soothing, as the veggies and eggs were sustaining. The chocolate in the cupboards is the good stuff, as the recipe requests. I have eggs, butter, vanilla, sugar, and that is all I need, plus the heart pan and paper to line it and the oven to bake it and the bowls and microwave and whisk, all the stuff we take for granted in homes that are used to baking in first world USA.

This week there’ve been critters in the compost. Two of four day care teachers have been sick. Babies have cried through much of nap time, unable to settle themselves to sleep. Kids have punched and fussed and spilled their milk. Paradise isn’t all perfect, even here in the first world USA West Family Day Care universe I love. I’ve missed my guy, gone since Monday after ten days together in Spain, gone this weekend to fight climate change on the streets of New York City, large world problem I haven’t got strength to fight, prefer to fight right here in Somerville with locally grown veggies, compost, and holding off on oil heat. Small things add up, my philosophy of midlife, when energy for protests and large scale movements is scarce.

Been a full week, Spain/Somerville, holiday/work, couple/single mom with kids. Transitions are tough, no matter our age. Whenever I feel one big-time, as I have this week, I gain empathy for the kids in our care, and their parents, some of whom feel the transitions every day with tears and tantrums. Not many do, but those who do really struggle, and it’s good to gain perspective.

Last Saturday I was in Spain. I woke near in the back bedroom of our friends house, after a late night at the circus in Avila, had breakfast on the patio, fresh figs from their tree the highlight of that meal, followed by fresh almonds taken from another tree and smashed open with a rock. We walked the dog in the country, picked blackberries, shopped in the local grocery, with Pulpo right out front, brand names and products we don’t have here mixed with plenty that we do, for a salad lunch we made in the friends’ small kitchen, enjoyed in the dining room with their son, before heading off to Avila for more circus festival, and dinner with the friends who introduced us a year and a half ago, a world away from Spain.

Now I’m back, here on the red couch with the white cat, son off to Improv Class, gal upstairs in her room. Home is a happy place to be, more so now I’ve made the transition back, a bit rocky midweek, settling down now, thanks to time, Excedrin, cooking, cake.

Tomorrow will be the biggest party I’ve hosted in awhile, over sixty expected for potluck in the park, to celebrate Alice and her many years working with children, who turned 70 last week. The first cake is on the counter, the second will be soon. Shortly my daughter and I will do the shopping, for day care and home groceries, plus raspberries to turn into sauce to top the cake. Low key Saturday is just what the doctor ordered, surprising me once again midday as the gift that keeps on giving, time in a quiet house with a cat and the couch and the keyboard and a small story and plans for things to come.

Forgot to say John Prine was also part of the medicine. The man does restore my spirits, almost had me dancing while I baked.

Here is the recipe for the flourless chocolate cake, tried and true for several birthday parties so far, new for a retirement bash, at least for me. Any thoughts on decorating it to rival the usual grocery store sheet cake?

http://bakingbites.com/2011/04/classic-flourless-chocolate-cake/

And for frittata, its more procedure and ingredients than recipe, but here is a rough idea, in case you’d like to try and haven’t yet:

Chop some vegetables and slice some cheese and beat some eggs and preheat the oven to broil before you begin to cook.

Today I used 8 eggs, for three of us, plus leftovers.

In the medium, nonstick frying pan, I sautéed one onion in some olive oil til soft. Next in were chunks of red potatoes, then after they were nearly cooked, chopped broccoli, tomatoes, leftover corn, and garlic scape pesto (could have used chopped garlic in the beginning, but this is easier and was on hand). When all that heated through, I tossed in some salt and pepper, some fresh, chopped basil and parsley from the porch, and a few chopped leaves of spinach.

Over that I poured the eggs, beaten with some milk, and spread slices of cheddar cheese. I cooked that a few minutes til the eggs at the edge began to set, then put it under the broiler, not too close, until the eggs puffed, the cheese melted, and I could see some golden brown.

I let it cool a few minutes, then cut and served the wedges with chunks of cantaloupe melon, more fresh ground pepper and salt, yum.

I’d share a John Prine song, but none in particular stand out. Try The Missing Years album if you just want a great collection. In this day and age, that ought to be a decent lead.

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This morning I wake up to find a song shared via forwarded e-mail via Youtube which stirs up feeling that take awhile to untangle..from my swimming buddy via his, close friend of his and of the woman who used to be his wife, now gone. All of life is like that these days, midlife full of memories and connections to untangle and sort through. This past weekend I was in Western New York for a class reunion and to introduce my beau and swimming buddy to the places I grew up, hometown, parents’ birthplaces, Letchworth State Park and its gorges, high school friends and a relative or two. Not one of us is getting younger, and with each passing year, there is opportunity for struggle as well as triumph, and both show through. Two weekends ago I was in Western, New York with my kids, no beau, as he was with his own kids in New Hampshire, celebrating a past birthday, on a delayed, long-promised trip, and my kids were due to be in Texas during the class reunion weekend with their dad and stepmom and his family there, and when the family picnic date came out it made sense the kids and I would be do a visit home that weekend instead. Its like that these days, family trips come in many forms. Last weekend it was me and my gal and my guy in Northampton, skipping our trip to Ashfield to keep things simple, missing the swim in the lake and hitting the pool in Florence just before we left, rain drops coming down and only us three in the water at one point, taking over the diving board and talking about our jumps.

With all my hopes and dreams for summer swimming, things of late have petered out. The last four weeks I’ve logged two short trips to the local MDC swimming pool on Thursday morning and evening with my daughter, a quick drip in between chores or after work to break the heat, and two trips to Richard’s pool in Florence, one with only Richard and one with him and my gal, not a single dip in lake or pond or ocean, no fresh water for me. I could use a long swim in deep water, more than laps across the pool, and I’m hoping this weekend to be in Ashfield Lake again, swimming with my guy and my housemates there, kids off to Woolman Hill, where I used to be, won’t be this time, where they’ll likely jump off rocks and swim in a river with friends who used to be mine, but who I now see mostly dropping kids off and picking them up from events where I no longer belong. This time the kids will drive their dad’s car, stay on their own, be looked after some by various adults, mostly look after themselves. The problem with this, as my daughter explained, is not having food for snacks and Saturday lunch, and of mooching off others when they are at the river. To solve that problem, I’ve asked her and her brother and dad to make sure the kids bring some groceries, another way it seems they grow up too soon, but of course they can do it, as I can, manage this separation in weird stages phase of our lives, when our family combines and reconfigures nearly every other day into some new shape to which we try to adjust as each of us carries on.

Tonight is day care graduation, which I now want to call our Moving On Celebration, as this round we have only one true graduate heading off to school, and even he is not heading off to kindergarten in the traditional sense, but to a Sudbury school in Colorado, where there aren’t any grades, and the other two are heading to preschool programs, one in town, one far away, and the third one to be celebrated is Alice in her retirement. It’s another mix of tangled emotions as we round out a tricky year of shifts, of my return to full time life at WFDC after several years of working on the charter school and trying out the idea of a career there, then at SVS, where I worked a year, going to school three days a week with my children, balanced with two days running and working in the daycare, a full life I enjoyed, but which at times wore me out, of Jen moving on to another school part time and staying with us two afternoons a week, of Alice’s retirement and our summer working with a sub, my son’s gal Michaela, who stepped in at a moments notice and has been a fine example of how to do it right, a pleasure for me and Liana to get to know her as a young teacher learning more about the little ones we love, and of our year of working with infants and toddlers and twos, very few preschool-age children in the mix, first infant we have taken in many years leading to another young one this summer, taken on when the first one was away, and soon to be the year we begin to work with Anne, our new hire, middle aged mom of young kids, returning to the work force more substantially after time away from classroom teaching, easing her way in via Jen’s coop program, where she’s worked as a parent helper and a sub, to our place where she’ll become our next WFDC teacher.

Now it’s time to start my day, first a trip to the vet for my kitty and me, so long as I can get her in her crate and out the door on time, then chores around the house to prepare for the graduation/moving on event, tidying the yard, counting heads for pizza, laying bright clothes over the counter on the back porch to make a buffet table for the offerings families will bring, sweeping off the porch and looking for paper goods, setting out some chairs. The families and teachers will do the rest today, and Richard when he’s here. My kids are back from Texas as of late last night, won’t likely make the party as they used to do, disconnected from this group of kids and families, living their teenage lives of work and friends and travel and adventures about time balanced with quiet time at home and in their rooms, most likely staying at their dad’s until the weekend, avoiding another shift. Alice’s husband will be with us. Afterwards they’ll celebrate on their own. Liana and I, who used to have our children in the group when we first began our work together thirteen years ago, will tidy up the day care and the yard when the families go home, maybe with some help, though so far, the only line on the sign up sheet not to be filled is for the clean up helpers, families of young children knowing, I imagine, how long the day will be and how much they’ll need to get their small ones home to bed, and Richard will be here for the first time, to see what this graduation/moving on ceremony is all about, and then we’ll all start the day tomorrow, work or pleasure, on some level it would be nice if they were all the same, if the divisions between paid work and retirement, between work and leisure were a little bit less clear. Some days for me, that’s true. Yesterday, for example, we paused on our hot and humid walk to the park beneath a big old tree at Matignon. There in the High School parking lot in the middle of the day we felt the breeze. The children removed their hats from their sweaty heads and we all looked up at the leaves blowing in the wind and felt the cool air come down to cheer us up. It worked and we waited there to share the spot with Liana and her group and later when we were walking home and talking about something or other, one two wondered if someone we were talking about might be enjoying the breeze. Memory is like that, rooted in experience that returns, whether good or bad or tangled up or in between. I remembered that breeze and it’s remembering last night at Sharing Circle as we sat in the community room at Quaker Meeting on a hot night and the breeze came in the window as we closed, and I remembered it this morning when I woke up and the heat had broken and the breeze came in the window, and I could see the leaves moving in the trees outside, and I was inspired to write this morning, in part with that memory at the core, and even though I lost the thread in the beginning of this piece, it found its way back to me, the cool, cheerful bounty in the world, which finds us often in our moments of struggle, and echoes on in memory long after that.

Here’s the swimming song. Hoping to return to fresh water this weekend. Wish me luck. Now time to deal with Frances the Cat.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Once upon a time, I wrote nearly every day, sometimes more. Life was changing quickly. I was alert, tuned in, sorting out. Lately, things have been on a more even keel. When it felt both like my life was coming apart and my creative urges were on fire, Liana told me, this time will pass, one day you’ll be happy for the quiet. Not a direct quote, but that’s the take away.

So here I am. That time has passed, as much as any time can be measured, contained, left behind. The disruption of divorce has settled down. My kids and I and my ex have more or less gotten on with our lives. I’m paying the bills, keeping the house, cooking, cleaning, laundering for one to three most weeks, sometimes more, sometimes less. This weekend was a big deal. Richard and I hosted all three of my kids, plus two girlfriends at his place from Friday night through Monday morning, plus or minus a few kids and young adults coming and going on either end. Part of the weekend was the passing on of the family van to Ben for the summer job at RPI and the picking up of a new car for home. The small green hatchback Impreza is in the Somerville driveway, pale green with off white interiors, back seat already stained from the salad dressing my daughter dripped as we drove home from school yesterday, ah, well, things can only be perfect so long.

The van clean out, passing on went smoothly, if it took a lot out of me in sleep and cash and energy, as did the new car purchase and pickup, completed over two weekends with Richard’s help in Northampton. Ben drove away in the van yesterday morning on his way to his summer job, we drove away shortly after, maxing the cargo hold with four sets of bags, and the stuff we took from the van, maps, css, shopping bags, ice scrapers. This week I’ll get a new EZPass transponder and Somerville resident parking sticker, then the transfer will be complete. The new car has bluetooth, heated seats, no third row, no box on top, a usb and device connection for the modern world, six speakers and a phone connection so you can talk hands free while you drive. The van has a cd player and a wire coming out of the dash where we connect our iPhones, two speakers on one side that work most times, two on the other that don’t work much, not to mention new shocks, new struts, new ignition and two keys, one for the old locks, one to start the car, new wiper motor and blades, old paint job falling off, one automatic door on the blink, not working at the end of the week, working when Ben drove away. It’s all good. Scary, but good, to pass on the old van to the kids, to take the leap into new car ownership on my own, first new car I’ve bought myself, ever. Wahoo. I’m an American, car payment and all. My son’s an American, minivan and all.

We also saw a fine Hayes Carll concert. There were seven of us at two tables meant for six. We were cozy and up close, though not at the base of the stage, where we might have had more room, as there were two tables of four waiting when we arrived. The man put on a fine show and we had fun. As I left I bought a USB prepared that night, a live recording of the show. First time buying music that way. The USB is in my wallet, waiting to be plugged into the USB drive in the Subaru, hidden in the box beneath the armrest, where we’ve stowed our charger from the van, converting one plug to many so the two kids and I can charge our iPhones all at once, iPhone leap being the last no sleep big decision I made a couple of years ago, no regrets, hopefully a good sign for the car/van decision of this week.

Richard was a fine host. When I was waiting for the kids to finish school in the parking lot of the Sudbury library, having dropped them off on the way back home from Richard’s, gone to my old favorite coffee shop, headed back towards school for a library stop before picking up the kids and heading home to the dentist, we talked about the weekend. I said something about how nice it was for him to host us, how nice it was that it isn’t going to become a full time deal, that we all have lives to go back to, how fast the kids are growing up, how much clearer it feels at times that soon they’ll all be gone. At sixty one, Richard and his kids are there, doing dinners together at his daughter’s house, meeting up downtown for dinner, getting together for a few days at a time with his younger one, for walks and work visits and meals now and then with the one who lives nearby, rarely more. My kids in their one away at college, two at home half time with me, half time with their dad stage of life are more present in our daily livess, still moving along. There won’t be a Brady Bunch situation here, no family of five kids to put together in one house, no Alice to cook and clean and keep the peace. That opportunity for me has passed, that dream of post divorce reunion with another adult to raise the kids and make a home is not for me. For a weekend, we can do it in Richard’s home, for Richard’s visits to my home when the kids are here, we do it every other weekend, often into Tuesday morning. Neither one of us is giving up our home and our community, even our autonomy really. At any point, we can walk away. The fact that we don’t means something, that we choose to stay.

When we left, Richard had a guy at the house, a general contractor who he’s known, there to give Richard feedback on his house..on  repairs and improvements he might do if he were to stay. When I met Richard, he was preparing his house for the market, cleaning cupboards, watching prices. Many weekends we go to Open Houses, see what’s there, Richard’s habit, an occupation not totally new to me. No house we’ve seen has made Richard want to move. No condo he has looked at without me has taken him from his home. So, we’ll see. For now, the repairs don’t make a lot of sense, nor do the improvements. Same deal in Somerville. Living with the old kitchens, the slowly upgraded baths, the dirt driveway that long ago was asphalt torn up so we could lay down brick, the basement renovation, none of that for now makes sense, though interestingly, Richard’s thinking he might rebuild his falling down garage and I’m thinking I might get someone to pave the driveway with brick. We’ll see. Both are big bucks in lives tending to conserve.

While we were away a day care family welcomed a new baby into the world, via C-section after a health scare, in a local hospital, baby number two, a girl to follow a boy. The days of new babies in our family are passed. Next one with likely be a grand kid. Transitions, however, continue. Kids grow up and move out, step-by-step-by-step, new families form in their own ways, quickly, as my former husband and his second wife the year that he and I divorced, slowly, as Richard and I are doing, not family exactly, but a couple and their kids sharing a life.

Here’s one of our favorite songs from the Hayes Carll concert. It made me remember the wrenching newness of parenthood, and all of us could giggle at how far we’ve come.

Well, I can’t find the baby tune on youtube, so I’ll include the less funny, but sweetly touching one about his kid, once his personality was more fully developed, as Hayes said at the concert. I have the other on USB, and maybe I’ll figure out how to share that here eventually, given time and technologically savvy, if you know what I mean.

http://www.rawhideandvelvet.com/hayes-carll-has-a-magical-new-tune/

Today I’m home from Northampton, home from Amsterdam, from the tiny town of Giethoorn, Holland, all homes for a time. When I arrived yesterday morning, debating dropping off Richard’s car at the shop or coming home first to drop off my bags, Ben Harper and his mom were singing to me on the radio, and I chose home first, shop second, so I could take a listen. Here’s their song for you, youtube style:

Some days I do wonder where home is, especially days when it’s just me and the cat here, even more so when the cat is here on her own, poor Frances girl. Home is with my kids, wherever we are, with my beau, wherever we are, with my friends and family, wherever we are, in the day care here, or making my way from home to Northampton or here to LeRoy and Pavilion and Attica, New York, where I grew up, walking around Somerville and Boston, on the campus of the Healey or Sudbury Valley Schools, in the living room of the Charter School Founders Group, at the park with my day care buddies, all those places are home. Still the house is here, home to me and my kids and my ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, current guy for over twenty years, and it’s got its own vibe, is a hard place to imagine leaving, though these days I do spend time wondering if and when and how.

When I come back from other places, where I’ve mostly lived with a few things, clothes, books, computer, phone, I wonder at this four level house of stuff. I’d just as soon be rid of lots of it, but the memories are imbedded and the time and energy it takes to sift through those is time I’d rather devote to living.

Monday Richard and I walked in the woods of Mount Toby, a place I’ve never been, a place he’s walked a lot. At the top there is a fire tower, which we climbed, hoping to be let in by a worker who drove ahead of us on an ATV and was too busy working when we were up top to let us have a look from inside the tower. Instead we sunbathed at the base of the tower, a ritual of Richard’s climbs, new to me. To have the earth warm enough below us to lie for half an hour, faces to the sun, was a new pleasure, first time for me this spring. Walking back down the mountain, we passed a group of older women hikers, seeming to be in the same spot they had been when we hiked up, halfway up the trail, but this time they were split in two, one group walking down the mountain further up the trail, the other group waiting down below, one of whom commented as we passed that one of the members of the slower group was getting “you know what”. All I could imagine was old.

Richard is fifteen years older than I am. Getting old is something we think about a lot. For now, though, we are hiking, enjoying a fine life together. Halfway across the Atlantic, up in the air with Aer Lingus, tears came to my eyes, out of the blue, as I imagined Richard at 96 like his mom, me at 81, like the parents of my good friends Laura and Dave. I figure he’ll be a fine old man. I don’t’ count on dying first. Life will have to go on. Until then, though, I’m pretty happy hiking, drinking maple milk and tea and sharing salads at the Book Mill cafe, browsing the shelves of new and used books after wards, going home to Richard’s Northampton place for a quiet Monday night on our own after a busy weekend of socializing in Northampton and Somerville, after a week apart while I was traveling, before heading back to Somerville on my own. We don’t make big plans to plant a garden or remodel the house. We don’t buy furniture or make children. We aren’t building careers or even a social circle. We’re holding on, keeping things going, trying to sort out life in two cities, one small and one big, mixing up our family and friends little by little, trying to figure out retired and working, older and younger, his kids and mine, two/three homes, much older mom and not so much older mom, both dads gone.

When I was in Amsterdam, I thought I would visit the Ann Frank House. We didn’t, for lots of reasons. Richard’s parents came to the US during the Nazi era, lost many members of their families, their homes and livelihoods, and started fresh here, supporting both sets of parents, building new lives, bearing and raising three sons. Its a story I’m interested to learn and join, one as a descendent of German emigres I feel I ought to know. Today a friend liked a Humans of New York photo and story that made me smile, happy that as the subject said, “You can’t kill a people with hate. There will always be someone left to to carry on”..lucky for me that Hilde and John Brunswick carried on, to make the man I love, giving me another chance to try and make a life that’s not so on my own. Here’s the HONY, so you can see and hear the woman as I did:

When we arrived yesterday, we had not slept much. Late in the afternoon we realized we had better make a trip to the grocery store before we crashed. Tonight we arrived home late after a night of deep sleep, which didn’t end until near noon for four of us, me included, a midday of eating delicious Dutch food for breakfast, croissants, nespresso cappuccino and latte, muesli with yogurt drink, and then a long, rambling, wonderful walk through Albert Cuyp Market, many neighborhoods, a visit to three museums, the Hermitage, the Rembrandt House, and the Van Gogh, open until 10 on Friday night. So, on our way home, we hoped to stop at the grocery for a re-up. The only sad news on our very secular Good Friday was that the grocery closed at 6 instead of 10, so at home we were left with rummaging..chocolate hazelnut spread on a croissant for my gal, chocolate bar with hazelnut for me, a pot of roibois tea made with the new found boiling water tap, leftover baguette for our young friend, stroopwaffles left by our host for three of us, and a salad with hardboiled egg, tomatoes, english cucumber from the store, cheddar from the day care fridge, brought across the Atlantic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil from the cupboards here. It was a fine ending to a fine day. Now it’s officially day three, past midnight in Amsterdam, and Bob Dylan is on my mind, his Amsterdam lyrics ringing in the quiet spaces, of which there have been few, racing bikers and motor scooters and fast cars, even a zig-zagging street sweeper cleaning a figure eightish park the fear in our day, the scenes and people and art and newness of this other world taking up all five senses and more since we woke up this morning, steep and narrow stairs greeting us right outside the bedroom door, confusing shower taps and light fixtures and toilets and outlets and hardware reminding us that we are not alone in the world as Americans, that others have their ways and we might as well adapt, appreciate, soak up whatever we can as long as we’re here, green salad as close to home as we’ll get, and eggs and vinegar and oil, even the lettuce head was enormous, the tomatoes sold in cups that look more like frappucino cups as much as anything else.

Good night world. Six thirty at home is twelve thirty here, and my goal is eight am wakeup to restock the pantry for the next two or three days of the Easter weekend..not knowing what we’ll find on Easter Sunday and planning to be out all day tomorrow to visit the Keukenhoff Gardens with the tulips we flew across the ocean to find.

 

Turns out it’s not Bob Dylan in my head singing about Amsterdam, but Michelle Shocked, who was a favorite of mine once upon a time, about the same time as Bob, so perhaps that’s why I’m confused.

This youtube doesn’t do it for me, but it’s the only one I find here in Amsterdam, not far enough from 5 am to justify more looking. Enjoy:)

 

My kids have left for school, second son now such a regular driver I barely acknowledge the fact that life has changed..I’m at the kitchen table paying bills, listening to an album I don’t think I’ve ever listened to, given to me by my son at Christmas, but every song is full of memory. Finally, after listening to Boots of Spanish Leather, recalling Bob Dylan singing this song through a good part of my marriage, and moving on to a song I distinctly remember John Prine singing as I drove to and from my Michigan retreat at Gilchrist one year, I check my iPhone to see the name of Nancy Griffith’s album, Other Voices, Other Rooms..

I’ve been feeling melancholy all morning. The Food Program reimbursement from last month is all messed up. Going through my pile of papers I look at the Claim Summary and Errors Report again and find I can barely understand it, just enough to know we messed up big time and lost a lot of money as a result. Time to sort that out. The kids are off to school. We were all up too late last night. Next week this time we’ll be on our way to Amsterdam, our flight leaving at 9 pm on Wednesday, flying overnight to Dublin, then on to Amsterdam, where we’ll arrive midday, their time. This is our first time overseas together, my first time since age twenty, when I studied and traveled abroad the second semester of my junior year of college, assuming that would be my life, traveling abroad. It hasn’t. At 47, one son in his second year of college, I take the leap, uby plane tickets, tag along on a friend’s vacation with her son. They have chosen Amsterdam, not a place I ever wished to go, but this time, it’s where we’re going, as much to go, as to go there, which is not to say we aren’t excited, just that it’s not a lifelong dream to go to Amsterdam, but a lifelong dream to travel, to take my kids somewhere special, to make a memory we won’t soon forget, before the next one leaves, or the next one after that, before they’re grown and disappeared, first one not coming this time, too busy with school and not on the same schedule as we are.

This weekend I’m invited to some things here I’d like very much to do, but instead I’ll visit my beau in Northampton. A year ago the kids and I hosted a woman from Spain who was visiting SVS. She and I went to Northampton for the weekend, where we met her friend in Spain’s childhood friend Richard, and the rest is history, life split in two again, this time not Exeter and Somerville, or Sudbury Valley School and West Family Day Care, or Ashfield and Somerville, but Northampton and Somerville for me, Cambridge and Somerville for my kids. So, this weekend, we’ll visit his mom and I’ll meet his brother and sister-in-law in Connecticut. We’ll have breakfast with his daughter and son-in-law in their home, purchased around this time last year. I’ll take my ailing van to the Northampton Honda dealer for repairs. We’ll go to a seder, first one for me, hosted by a friend of his who was also a friend of a good friend of mine, in the company of his daughter and son-in-law and others in his world. This time I’ll miss the rice feeding ceremony and the book club reunion, time with the cat and friends and kids in my world traded for time in his. This is the life I’m leading at this stage of life. Old boy friend is married, as is the ex-husband, living that integrated life I thought I wanted, instead I found something else. Other voices, other rooms speaks to me. Some days it’s like living a life I never planned for myself, one day at a time, learning how live the one I’m in.

There have been a few of these dark stormy days the last few years when I’ve found myself at home alone. This is new for me, mother of three. I’m not a big fan. Being still and quiet has it’s own rhythm and lots to say. A quiet dark day outside brings the quiet and dark inside. Not a comfortable place to be, but one I figure we all must walk through to get to the other side, dark into light being one of those metaphors plenty of poems and novels and religions use to teach us to cope.

All day I wondered if I could write my way out of the house and out of my funk. I wrote with friends over e-mail and facebook chat. That helped some. Now it’s even quieter, with the friends offline, I have my Pandora to keep me company. The Avett Brothers and their friends have sung for me all day long. Introduced to me by my son the music buff, they make this old lady proud to like them, feel sort of young again. Their energy is good, their lyrics barely register, just keep up the pitter patter in the background I imagine others keep the tv on to hear. I am not a tv gal, at least not in a house alone. I only watch shows in the company of others. Feels too lonesome any other way.

The thing about being in a house alone for me is that I feel mighty sorry for myself. I feel like a spinster. Like I had my kids too young. Like I must not have worked hard enough to keep my marriage together. Like I am dumb for dating a man an hour away whose kids need him a lot. Like no one on earth will help me shovel the mountains that come down from the heavens to put me to the test. It’s lousy to feel it all, even lousier to write it for the world, but here I am, getting it out of my head and onto the computer for you all to read, so you will know that not only you, but I have a dark side. The jealousy, the sadness, the loneliness, the anger and resentment, the sorrow and regret, the grief and disappointment exist, and when we slow down, especially if we are terribly busy people, all those dark emotions appear to look us in the eye and put us back to bed to contemplate the world. That is the way it is for me. Some of you will say it is not true for you. Others will know. You’re the ones I’m writing for just now. Another day it will be for the happy crowd who love to look at flowers and admire the creativity of children and teens, for those who make art or poetry, for those who walk in the woods or delight in the produce of local farmers, who are amazed at mushrooms and who smile and smile and smile. Some days that is me, too. I imagine we all have the whole mix. How else to be human, to survive all we are dealt in a full, long life.

Here’s a little song from Pandora The Avett Brothers’ Station’s  Joe Pug’s Hymn #35, to add to the mood. I was hoping for a poem, but lyrics and a song will do. Enjoy:

I am the day, I am the dawn
I am the darkness comin’ on
And I am once, I am twice
I am the whole, I’m just a slice
Some call me gone, some call me here
None are wrong, none are near
I am right now, I am back then
I will return, don’t ask me whenI am the disappointed kiss
I am the unexpected harvest
I am the old Kentucky home
I am the son who runs the farthest
I have done wrong, I will do wrong
There’s nothin’ wrong with doin’ wrong
And I am faith, I am belief
Except for when I’m not
I am the teeth of champions
I am rust and water rotAnd I am sleep, I am breathin’
I’m the missin’ of the passin’ seasons
I am the brush, I am the strokes
I’m sickness come to the best of folks
I am renewed, I am just made
I am unchangin’
I’m a pasture fenced about the edge
I am Dakota thunder ragin’
And by my shoes and by my feet
And by my soul and wonder
I am the tracks we’ve laid above
I am the tunnel runnin’ under

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