Halloween was really fun this year, probably the best yet. We ate cheese sandwiches and bean soup, watched X-Men First Class, and then Sam got dressed up, painted his face, and off we went, into the perfect autumn night, the one I have thought of from time to time, I imagine.
The quiet streets, the gentle passersby, the kind son who would occasionally reach out and walk with his arm around me, just for a while, and it felt so good to know he finally, sometimes, feels safe enough to express tenderness. And then I would turn and hug him, making sure my chest, right where my heart sits, that it laid flat against his, so that he could, I hoped, feel how my heart was spinning with gratitude, and the surprisingly familiar clear knowing of what peace is.
And then, the morning, sort of jagged, rough, with teeth marks bumping up the surface of that first moment when you come up from a long swim in dark, inky, undecipherable sleep. That odd feeling where the floor is just a little tilty, though all appears level. Just not right, just not right.
And then the thoughts. Money. Bills. Car battery. New job offer. My future. My rent. My dad. My sister. The cats need food they will eat. I need to clean my house. Where are Sam’s jeans? Why can’t I get my shit together?
Yeah, yodeling from high on the mountain one day, picking crap off your feet from a dirty kitchen floor the next. Some helper you are. Some mystic you are. Just a gullible person who can’t make friends. Why wasn’t my mom better at getting me ready for this?!, um, oh, I don’t even need to go there. We need to get going. We’re going to be late. Jesus, none of Sam’s clothes fit him anymore. I can’t afford clothes. Hurry, Sam. Christ. Bills. Payday. Let’s GO!
And then the walk.
And then the quiet took over, the clarity was no longer diverted, and the little dam of sticks I’d made began to simply float downstream, singular, paired up, clumps, all dispersed, all clear, and now it’s just me, doing my hort-legged, short-person shuffle, and my son, every now and then, reaching out to hold my hand.
He talked about how he wants to make a drawing of our hands on a big piece of paper, and then he wants to do that every now and then, because it’ll be fun to see how I am shrinking. I told him, hey now, I’m just shrinking longways! I can’t afford hand shrinkage, I laugh, these paws are little to begin with!
And then we laugh, and then he says, no, I want to do that because I want to have your hand with me all the time when you die.
I told him, my handprints are all over everything in our house, and when I die you can pick up anything at all and you’ll feel me holding your hand.
He said he didn’t want me to die, and that’s where he always goes when he feels the closest to me. I told him, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why the people left behind have to suffer so much, because Sam, when that day comes, I will be the happiest I ever have been, because I’ll understand all the stuff that confuses me now, and I’ll be part of everything then.
It’ll be a happy, happy thing, Sam, and you never have to hold a sad heart, you never have to feel bad for me. You just will feel off-kilter because you won’t be able to see me anymore.
He wants to know if I’ll haunt him, and I said, of course, as we always banter about this, seriously making promises and giving reassurances. I told him, of course, but not in a bad way. I’ll talk to you, and maybe sometimes you’ll hear me, or you’ll be able to feel me. I am in this for the long haul Sam.
He said, well, I know that we are connected, and we can feel each other. We’re never really apart, he said.
We got to the corner, and we hugged. We wished each other a good day, and reminded each other of the plans we’ve made for tonight. As we got further from each other, Sam called out, “I love you!” I called back to him, “I love you too, kid!” I crossed the street, and walked home through my magical park.
I listened to Vangelis “I’ll Find My Way Home,” and I thought about my sister. How much I admire her, and always have wished to be more like her, how much I love her love her, and how much I wish I could get through, get her to let me love her, and be seen, somehow just look at each other and see each other.
I wish she knew how much I wish she had never been hurt by anyone ever. That I wish I could take away any sadness or pain she has. How much I love her. How much I miss her. How much I wish I would have understood the plot when I was so mad at her for me thinking that she was not giving me love in a way that felt good to me. How I wish she knew how to soothe me, and wishing so hard that she had a desire to, Knowing she does but doesn’t know quite yet how to say it, wishing she knew I am broken and plain and small in my mightiest of days.
Always a part of me that will ever appreciate, know, remember, hating myself so very much. Like the catch in your voice right before you say something life altering to someone, I remember and then I can speak no evil. I can make no judgment. Too painful anymore, too much of a lie.
I brushed the shrubs with my hand as I walked. Thinking big thoughts, complex thoughts, simple, very simple thoughts.
Realizing my discomfort this morning was that I was once again feeling like I have to make my reality happen.
Walking through the playground, I could see how silly this is. Of course this is unfolding perfectly. Any answer I need is right here, walking alongside the terrorized one, the mildly interested one, the distracted one, the angry one, all these mood states as available as any other, but in the one I walk in now, I can somehow include and reconcile all the contradictory mandates, the shouts of ,”You HAVE TO find an agent!” to “That telemetry job might just be the ticket,” to “Good God! We finally have MONEY! It’s PAYDAY! We must CONSUME!”
Holy God, it’s busy inside my head.
Then there is a natural crest that swells somehow, and every jangly thought, as before, just gets pushed through.
I am in the midst of unlimited probabilities. Simple. I can’t make a mistake. I can do this smart, with a smile on my face. The details don’t matter from here. Let it be. Just let it be. Let it unfold. Let me listen.
Then I began thinking about probable realities. And I began to wonder just how much passion has been played out on the ground I now walk. I thought about a group of Indians, and I considered ancient temples, and then thought about now, this park that has seen confessions of love, lunchtime naughty time, soccer games, and this person, now sitting on the park bench, under the lamp, smoking, getting a little chilly, getting up. moving again.
Finally, thankfully, a tree caught my eye. And that is where I stayed the rest of my walk, in love with the trees.
Anymore, there is not a thing in the world that moves me to tears more readily than breathing with, looking at and pondering a tree. They hold a very special magic, and I adore them.
I can sense them communicating, breathing, beating a subtle rhythm, one that is sacred and very old, quiet and wise, eternally benevolent, unconditionally loving, holding their power each in their own way, each an individual interpretation of the mercy that envelopes me now, lets me breathe easier, lets me forget the petty thoughts, the personal thoughts, the misunderstood data, the skewed understandings, the poorly aligned structures making thoughts, feelings, actions, out of joint. Not quite synching up.
And the trees tell me to look up, keep alert, breathe with us, and above me I see branches of two trees, opposite each other, the wide white sidewalk separating them, and their branches are entangled just up above my head.
Oh the love I felt those trees sharing, the ecstasy, the bliss of holding each others’ hands, day and night, winter and fall, summer and spring, just reaching out, an intent at first, a hypothesis even, and now, their fingers entwine and out there in full view is a great and intricate and delicate and poetic love.
Just out there for all to see, though few, I am sure, do.
I thrilled with them, and I thanked them for their great act of beauty, and they thanked me for noticing, and noted they were happy to share such as they had. I went to the one on the left and hugged it, as Krishna Das sang Mata Durga, and then I walked a straight line to the other side of the sidewalk, and I held that trunk, and didn’t say a word.
Then I took some pictures, and then I was on my way.
The coffee’s ready, and it is indeed the day I get my car started. I give my neighbor her shot today. I pay a few debts today. I go to the store and the pharmacy and maybe even early voting today.
I will call the boss and tell her, what? Taking the job made a lot of sense while still on my walk. Now, I am blank. I am neutral. Don’t know what that means, think it means wait, just hold your horses, just wait. You’ll know when it’s time to leap. Don’t worry. Just listen, and wait, and smile.
Drink some coffee. Put on some socks, write something called “Probably,” make it about your walk and all that stuff about alternate universes, and then just get on with your day.
But you are a new creature now.
Now you write for yourself. You are big enough now to just write love letters to yourself. They can all listen in, that’s ok, that’s good. But this is for you. It’s just a reflection, it’s a simple act of goofing in front of the mirror, but with a purpose.
See how this muscle stretches, how the frame bends and how other muscle groups compensate? See the fluidity, see the age, see the bendy fingers and solid shape? This is a reflection of your awareness, just this day.
Just this much, and then just this much, and then just this much.
So, I will not push the river this day. I will look forward to my evening with Sam, and I will get stuff done. But not forcefully, not frantically, not anxiously. Just all in good time, all in good humor, all according to some bigger plan.
Probably. Very probably.