our sweet and sour summer bodies stacked on top of bed sheets and begging for a breeze to pass over exposed flesh. the garden is, for the first time, failing to thrive and sometimes it feels like we are too. stagnation, i suppose, can be common to both people and flowers. lately we’ve been falling asleep to slow, sad songs while i run lavender fingers through your hair in the dark. through my small window i can just make out the silhouettes of leafless, bony oaks and i try to feel still while your breathing changes.
the color left your skin some time ago, but i can still find it in your eyes. a shade that escapes the hands of man. like sunlight dancing on a milky sea. last night i dreamt i’d wrapped you in white bandages and cried over all the places that hurt in you and when we unstuck them my tears had healed you.
“things will go every way, but our way” would seem to be the prevailing theme of our lives for the last two years. recently, in a complicated and frustrating turn of events, we decided to move in a new direction in regards to our contractor/architect. unfortunately for us this means starting from scratch and waving goodbye to a year’s worth of planning and dreaming. we spent two days following this decision quiet in our disappointment. mourning the floor plan and the loss of time. kicking ourselves for not making the necessary decision sooner. we took one day to vent our anger to each other, finishing each other’s sentences and reaffirming our desire to always be straightforward with people even if you can’t count on them to do the same for you. and after that? we got to work, like we always do, brainstorming ways to make life here more comfortable. making purchases and changes that’d we’d been holding off on until the house was finished, because at this point only god knows how much longer we’ll call the trailer home. and because life is short and happening now. new plants with homemade wood round and plank tables to display them. a new mattress for our creaky, winter bones. a garden expansion in the works to include a covered picnic area and most convenient of all a washing machine under the carport. making it possible for us to stay home to do our laundry for the first time in over a year. the only mercy in it all being that is comes just as spring wakes the hillsides. emboldened by fire, wild poppies have invaded the snow peas. iridescent sage and raspberry shoots greet me every morning on my way to gather eggs and we spend most evenings underneath the stars. the birds have returned to the trees that survived. along with families of deer and anxious jack rabbits, we have ample evidence of skunks making new homes here (washing two dogs with an outdoor trailer shower is an adventure all it’s own). there’s color and fresh growth in almost every direction. we seem to find new pine tree shoots on every walk and can almost imagine, twenty years from now, a new forest having taken root. in those moments it always feels right to have stayed.
the first daffodils have begun to peak through the soggy dirt. one of the last remnants of our old life here. the trees have continued to die despite the sky’s best effort. torrents of water carve changes in the roads we drive everyday. always a new waterfall or flooded shoulder. i haven’t bothered with them since the frost killed them, blackening their eager shoots, but the potatoes are sprouting from a pile of straw once again. the beets and my seed bank were ruined by a particularly brutal and unexpected rain. i have not replaced either as of yet, but deep winter is making way for spring. the sun peaks over our ridge a little longer each day and i’m slowly favoring a thin flannel for egg gathering over my winter coat most mornings. i am a haphazard homesteader as of late. i have only four small crops and six happy chickens to show for this season, but i’ll take what i can get. weary of trailer life and holding out for a proper kitchen and pantry, i’m doing my best. or at least the best i can muster most days.
a year into living under a carport on our charred dream, jack and i have stretched out comfortably in our marriage. no longer afraid to show our underbellies and with no where else to go, we learned to fight. we’ve practiced “i’m sorry” and touching each other gently more than many probably do in a lifetime. i’d be a desperate, sorry woman if i had to live without him now.
spring promises more challenges for our family as my father enters intense treatment for his cancer, but we are not without hope or things to look forward to. we have finalized plans for the house that will sit near the spot my favorite oak is slated to come down two days from now. at night, just before sleep, i walk through the rooms in my head and see us there. sitting and sleeping and cooking and laughing and begging life to slow down. i imagine us with a child. from where it will come i do not know, but i think he or she is already with us in ways we’re yet to understand.
i am acutely aware that this will all seem like a distant dream one day. i am doing my best to breathe it in and reminding myself to never wish my life away. even and perhaps especially when it’s hard. the good times coming are gonna to taste so sweet.
perhaps my least favorite part of the human experience. it’s nuances unique to the individual and in privileged society, preyed upon at almost every turn. in print and on any. available. screen. often in ways so subtle we hardly pause to consider it’s consequences. comparison’s best companion. the enemy of contentment and a thief of joy. a distraction from those among us in need. i’ve grown more aware, and subsequently more tired, the older i’ve gotten. becoming more selective of the magazines i choose to read or the online accounts i choose to follow. if it only encourages fixation on what i imagine my life to be lacking, why would i continue to let it? what will be left when i’ve drawn my last breath? nothing i’ve coveted, of that i’m almost certain.
as of late my wanting has been somewhat tempered. the loss of certain things has forced life into focus in painfully beautiful ways. blurred bits of my heart’s desire are now so clear. all but one feels within reach. simple, slow dreams. but wholly mine. it has been nearly three years since we decided we’d like, together, to be parents. in those years we have watched many couples around us become pregnant, swell with and deliver new life. some more than once. even worse, we’ve heard unimaginable stories of harmed or forgotten children in the news. i’ve wept and i’ve raged. i’ve carried the wanting like a stone in my pocket.turning it over and over and over and asking why. all the time, why. i can’t any longer. the stone is too heavy, the thievery of joy too great.
as we enter a season of giving and are relentlessly bombarded with the message of more, i invite you to lay down your stones. it doesn’t matter how big, small, or many in number. if it makes you feel like less. if it blurs the view of all you have in front of you. even if it hurts. it’s okay to let them fall from your fingers. you have enough. you are enough. the best gifts we can give each other now are our voices. honest, encouraging, just, and vulnerable voices.
i wrote the following words some days ago and just found them tucked away between torn out pages and smudges of ink…
“we’re so different now. even if we can’t tell quite how. i can see the way you look at me when i laugh. and the way our skin jumps ever so slightly off our bones when another ancient pine hits the forest floor. i’m sorry that i disappear sometimes. i want so badly to be here now. with you. in this. every day. but i get so tired. i get so lost.”
they feel so familiar and so foreign all at once because some days they are still so true, but most they are no longer. in many ways i’m coming out the other side of them. we remained so hopeful in the days and weeks following the upheaval of our lives last june. it all started with a phone call. dan is missing. his car was found in the red hills. this isn’t like him. and then the fire. so fast and unrelenting. so much support. so many kind words. propping us up like sticks in the mud. but as the months trudged on and people went back to their lives…we got angry. with the loss and the waiting and each other. you rarely failed to offer a kind word, but i think i did. it’s easy when things get hard to try to go it alone. to think you can handle it better that way. together, but separate. but we spoke up. and we said sorry. and life with anyone, but you wouldn’t make a damn bit of sense after all that.
so, we’re different now. but i think mostly in the best ways. not only in the wounded ways. more sure of ourselves. of each other. of what we want and where we’re going. together.
i’ve been writing some. or at least thinking about what i’ll say when i do. more than that i’m reading. scouring books and the internet in hopes of inspiring day dreams. for once in my life it feels safer in my head.
very much enjoyed this
and pouring over these. memorizing them.