Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

The Deep Freeze Experiment

As you know, I blog from the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  Known for it’s rain, we hardly ever get snow that sticks on that valley floor.  Well, this week we have surpassed all usual expectations.  We have truly been bombarded with quite an unusual winter storm.  We’ve had temperatures in the teens…during the day!  Winds have been gusting and to top it all off, we’ve had at least 3 inches of snow that has been hanging around for days.

Because the roads are a solid sheet of ice, the schools are all shut down.  Many stores are closed.  Most of my neighbors have been home from work and been hanging around the neighborhood.   My neighbors and I like to watch and see exactly which of us on this street dares to jump in their car and go anywhere.  As soon as they return we hover over them asking about the outside world.  Did they see people?  Where the roads open?  Were they able to get groceries???

These are all the conveniences of our community that we take for granted.  It’s amazing what happens when you take away our cars.  Truly amazing.

What I love about our deep freeze experiment is how all the families have been taken out of their normal routines and forced to hang out together at home.  I just look out at all my neighbors and laugh in secrecy.  All those families who are putting on and taking off their kids’ winter clothes twenty times a day as the kids keep coming in and out, in and out.  The looks on the faces of the mothers whose kids are with them 24 hours a day.  The looks on fathers’ faces having to deal with their exhausted wives.  Ha ha ha. I love it.

But seriously…the deep freeze of 2008 has given me a lot to think about.  The forced slow down that brings families back together.  It’s sad to me that families aren’t already together like this.  It’s sad to me that people have to have some sort of natural disaster that forces them to spend more time together at home, just hanging out, just living their lives together.

I’m just hoping that some of the families who have unknowingly participated in my Deep Freeze Experiment recognize how wonderful it really is to just throw the world away outside and just stay tucked away inside their warm, safe homes together.  Aaahhh….yes.  It seems I’m always looking for that shift in people.

All I know now is that there truly is nowhere else I’d rather be than here with my babies.  Because I really have nowhere else to go that could possibly be any better than this.  So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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December 17, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 1 Comment

I Even Tried an Acrobat

I realized I was at a crossroads.  A stupid road, with a stupid point, where I had to decide which way to go.  I hate roads like that.  But every road is like that, so maybe it’s just me.

I’ve come to realize that everything I’ve ever needed to know, I’ve learned from the fire in my living room.  The way it takes such care, and contains so much power.  It can either save your life or kill you.  You either have to stoke it or let it die.  And long before you can stoke it, you have to find a tree, chop it down, season the wood, split the logs, chop kindling, crumple the paper, find a match…..there is a lot that has gotten me to today.  So much planning and pain-staking, back-breaking, labor.  But none of that matters when the fire goes out.  All your work is for what?  For practice?  Because you get to do it all over again.  And again, and again…and again.

Sigh.

The proof is in the fire. It’s not something you can fake.  It’s either going well or it’s not.  You’re either warm or you’re cold.  It’s either blazing or it’s going out.  And it might be cold inside, but it’s always colder outside.  And sometimes you see it dying, and you look outside at the 5 cords you have, and sometimes you just think to yourself that it’s easier to just curl up inside the down comforter on your bed and worry about the coldness in the morning.

One thing I’ve learned is that coals are only good if you plan to light it again.  Or if it’s already too hot.

Well, this is neither of those things.  I’m cold and I don’t plan on relighting this fire.

And he has been trying to tell me that.  But I wasn’t able to hear him.  I so badly wanted it to keep on going.  I had convinced myself that it would.  Someday.  But it’s not.  It’s not going to blaze again.  It’s over.  It’s dead.  The fire is out.

And I really did even try an acrobat.  (Thank you, Wilma.)

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Just me | Leave a comment

The Void That Never Gets Filled

I grew up in a small town in the heart of the Willamette Valley.  Although it’s history is deeply rooted in the logging industry, that little town has now become the icon for art and tolerance and hippies-turned-yuppy.  It is clean and prosperous and to be a kid in a town like that was very unique.  It was a nice mix of cultures to be seeped in.  To be part of a shift in a community that sheds its history to uncover it’s potential.  I like that and I am proud to have been a part of that, even in such an insignificant way.

My little town was very small while I grew up.  I would ride my bike up and down the streets at night, knowing who lived in every single house.  And not only that, but I could have named their dogs and their cousins and tell you what their fathers did for work.  And nobody ever kidnapped me, even though sometimes I wished they would.  And I swam in the creek with no adult supervision, everyday of every summer.  And I survived.  I would walk back slowly from the creek, down the long gravel road to my house, picking blackberries and eating them along the way.  I knew my brother would be there waiting for me or at least I knew where I could find him.

That’s just the world I knew.  Me and my cats and my brother and my creek and my gravel road.  For sixteen years.  I was born in that hospital and I lived in that same house until my freshman year of high school.  I could describe every sliver of wood in the paneling and every tree and where it was and what it grew.  I loved that house.  It was all I ever knew.

Last month I had an old friend come back to town to visit his family for the holidays.  I met him downtown for coffee.  In a shop that I knew oh-so-well.  Across the street from the Palace Theater, where I spent every single Friday night of my entire life, we sat at a table by the window.  And he said, “If we sit here long enough, we’ll find at least 50 people we know.”  And every time a car would pass, we would laugh and say, “Oh, I think I know that guy!”  Just then the mayor walked in, up to the counter and ordered a drink.  We recognized him.  He spoke to us briefly.  He was the same guy who walked up and down the aisles of the movie place with a flashlight, telling us to “keep it down or get out”.  He still had a bike.

Would you believe I left that town almost 20 years ago and have literally never gone back until now?  It really has been that long.  17 years to be exact.  And every day I’ve been away I think of that little town.  And all my friends there, and how I knew who I was there.  I knew the way to the drug store and I knew my way home in the dark.  It was safe there.  Predictable.  It was home.  And I miss that.

I have been avoiding that town for so long, for way too long.  I just couldn’t figure out how to go back there without feeling overwhelmed with a sense of unfairness.  Because it just seems so unfair that that was ripped away from me, without my feelings considered whatsoever.  And on top of which, I was just expected to “be fine”.  So all these years I’ve worried about going back and running into people I know and have them ask me how I’m doing.  I would have to smile and just say, “fine”, because that is what they expect.  And I guess I am fine.  I am.  But there is always a hole in me, too, a void, that has never been filled.  It’s that sense of having been ripped out of the womb I needed to survive.  Like seeds that are scattered in the wind, only to fall on rocks and wait.  Wait until the wind comes and blows them back onto fertile soil.  That’s how I have felt.  And in many ways, I feel like I have always been waiting.  To go back.  To fill that void.  To have a place to call my home.  To know who I am and to be able to find my way back in the dark.  Because it’s not fair to take that away from someone.

My friend and I drank our coffee, spilled some, too….and then we had to go.  We walked out of the shop and onto the sidewalk outside.  We came to a crossing where he had to go one way and I had to go another.  He gave me a big, big hug and I just soaked that up.  As he was walking away I looked back at him, with what was probably the saddest face I’ve made in a long time.  He called out, “What is that for?  We’ll still talk!”  But it wasn’t that.  I knew we’d still talk.  It was just that I didn’t want to go.  Not yet.  I wasn’t ready to leave that sidewalk.  I wanted him to stay with me there.  I needed to stand there for a little bit longer, taking in all the sights and smells.  I wanted to look inside every window of every shop and look deeply into the eyes of everybody that walked by me.  I just wanted to stay in that moment for a long, long time.  There is a void in me where those things belong.

I got to my car, where my dog was waiting patiently for me.  I put the keys in the ignition and my hands on the steering wheel.  I turned back and looked at the elementary school where I learned to read, where I met my first best friend, where I chased a boy at recess…and something just came over me.  I just cried.  And I cried and I cried.  It was so cold in my car and my breath was fogging up the glass.  So I just wiped my face and drove away, completely “disorganized” in every way.

I am so fortunate that the Captain took me there.  And that he stayed with me for as long as he possibly could.  I didn’t tell him I cried my way home that evening.  I don’t know if he would understand that.  But it makes sense to me.  And I need to do that again.  I need some more time to be on that street, looking in the windows of the shops and recognizing people that I keep in my bottom drawer.  Because that is what made me, me.  And I need to go back and remember that.  To open up that drawer and remember that it isn’t all bad.  Sometimes it’s good in there.  It is.  I’m lucky that way.  That I have goodness inside of me to fall back on, to remember.  I am lucky that I even have a void, let alone to have the circumstances to even try to fill it.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm | 2 Comments