A well-positioned window, the precursor to the television. I sit in the living room next to my father who is watching HBO during one of their free periods, and I find myself glued to the backyard. The birds have not returned from their blizzard retreating, except for a frat party's worth of robins strutting through the lawn on a bright day last week. The back fence is a zoetrope of cars passing on the hill beyond. I've always been a wistful window watcher. The answer to everything is in the breath. And who breathes without the trees? How can one feel good to leave the trees? I assure you, I do not. The date of my return to my hip, modern life in the big city fast approaches and I feel so much about it. And the trees, are singing.
I seem to be able to get used to anything except change. Quite a few times in my tenure as at-home handyman I decided to extend my stay, to help my mom, to spend whatever time I can with my dad, to be close to my family, and for my own mental health, to allow a break from my scattershot anxious, depressive New York state of mind. And as slow as it is here, and no matter how dull a walk through the suburbs can be, and how much I miss Saltie sandwiches, now I'm looking at New York, and my first feelings are of fear.
Is six months all the time away it takes to be intimidated by New York again? Is it a sign that perhaps the love affair I've had with the city is now in companionate stages, and I'm finding it to be simply not a considerate enough partner? Where would I go if not there? Everything seems rather swirly, and I'm putting my one foot on the ground, but the earth is in carnival ride mode and I'll just have to wait until it's over.
I'm sure in the coming days, it will seem less terrifying and maybe even pleasant, (dare I say I'll look forward to it?). It's hard to imagine leaving my Mom. Her present position, taking care of two people's lives, paying two people's taxes, running two people's errands, maintaining 3 cars, dealing with a family-sized house (and being so poor at organizing it), feeding herself and occasionally her grandchildren. Rarely having time to read a book. Rarely time to do much except vent about how hard it all is. To pour herself through the phone, to let one of her many friends bear a little of the weight. And to listen in return.
I was reorganizing my Evernote this morning and I came across a note about something my mom used to repeat over and over last year about seeing old ladies with their old husbands waddling along and feeling gipped. And I can say nothing's a given, and 62 isn't so young, and kids get cancer and car accidents happen every minute, but nothing takes the potency away from that sentiment. If that's what she wanted, then she was gipped. The heart is not an abacus.
How do you leave someone who needs you? How do you return to yourself after being an important part of your family unit? How do you return to relative chaos from relative simplicity? How do you leave the trees?
Everything is relative and adjusting is a matter of finding your breath and losing the time. Even living with Mom I am in danger of looking too far ahead. Thinking of trips I might take (life is short). Expecting accomplishments to provide meaning (insulate the attic, re-organize the garage, label the boxes). Looking for helpful signs from the ditch. Making sure I leave what love and wisdom I can. Trying to schedule my year, when it's really going to be a collection of seasons, if I'm lucky. So I sit with my rituals. I sit at the computer, though the writing isn't flowing this week like it often is. Even if moping is more what the heart is calling for. I pull the words slowly. I sip my tea, and I look out the window, and think about the tournament of hearts.
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