I Forgive You, For Everything

I Forgive You, For Everything

It started with the young man working in the post office who, when I asked him how he was, looked up at me with bright eyes and said, “I”m evolving.” And how I cocked my head and wondered if he were speaking to me directly, like some bodhisattva planted in the post office to jar me, to get me thinking about my life. Or maybe it was random, something he said to everyone, which, as it turns out might be true, because one of my students who lives in town, told me he said the same thing to her. And why not? Our own little Yoda getting a whole town of people to go home and have a little think. I’m evolving, he told me, as he stamped my packages, and sent me out the door. And maybe I am evolving too, since evolving means change. Maybe we’re all evolving, whether we’re ready for it or not. Like that moment last week – I have no idea what prompted it – as I walked through the kitchen, then stopped mid-stride, frozen, my hands flying up to my chest and to my belly, and how the words, “My god, my god,” flew out of my mouth involuntarily. How in that moment, I was instantly aware of 61-years of body trauma, self-consciousness, and shame erupting out of me like some pent up geyser that had nowhere else to go, finally. “My god,” I gasped, as this visceral awareness sprung up inside of me, in the middle of the day, in the middle of my life. Out of nowhere, this whoosh of...
Suzy Gets Her Game Back

Suzy Gets Her Game Back

My 84-year-old mother, Suzy, is getting a basketball hoop put in her driveway. Not for the grandkids, not for her neighbors, but for herself. She came to this decision in therapy last week when she figured out why she’d been so blue this past year. “I need to find my spirit,” she wrote in an email to me and my sibs. If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ve heard me talk about Suzy, before. She’s a badass, a notorious Dodger fan who brings her mitt to the game in the hopes of catching a ball. She’s broken her nose three times, once when she was playing catcher at a temple picnic, another when she was climbing a tree to pick an apple which fell directly onto her nose. At the gym, she rents the batting cage, getting ball after ball thrown at her. “Come on, gal,” she yells when she misses. We were able to talk her out of getting a motorcycle at 70, after she took that fall in the motorcycle training class, but the basketball hoop may work out. Apparently, my younger brother, who is mostly full of good ideas, tried to talk her out of it, telling her to get in her car and drive to the park if she wants to shoot some hoops. But I disagree. I think she needs to keep the ball right by the front door so she can pick it up and walk outside when inspiration hits. The feel of the ball in her hand, the sound of the bounce in the driveway, and then the crouch and the...
Inventing New Weather

Inventing New Weather

“Life in the liminal state asks us to carry a heavier mental load,” Dhruv Khullar, from an article in The New Yorker, August 22, 2021. We’re Inventing New Weather. That’s what my friend Nan said to me the other day. “We’re inventing new weather,” she said, as she made her way from Idaho to Salt Lake City through a canyon of thick smoke from a nearby fire, mixed with heavy rain – a kind of weather she’d never seen before, and which made visibility nearly impossible. “I’m afraid,” she repeated to herself as she drove, “I’m afraid,” she said aloud, naming it, and grounding herself to the road. We’ve inventing New Weather. The skies here in Northern California sit under a smoke dome from neighboring fires. Your sore throat is a reminder that the fire that took out the town of Greenville is still burning. And all the people, and their homes – something you read about, but don’t know how to respond to. The way residents told reporters, “It’s gone, the whole town is gone.” And how you try to take that in before you turn the page. New Weather. The sun these past few days is a kind of orange I’ve rarely seen. A beautiful orange, actually. Brighter than the orangiest egg yolk, stunning, really. Yet, even as I want to admire it, there’s something not right about the muddied pall it casts over everything as it attempts to rise over the city. “We’re in the thick of the fucking it,” Nan said – which is strong language for a woman who prays. Images of people running...
It’s all in the frame

It’s all in the frame

It’s all in the frame. That’s what my friend Nan said when I told her about the car accident last week, the way I barreled into the intersection, the collapse of the cars, the older Asian man who emerged from his vehicle intact. It’s all in the frame, she said, how I stood there squinting into the bright Oakland morning sun holding my phone, texting the man I was supposed to meet for coffee, “You won’t believe this,” I tapped, how I then turned to the older man who was staring at his car dumbfounded, the way he turned to me, “why?” he seemed to be saying with his eyes. It was all in the frame. Impossible to take in, one minute at the stop sign deciding whether to turn right and look for parking or maybe go through the intersection… The moment of impact, the sound of it – sonic – two big cars colliding. How the man’s Subaru sat like a defeated animal on the side of the road – two flat tires pushed up against the curb, the passenger side of his car completely crumpled, airbags inflated. Later I’d be grateful no one was sitting in that passenger seat, that he’d left his wife at home before heading to Costco. It was all in the frame. The 911 operator who tells me that there are 192 emergency calls ahead of mine and that if there are no injuries to simply call our insurance companies. How the older man had forgotten his phone and that I called his insurance company for him. “Are you sure you want...
Solo Notes

Solo Notes

1. Almost all the sounds are yours. And the ones that aren’t – the dry crunch of leaves along the side of the house, they’re either animal or man. Man is the heavier step, the raccoon and the possum are more tentative, more low to the leaves. And if you’re scared, you can get out of bed, like you did last night and stand by the window, flicking on the outside light to watch a little mouse duck under your house. 2. Your ex-husband left you a woodpile, which you need to load into the wheelbarrow and stack in the wood bin. It’ll take some time, but the gift will be the way you’ll remember how to use your body, the way you’ll bend to pick up the pieces he split, tossing them into the wheelbarrow, which you’ll make too heavy, lifting the handles, and wheeling it over to the wood bin. You love this honest labor. 3. The pile has been there for three weeks, ever since he drove away to New Mexico, and while it’s true you haven’t had the time to get to it, you like looking at the pile sitting in the yard because it reminds you of this act of love – the way he rented the wood-splitter to split the wood from the dead tree that came down. 4. Your love language is service, and as long as you can see the pile, you can feel the love. Maybe this is why asking for help feels so intimate. 5. There are people to call for the jobs you don’t know how to do;...
Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon Cheesecake

It’s been hard to write full pieces this year, instead I must offer you the smallest things … The slice of lemon cheesecake bought on Friday to eat on Easter Sunday – in a white box in the refrigerator – and the way I cut the sheerest slices from it each night before Easter, before I went to bed. It’s me telling my daughter to come at 11, that I would make deviled eggs with jalapeño and bacon, that I’d pull together the lemon ricotta pancakes, and bring out the cheesecake. It’s the text I sent earlier in the week thanking the man for the date, and the second text I sent a few days later showing him how I’d used the details from our date in a writing lesson on details – which was really just me making contact. The way I named his sturdy, hip looking boots, how he’d picked up the check, ordered a mint julep and touched my shoulder when asking about my sisters. What I didn’t text him, but which was also true was How at the end of the date, as we were ending our walk at the top of my street, both of us masked, I told him that I’d had a good time – because I had – because it was easy and he was smart and he said he made his own bread. As I was saying my masked goodbye, no hug, no handshake, just me saying “let’s get together again.” It was the way I peeled away from him saying, “I’m a slow boat,” which were words I’d never...