Each week I share a short story-poem, a folk tale, and some recommended Middle Grade or Young Adult reading. These stories are for day dreamers, space cadets, mad scientists, creatives, and adventurers, regardless of age.
A friend offered to dig a hole for the apple tree I haven’t yet acquired but want to plant on this new-to-me property, and it was the nicest thing I’ve felt in a long while.
By “nicest,” I mean it moved me. It shook my heart in the best way, rattling loose some rusted parts I haven’t paid attention to.
I mean that it was a moment of complete trust and kindness and connection– a full body intimacy that didn’t fall into any Instagram-worthy category. It was all within. It was in the heartwood, in the rootball, in the soil and the interlacing roots of the trees that might have to be exposed and altered to put this sapling into her new home.
I mean that it meant something to me to hear that offer as this other person equally present to the beauty of an apple tree: the sweetness and the faith in a good future, a life worthy of waiting years to bear fruit. And it meant something that I felt no resistance, no fear that what I desired would disappear into someone else’s energy or be changed and bent and reshaped to someone else’s vision.
I think we envision the tree in different places, but it’s my tree and my land and his help, and there’s an intersection at the center of all of that, one with enough space, one with room to grow.
I took my Parents Forever course today. It’s not a thing I would have signed up for if it hadn’t been mandatory. (Live in MN? Have a kid? Getting a divorce? You’ll be putting in eight hours to make sure you have a basic level of skills.)
It was a good program. I picked it because it was virtual and created by the University of Minnesota, and they seem like smart folks. I think I could have passed the quizzes without the course, but it only took a fraction of the eight hour allotment, and I learned a few things I hadn’t had names for.
I’m thankful that, as much as I hated that my parents divorced, they set a good example for how to be neutral, and if not warm to each other, never unkind. There was no yelling, no using me or my sisters as pawns or sources of information, no bitching about the other (though there’s no way they didn’t have those thoughts). So it doesn’t seem hard to do that-or-better in my own divorce. It didn’t feel hard to know what answers were obviously the right (healthy) ones.
And it still took something to do this easy, short, virtual course while sitting on my deck in my pajamas. Maybe loosening that grief, not imparting the parenting tips, was the whole point.
I don’t know why, if someone’s having a hard time, I give them food.
It’s not unique to me by any means, but it isn’t something that I remember as a part of my family culture as I grew up, though maybe I’m wrong: our mom always wondered if we were borderline hypoglycemic, and there was a time I told one sister’s (very new) husband that he had about thirty seconds to get her a granola bar before everything melted down.
But food wasn’t how I thought of solving problems or flattening feelings– and yet I have an immediate urge to give chocolate or granola bars or packets of tea to people when they are In It.
I did today: two Lära Bars to a mom and daughter. Not because they couldn’t solve things themselves or make good choices or any number of reasons, but because it feels important– essential– to give something. And to give something of substance, something that nourishes.
And it feels like it matters that it’s food: Here, take this. You’re important to me and I see you humaning your very best, and I want you to survive and thrive.
I brought my guitar to band practice and played it.
This matters because: it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t to be a Real Musician. It was because I had a song to share and this was the most obvious and efficient means.
And it’s extra fun because this is the guitar my very gifted fiddler-luthier boyfriend fixed up and gave me so many years ago, and which I learned to play after we broke up (mostly) so I would stop falling for musicians. (Hey, I love that talent, but it doesn’t have any correlation to most of what matters in a relationship).
So, I played and sang (“If I Wanted Someone” by Dawes, which is so moody in the very best way), and Jon and Ben played along. And that’s the most fun part: to share music by doing, by listening and trying rather than by reading set notes on a page and following instructions.
Neither of them had heard the song before– it exists for them only as I sang it, with my cheater B minor chord and the capo in the spot that best suits my voice.
And since I’ve only played it a handful of times and just do the chords to give the words something to stand on, it’s going to shift and evolve and grow in my inner library to the shape we make it together.
The snorkeling goggles have been playing musical chairs (too small, already have a pair, etc, etc), and most recently have been renting a corner of the counter at work, waiting to go home to a younger kid.
But thank goodness for the delays of real life: today Pat put them on.
That’s all. That’s it. You had to be there. He didn’t do anything funny or say anything in particular. He just wore a pair of child’s snorkeling goggles and it was the best thing I saw all day.
To mince the garlic and slather the steak in last year’s tomato butter (forgotten in the freezer but still so damn good!).
To have no white wine and so deglaze the pan with a nice dry cider (brewed just down the road in Duluth), and then to drink the rest of it with dinner.
To add Gouda in thin shavings, hunks of an heirloom tomato sawed off without regard for looks, and top it all with a few small basil leaves, plucked from the bouquet in the glass jar where the stalks have recently started to put out roots.
Then good conversation twice over, a good book, and at last giving up the day a few minutes after it turned into tomorrow.
I made a list of what I miss today, and it made room to take a breath, be Here.
I discovered, in the archeological dig that is my relationship with myself, that I don’t feel at home in my life yet. That it feels like I’ve moved to a foreign country and nothing has settled into its groove, or at least nothing in the kitchen.
And that was good, too.
Understanding and having a Beginning-Middle-End can be addictive, but it also drops an anchor: Ohhhh! That’s what’s going on under the surface! And then the brain space that was being used on trying to figure out what felt off is freed up and everything snaps into sharper focus and the worlds within me all line up for a moment, like some multi-planetary eclipse, before continuing on their independent orbits once again.
Of course I miss some things. Of course I am not settled into well-worn grooves in this house after three-and-a-half months, nine months after asking for a divorce and moving out.
But Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things,” and this isn’t even a hard thing– it’s just a new thing. And I’m meeting it and getting to know it and seeing how we fit each other, just like with everything– and everyone– else.
I baked a squash and washed all the dishes. Listened to a little romantic accordion on a Café Paris playlist before returning to the combination of quiet and conversation.
The house was warm and smelled cozy. The kitchen still awaits such a facelift, such a rearranging to match what I see in my mind. But it’s a good home, and a good feeling to be at home here; to wash the floor and wipe the counters and fluff the pillows not for anyone else but myself. And then to share it, now and then, from excess, from ease, from the place where I am right now.
Sleeping on the deck, futon mattress pulled off the frame, plenty of blankets piled up against the chill of the September night, bright stars high above (but feeling close and friendly).
The moments when the whole body is open and feeling everything– joy, delight, wonder, fatigue, warmth, cold– feel holy. Being one being, all the too-often-independent parts merged together, and then expanding that connection and permeation to the whole night sky, to the animal-vegetable-mineral companions until there is only Now, only This, only Us– that’s Home.