Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Continues ; Standing Between Seasons

We live in the Arctic.  It feels that way today because my fingers won't get warm and the damp wind gnaws through layers.  I went to Silas's school for 2nd grade recess today (have only done this one other time this year), and two boys were wearing shorts -- SERIOUSLY?!  Standing there my teeth were cold, and I could feel the wind through my parka.

Today I told Eden that another snow storm is supposed to hit this week.  This is Eden who immediately throws on her coat and hat on and plunges into the rain-snow, sleet, sludge-mud, below-freezing-windy snow in the yard and throws herself down to play.  Bursting from the back of the car:
...I turned my head to see her.  You don't hate snow....
No.  I like snow.  struck by her reaction.  I do like snow.  laughing   I do!  But it's too much!  I don't want any more right now!!  then bubbling hysterics at her own rash reaction -- but really, she was dead on.

I looked up at the calendar the other day and realized it's February.  We are into February!!  That means March is going to come, and then bursting April!  There will be flowers, and sun that's warm, and mild days without coats!  I cannot wait!!

In the meantime, I am sitting at the dining room table listening to Silas and Eden NOT asleep, drinking a cocktail, wearing a hat I've had on for hours, wrapped in a giant blanket with my nose freezing.  Our heat is broken.  The kids are both in my bed currently (soon to be displaced to the floor), and I just sneaked a little space heater into Maeve's room where she sat up sleepily and looked at me before nuzzling her face into a blue elephant.

When I was working on my thesis in grad school, I remember feeling anxious that I didn't have an explicit theme and wondering how my poems would hang together.  Just write one of my professors told me, keep writing.  You can't help but write your obsessions.  And he was right; by the time I finished my manuscript, the poems were strung together by single colored threads.

The same thing happens as we live -- those themes emerge and blast on the horn again and again, or stand right next to us and breathe on our necks until we notice.  I lose my breath at the passage of time, the loss of life stages, babies-turned-children-turned people in the world, the way lives arc and suddenly end.  Some days I double over under the weight of it.  Some days I am in awe.  Loss.  The powerful constant of loss.  My mom says that all change involves loss, even the best changes, and what is life but constant change.

Most of the loss that pierces me is quiet, seeping, subtle: Silas suddenly standing head to my armpit with no bottom teeth; Maeve wearing rubber-soled sneakers and running through the house; Eden writing secret notes in her journal, already so separate; another winter already (and, yes, finally) closing out.

A couple of weeks ago I had a second blood test come back positive for Celiac.  Of all the irregular blood tests that could surface, this is a fairly mild one, and yet, it's something.  I have no symptoms and will have various follow-up tests and procedures to assess whether I actually have Celiac or am just a carrier (I'm hoping to know by mid-March), but daily I hit that possibility of loss.  I know I can live without gluten and have lived closely with friends who've found all sorts of alternatives, but I love fresh bread and butter, a good baguette, Italian bread with olive oil and coarse salt, Alta's chocolate cake, tea & toast with butter, dumplings and mu shu pork (gluten is in a lot of things...), Rubens on rye, Carr's whole wheat crackers, matzo ball soup...  I am guessing, from everything I know, that all will remain the same.  But I'm learning that everything I know is often just a glimpse.

And so I sit, wearing a giant blanket in the house and savoring buttered toast, waiting for the next season to come.

Saturday Morning

What I would most like to do right now is sit here and write this with my hot cup of tea.  The weeks of winter-below-freezing (rare in Washington) finally broke yesterday, and the kids could run outside during recess for the first time in what feels like ages (they don't go out when it's below freezing -- is this crazy?  what do Minnesotan kids do?)!

Last winter, waking with a few-month-old and standing by the kettle in the cold kitchen with Silas at my elbow, I learned to love the morning skies that seep rosy through bare tree branches.  They are different than spring's skies, or summer's, feel more generous blooming behind all that gray.   Many mornings I think of all the people living outside in this city who watch the light come up like that each day.  Some Friday mornings at Miriam's Kitchen we talk about the sunrises, and unlike most everyone I know, one man named Robert, when he's missed it, says, 'what did it look like?' and wants me to describe it exactly.

Today is Saturday -- no rushing, no leaving, no packing lunches.  Saturday in no stage of life has felt more like a freebie.  As well as staying in sweat pants for hours, Saturday also means screens in the morning, and Silas right now is downstairs playing Super Mario brothers.  As he walked down the wooden steps he said over his shoulder, I wish you'd come play with me.  And then he was gone.  Play wii.  I have yet to do this since we bought it off craigs list in December.  It would be so different than savoring this house-silence at the kitchen table.  But sometimes it's worth being unexpected to love someone, and so I go for Silas -- Silas and Super Mario Brothers...