Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Outcome

The 17 days of waiting turned into five and a half weeks.

I have been a one note Nellie.  I couldn't imagine sitting down to write anything besides the sentence: I THINK WE ARE MOVING TO CALIFORNIA.

My brain's been humming this sentence for weeks.  Sometimes it bounced the words like a ball again and again and again.  Sometimes it spoke through an overwhelming tangle of logistics.  Sometimes it whispered over an achy pressure in my chest.  Sometimes it nearly sang them with excitement.  But never, night nor day these weeks, has my brain been quiet.

In fact, I think I've been operating with about 7% of my attention; I've left my keys everywhere; lost my wallet incessantly; lost my train of thought mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-drive.

I thought we'd know for sure after a week and a half.  Then by the following Friday.  Then, definitely, by the next.  Then surely before the last week of school, so the kids could prepare and say their goodbyes.  But we didn't.

Excruciating, really, is the word for all that wondering.

What the process gave us was weeks of conversation.  A lot comes up when you re-imagine life together.  (thanks Imago for some tools).  It's not easy to be the adults.  This decision, in particular, felt far beyond me -- the career questions, where to raise our kids -- how to know what's "best"?  A friend called it weighting between "a good and a good."  It was that, which may have made the choice harder.

After weighing, waiting, praying for the decision to be clear, we decided not to move.

We're slowly settling into this fact.  I've stopped waking up at 4AM and got rid of the moving boxes I've been harboring in the shed (I picked up at least 70 boxes from the side of the road impromptu, had to fold down all the seats in the car and put Eden up front, telling her, you just never know when you'll need a box.  She agreed and didn't question me).  We're no longer house hunting online.

There's a bittersweet side to it, some grieving that feels similar to a miscarriage, the slow revelation of imagined things that now won't be.

AND there is relief:  Silas will be here for his last year of elementary school, patrolling the kindergartners on the bus, and Eden will carry on with her sweet friends.  Maeve will return to her happy school, and Ben and I will snatch daytime dates because he'll still be working from home.  Family will remain up the street, around the beltway, on the same coast; we aren't leaving.

It's done.  We made a decision like mature adults (surprising every time!) and picked a good.  When we were still in limbo Ben said, "I know there'll be regrets either way, so once I decide, I can't look back; I have to be all in."  He's a smart man, that one.

Onward and upward!


The Waiting and The Salad

I don't know if I will ever publish this entry.  That's what I've been waiting to know.

For 17 days we've been wondering if we will move to California.  A potential job came up, with lots of contingencies.  As of yesterday, it's confirmed that there is indeed, a position wide open and waiting, vaguely defined, possibly perfect.

Waiting is excruciating: a tightness in the chest, a knotted stomach.  I feel like I am moving in a huge marshmallow suit, bulky, slow and absurdly distracted.  I lose my keys at least three times a day.  I cannot think in a straight line or retrace my steps.  I find myself so deep in thought that when a kid asks me a question, it takes me a beat to resurface.

I won't even talk emotions:  Imagine the graph on the machine that charts contractions; they chart similarly to that.

Tonight might be the night we will decide to move our family back across the country.

We've both been dazed, elated, paralyzed, devastated at the thought of it.  Yet, as we talk about it, there does seem to be a certain order to it, a deep richness of these last four years that speaks to us like allowance.

I can see Ben out the window right now pacing the yard on the phone -- one of the phone calls that will determine our next step.

I thought he would get this phone call seven hours ago.  S e v e n.
So I've taken a lot of deep breaths.

To keep from pounding Ben with questions or tackling him, I'm chopping.
This salad, it turns out, is a good one for waiting.  For making the hands useful.  And for eating later on (better than the Cheetos I've been having this week...)

Early Summer Brown Rice Salad 
                 Adapted from Bon Appetit's Black Rice Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This salad is easy to tailor to whatever you have on hand -- any grain (black rice, barley, millet, quinoa etc), any summer veggies (grilled zucchini would be great, blanched asparagus, fresh peas, sugar snaps).  For the dressing, the original recipe calls for lemon and white wine vinegar, but you can use any acid -- red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white balsamic (my new favorite on tomatoes with salt) etc.

1 part olive oil
3/4 part acid (see note)
bit honey or agave (1/8 part and then taste)
a good bit of salt

cooked and cooled brown or black rice
grape tomatoes, halved
red pepper, chopped
scallions (4+)
edamame, shelled
green beans, blanched and in bite-sized pieces

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Last week of school and a poem

It's the last week of school -- finally and suddenly.

I feel like I've tumbled through the weeks since getting back from VCCA and am just coming out of that chain of somersaults, flung onto the grass, the whole blue sky and arc of ancient tree branches spinning overhead.

It's mid-June.

Eden has turned 8, though somewhere deep inside my brain insists on her being 5 still, or even 3.

Ben and I've been in a period of waiting -- holding up the "big rocks," as we've referred to them, and taking stock.  There's nothing quite like waiting; it's consuming and tiring, and brings life into sharp relief.

Swim team has begun.

The woods are blooming with honeysuckle and the air smells sweeter than it has all spring, green and grassy and new.

Summer weather has been shy, poking up its head after a literal month of May rain.  There are still hardly fireflies, and today is our third day in a row of breezy dry California weather.

Below is a poem by Bob Hicok (I love him).  The tumbling days echo these months, my seeds of wondering, relief of being a part of humanity in all these days and aches and joys.

Ode to ongoing
    by Bob Hicok

People are having babies.  Hoisting their children
to tree limbs on their backs and tying their shoes.
Telling what the numerator is and why not
to eat one's boogers or not publicly
pee if at all possible to pee in private.
People are mixing their genes after wine
in romantic alleys and London hotels after crossing
a famous bridge.  Trying to save for college
and not hit their children like they were hit
and not hit their children differently
than they were hit and failing and succeeding.
People are singing to wombs and playing the Goldberg
variations to fetuses who'll love Glenn Gould
without knowing who Glenn Gould is.  I'm driving
along or painting a board or wondering
if we love animals because we can't talk with them
more intimately than we can't talk with God
and the whole time there's this background hum
of sex and devotion and fear, people telling
good-night stories or leaving their babies
in dumpsters but mostly working hard
to feed the future what it needs to grow strong
and prefer sweet over sour, consonance
to dissonance, to be the only creatures who notice
the stars or at least use them metaphorically
to go on and on about the longing we harbor
in such tiny spaces relative to the extent
of our dread that we're in this alone.