I usually make plans like I'm outlining a thesis, a hierarchy of details like white lies on a resume or stitches in a little black dress designed to disguise that belly you earned when your abdomen was sliced open to bare both your organs and the baby that failed to fit through your pelvis for whatever reason on that long-awaited, exhausting day, but never, ever failed to bare, break, and then rebuild your heart into something more whole than it had ever been before. This year I want to rip my thesis into pieces and declare I have nothing to prove; write a resume of the ugliest truths and then celebrate every sad soul who's been fired in this latest, Great Recession of the American soul, spirit, or fake-Prada pocketbook; bare my cesarean scar in the moonlight and howl like a wolf in heat. This year I want to work harder than I ever have before, just to sit still.
To Be Present
- in the moment; in the choices I've made in all the years leading to this moment; in the scent of my baby's head and the feel of my husband's scratchy, stubbly cheek in the shadows of early evening; in the chores I perform every day as a promise to our home that it can be beautiful as a catalog with thrift store furniture and wildflowers stolen from a stranger's yard; in the eyes of my students, studying the art of parenting in poverty, as they rip open their hearts, lay them bare on conference room tables, wipe away tears and promise to try to do better tomorrow; the promise to try is lived again and again in each moment; to breathe in and breathe out; to be here, wide eyed, marveling at the moment that is now, that is always; to live like a prayer with four words: please and thank you.
- when it says sit; and when it says stretch; and when it says I Hate You and I smile, wry and knowing, like the mother of a Terrible Two or a Teen who needs firm limits and flexibility in equal, opposite measures; when it says sleep, and sleep, and sleep; and when it says get up, stand up, and dance like The Dead are still living and you're at the last live show; like Bob Marley has reincarnated in your limbs and you can dance your way out from under the endless white blanket of upstate snow and open your eyes in Jamaica if only you tune in to the drumbeat of your heart, of your feet tapping out the rhythm of ghetto break beats and the open arms of grandmothers raising babies of their babies who have gone missing into the bottom of a bottle, or slipped silently out into dark city streets and who may or may not ever return; when it says eat ice cream until the carton is empty and wear elastic waistbands; when it says take off all your clothes and stare in the mirror at the wrinkles in your skin, open both arms wide, embrace yourself, and smile.
- in the morning when the clock beeps high and toneless in my tired ears, when my son chants: MommyMommyMommyMommy like a broken record skipping its way into my soul, like a scat sung by Ella Fitzgerald herself; in the dusky morning peanut butter sandwich making moments and the whistle of the tea kettle on the weekday dawn; in the Friday evening exhaustion of piecing together pizza pies, surrounded by dishes, piled high, too tired to wash and dry by the end of a long winter workweek, too easy to slip into the weekend like an old pair of sweats, fresh not from the laundry, but from the dirty pile on the floor; in the sunlight streaming through bay windows on weekends, sitting on couches, coffee mugs in hand, days dusty with possibilities unrealized, and waiting to open, like a flower bud finally blooming in the long awaited springtime of the universal soul. I intend to wake every day, and try. Like a poem that almost rhymes. Like the perfect, elusive word to complete the piece, waiting to be spoken, right on the tip of my tongue.