I was stuck on an interminable Amtrak ride yesterday, surrounded by fussy kids. In those situations as in so many others, children are basically tiny drunks. I love my god daughters and respect others’ choice to, uh, perpetuate their lines but lordylordylordy: I had that feeling. The “Hear my spinster cry of freedom!” feeling. I tried not to roar, amused myself instead by dropping fat winks without smiling at the screaming children. Most of them got so freaked that they stopped their tomfoolery at least temporarily. (It takes a special sort of person to recognize the secret communion offered by a wink between generations.)
The universe being the gorgeous creature that it is, the flip side of that anti-child sentiment came flying toward me today as I was walking down Massachusett’s Minuteman lane. Streaming braids, ladybug helmet, bright yellow bicycle, scabby knees, the works. I gave this ladychild a huge smile on account of how much I loved her and she rewarded me with a bashful, gap-toothed smile of her own. Just then Joni’s “I met a friend of spirit” lyric popped on myPod shuffle.
It all reminded me of two stanzas from a Robert Haas poem that a good beau had sent me a few years ago:
The woman I love is greedy, but she refuses greed. She walks so straightly. When I ask her what she wants, she says, “A yellow bicycle.” * Sun, sunflower, coltsfoot on the roadside, a goldfinch, the sign that says Yield, her hair, cat’s eyes, his hunger and a yellow bicycle.
This in turn reminded me of a beau I’d loved more than I’ve loved anybody, one who gave me a beautiful yellow bike but broke my heart maybe on purpose. I beamed him love–equally beautiful, equally yellow–because for once I felt big enough to do so, and the words I’d been holding back from my book started pouring out. I hastened back to my godfamily’s home and opened my laptop in their backyard with many green breezes.
Nothing’s better than stepping back into the flow of life. Just nothing.
I got up at 5 am–the monk hour, the high priestess hour–and meditated, Gracie creeping quietly into my lotus position as we breathed in the morning’s sweet, post-rain cool drifting through the open window. Opened to light and sent it down my spine, everywhere I sensed darkness. Then, armed with strong French press coffee and heated cream, I began a new notebook as I have countless times since I was a little girl. So much happened in this last week: so much tsuris, so much joy, so many breakthroughs. I wrote into all of it and began to chart a course about where to go from here. Finally I stood and did what I’ve been doing ever since I became a grownup: I tied on an apron, pulled greenmarket booty out of my refrigerator, and began to cook my way out of the confusion. I diced spring onions, kale, red potatoes, mushrooms; sauteed them with fresh corn and thyme and olive oil in my old cast iron pan. Grated asiago cheese. Beat eggs with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Poured them over the vegetables and slid the mixture into the heated oven. Cleaned my kitchen; sang a little bit and then a lot. (Sorry, neighbors.) When the holy frittata cooled, I sliced a piece onto my favorite vintage plate, climbed on the fire escape, and toasted this Sunday morning with a fork, my quiet cat once again by my side.
This is my life today. It could be worse. It could be better. It will be both at different points in the future just as it has been in the past. But it is fully mine, and I worked hard to ensure this could be so, and I do not forget that. I celebrate that our government now legally upholds same-sex partnership just as I celebrate my right, so new in the history of humankind, to live independently as a woman. In this moment–as in all moments of true spiritual communion–I am grateful to be grateful.
Every time Obama invoked grace during his landmark eulogy at Reverend Pinckney’s memorial, my permakitty bounded into the room and stationed herself in front of the television, as puffed up as could be. “I AM Grace and I serve at the pleasure of the President!” What a day. Between the Supreme Court’s marriage-rights decision and Obama’s pure and powerful testimony, our hearts were bursting with pride to be Americans, even as we mourned the lost souls of Charleston. So much is still a mess but our President said it best: “Today we have made our union a little more perfect.” I am very grateful, and so, apparently, is Grace.