5.18.2014

Be like water.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about death. My own, specifically. There were some days a couple of weeks ago that felt so joyful, so strong, that my immediate reaction was to wonder which Prius was going to run me over in a Berkeley crosswalk later that day. Because life can't be so joyful, can it? Because blueberries can't taste THAT redonk and my work with Plucky can't possibly be THAT fulfilling and my son's amazement at a squirrel can't continue forever.

Right?

Then, two days before Mother's Day, I got the news that a friend from High School died of cancer that returned 25 years after he'd fought it when we were kids. His daughter is a couple months older than Noah. He lived a few blocks from us in Brooklyn and we used to run into each other from time to time on the street; we talked about pediatricians and nanny shares and introduced our spouses.

So for two days leading up to Mother's Day I was weepy, just horrified really. The death that comes at a sweet pinnacle of one's life inched closer.

*

I spend more time in nature these days and it provides such perspective. This morning I threw the kid in the car and we spent an hour poking around the Berkeley Botanical Gardens before his nap. There's a little stream that flows from a pond with lily pads and we watched the water move for a little while. Water doesn't double back. It keeps going, flowing, finding spaces and places to occupy. Sometimes it soaks into the ground and other times it evaporates into the air but I find it especially compelling when it pools and waterfalls down a steep hill.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

I think that's the cycle I'm in right now. Hell, that's probably the cycle we're all in. I listen to Pharrell and Katy Perry while I cook Noah oatmeal in the mornings and I feel like we can do anything. And then later I stumble on this gem when washing dishes and suddenly I'm sobbing over the sink.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

A few weeks ago, a friend confessed that turning 40 has turned him into a sap. He tears up at the slightest thing.

I'm not even 40. So what does it mean when you're 33 and already everything, the pristine goodness of the world and the ugly unfairness, reduces you to your own salt water?

*

I love our life in Berkeley. I feel faceless in Berkeley. I haven't seen flowers like these ever before in my life. Other than my husband, I don't have almost anyone to hug me. The blueberries are incredible but they are $7.98 a pound and I spent $40 on fruit last week, which is (clearly) unsustainable. They collect compost here. We have hundreds of fruit flies inhabiting our kitchen from the compost. My son's daycare spends more time outside. My son's daycare spends less time on arts & crafts. I have more time to cook here. I'm still a crappy cook, though.

"How was the move?" people ask. "How's Berkeley?" And I don't know how to answer. The physical move happened, but the emotional move is still happening. It occurs to me that maybe some people settle someplace for the rest of their lives because they get tired of the cost of transitional periods, the cost of settling in, the months it takes to find routines and make friends and hang paintings. 

 In the meantime, we regroup. And then we freefall. And I try not to think about my death so much. I remember that Brene Brown says that, in moments of imagining the worst (because you feel such joy), you should reject the fear and instead feel gratitude. 

So I'm grateful. For the new opportunities, for the sunshine, for the redwoods and the flowers. For my family and the number of people who love us back home and for my life, that for now continues on, my own swift adventure down a steep hill.

2 comments:

Abby said...

I so feel you on the cost of transitional periods. Holding space here in NC for you. xx

Rebecca said...

I'm so sorry about your friend. When the shooting at Sandy Hook happened, I walked around for weeks feeling like death was very near to me, even though I didn't know anyone who died. Some events really drive home our mortality, and it takes a while to get back to normal. You've been living with a lot of change and transition for the past few years, and it seems really natural that it would be disconcerting at times, no matter how positive and desired the change. Hang in there, lady.