Sunday, April 29, 2007

dirt under my fingers

Nail polish, still lingering, from Kelly's wedding. My feet, my hands, dirty, my knees now brown from kneeling in the dirt. We did our own tilling. The garden is now broken, seeds in packets lined on our patio furniture, and plotting out where everything should go. K jumping on a shovel, breaking the earth. Finding root balls the size of our heads from the mammoth summer sunflowers. Plans to have sunflowers again. And corn. Making the cantaloupe work this year. Reruns: tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, green peppers. Asparagus poking its way through the earth, refusing to die back despite our dogs' efforts to dig through the earth and sand to find deeper layers. Plans for morning glories along the fence line, peony bulbs to plant, and bleeding heart flaring up, each blossom like a string of paper lanterns.

I am in love with this song. Makes me dance around, arms wagging in the air, snapping fingers, swaying with K around the room. I loved Mushaboom also, still dance to it on my way to work when I especially need it, so it is no surprise that I have fallen in love with another Feist song.

Today was a lovely, lazy day. Woke up as the sun did to let the dogs out, let the dogs romp around the yard in the dew, uploaded more musical photos to Snapfish (so long as it loads, everything on pause as the yellow and grey dots flicker), listened to Feist, found a new blog to explore. I am beginning to appreciate reading the words of strangers--the way other lives, so far away, can give hope and anticipation, can give beauty, and allow us to see the stark wonder in our own lives. I push on, hoping to achieve dreams, because in the end, I think that's what these linked blogs end up being about--the support of a new community. The push and pull of success and failure. And rooting on. Perhaps one day I will have a readership outside of my circle of friends, but writing in itself is extraordinarily therapeutic, and no matter what, I don't think I could stop.

I keep thinking back to posts I read on my friend Eireann's blog--the repetition of "lucky life" and how that alliteration ends up a metronome, a method of pacing myself through the day.

And I think to August 11, 2007. It is a little over three months away (so little done, our to do list becoming more urgent, a collection of phone numbers to call on my prep hour) and suddenly, I will be the one in white, dancing a jig, whirling like a teacup.

Lucky things:

Our relationship: We will be eight years old on July 16th. Our first date was an evening, a night, the next morning. We started in Green Bay at Z Harvest Cafe (for our six year anniversary, I framed a menu from this restaurant and it hangs just to the left of me in K's computer / guitar room, bring yellow in a field of earth tones). We walked along the river. I wore a red dress that no longer fits. He wore a white dress shirt, khakis, his Adidas. (He will wear a new pair for our wedding. We hope the groomsmen will too.) We went to Milwaukee that night. I smoked cigarettes on the old apartment balcony with new friends. We watched Othello and fell asleep--he on the lazy boy chair, me on the sofa. Wiping drool in the morning, surprised at being there at all. Seeing each other at the Stokens concert that night, my departing for Hawaii the next day. Writing him pages and pages that I never gave him, listening to the CD he made of his own guitar music, songs he created and recorded and compiled and gave to me as a gift, something I still listen to when I feel the longing. Sleeping on a boat, in the dark, repeating the same mournful song, thinking of him and not seeing him for a week. Knowing I loved him already.

Our house. Two years of ownership just after we marry this summer. We had jobs two hours apart and debated the halfway point. We settled on the artsy town, the one with the theatre downtown, the Mississippi river at the eastern edge, the pottery, the artist collective, the harp maker. We drove halfway, meeting each other, eating lunch at the Mexican restaurant, looking at rental properties, then, hating them, finding a realtor. Looking at two dozen houses, prompting said realtor to hint: Are we serious about buying? The nervousness as the school year approached, the lease ending. And walking in to here, my body tingling, giddy, knowing this is it. Knowing this would be our first house (please agree, K, please) just as much as I knew I would marry him when I met him. The knowing is the easiest part. Imagining the garden, the fenced in yard with dogs, our bedroom, the place where he would line up guitars, arrange computers, my bookcases. The place where we would put paintings, the furniture, a crib. The place we would not have to say good-bye to a year later when our lives invariably changed.

Poetry. At lunchtime, my colleagues pronounced when they knew they would teach--since elementary school, all I ever wanted to do was teach, they would say. They knew it as they started college, freshmen, heading in the direction of this, right now. Me, whispering to Emily, "I never wanted to be a teacher." Which was a lie, because there I was, teaching, and I wanted to be there (how else would I have gotten there?). But with so many cons welling up, drowning out recent pros, I felt there was some edge of truth there. No, I didn't always want to be a teacher. I wanted to be a writer. Always wanted this for myself. And as an undergraduate, I loved the feeling I had in writing workshops, the way it zinged through my body getting word down in my notebook, keeping it held close.

Now, this summer, the potential: I am taking a week long workshop with a poet I have long admired (it will take much effort to not be star struck throughout). In addition, Eireann has just emailed a string of her writing friends, starting what could be an experience I have been longing for recently--a writing group. This will be the third we've been in together, and maybe this will be the one that lasts. An intensive workshop this time, three hours each week, a commitment needed by all. My own summer teetering towards overflowing, but clearing the space for the important things--writing, my friendships, travel. And this. I look forward to this as I looked forward to birthday mornings. Anticipation and joy.

Kelly: Right now, Kelly is on her honeymoon in Mexico. A resort, full of blue skies, blue water, green landscape, bathing suits, drinks so sweet it makes your teeth ache. Sand between toes, salt edging their skin, sunsets and late mornings.

And I don't know why, but when I was taking pictures of our new hanging basket (our town is known for its brilliant hanging baskets; I will share those as soon as they start sprouting up downtown), I noticed a pair of bright pink blooms. I thought of Kelly, of our friendship, two strange blossoms, rattling about through so many similar experiences, the support and twinship of our bond. It's weird how you meet someone so early in life and can hang on. So rare is this kind of friendship, so lucky it is to have this kind of support. This friendship runs deep and wide, and we laugh about the fact that if we met now, at this point in our life, would we be friends? We don't think so, not really, anyway. Possibly. More likely, we'd be like passing ships in the night--notice the light and beauty but continue on with our very separate journeys.

Perhaps a picture of two very different flowers bobbing together in the wind would make more sense, but for some reason, I keep thinking of us as the same inside. Peel back the layers of surface stuff--the professions, the educational goals, our partners--peel back the periphery and you get the same spirit, the same heart. We both want the best for each other.

I think of the days leading up to her wedding--all the selfish stresses that distracted me--the musical, the lump, medication, the many doctor visits, the frustrations of my job (and losing that job)--and how I would sometimes look wearily upon the duties I was quickly proud to do. (How often does a girl get the chance to throw a great send off for one of her favorite people?) And the day her wedding came, I had been bracing myself for the exhaustion of a day like that, but instead, I felt as if I were floating just next to her, watching her, proud, as she gracefully made her way through that special day.

Other bits of happiness: our dogwood survived the winter. K's parents sent us ten tree stubs. Some wait in a tub downstairs for planting, most did not survive the planting and Penelope's first summer here. But the dogwood, planted in our front yard, to be a symbol of our love and moving in, has made it through the winter (even though we did no protection, shamefully). To me, the dogwood is a great symbol of my childhood, of growing up in the south. Honeysuckle, dogwood, kudzu. (I have a fond poem by this name. I'll have to dig it up and post it here.)

What about you? What makes your life lucky?


carrster said...

You're writing is really beautiful. I've been enjoying it immensely (came here via Michelle, btw) :)

Rachel said...

I love the idea of you whirling like a teacup.
Did you know, in the Victorian language of flowers, the dogwood's meaning is "love through adversity"? I had My husband wear a blossom at our wedding because of that.
Good luck with your writing group. Speaking of luck, I'm lucky because I have amazing friends.