backup wishes

I couldn’t sleep last night, and couldn’t stop thinking of this as we walked together in the garden this morning:

I wish for a world where you can go to a party (to work, to school, to church, to a restaurant, to a club, to the park, on vacation, down the street) and just enjoy yourself. Free of worry and fear of assault – a world where you don’t have to carry the weight of the shape of your body or your wardrobe choices, their alcohol intake or their entitlement or their rage.

A world where you can fully be yourself in any of those spaces, without wasting brain space and heart space on exit strategies. You don’t need to depend on a friend (a witness, a weapon) to walk you to the bathroom or to the train or to your dorm.

A world where you can take creative risks in following those things that you are most passionate about because you have the confidence that, even in failure, you will learn and grow. You will not have to focus instead on other risks that leave you broken and bruised and blamed.

But because that seems to be TOO MUCH TO ASK and I know that you are not safe – no matter how much I teach you and tell you and expose you and shield you and pray for you and hold my breath and lose sleep over you, I must focus my wishes on this:

I wish for a world that listens, weeps, atones, and believes you.

lately in the garden

It’s been a busy few weeks here as we’ve settled into new school year routines. I’ve started a dozen or more posts in my head but that’s as far as they make it. It’s helpful to remember to give myself time for transitions, and to also maximize my time spent outdoors and active. I know that shorter, cooler days are coming soon, so it feels like I’m storing up sunshine for the winter months.

September brings its own challenges. The Italian prune plums are in the groceries, and I’ve been making plum tortes in every spare hour I can find for the past week. It’s the last dessert I made for my grandfather before he died – I brought it to him to celebrate his birthday on September 4th. September 6th would have been my niece’s 16th birthday, and so in the little tradition that I’ve created over the past few years, I bake those cakes and share them with friends in memory of those we’re missing. It fills the house with the best scent, and I love to think of others sitting down at a quiet table for a slice this coming week.

We’ve encountered more setbacks on the house project, and so we’re trying to regroup again. It feels exhausting at times, and so I decided that this morning I would fight back at that mental exhaustion with some physical exhaustion. I got up for some early miles in Forest Park and then the four of us biked a good portion of Grant’s Trail, stopping for breakfast at Yolklore, before heading back to the truck. When I got home, I walked another cake to a friend’s house and now I’m finally home and showered (!) and drinking coffee like a normal human being on a holiday.

I’ve been struggling with so many current issues that bring up such feelings of rage in me. I’m working on funneling that rage in more productive ways, but sometimes they bubble up to the surface and leave me sputtering and purple in the face. I organized a pretty aggressive reading syllabus for myself, deep diving into systems work – trying to unlearn and relearn a lot. It’s not super relaxing, but it feels necessary to me. I need to know and understand more about so many things.

That kind of work always leads to more questioning and I’m no exception to that. I’ve got a lot to work through, and I do so much of this wrestling here in the garden. The leaves will turn soon, and the flowers will be spent for the season. Even in the colder months, the walk does me good. Thank goodness for this place.

The heat is still incredible here, but we’ve had some good cleansing rains as well. F and I got caught in the middle of one this past Wednesday, and it ended up being one of my favorite walks to date. She is always challenging us, fighting for what she needs or thinks is fair, and she’s not always patient with listening to opposing arguments. But she’s different here, once I get her here. And so am I. We might need a lot more of it this month, but we’re ready.

this week in the garden

New schedules this week. E is back to school now, and she starts so early. F is back with grandparents for the week, so she’s probably sleeping in each day. That means I’m up early – to run or drive to school or just generally make sure E’s up and at ’em, but then I find myself with a lot of quiet time between that activity and work. It’s nice.

I planned to get up and run this morning, but we stayed up too late last night together, and it was supposed to rain, so I shifted my schedule to run after work and I got a little more sleep. But when I woke up it was so lovely outside, and I felt a little pang of disappointment at missing my chance. I don’t get that feeling a lot so I sat with it for a minute before shifting my thoughts. Sometimes I get pretty rigid in how the schedule of a day is going to play out, and I needed to remind myself that I can be flexible in the ordering, and the act of flexibility doesn’t represent the loss of opportunity.

I think part of that disappointment is tied to this transition point, even when the transition feels gradual. We didn’t move from a schedule of summer leisure to one of school scrambling – there’s not a huge difference in how our weeks look, except that the kids stay in one place instead of jumping from camp to camp each week. But it’s still a different schedule, and the days are getting noticeably shorter – by minutes a day, but it’s still there. Yesterday was so rainy and wet that it felt like the sun was never going to come up. So I know that when F returns, my morning runs during the week are a thing of the past – at least until next summer. So there is some sadness there as there always is in the shifting. Maybe there’s some melancholy hiding there from the recent birthdays – older years and new grades at school. Time keeps moving on, and it’s not a slow pace.

Most of these photos are from the garden this past Saturday. It was warm and humid, even at seven in the morning.

I didn’t intend to take so many photos, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s second nature to me now, when I’m there. Yesterday morning, after dropping E off at school, I had a few hours to myself before work. It was pouring rain, but I knew that I still wanted to walk. I headed to one of our favorite breakfast places, and they asked where the kids were. Just me this morning, and a book. I ate and drank coffee and read a few chapters, then headed back out in the heavier rain.

It poured for the entire walk, but I still tucked my camera in the crook of my arm and kept my umbrella close. I walked the entire garden, and took about fifteen total shots, but only three or so were halfway decent. I mostly just listened to the sound of the water hitting my umbrella and waited to see if I would pass anyone else but I didn’t. The place was mine, and I wandered for another hour there.

When I talked to F on the phone last night, she wanted to know all the details of my day, so I told her. I described the quiet of my morning, what I ordered for breakfast, how empty the paths were, how wet my shoes were, even after sitting by my desk for the entire workday. I told her it was a treat to walk in a rainy garden, and worth the dampness. I told her I missed her yellow umbrella bobbing along in front of me – I kept looking for it, expecting to see it there. I’m looking forward to her return, a different kind of quiet in the garden, the darker mornings, slow to rouse, the shift of colors and sky and breeze.