There are some life events that come upon you with ramifications so great that the mind cannot completely wrap around it.  You know that your life will never be the same yet the moment to moment experience seems little changed.  I am now gratefully in the middle of one of those processes.  A few weeks back we, my wife and I, went to the drugstore, bought an EPT tester and confirmed what my wife already suspected.  A new life has taken up residence!  We are both very excited and feel blessed to be in this situation.  It is hard to find the words appropriate for the new sheen that rests on all that I behold.  G and I have been married a little over a year (together over five) and we were open to this wonderful possibility.

Now that the secret is out where do I go from here?  How does one prepare for the priviledge of fatherhood?  Is it possible? (I can just hear the parents out there saying, “Just you wait and see”:-) ) I do have a bit of practice with children being the oldest of five and my mother running in-home daycare for the bulk of my child/teen years.  These hands have (unfortunately) changed many a stinky diaper and read bedtime stories to frequent nephews and nieces.  This will not be completely foreign territory.

Yet I know that as much as I love the children of my and G’s siblings there will be something different in that connection with a child that comes from us.  Spending so much time with this ever-changing entity will be an experience I’m sure to treasure throughout my years.  (And I’m sure there will be some moments that I would rather forget)

Just like that life completely changes!

More secrets to be discovered here…

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The Quickening

June 19, 2007

Time speeds up and all you can do is hang on for the ride.  When one thing is completed there are five more to take its place, the many-headed hydra forever regenerating.  Fragments of things left unfinished creep into my daydreams, a pile of papers on the desk that needs sorting, a bill to be scheduled.  And I react in a scatter-brained fashion not looking too far ahead making sure that no deadlines have passed me by.  All of this done without a planner (who has the time to write in one!) a hodgepodge of notes and markings on the back of hands all pointing in the direction of action that must be taken.

Those moments coming up out of unconsciousness, realizing that the day is here and movement is required, I suspend my motion willfully trying to hold back the wave of all that needs to be addressed.  The release is sweet and I move towards the kitchen or bathroom, feeding or washing, catching up a body that primes for the departure onto the grand stage.  Clothes fitted, smoothie blended and imbibed, salad arranged artfully (boston leaf, vine-ripened and English no-wax), dressing mixed (Bragg’s, balsamic and olive oil), Larabar for snacks, waterbottle filled, check to see that the knob doesn’t turn and out the door!

The Eccentric Encounter

June 16, 2007

He moves away from that which causes unrest, a comfort seeker within his own mind.  The outer play of light and shadows matter not–unless that inner realm is touched too deeply or forced to move beyond what he identifies as home.  A nebulous area yes, the defining lines hard to describe but intuitively known.

How did he go about erecting these sometimes jagged walls and uneven planes that make up the particular strangeness of his structure?  Was it the parental hand brought down in anger or the impossible movement of a solitary blade of grass?  A kind word in that moment of utter desperation, a remembrance of a lifetime so close yet so other.

Today, now, he walks towards a bench sprinkled with the shade of an overhanging elm.  His thoughts separate him from the physicality of flesh coming to rest on the cool slats of painted wood.  So wrapped up is he that the arrival of a young woman at the far end of the bench barely permeates his countenance.

“I’ve seen you here before.”  The words are far off and seem as if at the end of a tube.  He turns to see her mouth moving and lets the sound move through him.

“I come here a lot to listen to the birds and read au naturale.  Hard to find a place like this in the city.” 

He looks away, leaves on the dirt a mosaic of shapes.

“Anyway thought I’d introduce myself since I’ve seen you out here so much.”

Silence scoops them up and cradles the space between and within them.

“I know…”, he begins, the oooo hanging in the air, mantra-like and extending outwards.

“…sweet-smelling orange blossoms lift me up,
lay me back down,
honeydew and honeysuckle tickle my lips,
transposing smile upon frown.”

She waits. He extends his legs outward and swings them underneath the bench.

“I see…”, she starts, mimicking his extended vowel, an eeee cutting though the space.

“…crestfallen faces upon those who lose,
a brother or mother,
O God
can it be, can it be?”

He looks up and meets her eyes, inner edifices shifting, expression slackening.

“I want to go home,” he says keeping her gaze.
“And that you shall,” she returns eyes ablaze.
“I need that sense,” starts he.
“Release of tense,” parts she.
“I,” he.
“We,” she.

Find more eccentricities…

Letting the garden grow

June 15, 2007

When I have a moment home in these summer times the outside beckons and I can’t help but walk around the house and look at the plants growing in the garden.  My wife and I spent hours this spring clearing out overgrown flowerbeds, planting seeds and mulching.  And though the weeding never really stops there is much to enjoy during a morning frolick around the house.  On the sides we have a few rows of veggies planted: a few varieties of tomatoes, cucumber, squash, eggplant and bell pepper.

roma tomatoes on vine

Tomatoes

virginia cucumber

Cucumber

In the back yard we’ve concentrated more on flowers because two giant trees blanket the area with shade.  I’ve still got a few edible hopes in the back in the form of a fig tree and a few small blueberry bushes.  I will feel blessed with a lone berry or fig.  So the flowers:

calla lilly

Calla lilly

hydrangea

Hydrangea

foxglove

Foxglove

day lilly
Day lilly

There are a few more colorful friends around–perhaps I’ll save them for another time.  I feel such delight checking on my friends growing around the house, making sure they have enough water and are not too crowded by the grasses and plants that want to share their space.  I can’t wait for the fresh sweetness of the first grape tomato or crisp loveliness of the cucumber.  It’s good to renew that connection with the earth and sun, the elements on which we rely but readily forget in our pre-packaged world.  A day to give thanks for that which sustains and nourishes.

What gives

June 12, 2007

Amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the flow of life–events come and go and the sun rises and crosses the sky yet again.  With so much doing the time for reflection is always a moment hence.  I give myself over to activity and forget to return to the words that provide a mirror to this flurry of being.  I imagine that is why I am drawn to writing prompts because then I will take the time at least once in the week to stop reading and begin to write.

I do write quite a bit now but most of it I would let fall into the category of buzzing activity.  Sunday I spent analyzing the innards of a research study all the time just wanting to go outside and play.  Last night I had four hours of class melodically accompanied by bird songs heard through the open window.  The difference between my academic writing and these lines is that here I can chart unknown courses and let fly what is aching to be let out.  In academia I am given the assignment and obediently follow the given protocol to produce the desired result.

Which leads me to wonder why I have chosen to devote so much of my time in pursuit of this degree while writing here on an inconsistent basis.  In which direction lies my bliss?

The age-old conundrum of practicality vs. dreams.  The practical is so much easier because it does not involve true risk.  Dreams require soul inflammation and a path of open intention.  Not that I feel that mine or any life sticks to just one of these two paths.  There are many shades between and in any one moment that choice exists where new ground can be trodden and old routines left aside.

This degree is my move towards the practical–a writerly paradise where the creative inspiration fits into a nice neat little box.  Perhaps I’m not ready for that great leap-whatever it might entail.  I’m giving myself a dose of fitting in with the crowd so that the flow of life just glides me right along.

Who knows, by tomorrow my mind might change.

A spicy lesson

June 8, 2007

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The summer after my graduation from high school I went to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico with my mother, best friend, his mother and two sisters.  Keith’s father works for the airlines so everyone could practically fly for free.  With a short layover in Los Angeles we were on the ground in a foreign land ready for a week away from the routines of life.  Keith and I were especially excited being eighteen and entering a country where we could legally drink.  Puritanism be gone!

Typical behavior left with the first meal out when Keith and I both ordered beers while feeling the eyes of our mothers upon us. (Or maybe that was just our guilt~this was wrong—right?) With the first sips reality shifted.  I had drunk beer back in the States but being able to order and drink with Mom right there–well a barrier had been crossed.  A more equal footing, a responsibility and trust extended–welcome to the club!

And now to the spice…

Both moms, pretty liberal to begin with, really got into the groove by the end of the week.  This loosening of collars manifested in an all-day snorkeling/booze cruise.  The fish of many colors were quite captivating and the spotting of a small octopus a surprise gift.  Dropped off for a few hours at a beach I had the opportunity to parasail and experience the strange sensation of full sprint towards the water and then lift-off!  Good touristy fun.

Thankfully all of the snorkeling and swimming happened in the afternoon before the bar became the center stage.  I don’t know where the boat went after it dropped us off at the beach but upon our reboarding the craft–the ambiance had shifted.  And soon too did my sobriety.  The staff did not just serve alcohol–they staged events.  They challenged us to get in front of everyone and either make a fool of ourselves or share in the victory of quickly consumed alcohol. 

The first contest involved shooters (three gradually taller glasses) that the bartenders would smack down on the bar in succession and the contestants would race two at a time while the crowd cheered them on.  I was chicken.  Until I feel this tugging on my arm to get out of my seat.  I resist until I see who it is-my mom!  Keith joins me in the duel and this is one showdown that has only winners.  (That is until the next morning when light and sound are no longer my friends).

The next event involves drinking Corona bottle beers without the use of the arms (Very difficult).  Next the finale which might not have been the last event but sealed the rest of the cruise for me.  It’s a bit blurry now although I know that tequila and an unidentified green pepper chaser were the main ingredients.  The challenge: take a shot of tequila and then take a bite out of a fresh pepper.  I’m confident after the previous events (cheers still ringing in my ears) and slug back the Cuervo and follow with a large bite of the vegetable.  Instant fire.  I have never felt this much heat on my mouth, lips, traveling into my throat and into my sinuses and nasal passages.  Body’s immediete reaction: I’m awash in liquids barreling from all facial orifices.  I cringe down into a seat in sensory overload, a numbing comes over me that may be endorphins thankfully released in shocked response.  I remember laughter and concern as I dump beer and water in the direction of my mouth. 

Yes I was the fool to chomp down on the atomic veggie.  I felt the star of the show and paid with every little nerve ending in the vicinity of my mouth.  A big head that became quite small indeed.  A step in seeing the big consequences that come with taking on the responsibility of court jester.

City or Country?

June 2, 2007

My life is here in the suburban realm of Virginia Beach yet I often imagine moving to the western part of the state and enjoying the space of country living.  I don’t like the traffic here but I can visit any number of vegetarian restaurants.  In a smaller town I’ll never see gridlock but most likely the diner around the corner will mainly offer beef, chicken and fried foods.  Yes I’m over-generalizing though I do think there is a hint of truth in these assumptions.

More people amassed in one area allows for a greater expression of the human experience.  Here in the city I can attend the religious services of many different faiths and partake in activities that would be hard to find in a more rural setting.  I have access to organic produce, yoga classes and high speed internet.  There are many more jobs in my field and the pay is greater.  But I do know what I am missing….

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This picture is from Mcaphee Knob near Roanoke Virginia.  Yes there is a lot to be missed when you decide to congregate around large groups of people.  That space outside can help to create a bit of space inside that mind that gets so wound up in the modern routine.  When the pace slows down a new perspective is afforded.

In 2002 I spent three months hiking on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Pennsylvania.  I won’t go into too much detail here (Wonderful!) though I would like to share a memory that captures that city/country divide.

One morning I woke up to a blanketing mist that soaked my tent with dew and widened my eyes to the quiet trees hidden in shrouds of white.  I’d been hiking in Virginia for about a month and looking forward to Harper’s Ferry a few days walk ahead.  The morning fog seemed to hush all of the inhabitants of the forest and I marveled at the silence that leapt from my surroundings into my heart.  What serenity!  After a time I fished out my little AM/FM radio, put in my earphones and flipped through the fuzziness to see what the outside world could offer this peaceful jaunt.  I’d noticed the day before that I could pick up a few radio stations from Washington D.C. and this morning I again found a clear signal.

“We have a back-up on the beltway around the state line and you can expect an hour delay going into the city.”

I stopped.  The smile upon my face could not be withheld and I stared in amazement at my surroundings as the announcer spoke of this alternate reality.  In this moment I could not be touched by the grinding gears of humanity always working towards that next thing.  I had no one beeping from behind or slowing my progress down the path. 

In the same instant I knew that eventually I would rejoin the masses and find my way to a car that would sit behind other cars during a morning commute.  My appreciation of that moment in the misty mountains of Virginia was heightened by my knowing that I had been in that car before and I would return.  This precious time allowed for the reflection then and my ponderings now about the choice: city or country?

Perhaps a bit of both sprinkled throughout a lifetime to allow for a fresh inter-mixing of varied flavors.