Waiting with shallow breath and slumping into the cheap leather of our sofa, my tired testimony is “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.
On the phone, I mumble to my husband firmly. “I’m going to the store when you get home”. Pause while he enthusiastically request we all go together. “No, I’m going A-LONE”. I had to repeat it twice, with feeling.
It was one of those mama-days.
- Steeping over dirty diapers and used wipes.
- Not caring enough to clean up the thick, green juice that splashed a Rorschach blot on the tile.
- Remaining horizontal while my girls, naked in all their glory, connect the dots on their body with markers.
- Following a trail of dog food into each room.
- Moments of my own body-despise; of the acne and dark circles and wrinkles and pooch and sags and stinky breath
Those days require a form of numbness preferably induced with chocolate and Facebook. Mine had landed upon me as I waited for my husband to cross the threshold of our front door.
7:50 pm. Alone. In the truck, windows rolled down. The sunset covered the sky with hues like a flowing tie-dyed skirt. An arid desert breeze kissed my cheeks.
My shoulders sank back down and I gave thanks for this moment of uninterrupted beauty among the sound of tire treads on the highway. A wave of homesickness washed over me; this has been happening frequently. It was the hopeful air that night that reminded me of the summers in my teen years; of the winding country roads I traveled with friends, and the sleepovers, and the drive-in movies complete with fried chicken and nerds (the candy kind and the boy kind). It is the visceral feeling that arises when I imagine myself in front of an open window at my dad’s countryside home or lounging on the sofa at my grandma’s house with bustling sounds of the neighborhood traveling through the screen door.
These memories are my peace and my heart’s longing.
I am almost to Wal-Mart and I have to laugh at the idea that I am bursting at the seams to be at Wal-Mart. It is local. It is close. It is in our job-free budget. It is not my first choice and I decide I’m sick and tired of rationalizing why I shop at Wal-Mart. And so I stop the rationalization and conjure another pull at my heart strings by recalling the memories at our small town Wal-Mart over the years. The kites that floated and then dove into the earth. The bicycle helmets. The games of Bocce Ball and Badmitton. The Halloween and Easter candy. The one last part Dad needed to complete a project. The last minute Christmas wrapping paper and gifts. The velvety Lab puppies chasing their tails in a cardboard box that we gave away for free every spring during childhood (and the tears that came with parting).
I arrive. I want to drink in the enchanting lemonade sky and the moon I see rising in the East, peering between clouds. I find the furthest parking spot in the lot and turn off the diesel engine. I release the truck gate, heavy on my forearms, and pull myself onto the tailgate. Grabbing the Mexican rebozo that my midwife brought back from Chiapas, I fold it into a perfect pillow. I recline in my dress on the tailgate of a big ol’ truck. In a Wal-Mart parking lot. It amuses me.
I watch the sky. I catch the faint smell of a barbecue in the air. I notice the couple walking into the store, giggling and flirting. They most certainly do not have kids, I think. They are blithe and walk without lumbering. I have a moment of reflection, of gathering myself to say my goodbye’s to that carefree time before two Little’s came squealing into our world. I stop myself from any sort of regret; I cannot. Jason and I, we had almost 9 years of that life together. We had 9 years of sleeping until noon, rock crawling in our Jeep on the dusty trails of Arizona and Colorado, snowboarding the mountains of Utah, playing tournaments of “Go to Heck” with my family at midnight, finishing an entire meal at a restaurant, and interrupted nights of making love and snuggling deep into down blankets.
And now, I occasionally see the dawn as my daughter comes padding into our room. I am bowled over by giggles that rumble the earth and messages from the uni/multi-verse. I have restored a connection to HERstory through birth and fertility and death . I have loved my husband in moments I never thought I had the capacity to; through sleep deprivation, unbridled rage, streaming tears, and an open heart that unwinds like the nautilus. Like the rise of the ocean, we continue to meet each other at the swell. It is here, on the tip top of fear and vulnerability and massive truth, that we are most authentic.
I have known the white flag of surrender. She is my muse. And she is white because she is pure and innocenet. And she is powerful in her bare bones.
I look down in the shower and see the wet heads of each of my girls as they play quietly. One head is dark. One is light. I am fascinated, always, by the shape of their heads. Perfectly oval from the top. The remembrance of the way their bones shifted and molded to move through my pelvis and belly. The pulse visible on their soft spots through infanthood. The smell of life emanating from their temples. I notice how they sit, back to back with their tiny legs tucked behind them. They sing.
My heart joins.
The lyrics do not matter.
All we must do is sing.
One small note.
Off-key or sustained or vibrato or in a shadowy minor key.
We are alive.