Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13

Tomorrow morning, Abbott and I will leave the neighborhood while stars still glimmer overhead. His hockey team plays in a Canadian league; most Saturdays since October we’ve been on the road. (Alexi helps coach Cal’s hockey team here in Seattle while we’re gone.) For three weeks running, I’ve made a batch of these muffins to take with us.

It’s a lot of time in the car, but it’s okay. I’m used to it: I’ve been taking road trips through Canada since I was seven, when my family moved to Alaska from Texas before audio books, and all I had to amuse myself with for 4000 miles was a Strawberry Shortcake scratch and sniff sticker book. And we eat well in British Columbia: kimchi poutine and a lot of butter chicken. And I hear from Abbott in a way I wouldn’t, otherwise, if we were home, getting things done in separate corners of the house; about how it felt when he asked someone to go to the dance with him and she said yes, and how easy and fun it was for them to be together, and how they danced until they were sweaty and then how they drank milk from the machines in the school cafeteria when they got thirsty.

On one of our recent trips we watched a Canucks game. It was days after George Michael’s death, and before the game began Faith reverberated through Rogers Arena, and tears ran down my cheeks. My teenage life was set to the soundtrack of George Michael and the other greats of the late eighties. When I watched him on MTV in my basement in North Pole, Alaska I hadn’t yet been in love, or even had a boyfriend, so I could only imagine most of what he sang about; feeling big feelings without really knowing why.

Last Saturday was one of the best days I can remember. In between Abbott’s two games we drove through spare landscape and snowy, fallow farmland to visit a bird sanctuary on the Fraser River estuary. In the dimming daylight, we watched ducks slipping and sliding as they landed on the frozen water, and fed the waterfowl right from our hands.

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope you and yours are well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

the happiest

It’s been nine years since we moved into our house.

On Christmas Day, I realized this has been my home longer than anyplace else. We wandered to the eagles’ nest about a half mile down the road just as the light was starting to fade, and perched on nearby branches in the freezing stillness were the two resident eagles. After I described how they’re always near the nest at dusk, my brother-in-law asked how long we’ve been here. This place determines the rhythm of my daily existence and has worn tracks in my consciousness.

When we moved nine years ago, I was recovering from surgery. I’d had my ovaries removed to reduce my risk of cancer, because I'd learned I have a BRCA1 gene mutation. I still remember what fear closing in feels like; the way I spun out of control before my hormone dosages were sorted out.

Nine years ago my grandmothers were still alive. I regret that they never got to visit me in this house; their days of traveling were over by the time we moved here. In the panhandle of Texas, where they lived, the sky is total. I wish I could have shown them the shapes and shades light can take when it reflects off the water.

My grandmothers would have enjoyed the ways Abbott and Cal are becoming like them. Both boys have my grandmother Lorene’s sense of humor. My grandmother Louise would have loved seeing us yesterday afternoon when we walked the beach; Mt. Rainier loomed grandly, and the city's lights were starting to twinkle, and all three of us took out our phones to take pictures, just like she always used to do.

These years, here, are the best years of my life, though they won’t be, for Abbott and Cal. They’ll find spouses and have sons or daughters, and someday in the future they’ll feel the way I do now. The happiest time in their lives, if they’re lucky, will be when they’re raising their own families.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Friends, I hope your holiday season was all you wished it would be.

Thanks to a tip from my friend Erin I put together this video for you, containing my 2016 Instagram photos. These small moments of grace and love and beauty are my ballast. They always exist alongside dislocation and stress and are independent of what is happening at a national or global level.

I'm ready for the privilege and the challenge of this next year.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 11

Since school started, I’ve been trying to absorb two new realities: that Cal is now in middle school; that Abbott is now in high school. Seven years from now, Alexi and I will pack Cal off to college, and then – what? The planet will inch toward change and a new season, as it always has and will, but my existence will be outside the rhythm of a school year. All I can do is to be present while they’re still here.

Despite the linear progression of time, in many ways this October is the same as any other. The days shorten; the light progressively loses stamina and warmth. Mornings, vapor rises from Elliott Bay, obscuring everything from view. Then the fog gives way to afternoon warmth. Wind whips through the trees and across the water while birds call out overhead. Our gutters fill with leaves.

Our schedule is a dizzying choreography of who has to be where, when. The past two weekends I’ve taken Abbott out of the state and out of the country for hockey. Last weekend we were in Gibsons, BC. I walked the docks while Abbott warmed up for his game, and felt a tug for the time I spent working on boats in Valdez, Alaska the summers between my years of college. Back at home, we ended the weekend watching the debate together. It didn’t seem real, making certain the boys understood that despite a presidential candidate saying otherwise, sexual assault is not “just locker room talk.” For months now, we’ve been witness to the presidential race and have felt keenly the darkness of the times. It should go without saying that racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny are never okay. Being an American should be synonymous with speaking out for the marginalized and the dispossessed.

With so much that may cloud our future, it’s impossible to tell what's going to happen next. But there are a few things I do know for certain. That the yellow dress the neighbor’s gingko is slipping into will be gone this time next week. That our table is set and ready for our next meal. That on some not too distant day, I’ll watch Canadian geese rise out of the water with their honking calls, joining together in flight. I’ll continue to do my best to make the days count.

Friday, June 17, 2016

This was taken just before Cal’s elementary school graduation, and just after Abbott’s middle school graduation. Feeling all the feelings; filled with so much gratitude for what we’re leaving behind, and everything that lies ahead of us. xoxo