This is how the days begin: In darkness. Low radiator sounds -- water gently lapping as steam rises through ancient pipes. Highway noise in the distance.
I have traded certain comforts for other comforts. I see aspects of myself I no longer recognize as my own. There are days when I will know with conviction what it is I want from the waking hours. But most hours drift without shape, then dissipate.
Winters are difficult. This one, particularly so. Or is it that I have merely found a new armature across which to drape the anxieties and fear I carry with me? Time passes. Seasons change. We trade comforts for other comforts.
Skidding across the surface of most days. Sustained attention feels a little like staring into the abyss. Must we shine light on every swath of shadow?
I watch a performance of my son’s and his exuberance unsettles me. I cannot say why, exactly, except that it starts from a place of fear. Isn’t exuberance a way of claiming space in the world? Who are we to claim space, is one way of stating it. This is not something I can easily express. After all, what mother is unsettled by her child’s exuberance? It is not about him of course but about something that took root in me before language. Who am I to claim space. Who am I to express joy. Joy must be muted so as not to draw undue attention. At times, I can hear myself speaking in my mother’s voice: “There are some people who will want what you have.”
(Here I am again, inspecting shadows.)
This is not all about blaming mothers.
Last night, I made my son cry. I had given him the usual transition-time alerts: In about twenty minutes, we are going to get ready for bed. Then, in about five minutes... In about two minutes. Two minutes came and went and I said, when you come to a good stopping point, we’re going to head up and he made huffy groaning sounds and I asked him why.
He does not like to have to explain his frustrations (who among us does?) and it was difficult for him to speak. And so we remained there for a few long moments -- him standing in the middle of the room, slow fat tears on his cheeks as he searched for words; me, sitting wearily facing him, my head tilted toward him, waiting.
These days, such things pass quickly. A few minutes later, he was zipped into his fleece pajamas and we were tucked together into our reading chair, the memory of tears swept to some shadowed corner of his mind, to perhaps be examined by the light of some future hour.
There is no way to capture the sunrise from my window, but I insist on trying. Here, through the dirty screen.
Mostly I want to show you that band of pink light at the horizon line. Its intensity. There is something held there that I want for myself, something I can’t express but recognize when I see it rising in the sky. It is beautiful and terrifying. Then gone.