Sunday, June 14, 2009

The New Normal (Dry Bones and All)

I used to write by looking straight ahead. But on Friday our computer crashed, gave a wheezy little gasp and then a soft almost apologetic ping! And it would not turn on again. So Bryan spent the weekend twisting thick cords and blah blah blah until the laptop connected to the big monitor (the big monitor connected to the--finger bone. Oh, hear the word of the Lord!) and now I am sitting in front of a small screen that has nothing to do with what I am writing. If I want to re-read something I have to turn my neck to the left and look at a different monitor which is counter-intuitive and different and just plain wrong.

I keep waiting for things to return to normal. I keep waiting for when. When I get a job. When the house sells. When we move. When I can look straight ahead and recognize and make sense of of what is right there in front of me. But here I am, looking left to see what I think.

On Friday after the computer died and Bryan was in the office trying to resuscitate the situation with mouth-to-modem fuck you's and what-the-fuck and a few straight shots of FUCK! I went out to the front yard to garden. Growing up my mother would lead me around our yard and point out plants to me: Nasturtiums. Those are snapdragons. Petunias--you can just as easily over water a plant as you can under water one! For a long time I thought it was boring, gardening, her hand hot on my arm, dirt under her nails. Bulbs gave me hives. Still, she would pull me around the yard and show me flowers. LI-LAC, she would uncurl my hand and trace the letters into my palm like Anne Sullivan with Helen Keller. It became our joke, her pushing my fist into a Mexican Sage and me repeating the name slowly and clumsily as if I were deaf and blind, my mother playing the Anne Bancroft to my Patty Duke, both of us playing actresses playing a role playing at discovery. WA-A-ATER. My mother is the type of woman who absentmindedly crushes foliage in her hands and then smells her fingers as she talks to you, wipes the waxy leaf of a lemon tree across the soft of her neck and suddenly, without ever really realizing it, I am, too.

Image here.

Our old house had a lemon tree. A large beautiful garden with a lemon tree that produced over-sized warty lemons with thick, yellow skin. In the spring, just as we left, the lemon blossoms made the whole yard smell like my mother. There are no lemon trees at our new house and it does not smell like home, but there is a large camellia bush, ferns, a kumquat tree and a lush night-blooming jasmine that has crawled up a hose that a previous tenant left on top of the house while cleaning out the rain gutters. I sat out there on Friday and arranged my potted plants, cleaned up my succulents and tried very hard not to think fuck you and what-the-fuck, any variations of fuck really. (I mean, everyone knows that when life gives you lemons you are supposed to make lemonade, but what about when life takes away your lemons? What are you supposed to do then? Garnish your drink with a kumquat?) I couldn't hear Bryan inside with the computer, our neighbors have wind chimes, nice ones. Not all high-pitched and ting-y but more of a monastic low clohng that calms me. And then next door, there is a family with 7 year old twin boys, and somebody in that house plays piano like a virtuoso. Rapid fast Mozart and Beethoven, and as I sat there on Friday afternoon the music moving over me, the chimes clohnging deep in my throat, surrounded by plants and flowers, the warm air turning cool with fog, Nacho taking a joyous dirt bath beside me and I thought that maybe this it it: When. I mean, what was I waiting for anyway? For things to return to the way they were with me always worried about losing it all, paying toomuch% of our income on mortgage and working at a job that I hated? Was I waiting for rote, for numb, for that? Or was I waiting for this: Me in a garden listening to Mozart, nowhere to go but here. And here is just fine, better than fine, really. Here is the feeling of it all. So maybe this is the new normal: A broken computer, not enough closet space but vintage vaulted ceilings so that we can breathe, the smell of jasmine climbing up a simple green garden hose, my neck cricked from looking left because there is nothing in front of me anyway. It is all here, and it will smell like home soon enough.

18 comments:

mosey along said...

You're a poet and you don't know it. (Or maybe you do) There are times when I feel like I'm channelling my grandmother as I wander around the garden doing the same thing as your mother.

And living in the moment and being content with right here right now? I need post-its all over the house to help me remember....

pillow mint said...

you are home. and with all the trite little sayings that come to mind, i'll leave you with this one: "these are the good old days."

amber {daisy chain} said...

sounds like the good life to me! xo

ashley morgan said...

This post was something I didn't even know I needed. It made me realize I've been so all-consumed with getting into a bigger house, or doing this or that, that I'm not living or appreciating what's around me. It's a struggle for me to accept what is. You've really got me thinking.

krista said...

i have spent the majority of my life thinking that "down the road" things will somehow be better than they are now. inevitably, i pass "now" and get to "then" and always feel nostalgic and sad that i didn't notice the garden hose.
this was so beautiful.

Claire said...

So much magic in your words. I'm shutting off the screen and going outside. It's hot and humid and mosquito-ey, but it's also slow and calm and leisurely. Thanks for the wake-up call!

Michelle in KY said...

Oh Susannah...
Your post spoke to me once again. Thank You!
I've been so consumed with trying not to miss the moments that I definitely have "missed the moments".
I've been consumed with tryint to find more room in this house for our growing family. 3 children under four leaves little room for "what-knots" and begs for more play room and toy storage. Instead of fighting it, I am going to try diligently to embrace it. You know...my parents had five kids and lived in an adequate house all their lives with us. I am sure that they "wanted" bigger and perhaps "more", but they managed and we turned out fine. I have to learn that "FINE" is ok and that "more" is just that.
Thanks again for giving me the kick in the bum that I needed today. Off I go to play in the sprinkler with my 4 yr. old daughter...laughing all the way!

jane said...

you got it. looking left is what it's all about.
nice writing.

Scribe said...

Simply beautiful. Thank you.

Jules said...

Hmmm. I forgot about the pictures in your exorcism post. That's going to leave a mark. ;)

You're way you need to be right now. Now just focus on writing and all will be right in the world.

xoxo
J

hej said...

This is it and that is that.

Kamryn said...

You.Are.Brilliant.

Has anyone told you that lately?

topsyturvydays said...

So lovely. Yet, again your writing amazes as much as it amuses me.

Petunia Face said...

Thank you all for your kind words. Today we gardened again and Zoey opted to wear a tiara and what she calls her clackety clack shoes. Yep--THIS is the when, for sure!

Betsy said...

You might think about buying a wireless keyboard that can sit right in front of the monitor that works. That's what I had to do when the monitor went out on my lap top. You'll get a wireless mouse with tge keyboard.

kelly said...

Fabulous post. Really. So. Good.

I love your blog... think I have been reading it for, um, almost two years now? Thank you for posts like this (and all the other fun stuff in between).

Richie Designs said...

you totally arrived.

I'm so glad you're not missing it.

xo
-r

Marnie said...

doing a little back reading - well said - like the sounds, smells and images - why look ahead, in front - when all we really have is now