Month: August 2014
I’m laying in a big round spoon-like object on a post that is elevated over my house, whose walls have mysteriously disappeared. The spoon pitches and sways, as I grasp its edges.
I twist my head to look sideways and see that each one of my neighbors are caught in similar contraptions.
Whack, whack, whack, my framed photos hit invisible walls below.
I open my eyes, realizing it’s a dream. But the motion doesn’t stop.
My house house is swaying erratically. Time keeps ticking, and it keeps swaying.
I hear car alarms and rattling and the whack of my photos hitting real, not-invisible walls.
And then it dawns on me, as I lay huddled in my bed: earthquake.
In my grogginess, it is a shimmering realization, like a photo materializing in chemicals in a dark room, not a panicked one.
The most unnerving thing about an earthquake for me isn’t being in it. Confusion is the overriding emotion at that point. It’s the 1,000 moments after.
The next morning I sit in church, among half the usual attendees, and look up at the walls around me. I had always taken for granted that those walls would stand upright, motionless. I keep waiting for them to begin their sway.
In the afternoon I drive to a house that was in greater need of clean up than mine and think about what would happen if one starts while I’m cruising across the bridge.
At night I lay in my bed, edgy, curious if an aftershock will be my alarm clock again. And for a few nights, it is.
The next day at the gym, I warily look up at the hanging lights and ceiling fans, high above us and map out where I would go to avoid their fall.
That is nothing I would have ever looked at before the earthquake. You don’t think about ceiling fans or bridges or walls. No one else in my town did either. They didn’t think about what the trajectory of Worcester sauce with a loose lid would be coming out of a cupboard. They didn’t think about sleeping next to a brick fireplace. They didn’t think about setting wine glasses on counter tops. We all do now.
In the days since, everything has been strangely normal and abnormal. People stop at street lights and walk their dogs. But yellow caution take strings off sections of my town like Christmas lights. People go to the gym and work out. But red tags keep other businesses doors closed.
Every person I see, I can’t help but be curious about where they were when it hit. Every house I pass, I wonder what kind of damage it holds inside.
This has been our new reality since the earth started shaking.
Dear lovely but shabby red Chevy,
Thank you for being able to drive 1,000 miles in one go. I needed that.
I feel like I’m watching them from a beach as they get pummeled over and over by waves. My feet are cozy in the sand, but their world heaves.
Every time their stance steadies, another hits, rocking them and pushing them and sweeping their hair across their faces and filling their mouths with salt. And I’m watching from a thousand miles away. Incapacitated by both the distance and knowledge of a solution.
First it was the heartache of rearing two children’s whose pasts and genetics set a rocky future. Crash. Then the cancer diagnosis. Crash. Then one joint surgery. Then another. Crash. Chronic pain and financial stress and the ongoing tension between loving unconditionally and tough love. Crash. And now one thing to process.
Her strength inspires me. I marvel at her faith.
“Even if he dies in a year, I have to take it one day at a time,” she says. “I trust God.”
But the phrase dies in a year, echoes through my mind. I feel a lump fighting to rise in my throat.
His humor soothes me.
“They gave me this drug and that drug and after they pumped me up with drugs, they said ‘Oh you’re looking good, here’s a bucket of poison,’ ” he says.
So I laugh instead of cry.
I pray and pray and beg for the seas to calm and the waves to settle into harmless swells. That’s all I can do from my comfortable seat on the beach.
Sometimes, it feels like trying to eat healthy is like trying to trying to pick the salt out of the ocean while blindfolded.
Dear colony of daddy longlegs,
This room ain’t big enough for the both of us.
They all look the same but different. They all act the same but different.
Another wedding has brought us together. There seems to be one about every two years that sparks a reunion. We fall into the same rhythms, but with a twist of maturity. Well a little at least.
We are sitting on a couple leather couches looking through old pictures the morning after the wedding. It is now the passing time becomes apparent. We start at how the skin around our eyes is smooth. We look fresher. We look so energetic and optimistic … and well, often drunk.
“I don’t feel like an adult,” at least three people say at various points over the weekend.
But then again, our nights end earlier and our mornings require more coffee than they used to.
A baby dictates some of our schedule, and I for one, am OK with that.
When you are young, you think adulthood is going to feel so official. Suddenly you will be the one with the answers and the plans. You think you will have finally come into your own. You think the heavy weight of responsibility will sap the silliness and fun out of you. But you will be fine with that as you take on that mantel.
But adulthood creeps in slowly. Suddenly we are making decisions about carpet and finances and gym memberships and baby strollers. We find ourselves checking work email accounts and sneaking in a business call on vacation. We realize that injury in athletics has a higher cost. That drinking has less of a draw. But in the midst of those responsibilities and shifts, none of us feel old.
We still make fun of each other. We still act goofy on the dance floor. We still dream about the future.
Turns out, adulthood is a moving target no one feels ready to hit, but that we kind of already have.