Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stay With Me

We were talking about college the other day when she said, sort of off-handedly, in that off-handed-I’m-dying-to-know-the-answer kind of way, “Where will I live when I go to college?” I responded quickly, “Well, right here, of course.” She smiled and laughed and got that relieved, excited look. “Really? I can stay here?” Of course. Of course. Honey. Child. Sweet Love. You are always welcome here. You can live here for the rest of your life if it pleases you. And I am so happy that you want to, that you want to know if you can be here because you’re comfortable here, because it feels like home.

I am so grateful. I have so many thoughts about this past year. Last summer was so new, so full of raw emotion, uncertainty. It was a blood, sweat & tears kind of summer. We held tightly to each other, as though if we let go we’d fly into opposite directions. Vectors. She’s learning about vectors right now, and that’s what I think of. What happens when two things are bound together tightly, but they’re pushing at the cords? When you set them loose they fly apart so hard they’ll never find each other again. So, we held tightly, with persistence. We held tightly even though we were scared and worried and tired. We cried.

And then the cords loosened a little and we could walk away from each other still attached. It was hard and scary, and we weren’t always sure that the connection was still there. She held loosely, with her face turned, buried in school work, not always interested in connection, not full of the gratefulness that first filled us all in this journey, not always conscious any more of the gift we were giving, nor of the gift we received in her.

And then, slowly, painfully, and somewhat surprisingly we discovered that closeness exists through time and space, that connection can happen after separation, that somehow we can flow in and out of each other’s space in a comfortable sort of way. I guess we became family. It wasn’t so much a decision any more. The focus is not the adoption. We simply belong to each other. We didn’t think about the strangeness of it all the time any more. We just live together. We just live together. Now. In the moment. And maybe now it’s in her heart, in her emotional memory, ingrained in who she is that she will always be family. Maybe it’s moved out of her head and into her existence.

And she wants to stay. I could not ask for more.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Camping

Excerpted from an e-mail to a friend:
We just got home from our own camping adventure on Friday. Wednesday night was 50 degrees & we shivered our way through dinner and then went to stand with our faces in the wind down by the water. The lake was rough & wild. Vespera sketched pictures, and I took some paper & a pen down to the lake. My fingers froze, but it was so powerful and wild out that we couldn't help but be drawn to face it. Then we snuggled down in our tent and slept peacefully to the sound of crashing waves & roaring wind. Thursday was chilly in the morning, but by afternoon everybody was wading in the water, collecting agates and skipping rocks. By evening it was downright warm & we sat on the shore taking pictures while the sun set. Friday we packed up to leave, as both Vespera & Mango had broken out in hives - I think from the moths, but that's another story. We took ourselves to the Munsinger Clemens flower gardens in St. Cloud and took more pictures, dangled fingers in the fountains, danced in the gazebo, and sat on the swings facing the river.

My journaling out in the wind & the cold:
This place has been a place of healing, the balm of water, the relentless wind. I found beauty here when the world lacked beauty. And power, power so strong I couldn't help but open my arms and fall into it. Trips to this lake, to this shore, are a way of marking the passage of time for me. Here I found the freedom of traveling alone with my lover, my friend, the one who knows my soul, to whom I have been married these 9 years. It is a heady sort of freedom to find that now you are married and you're "allowed" to go on trips alone with your love. We took one of those first trips here. And here I snuggled my baby to my chest to keep her warm with my heat and my milk through a long, cold night. I was filled with the fierce mama-love to protect my own from the elements. Here I opened my closed fist to hope when I learned the tragedy of my family's history, when I had closed my hand and my heart to most of the world. Here I found myself much healed the next year, walking the shores with a toddler, holding her hands, holding the hands of my love, snuggling under the rain, through the thunder, laughing, smiling, feeling the pulse of our lives and a readiness to live again.

Then, this year, I've returned, with another daughter, two years since I last was here. Life so full, so rich that I find myself not just standing, facing the wind, hands, arms, face open, but longing to run to the shore and splash my face in the warm summer water, letting the waves wash over my feet. "I have known the wind. It's been a friend all of my days..." even when I didn't want it, couldn't feel it, ran from it. And this year my smallest daughter sat next to me on the rocks and said, "I'm thinking about the waves, Mama," and she threw her hands up to the wind. My older daughter, the one who lives intensely in a baptism of wind and waves, the one who calls me out to immerse myself, who makes me remember that this is what I always wanted anyway, she is drawing on a bench facing the lake. She is recording the moment, after spending a roll of film for her photography class. The ones I love the most are all around me. Sweet windy darkness is falling. The air is chill and still we sit out in it, wrap ourselves in it. This is our life, embracing the wind and all it offers. And I know that I will always love the wind.