I blame the media (Walmart) for everything that goes awry on family vacations. All summer long I’ve watched commercials for bug spray, pick up trucks, sunscreen, and major department stores tell me what my family holiday will look like. I thought I was smart and had their wily ways figured out, but I was foiled again. They lured me into actually looking forward to and enjoying three days of packing, followed by the 35 degree trip in a crammed to the ceiling truck. I was excited to be trapped in a prison of my own misery for 14 hours, silently hating my husband and dreaming of throwing the truck door open while going a buck twenty, and rolling straight to the bottom of the mighty Fraser. I’d live through it of course and start a new life, having frivolous affairs all around the globe and helping the needy and starving poor people in third world countries. I’d be appreciated, damnit.
Yes, family vacations put all those little fault lines on display. The cracks and crevices that in everyday life can be chalked up to working too hard or needing something to eat are magnified ten fold into massive craters, tsunamis and earthquakes on family vacation. Suddenly you find yourself questioning the stability of your sanity, your marriage, your mind and your life. “Where did it go wrong?” you wonder, blinking and dazed as you seriously consider jumping ship and catching the next greyhound the hell out of dodge. You can only surmise that rousing an 8 and 9 year old at 4:30 am simultaneously for three days in a row, throwing them in a fishing boat for 8 hours and demanding they be thrilled about it might be a good place to start.
But enough “camp”laining. (I borrowed that line from a friend.) At the pivotal moment, when you’re weighing your options and decide that faking your own death may be the only one, you lift your weary head and look up at the day. You find yourself on the ocean at sunrise. The light dances on mauve colored waves and your lines are so tight you can hear them sing; the salmon siren song. It calls your name and seeks you out, it chooses you, feeding the addiction. Only you. You are thrown into the waltz in an instant and suddenly everything else disolves away and all that exists for you is right now. The zzzziiiiiiiiiinnngg, the pull, the fight. It is intensely personal and, win or lose, immensely rewarding. It is the “Vicious Strike.” It’s what brings you back, time after time and makes you feel alive.
You’ve won. Blood in the boat. And it’s all worth it.
Those you’ve previously deemed “dick heads” are suddenly proud. They high five and sing praise and the story gets bigger and better with every telling and it feels so good that you realize that you have discovered your brethren, your coven, your family, all over again. And despite it all, you wouldn’t trade them for frivolous affairs, helping the needy or even for being appreciated for once in your life. You wouldn’t trade them for anything. Not for all the fish in the sea. Not for anything at all.
There is a place where a calm and ancient magic exsists. It’s always with
me, tagging along in some obscure area of my mind. It allows me to find wonder in the not so wonderful and hope when all is lost. If my daily tasks and difficulties are made more obvious by the sun, then this quiet and sacred part of me can only be twilight. A sliver of time, and sadly, scarcely enough space for something so treasured and tender, it can only take residence in that tiny parcel of land directly between the sun and the moon. But it’s enough. Any other place wouldn’t be the same.
I can’t always find my way, the path is ever changing as the seasons and prone to thick overgrowth if not used often. Sometimes I think I give myself too much credit and in actuality I’m the one being found. But once I’m here I come to life. My senses are magnificent! I can see the shimmer of ten million lives and hear the music of the faery realms. The heady perfume of wildflowers is only eclipsed by the clear night dew that collects on my bare toes. I absorb it through my skin and in every drop of this powerful Earth elixir is a gift of love and gratitude for my little place, my tiny life, my family, my land, love, the summer, the moon, swimming, singing, laughing, grass between my toes, crying, Quinn’s hair in the morning, Caden’s freckle on his cheek, honeysuckle in bloom, books, lightning storms and finally….magic. It’s all magic, after all. When you’ve finally found The Gloaming, what else could it be?…
” You’re so weird.”
” I’m going to pretend I don’t know you right now”
” Please, stop singing. ”
” What are you even talking about? ”
” Where did you learn to dance? The old folks home? ”
” Seriously, mom? ”
This is the process deemed by psychologists as the “transition.” In order to grow up and move in your own directions, you must first establish independence from those who influence you the most. Yeah, whatev’s.
The problem I have with this is that I’ve always felt weird, I have an intense need to fit in, I sing all the time and I rarely even know what I’m talking about most days. I think I can dance when I’m drunk but let’s get real already, and as for seriousness…..well, that’s a toss up. You hit me where it hurts. Every single time. Not that it’s intended. For the most part you’re the sweetest things! You make me stuff and write me funny notes and stories. If I have a headache, you run me a bath and make me the most delicious mystery sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. You listen to my garden fairy stories and believe that I have “mommy magic” that fixes everything from broken bones to broken hearts and can even take the itch out of a mosquito bite! Still, I constantly question my ability in this role.
I remind you that being weird is great and that you shouldn’t care what other people think as long as you think you’re okay. Sing at the top of your lungs, that’s when the music will heal you. Dance even if you think you can’t and never take yourself too seriously. Finally and most importantly, appreciate the people, the fun, the beauty and the love that exist for you and only you. And if you’re ever in doubt just look in your heart, for it’s there that you’ll find the sweetest things…
PS—– YOU are MY heart.
It’s weird how the snow melts. It reminds me of my hair; fluffy in some spots, rippled like waves running ashore in others. Some mornings all I can do with my hair is throw it in an elastic. Another old standby is the side braid. I opted for that one today.
I woke up with a heaviness in my bones, the sun, unusually unwelcome, washed the borders of my bedroom in a cheerful yellow light. Thoughts of the previous night and the tasks that waited for me made me wish to stay asleep, just a few more minutes. As I struggled to justify staying in bed it occurred to me how terrible I am at compartmentalizing my life. Nothing stands alone. Everything is everything, a reason to celebrate isn’t about the specific event at all, rather, it encompasses my very reason for being. As does a failure.
My pink flowered gum boots make me feel like a liar but they’re all I’ve got. I detest them. I long to be barefoot, soaking up the energy of Mother Earth. Footwear makes me claustrophobic, one of my many eccentricities. I trudge through the half melted, filthy remnants of winter and am aware of the trees. They aren’t quite awake, but I can hear their dreams, another eccentricity. They are stirring in a strange state of consciousness and,like me, are trying to justify a prolonged slumber. I want them to wake up so badly. At the same time I know that their wakefulness takes them one step closer to their next winter sleep. I’m in a constant flux. I fear that one day my summer stockpiles will run out and I’ll lose my ever present battle with the Winter Bitch. She likes to test my endurance and I must say I’m losing my enthusiasm for our war. I wonder what she’d think if I called a truce and suddenly took great delight in minus 30 and three feet of snow. Maybe she’d lose interest in me and go away all together. My soul IS spring, and I’m waiting impatiently to see myself again. What will I look like this time? Will I be rain and wind? Sun and grass? Green or grey? Will I stand, barefoot in an ocean of life and growth, the amazing warmth of the sun etching happy wrinkles into the corners of my mouth and eyes? I must. I will.
But for now I dodge deteriorating piles of shit with unknown origins, trying to make it to the safety of the barn unscathed and intact. And all the while I know…..I’m not the only one.