I told you this already when I was sixty-two but this year while I’m sixty-three I plan to learn to sing “When I’m Sixty-Four” because I believe I should sing it all year long to everyone who loves me. Late at night I learn the lyrics on my laptop the Beatles’ voices in the quiet living room my impish delight breaking through my exhaustion. I hope every time I sing it I will feel just like this.
I heard once crickets in the house are good luck a Chinese belief I think but maybe not In my trailer home a family of them lived for a time behind my fridge I loved their loud singing in the night so near my bed I missed them when they moved out and it was just me again and the quiet daddy long legs.
I dream Julia Roberts and I on a rooftop She has a cut lip and hair pulled back into a small messy knot There is city around us maybe near the sea and we visit there more than once gaze across the rooftops at dusk She has trauma, too, something to do with a dream she wanted to fund in Syria or Ruanda and crazed pushback on social media And somehow we are close comforted by each other Our lives both hard just now but meeting and being met easy together like old friends like decades like no secrets like no hiding at all.
In my joy class we sing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” all of us swaying and clapping together in our little Zoom boxes. After, I have Alexa play it for me again and again until I memorize all the words. I pick “When I’m 64” to learn next because I think I should sing it throughout the coming year while I’m 63. Late at night I sit in the living room, heater and ice-maker noises behind me, solar Christmas lights on the succulents outside the window, headlights on the 210 moving like water in the distance between the black curves of the foothills. My eyes close while I type, and I jerk awake more than once, but when I finish my work, I look for the song. I find the music with the lyrics, and I play it on my laptop with the volume turned way down. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” My knees bounce as my feet move, and I sing along, delighted with the music and the words, the minds and hearts that made them. I am lifted out of my limited self in the quiet night, unhindered, even happy, spread out like the valley to the west, silent now in the late dark.
I’ve cancelled my writing groups for the month of April. People are wishing me well, supporting me in this choice to take care of myself. And I just keep explaining it’s not like I’m taking a holiday. It’s not like I expect true respite here. I am only reaching for a little less stress. This is an act of desperation. Attending any Zoom meeting right now requires superhuman effort. Leading the meeting pushes the stress into the extraordinary range. I adore my Meetup sessions. There are beings there I love with every bit of me. But I can’t relax into them right now, can’t bring my whole self. My attention is split and scattered, my body anxious, stiff, my heart constrained. I am going on hiatus in the hope I can find a way to lead these sessions again with an undivided heart. I miss you already, my dear ones. May April be good to you.
I am on the phone with my good friend. She mentions in passing, on her way to another story, that she once did a documentary with Julia Roberts. I am standing in the back yard, and I watch my mother walk down the hallway inside the house, obedient with her oxygen, so the tension in my shoulders lessens. Two red-tailed hawks appear against the blue and fly slow circles above me while I listen to my friend’s voice. And all at once it is one of those moments, when everything aligns, and for several seconds I am not understanding words, only standing there, taking in the sounds. The hawks feathers brush against my cheeks, and I am at the center of it all.
I heard my favorite raven calls yesterday morning, those round sounds that seem like love talk, like overhearing the quiet morning murmur of two people in bed, their own little bubble, lovers who have been together for a long time talking about the day to come, about last night, people who know how to rest together, how to share peace.
[Spontaneous writing prompt, revised. Words were round and rest.]