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.
Sleepy eyes close again and again Dreams dust my edges nonsense lines dialog with somewhere else What a world I might know if I could lasso it all and bring it forward onto the page dig for messages and buried treasure I hand you a shiny relic with a broken wing and watch you turn it over in your hands in the late afternoon light.
The first time I was blasted open by wilderness was when I drove through the northern state of Baja California. The winding two-lane highway with no shoulder, no evidence of humankind anywhere except the road, only open undulating desert and scrub brush in every direction. No dwellings, no telephone poles, no water until the cats and I rounded a bend and saw the Sea of Cortez.
My eyes close now while I type I begin to nod off these days fingertips stilled on the keyboard The other night I fell asleep eating dates scattered pits in all directions I find one with bite marks on the floor the next day It used to be sunflower seed shells I’d wake up with in the covers But dates?
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.