I am in the center of very hard things I feel like I fail again and again but the truth is I am still here still finding ways to return to myself every single day so today I will stop and open and be proud of myself in this moment the thirteenth time today that I came back.
These days I don’t always know where to go how to be inside myself all sharp jagged edges I dissolve on the floor of the garage I keen into my pillow I want to put my fist through the wall (how do people do that? the drywall must be very thin?) but now and then I find that sweet spot where I know beyond doubt how lucky I am I find my grateful heart in a quiet moment in the midst of it all and I cry tears that don’t hurt.
My body’s still thrumming from the vibration of driving, from the intensity of southern California freeways. I can hear the dishwasher in the kitchen, the crickets through the open sliding glass door. My mind is still sorting through the images of my home, ravaged by desert rats, kin to the ones I relocated with such tender care eight months ago and more. It’s like sifting through photos loose in a box, like flash cards. I can still smell their urine. My friend Maureen saved me from becoming a puddle on the floor, working her butt off, making big dents for me in the chaos. After she left I just kept going. Nothing is clean there now but the toilet and the cutting board in the kitchen. The top of the refrigerator is the only surface the rats did not mar. But the floor’s been swept, the bird feeders filled. I did not fully land much, though, and that is disappointing. I got to watch Maureen just feet away from me, marvel at her three-dimensionality outside of Zoom. But I wasn’t completely present. I remember a mourning dove on the roof of the trailer looking down into the courtyard with longing, getting up to scatter some seeds for him. A hummingbird came to hover behind me, but I was too wrapped up in whatever I was going to turn to greet him, a heartache now and a longing of my own. At one point in the late morning when I am sweeping I catch a sense of their rat glee, chasing each other around, leaping from couch to bookshelf, wild animals at Disneyland closed for the pandemic. “I love them, too,” I say to Maureen. “I know,” she says. And we turn back to our sweeping while the day grows hot around us.
I have two paper bags and a USPS bin of mail sitting untouched in the spare room. Seven empty bags of yerba maté scattered across the big wooden table in my room. Eight long lists of things I need to do littering the floor, herb books, my scribbled up calendar folded open to April. But when I have a free hour I do not clean my room or sort my months-old mail. I do not spend hours on the phone lining up appointments or checking tasks off my lists. Instead when it’s quiet I read in the afternoon. In the morning I sit in the sun with a cup of hot yerba maté and let my mind drift. When I make effort beyond the basics or the unexpected, they are small moments, small things, planting cat grass seeds in the patch of dirt where the cherry tree used to be, watering the pots of succulents beside the pool. Three days ago, I cut a window in the big ball of ficus tree and hung the bird feeder in the hole. You can see the trunk, the branches, the feeder like a little house in a cavern of leaves. It feels like a real tree now, and birds are coming. House finch, white crowned sparrows, towhees. When I watch them I think the veil between me and the world might be thinning. Nothing is easy in me, but I think it might be easing.
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.
A woman I know tells me she is underwater. Me, too, I think. Later, driving down the hill, I picture myself in aquamarine water, light dancing like the gemstone. I am fully clothed, upright, swathed in rising bubbles. My head is just below the surface, and right now, I think, I’m not even coming up for air.
I am still resisting what is much of the time, refusing or unable to accept the reality I’ve somehow landed in. Reason doesn’t seem to help—my mind fails to convince me even though I am 100% certain accepting things as they are is the only way to move forward with anything even close to grace. But it is a thing of the body, this resistance, and all the logic in the world does no good.