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.
Two turkey vultures soar above the back yard silent and slow, unhurried The near full moon rises in the early dusk as we walk, arms linked Hot yerba maté, as if it is life I swallow in big noisy gulps Great horned owls call from the big pines at my old elementary school Even though I think I don’t deserve the gift Yet they keep calling, again and again and again For longer than I have ever heard an owl call And I wonder if they are responding to my love or if there is a secret message in their muted voices as late dusk turns to near 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.
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.