magic on Saturday.

Some days time and my mind pick a pace that lines them up perfectly. 

The gray days. Something about that shadowy/light box affect, surrounded by majestic mountains with a lid of cottony gray clouds, it just does it for me. 

We drive into the city so I can run an errand. This drive is short now that we only live across the bridge and I make sure I drive past the basketball arena. I want to take Otto to a game, his eyes will be on the court and mine will be on him. 

I show Ada where the symphony plays and the gold railing in the window. I show Hannah the planetarium and an art museum. 

We’re driving around looking for a place to park, Hannah is my helper. Her eyes are open, Otto says they’re peeled because he heard that once from his grandpa, the same one he would later tell me he goes to the barbershop with all the time (that’s why he’s not afraid of haircuts, by the way), my dad.

I give Hannah a break from being a parking spot seeker,
Look out the window those women crossing are ballerinas, they do that for their job. They travel all over and they perform down the street. 
Hannah’s eyes light up. Otto turns a full 180 as they cross and then turn. 

I find a spot after a couple of laps. Parallel parking and me, absolutely terrible couple. 

We start to walk. Let’s see how they do. Crossing the street Ada turns around, looks at me like wow and just grins, blinking, two or three times, with her long dreamy lashes. Her hair bouncing as she hops along. A giggle almost ringing the bell at the top of one of those carnival games, I can see it rising in her chest. 

I’m here. I’m happy. I’m with my kids and I’m finally at a point where I am starting to feel like myself again. 
Stop. Look at that car. Do you see the driver? You’ve got to look right at them so you know they know you’re there before you cross.
Something tells me I need them to understand this. “Mom, remember when I fell down and my hands were in my pockets? That hurt really bad but getting runned over would hurt worser.”
Yep bud, it sure would
His voice, it makes me smile, I don’t know what sound he’s going for but it’s like he’s in tough guy mode. His lips flare out the tougher he tries to sound but he hasn’t polished his l’s and r’s yet. I absolutely adore him. Among the many names I wanted for him was Rocky, it would’ve been a fit. 

Otto is a full on kid now. Sometimes a baby version still tries to get that last little bit of existence in. And I get mad about it. I know, what the hell? “You’ll miss it when it’s gone.” But at the same time, it’s nice to hear “Mom I’m tired/mad/hungry/sad” instead of being hit with a fit out of left field. The “Mom I’m happy/I did it!/I love you” doesn’t get old either. 

Later, “There they are mom, the ballerinas” They are different people but they are ballerinas too. I’m glad to know she is observant, my Hannah. 

Reflecting now, I think Ada smiled that time-pausing smile earlier because the train was rolling by. As we were walking she asked if we could ride it. I told her we could some other time. But as soon as the period finished my sentence,
Actually, yes we can ride it today. Even if we pass the car by a block we’ll just walk the difference. 

When we walked onto the platform I made sure to let them all know to stand clear of the edge. Things I think they need to be told right from the get go. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The girls listened. Otto asked why.
Because you don’t want to be that close to a moving train...because it moves fast...because I told you no.
His age man, it’s such a distinct teeter between baby and child. They either get it or they just don’t give a fuck. 

The doors open and the kids find seats, they got that one figured out. Oh shit, I can feel their excitement. They are riding a train and they are pumped. 

Every day I see this go on. And the magic is lost on so many. One of my favorite parts of being their mom is seeing the magic they see. Their enthusiasm to ride a train makes me feel grateful to be breathing this stale train air along with them. 

I see Ada about to laugh. Double pointing with thumbs raised, out the window, there goes my car. She thinks it’s funny. I do too. 

We walk back and I stop for a small coffee, the kids climb on stools to talk and wait. The girl behind the counter says “I didn’t know kids still played that,” referring to some game they’re playing. It’s one of those magic school yard traditions, passed down; myths, legends, cats cradle, the song that never ends, all discovered while standing with a group of friends by a fence at the edge of the lot or under the biggest tree. In the lunch line. During the frosty, cool mornings, waiting for the bell to start the day. She said she played it when she was little. 

When we get back out on the street Ada tells me about the game and for a few seconds I’m standing under the big willow tree from my childhood in the school yard.   




old bridges that don’t get used anymore.

We live near the city now but I kept the kids in their school. So we wake up early and that is something we have accomplished surprisingly well in our first few post flu days here. Something about driving toward the capital each morning puts a smile on all of our faces. Ada likes seeing it lit up. I like seeing her eyes light up. 

I like to see my kids look out the window at the trains and the yellow-green hills. I like to point out the artwork painted on our street, the Mexican restaurants we’ll try, the street signs so they understand where we live, even the ugly oil refinery and always, “do you see the building where I work?”

This morning it was raining. The sky my favorite gray. Easy on the eyes. Easy for my mind. Fitting for my sad mood. A good friend of mine called me and in good friend fashion gave me some perspective that I needed. Some tough love. 

My life a year ago is gone. I told my friend “I just wish things were different” and I guess that’s when the suspension bridge spanning that life and today’s life kind of appeared out of the fog. A bridge built out of denial. 

I don’t want the pain, the anger, the sadness. I hide that from myself. I dilute it with excuses. I drown it out because I feel bad about being angry, as if I’m not allowed to be. Deep down I don’t want to believe that my marriage was not a forever one, my reality was warped. When I do feel the pain, the anger, the sadness, I want to cut that bridge. I want to watch it fall a great distance and I want to hear the planks shatter. I want no way back. No way back can be scary if you’re in denial like me. 

Today, I’m standing on the other side of a year.

Driving back to the city, admiring the gray, I looked directly at my life, first time in a decade having friends of my own and time to grow those relationships. Ten years since I’d been on an airplane, first time on a sail boat and a passenger train tracing the coast, first time I’ve ever traveled alone. Lots of solo hikes. A lot of time sitting on a therapist’s couch and holding hands with a group of strangers praying for serenity, courage and wisdom in some church after hours. I just bought my first house. I just bought my first tools. It hasn’t come without struggle but I’m proud and anyone looking to cut that down is probably standing on the bridge. The bridge that is no longer my concern. 



sick and sad.

A year ago was the last time we shared a bed. Tonight, I’m a day out from the flu, my three kids are snuggled in bed with me, snoring in a way that strangely compliments the trains I can hear outside. 

A year ago we had just moved. Tonight, I’m in a new place. This time a place on my own.

A year ago my drive home was aimed at Mt Olympus. Toward a family with a husband and a dog. Tonight, it’s under and over bridges toward a few more boxes left to unpack and a cat. 

I know this day won’t always hurt. But tonight it hurts. It hurts like hell. And the next few days will too. I know I can and will make new memories and things won’t hurt as much. But it’s still too close and it still hurts too much. If I could pour an ocean between now and then I would, but I’d probably drown trying to swim back to then even though I know I can’t and it wouldn’t change a thing.

Separation, divorce—ending the year from when it all started with the flu in my new place. Life is sure a fucked up ride sometimes. 

I plan to keep riding it though for as long as I can. I’ll just be sick and sad for the next few days.