sTORIES FROM THE
CENTER OF THE STORM
discovering joy in every molecule
The fire is open because it needs more air and I need air too. I find myself clutching at my notebook, as if osmosis might free me. I'm feeling stuck, in my life in general, and ornery in this particular moment. I'm trying to cheer myself up by tearing whole states out of the atlas and feeding them to the fire. Burn Wyoming BURN.
One month old Darcy, warms like a pink slug beside the fire and my daughter Frankie and her friends are crouched low to the wooden floor, lost in the world of their creative play. They're drawing homes for their tic tac-sized animals on blank pieces of paper. They're actually designing the kind of homes that would please themselves most. Sam's is dance-room laden, and Sophie's is a series of waterfalls and candy-filled ball pits, with lots of TV's and pandas.
Next, they position their homes onto the maps scattered about the cabin, and are happily traveling around the country to visit each other, having parties, bringing gifts while I sit, with unmoving pen to paper, wishing I could feel a fraction of their ease. I opt for the observer experience with play, (as part of my ongoing project to get better at being happy) and just start writing.
Just this page. Just
whatever comes. Just anything.
As I gaze around, I can't help but notice that, all things considered, I like where I am. This is a cozy scene and I sure am in fine company, even if I am jealous of the happiness of that fine company, it's still good, and bringing my awareness to that goodness feels good, feels better than when i had my awareness on the stuck feeling, so I look deeper at the goodness.
Fully noticing this good moment, the lazy play sprawl, naked cooing baby, and the roaring fire eating one state at a time, warms my mind a little, but then I remember My Very Difficult Day and I slip down into fussy discontent. I was beginning to feel down like hopeless when my daughter asked me to come for a visit.
I was a little bewildered, as we were sitting in the same log cabin, about 2 feet from each other. She pointed to the piece of paper she'd been working on.
O god, she wants me to visit her HOUSE.
Only, there is no house. There is a nearly blank sheet of paper with some crazy looking lines and a teeny tiny glass ladybug sitting in the middle.
My already tattered mind started reeling away from the invitation. I'm too tired! I'm too sad! I'm too busy feeding atlases slowly into the fire! Anyway, how does one go about "visiting" that? What does she mean by "visit"? I go to open my mouth to speak these things to her but her smile is so bright and hopeful and I'm suddenly embarrassed to say these things out loud. Mostly because none of them are really true. I stand up, nervous, and want to duck out with a note from the doctor, like in gym class where the gym teacher asks you to demonstrate how to climb the rope to the ceiling and you're not even sure how to get on the damn thing. I want to mumble something about needing to do something else, but let's be honest, if I had anything else that I wanted to be doing I'd be doing it and I'm just desperate enough to say yes, I mean, why not?
Tentatively I move my hand towards her paper. She lunges and cries out as my hand nears the page. I jerk my hand away as if from a stove. I want to cry. But she pets my hand and gently turns the paper around. "It's okay Mom. Here's the door."
Now I REALLY want to cry. But this time from relief. A door. A door.
She'd cried out because I'd almost knocked down one of her house walls, and she was so connected to her imaginative world that she felt the trespass in her bones. But now I know where the door is and so I walk my two fingers up and rap out a note of greeting. Lady Bug welcomes me, warmly. I walk in and am surprised to discover that I feel a little horsey. Maybe it's the sound my nails make on the wood, but my fingers seem to want to gallop.
So, gallop I do.
Lady Bug immediately whips around saying sternly "No galloping on the right side of the house." I giggle, thrilled. Remembering anew the thrill of being naughty.
Still with long slender horsey legs, I try out a little saunter. Lady Bug turns out to be a gracious and thorough hostess. I enjoy sashaying around behind her while she points out the highlights: "tuna room" "cuddle pod" "movie theater with rope swings and climbing walls." I feel curious about these things in a way that feels new and old at the same time.
I used to be this curious all the time. Wow.
I really want to know what she's done with the place. I like the light feeling of curiosity and I want more of what I'm beginning to really like about being here. She asks me to ice skate, and out of nowhere a funny voice sails from my mouth, a whole character actually, with a British accent. It's a cantankerous pair of legs who wants to be pampered and eat lots of TOP QUALITY cheese.
I'm thrilled with myself, off and running on a witty and spree. The other kids invite me over like i'm a celebrity and I throw several top quality fits to the delight of us all. Sam invites us all to a free contra/break dance under his new disco ball. I feel a sudden urge to make a paper tutu first. It slows things down a bit, but I am relishing the feeling of wanting to do something for no productive reason. In my new tutu, we dance. I like figuring out how Legs contra/break dances. She's horrible, and I end up flipping my hand upside down while all the kids jump their hands up and down on mine while Legs screams she is "not your local bouncy house! LOW QUALITY BULLOCKS!"
We get lost in the play together, for hours. Part of my delight is falling back in love with who I am in play, that simple, easy, satisfied sweetheart of a woman, who is adventurous and funny, satisfied with and present to this now, and ready for anything. I love seeing the most elemental version of myself, no discontent or insecurities, just a free, clear, and very glad woman alive and playing well with others. After the play, the night sails on like a ship with a full and perfect wind behind it. Before the play it was like were at a club trying to dance in silence, and the play turned the music on and UP until we could feel it. Then after, all we had to do was keep dancing to the music we could not hear so beautifully.
After such top quality fun, I return here, to this page, and marvel at my early fuss. It's totally gone. What EXACTLY had my knickers been in such a twist about? I can't remember. Before that immersion into pure fun with the kids and Leg, I'd been wondering about the distinguishing characteristics of play, but now, from this vantage, I absolutely know. Play moves you towards YOU, the real you, the happy, powerful, clear you.
I had to say yes to the way life was trying to play with me, not waiting for my villa in France to issue me an invitation written in wine and troubadours, but to be willing to say yes to the life in front of me. Right now. Because now is all that will ever exist and I'll be damned if I waste another second of it in the sacrilege of discontent. It's just too much damn fun to say yes.