sTORIES FROM THE
CENTER OF THE STORM
discovering joy in every molecule
From Pregnancy Journal -
9 months...and counting
I'm one deep breath away from a hailstorming, late pregnancy breakdown. I decide to take Frankie to the park because this option is maybe barely better than any other. I'm too far into exhaustion and discontent to feel any real hope, but I am officially, and mind-bleachingly, bored with my own whine. I feel like Bill Murray in "What About Bob?" when he finally gets himself onto the bus and asks the person next to him, "Hi, can you knock me out? Just punch me in the face..."
At the park I waddled onto the bleachers, trying to find a way to sit that didn't hurt. In front of me on the basket ball court Hispanic guys and girls were playing a hot, sweating game of flirt & shoot. They were trim, mobile and happy, everything I wasn't. I want what they have, I thought. I want to be happy and deeply involved, in a shared cocoon of fun, with people who love me. Just admitting I wanted that literally hurt because it felt so far away.
I took out my notebook and decided that if I can't move my body, my thoughts will have to do because this miserable little puddle of an attitude was helping no one.
A focus wheel is a tool I learned from Abraham-Hicks, used to shift your thoughts to a better feeling and more deeply connected state of being. I made a list on the side of the page of the unhelpful and unfun thoughts that were gunking up my engine, and the corresponding emotions. I could see that I'd been focusing, nearly exclusively, on everything I didn't want. Just seeing that correlation, and remembering that I am the one drawing in all this difficulty, was HUGE relief.
Then I began the clearing work, slow going at first because I was so ENTRENCHED IN MY FUSS, but with each better feeling thought, I hung the fuck on until I found another one, and another, until it started to get easier and easier as the shitty momentum dwindled and a fresh hopeful momentum began to pick up speed, then a whole new world of better feeling thoughts opened up, I was climbing my way out, it felt like I was sprouting wings off the tips of my fingers holding me in that tenuous, delicate life-giving new land of slightly better-feeling thoughts. I felt so, so... relieved.
Then I looked down at belly and remembered ... the stressful emotions threatened to return and I felt soul bone thirsty to keep feeling better, and to get more familiar with my joy. So I decided to lean into appreciating:
I loved on the clear evening sky with an early dappling of stars, and the cool crisp mountain night air air coming on like a promise of mysteries unfolding. As I really let myself marvel at the seen I realized I will always have a setting sun to turn the world into a portable art museum, how it renders everything a work of art with the dewy soft wash of fading sun. That thought was strong and I grinned as I thought about finding deep resonant gems of truth within various spelunking via appreciation. A new game!
And suddenly a thought appeared in my mind. "I want you to find me here, I want you come play with me here because I can't get to you right now." I didn't know who I was talking to. But it felt good to admit it. It was really what I wanted to say with my whole heart.
I just wanted someone to play with.
Just then, as if on cue in a Broadway play, a little gorgeous brown boy ran past me, then backs up with a wicked light in his eye, "you, a...you, a..." He struggles for a moment, then finds it, "you a creator?" I nod, after the shocked pause. He laughs as if this is the best thing he's ever heard, then dashes off.
Then a small darker brown child suddenly appears in my armpit by shimmying beneath the bleacher seat behind and grabs my pen out of my hand. The first boy reappears and points at the smaller one then yells at me "make him!" I can't think what he means but he just keeps yelling "make him!" and then I realize he wants me to draw a picture of the other boy, but I feel weirdly shy, like I misrepresented myself sitting here with a pen and paper. I want so badly to tell them I can't really draw like that and besides, charcoal are more my medium, and... and...
They ignore my frozen self doubt parade and one of them reaches over and retrieves another pen from my hair and the two start a scribble frenzy all over my writing. The first boy, Nana, is so intent that as the rest of the children come over (scaling fences, racing through leaves) he seems to draw inward into the drawing. He finishes it, a drawing of the smaller boy, Devon, a squealing sunshine of a human, and writes his name, then begins a drawing of the girl, 10 or 11, named Tikea, who sailed over the fence like a superhero. She seems uncomfortable with me and keeps punching the boys who have cozied up and no longer want to play with her. Lastly comes the baby, who just wants to hurt me, then laugh evily afterwards. There's lots to enjoy about this tiny thing in camo overalls and sandals furiously hurling handfuls of sticks and leaves at my head. I jump over the bit where he seems to want to hurt me and scoop a pile of leaves and throw them high into the air. They sail slowly down around us like a veil. After a moment, his play softens and he begins asking "you weddy?" before hurling leaves at my face. I nod. I am weddy.
Nana shows me what he's been drawing. He explains the picture of his cousin, Tikea, "she's like this, all at once" and does a rapid fire series of lip movements. I nod, totally not getting it. He sees this and scribbles some more. Come to think of it, I can't really understand any of them. The baby seems to speak Swahili. Finally, Nana's done. I give it the same not-really-looking-but-pretending-to cursory glance I often give to the plethora of kid's art I receive each day, then I stop. Full stop.
The welt of exquisite a spring air, the laughing children, this perfect moment - I just got in, and I'll be damned if I duck out again by a silly habit of going on autopilot. I want more invitations to go all the way in, fuck cursury glances - I really wanted to see what he was showing me. On his drawing of Tikea, he'd drawn three simultaneously occurring mouths: a smiley, a frown, and a straight line. He explains, "all at once, she's happy...and sad...and sometimes" then he struggles for the word for the word for the straight line, "She don't feel nothing."
Then leaps off the bleachers into the leaves. "Nana" I say out loud after he's gone. I like the say his name feels in my mouth and ears. When he returns, he demands eagerly, "make me now."
I realize I want to draw him, to play with him in this way, I don't care if I can or cannot, what does that have to do with anything? I'm beyond whatever shyness is. I tell he has to sit still, then I begin to trace almonds onto the page, aching for my box of crayons at home to try and capture some of his gorgeous skin color, the gold in his smiling eyes. After 30 whole seconds he's vibrating again; the rest of the crew tries to simultaneously hurl him off the bleachers and bully him into staying quiet for this drawing.
We all sense there is a gift present. We don't even know where it's coming from or who it's for. But we're all inside of it. I love his wild hair, love drawing it around his cauliflower ears. I keep tapping him gently when he moves, in an easy forever-knowing way. I say "stop or I'll draw you like an alien" He loves it, then the mother's voice, strong and late-prego-tired, cuts through it all and they're off. I learned that she's having a boy in a few days too. I struggle to stand, Nana's name on my tongue. I want him to have the picture, he didn't even get to see it. I look down at the picture, then sit down and keep looking at it. He's still there. His hair curing towards the sky, his ears twitching, his feet just about to leap...