"Mom? Can I come in the bedroom? Is your headache still hurting? I made you a cup of coffee so that you don't fall asleep too early and then you won't be able to sleep during regular bedtime. Do you want a glass of water too? Do you want the Star Wars pillow? Okay, I'm going to go feed Teddy his dinner now. Wait, do you need an emergency hug?"
"Mom! Check it out. When it's night time, the front window's like a mirror and I can totally practice my Michael Jackson moves and see myself at the same time! Sometimes I spin into the couch, but it's cool."
Bob and I were with friends at the Natural History Museum recently. There is a Hollywood history exhibit there that shows how in the production of old movies, the film makers would use footage projected onto a screen on the back window of the fake car the actors were riding in. It gave the appearance of movement. The list of background choices was endless. The exhibit showed rear view footage of driving away from the Eiffel Tower, driving through the desert, driving down 5th Avenue.
I will close my eyes and out the rear window of my imaginary car (mine is a red '58 Volvo 444) I see my life speeding by. Flickering images of a stage in the high school auditorium, a foggy beach in the evening, a woman in a garden pulling a carrot from the ground. There is my tiny first office in the basement in Hollywood. Turn to my toddler on a swing at the park. A girl running through a cemetery at five in the morning and a bike with a sissy bar and a bright yellow flag. There is a black dog in the pool, and we fly past a jukebox at the back of the bar. A man playing the drum with hair in his eyes. The bullet train. The French bakery where I worked the summer before college, rain. Blowing out the candles. All of these out the rear view window. These spaces that hold me together. The visions that wallpaper my insides.
My Grandpa Page. Half Indian, half Brit, tiny in stature, big in heart. He always kept a giant garden and as you can see, he canned a little too. Chow chow or green chile, anyone? If he was alive today, he would be 112.
"So have you thought about what kind of haircut you'd like, Bob?"
"Yeah. I want it to be long except not in the back or on the sides or front. The back should be shorter up my neck and the hair in front is in my eyes right now and I start school on Thursday and I need to be able to see and everything. The sides are okay I guess. I just don't want it to look too short. But I need it to look awesome."
I’ve had a lot to say to God about the events of the past few weeks. I am generally most fond of gratitude-based prayers but lately I have found myself issuing my list of demands, like an angry bank robber.
I ask grace for the people who are waiting. I want peace for those I can’t find on a map. For the desperate, I want health in body and mind (the mind is just more of the body after all). I want justice for wronged families, still knowing that justice will not fill the holes left in their worlds by missing children, fathers, and mothers. I ask balance for the caretakers. For the elders, I ask another revolution around the sun.
I ask education for girls as well as boys. Food and fresh water and hope for those who’ve grown too used to living empty. Faith for the hopeless. Rain after thunder after rain to end the long drought. I ask laughter for the impatient. For the marginalized and dismissed, I ask celebration for our differences.
For the wandering I ask deep roots and home. I ask mercy for the abandoned and abused. For the frightened, a deep, free, breath. For the addicted I ask freedom. For the protectors I ask for wings instead of weapons. I ask presence for the invisible. For the lonely I ask for The Divine. I ask acceptance for the grieving. I ask the north star for the lost.
I ask light coming through the crack under the door for people fumbling through the darkness – which is all of us.
If praying is talking to God, and meditation is listening, I have certainly been monopolizing the conversation. Now, I am ready to hear.
A lot of my day is spent hanging out with this guy. He follows me from room to room like dogs do. He will sit patiently, waiting for ear scratches but if they run out, he will demand more. We talk a lot. Rather, I talk and he listens. Except for those times when he points out that my conversation is just barely interesting enough to keep him awake.
Summer is filling up water balloons in the kitchen sink. It's concerts in the park with grown ups dancing while you and your friends eat tacos from the stand in the blue tent. It's belly-flopping when you're trying to dive. Summer is talking into a fan to hear your voice sound like a robot.
Summer is sleep-overs when it isn't even the weekend. Summer is watermelon for breakfast and the reading club at the library. It's hitting tennis balls in the backyard and one always gets stuck on the roof. Summer is holding your hand in the wind outside the window of the station wagon and feeling what it's like to fly. It's swimming in your grandma's pool while she sits in the Jacuzzi.
Summer is a hot storm at night and when your dog comes into the house he shakes off on your bed and gets you wet from the rainwater. It's YMCA basketball in the gym with the wood floors that make your shoes squeak. It's sleeping in your underpants with no blanket. It's riding to day camp in the backseat between two of your best friends. It's lizards under the porch. Summer is the smell of wet cement and the sound of ice in the drinks.
Summer is reading The Hardy Boys right before bed but it's still light outside. It's running through the sprinklers with your clothes on. Summer is flip flops. It's the beach and the taste of salt water in your mouth and real sand in the sandwiches. It's the sound of the back of your thighs as they peel off of the lawn chair. It's garage sales and lemonade stands and corn on the cob. Summer is the 4th of July parade and barbecues. It's fireworks that rain down ash on your head.
"They have incredible technique, don't they, Mom? I mean, oh my gosh. Those turns are amazing. That last couple seemed a little wobbly and she sort of slipped and then pulled some weird faces. But look at that elevation! And those guys with the paso doble? That was really intense. It's going to be hard to vote tonight."