March 5, 2017.
I sit now on another of the tree’s roots. The trees stature and the girth of its hardwood trunk testified to its age. It stood straight, its perfect fingered branches reaching in all directions to the skies. It marred the ground cover with hints of the network of roots which had battled every inch of ground cover, itself a sustainable enough depth, but the uproots and the cliff I had just climbed were reminders of a deeper layer of granite, beneath this cradle of fertile soil. Those main roots grew, year upon year, searching for necessary elements, then planting each year’s growth firmly, strongly, always preparing for the following year’s journey; a journey which might be inches far below sunshine so that the tree it supported could grow a foot.
I sit now on such a root. My journey ended. My journey ended! I knew it as soon as I sat upon the root, there, under my tree. Oh, I know, my mind played with all the wisdoms of the past few years particularly the one which states that every ending marks a beginning. The truth of wise words seem to escape me. All my imagination and faith may have prepared me for the journey but nothing seems to adequately describe the feeling of sitting upon the root, under my tree with full knowledge that I was at my journey’s end.
I had imagined myself bathed in glowing angelic pomp and circumstance with strains of majestic symphonies. My tree deserved it. My journey deserved it. I am unsure if I do or not. But my arrival was anything but majestic. Days before I had caught the sight of myself in a puddle. My hair was amiss and my skin dirtied from too long without a decent bath. I am taking great comfort that there is no one to see my current state given what my appearance was days ago. No, I am a mess. Here I sit, throned under my tree. No gown. No crown. I am a mess.
So much has happened so quickly, so much change, so much good. These changes are meaningless to the world in which I see and operate within, yet they are so significant to me. I have grown used to, my overemphasis on things and moments which are scattered among the many of such moments on the world. Why would they mean anything to anyone else?
The biggest change is a return to what I had felt many years ago, but through the journey I really have traveled had caused me to both set aside my loftiness for survival and to grind away at them further. There had been no happy medium. At the time I did not realize it, but I had been surviving. And I had truly made it through an incredible amount of danger.
Last Friday I celebrated my company’s third anniversary. There was no party and I could barely celebrate it at all. I had been sick with influenza. In this particular season that meant exhaustion, a sore throat and nagging bodily aches. But I did celebrate. In the evening, my son and I set up soft lights at my Matthias Building. We walked around, talking, as a mom and teenage son would if they could. There is a bit of unreal surrealism to it all, as though there is so much life in a moment that a person’s mind fights with its own perceptions. Snippets of jokes, hums of tunes, bits of half-conversations we continue from weeks ago, a blessing we have always shared between us, discoveries of the world and our own particular twists of newly gained knowledge. Sometimes we just ‘B.S.’.
The mystery of the building did not dull with the new windows. No, it shines now just as the diffused street lights reveal more of the inside of the building – more than has been since it was first built ninety years ago. My son and I stood within the bricked comfort in full awareness of a ninety year old mystery, an unknown relative that one could not imagine not ever not knowing. The softened street lights, so near were we to the street yet just as far away, we talked and celebrated. We lit and rearranged the canisters as my son sang Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World.” All that I had felt passionately about, my dream, my journey, my son: A three year journey. A lifetime.
These past two Saturdays I grocery shopped where no one knew me. After years of financial worry, with my new careful freedom, I shopped. I cried both times as I enjoyed the feeling of gathering foods for health. Both Saturdays I cooked, filling my home with smells of garlic and meat and starches and vegetables. Okay, now the truth is last week I overcooked chicken breasts and this week I overcooked asparagus, but I fill my home. Carefully. It is divine. Just as years ago I could not understand how in the world I had forgotten how much I loved looking at the stars which filled the skies outside my home; last Saturday I was overwhelmed with the scent of cooking. I always cook for holidays, but there is something just as grand as cooking for my son and I. No visitors, no calendar-marked special occasion other than the sharing of a meal between he and I. And the wafting, fresh smell of an kitchen coming alive.
I work in the customer service area of the claims department for a health insurance company. Or it could technically be the claims area of the customer service department. (I am never really sure.) I talk to people from all over the world, really, but I also adjust claims. It is a sidelight to the job which I adore. This past Saturday I learned something which I do not know when the last time I did it. I taught myself. It was a moment that, again raised my inner ‘bawl-baby’. Tears. Luckily the placement of my desk area is such that no one can see me. Through the years, I have learned a great deal of my life lessons and even my passionate pursuits in a rather ‘under the gun’ style of learning. I then repeat. Over and over. In my years as a teacher and even as a parent, I am the patient one. I am known as gentle and kind. Funny how that never translates to oneself. Saturday I was patient with myself, splitting efforts between teaching and learning, guiding myself, step by step, line by line. Reasoning. Correcting. Again. Insert truth here: It is quite possible a gift that no one is near me and I tend to speak softly. I literally talked myself through the problem.
At fifty-one. I taught. I learned. I kept at it until I could reason through it. I kept at it until… I “had” it. I had done something with myself that I had not done. I was kind. I was gentle.
At fifty-one, I learned.
Here I sit. In full bloom as the dirtiest, messiest daisy in the garden, my tree and I. My journey ended, but the story just beginning.
The Wind gently reminded me, “You learned. You learned.”
Thank you! A kiss for your journey, and love for your days...
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