And the lesson I wanted to pass on to you?
Yea, I haven’t quite learned it yet.
Yesterday, I sang the Brahms piece in both Sunday services for a remembrance of 9-11 on its tenth anniversary. Our little choir had worked very hard on it, and for some reason, the music just looked foreign during first service, even though we had just had a really good last rehearsal of it prior to that service. I wasn’t the only one who had that experience. Our RE director (an alto) remarked between services that she had the same experience. In that conversation, she mentioned that it seemed the person who was supposed to lead the youth group during second service was not there yet. I replied, I’d be happy to go over there after we sang in the early part of the second service. The middle school leader was happy to get them started in the discussion, but had her own class to cover.
Second service’s rendition of the Brahms went much much better. It was beautiful.
Then I trotted over to the other building, stopping at my van to switch from the cute new heels (first pair I’ve worn in ages because the ankle finally felt like I could for a few hours) into my everyday flipflops.
Funny enough, I did great in the heels. I owned those sassy little pointy burgundy fake alligators.
Well, I got all the way to the other building, across a lovely grassy field peppered with spiky horse chestnuts to discover that the scheduled youth leader was there after all. I made a cheerful speedy exit to head back and join Honey for one of his rare appearances, having brought the kids for second service while I was on choir duty since earlier in the morning.
Just as I stepped onto the grass from that little parking lot, my ankle collapsed under me. I dropped and rolled, purse flying, travel mug of tea arching in a totally different direction. I remember a thought process along the line of I better just go with this, because if I try to fight it, I’ll re-injure the inside tendon.
I found myself lying in the grass, assessing damages and and realizing first, I was covered in yard scrap, there goes the outfit (I’m not much of a fashionista, but dang it, I’d put in some effort that morning), and then the pain kicked in. I had saved the tendon, but the entire rest of my foot was taking my breath away, briefly. Then I looked around for someone to laugh this off with, and discovered, not a single person had seen my stupendous pratfall. It was youtube worthy – an AFV winner.Then I wondered if I can or should get up and walk. Yes, I actually thought, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! I did get up, but maybe I shouldn’t have.
The choir director and a smattering of choir members were chatting in the lobby as I hobbled back in the door. I confirmed, no one saw a thing. I went in to service, and joined Honey in the back row. Next thing I knew, choir director was leaning into the sanctuary to hand me an ice pack. He’s also a kids’ soccer coach, he knows about first aid.
Well, after service, we hung around for a bit, I chatted with another mom at the playground, who is also my belly dance teacher, and then we got into the two separate vehicles to head home. I did think briefly about having Mr. Cynic drive the van home, but he’s not comfortable on the main roads yet. So I drove wincing all the way home, stopping and hopping for gas. Only Captain Comic joined me for the ride in Bertha.
I put my foot up when we got home and took some naproxen with the sandwich that Mr. Cynic made for me. A couple of hours later, bruising and inability to walk finally made me admit the need to go to Urgent Care, while Honey called me a wuss and Captain Comic slapped him upside the head for the name-calling. Note to self: quit joking like that with the literal kid.
After a few hours there with Honey, and two rounds of xrays, I walked out with a latex free wrap, latex free crutches, and having given my info and Mr. Cynic’s to the xray tech because her son is a 16 year old drummer looking for a band, and mine is a bassist and songwriter whose band never gets together to rehearse. But they go to rival high schools, so we’ll see what comes of that. I also walked out with orders to get back in das boot and see my podiatrist (the one who gave me the steroid shot back in June). Oh, and diagnosis of spraining all the ligaments across my metatarsals and a possible break in the second metatarsal.
I twisted that ankle like a pro. I do it often enough. I broke the 5th metatarsal doing so in three inch Mia clogs back in 1980 in my high school’s linoleum hall.
I think I just have to admit, that with all of the mayhem that is built into my life with three spread out kids, one with Asperger’s, and my attempts to write, take care of myself, help others out, like being in rotation as a youth leader, being in choir, etc, that adding something on the fly, literally takes me down for the count, and beyond.
My appointment with the podiatrist is in a couple of hours. Thanks goodness he could squeeze me in. I hope he doesn’t have the same results from spontaneity as I do.
Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.
But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.
When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.
Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”
And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.
I arrived home with West Virginia mountain soil ground into my skin, everything smelling slightly musky and very smokey from rain and campfire and feeling more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. Hot, sore, soaked, dirty, smelly and utterly alive.
Honey and I have this little thing. When we’re in sync about something, any little thing, we have kind of a slide-five, confirmation of everything right between us. We did that a lot more this trip than we have for a long time.
I had dreams, amazing dreams of people far away but near to my heart, as I slept with my head in a Civil War trench on a hilltop, in a damp tent, surrounded by RV city. One friend currently working, far from his family and friends, in Argentina. Others in a far off land…I think it’s called Wisconsin. 😉
This is who I am. I am of the land, mountains, rivers, sea and sky and night fires. This is where I am happiest, most content, completely myself.
And I haven’t been camping in over 20 years. Now, I know why I feel such discontent. It’s not the suburbs. It’s not my family circumstances, or other minute aggravations of the day in day out or the lack of writing time to myself.
It’s that I haven’t fed my soul the way it loves to be fed most in such a long long time. A lifetime. A roasted marshmallow soul under the moon and stars soul. A sun on my skin, rain on my hat, kid in a backpack on my back soul. A dog leash carabiner’ed to the backpack soul.
This is the seven year old Cathy, who when my family couldn’t call me in from dinner so easily, my mother sent my brothers out to look up the nearest tree for me.
But I seem to be starting at the end here, rather than the beginning. and this is probably going to be a very long blog with lots of pictures. So maybe I will leave the end here, at the beginning, and give you the beginning to the end tomorrow, and maybe the day after, and again, after that.
I am happy, my family is safe. I love my spouse, and my daughter camped for the first time. Her favorite part was ‘camping’. Parental translation: sleeping in the tent with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.
Warning: not so mild language.
It’s that time – short family vacation, camping, after we drop the boys off to their father. See outside the walnut grained vinyl veneer station wagon? That’s our camping reservations forecast for the duration. Lucy is not a fan of thunderstorms when in the house. I wonder how she’ll fair in a tent?
We should be back in four days. Glub glub.
And then we’ll do it again with the boys when we get them back in August.
That’s my guy, Honey and me, five years ago today. I think this was taken right before our first married kiss.
Everyone should be so in love and able to do this. Sure, marriage isn’t all happiness and light, contrary to what fairytales would have us believe, but it is worth the work it takes when you love your partner and can be recognized fully in that, no matter how that love is packaged.
The drama teacher I had in high school had an approach that was very intimidating for me at that time. She terrified me. She terrified me right off of the stage. I don’t know why I let her get to me so much, well I have an inkling, but I don’t really want to get into here, this is not a therapy session, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of battling my personal demons.
After one play in which I had a decent role, and one background chorus part in a musical my freshman year, I never went back. My mantra for years afterward was, if I have to deal with another director like that, I don’t even want to do this anymore.
I continued to do chorus in college, but didn’t seek out solos anymore. I was terrified anyone would hear my individual voice. I hung around a bunch of bands and musicians, secretly wishing I would just jump in and join them, but I never did. I was a party to infinite jam sessions in college and beyond. I even felt intimidated to learn to play guitar, though I carried one from one dorm room to another, to apartments in Boston and beyond. It was an old one my mother had picked up in a pawn shop in the mid-fifties that never held a tuning.
After college, I still longed to do something like that, but was too chicken. Slowly, I was led back onto a stage of sorts, reading my poetry at coffeehouses and getting featured gigs. I was still terrified, and anyone who saw me give those earliest readings especially, can tell you how much my leg shook, which was violently. My teeth chattered, too. Not so great an effect when you’re baring your poetic soul into a microphone.
I never did get used to mics. I learned to tolerate the presence of one in front of my face, but, never enjoyed hearing my voice hovering around my words as I spoke them.
I have always sung at home, and in my car. But I’m self-conscious about singing in front of others besides my family. Captain Comic’s sensory sensitivities also put a damper on my singing, as I can’t sing freely, without him suddenly and vehemently saying he can’t take it, stop!
But something happened as I reached my mid-forties. I didn’t care so much about what I couldn’t do anymore. I didn’t care about intimidation I felt when I heard someone with a beautiful voice do a solo on Sunday morning, I didn’t feel particularly intimidated by professionals when I went to concerts. I just felt like I wanted to get up and sing again, after over twenty years without a chorus, only singing in the shower, in the car, or in the kitchen, with someone screaming for me to stop it. I joined the choir at my fellowship. I was comforted and felt the joy of blending voices again. I did a solo line in a song surrounded by them last year, and another, actually the same one, again this spring.
And then the music director said, if anyone wants to do a guest song during a Sunday service, he would help make it happen.
And then I got an Idea. And it grew, and I sent a song to the minister, choir director and music director. And then things started to happen. For Real. It wasn’t just an idea anymore. In the end, it didn’t happen quite how I thought it would, but it happened, this Sunday. I sang a capella in front of an audience, on a mic, with virtually no rehearsal. I faced my fears square on, and loved it. And then my heart did arrhythmic flip flops after the second service performance.
Honey took a bit of cellphone video, and I find it incredibly hard to listen to or watch. I do not have the control of my voice I once had, when I sang with a lot more practice twenty some odd years ago. I think I do, and then I heard this. I am going to share it, because I need to face my fear and embarassment because only through doing so, will I be free of it. Besides, I did sing in front of people. On a microphone. All by myself. If Toots can be proud of jumping off a curb enough to say, “Yay! I did it! I did it! I jumped off the curb!” Then I can be proud of myself, in all my imperfections. Because I faced what most terrified me in my life, and did it anyway.
It’s just a piece of the piece, but this is me, as is. Thanks for listening.
It is May, it is Spring. Flowers are blooming, something is good in the world.