From Age Five

From age five, they were in love. It was meet-the-teacher night, and school hadn’t even started yet. We meandered through the hallways and classrooms of the school we’d chosen, hoping for Spanish immersion and IB education. They were the two oldest daughters of three siblings, and they chatted, did cartwheels, and were holding hands before the night was over.

Her tall and slender, long-lashed mother quietly commented, “You see? They’re already best friends.”

And so, nine years later, when I texted my daughter to make room in her drawers and space in her bed for a loooong sleepover, her only, immediate, obvious response was, “REALLY!!!!!! OMG THIS IS AMAZING!!!!”

Because when you’re in love, when you have a connection, it does not matter if six extra people are going to live in a house built for… five?

Because when you make a fast friend at age five, when emotions are so visceral and honest, it’s probably something worth cherishing.

Because when you have a bonus-five-bedroom dream house, why not share the dream?

Because if the situation were reversed, wouldn’t we all, minute by minute, hand in hand, reach out and make the world just slightly better, one soul, one family at a time?

Because what makes a family?

Girl Scouts. Trials and tribulations. Cookie selling. Lost money. Lost causes. Frustrations. And so much fun you would laugh until you nearly peed your pants, all in the snow on a bitter cold January night. Bridging ceremonies, brownies, a baby brother in tow on camping trips.

Backyard barbecues. Eating meat or not eating it. Sharing our sad stories. Telling the truths we were never able to tell in the schoolyard, at our jobs, in our “real lives,” but that slid so easily from our mouths in the comfort of our back patio.

Camping trips. Sharing pies and drinks and a bite of an ice-cold river. And again, laughing until we cried under a hazy moon and starlit sky.

Sleepovers. Girls screaming into the night, little brothers trying to keep up and eating two giant waffles before ten a.m., before they were even ten years old.

School. The daily ins and outs, friends come and gone, field days and jumping into the sky as if you were jumping right up into heaven. Teachers we loved and hated and commiserated. Our shared experience.

Family parties. Little girls in pretty dresses pretending to drink tea. Everyone, kids and parents, gathering household items to make a Halloween-happy costume. Parents gathering in the kitchen to catch the scene and capture a moment of each other’s joy, each other’s sadness. The connection found in youth, in young parenthood, in the heavy task of raising young people to become wise people.

Because… from the age of five, they were in love. Look how they’ve grown. Look at the young women they have become. Look at the family they have made for themselves.

That is why we can add six people to our five-person house. Because from age five, these girls have carried us into the home we call home. It began with a smile, a cartwheel, a hug.

That, and rearranging some beds, is about all it takes.








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Drifters for a Day

from desert to sea
 in a day’s drive through one state
 (miracles exist)
 
 rainforests between
 to prove heaven lives on earth
 (nature is my god)
 
 we found our daddy
 after cherry shopping; lake;
 beyond evergreens
 
 a driftwood dinner
 no one could have predicted
 in another life
 
 yet here we’ll find sleep
 all together in one room
 at earth’s clouded edge
 
 

What Sundays Have Become

Nearly nineteen years into our marriage, it is time for new furniture. A friend came over the other night, and as the girls piled onto my lap on the sofa claiming their right to me, the wooden leg busted underneath, exposing the reality of its twenty-year-old, hand-me-down state.

Hence, Bruce and I spent four hours today driving between stores, researching cat-scratching deterrents, and deciding on a leather reclining non-power furniture set… that we didn’t buy.

Instead, we continued our twenty-first century journey to the grocery stores. We bought the usual to feed our family of five: avocados and cilantro for our weekly need for fresh guacamole, bananas, apples, and clementines to fill lunch bags, chicken and sushi to make our dinners.

And something more: a stockpile of nonperishables. Beans. Pasta sauce. Brown rice. Cans of soup. Tea. Flour. Canned tomatoes.

Yesterday, my husband of nearly nineteen years and the man so nonviolent that he cringed at the idea of actually killing an elk the one time he went hunting, told me he thought it might be time to buy a gun.

Today, we decided to save our $2000 on furniture because we might need it to stock up on food and provisions before the coming of the war that inevitably will destroy our democracy.

This is what Sundays have become. There is no joy in errand-running, no hope for a new living room set. There is the impending doom of a future that none of us can predict nor look forward to. There are three girls in our home whom I fear will not have a future at all. There are tweets and executive orders and absent investigations and jaw-dropping obstruction.

Soon there will be food shortages. Rations. Militia.

It is all around the bend as we navigate from city to suburb to city on the highways brought to us by progressivism, searching for what we need today, for what we might need tomorrow.

This is what our Sundays have become: me sitting in my nearly-nineteen-year-old recliner, hoping this marriage, this world, my children, will live to see another nineteen years.

This is All I Have For Now

Hope for today: a new student came to my advisory. A Syrian refugee who has been here for 20 days. He could not communicate very well in English, but another newcomer from El Salvador who’s been here for a few months was able to help him with signs and support. He also took pictures on his tablet of everything I handed out and was able to run the words through an app that translated the words to Arabic. And, through the tablet translation, proudly told me at the end of class that he speaks three languages: Arabic, Turkish, and Kurdish.

I wonder what else he has stored behind those questioning eyes? I can’t wait to find out. And I’m so glad he made it through the Trumpocracy.

#standwithrefugees #standwithimmigrants

Make My Marade

annual Marade
 frosted with ice (years without)
 but now winter’s here–
 
 in Trump’s dark shadow
 we march for all we have lost,
 all there is to lose.
 
 we resist snowflakes
 that try and fail to stop us
 from the truth we seek
 
 we fight the good fight
 in songs, in signs, in speeches
 (and one day we’ll win)
 
 

Return of the Jedi

Star Wars costume show
followed by our nation’s truth:
the stench of failure

it seeps through the stacks
into our souls’ library:
let’s check ourselves out

depression so rank
we can’t even choose a book
from our city’s shelves

soon we will rise up
upon realization
of Trumpocracy

but it will take faith
beyond what fits in a poem
to fight the Dark Side

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To Laugh Until I Cry. To Live Until I Die.

In the crook of early January, three weeks since seeing my students, on a cold wintry Saturday morning I shlep across town to make lesson plans with three other colleagues.

Later I will heat water for hot tea and curl in my recliner with a book, wishing I could write a novel as lyrically beautiful as Caramelo as my children wander in and out of rooms, in and out of our house and the neighbor’s, in and out of wanting to be near their dear old mom.

This after two attempts to jumpstart the old Hyundai whose lights I left on in our trek to the grandparents’ house last night.

This after listening to dating tales and math updates and wondering what it would really be like to be a single woman in modern America.

This after coloring intricate books with the girls in the brief time between our latest tech argument and the neighbor’s reemergence.

So is our Saturday, chicken defrosting in the sink, chores done and Echo playing my Pandora playlist to suit the color of my mood.

No dog to walk, no true purpose to the day other than making plans for a class no one really wants to teach.

What sits in the back of my mind is how easily I want to be able to relax. To have a deep and thought-provoking conversation that is justifiably, blood-burningly exciting. To laugh until I cry. To live until I die.

To take these lonely household moments and flip them over or back or somewhere else, when my children were small and my Chihuahua never left the warmth of my leg, when my marriage was young and everything we thought and did was about each other, not some game or book or phone or faraway friend.

In the crook of early January, holidays left out on the curb waiting for a second chance at life (mulch me till I can be reborn!), the cold of winter settles into my bones. The winter of this year, of my children’s childhood, of my marriage, nineteen years in the making.

Even with the beauty of the flakes that fall, their demise lies in slushy streets and icy black pavement, ready to trick any masterful driver, so used to winter but not its ugly, dry-grassed truth that lies beneath the surface.

In the crook of early January, I wait for the sun to rise high in the sky. For the snow to melt. For the tree to be taken. For the hollowness that hides inside this nook to break open in me a new way of looking at the world. For the bend of this season to straighten out into a road I can see, wide and clear and as questionless as a summer’s day.

But in the crook of January, there are no summer days. There are only questions.