The Swirling Reality of Everyday Life

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I watch the white world spin outside the third story window. Flakes, long absent, now twirl in a late winter dance, clinging to bare branches, reaching for a new hope.

I catch glimpses of the video–an analytical description of the autonomic nervous system. It is both too much and too little for me right now. The primitiveness of the hunt, the threat that is ever-present in our lives, has put me on this graph at full activation–State 1–always ready to react.

I want to be outside. To feel the flakes on my face. To bite the cold with shivering teeth. To pretend that winter will stay.

I want to be those bare branches, gathering snow in my arms, soaking up every last bit of moisture after too many days of drought.

The sky whitens as the swirls make their way across the city. The video provides a relatable example–how we react when we’re driving a car on a snowy evening and slide on a patch of ice. I giggle, minimally, and my co-worker turns her whole body towards me to be sure I see her how-dare-you? glare.

Does she not understand the irony? After a winter without snow, we’re watching a video with this particular example on a snowy afternoon?

Later, State 1 follows me as I rush out of the building, late to pick up my youngest. I find a parking spot half a block away and rush against the crowd of parents and children leaving the school. I stomp through the slushy parking lot and round the corner of the building as the first grade teachers close their doors. There she is, the final student standing in the cold, holding her hood around her eyes and huddling against the brick wall.

She asks for both of my gloves before we arrive at the car, blasts the heat, and turns on the heated seat, but she doesn’t complain. For once, she doesn’t complain, and I find myself breathing in, breathing out, like the wild animal described in the video, ready to let go.

But I can’t let go. It’s the drive on ice in swirling snow, the counting of thousands of cookie dollars when I get home, the friend over, the constant mess, the story told of the one day the older girls caught–and almost missed–two city buses, the trek across town to the bank, the grocery stop, the endlessness of the swirling snow and the swirling reality of everyday life.

Before I jolt across the parking lot that separates the bank from the grocery store, I hear the sirens. The sound of panic, the crashing of metal. The slipping on ice.

I grab the few frozen items I need off the shelves and make my way back into the snake of traffic. It twitches and slithers in the shadow of blinking red and blue lights. The accident, less than five minutes behind me, four cars splattered in pieces across the intersection, firefighters fighting the good fight.

That could have been me.

I think about the graph in the video, the curving line, the constant dip that we find ourselves trapped inside, unable to get over the hump that could save our lives.

The panic that sets in when our kids won’t listen, when we’re running late, when we fuck up an interview, when we slip. On ice.

I make my way into the snake. In slow motion, we weave through the mess of the accident. I breathe in. Breathe out. Think of the words I will write. Of the children I will hug.

Of the irony of this swirling reality of everyday life.

And I laugh.

(No one glares at me).

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Running Rabid

since the election,
 somehow my days have become
 a cataclysmic mix of mundane chores
 and tearing my hair out over
 what we’ve done to our democracy
 
 it’s the gut wrenching choice
 Travis must make as Riona and I
 grapple with Old Yeller-
 do I shoot my best friend
 or suffer the same fate?
 
 only—
 our fate is sealed, well after
 the roan bull has staggered onto our property… and Yeller?
 his last howl hovers over
 a hydrophobic nation
 
 God save us all.
 
 
 

Getaway. Get. Away.

as we leave, she tells us goodbye till Thanksgiving,
and as always i can’t tell if it’s a guilt trip or a plea.

soon there will be no Thanksgivings.
it will be just us, moved across continents and back,
moved across town and back,
only to remain while they go.

and i pile it on my weekend,
probably our last getaway without grandparents in town,
so perfectly shaped by a Colorado sky,
so tainted by the loss in every flip
as social media stings me again.

before i walk down the steps,
i remind her of Mythili’s birthday,
our dinner reservations before Thanksgiving.

but it’s another night of tears for me knowing that they’re leaving,
they’re really leaving,
and soon all the birthdays and holidays will be just us,
just us,
and i feel the vacancy already,
the gaps once filled by friends
who’ve left us one by one,
and the greatest gap of all
lying in wait,
a storm fit to burst,
a cat poised to pounce,
a weekend ready to be ruined.

and i stopped drinking this year
and lost eight pounds
and didn’t write a single mean post
about my sister, mother, or anyone,
and it’s been ten months,
so why why why
am i surrounded by sadness?

i drive home and can’t dry the tears long enough to read with my youngest,

have only enough in me to enforce showers and teeth brushing

and folding one load of laundry,

and i want so badly to be more than the world only to him,

and i think how fiercely i latched onto him at age nineteen, knowing
even then,
even then that no one would love me that much the whole world over,

and to this day, even with that love in every step of my soul,

rejection. still. hurts.

and this is how our getaway ends:
with the waterfall that never stops.
and the road that never ends.

The Silver Linings of Emptiness

haunted by nightmares
 was how this morning began:
 insomniac’s fate
 
 but then he woke me
 with the love he always has
 (embedded in lust)
 
 and then a work day–
 every basket now empty
 (this school year’s first time)
 
 and a lunch offer
 out in the sun and crowd free
 where hope lies waiting
 
 tonight? i’ll sleep well
 praying for a fresh new day
 of this teacher life
 
 

Saturday Night Fever

on Saturdays we cut out grass
 and bend bits of metal
 and win medals in Tae Kwon Do
 and watch weird episodes of a modern drama
 while the oldest babysits
 and oh how our life has changed
 from changing diapers to ours changing diapers
 
 and we go to bed hours after
 the joy of slipping off clothes
 to slide into fleece pajamas
 with kittens in our laps
 and just love love love
 that we. can. relax.