an old door on an old and closed up government building in Monterey
I was in my car after work today, on my way to pick up the kids, on my way home. Right near where I live there is a cemetery and as I got closer I looked to my left, over the hedge like I always do when I drive past. But, today as I looked over, the tiniest flicker overhead pulled my eyes up to the bright spots of a bunch of balloons in the autumn blue sky. Another second and I wouldn’t have seen them floating away. I wouldn’t have known what the small group of people gathered together in a kind of half circle by a grave near the road were looking up at. I could just make out their faces over the hedge. Just enough to think I caught that man’s eye for a second, just enough to see from how they stood close together that they were family.
I see things like that and I resolve to be more grateful, more patient, more aware. But just minutes later I am standing and waiting for my kids to get their shoes on and gather their things so we can go home and I can start their supper and race through all the things I have to do in an evening in hopes that there will be time for some things that I want. And as I stand there I am cranky that they are complaining and taking so long to put on their shoes. I’m cranky that they are begging little bags of Fritos from the woman who cares for them after school. I’m cranky that I can’t go home and sleep.
They get to the van, finally, and see the pumpkins covering the passenger seat. A few are seatbelted into place, a couple more are stacked on the floor. Pumpkins! they yell. Did you get these for us? I tell them that I did, thinking about picking them out just over 24 hours earlier and an hour’s drive away from home.
on the side of highway one, I think near Moss Landing
SG and I stopped for pumpkins after swimming in the ocean and then sitting in the sunshine at a coffee shop. After a weekend where I was going to learn how to surf, but instead was reminded how cold and how very, very big the Pacific is. Even the baby waves are awesome to someone like me not used to walking right up to them, meeting them with the necessary mix of respect and bravery. I wasn’t cold, except for my feet for the first ten or fifteen minutes, because my wetsuit really did the job, but when it came time to swim out a little bit I wasn’t able to convince my body to do it. It was a little like stage fright, only it was a fear of disappearing forever instead of a fear of everyone watching me. It was sort of a shock to find myself scared like that after days and days of feeling kind of brave.
But SG stood there in the water with me, his hands on me, making sure I was safe. Every time a wave caught me in the face he looked at me to be sure I was okay. I was talking to him and a wave came and broke right on my belly, making a really loud slap. Don’t ever turn your back on the ocean, baby, he said as he looked down at me. And I wanted to say that my back wasn’t turned, that I was actually facing it but just talked for a second too long. But before that came out I realized that it’s all the same difference.