longing

May 3, 2012

how i love to be here. being here means i have carved out time to sit in the quiet of my studio with something warm to drink on my table, and a pair of hours stretched out in front of me to fill. usually it is at night, late at night, when the quiet is the whisper and hush of pre-sleep, and i know i get to write with the tasks of the day completed and well behind me. today instead it is early morning, the coffee has finished brewing, and i still have my hair piled on my head and pjs on. it is overcast and a bit drizzly outside – the month of may has brought her usual gray – and from my window i can see clouds piled up over the ocean.

lucy is still here with us, though the past weeks have brought a slowing to most of what she does. her appetite isn’t quite what it has been, she is reticent to try and get up, and even when she has done the tough work of getting outside, she doesn’t seem to enjoy lingering there as she always has. her new favorite spot is on the porch; i drag her and her big pillow just outside the front door where she can breathe fresh air and watch the world go by, and she’ll spend hours there under her green blanket, barking at cats and wagging her tail at every person that passes by our house. in her mind i think she believes they all have pockets stuffed with treats, the way sherry and irma and al, members of her growing fan club, do when they come to visit.

ricky and i have talked about how she is changing and know we may be nearing the awful and inevitable time of decision-making. ugh. we’ve been remembering her life and our life with her, and i am transported back a dozen years to the kitchen in our little spanish house. lucy was about a year old, had moved out of the puppy phase of chewing chair legs and eating my most expensive shoes, and was becoming some of who she is now, an incredibly sweet and loving girl. i was making coffee and lucy was following me around, tangling herself in my legs and wanting attention. it was cool and blustery like today, and i leaned in to her and rubbed her ears in a way i never had, a sort of full-ear massage, and suddenly she was seventy pounds of putty in my hands. she looked up at me, and as has happened for this egg carton of years we’ve had her, love and trust simply poured out of her eyes. in that moment i remember thinking, in my pretty kitchen, in my lovely house, with my husband asleep and jaxson sprawled out still on the dog couch and our daughter a distant twinkle in the sky somewhere, there is nothing better than this.

for me it has become so crystaline clear how life is composed around such moments and the sometimes banal stretches between them. those moments, the ones we look back upon and the ones we notice, even as they are happening right in front of us, capture me completely for their delicacy and significance. three weeks ago after a yoga class, a tall, beautiful man waited outside the yoga studio where everyone was gathering their belongings for a chance to look in my eyes and say hello. i had never seen him before and may not again, but his hello was this tiny, pure moment, and he smiled at me with his whole self. i put that smile in the palm of my hand and held it there for what it was: a connection, a resonance, someone seeing and noticing something in me that held him too for a moment. it is inevitable i know that in crossing paths with hundreds of people in a given day, some interactions stick while others are never made. but for all its normality – this realm of random connections – i still am bowled over utterly when i see someone at the exact moment they are seeing me. it’s an ear rub, someone holding a part of you, and the ensuing wash of love.

longing fills me. i long for the golden eyes and knowing laugh of my best friend signe, tucked much too far away in her cozy amsterdam life. i long for jaxson’s big square white nose that was as soft as velvet when he offered up his particularly delicate brand of dog kisses. i long for the feeling of nine month old maya burrowing in to my neck as i danced her to sleep. i long for the flutter of a first kiss, a hand hold, the deep ache and pull of intimacy. i long to sit in a college lecture with the only weigh down an art history exam and set of paintings to create. i long for the travel which filled my twenties and seems a hundred years ago. i long to go back and fix the mistakes i made and the feelings i may have hurt. i long to revisit moments when shyness overtook me and i let my braver self take a backseat. i long for sleep, hours and hours of sleep, for one more lunch with trudeau, for nights in montreal dancing until the clubs closed, for a conversation with each of my grandparents, none of whom i really knew.

ridiculous, all this longing! for what is longing but the pull of memory or the desire for something remarkable to happen or a deep connection to be made? the truth is, if i am really honest, there are more remarkable moments surrounding me and showing up than ever before; or perhaps i am just so in awe of them, and so much more deeply indebted to their inherent sweetness than i was in the ignorance of my youth, that those moments have taken on a deeper quality, and more meaning.

a handful of years ago i and a long-known group of friends lost a woman who figured enormously in to each of our lives, whether currently, or at points in the past, as it was for me. i was grateful that chandre reached out to me after years of not being in contact; my sense is that she knew her illness was getting the better of her (though she fought the incredibly brave and tenacious fight), and i think that she was putting in order the things that needing attending to. in our case, a lost friendship.

chandre and i were always very different people, and for many years it worked beautifully, her yin to my yang. but as i settled in to my adult life and started to describe with more clarity who i was and the realm within which i chose to move and make decisions, our dynamic waned. years later, seeing chandre fight for her life, none of that disconnect mattered, not a drop of it. we were both in our forties, single-parenting, sharing the raising of our children with our exes who though no longer in our beds, were still in our hearts, still loved. chandre’s gorgeous smile was as wide and effervescent as ever, and in the moments i got to be with her in her hospital room, when she was lucid and making sense, we spoke of longing. all she wanted was to be here, to get to stay, to love her friends and her business and watch her poet of a child grow in to the lovely man we could all see he would become. she longed for the physicality of walking this planet, of being here, and that hers was such a strong and self-possessed walk made it possible to imagine she could will herself to stay.

i guess it comes down to this, as i hover around my thoughtfulness and desire and sadnesses and triumphs: i am here. for now, as far as i know, i get to stay. to watch the lilt of my maya’s neck grow longer. to share the roads of my town with friends and strangers alike. to be greeted in my favorite coffee bar by name on the sweet & lucky days. to bask in the glow of the beautiful people in my life. to look back at decades of friendship with the people i thought then i couldn’t love any more than i did in that moment. to see my parents and my sister and know i have always been loved with the biggest devotion no matter how much of a mess each of us may be at times. to stretch my body and my mind and my heart and to push myself right next to courage (if not in its lap) when the backseat beckons. to allow for beauty and mystery and mostly yes, for longing. for if it were gone, then i would simply be longing for longing, and what a tangled puzzle that would be.

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6 Responses to “longing”

  1. Amy Mcmullen Says:

    i am speechless with love and the satisfying feeling of being known. you just wrote my heart out so nicely. you are an authentic but luminous poet, my friend.

  2. Inger Says:

    Enjoy the little things in life…..for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. (Robert B)

  3. Brian Says:

    I am speechless. Thank goodness you are not. You words just make everything so clear

  4. javier Says:

    I always learn of your soul. And always miss you.

  5. Tor Lacy Says:

    A very lucid reflection wrapped around a gift. Thank you.
    Too long for longing, a quandary I do not wish for. I’ll end my day feeling grateful for the “longings” within.


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