just a little tour of the casita that i was lucky enough to live in some years back, in a little town between santa fe and taos new mexico.
breathing a sigh of relief that january is done. this one was really a doozey. however it is sooo not lost on me that each year, right at the bitter end of january the clouds part for several days of crazy freaky gorgeous warm weather. it always happens when i am at the end of my rope with relentless colds and flus and bad hair days; when i am so tired of putting on the same winter coat every day; of piling on all the blankets and waking up to freezing floors; of watching the weeds take over my yard as the rain gutters fill up. every year there comes a streak of bright, sunshiny days that make me want to take to the streets & DANCE. it doesn’t last long- just long enough to catch my breath before the real rainy season begins. but i am so very grateful for it this year; because it is happening right now; and it could not have come at a better time. hope the sun is shining on you, too.
i often forget how old i am. somewhere around my mid-thirties the years began to blur together. when i am asked my age i have to stop to think about it, calculate the current year, the year that i was born, the age of my son, the space between. contemplate where exactly the past year has gone. so beyond the time when birthdays were an event or a milestone, when my life had enough movement to it that age marked a place as well as time, some far off destination or new city that had been conquered. after settling into domesticity, standing still for a while, the years become muddy and indistinct. a tiny thread running along the hem of the giant quilt of day to day life.
10 years ago i was 29- the amount of time it takes for saturn to orbit the sun. that period of psychic seclusion and forced reflection known as saturn return. the cycle of maturation that comes to call every 29 years. a period of facing oneself, asking questions about identity. shedding youth and facing adulthood. for me, it was a lonely time. i had quit drinking. replaced nights at the bar with hypnotherapy sessions, sewing lessons and autobiography workshops. most of my friends had scattered in different directions, off to other cities, new marriages or circles that made them feel remote to me.
my father was 59 at the same time. he was facing his second saturn return. we were both heavy with lessons unlearned. contemplating old ghosts. we had both been through major breakups and possible reconciliations that didn’t come together. both standing on the edge of new chapters. questioning our careers. uncertain where we were going. we were also not speaking at that time. that was the year that we both took trips by ourselves. my father flew into chicago and traveled through the upper mid-west/north east: through indiana, ohio, virginia, washington d.c. and maryland. i flew into nashville, rented a car and drove through the mid-south: through arkansas, mississippi, tennesse and kentucky.
i fell in love with memphis, a town that was hospitable to a ghost like me, offering up brightly colored windows of abandoned buildings and unlit neon signs, faint remnants of a vibrant past that had faded under the scorching bulb of the southern sun. i spent evenings watching salt water taffy pink sunsets on a bench overlooking the river where jeff buckley had drowned. i decided while i was there that i would leave san francisco, where i had been living for the better part of a decade, a city that was giving me the distinct feeling that i had overstayed my welcome.
my father wrote to me after his trip, the first contact in many months. i imagined him climbing the steep steps of the bleachers at wrigley field, watching the birds skimming the water on the ohio river from the window of a train, standing in the shadow of the extended foot of the lincoln memorial. i began to see how our lives ran as parallel as the trips we had taken. i began to see him more clearly, without the dark lens of an angry daughter. i knew then that i could not become myself without facing him first.
over the next two years i spent more time with my father than i had in my life. we traveled together. lived together, on and off. i took care of him while he recovered from surgeries, he took care of me while i tried to find my place in the world. i saw all of the ways that we were similar. all of the ways in which i tried to be who i thought he wanted me to be and all of the ways that i rebelled against what i thought he wanted me to be. and, all of the ways that he didn’t notice any of it. it was painful, difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and so necessary. at the time i had no idea how my life would unfold. where i would go. how i would survive outside of the world i had lived in during my 20’s. it was ground zero. i couldn’t see it at the time, but it honestly was the beginning of my life as an adult, as my own person.
here’s to all the saturn returns, to all of the ones out there questioning their lives. may your path to a new frontier be lit by southern sunsets, may you see yourself reflected in brightly colored panes of glass.
here we are winding down december, winding down the year, and yet! time seems strange to me now. november was sort of a lost month for me. much of it spent nursing sicknesses with twin peaks episodes and madonna videos and all of the kings of late night. savoring all of the daylight i can get at and doing my best to appreciate california’s mild winters, as ever. using a rare couple of hours without the kid to sink into cushy seats and enormous tubs of popcorn and my husband’s warm hands at a movie theater. wading into the sea of a most precious sort of nostalgia courtesy of lady bird. december is feeling like the sprint at the end of a marathon. looking back on the year i feel like i amassed some wisdom, but it was hard won. this has been a karmically heavy year for me. a whole lot of reckoning, not unlike the rest of the country. despite this i’m still feeling a bit dazzled by christmas, maybe because of my son, for whom there is nothing more exciting than opening another door on his advent calendar or shouting “hey!” while singing “jingle bells.”
hope your holidays are sweet.
an odd october, and one that flew by. wildfire panic and what felt like endless smokey days trapped indoors. once the fires settled i felt incredibly grateful to be outside, breathing fresh air. every weekend visiting family or up to something in the yard. doing my best to remember to enjoy every minute of sunshine while it lasts by not complaining about flukey hot days. letting myself be moved by twinkling bridge lights and burnt umber leaves and the glorious symmetry of solange and her band, by cupcake squeals and joan didion’s long fingers and california digger pines.