Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Blackberry Roof

I met up with a friend tonight at a cafe. We sat outside in the cool summer air, sipping on coffee and talking.

I'm back home and was in bed tossing and turning. My mind can't turn off. I blame both the coffee and my friend. We always talk our way through a maze of subjects. Often my body is walking to my car, key in hand, while my mind is still in that maze: hedges of psychoanalysis, bricks of book reviews, roses of inspiration.  But mainly I blame my brain blitz [and the elusive sleepiness] on the coffee.

Tossing and turning in my bed, I replayed the events of the day and came to a dead halt at the blackberry roof...

My neighbor came to visit today, again. Thomas played reign over the yard in my peripheral, yacking at birds and plants to be watered, as I listened with intentional attention, to my neighbor talk about nuances in neighborhood history. 

But as she spoke of neighbors past or ordinances or the probable price of the pool's seasonal pass for those of us who actually live in the neighborhood, my mind was staring quite fixedly on one point both visually and mentally: the roof. 

The conversation started when she came over to essentially let me know that they were replacing their roof with a metal one. I became more nervous about the endeavor with each question I asked and each answer I received.  The roof will last 50 years. And it was baked to be one color. The roof won't be repainted because it can't be. The roof was very expensive. The roof was baked in the color of blackberry. Purple. All I could think during the complicated list of neighbors' names and relationships I was trying to keep track of in the conversation was... I am going to be living next to a house that has a purple roof. 

I live in a sought after neighborhood. Just like my neighbor who was visiting me today, the neighborhood is full of history, pride, loyalty, and beauty.  So, yes, I was a little flabbergasted, shocked, speechless today in this conversation. I am slow in processing information. I'm often not quick in discourse. But I felt I understood this situation immediately upon hearing the words lasts 50 years and a beautiful purple, blackberry actually in the same sentence. This, this is bad, and there's no way around it. 

I am a coward to write those words here but not utter them politely to her.  And what would I do if the one in a million chance were to rain upon me and my neighbor would find this post that spells out my anxiety in awaiting her decidedly different choice in roofing. Well, I would want her to read the rest of my words. 

I'm frightened of what may come next Spring when the roofers will arrive to affix those purple tiles. I will be wearing sheepish smiles. My reaction will be unhidden, unmasked. That is who I am. 

But here is more importantly who I am. I am someone who cares most about the people around me. I may not always first feel this, but I always return to it. 

One day, the roof will be the new normal, and I'll be glad for it [I really hope]. I'll see purple trim and peony bushes, and I will think of my neighbor and the sort of position of royalty she assumes.  That blazing purple will be my inadvertent reminder to relax, not take things so gravely, and to look instead to the people in my life, not the things: the joy of a child, the love of a spouse, or the loneliness of a neighbor. 

People are more striking, and all the more beautiful... than things. I might look to the roof, but I'll be seeing my neighbor and all the good and bold traits she possesses:  loyalty, dedication, pride and confidence. Those impressions through acts of kindness she will have/has bestowed on me and my family will have permeated beyond any kind of glare a metal roof might have. 

People aren't baked in one color and forever set in place, unmovable. They mold, adapt, learn, grow. That's what I'll remember, with a small, sheepish smile on my face, next Spring.

Hopefully, for now, my neighbor is not looking at my dead, bare azalea bushes sitting not-so-stately around my front yard tree. I'm hoping her eyes don't focus there but shift, and see me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Barricade

Today is snow day #10. I would like to think I know a little bit about barricading oneself in from the elements outside.

My husband could not make it into work two [or was it three] days last week when the Blizzard of 2011 hit. In fact, management informed the company Do not come in to work! And we echoed back O---K---!! 

Paul is a programmer, a computer guy, a translator of weird numbers and symbols --if you ask me. In our home there is no space for an office. There is just "the space". To put it nicely, the foyer welcomes you to the living room and the living room welcomes you to the dining area and the dining area welcomes you to the kitchen. And in that space of our home laundry is sorted, bread is made, the baby is wrestled, dancing show-downs go down, and ... conference calls are made.  Last week, when Paul would ahem us out of the room, Thomas and I scooted ourselves into his bedroom and barricaded ourselves from daddy's work.

I gentled rocked with a book aimed in line of Thomas playing. I set my red mug of cold coffee on his window ledge where just outside large snowflakes fell into the mass of white.

Pure in his play time, I sat there watching him undisturbed, unbroken. Sometimes, I don't want to muddle it. Wrapped in my white blanket, knees brought to my chest, I watched his inquisitiveness trail behind him as he moved from toy to toy.  His questions, spelled upon his furrowed brow, tumble forth like waves crashing on the shore. He laughs at himself when he gets it right and tries again if he doesn't.

When time called me to uncoil myself from that comfortable spot of seeing my child unspoiled like the landscape of generous new snow, I got to his level and tried my best to not think, not dream-- just be. We chased each other around his plastic hand-me-down zoo contraption. I would pop my head above the yellow and yell the ever cliche phrase I'm gonna get you! He would squeal and shake, clap his hands, sit up and open his eyes wide in realizing it was his time to crawl like his little potbelly's life depended on it.

With trails of coding conversations seeping beneath the door, we continued to read our letter books, tear apart blocks, and sing silly rap songs which induced this Momma to laughing at her hilarious ineptitude. Ah, he doesn't know; I'm his everything when he's looking up at me... [making a crazy fool of myself!]

Typically, I'm running around my house, finishing dishes and laundry and feeling kinda crazed about all there is to do. And typically, my adorable, big-eyed baby is grasping my yoga pants [which he in record time used as his means to capitilize on his height] and staring up at me with a plea of sorts in an octave of mmm or bbbb or  ddd shs gggbb. You would think, at every moment, I would stop, scoop and do the above, but I don't. I look at him with a "Can't you see your Momma's got a million things to do?" look. Ok, well, sometimes.

I'm glad for those moments where I'm forced to slow down, even stop. I'll be welcoming the barricade, or even creating my own from time to time.