Search
Look, Bird tweets:
More! Pictures! (Seriously.)

and

Entries in Ezra (64)

Monday
Jun092014

Riff on This: Go

Crochety middle-aged people like me are sometimes overheard saying things like oh puh-lease. Kindergarten graduation? Give me a break. But when I saw the stack of hand-decorated mortarboards in Ezra's classroom, I knew this was the kind of celebration that didn't take itself too seriously.

In the run-up to the end of the school year I found myself more astounded by this kid Ezra is becoming than where-did-the-time-go nostalgic. He surprised me last week by taking over a Dr. Seuss book at bedtime and reading to me out of the blue. (And with that, Hop on Pop catapulted into first place in my personal ranking of books in the English language.) When he was a baby I used to stare at him and wonder who are you? and now every day he reveals a little more of himself.

The teachers told the parents to wait on the playground while the kids lined up for their processional. Suddenly 100 kindergarteners shuffled down the walkway, each wearing a paper graduation cap and holding a laminated piece of paper inscribed with one word, usually an adjective. One by one they passed the teacher with the microphone, stopping to hold up thier sign and say

I'm Sophie, and I'm curious!

I'm Ben, and I'm smart!

I'm Neveah, and I'm funny!

I'm Aiden, and I'm an artist!

And finally, here comes Ezra.

Engineer. Of course.

Afterward I asked his teacher where the words came from. She said we asked the kids to think of a word that describes who you are on the inside. And I laughed because I'm amazed to think Ezra knows himself so well at age five.

If he was finishing high school I might have given him that Dr. Seuss graduation classic, Oh The Places You'll Go but instead I wondered if I could possibly settle on one word that describes who I am on the inside.

Mother? Witness? Storyteller?

On Facebook last week, an old friend posted a letter from Hunter S. Thompson to someone who had asked him advice for finding your purpose. He wrote it when he was only 22, and while I don't tend to take advice from people who have barely escaped adolescence, the Good Doctor had an interesting perspective on finding and creating meaning even then.

...[Often] we set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

...[So] to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors— but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES... In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.

This little ditty loops through my mind as I wonder where do I go from here? Does who I am on the inside match who I am on the outside? For Ezra, it may take years to know if the desire to build leads him to engineer. Hell, here I am, ostensibly a grownup still asking myself the same questions. I hope we both get to become who we are, most authentically and satisfyingly.

In the meantime, Ezra's making a beeline for summer vacation.

 ---

Some of my compatriots in this month's blog hop have much bigger adventures to report.  Hope on over to Lindsey Garrett to see the epic GO she's documenting.

Monday
Feb102014

The Lucky Ones

Today I am acutely aware of this one thing: life is not fair.

Tomorrow I board a flight to Minnesota as proof for a family member that love still exists, even as she says goodbye to her husband of 14 years.  A viewing.  A church service.  He didn't deserve this.  She doesn't deserve this.  We are too young for this.

It was benign, until it was not.  Which, come to think of it, is the basic nature of time as it does its number on each of us.

I watch Ezra sprout up by the day.  The chubby toddler cherub has receded almost completely, stretched into angular boy before my eyes.  He has been so self-contained for so long that it is a welcome surprise to discover that he suddenly seeks comfort against my body. He slithers right into my arms and I don't know what triggers this, but it is all innocent and intimate and I revel in this benign moment when we are the lucky ones.

----

Tara Romasanta inspired this image.  My photographer friends and I decided to shake up the blog circle this month, so Tara took this picture, and we all set out to discover what it sparked in each of us.  To me, her image is about touch, and the sweet power of innocent intimacy so I wanted to try to capture what that looks like in my life right now.  If you follow the link to Tara's blog and onward, you're sure to be surprised and delighted about what my compatriots did with the prompt.

Thursday
Jan092014

Ten on Ten: Restart, Home

Looking back at it now, I can see I am a child of deep woods.  I was too little to notice then.  I saw the red clay earth under my fingernails, of course.  Heard the hot percussion of rain falling on the tin roof of the cabin my dad built, the urgent burbling of the creek that ran behind his house after the rain, and the crunching of leaves under my feet in autumn as I beat a path - back and forth through the woods, a million times a week - to my best friend's house.  I saw trees, trees, trees, a dense verticality between me and the world.

I wanted out.  I wanted city, and things to do, and sidewalks, and drywall, and next-door neighbors.

Now when I go back I see the forest.  It takes my breath away.

We were there over the holidays.  When I go home now, I ache for the woods.  I want to walk in them and notice everything.  They feel exactly the same, and also nothing like I remember.  I notice how brutal and delicate they are, how rich.  Life grows over life here, fallen trees slowly eaten by water and moss and vines.  The carpet of leaves shed by innumerable deciduous trees are a wet mulch on winter ground.  I am always surprised at the feelings that rise in me, a tender loving familiarity. 

Ezra loves it there.  Being with his grandparents is a big draw, of course, but he resonates with quiet, and space, and sticks and rocks and running water.

(Twice this week he has told me he wants to live back there, and I have to laugh at the inevitability of running from a place only to have your child long to return.  It is the migrant's tale, no?)

I might be tempted to relegate this all to the closet of sentimentality, but when I was home I ran into a childhood friend named Sampson Starkweather.  He's a poet based in Brooklyn now, but his sharp memory of what seems like every detail of coming-of-age and the deep sense of place in many of his poems confirms for me the power of these woods.  In his brilliant new book he writes:

I know you need the city but we all have our forests.

A place for things to grow or fail... to go unnoticed.

A place for things to fall.  I am speaking of the heart.

Like Ezra, I apparently resonate with sticks and rocks and running water.  But I also resonate with the idea that perspectives change.  That we can restart our relationship with a world, a person, life. 

I love my adopted home of Colorado, the wide horizon, the enormous sky, the dry air, the family I've built.  And I know that no matter where I go, these woods are imprinted on my bones.  I'm not running from that anymore.

My little photography blog circle is examining the idea of "restart" this month in our 10 on 10.  I can't wait to see how the lovely and talented Tara Romasanta is restarting in this new year.  Hop on over here to see what beauty she has in store.

Sunday
Nov102013

Ten on Ten: Gear Day

I missed fall in the mountains this year because I've been traveling for most of the past six weeks.  I was lucky that one of those trips was both fun and soul food (more on that soon).  The group of lovely ladies I gathered with by the sea suggested we start a new Ten on Ten project, a perfect way to bring me back into this space that I've missed so much.

Winter has made its first overtures in the high country since I was last here. 

Winterizing our family apparently involves a frenzy of gear acquisition, starting with post-season mountain bike shopping to replace Will's bike that was stolen earlier this year.  (The gambit here is that if you're willing to buy a new bike and let it collect dust for six months before you can use it, you deserve 30 percent off.)

We're all itching to hit the slopes, and the snow has already started falling.  With Ezra growing like a weed, season ski rentals are the only rational approach to gear.  The minute we walked into the ski shop Ezra and I headed for the rental racks.

Ezra was so happy he refused to take his ski boots off for the rest of the day.

On the way home Will couldn't resist riding his new bike for the last five miles, even though it's straight uphill.

And ever his father's son, Ezra insisted on a short hike in his ski boots.

Welcome winter.  We're ready to play.

For more 10 on 10 goodness, head to see what Tara Romasanta has in store.

Monday
Jun242013

The Long Goodbye

popsicles and abandon on the back porch last summerEzra started calling Ed my brother when they were three.  Ezra and Ed, and later, Ed's sister Reece, converged on the sidewalk in front of our houses innumerable afternoons over the past four years, learning to  toddle, tricycle, scooter, ride bikes.  We parents sat in the shade of the giant old maple tree watching the kids wear a groove in the sidewalk. When I found out last month that Ed and his family were moving, I went into a tailspin. 

I was supposed to have another baby and I forgot and now it's too late and Ed's moving and now Ezra is going to be alone forever!

That hysteria mostly waned in the ensuing weeks, but it helped if I tried not to notice the growing tower of packed boxes through their dining room window.  It's not fair to say I'm so sad every time you run into your neighbors on the sidewalk.

I want a brother, Ezra told me recently.  Apparently he knows which button to push to send me into paroxysms of self-reproach. 

Do you want a brother like Cooper? I asked him later, as our friend's three-month-old played on the floor.

No, Ezra said.  I want Eddie to live with me.  Like me, Ezra doesn't relish the thought of a baby around here.  Like me, he wants the insta-fun of developmentally appropriate friends.  Is it too much to ask for the new mystery neighbors to have a five-year-old boy?

A windstorm last October brought a huge piece of their old maple crashing into our yard.  A tree service took the rest of it a few days later.  No more meeting place.  No more shelter from the hot summer sun.  Maybe that old tree was the ballast and without it, it was inevitable that one of our families would fly off into space. 

During our last-hurrah gathering, all the grown-ups tried to huddle in the shade of the small Catalpa that's left.  We gave up and moved the party into the back yard where the space was shadier, if less communal.  The kids stripped down completely, tearing through the house and yard with unselfconscious abandon for hours.  They partied like it was their last night together, and maybe it was. 

We adults don't have that kind of freedom, but we have beer and sappy speeches, and wiped-away tears.  We have all the customary things to say: We'll stay in touch.  I hope your new commute is easy and your new neighbors are great.  We'll come crash your pool some time. 

What we mean is

Don't forget us.

We'll miss you.

Thank you for growing up with us.

I hope we're not alone forever.