The hours become like a dream, the days like liquid one swelling towards the next. The entire summer a standing wave of hours rushing past, riding the blue arc of sun-filled skies from morning until dusk.
Most days, the minute I lie down to sleep the words come. Only then, after I’ve shut my computer, put my notebook aside, folded sheets, picked up countless legos, library books, paper scraps. Only then, after I’ve waited for the heat to leave the house and the cool air to find us through the screens and the flung-wide door that opens to the street night passing by. Only then, the stories flutter up like moths.
Only yesterday walking among the roses on my lunch break at work, I realized I completely forgot the anniversary of my father’s death this year–remembering only that it was my half birthday, and welcoming the waxy petaled rust colored roses, lush and full of sweetness that T brought.
Still, I’ve been feeling his presence here in this Pacific Northwest landscape: at the shore where the gulls lilt and lift; among the tall Doug Firs in the woods.
Stories come to mind driving down unfamiliar roads: the way sitting casually in the bucket seat of his old white Ford, sipping coffee from a thermos, he was always compelled to turn down side roads. Or that one time we found the relics and remnants of squatters living in an old mining shaft along some creek in Colorado. Or the time at the beach where the wind pulled at our parkas and we sat, nearly solitary on the wide, wide shore.
We came to Oregon as kids in the summer, and my memory of that time is sun-dappled and inaccurate. I don’t remember where we caught the smelt with our bare hands, seals nearly eye to eye with us–only that we did. Nor can I recall the name of the place where the ferns filled the canyon, where moisture hung in the air, only that we stood around in grossed-out awe at the sheer size of the banana slugs. That we ate cheese sandwiches. That we camped–my parents in their camper, and us kids in an adjacent tent–along the coast.
Most days happen now in a rush of hours, and the stories only happen after: between sleep and waking. They happen in that slender gap between now and unconscious; in that groove where memory opens up wide, and the past hurries out dancing as it does.
I haven’t found the rhythm yet, for writing these stories, and for so many others.
The first time I was hypothermic. The first time I kissed a red head rodeo rider. The first time I never went to Coney Island, but almost did with a man who worked for Spike Lee. The first time I held my newborn son’s head in my palms. The first time I drank mulled wine in Germany, on the street, in the middle of a raw February day in celebration. The first time I had sex, which came long after the first time I felt a certain animal attraction to the opposite sex. The first time I had blisters on my hand from paddling a canoe for ten days in the wild. The first time I left home. The last time I returned.
These are the stories that ride in on the edges of the hours, like leaves caught in the forever whirl and flume of the river we spent time on this weekend.
I’m working full time at a place I love, and the work I do is deeply fulfilling but also entirely consuming. I come home spent, sometimes riding my bike up the hills from where I work to here; other times driving as the sun hits the windows along Hawthorne Street and every single human is lit up with gold.
I come home spent and sink into the present of simply fixing dinner and hearing stories about the day from our summer nanny and the boys. I’m grateful for her in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Grateful for the apple bread I find on the counter and the cardboard robot constructions. The trips to the playground and the zoo and the woods. She’s leaving soon for Spain, and like everything else, I cannot reconcile the way the time has passed.
The way the summer’s ending.
The way the stories fill the edges.
That I’ll have a fourth grader. And a kindergartener.
How days the hours rush past filled with an intensity and gratitude. Filled with late summer plums falling to the ground. Filled with bees. Filled with the last of summer’s fading roses. Filled with August sunsets, chocolate melting, rose wine chilled and sipped with dinner at the table out back. Filled with sticky-fingered boys who have grown tan from days I didn’t ever see them swim in the pool, and hikes I never went on. Filled with the endless library books they both consume, the tantrums, the arguments, the fierce brotherly love, the neighbor’s inviting Sprout over to play.
And now, suddenly school’s starting next week. The shopping for school supplies. The trying on of clothes, new sneakers, rain gear for autumn, fleece for winter.
Now, here, this.
Summer’s over. Summer with it’s adventures to a cabin, to waterfalls, to the ocean, to the woods.
This first summer here has been good to us. Filled our bones with sunshine. Kissed our heads. Granted our wishes. All except for more golden hours. More days like these. More time, more time, always more time. For the stories. For the late summer kisses. For hammock time. For work projects. For drinks with friends. For bike rides. For all of this.
This, then was August.
The bird paintings are unfinished–put off in favor of chasing the kids barefoot across the lawn, or reading novels, or obsessing, rather endlessly, though in a good way about about work.
Maybe the rhythm will return with September. Cooler days. Earlier mornings. The inevitable routine of things. Homework. Backpacks. Lunch boxes. But oh, I’ve loved this rambling, rushing summer.
Tell me about yours friends. Where have you been? What are you reading? What have you loved? W