DAY 9/10 #embodiment first
When it’s this cold, sight lines change. Understory hugs the slopes. Hollers and swags your eyes take for granted, suddenly appear deep; foreboding. Trailers, abandoned barns, and houses lost to kudzu sit like blocks of ice propped onto the hillsides, leaping into the fore.
Your day began at 530 with your child inventing a new game of whacking a ball up and down the hallway. Yesterday, someone gave him #armymen as a birthday gift. By 622 you have eaten breakfast together, moving the figurines strategically across the table during the meal.
By 627 you have explained that “some men and women shoot each other with guns during war” and that “no one likes to do that” but in the Army your job can be “to help people or to hurt people, depending on what your boss tells you to do.”
After you say this, you look out the window. Pale sunlight tries to warm the day.
As you drive to Montessori, you ponder how you’ll find time to check in with yourself this morning. On tap: a board meeting, your child’s “walk around the sun” at school, groceries for today’s birthday party.
Driving between Montessori and the meeting, you realize have 3 extra minutes. It seems absurd. What could possibly be accomplished? But time isn’t linear. Entire dynasties of women have waged wars for creative freedom and autonomy in 3 minutes.
You take a hard right, angling for an abandoned homestead. You’ve driven past it 16 years, NO TRESSPASSING keeping you away. Not today. Not when you have dynasties of women with you. #hellno
Park. Get out.
Over the chain, under the brambles, past the open pit, alongside the creek. In and out in no time, tracks in the snow the only thing you leave behind.
All through the board meeting you’re lost in memory: your son at 5 weeks old, you in a cast (broken foot), your husband fresh outta grad school, unemployed. Your business covered the mortgage, groceries, and student loans. But you and your husband had experienced healthy labor and delivery, a healthy newborn, and the purchase of your first home. More #goodfortune than you could imagine but all around you, houses like this one had people living inside them.
On days as cold as this day.
How? Frosted breath beneath bedsheets. Oil running out. Pipes freezing.
A friend told you about a local family in need. Gave you their wish list and address. They spoke no English. You spoke no Spanish. You delivered over $100 in groceries. Fruit, meats, long-shelf-life goods, and brand name cereals your husband swore he loved as s child—things you weren’t even buying for yourselves back then.
What compelled you? Why didn’t you do it the next year, when you had so much more—insurance, employment, benefits—or this year, for that matter?
The board meeting ends. “All in favor say ‘aye’” and all the way back to Montessori you’re thinking “aye, aye, aye.” Yes, yes, yes to giving as much as we can, when we can. Yes to dreaming, to tresspassing, to hoping, to helping, to birthday parties and frosting. Yes to to Army men and women; but yes to the end of armies, too.
It’s 11am. How can one day contain so much? How to make sense of war-love-poverty, the strings of time that weave and tangle? This is the birthplace of narrative. You can almost see the woman who would live that house, the neighbor girl who might skip across her yard, the army figurine she’ll stumble across, the conversation they might have on a cold morning, the way the light will bend between them. Rich. Ripe. Redolent.