Leaves are changing color and falling, but the high temperatures and humidity persist. My habanero plant is flowering again; it is confused. Summer and fall are duking it out in the final battle for seasonal primacy.
I step from my bath, dripping and thoughtful. Epsom salts and heat help my achy back, the scar on which hasn’t faded over the years as much as I’d have liked. I am prone to all manner of irregular freckles and moles; some need to be removed, while others are simply physical manifestations of my idiosyncrasies and can stay and remind me of such.
I study my face and its newer wrinkles, my belly and hips. My eyes look tired. Things everywhere are both taut and soft, as aging bodies are wont. Thinner here, fuller there.
It occurs to me that the seasons aren’t the only things fighting for supremacy.
I used to know everyone in the school pick-up line. But during the past two years, waves of new families have reached the shore, and now, I sometimes feel slightly meek and anonymous. Friendships are being forged, over children and similarities I may never know.
I haven’t felt that way in a long time, and I’m not sure if I like it or don’t.
My big boy will graduate this year and move to the older campus. I think I like that but nostalgia grabs my heart and makes me unsure. I glean comfort from the fact that even if I’m then just part of the crowd, my younger one will tether me to the special place for a couple years more.
A friend writes with disbelief, “I can’t believe you volunteer at school so often.” I reply, “I love it because not only can I give back but also I can see my children as their best selves.” I had never thought about that before and am again struck by the power of writing without thinking, of responding without editing myself immediately and repeatedly.
There is a lesson there.
I awoke this morning as might a furious storm, swirling and messy and vexed. My agitation could have been for so many reasons, or none at all. I cried, and cooked. I talked to a dearest friend and kept cooking. I poured my soul into my friend and my food. And, later, into my boys.
They were both darling and not, thankful and spoiled, perfect and ugly. My mind told me to run, my heart urged me to stay. Both were right. I am no longer interested in the not-rare arguments about, for example, how much of a body one will willingly bathe. But I am inordinately grateful to be the one asked for advice and trusted with deep secrets.
Finally, the pregnant skies have opened, releasing their watery savings with an unapologetic gush. The parched earth yawns, gratefully lapping up what is shared. Mud splatters, newly sown seeds are unmoored. Wild animals take cover, my domesticated ones snooze obliviously, comfortable and secure on blankets and in beds.
Time marches inexorably on, battling towards the future and against the past. I see it in the seasons, and on my body. In the wave of new faces and the six years that have flown by, a blip in a vast sea, since my family joined the school community we hold so dear. In my dog’s gray whiskers, and in my husband’s too. In the rain that pours down and my sons as they mature.
In the belief in tomorrow and the fresh start it holds.