Twisters

My head is spinning, my jaw is stiff, my chest and stomach a churning storm. A new thousand-piece puzzle is half done. I find comfort in its whirling colors, in the ways that abstract pieces slot together to create order.

It's Sunday. Which feels like eight years since Friday even though a mere 48 hours separates us. In that expanse, a high school classmate died suddenly and I feel unsettled; I finished the best book I've read in years and mourn the loss of the characters I'd become so fond of; my boys light me up and douse that fire too many times an hour to count. It is all enervating.

I'm just past the two-margarita ante. Percy is snuggled next to me on his throne, a large, cushy pillow I've given up on and bequeathed to him.

Inspired by the way we familiarized ourselves with London, we decided today to acquaint ourselves with a part of our own city that too often feels foreign. On a blindingly-bright afternoon, we paddle-boated around the Tidal Basin, two to a skiff, ogling the tributes to Jefferson and Dr. King, the quarried obelisk that stands proudly as a monument to Washington. Even though we were told not to, we dipped our hot toes in the cool water and relished it.

 view of the washington monument from the tidal basin

view of the washington monument from the tidal basin

We walked past the World War II memorial, an ugly, overwrought thing in my opinion, and towards the graceful reflecting pool and Lincoln's magnificent stead. We had Italian ices and ice cream. It was so hot. People mulled all around. It's Labor Day eve. Whatever that means.

I wish I could say it was all idyllic. I wish I could say it has been since.

But it wasn't and hasn't been, and maybe that's OK. Maybe that's life. But it sure feels hard.

Later, I attempted to stand up for something I believe in, which is the urgent need for more stringent gun laws and reasonable behavior. I tried to engage in conversation, share facts, challenge myths.

I realized, once again, that I would make a terrible politician because while I fervently support standing for something, standing on the just and right side of things, speaking for the underdog, fighting for the things I might be lucky enough to have but others don't, doing so terrifies and tires me. I wouldn't last ten minutes in Congress; I'd run out crying.

If I don't stand for injustices though, what do I model for my children? And so I try. I consider what Dr. King and Lincoln worked and fought for, and I remind myself of what they gave for those right ideals, and I think, "Well, I owe it to them and my kids to speak up against bigotry and ignorance." I do believe that.

But it's hard because people are entrenched and they're angry. And you know what? So am I. I don't want to hear any more from uninformed gun-lovers who want the freedom to carry guns in bars, on school campuses, in churches "just cuz." Who don't want background checks and regulations on clip size, who think more guns is always better. I think they're crazy idiots hiding behind an ignorant misunderstanding of the 2nd Amendment, and that's the truth. So, that admission made, am I any better? I simply hope I'm on the right side of history, which I believe I am, and that I inspire my children to stand for their beliefs.

At the two margarita draw, I tucked Ol into bed. He was snuffling and vexed, and I held him close and said, "Baby, please tell me what you're thinking." His lip trembled in that way that makes me double-sure that I'd do ANYTHING for him, and he shared some good, deep stuff, some of which I felt I knew just what to do about, just how to help. But for the rest?

"Mama, do you have a diffwent strategy I could twy?"

"I don't, sweet pea, I don't. I don't know all the answers, and I'm so sorry. But I can ask some people and try to find out if you'd like."

And he hugged me so tightly and said, "Yes, please. I love you, mama." And my heart broke just a bit because I don't always know, and I won't always know, and still he loves me so purely, as I do him.

I never wanted to leave his side but part of me wanted to leave ten minutes ago, because J also wanted to talk, and my husband, and the Sunday paper, and also that from last Wednesday which had an article I really wanted to read because the immigrant crisis, and those edits I needed to make two weeks ago, and yet another submission deadline I missed. And still tomorrow there is no school.

There is a new puzzle, a new game, walks to be had, time to be spent. I like to think these challenging times, in which everyone is tired and wishing for routine and in need of time apart, are, nonetheless, bonding us tightly. That one day, tomorrow or Friday or decades from now, we'll all be grateful we forged determinedly on. That we stood for beliefs and values and each other. That we admitted when we didn't know and tried to find answers when we needed them. That we loved enough, openly and in action, such that none of us ever doubted that.