Saturday, August 10, 2013

about love

There are a few music makers and writers who get me in the zone. That place where my mind seems opened up and clear,  rushing coherently with thoughts deeply suppressed by the day's mundane and constant work. The surface of my stomach shudders and jolts with the unknowable movements of the two lives inside it. I'm in a tub, soaking some pain away, listening to Over the Rhine croon about swallows falling from the sky.  I carry these babies in front of me, inexplicably suspended at a distance from my long-lost center of gravity. During the day and most of the night, they are a weight and a burden. They pluck at my ribcage with their feet like they're testing the tautness of a line. The girl nestles her head in my bladder while the boy stretches his spine and measures the boundaries of my width. We're all sharing my body, but I have no idea who they are, really, apart from their movements.  It occurs to me that it's not necessary for me to know them in order for my body to build them, birth them, and feed them. We're tied together, tethered by my blood, not my heart or my mind. That will change, of course, as soon as I see their new purple-red faces hollering at me at the shock of air and light and noise. When I rest their helpless bodies on my chest and they find comfort on the other side of my skin - laden as it is with warmth and aroma and milk - my heart will break for them.  I will fall to pieces in love with their tiny, awkward lives.  Then, my body will work from love, not just mechanics alone. My days will be filled with a pouring out of work that comes from a love that I didn't make. So even in this choice of loving, sacrificing work, Someone has gone before me and made the way.

The song ends and I turn in my tub to the book beside me. Louise Erdrich is telling me of her longing for Dakota horizon in the midst of her current New England homestead claustrophobia. I realize she and I will likely have a lot in common in the coming years as I adjust to life in a place that isn't - and is - my home. We're moving away to a farm of unknown location. I take solace in her words as she describes how she has put roots in a place that entraps her with it's unfamiliarity - how she has done so because of her love for her family. She watches her children be about that home place and realizes, weeping, that she's taught them to put their roots down, too. When I read her words, it's easy to forget the shag green carpet, drop ceilings, and hopelessly linear layout of the houses we've searched to make our new home. Instead, I daydream of uprooting the bushes in this imaginary yard, gathering peaches from the treess that threaten the foundation of the shed, spreading a blanket under the tree with the over-sized string bean pods hanging from it, a natural mobile for my little ones. I think of humming to my babies and herding my firstborn away from dangers. I think of teaching him to dig holes so we can plant bulbs in the yard. I think of the winter being ample with warm, fresh-baked bread and turning the corners of rooms into teepees and forts for a little fun. You see, with all this love that's happening, I still need a little romance. Throughout the normalcy of my day I can only imagine - as I clean my son's food tray for the 5th time and urge him not to climb on the table for a number exponentially larger than that - how hard this is going to be. How my mundane, repetitive, exhausted life will be transplanted to a smaller, tighter, lonely place - with bad carpets, an uninspiring floor plan, and more people. I realize as I find comfort in Ms. Erdrich's descriptions of spiders and trees and baby-wearing, that it's the romance of it that gives me peace. Romance, as we all know, is incredibly fickle and can be bought for the price of a well-written love story or a movie ticket or worse. It's also the stuff of courtship and, when remembered, is used to bind together the patches in a marriage. "It's okay to be in love with me," my husband jokes in the quiet dark of our bedroom after a day filled with missed connections and diaper changes and tantrums (not just the baby's). He reminds me there is still romance to be had. If I turn my eyes from the burdensome obvious and see that we are bound together with tenacity and hope - remembering that I married him not because of a lifestyle he promised, but because of a love we vowed - then I can see we've made a home in each other.  I can feel the hope and recklessness of a romance that can sing clear and sweet from any dilapidated rooftop in Kentucky.

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