So I Married a Rocket Scientist...

I finally get to JUST SAY THIS. No secret project. No heavy inference and quiet asides with a "don't tell!". Just the facts, ma'am.

1. Andrew got a new job. 

2. We're moving.

Ok those things, I've been waiting to say on and off for about a year, ever since a recruiter contacted him from a very rad company in Pennsylvania and started us on a multi month interview process, that took a ton of excitement and time before finally going in a different direction. And then there was kind of a direction towards licensing and a job search and so on, but more specifically the last two weeks...



Signing the Acceptance of Offer!


1. Andrew got a job working for friggin' Blue Origin (Jeff Bezo's Space company) as basically a rocket scientist.

2. We're moving to Kent or Auburn or something first week of September because he starts on the 9th.

I feel like this last couple of weeks has been Andrew's revenge for when I didn't want to tell anyone about the pregnancy before it reached a more stable phase. Touche, husband, touche. Except both times, it's been me feeling nauseous and unable to sleep!

So, relief. Excitement. Yay. Oh wow that's some heavy sadness and...

oh early September you said? Um panic. Outright overwhelmed panic. Breaks out the craiglist and begins the frantic search.

Anyone got any boxes? Oh forget it. I think Andrew and I both liked my "burn down the house and all our possessions idea."

Alternately: Konmari death match - take everything you think sparks joy and be forced to live with it in a walk in closet sized studio for roughly a week to a month. THEN re-evaluate what you actually want.

I think it could make compelling television really. Xtreme not-quite-minimalism!!!

This last week, Andrew had another interview scheduled in San Francisco while we waited to hear on Blue. He figured he'd get refundable tix juts in case, but of course the offer didn't come until he was out there. So... bonus trip to SF! Party time. Excellent. And mommy and Chaya got to pioneer the birthday-proper all by themselves together between all the other festivities.

It was actually fairly grounding. Chaya's bedtime involves about 45ish minutes of parental "hanging out" in her room. Usually Andrew gets the bear's share of that time and everyone's just as happy with that arrangement due to the disparity of presence during the day. But when Andrew's away, it means I get it all. I'm intoxicated by that spell of bedtime. Chaya and I spend so much time together but so often with a million distractions. I feel like it's hard to say I devote as concentrated a chunk of all-my-love as I do when we reach bedtime. Chaya has fewer distractions.

We snuggle. We kiss. We battle. We tell stories. Chaya's tastes are a little morbid. Spiders in your eyes. Dead things. Mommy injuring her leg on a table (based on a true story, but SO MANY VARIATIONS!!). Chaya cutting off mommy's leg so that mommy couldn't walk anymore...

"Mommy tell a story about a wolf came and it ate Chaya and then it peed. Tell a story about THAT!"

A good reminder of those little times out of time that I sometimes forget in the loud woosh.
And speaking of times out of the woosh that are the woosh within themselves,

Birthday party!!!

Whose party?

Who cares.

Yeah it was Chay's party technically on my birthday technically, but Chaya spent the day running around screaming "It's my birthday" and - while techincally the invitees were largely Chaya's friends and family, well... convenient overlap turns out. Pretty much a best hits of our favorite people from this area.

It was almost an overwhelming buffet of wonderful people I don't get quite enough time to catch up with.




Also





Yay cupcakes! (I didn't actually eat one since we also had a ton of chocolate chip cookies and these Annie's Birthday Cake Graham Crackers that are kind of amazing - but the idea of cupcakes... man... the idea)





We had an entire platter leftover after the great icing carnage, so I told Andrew he absolutely HAD to bring the rest in to EI in order to give notice in the sweetest way possible. He said sure but he needed a 6 candle for his six years there. And we'll of course maybe remember to wipe the Happy Birthday icing off the array.




The little rings in each icing though? Who cares if they say Happy Birthday or not. wish I had some lettering to write "I'm Outtie!!"

Maybe.

After about 2 hours, the party-girl herself wound down hardcore so her grandmother took her back to the house and I made a few idle jokes about setting up the kegs and speakers for my leg of the party, but few takers. The rest of the families slowly trickled out over the course of an hour or so. It was...

A really nice little "Goodbye" party add on. Dang, I can't believe what great roots we have put down here even with the constant sense of limbo and non-attachment of impending departure. How wonderful to have lived in a place that makes leaving seem so sad even in the face of excitement. And to have lived so many places before of the same quality. Life has its luck doesn't it?




I feel like I could spend the next several months simply writing out how much I love and will miss every person who's become intwined in our lives here and in Bellingham. My sister and family who were visiting and my awe and their staggering evolution. My parents and their grandparental awesomeness. The dance friends of 14 years who've passed through so many different paths and courses with me as we add to our richer and richer families. The moms and then the dads whose children became Chaya's first besties and especially those who've become my sisters going on 5 years now. The preschool community that started so small and intimate and blossomed into a thriving organism that gets cooler and more populated with like zip-pow in each passing day. I could break it down to every parent of every friend Chaya's made. The teachers who might as well be Chaya's family and mos' def I'm lucky to count as my friends. The warm and unique congregation of Episcopalians who've basically installed Chaya's rowdy cheers as a feature of her service and the warm group of Jews who sing the all time best songs about dinosaurs coming to Shabat. The music class group we've been attending since Chaya was 14 months. Heck, the clerks at Fred Meyer's and Trader Joe's who know Chaya now and distract her from her candy-rages with stickers and a sweet word.



I'm gonna cry my ass off at random intervals (with big sentimental AWWWWWWS and random bouts of affection).

Which is a shame, because it's a lovely thing, my ass. Guess I'll just have to save some of those cupcakes for replenishment.





Due Date Day and the Joy-Sad Sips

Happy Due Date Day to Chaya

Lucky Chaya will be so steeped in lore of her creation. Due to the accuracy of ART (trigger some stuff and make do like bunnies, baby), I can tell you with some fair degree of accuracy the day of her Conception. And I plan to celebrate it. I've earned that damnit.

And today? Today was her due date. Something I remember because (1) it's also the birthday of an old friend of mine so the coincidence tickled me, and (2) I unwittingly went into labor on the evening of my due date

And this story will be told forever more by Chaya's parents. After an OB visit earlier in the day confirmed absolutely *no* dilation, I figured I was in for a long overdue baby. I felt ok about that. And when I suddenly started having massive cramps and couldn't stand up for seconds at a time, I figured it was either something I ate or the nefarious "false labor" that had gotten nearly all of my friends to make a pointless L&D visit only to be sent home.

So I sat through a Chinese Buffet pretending to make conversation, while occasionally blacking out just ever so. Then I lay in bed all night barely able to focus but definitely not asleep... TO BE CONTINUED... But let's just say we were about an hour off from having a construction worker on Alabama help in the delivery process!

Whew. But that's all ahead of us.

Exactly 4 years ago. 


On Due Date/Birthday Eve there was a hanging moment of chasm. The most drastic transition of our relationship and up there in our lives was just about to hit and we knew it. The dying of a certain connection between us and our loved ones and the birth and different ones. The loss of selves and the birth of different selves. A time of mourning as much as anticipation. Appropriately, we fit somewhere like that again now.

What it does mean is that we've decidedly entered the magical holiday period that is BIRTHDAY WEEK, which encompasses both my birthday and Chaya's. As well as a whole lot of family stuff.

And an extra twist this year that isn't 100% ripe but ripe enough that I can again obliquely allude to "Oh crap, everything and I mean everything will be different in a month."

But before that...




It's a first. Andrew has actually made it to 22 Parker Island after only ten years of courting the second Parker heiress. It's been a long haul and a few missed steps and/or forgotten passports, but he hung in there.




(Parker is my dad's beach house in the Gulf Islands).

As had Chaya after only 4 years.

And me. I finally made it back.

It's been ... a while. I'm not 100% sure if there happened to be an intervening visit, but the last time I remember visiting was in 2005 shortly after a move, a wander around Europe, and a birthday give or take.



Dang,I used to be cute. Let's say it was the pretty glasses and not the sheer invigorated youth that's since been sapped from my body! Naw, I'm cute still. It's just a little less glaring next to the Cutest of All Creatures, Miss Moony Monster, herself.




I did try to take Andrew there once a ways back. Almost having reached the border, I realized that my passport had expired. My dad basically dumped us the fast as he could and rushed off to catch the ferry. Since then, timing just hasn't worked out. And then there was a baby. But time passed, my passport has been all in order and even has my current legal name on it. Chaya's become old enough not to be a holy terror when it comes to sharing a room and missing naps. And ... we did it! Family trip!!

This time out, it was all the Falconer family plus Uber Aunties Angele and Maggie joining us (W)rights and Patriarch Ian. Oh man the family resemblances were just intoxicating. Everyone looking like uncanny bizarro versions of each other. You never seen so many shades of blue eyes this side of Sweden.






Needless to say I still remember every single one of my nephews as a friggin' baby. Every time I see them, I kind of jump backwards, gasp and wonder what voodoo is this. They're huge now. And smart and funny and quirky AF. It's heartening. The living embodiment of the bittersweet deliciousness of passing time.

It was a grand adventure all around.

Two boats!



And... Chaya got to go on her first golf cart careen around the island with her cousins. I had to come and hold her. Proud to say I did not actually throw up or barrel roll out of the cart as it careened down the steep rugged pathways that pretend to be roads..My job was largely to laugh vaguely and hold on tight to Chaya as Ian explained they had to drive gently because the suspension was barely attached right now. Chaya also had her first golf cart catastrophe involving lots of pushing and a ton of walking before finally making it home. She got to stick a foot in the hot tube while shrieking gleefully at her nonplussed cousins.



There's a strange vibe about Parker. Something daunting and heavily loaded. A place that I came to at punctuating times of my life. And a place with concentrated rushes of presence and absences, both thoroughly soaked through each visit.

It now has wifi and a bustling quality once alien to it. But always, it is haunted by a certain remote quietness. It allows a depth of emptiness that comes out the other side to fullness. And it gives you remote little spaces to think about the transitions rising and falling over your life like the tide. 

The house always feels a little haunted and leaves my brain in that particularly sensitive spot of eerie awareness.Appropriate for yet another moment that hovers on the unknown with its anticipation and its mourning all wrapped into one. 




As alluded to overly much, things are about to change... what else is new. But it feels new every time. Of course birthdays always highlight that. But the recent news/plan that comes into reality soon glares a spotlight at it. 

All the feels arise. Even disgust when I look at all the work our current house will need in order to be marketable. 

And oh the upswelling of gratitude and sorrow when I think of Chaya no longer attending her preschool. 

And I think of the feelings that flit by as I sit back and watch them without trying to grab for a single one. How slippery they are. How terrifying that is, but perhaps how comforting as well to watch them manifest and dissolve in the sea air before they've even fully been understood or felt. And how much context matters.

When I was very young, I punctuated a relentless "smiling" depression by hurling my heart at a kind soul (happy birthday to him) who was wise enough to withdraw from the hazard area in the most painfully gentle way. I could call it a trigger for a more surly depression or maybe a catharsis for a journey I'd long forestalled. Regardless, things fell apart for a while in that way they do for shiftless young people with wonky brain chemistry

I remember being so tired. And so numb. And holding on with my last strength to the pain of heartache.I was still somewhat able to laugh. To see beauty in the world around me. Sometimes even to function or give the illusion of doing so. But at a certain point those other feelings burned as they blossomed and rapidly faded. The damned pain was the only thing that felt meaningful or enduring.

The hardest thing to imagine and accept was that I would get over this too. That someday I'd look back and feel nothing or some mild pleasant farce of a feeling. That I'd continue along on a cycle of joyful and bereft. Love and loss. Etc. Shrugging my shoulders.Pretending the meaninglessness of the past wouldn't impart meaninglessness into the present and future. I clasped onto that enduring hurt as if my well entrenched misery could reach such strengths as to stop time itself

**Spoiler alert**

It didn't.

Time did pass.

Life changed. Repeatedly. I remember the passion but it feels entirely detached from the kind friend who looked out for me at a distance a handful of years afterwards and for whom I have mostly a gentle smile and a small chuckle. That passing of feeling I so feared happened almost exactly how I expected, albeit the fondness and compassion for the self of the moment had not fit into the equation.

I met far stranger and more marvelous people. Forged connections I'd never have imagined. And severed some others I'd thought would last forever. I've experienced a wide array of losses (friends, lovers, possibilities, and dreams) far deeper than anything that had come before. And I live far more aware that the flesh of my flesh, the heart of my hearts could be swallowed into the maws of mortality at some minor twist of chance.

I don't feel that way I felt at 20 anymore, though I deeply understand that sadness that permeated the fear. I haven't been depressed like that since then, although my anxiety has increased in proportion to the ebbing of the depression. Perhaps my sign of becoming more and more engaged and attached to the life that flits by with such vertiginous variety. I still wonder if it might come back though whenever those moments of sadness of despondency occasionally wiggle into view.

Maybe the difference has been all in how to imbibe it all

When you're young, you pound pure raw feeling wholeheartedly and with abandon. That purity of emotion is exquisite. Like a high proof whiskey, sadness hits the system hard and fast and does not let go. You go too hard or too fast and it turns you inside out and leaves you with epic hangovers when the feelings have been had.

In adulthood, there are times of that deep melancholy, but they are rarer deviations of a more steady state. You learn not to gulp, but to sip. To take that same enduring sadness/joy/fear and imbibe over the span of years. At this rate, it hits poignantly and unshakably. Unfolding every nuance and flavor in which it's been brewed. It flavors everything else you touch with the gentlest hint of its woody wistfulness. It makes you cry when you're happy. And feel in every hug one small ounce of loss in the final squeeze.

Maybe it's not that things mellow out in adulthood as much as they all blend and mix together in countervailing ways. There's heartrending sadness in joy and ecstatic joy in sadness. And rarely are they felt in pure extraction anymore



And on this pre-birthday moment, I can only raise a sparing glass between mouthfuls of cake and cupcake to say "life continues and the breadth is staggering, but manageable in these endless sips of it all" And to me as I inch into 37 and all its hints of middle age, I sit between a point of youth and wisdom, partaking exactly much of either. But I see both with a heady clarity. Let's get this aging thing on I suppose.

And then the celebrating.

And then let's burn the house down because no way is this place ever gonna be up to market.

Happy... Due Date Day

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye, I say "My Snake Sister Built a Treehouse"





AUGUST!





August. Awe Gust. Awwwwwwwe Gust. You are a month. 

When I was born. 


Also, Chai-Chai was born too.





Falconers come.




Beating the drum

Travelling

... that we will do.




Jane, get me off this crazy thing...

Called uh ...

(skip the rest, blow out the candle. Stop the bass)

It's AUGUST. The month I turn a big 3-7. Chaya turns a big 0-4. We party like it's 1999 with a whole array of family. Oh and we might move. Somewhere far. Or near. Maybe this month. Maybe this fall. Who knows.

Two months out, my leg scar is taking its more permanent shape with no swelling and only some residual bruising.



Speaking of dissociated shots of my body, Andrew got his very own official PE seal. PE stands for professional engineer, because until now he's been doing it all for kicks. Several forms, years and tests later, he's a PROFESSIONAL, man. And he can stamp the crap out of things. I, for one, am structurally sound.


As alluded to, various events of August make it increasingly clear that the anticipated move date is upon us within the next few months. Of course who knows for sure. We could all die tomorrow! But we're talking a lot more about "the next home" and how we'll go about the transition. No lawns next time. Condos all the way. Renting even. Home ownership is a headache! Everything in *this* house is falling apart all at once in a grand cascade.

Since Chaya "HAAAAATES" her house (accursed place she must return to when all the fun is done), I'm sure she'll be thrilled. We've been discussing it and she's pretty well on board. It's gonna be a tree house with very good plumbing and a fridge apparently.

I mentioned to Chaya that when we moved, we'd say goodbyes to our friends. She asked what Goodbye meant and I had to think about it a bit.

Enter the rabbit hole...

I think this will be the first time "goodbye" may have meaning to her in a grander way than "DON'T LEAVE THIS HOUSE AT THIS MOMENT I'M NOT DONE WITH YOU".

 The impermanence of infancy rendered previous partings meaningless. An infant's world - the hazy object impermanence of vanishing and reappearing - perhaps understands the fragility of presence more than the adult world. But it also has less place for the poignancy of a transition between "active" and "dormant" presence or the idea of memory and possibility. Wishing fare thee well to a person presumes that they will continue to exist in your absence in order to fare well or not. If they simply flicker in and out of existence, Goodbye is truly meaningless.

Not to mention Chaya's still undergoing a slow parsing out of reality in which she distinguishes those imaginary presences (snake, sister, friends, animals) and those groups that are roughly categorized as FRIEND (or in Chaya's world, Dita, because that is the only friend whose name she has bothered to learn after forgetting Sebastian's and Isla's). Honestly if Chaya meets somebody at the park and plays for a second, they're a friend. There is no scarcity in the concept of relationships for Chaya execpt for a select few familial roles that remain unique.

Several of Chaya's baby friends have vanished from her life. She may recognize them in photos, but she didn't understand they were once more present and then less.





All of her dearest friends now will likely be more recalled on the basis of photos and stories.They may or may not come into her presence again. To her it's all the same. If they're there, they will play. If they're going ot be there soon, exciting. If not... meh.




So what to say?

I'm not the biggest goodbyer, so I'm no expert.

Mostly, I'm a ghoster. Not in the newest fangled connotation of the word in which prospective love interests suddenly cut off all contact. Thank you much, I'll breakup-text my future exes before they get a chance to ghost or breakup text me themselves!

But I have a tendency to avoid the grand ceremony of Goodbying. One minute I'm there. Next minute I've moved all my stuff out of our dorm and left a glib but polite little note assuring my roommate I have not been kidnapped by the mafia or anything. That kind of fun ghosting!

Despite living in the same home most of my childhood, I changed schools a ton when I was younger. By my teen years, I was hopping homes and locations on a one to three year basis. I'd grown accustomed to the cycle of the school year replacing tribes, crushes and besties. And summer had its own rules and companions. It was just a thing. There was an inevitable and mutually recognized interchangeability of people that I took in surprisingly zen stride for a generally sentimental person who gets fiercely attached to anyone who vibes kinship.

As I got older I got way more attached to some people, all the more deeply in reaction to the ephermerality of most connection. Goodbye meant something, but often the actual practice of goodbye undermined that meaning in sheer and vexing bathos. At the very least we exchanged numbers and yearbook scrawlings





 The dawn of the internet provided a particularly soft landing and more so as the lines between virtual and real intermingle. I'm more likely to throw out a "write me" or a "see you online" when I'm changing locations these days. Because in so many ways it isn't the same, but it isn't not the same. It softens the lines significantly.

But of course there still is a line between present and not present. I do understand that and crave the closure goodbye promises sometimes.Tried even to force it at times in my young adulthood.

"Closure is an illusion, the winking of the eye of a storm."

As often as not a solid goodbye has raised more questions than it answered. Threw the limbo of impending departure into a hindsighted limbo of future self-questioning. Tore at the very threads of one reality!! Sometimes they were just awkward and lame. Really special times, they were even a little hostile! (oh to never ever be a teen again!).


Sooooooo ready to just leave already and not talk to each other for...
a few months/years/decades.


Maybe my most effective goodbyes have been the sort that have slammed shut doors and layered them with cement. Forced a what-it-might-have-been to a breaking point, leaving me empty enough to have room to fill in the next adventure. Impossible to change my mind because there was no longer anything to go back to. But I feel like burning it all down is not the general goal of "Goodbye" usually..?

And honestly even then it really doesn't stick 100%. Life is nothing if not quintessentially fluid.

 I guess goodbyes work better when you give up the idea of finality and think of each goodbye as more of a moment of transition that plays upon the ideas of finality as a spur for everything but. Part of a series of little adjustments and tugs fighting against tides and currents.

 Just the appreciation of an encoded ending changes that interim relationship.

“Love is the kind of thing that's already happening by the time you notice it, that's how it works, and no matter how old you get, that doesn't change. Except that you can break it up into two entirely distinct types -- love where there's an end in sight and love where there isn't.” 

This applies equally to all forms of relationship. 

In the day to day mill of ongoing relationships there are so many things we don't say to each other.  Words are simultaneously weak distractions from deeper truths and also terrifyingly transformative. The minor act of naming something can conjure it into a million times deeper reality. Or words can be forgotten, misunderstood, twisted or rejected, allowing a silent harmony to die off in an instant. It's hard to say. But in either case, there's often so much better understood in the space between word and gesture when sustainability is on the menu.

Discretely practical as we may mostly be, I think we want to share with all our little human hearts. Some things are burning to be preserved and transmitted. Not to die in the passage of time and forgetting. To be acknowledged ever so briefly. Even if it's as simple as "you matter" or "you changed me" or "I saw you." Which in theory we express daily, but in reality never so openly as when life is about to change.

Incidentally, first time I told Andrew I loved him: right before he went away to Nepal for a month. Safety net perhaps?




 Goodbye as a marker of some significant transition has inherent opportunity: You can extend yourself in ways you'd never dream of doing if the relationship were meant to carry on according to the negotiated roles and scripts already set. The kind of things that we shy away from in the sustainable ongoing are written into the Goodbye Script.

There's a moment to tell the person exactly what they mean to you, for instance. To try to define the incredibly complex interplay of selves that persisted to that moment. It's artificial of course. People are always more to each other than any single  role that they've adopted as the main template of their relationship. Words simultaneously evade and ignite feelings. Those spoken by our bodies no less so. The expiration date itself alters the connection ever more as the final parting approaches.





Goodbyes also shape memory - a final shared story to define the slew of shared moments that came before. A collaborative dance of creation before the slow erosion of time and absence. Picking and choosing what will endure. That of course diminishes unvarnished candor that might otherwise persist. And necessitates some kind of photo op, of course.

Maybe also, goodbyes are simply about the power of sharing the feeling of the present. Recognizing the joy and excitement and hope of two different futures, but also just allowing a tiny spark of shared space for the deep sorrow for that loss of future together. The dying potential of a million future stories that might have been shared. The pain of missing something familiar, and the different but powerful pain of forgetting and being forgotten - or at least stuffed into a smaller more digestible digital box. In that sense it's not about the past or the future, even though those two parts of time define it. A single last snippet of shared present that defies that relentless passage of time. .

For Chaya... the calculation of goodbye is less a thing. The awareness of all it can mean will take years to unfold. But I think it is also deeply present every time she howls at the thought her gramma is leaving. Every time she pushes mommy out the door to wave to her car. Every time she grabs the preschool doors and resists "HOME".  Transitions. Man, they are intense.

Stagger out of rabbit hole and question whether I really really need to read another Banana Yoshimoto book after this one... yes, yes I do.  

So... all that flashed in my mind as she asked...

 I came up with "certain things we say and do when we're about to not see somebody as much to let them know they're important. And a chance to hug so extra tight we feel them even when they're gone. Or high five. Or fist bump. Or wave. You do you."

Chaya looked off into the distance with the profundity of babes and uttered what can only be described as unfettered truth: "My snake will build a treehouse for my friends! My snake is my friend. My snake is my sister."

That.


Just That.






Three and Whee Plus Zooey

Two weeks of no preschool! SUMMER VACAY! WHOOOOOOO!!

I mean... wait. Are we there yet?




Chaya's a bit starved for the clamor of kidosity. If we're anywhere with children she will follow them around like a lost puppy dog until they run away and she plaintively says "I don't want to be alone." My heart. My ears. Because then she starts wanting ot have a screaming contest. If it's just her and mommy (perish the thought), mommy is either a mountain to be scaled or a peskily moronic minion who CANNOT understand the very detailed (and muttered) instructions of her superior.

The first week leaned heavily on our family trip.




 The second is leaning about as heavily on Gramma Pam and the grace of god. Also earplugs.



The middle break weekend was a blessing and a half: a birthday party for one of Chaya's preschool besties as thrown by her mom, one of Chaya's all time favorite teachers. Um, hells to the yes.




  She actually went into a kiddie pool.Peer pressure is amazing!



By the end, we carted a sobbing Chaya home as she wailed with more lachrymosity than a million teeny tiny violins playing all at once in a dark abandoned cave. Subsequent conversation revealed she was sad because she wanted a present too (particularly, a doll) and when she realized she was not getting a gift, it all just fell apart. I also learned that on her birthday she will get a doll with stars on it. But she won't like it. So she will break it. And that will make her sad. I don't know, but sounds plausible.

 We also escaped to a beer garden.





By Monday morning, I finally gave in and bought myself a bottle of bourbon during a second-shopping milk run. Let's just say, Chaya got a a bag of organic oreo knock-offs (but only one a day and not the CANDY she NEEEDS and that mommy HAS TO BUY for her, alas) and I got a big ass bottle of something fancy and grownup that I will probably own for the rest of my life given my slow consumption rate. My current means of indulging involves dabbing a drowsy drop on my lips. After some time savoring the sweet sting, I'll then slowly lick my lips and let the flavor roll around my mouth over the course of  some minutes.A heady flicker of past indulgence coursing through my body, I'll then go back to my mounds of animal-shaped-junk-food and block-strewn floor acreage.

To keep herself occupied when mommy's pooped out, Chaya's discovered she has a twin sister, Zoey. Zooey and Chaya both mean life in Greek and Hebrew respectively, so that's kind of cool. I feel super bad about not even knowing she existed until this fourth of her life, but alas we do tend to favor one child or other. Blessedly, "Zoey" is the chillest, most inconspicuous magical twin. Zoey never causes trouble. Zoey doesn't need tickets to tag along on trips or rides. Zoey doesn't even need a carseat - she's got her own car and/or plane. She doesn't even really need much food from what I can tell. But when she does dine, it's plain water and all her veggies first. Mostly, Zoey just sort of materializes at various times and quietly supports Chaya's need for parallel play before dissipating back into the ether. Best of all worlds.

Chaya's newfound sisterhood makes a fair bit of sense. I think she's one of a rapidly dwindling cohort of only children. I guess kids are like cats: if you're gonna have one, you should have at least two, so they can entertain each other. Also, sometimes they poop in your shoes.

And no, Zoey's not getting replaced with a tangible sibling, so we're hoping she suffices until we're ready for that cat and/or pair of cats.

It's quite possible that after a few years at a "healthy weight," this has become a choice I could actually make. It's weird to even contemplate. And I'm gonna go with... I think we got it right on the first try.




I love my daughter to bits.  Every shot I took in the belly. Every blood test and invasive ultrasound. Every bout of nausea and uncertainty. Every lost bit of freedom. Every physical misalignment and resulting weakness from that birth and early childhood. Every extra year of wear and tear added to my chronological age. Every ounce of beauty and vitality sloughed down a drain somewhere. All of it has been worth it.

Same time, I'm just starting to taste that sense of freedom and possibility of self  and coupledom again; the crush of sleepless full body investment that comes with a newborn is a little vertiginous. Not to mention, Chaya's still here and her brilliant attention and presence already can crowd out a room before we add grown up relationships and self-time.


Just call us three and wheeee!


I know I know, they all say you have a second or third and the love just keeps growing.  You learn from your first. It's easier. You make do. It multiplies the... the... whatever... This is what the people say....

...Yeah and where are those people when you're saying "I think I'd like three husbands ultimately. That way when I'm out with one husband the other two can entertain each other." Are these people ever at weddings asking "are you one and done or do you think you'll want another?" Where are you then, my "love will multiply and life will expand" folks? Oh yeah. OkCupid.

 I mean, sure it's different but is it that different? Love, attention, connection, affection,
responsibility, commitment... Rivalries and jealousies. The impact of one person on your treatment of another.  I used to think I'd coined the phrase Second Child Syndrome, but of course it's a thing. It might all expand and make room to fit and enrich. Might. Might not. I dunno. I sometimes crowd myself out with my plethora of facets before we even get to others, but it's always possible.

Besides, I keep seeing all kinds of articles about how hard it is for adults to form lasting friendships and how lonely we all are. If only-children are kind of weird and demanding, maybe only-spouses are too? I dunno. I'm just speculating here. Maybe the best way to find that bestie I've been missing is to get myself a sister wife?

I'm not really saying with any conviction that we should all be bonobos pushing the conventional notions of committed monogamy to the far corners of the galaxy. Introvert, here. I haven't even actually read Sex at Dawn as much as know people who maybe have or at least read some articles riffing on it. If there's any remaining energy in my peoplemeter after soaking up our happy little threesome family, I'd rather use it on building up friendships that are slipping by the wayside in the child-crush.



 But at this point if I had to chose between putting on a pretty - or at least pretty acceptable - dress after forty minutes of trying on my entire wardrobe in order to look pretty ok for a middling outing with an average guy and his menagerie of "interesting" baggage that I'm sure to discover mid-appetizer OR going through another 9 months of unpredictable bodily changes and another year or four of EVEN MORE bizarre changes on no sleep and a prayer... well I'm sure I can dust off that old OkCupid account.

We're a good number at three. Though man I love Zooey. Best kid I never actually remembered giving birth to.
And I still digress.

A lot.

Where were we?

Squirrel!!

Children.

I was wondering if this random friend was in fact Zooey
But then she had parents so prolly not



 They're darling. And a good reason to dip your pilfered animal shaped junk-bombs in whiskey when naptime finally comes.

Also, little tip. If they're having a massive meltdown because they forgot to tell you they NEEEEED orange juice until after you've checked out at Costco and you figure you need a coffee anyways so why not stop at Starbucks, just know that they will be head-over-heels excited about the fancy-ess (child friendly fancy-ass) "Orange Juice" all the way until it's been sitting untouched in a shark cup for several hours and you finally just both order daddy to go ahead and have it while she sips from a cup of lemonade, a cup of apple juice and some seltzer water.

Remember when she was gonna just drink water or seltzer? Yeah.


I mean that's a metaphor on parenting. Or dating. I kind of forget. Also that coffee is probably caffeinated. Don't take a giant swig of it right it before bed even if you do need liquid to swallow those vitamins. Ah well, you did? Sleep is boring anyways, may we suggest a soundtrack of all your biggest worries of the year? No? Ok how about a little Backstreet Boys. Ok, sure. Let's do this. It's not insomnia it's Intermittent Sleep Fasting!

And, uh, preschool. I'm excited that it's opening again.



Encoded: Past and Present in Olympia

We're in Olympia. Let the fun begin! Or continue? Or interject itself as it sees fit? Follow along the tracks screaming CHOOO CHOOO?

Three generations of Wrights are present for this culmination of a mutual interest in Steam Trains We're riding on one, baby. Ok, actually it's gonna be a Diesel train but it'll be something vintage and it's going to take us on a long trek around parts of Washington I don't really acknowledge in daily life. It'll be lit.



After an occasionally fraught reunion (Chaya is not polite and jumpier than ever, so there's a rewarming period with visitors these days). We stopped in Seattle for eatz and an orca break of course.



Now we're in a capacious Air BnB in an exurban labyrinth somewhere near but not in Olympia proper. The house is peculiar for its bridging of genres. Touched with generic hotelisms in some areas and buried in personal dross and shiny new consumption in others. The owner clearly lives in a few of the rooms on a regular basis. The fridge is full of perishable foods we are not to touch. One room is a pile of possessions and technically "off limits". The degree of potential security and surveillance through the compound is intimidating. But it's all good.

Chaya, Daddy/Andrew, and Grampa Tom are together again and up to mischief. I mean they will be once they all wake up from their sleep-ins.

Some moments, seeing them all together, I feel the present-absence of that fourth generation beyond




Awww weren't they all adorable back in 2015?? Chaya has a Grampa Tom. So did Andrew. This is his Grampa Tom meeting Chaya shortly after her birth.

Andrew's Grampa was an achingly sweet and kind man. It does my heart good that he and Chaya had a year and change to get to know each other. And I miss him and wish Chaya would know more of him now that she can form words and impressions so clealy.

It's a funny reality of life that Chaya will know him only by photo and story. I suppose I have living relatives I could say the same about, but the absence of presence when memory forms or fails to form has a eerie quality to it. That my father's parents are largely felt as borrowed sensation. I remember a smokey smell from my Nanew. I remember a certain distinct quality of inhibited movement from my grandfather. I knew my father's connection to them. I felt their deaths largely on those grounds and the feeling was profound in a way that sticks with me. But surely we had moments of connection the way Chaya and her great grandfather did.

And I think of all the best friends, crushes, worst enemies and mentors who lined my childhood into adulthood. How presence ebbs and flows. Whether people pass on or simply live their way out of our lives, the elasticity and impermanence of even the memory that glues our temporal selves together is a dizzying thing.




We give parts of ourselves whenever we really connect with others. Give, not lend. Irretrievably theirs to take and inalienable once taken. We can stop giving but we can't recover possession of what was given; we can only reunite with it through our connection with these people. In the spaces in between, we can only trust that this little bit of self will be nurtured and protected by the recipients. 

Separation and loss from those who matter are existential in the sense that this part of us is lost as well. Perhaps taken hostage to slowly suffocate in overlay after overlay of fresh memories. Perhaps simply gone. Perhaps reformed in a million unanticipated shifts of story and intention. Perhaps preserved carefully and with love. Perhaps it's when the latter occurs that we find those friends we can simply pick back up with across decades, but only if we too have carefully held the self-slivers they entrusted to us.

Do we inevitably lose each other in the eternal rewriting and evaluation of memory? Why does it seem that sometimes we don't? 

Memories fade and are rewoven, but we carry these talismans in so many little ways in pure essential feel. They remain latent until suddenly a sensation sparks. A scent. A musical snippet. Turns of phrase. Simple flashes that evoke less a story than a series of sensations once encoded into our selves and which relight dormant existence. Experience, self and love are written into our bodies even when our minds take the world a life and self at a time. My loves and lives carry on within me in a million little things that occur outside the well-told narrative moments and fill in the spaces instead of the tiniest but fullest self...


The piquant zest of body odor; a scent that reads as uniquely as a finger print and immediately recalls a million subtleties of scent and soul from across rooms and across time.

That classic coconut coppertone marinade baking on my father's skin in summer. Feeling the sticky ridges that line the sides of the container and the shocking submersion of cold with a first splash into the lake from a warm sunny day. The scent of wet wood as my hand touches our sopped dock.

The reek of rosin and cat piss baking on treated wood. The ridges of well worn barre and the slick stick of that wood floor. Heat from a sunny window boring into my neck. The gleeful ache of stretched muscle set to Chopin.

Sunbaked grass mixed with a savory overlay of scorched meat. Beads of sweat on a frosty fizzy something. A simultaneous rush of nerves and utter calm as the party of people I am so shyly and overwhelmingly fond of revolves around me. The breadth of breath as a momentary glance is shared. A tinkle of nerves as new people come and go and conversations erupt around me.


The powdery warmth of my infant child's calvous dome (so perfectly round for never having slept on her back despite all recommendations... just like Chaya to do it all her way) and her tiny hands contracting and releasing mindlessly against my chest like a tiny kitten.


Knuckles breezing my back as a coworker skims closely behind in our hurried ballet to finish faster. Each knuckle against my spine like a harpist's arpeggio in a subtle but deep impression of an accidental but lingering contact.


Lapping splosh of water underneath the dock that my new roommate (and soon to be bosom buddy, I can already tell this in my bones) and I are laying on in the middle of the night. The smell of baked brick fading into some night flower all spiced with brine that makes you feel you can breathe in the stars.


A stab of plummeting vertigo in my lowest abdomen at the moment a cautious hug warms into a deep embrace saturated in unanticipated sadness. Moment melting into an eternal second of mutual presence all drenched in the incautious stench of stale beer and once-smoked cigarettes and a patina of celebration.


The smell of cedar and grass and children's laughter. A sense of peace and a feeling anchored in the slow movement of a puffy gray cloud.


The heady sensation of a shared pulse and breath as sweat mingles, as bodies buzz and as the music fades. A shared smile and a shared blush as if our nervous systems had momentarily merged before the spell fades gradually and distance reasserts itself.


The agonizingly satisfying sear of ripped skin on the top of every toe, and the muted but visceral thud of pointe shoes. And the moment when it all dissolved into a rainbow of haze through long lashes in stage light. 


The musky gasoline smell of Argentine cobblestones blending into an amber afternote from cream I'd brought. Distinguished somehow from the similar aromatic palate of Rome. And nothing like the mildewed earthiness of Venice. 


The gustatory chaos of mango cheese on a platter of fruits and cheeses shared on the carpet at 10 p.m. with a good friend. The irresistible cacophony of flavor that made us both unable to stop sampling. The abdominal ache of a deep belly laugh. 


A scintillating sapor of a sourdough pepper jack grilled cheese in a well baked diner at 2 a.m.

The tickling gentleness of my father's finger stroking my palm as if tracing out his prayers for my future across the lines already there. 



And a million other scents and sensations. Some more private. Some of fully uncertain origin. All ringing and reacting through my nervous system as I move through this morning.

I wonder if Chaya's early experiences are as yet encoded within her somewhere. I wonder if she'll remember the clatter of the train and how her teeth rattle. The warmth of her grandfather's hand and the smoothness of the whale she's climbing. Will future memories incorporate these and enforce them? Or will it be memories of memories written on photographs and stories?

I can't really say a quarter of that about myself and certainly not my childhood. I can't imagine for Chaya. But I like to think the impressions she feels now persist in some form along and I am staggered at how many are still to be formed.








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Grody Gams and the Loris Princess Take Tea with the Snakes

Summer time and the livin' is sweeter than s'mores (if it's possible to out-sweet s'mores and from some of the swaps I've seen for gourmet s'mores, people are hellbent on trying). It's actually hard to tell this today given the last throes of Juneuary and its insistent cast of GRAY, but the hot times are near and who can't taste the BBQ char on everything? 

Soon there will be back to back birthday parties, grillers, and pigout potlucks. Naptime be damned! There will be family trips. And preschool breaks. Then a headlong rush into full time preschool (bye bye naps on MWF - this somewhat terrifies me)

Oh and there's an even better chance we might move... soon. Or less soon. But possibly soon. 




In case you didn't know this yet. Our darling Chaya is (1) A Magical Fairy, (2) almost four and apparently going to have the most amazing and long-anticipated birthday, (3) a biiiiiiiiiiig, biiiiiiiiiig kid, (4) except when she demands that we put her back in her "little kid diapers" for the heck of it, and then says she's a baby in between her best WAAAAA WAAAA MAAAMAAA, (5) and also she's ... is there like a cutesy name describing how four year olds are nuts? 



She's also sometimes a loris because she has a magical wand that makes her a loris. It's kind of amazing how all of her somewhat bizarre statements are now backed up with elaborate stories and explanations that are pretty darned coherent. I can't really argue. Oh and a princess. 



Also the only way Chaya would agree to come to the table today was for me to suggest that the "snakes" she was originally afraid of might want to come in for tea and breakfast. We set the table. She set the menu for mama snake, daddy snake and baby snake (all red, the size of my leg and polka dotted). Unfortunately, it was rainy, so they never showed, but she did eventually come to the table and recriminatingly demand to know where her breakfast was (you know the breakfast she screamed she absolutely never never wanted). 

I'll stick with threenager for another month and a half. Then it's back to just "vivid." 

Her confidence has burst through the roof recently and it does my heart good (and occasionally my head bad, but worth it). 




The intensity comes and goes without a particularly traceable pattern, but we're in a high energy phase for sure. Even Daddy is feeling a little worn thin. We may actually now have a "Chaya safe word" (Petunia). 

No, a normal fourish year old child doesn't "test boundaries." I know this because I test boundaries. I push a little here and there, observe and adjust accordingly. That's testing. Chaya, runs headfirst at boundaries with a Molotov cocktail in one hand and a stick of dynamite in another screaming something incoherent about snakes and with her skirt and undies around her ankles.

It is getting more and more "interesting" trying to keep up, given her energy and my ailments, but somehow we suffice with a lot of help from daddy, Pam, Mommy's magic lasso of truth... 

Good news/bad news: Plantar fasciitis is back! Subtext: my right leg is actually healing so I can walk enough to trigger foot pain.


Status Report: I'm long off antibiotics. The swelling has subsided. It seems less plausible that there are remaining shards of table in my leg. My "wound" is now a colorful symphony of sunset shades and sloughing scab. My doctor (well a doctor - it takes a village to fit me into anyone's schedule with my frequent visits) has proclaimed it "appropriately gross" and given me the green light to stop the constant compress-wash-disinfect-bandage cycle.


Currently it's a nasty white-skin-flaked atrocity with a rather gigantic and uncomfortable bruise that sketches out the general area that once held Splinter # 2 for an extra week. And it does hurt. I also get shin splints when my plantar fasciitis acts up, so it's hard to tell where one ailments ends and another begins, but my leg's occasionally an achy burning mess. But it isn't swollen to shit and I'm not constantly on alert for sepsis, so I'll take it.

Now that the impending sense of doom is wearing off, other feelings crust over the scab of "they're gonna have to cut this fucker off!" Vanity, of course, as I ponder a world in which some part of my leg is more permanently "gross" than the constant but ultimately transient bites and bruises. It's a small thing, honestly. So far, I've been sparing people glances at my unbandaged leg because it's a "little gross." Eventually I'm just gonna say "this is how it looks and you may all accept it now." I'm not sure where that line is. But damnit I have always had those pretty long legs perpetually painted in blues, blacks and the boldest cerulean irritations. It's ornamental. Ugly-pretty? Oh fuck it, here you go:




It doesn't show up super well in the photo so that's a bonus. You can't even see the friggin' mosquito bite scars from my trip back East (because of course I still have those)

In some funny way there's a sadness and satisfaction invested in that gnarly gash. You ever have an experience away from the ordinary that lights some dormant self back up, only to return back to the day-to-day and find that experience/self receding like a dream? The pain in my leg was like an anchor to this reality and self that percolated up. As it fades, another one true reality sets back in in, the lights flicker a little, and it reminds me of the presence of loneliness that permeates life through time (time which requires such fractilization to navigate). I like who I am now. I'm strong. I'm funny. I'm even practical. But I like that other self too. A lot. And the way she ebbs and flow with the people she knows. The subtle attunement and cadence and softness. We live too many lives and have too many experiences/feelings/impressions to keep them active all at once. Things must die and asleep and selves must rise and fall. But the echoes of past and future selves will never stop haunting completely. The softer more open me is in there taking a really deep breath by the riverside.

And about fifty more breaths as the hyperventilating shrieks of America's future peal from wall to wall.



Because its gonna get fun, "fun" and fun again, and can't blow all the excitement too early.