My son, he leans into the door of the post office like a forty pound doorstop. I mentally applaud his efforts and show him how to stand at the end of or behind the door to let other customers pass without having to step over his tiny sneakers. These doors are much heavier than he and the double set of them makes his insistent manners that much sweeter. I’m there to send off some signed papers to the attorney who will in a nanosecond have me divorced. This rather anticlimactic thing made possible by a prolonged legal separation. This waiting game of things left unsaid, now needs but a few pages, a few signatures.
This week, the weeks before and the weeks to come feel unbearably heavy. There are so many small details of life and work and money and parenting that go unspoken. I don’t have the close ties, that one close friend I had before I moved. I sit in the quiet of the evenings, a small lamp taken from my father’s house lighting my quiet corner of the quiet apartment I quietly loathe for no necessary reason. I look for grace in quiet moments anyway, that being necessary above all.
It figures in the midst of it all, I was my oldest to camp for a week this summer. A week. Away. This is one of those things that I hadn’t ever planned on either. A person dear to me suggested way back in the middle of winter that she might be interested. Knowing almost nothing about the camp more than the brochure description, my girl still adamantly insisted it was exactly what she wanted. Not long after, the deposit was sent. The weeks til mid-summer seemed yet so distant. I knew she’d have a shorter weekend overnight camp before that to test the waters, but I shouldn’t have worried in the least.
With her at camp and only the little two as my companion, we moved about in a much more relaxed fashion. Even post office paperwork three years in the making, was that much less arduous with only two to distract, yet missing her was not ever far from thought, wondering about camp life a big unknown. I managed to reach her for three short phone call during the week at the communal camp pay phone, all the affirmation I needed that she was at home there. “How does this work?” I heard her ask as she picked up the receiver. “Do I just talk into it?” I managed to stifle my laughter to soak in a sparse few details and about seventeen exclamations and declarations of awesomeness of camp.
Details continue to trickle in about activities, new friends and camp traditions. Her sister will be old enough to attend with her next year and they are both mentally decorating their bunk spaces already. I have tapped the pause button. I need to savor this. All of this. In the middle of divorce, parenting and other unspeakable heavy things, there is this great joy. I witnessed buy a few of the connections she had made, but I extrapolate and multiply and feel certain that somehow this is the evidence that I’m getting some thing right. When all seems heavy, when sad is perpetually an all caps emotion, when there isn’t that one good friend you used to have in this still very new feeling place, that there is joy is all.
As we were heading out, she said goodbyes to counselors and campers and got a hug from the director who clearly was touched by my girl and probably knew she wasn’t telling me something I didn’t already know. To hear it though, to know someone sees as you see is a healing thing. We came home and tacked up the notes she had gotten from fellow campers and staff, akin to the yearbook autograph page I suppose. More sweet words and genuine warmth spilled over. Maybe summers from now she won’t remember that she gave most of her calling card minutes to a friend who was homesick and had used up her card or to another who hadn’t brought a card at all.
There is this tiny little place in a tiny little village on the way to camp where we stopped for a nanosecond on the way up to camp. I brought my cameras in anticipation, but had but a few minutes to take make a few photographs with my beloved cameras. The stifling summer heat had faded on our return trip. The littlest two and I shared cameras and sauntered along the pathways, making images of this sweet little place. I felt so rushed the first time, grabbed only a few shots I was pleased with. Truth be told, we didn’t stay much longer today, but it was actually just the thing. I think if I have more time or better light or something different, it will make a difference. It isn’t that at all.
With my girl gone, it’s as if my way to find true north went missing. Except she wasn’t, she was just away. But she has always been the point we circle around. Perhaps it’s by virtue of being the oldest, but moreso because of her peculiar and beautiful makeup. She requires a thoughtfulness to parent that is exhausting and perplexing. I almost never know that I’m getting it right except for those times like today when I see her amongst a group of kindred spirits and know that somehow it was me who brought her to this very moment. She was more wholly herself this week than she may be again til this time next year. I’m not sure any of us could tolerate more than that, but may it be for her that very point around which she orients her self and spirit.
Beauty gives us an ache, to be worthy of that creation. –mary oliver
My life is the most incongruent collage of realities these days. I can’t wish for every week to contain this sort of renewal, nor can I afford to wait for next year’s post-camp affirmation. Something good happened today and even a thousand words on I can’t say precisely what that was. So here are another thousand.