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Entries in friends (61)

Monday
Jan272014

Windows in the Dark

The darkroom monitor was disapproving when I turned up with Ezra in tow.  You're not supposed to bring children because of the chemicals, she said.  His babysitter fell through, I tried to explain.  She let me in grudgingly.  I had a whole bag of film to develop but I picked three rolls, set Ezra in the corner with the iPad, and disappeared into the dark, dark, darkroom.

There is something so comforting about that space, a little cocoon.  I feel safe there in the quiet and dark.  I know what happens in there is predictable and orderly, but even with the chemistry, with the agitating and the fixing and the rinsing and the watching the seconds tick down on the clock, it feels like magic.

I cursed when I pulled this spool out of the tank.  I rolled this precious document of a day on the Pacific backwards.  Now I gingerly pull the mangled plastic off the reel to reveal a windblown Meghan, mostly obliterated by my clumsy out-of-practice hand.

Still, she's there, in some ethereal form, wispy like my memory of the day.   There, in the dim basement of an old mansion in Capitol Hill, I can smell the salt air of the wet Northwest.

I could hear Ezra's iPad spelling game on the other side of the door, so I ducked out to adjust his earphones.  Plunged back into quiet, I was luckier with subsequent rolls.  I pulled little windows on another world out of the darkness. 

Twelve little squares, stacked on top of one another, transport me to a place where friends like Tara patiently allow me to set and reset, meter and re-meter, before, finally, click.

Debra too, in the melancholy light and shadow.  I remember this weekend as fun, but more than that.  It was a tender balance of deep and delicate shared truth.

In this dim little closet, with the iPad and the disapproving darkroom monitor on the other side of the door, there's a satisfying quiet and rhythm of alchemy.  In the darkroom the rest of the world goes away, and each little frame of celluloid is like a crystal ball vision of a moment far away.  On this day, it was a portal to an accepting sisterhood and love.

Monday
Jun242013

The Long Goodbye

popsicles and abandon on the back porch last summerEzra started calling Ed my brother when they were three.  Ezra and Ed, and later, Ed's sister Reece, converged on the sidewalk in front of our houses innumerable afternoons over the past four years, learning to  toddle, tricycle, scooter, ride bikes.  We parents sat in the shade of the giant old maple tree watching the kids wear a groove in the sidewalk. When I found out last month that Ed and his family were moving, I went into a tailspin. 

I was supposed to have another baby and I forgot and now it's too late and Ed's moving and now Ezra is going to be alone forever!

That hysteria mostly waned in the ensuing weeks, but it helped if I tried not to notice the growing tower of packed boxes through their dining room window.  It's not fair to say I'm so sad every time you run into your neighbors on the sidewalk.

I want a brother, Ezra told me recently.  Apparently he knows which button to push to send me into paroxysms of self-reproach. 

Do you want a brother like Cooper? I asked him later, as our friend's three-month-old played on the floor.

No, Ezra said.  I want Eddie to live with me.  Like me, Ezra doesn't relish the thought of a baby around here.  Like me, he wants the insta-fun of developmentally appropriate friends.  Is it too much to ask for the new mystery neighbors to have a five-year-old boy?

A windstorm last October brought a huge piece of their old maple crashing into our yard.  A tree service took the rest of it a few days later.  No more meeting place.  No more shelter from the hot summer sun.  Maybe that old tree was the ballast and without it, it was inevitable that one of our families would fly off into space. 

During our last-hurrah gathering, all the grown-ups tried to huddle in the shade of the small Catalpa that's left.  We gave up and moved the party into the back yard where the space was shadier, if less communal.  The kids stripped down completely, tearing through the house and yard with unselfconscious abandon for hours.  They partied like it was their last night together, and maybe it was. 

We adults don't have that kind of freedom, but we have beer and sappy speeches, and wiped-away tears.  We have all the customary things to say: We'll stay in touch.  I hope your new commute is easy and your new neighbors are great.  We'll come crash your pool some time. 

What we mean is

Don't forget us.

We'll miss you.

Thank you for growing up with us.

I hope we're not alone forever.

Friday
Aug172012

Visual Jazz

There was an invitation to the studio, permission to choose whatever colors drew him and to slap them on acrylic with the beautiful unselfconsciousness of an almost-four-year old.

I could learn something from you, Chris said to Ezra.

Unselfconsciousness.

I witness it every day, unselfconsciousness being one of the primary gifts of early childhood, but damn if I can imagine how to embody it.

For Ezra there was the thrill of spray paint and color and tools.  He was reserved but alert, as he tends to be.

For me there was the pleasure of pulling back the curtain on something unusual and special,

of receiving kindness from a new friend,

of watching a kind of visual jazz unfold in front of me.

Monday
Jul302012

Reunion

In the end the whole visit came together so simply it was as if we all lived in the same neighborhood instead of three different states.  The seed of the plan hatched, innocently enough, over a bottle of bourbon during a hurricane in Brooklyn last fall and took root even after the hangover had passed and the planes started flying again.  The last piece fell into place when, somewhere in Memphis, the sensible realization arose that a weekend in the mountains with our small tribe would be far more entertaining than a high school reunion.  

The four of us hadn't all been together at once since Stacy's wedding nine years ago, but the easy familiarity of old friends fell over us and we wove back and forth between college memories and filling in the blanks of the intervening years.  Our spouses fit in like of course you two married, it just makes so much sense, and look at us all here making sense together.  If it weren't for the hordes of short people who insisted on calling us Mom and Dad all weekend I could have imagined that little had changed.

Of course, a lot changes in 20 years.  But not, thankfully, our affection for each other.  I admire the lives my friends have built, the beautiful families they are nurturing, and the fact that they still make me smile so much my cheeks hurt, and the discovery that we can all laugh together when our children get caught in a mountain rainstorm and end up looking like this: 

Stacy, Lee, Brent, Dara, Will and Sarah, you guys are sick. And I love you.

Friday
Jun012012

The Point

Happy birthday, new friend!The topo map of my internal creative landscape lately looks a bit like I imagine Kansas - wide, meandering contours, vast empty space, point-less.  I am used to inhabiting a creative Colorado, ideas jutting up into my consciousness like the million points of the Rocky Mountains and flowing out here like snow melt.  Now I'm down here in the flat lands, trying to herd words uphill.  Gravity is not my ally in this effort, when it seems like every helium-filled wisp of idea is encased in concrete boots and ditched somewhere around Byers, Kansas.

I bought a fancy new camera, and suddenly all the simple things I usually train my eye on seemed too banal for this equipment, like driving a new Ferrari down West Colfax, waiting at endless stoplights and passing shuttered motels and used car lots.  This is neurotic, for sure, but if I have no pictures and if my ideas have all gotten lost somewhere in the central time zone then this space starts to look a little, er, past its prime. 

So in case you have been wondering where I've been lately, think Kansas.

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I got lucky this week though, when a close friend pushed this little Buddha of a boy out and into our village. This? This was worth getting the Ferrari out of the garage and racing at top speeds out to the University to witness.  We human beings do this everyday, this birthing of new human beings.  But damn if this nine-and-a-half pounds of confusion and tiny clenched fists isn't a miracle anyway.  He is all fuzzy blond hair and fingernails and soon-to-be-blue eyes that are mostly shut hard because why do you have to keep it so bright out here, people?  He is 12 hours old when I meet him and he is full of qi and hungry and smells like the fountain of youth.

The gift of all this for me was that I got to have a point.  Milestones, rites of passage, these are obvious signposts that beg us to sit up and notice and freeze them in our hearts and minds.  This morning as I write this, the baby boy is five times as old as he was in this picture, so I bet when I see him later he'll have lots of teeth and be cranking The Pixies in his room while he writes algorithms.

This makes me want to take note of things - all kinds of things - before they escape to Kansas, never to be heard from again.

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My old friend Larisa told me a few months ago that I should enter a piece of writing into BlogHer's annual Voices of the Year competition, and since I usually do what people I admire tell me to do I dropped this piece into the running in their Identity category.  And then because I am afraid to ask people to vote for things, I didn't tell anyone about it.  And then I forgot about it.

So you might imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail yesterday saying I had been selected as one of the honorees.  There is simply no way to adequately convey my delight at being included in this group of artists and truth-tellers, and more broadly, at having this space to air my joys and struggles and fumbling excursions through the wilderness of my internal creative Rocky Mountains.  May a million more points solidify here and in our virtual village at large.