Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Everyday is not a yoga pants day anymore. In fact, "real clothes" days are starting to outnumber yoga pants days, so that now, if I stay in pajamas for a long time, like I am this morning, it feels like a small treat instead of a massive failure. Everything is getting easier, or rather, I feel more competent. And each day I am more in love with this little boy who is my baby. Mine! That seems unreal, still. I think all the time, as if I'm trying to convince myself it's true, "I have a child." And then, "I have a child?" Baffling.

I felt guilty all day yesterday for writing in my last post that I loved him "more" while he played in his crib in the morning than I had loved him the previous night when we had had a hard time getting him to sleep. It just isn't true. It's possible I loved him "more" when he was inconsolable because I simply felt so sad and desperate on his behalf and mine and Chris's all at once.

After my mom died, I had this vision for what my life should be. It just became sharp in a matter of seconds, like a Polaroid, and I didn't even know I'd needed or wanted a vision. But the picture guided me at that time, and I return to it now and then, check in to make sure it's still what I want and to take measure of how I'm doing. In the picture, I'm outside working in a garden that is thriving. The sun is shining down, and the color of the sky and the grass are crisp. My hands are blackish-brown, covered with moist soil. A corner of my house is exposed, a corner with an open window. If you look very carefully, you can see through the window that there is a desk inside with papers all over it and a tiny computer, and it's where I write. The only part of this picture that has been blurry at times, like the part of the Polaroid that takes longest to come into focus, is whether there's a child in the garden. Occasionally, I have seen, clearly, a little kid sitting on the ground lifting soil to its mouth while the sun shines on both of us. Other times, I've seen no kid at all. So I suppose it's the first vision after all, the one with a child, that is meant to be.

I still have no garden, but I swear I am inching toward one. For my birthday, Chris gave me a wonderful book to help me brainstorm about landscaping and gardening our yard. He also made a steel planter box filled with little containers of herbs and hung the box outside of our kitchen window. I planted the herbs the same day. Then yesterday, I had this moment in the sun. I had just put Desmond down for his nap, and I went outside to water the herbs. I was watching the water mist in the air and land on all the different colored and textured leaves and my picture flashed before me. I thought, "Oh, look at you. This is sort of it, isn't it? You lucky girl. You're gardening. You're writing. You have this little house and this little baby and this husband who makes things with his hands, things that are necessary and masculine and feminine and beautiful all at once."

Earlier in the morning I'd been beating myself up because a web journal that I respect, and one whose editor has invited me to submit new work twice now (upon rejecting what I'd already submitted), had done a call for submissions from Indian authors. The deadline was January 15, and I could not muster the energy to work on my fiction or to tweak a nonfiction piece I have. I was angry at myself, thinking, "Well, there's a chance you blew off," as if I've been doing nothing else. Then I sat down and forced myself to write yesterday's blog entry, a kind of punishment.

A little while later, I was outside in the sun and had that moment, that revelation. So I decided, I will write a little something everyday. And if that something is a blog entry, that's what it will be, until eventually I am back to working on fiction and essays and back to submitting and back to the business of trying to be a writer. But along the way, I'm going to have gratitude for what my life is in the moment.

I never see my own face when I look down at Desmond's face. I usually see Chris's face. But often, while I'm nursing Desmond, and he's decided he's had enough, he puffs out his cheeks and purses his lips (think of a Cabbage Patch doll), and for some reason, the expression reminds me so much of a face my mom made often after her stroke. She'd be nodding approval at you for whatever you'd just done or just understood. and looking completely satisfied. I also see her face in his when I'm rocking him, and he finally succumbs to sleep. His eyes shut without resistance, peace overtakes him, and he looks exactly like my mom. The expression says, "Here I am with you, and I'm proud." I am not rich by most standards, but when I see the picture of me in my own lush garden and the image of my mother's face in Desmond's, I have to remember I'm some kind of quiet millionairess.                               

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