Thorns.

In one Tolstoy novel (where, I can’t remember), the characters sat down for a moment in their house before they undertook a journey. It’s a Russian tradition that seems incredibly wise.

Yesterday, before my daughters set off on a journey — short but intense — we paused in the kitchen while my oldest zipped up her high heel boots. My youngest and I checked the oil in her car. I repeated the directions and route numbers of their journey.

Later that afternoon, I paused my work and listen to the sentencing for Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. How much more evident could it be that our world must change, and maybe is changing? How hard, how utterly painful, this is.

My daughters call in the early evening when I’m clipping dead ends from the roses in our front yard. No one has tended these beauties for years. While our society’s drama unfolds, our own family craziness unfolds — as does the complicated story of everyone else’s family.

I drop a thorny twig in my bucket and imagine my daughters driving along the interstate with their sunglasses and summer shirts, the sunroof open, eating French fries. Sisters on the open road.

“Real power doesn’t come from having a million followers, good hair, a Louis Vuitton purse, a new car, a new home, a title, a partner, or anything that can be weighed, measured, or acquired. Real power is the thing you’ve always had inside you… Real power can never be taken away from you and never lost once it’s found.” 

— Holly Whitaker, Quit Like A Woman

Dirty Dishes

I had dinner in someone else’s house. Big deal? It’s been a very, very long, a pre-pandemic time.

At the end of an afternoon of a school board retreat, we kept sitting around the table, eating and refiling our plates, and drinking seltzer and beer. Our talking wound through laughter, through gossip, and musings.

Someone relayed the story of a long ocean voyage on a container shipping vessel, how the weeks at sea eroded any sense of time, until his life was simply water and ship and sky. We listened, in no rush at all.

Then, when we had talked ourselves out, we still sat there, unwilling to move, to break this quiet spell.

Rain fell; the sun shone. None of us ran outside to look for the rainbow. We simply sat.