Ordinary Pick-Up

In the high school parking lot, we stand waiting for the kids to return from a soccer game, the air wet and unexpectedly warm. I remember the sunny crispness of that 9/11 morning when my two-year-old tricycled around the kitchen. There’s none of that, in this day alternately soggy or overly warm.

The bus comes, the kids get off, the bus goes, and still we stand there, talking and laughing, with our girls holding their bags now. The coach drives home.

One girl looks around. “It’s just us,” I say. Overhead, the clouds lift and moonlight shines down. We pause, and the mist ambles in.

Want “meaningless” Zen?
Just look — at anything!

— Old Shōju

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Soccer Mom-ing

My daughter is now six years into soccer — a number that surprises me — as if, for me, each fall is a surprise. You’re playing soccer? How cool is that….

On a hot afternoon, I walk to the high school, in a rush from work, dust from the street blowing into my eyes. On these warm afternoons, there’s always pleasure at the chance to sit on the grass and simply spend an hour, talking with another parent about work and relationships, and the sometimes painful, often laughworthy moments in our parenting lives.

What’s odd is this: standing on the field, I study each player, figuring out which girl is mine. My own daughter. I blame this strange phenomenon on bad eyesight, until another mother confesses the same. The ponytail girls are growing up. I’m unable to recognize this metamorphosis — in my own daughter — but the girls are heading toward young womanhood, body and soul.

The way of the world, my soccer-mom friend says, and offers me some of her seltzer.

I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have-as if it were our duty
to find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.

— Sharon Olds

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Hardwick, Vermont, August 2019