sunday night calm, monday morning alarm

by bam

sometimes i almost hear a voice in my head, nudging me, reminding me, i am the mother, it’s my job to interlace calm into our midst.

sometimes you have to turn out the lights to do that.

last night i turned out the lights.

i hollered up the stairs. said it was mandatory. be in front of the fire. in pajamas. 9 o’clock on the dot.

then i got to work, simply. lit the fire. put out the crumbles of christmas cookies on a fine plate. piled clementines into what has become the clementine basket. grabbed a marvelous book, a book on the birth, life and death of words, “the life of language,” it’s called. and then headed up to slip on my own red-and-white stripes.

this is not, not until now, our usual sunday night rhythm. hmm, i can think of science projects rushing toward deadline. and whole volumes of books being downed at indigestible speeds. i can think sunday night and think jitters and fuming and pulling out hairs.

so i turned out the lights.

there is something powerful about coming together in a darkened room, with only the glow from the crackling logs. the same effect could be gained from coming together ’round a circle of candles.

it’s the flame, i tell you, that holds the power. the flame at the center and the dark all around. it’s beyond ancient. it’s primal.
but injected into the everyday, injected into a 100-watt world, it is wholly absorbing.

and this particular sunday, the sunday that holds back the floodtide that comes rushing in once the backpacks are out and the school days return, well, we needed flames leaping from logs. we needed to gather. one more time in a circle. to push back the oncoming crunch.

we talked about words. we broke open orange peels. we drank in the dark and the light and the quiet.

someone decided this should be every sunday. so, for now, it’s a plan. we’ll see if it sticks. like so many great good ideas, sometimes the world gets in the way.

the world, yes, the world…

so this morning, at 6, the alarm it did ring. back to the world, the real world, it shouted. i was up, i was ready. i was splashing my face. but i noticed no sounds from the room where the brand-new replacement alarm, the one set to rouse the slumbering teen, was supposed to be ringing. uh oh. strike one.

rousing him from his blankets, i leapt down the stairs. even snipped dill for the top of his lox. called up the stairs every few minutes. the carpool was coming; he needed to eat. the orange juice was waiting. the vitamins, too.

but before i saw the tops of his shoes, the headlights beamed to the curb. the carpool was here. the boy, he was not. strike two.

i dashed out to do some curb-dancing. begged for a minute. noted that they were, um, 10 minutes early.

tossed lox and black bread at boy on the run.

then, as i gently closed the front door behind him, my sweet loving husband shared one little secret: the bus pass, the one that i’d bought and tucked on his desktop, it was lost, it was missing. that’s why the boy was so slow coming down. he had left, it now seems, without a way to get home.

strike three. i am out.

so much for the calm of the logs in the fire.

would someone please turn out the lights?