pull up a chair

where wisdom gathers, poetry unfolds and divine light is sparked…

Month: August, 2012

a suspended state of the new

yet another 02139 dispatch…

looking back, some day, all the rest of the days of my life, these seamless hours might seem a blur. but living them, waking up in a room where lace curtains blow, where the view out the window is a shingled roof i’ve not yet memorized, each and every day is in fact a living breathing experiment in the new.

the paths we cut through this enchanted city, wholly unexplored. each and every day we seem to discover a new one, turn a corner we’d not turned before. get lost for a minute. grow still, as we sink down to find our bearings.

for a girl who hums with the familiar, all this new, this suspended state of the new, is rather awakening. like a glistening rainstorm that pounds your every pore. shakes you from your long-held somnolence. shouts, wake up. pay attention. don’t get lost here.

so much newness tumbles across the tableau of a single week, it is hard to gather it all up in  my mind’s short-handled basket. just this week, there was the new school for the little fellow, the new long corridors that seemed to twist and turn on first ambulation, the new classroom, shiny, bright and filled with what might be.

there were new libraries for the big people, shadowy stacks in the bowels of widener library, where the librarian whispered, “you are now standing in one of the world’s greatest research libraries,” (and not a syllable here seems hyperbole), reading rooms the likes of which i’ve only seen in movies, say “love story,” that long-ago ali-mcgraw-gut-wrencher whose scenes sometimes unspool before my eyes as i walk this campus and think, oddly, “i’ve seen this frame before, though i’ve never walked these yards and paths.”

i am learning the vernacular of a place that calls a semester’s course, a “half-course.” i am learning that “to shop classes,” means to go and pile up your academic plate with a smorgasbord of flavors, of professors, of headline names, and stingily and voraciously grab a course to call your own. i am watching those around me make spread sheets of the seven, eight or 12 classes they intend to “shop.” i, though, pulled out a ruler, a felt-tipped pen and a sheet of printer paper, and i made myself a chock-a-block chart of my four academic courses plus writing seminars and master class.

even the simple act of dinnertime is hardly what it was back faraway home, where grammy’s 3-4-5 stew was a culinary highlight of many a week. the other night, for instance, a whole lot of us tumbled into cars and city buses and rode out to somerville, to a mecca i’d return to twice a week if i had spare change. it was ethiopian feasting, and we let our senegalese photojournalist do the ordering, seeing as his roots in western africa made him the one most familiar with the unfamiliar offerings.

three platters arrived, large baskets, draped with soft flat breads, and poetic mounds of chopped salad holding down the north and south poles thereon. the waitress, a lovely charcoal-eyed woman with a smile that caught my pale-gray eye, ferried to the platter bowls of curries (eggplant, and lamb, and spicy chicken), and lentils and potato-cabbage-carrot concoctions i wanted to scoop up with my fingers, they were so delicious. and in fact, that is precisely how we ate that night: thumbs and pincher fingers served as fork and spoon. that, and scoops of flat bread, held like a napkin in one hand, torn and used to envelop more deliciousness than i could ever muster from a fry pan.

and so it goes. new upon new upon new. an adventure from dawn till nearly midnight, when i collapse into bed, and sleep like i haven’t slept since i was maybe 9, and wore myself  out playing in the woods on a long summer’s day.

amid all the new, i step outside myself to keep watch on how i find my way. i am intrigued at how we humans grope for the familiar. how, like magnetic poles, we are pre-set to stitch french knots of the known into the white cloth of unknowns, of foreign, of i-am-paying-attention-to-uncharted-footstep.

we are species in search of mooring.

i stroll the aisles of a shoebox of a market, tucked amid 17th-century cobblestone lanes, and i am lulled by the sight of a pink lady apple, an apple whose taste i know from home. but in the next aisle, i stumble on a raisin-studded bread i’ve never seen before. and i buy it, and bite in, and am filled with brand-new deliciousness. in a single grocery, i am anchored and catapulted.

and so it goes: i find my bearings where i can, i breathe deeply, and then i turn a corner and explore nooks and crannies intended to shake me out of stupor.

some day this will not all be so intensely undiscovered. some day, there will be rhythms again. there will be shores of the known, against which the unknown tumbles, crashes.

but right now, i walk the cambridge streets at full attention.

yet the miracle might be this: even when i turn a wrong corner, i find familiar company in, say, the blue moon that last night drooled illumination on all my footsteps. it is, i imagine, the divine cupping me in holy cradle. it is the whisper of the planets, reminding me, no matter how tangled the hours and the days and the footpaths, i’ll not get lost, truly lost.

so right now, amid these early days in our year of full adventure, i am inhaling deeply, breathing in the electricity, the power surge, that comes with never knowing what’s around the bend.

today’s agenda: a morning’s excursion to the harvard business school, where i’m told the halls smell of money, a perfume that’s certainly unfamiliar to this old nose. after that, a swim in walden pond. yes, walden pond, for cryin’ out loud. who knew you could splash in thoreau’s holy waters? but here we go. crimson-spotted legs now fading to unfamiliar pink, i’ll not be too shy about sliding them deep into that pond. a baptism, indeed, indeed. 

classes begin for all of us on tuesday. the sixth grader, at last, sinks into the classroom he has wondered about for months and months. but at least we now know the teacher’s name. and i will slide myself into the back of harvard classrooms, taking furious notes, plugging in my long-dormant brain cells.

in case you’re playing along at home, i’ve decided on these four classes: religion 1004 — “modern spiritual pioneers and religious revolutionaries,” taught in memorial church; soc-world 25 — the great global health pioneer, dr. paul farmer’s “case studies in global health: biosocial perspectives;” hds 2965, “virginia woolf and religion;” am-civ 200, historian jill lepore’s “major works in the history of american civilization.” 


and now a question: how do you seek out the new amid your world of the familiar, and in what ways does it sharpen your senses and your thinking? 

p.s. last night,  for the pure joy of it, i wandered into the big white tent that was harvard divinity school’s 197th convocation. i don’t know that i’ve ever encountered so much godliness under one roof, and certainly the tent top seemed to billow heaven-ward. i was moved to tears during the trumpet voluntary, and during the new dean of the faculty’s remarks on “the fog of religious conflict.” he’s an esteemed scholar who grew up on the streets of belfast, during the long years of “the troubles,” and what he extracted from those bloody days, how he has catapulted tragedy into a worldview of peacemaking was, frankly, breathtaking. i will close with his closing challenge: “be actively engaged in peacemaking in all aspects of your lives.” 

amen. amen to all that. 

tumblings from a cambridge notebook…

dispatch from 02139… in which the chair explores the nooks and crannies of this wonderland where at every turn, it seems, there is something to capture the imagination and set it soaring… 

because i’ve somehow managed to decorate my days-long fever with wall-to-wall crimson spots (ever conscious of the college colors), i’ve decided that the wisest dispatch here this morning would be the one in which i merely shake out my reporter’s notebook from this enchanted week in cambridge, one in which we launched deep and wide into orientation at the white clapboard lippmann house where the cottage garden blooms and where already i’ve encountered a slew of amazing souls from all around the world.

it is pinch-me hard to believe, quite often, that i am in fact sitting in a chair in a sun-streamed assembly room, looking up at a wall, where there hangs a banner that reads: “nieman foundation for journalism at harvard.”

but there we sit, eight hours in a day, absorbing all they have to tell us about this year of, as the curator of us all so beautifully put it: “exposure to big and wonderful minds.” not a bad agenda for a year.

among us is a foreign correspondent (whose identity i must keep masked) who tells tales of interviewing terrorists and then being told that if the interviews don’t work out, maybe she could marry one of the ol’ bomb-lobbers. yet another is a woman who has dedicated her life and every waking second of the last two years to documenting every single homicide in washington, d.c.; she has been in court for every hearing and proceeding of every bloody death in the district, she hears from victim’s families and suspects and accusers, along with eyewitnesses, and a host of hangers-on, and she was in tears when she got up to introduce herself and explained that in order to come on the fellowship she had to close down her site, and for the first time in two years, there were murders in d.c. going down undocumented this week, unwatched by her watchful eyes.

the conversation i’ll not ever forget is the one that unfolded the other night, sitting at a picnic table, beside a man from a country i won’t name (for confidentiality reasons), who told me that he is publishing a book on the history of his country, and that when he returned home at the end of this year, “trouble will be waiting.”

when i asked what exactly “trouble” meant, he quietly answered, “prison.”

“how long,” i asked.

he shook his head. he didn’t know. but he had two friends, he told me, who’d been in prison 17 years already.

you don’t engage in conversations like those and not begin to feel a shifting deep inside, as you realize that around the world lives are risked for the work that journalists — hellbent on truth-telling, no matter the cost — do each and every day, recording every bloody uprising, every random gang-bang.

on the other end of an indelible spectrum, i’ve been witness to my little fellow, the one who in recent weeks was scared to death about leaving home, the one who on the morning of our leaving, when i walked into his bedroom at dawn to announce, “it’s time to go,” burst into unbroken sobs. i have been watching him cast aside every doubt and worry and dive into friendships with kids he never knew a week ago. even when they don’t speak a word of english.

the most heavenly of those friendships is the one we’ve come to call the three musketeers: there is my little guy, who speaks barely a word of spanish; there is a little boy from spain who speaks barely a word of english; and, in the middle, there is a little fellow whose parents are from argentina, but who has lived in cambridge his whole life, and who fluidly and fluently is the verbal glue between all three. that and the universal conjunction, the soccer ball, which needs no translation, and which the other night, on the sloping lawn of the lippmann house, steering clear of the butterfly bush and the cosmos, was the magnet that drew some 20 kids, from the diaper-set to the 11-year-old ringleaders, into a game that would not quit, not till well after the last drop of cambridge sunlight had been wrung from the night sky.

in my fevered state, it’s hard to find words for how darn proud i am of that little fellow, who has dug down deep and pulled forth a motherlode of courage and great good wit, to already claim a host of friends from all around the world. glory be to the angels and saints to whom i’ve prayed for months, for this very answer to countless whispered pleadings.

and so this week, more than anything, has been about making friends, peeling back that layer that we all show to the world, and through the simple act of asking questions, and listening carefully to the stories that spill and spill, finding divine connection that will carry us through a short and winding year.

a mother from south africa told me how, through meditation, she came to know she was birthing twins. a radio broadcaster from chile extolled the virtues of a chilean feminist poet who’s been clouded by pablo neruda’s blinding fame; and she and i, now on a shared poetry quest, intend to trek to grolier’s, the oldest poetry-only bookstore in the country, just off harvard square. a food writer from new orleans promised he’d make us gumbo.

and so it goes. all upholstered by my smashing case of spots, in harvard crimson colors.

next up: shopping for classes. on the list? “poetry and religion,” in which we explore the works of Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Anna Akhmatova, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, Sylvia Plath. or maybe “the science of cooking,” yes, cooking. or perhaps wynton marsalis’ ongoing lecture series. or whatever else tumbles on my hungry path. 

and by the way, oh goodness what a difference a year makes, we take the college boy back to amherst tomorrow morn. it will soon be just the three of us. and already i miss that gorgeous soul who inhabits such an enormous chunk of my heart. 

do you, too, revel in the art of discovering those divine connections that draw us together and hold us forever after? (and how was that for a rhetorical question…)

first things first

dispatch from cambridge (in which the chair up and flaps its wings, plopping down in the land of ZIP code 02139)…

getting to the garden had always been on the list. getting to the garden with scissors and a sense of the possible, a whole new bouquet at my fingertips, petals that didn’t bloom in my faraway garden.

and so, listening to the sound of my heart humming, i snipped and snipped and snipped. black-eyed susans, sunshiney marigolds, a bright-butter-yellow coreopsis or two or three.

fists full, i climbed the back stairs up to the third-floor aerie where all week i’ve been playing house, and while everyone else was out, was away, i added a signature note to the canvas that is our new dwelling.

i knew i was home, really home, when i stuck those thirsty stems into a cobalt-rimmed water glass, plunked the whole lot onto the pine table in the breakfast nook (where blue jays and sparrows come to the feeders there in the windows), stood back  and soaked it all in.

thus has this week unfolded, this first week, this long exhausting week of stuffing the poor old cat into the carrier, watching the taxi pull up to the curb, giving my mama a kiss as she and a gaggle of neighbors (at least one in a house coat) stood at the sidewalk of the house i love, and bowed on bended knee as we pulled away — the little one, the fat scaredy cat, and me.

the trip through airport security was smooth as i might have hoped, save for the news that they were pulling me and the cat (loose in my arms) aside for a paw swipe (mine, not his) to make sure no scant trace of explosive dust was anywhere upon me.

all this as i watched my laptop tumble down the TSA conveyor belt as the suddenly-left-alone 11-year-old tried to grab for the laptop, his backpack, my backpack, the empty cat carrier and whatever else was due to crash to the ground soon as the belt did its dumping. (like i said, this was about as smooth a stumble through security as i might have hoped for….)

then came the plane.

all was swell enough till the part where the plane comes out of the sky, and typically, as we all learned long ago, the descent is an expected — and necessary — part of any flight plan.

up till then, our fat old cat had more or less snoozed in his chic black bag, the one squished under the seat in front of me, the one that made the lady at the end of our row, the lady with the hearts-and-flowers tattoo peeking out from her undies, roll her eyes, while muttering impure thoughts, each and every one of those unkindnesses darted straight at our sorry trinity.

but then, not long after the pilot announced it was seatbelt time and we were headed down, that old cat let out a howl that, long as i’ve known him, means he needs an airbag and he needs it quick.

for the next half hour, my past life as a little-kid nurse came rushing back to me.

the 11-year-old beside me kept shrieking that something was wrong with the cat, the cat was going to pass out, “he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe,” were the words precisely. and i, pretending to be an ocean of calm, prayed mightily, and prepared myself for cat CPR.

to spare you the gory details, i’ll cut to the quick: no CPR ever was needed, but by the time we landed, let’s just say i was covered in decoration i’d not worn when i boarded the plane.

once we’d rustled up our bags (which oddly had come in on another flight, making for a few heart-stopping moments as we all imagined our life’s belongings swirled down some airport drain), we hopped into the little black car and let our driver (that would be the fellow who snared this faraway fellowship in the first place) steer us home.

wisely, he’d picked a route that zipped us right past fenway park at 55 mph, a sight that the kid in the backseat, a kid who considers wrigley field a holy mecca, couldn’t help but up and notice.

then came the exit sign: “cambridge,” was all it said, with an arrow pointing up and to the right. but the deep-down knowledge that that’s where home now was, and this was indeed a road marker in the story of our life, well, it made my heart thump just a little bit harder.

the architecture critic with his hands more or less on the wheel made like he always does whenever he drives: he’s pointing here, there and every which way except for the road, pointing at some built treasure whose whole story we all need to know. (it’s why i feared for my life when, back in chicago, they were building that god-awful soldier field, and he’d be so busy glaring and cussing as we sped past, i was certain the end of our story would come in a fiery crash with the headline: “architecture critic & whole entire family smashed to smithereens on lake shore drive in a final fury of fast-lane drive-by criticism.”

but back to the story of how we made it to home, here on franklin street, and what happened next: i’ll spare you details again, but let’s just say i walked into a lovely place, a perfect place, a place whose windows hadn’t been opened in weeks. it was hot. and, lest you forget, i had in my arms a queazy cat who’d barely escaped in-flight CPR.

i did what any newly-arrived immigrant might do: i dashed into the bathroom, and slammed the door. i had a trembling cat on my hands, a cat who wasted no time slithering beneath the footed tub and cowering in a corner.

i cleaned us all off, and dove into what i’ve come to recognize as my default mode — i made like a 9-year-old version of my little girl self and, just as back in the days when a whole glorious summer could be spent rearranging logs into tables and chairs and whole rooms in the woods, or turning a shoebox into a cozy cottage, i started to play house.

for the next three days i unpacked, i puttered. i pulled blue cobalt bowls from the shelves, and tucked them around the kitchen counters. i made a list or two or three of things we need from the nearest home-supply store. i dusted up cat hair. i talked myself through the first load of laundry in a cobalt-blue front-load washer that looks like it could double as the mars rover (i had visions of “i love lucy” soapy disaster, fearing i’d hit the wrong knob, just as lucy and ethel did back in the black-and-white days, and rivers of suds would cascade into the apartment just below ours).

i’m rather a firm believer in the notion that if we’re all going to spread our wings — and that’s why we’re here in the first place — we need one solid nest from which to fly each morning, and to which we return as the night sky fills with stars.

and so, my job no. 1 here on franklin street, was to turn this place into a home that feels like it’s ours. i’d tucked plenty of tokens from our faraway house into boxes and the back of the car (despite a chorus of eye rolls and protestations).

i knew, because i believe in these things, that the little guy just might need his vuvuzela, that long-necked noisemaker that punctuates soccer games around the globe. i knew his favorite fleece blanket might come in handy, draped at the end of his brand-new bunk bed. and i knew that a pantry filled with birthday peanut butter, and his old jar of honey, just might start the day with a not-to-be-underestimated sense of the familiar.

and so it’s gone here in our first week in cambridge. first things first, i know deep down. take the time to make it home. and who knows just how far and high those flights from the nest will carry you.

unfortunately, the other thing i seem to have packed in my suitcase was a nasty on-again-off-again fever, so some of my sticking close to home has been due to the achy bones that often accompany said elevated temps. i did make it out to harvard yard, and was blown away by the history and stateliness. truth is, i felt my knees wobble just a little as i passed through the brick-and-iron gate, kept wondering when a whistle would blow, when they’d check my passport and send me packing, saying i didn’t really belong. but i’m told by dear friends who did lug their college texts under these leafy arbors, that that’s not so uncommon a feeling here, it’s just that plenty of folks won’t let on to such wobbles.

so began week one. and tell me this: do you too find you must feather your nest before the real work of the heart can begin?

calming potions and the art of leave-taking

at first, we were passing the bottle equitably. one by one, we each took a whiff. but then, oddly, inexplicably, i became the one, more than anyone, whose nose most regularly passed above the open vial.

it went something like this: inhale, deep breathe, and then as they say each year at the squeeze-me mammogram, “hold it! hold it!” now, resume the tasks of leaving.

we have a veritable pharmacopeia of soothers on the kitchen counter these days. we’ve catnip for a little charge. we have pheromones of cat elixir. and we have stress relief and, best of all, lavender oil for calming. says so right there on the label.

never mind that all these potions and concoctions were prescribed for the little kitty, the one who any day now will be tucked into his handy-dandy over-the-shoulder (mine, not his) travel bag, and marched straight into the belly of a boston-bound aeroplane, where he’ll cower under the seat, and i’ll do my darnedest to dodge the withering glances and full-on glares of all my cabin mates.

while the little fellow yowls and makes me long for the days when all i had on my lap was a screaming babe (who could be quieted at the mere suggestion of a nipple), i am told to dab dab dab the oil of lavender onto a cotton ball, and waft it just beneath his kitty nose. all the while taking spins past my own personal intake valve, where i too shall inhale mightily of the calming essence.

whatever it takes to hurdle me over this grand departure.

i promise you i did not set out to steal my kitty’s ticket to la-la land. it’s just that, well, we took one whiff and all at once everyone in the house realized ol’ mama might be the one who could profit most fruitfully from the stuff. even if the calm comes at intervals no longer than the dot-dot-dash of samuel morse’s code, it’s a calm that might not be present otherwise.

not that i’m a bag of jittery ol’ nerves or anything. not that i wake up 85 times a night, thinking of this, that and the other thing that must get done before the wagon train rolls east.

no, not at all.

“liar, liar pants on fire,” i can hear you singing now.

why, yes, i’ll admit, you’re onto something here. fact is, i have never ever, not in all my life, been so good at the fine art of leaving.

i trace it back to when i was five. every single sunday night for the better part of a year, my beloved papa shlepped his suitcase to the little turquoise ford falcon tucked in the garage. he slid behind the steering wheel, and waved b-bye! i sat wilted on the concrete step there in the garage, and cried and cried. he’d be gone till friday night. and when you are five, friday from sunday is a world and a half away, might as well be up to mars and back.

i never did get used to the belly ache of watching him pull down the drive, turn and disappear, the red tail lights my last trace of a papa i could not keep.

and ever since, goodbyes are my own personal castor oil. a bitter taste that must be swallowed, might even be good for you, but, oh, do i have to really?

so comes a long weekend of last goodbyes. goodbye to this old house i love so deeply, achingly. goodbye to the garden that blooms for me, delights me season after season. goodbye to the mama i hate to leave, even though it will only be for one short fine year. goodbye to lanes and trees that harbor me, anchor me, keep me feeling safe, secure, certain of my place on the map.

oh, i know i’ll tumble headfirst into this adventure up ahead. i’ve friends already, from the lovely woman who’s renting us a mere slip of parking space on her driveway, to the extraordinary fellow whose third-floor aerie will be our home away from home.

why, i imagine all of cambridge will hold me and enchant me, will peel back undiscovered nooks and crannies deep inside my soul.

i’ve no doubt that what lies ahead will be nectar from the gods.

but before i get there, i need to leave. and leaving wrenches me, rips me wide open, and stings mightily.

which is why it’s a fine thing this ol’ cat is tagging along. while i pretend to be soothing him at 30,000 feet above the finger lakes and all of pennsylvania, it’ll be me who’s taking all the whiffs of all the potions in the kitty bag.

catnip, anyone? or perhaps a lavender cocktail, served up with soggy cotton ball.

so it goes, chair friends. this i do believe is the last missive from here at the old table, at least for the next 11 months. we’re moving east for the year, and you’re coming along. soon, a big ol’ doberman hound will move into this ol’ house with a dear friend and her battalion of safe-keepers. they’ll rule this roost, love it, stoke it, make sure no leaks threaten to take it down. and turkey baby, the cat, takes a 1,000-mile journey along with the rest of my little clan, where for the next school year, we’ll turn pages, take notes, and get another crack at being college kids. 

one question before i shove off: anyone else find leaving hard to do? or do you leap at the uncharted adventures of whatever lies ahead, knowing full well all will be well upon return? 

making time

before the packing begins, before i rifle through the closets, deciding which hanger stays and which comes along, before i pack up the vials of advil and tubes of triple-antibiotic ointment (the potions and goos and whatchamajiggers one needs in a school year far from the roost), before all of that, i’ve been making like a physicist — or maybe simply someone with lessons to learn in the fine art of communion.

i’ve been stretching and squeezing the measured-off hours we think of as “time.” i’ve been deep-diving into the fractions and eddies that lie between minutes. i’ve turned time-keeping on its head and upholstered the day with moments that otherwise would have escaped me —  unduly sacrificed at the altar of holy-cow-there’s-great-gobs-to-get-done.

at the urging and insistence of friends who won’t settle for virtual goodbyes, who won’t do with a storm of adios emails, i’ve been doing what i’m not so naturally good at, i’ve been discovering just how fluid the day can be, even when you feel harnessed by a long list of to-do’s, a russian doll set of to-do’s, with one list begetting another and another and always another (no wonder i wake up at 2 and then 3 and often at 4 in the morning).

i’ve been making time for friends. not just friends on the phone. or friends through strings of typed-out sentences. but friends in the flesh. friends who put down their busy lives, toss their to-do’s into the back seat of cars, click the lock and do not look back.

friends, face to face, side by side, smack dab in the middle of a day, early in the morning, or long after the fireflies turn off their blinkers and head in for the night.

oh, i know it’s not exactly a skill that demands extraordinary finesse. really all it takes is scribbling a name on the calendar, and, poof, a meeting is made.

but, truly, it entails allowing the hours to loosen up their tightly regimented marching step. it requires a bit of a mental leap to sink into the slow tempo, the enveloping gift of time spent together, in the telling of story, in the swapping of secrets and worries and gut-splitting laughter with the great good friends we have gathered, have come to love, over the undulations of years.

it’s been good for me — nay, great for me — this refresher course in friendship, in the stunning and cold-splash-of-water realization that none of us, ever, are really too busy to squeeze in the gift of time with a friend. time and space shared with a friend. whether that space comes in the form of an old wicker chair, or a kitchen stool, or the too-skinny sidewalk that goes on for miles and miles of unbroken conversation and footsteps.

in my gotta-get-it-done internal clock, i tend to picture a day as a blur without pause. truth be told, i leap, never saunter, out of bed every morning. i am often breathless by the time i get to the old butcher block counter, diving into the day as if a whistle’s about to blow, and i’ll get called for failing to make my quota on the factory line of household production, and whatever else screams for my well-honed cross-it-off-the-list skills.

a hundred times a day — or at least twice — i hear myself telling myself that this is no way to live, that really on my deathbed i am not going to be thrilled to have slam-dunked every to-do list put before my eyes. but does that slow me to a somnolent tempo? not often enough, really.

and so these days right in here — with less than two weeks till three of us climb on a plane (the fat cat counts as one in this high-flying equation) while the other two pack themselves and a heap of earthly belongings into the overstuffed car and take to the highways — it’s final exam time, an honest-to-goodness test to see if, amid a forest of calls that must be made, insurance policies switched, dehumidifiers rigged up to hoses, and lord knows what i’m forgetting, i can sink into the featherbed of friendships and do nothing more than savor the rare and wonderful gift of a dear friend’s hilarious stories, or her tears, or the three things keeping her awake through the nights.

making time — despite all the organizational doohickies the people at pottery barn try to sell us, and despite all the digital numbers flashing from our cellphones and microwave clocks — is an art that could be lost, at least when it comes to matters of the heart.

in the last few weeks, as one-by-one i’ve carved out an hour here, or a morning there, as i’ve gathered my friends within arms reach, or the squeeze of a hand, i’ve been reminded how essential it is, and how much more solidly my heart pounds when i see time not as a cage in which i’m bound, but as a deep and bottomless pool in which i can splash to my heart’s pure joy and content.

are you good at making time for what matters? or are you, like me, too hellbent half the time on sprinting through the days with little pause for plain old friend time?