pull up a chair

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

Tag: end chapter

empty room, full heart


this is my little boy’s room. only it’s not his anymore. not officially. not where he plops his head at night, and tumbles into sleep.

he’s moved three steps down and around the bend.

everything at our house shifted this week.

one boy’s heart was broken, his summer days of soccer hollowed, left to wonder — as his friends, all his friends it seems, dash off to practice twice a day — why he couldn’t have grown just another six inches, maybe even 12. or more, if we were being greedy, really greedy. a goalie needs every inch he can get. our goalie has only 63. the other goalies have 77 and 75. the arithmetic of soccer is harsh, makes no allowances for size of heart.

another boy moved out, not too far away, 13.21 miles as the crow flies, to his first grown-up apartment. and the night we dropped him off, said goodbye, the little one’s tears soaked the t-shirt of the one who for the past year — for as far back as he can remember, really — has been his bumper pad and protector from all life’s knocks.

monday morning, while the older one drove his first load off to his apartment, the little one and i drove to the sterile pen where numbers are called, papers are signed, tests taken, and permits issued. we drive at night now, he and i, taking to the broadest swath of uninhabited parking lot we can find.

by wednesday, i was scrubbing, dusting, clearing out the last few bits from drawers. i tend to clean like crazy when my heart is upside down. i hauled this and that down from the attic. shoved a few things up for storing. boy no. 2 moved into what had been the long-time chamber of boy no. 1, a fellow more than likely never coming back, except for a night here or there, a stretch of nights if we’re so blessed.

and while we made a room for a boy who’ll find his way through the halls of a new high school, iIMG_8152 made a room that’s something of a relic of the boyhoods i so loved. the ones where books were tucked in corners, slid from shelves, pages turned. the boyhoods populated by wooden blocks and trains. now, a little chair sits empty. the alphabet rug, the one i once bought for a nursery, it’s off at the cleaners and the rug repair shop. i seem to be preserving a chapter of our lives, pressing it onto the pages of my heart. a little part of me, perhaps, is hoping that some day a new crop of little people will climb the stairs, turn the corner and see the wall of books, and the bins of blocks and puppets. but mostly, i think, i’m making a room for me, the mama who will never ever forget.

a room where when i walk in i hear the echoes of boys from long and not so long ago. where i pull any book off the shelf and turn a page, and suddenly i can picture the little hands and the voices who once begged for me to read that page over and over. and over.

the rooms in a house are like that, when they’re no longer used. one by one, most houses surrender rooms to time. a room once strewn wall-to-wall with elaborate block constructions becomes a room with sweaty socks and inside-out jerseys. years go by when you hardly see the floor. and then, there comes a dawn when the first beams of sunlight fall across hardwood slats that all but glow, so exposed they are, and not a hand puppet nor a book is out of place. when what you find in the morning is exactly as you left it at noon the day before.

but rooms hold memory, hold the rhythm of a heart that will not fade.

as certainly as the wooden soldier stands guard on the window ledge, as welcoming as the old bear now slumped against the wall, that room will harbor me. will wrap me in its particular embrace. will be my tucked-away respite at the top of the stairs.

for the days when i need retreat. for the days when all i want is to step back in time, to remember how it was and how we got here. for the days when nothing soothes my soul so much as the far-off whisperings of the room that grew my sweet, sweet boys. the room that holds my heart.

do you have a nook or a cranny in your house that holds more than a life-size relic of your heart? IMG_8121

goodbye to white-on-black

oh my goodness. i am filled to the brim here today, as i type these white keys on the black page. chalk to the chalkboard i always thought of it. all these five years, two months, two weeks and five days.

oh, i’ve heard grumbles now and then. hard to see. makes folks eyes do the wazzle-dazzle, which means the albino letters get all wobbly, do a dance on the black velvet curtain, and it’s impossible to read.

i’ve always found it homey. but then i like cloudy days, a gray november day is some of God’s best artwork, far as i’m concerned.

so it’ll be a bit like taking off the sunglasses when we up and move over the weekend. when we kiss iWeb goodbye, this lovely little paintset that all these years has let me play here, write my heart out, let you join in on the hearty conversation.

in the nine gazillion changes underfoot, i found out not so long ago (where was i when the smoke signals went up?) that ol’ iWeb will soon be obsolete, and mobileMe, the cloud that carries the chair to all your houses, it is evaporating come summer.

it’s pretty much like finding a bright orange eviction notice slapped on your front door. or parking in some illicit spot downtown and finding a big ol’ chicago police department clamp on your back right wheel. while you were away, the sheriff came and booted you.

so as long as i was leaping out of airplanes in the last few weeks, i decided now’s the time to make the one last leap. we are moving, you and i and all our chairs and the kitchen table too. and worry not, i won’t forget the old milk pitcher, the cracked one up above. i’ll haul it along. with all the coffee mugs and spoons.

all you have to do is ring the same old doorbell. i’ll be there, waiting on the other end.

i’ve been doing all the packing for the last few days. trying to make it all cozy over in the new place. the walls are white. and some of you — though you’re not here reading, because you told me long long ago that you would not read a place where words come out all chalky white on slate — well some of you will be tickled to learn that the new place believes in black letters on white walls. just like in the old days, when you could count on ink getting smeared all over your mitts as you read the morning’s news.

i up and moved — with MAJOR assist from the chief technical saint, my little brother bri, who swooped on a cape and saved the day when i thought the chair was forever lost — every last one of the 523 daily meanders that have meandered here, and soon as i’m done with this one, making it a neat 524, i’ll carry this one over there too. sort of like when the moving van takes all the big stuff, and you throw one last lamp there beside you in the passenger seat, lest it get left behind.

it might take a while to get the curtains up, to make it all pretty again. for one thing i have a full 524 photos to move, one by one. and somehow the paragraph indentations all got lost. can you even begin to guess how many paragraphs need to be indented? oh lord, does anyone know a 1-800 listing for the paragraph patrol?

as with any move, i’m a bowl of floopy noodles over here. part of me is sad to leave this place that’s been such a fine home for me, and my heart. and the words that spill here.

this ol’ house was built with and by my sweet college boy. back when he was just an eighth-grader. i loved the way he sat down that long ago december’s night, and started poking buttons and next thing i knew he had me shoved out the window and onto the blogosphere.

where would we be without the ones who push us from behind when we don’t realize how very much we need the shove?

i might walk around one last time. peek in corners i’ve not seen in a long long time. wipe off the last of the cobwebs, then take one big brave breath, and pull the shades.

there’s a new place waiting for all of us to pull up chairs. and it’s a spiffy place. it’s got tricks and marvels i can’t begin to grasp. not yet anyway.

for starters, i don’t think you’ll ever be tangled again in the darn comment snags, the ones here on iWeb that sometimes let you pipe up and add your thoughts, and sometimes kept you banging on the window, trying to get someone to let you in.

i never much like change. i could wear the same old pair of slippers till my big toe pokes through (and it is, even as i type). i wouldn’t notice if a rug was worn to the threads. it’d be the same old beautiful rug it was the day i brought it home.

so this moving thing gives me the wobbles too. and i’m all worried you won’t find it cozy. but it’s clean. and we’ll all be together. and the coffee will never stop percolating there on the cookstove.

give me a wee bit of time to gussy it up.

and stick with me.

the other night, when i thought the chair was lost, when i thought our zillions of heart beats shared would never ever see the light of day, i cried myself to sleep. real tears. poured onto my pillow.

oh, sure, these are just computer keys that i push down with the pads of my fingers. but you all know the secret: they are wired straight to the nerve center of my heart.

this is all virtual, indeed. but what spins from here is as real as anything i have ever known. and it is propelling me, keeping me airborne.

so that’s it.

just one last thing: have i told you lately that with all my heart and all my soul, thanks for coming all these years.
now, let me grab the coffee and let’s get goin’ down the lane. we’ll make it just right. i promise.

love, the chair lady

housekeeping: you have nothing to do, nothing to change. the tech committee and i will get the phones changed, the new mailbox hung. just find the chair the old way, pullupachair.org
you’ll find us, wherever we are….
and i’ll be waiting…

holding hands

it’s been a long time since i leapt off the high dive, felt the whoosh of my body — bare skin, wet suit — free-falling through air.

it’s been a long long time since i last mustered the courage, flung myself out into the unknown.

but, i was reminding myself, i’ve done it plenty before.

i can do this.

there was the time, long long ago, when my mama and papa drove me downtown. to the hospital, they told me. you are going to get better, they told me. and i did. but not before being scared out of my wits.

and there were long nights in college when i had no clue where i was headed. but one saturday night in the library i decided i knew. and i decided that to get there i was going to snare myself a solid line of straight As. so i did.

there was the night my papa died. and i never wanted to exhale the breath in my lungs from before he was gone. could not bear to take in a swallow of this new oxygen, depleted of the great love of my life at the time, my hero, my papa.

but i did.

not too many weeks after that i picked up a telephone and told a man on the other end of the line that i was a nurse, but i wondered if maybe they’d have room in their school to teach me a thing or two about writing.

he did. so i did.

and then, not long after that, i walked into the great gothic tower of a newspaper i’d grown up reading. i bumped into a fellow who wore purple high-top tennis shoes, and spilled chunks of oil-drenched salad all over the pages, my pages, that sat on his lap. he read along, looked up, said, “i think i can use this.” i let out a yelp. said, “i think you just made my life.”

not long after that, the lady in charge of plucking recruits out of the masses, enlisting them in the summer army of interns, she called me up, called me in for an interview. last thing she said to me in that tiny broom closet of an interview room was this: “around here, you sink or swim.” i looked her straight in the eye and said, plainly, “i’m a swimmer.”

and so it’s gone, over and over and over again.

we forget sometimes, until we need to remember, just how brave we can be.

and then, once we remember, the oddest most curious things start to happen.

once we stare our fears in the eye, once we decide, okay, universe, we’re not going to be bound anymore. not going to stand here, frozen in time and space, thinking of all the things that could go wrong, might go wrong. we’re going to step off this ledge, and try that free-falling move once again.

once we do that, just as goethe, the great german philosopher, long ago said, “at the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to support us.”

in other words, all around, from out of the darkness, folks start extending a hand. taking our shaky one in theirs, and holding it soft and tight.

the phone starts ringing, and people say things that give you tingles up your spine. because how did they know–out of the blue–that you needed to hear those very words at that very moment?

emails pop into your mailbox. and you click here or there, not really thinking what you’re doing, and next thing you know you are reading something that slides right sweet into the place where you needed it to be.

might be that the fellow you married — a guy known to be plenty cautious and not keen on rash, irrational moves, pretty much the life-long grounding rod for your high-wire act — keeps telling you you’re doing the right thing.

might be your 10-year-old boy, who lets out a whoop, pipes up during dinnertime prayers, “dear God, thank you for the bravest mommy there ever was.”

trust me, i’m not launching myself into space. not about to set up a colony on the moon. not tackling a cure for cancer.

just putting one foot in front of the other.

but, for the first time in a long time, headed in the direction of my heart. instead of the way that’s been slow-dripping, leeching the pink right out of my cheeks.

and once i got through the talking to myself, reminding myself i’ve moved my own personal mountains before, i have been utterly and joyfully buoyed by the power, the knowledge, the wisdom, of the universe to make like a marvelous tunnel of hands and hearts, each one reaching out, giving me the nudge, the squeeze, the full-throttle embrace i need to keep this free-fall from feeling like a death-dive.

instead, i am slowly, solidly, catching the wind.

and one of these days, i just might look down and realize i’ve started to soar.

what a bummer. can’t let you in on specifics. not yet. will when i can. but in the meantime, what freefalls have you knowingly, bravely, stepped into in your life, and who were the great good souls who reached out and let you know you were going to be all right, and no one was letting you splat flat on your face? what are your moments of personal courage?