The Spring sun shines through the bedroom windows, through crisp, newly washed drapes. We have painted one wall–the window wall, the wall you see when you walk up the stairs and glance in the room–a light and sunny yellow. We have moved the bed: it was facing the windows; now it’s flanked by them.
Simple moves, simple expedients, and the entire room is changed. The very size of it feels different–lighter, brighter, roomier. The colors–a soft sky blue, the gleaming white trim, the gently beaming yellow of the window wall,–combine with the sandy color of the carpet to suggest to me, “Beach.”
It gives me summer thoughts; it makes me smile. I grab my empty coffee mug and I thump downstairs to where Mark is gathering his gear for work.
“I can’t get over that room,” he says. “Finally, it’s the way it SHOULD be. Who knew?”
I agree. “What other little changes can we make?”
We look around the dining room, a room that collects the morning sun, and that also collects the clutter: Jim’s lists and books and DVD cases; Mark’s tax papers and work documents; my books and notebooks, pens and craft stuff. There are chargers and cords–all the paraphernalia of modern electronic life. The Sunday New York Times, which we never quite finish reading during the week after it arrives, waits hopefully on a side chair.
I want to pull up the rug like a cartoon wizard and snap it, watch items fly up into the air and then fall smartly into their very right places.
Or watch them disappear.
I smile at Mark, who is seeing his own vision of the room. Perfect organization may not happen as easily as in my animated fantasy, but we’ll whip this room into shape.
There’s a lesson in the simple bedroom changes, a lesson about using what I already have to make things new, that I need time to ponder and absorb. I think this might be part of it: Things change. Bad times pass. Spring, always and eventually, comes. But listening, seeing, processing, and then acting, is required.
It is just before noon, and it is a treat to sit at Giacomo’s in a corner booth, checking my email, and to see Susan’s sleek black SUV pull in. She’s got the rear-view camera; I always enjoy watching her back smoothly into a parking place. (Me, I try to find a place where I can park facing out–no backing required, arriving or leaving.)
And it’s so good to see Susan, who retired in December, and who has been on the move– down the coast, across the country, over the ocean to that mythical island state–ever since. A lunch hour won’t give us enough time to cover everything.
I meet her at the counter. I gather up a lovely spinach salad–those healthy greens are festooned with bacon and red onion and accompanied by slices of baguette (the crust crackles and explodes; the bread inside is fresh and tender), and my loaf of take-home sliced french bread. Susan gets her soup and sandwich. We convene to the corner booth; we commence the necessary work-information sharing.
Then Susan talks about her grand-twins, Cleary and Will, the tiny, sweet children of Laura and Josh. Barely over a year old, they are finally on the growth chart at their pediatrician’s. Granted, they’ve just climbed on to that chart, topping out at two and three per cent, but they’ve arrived at that comforting ‘normal’ range. (I think of how small Jim, in the 98th percentile for length and weight, seemed as a baby, and how fragile; I try to imagine parenting such amazing little morsels of humanity.)
After a very chaotic first year of life–a year involving long hospital stays, feeding crises, surgery, care issues, and, I know, nights and days of pain and worry for their parents and grandparents,–those babies, like any other babies their age, are walking.
The sun shines in, and Susan and I move on to talk about what we’re reading, but there’s a happy grounding to our talk. I think about those miracle babies. And now: a new chapter in their young and exciting lives begins.
What a nice lunch.
I head back to work.
New chapters and new babies are on my mind tonight after I pack up my desk, and, driving home, I wonder how things are going in Maryland. That’s where Alison is making my friend Sandee–my friend who first knew me in Grade Five, when a tiny nun half our size and twice our ferocity terrorized us both (Oh, we could tell you stories…)–a first-time grandma.
Alison and John’s baby is a boy; the delivery’s a scheduled C-section; the name will be revealed on FaceBook. That tiny boy will be a new life, of course, and he’ll create new lives for Alison and John, who become, in that twinkling when they hear his first affronted wail, Mom and Dad. And Sandee and Don take on new personae, too–they’re suddenly Grandma and Grandpa Hulihan, and they’re parents, now, of Mama Alison and Auntie Colleen.
After dinner, Jim pulls out the vacuum, I get the duster; Mark carts some extraneous office furniture out to the sun porch. I organize the dining room, the cubbies, the shelves–tackle some of that clutter. We’re getting ready for a special visit. Mark’s Mom, Pat, arrives on Saturday. It will be her first visit to Zanesville; it will be her first Easter as a widow. A new kind of life for Pat, too.
We will show her the wonders of our adopted homeplace–the Y Bridge, the gardens, John Glenn’s boyhood house, the restaurant built with barnwood from Agnes Moorehead’s farm. We’ll take road trips, we’ll hit book stores (Pat, whom I met when we worked together at the Book Nook, is a voracious reader), and we’ll watch movies in the family room; we’ll cook up big meals, and we’ll visit some of our favorite funky eateries.
We’ll talk and drink coffee, maybe play some cards, and we’ll get to know Pat in her new role. Pat, after Angelo’s death. Pat, grieving, but moving forward.
The daffodils have pushed up quickly and insistently, so fast, in fact, it seems like we watched them grow in Disney stop-action. The first tentative blooms have opened. By Sunday–Easter Sunday,–we’ll have a Wordsworth sea of those nodding yellow heads.
After a tough, dark winter: the Spring,–a time of rejoicing, and a time of somberly marking what’s been lost to the cold, cruel season. A time to celebrate–first cries, first steps. Anticipated blooming. Unexpected change.
I love the contemplative time January 1st offers every year, the fillip at the end of Christmas, the beginning of a new cycle. But this time, this season, this Eastertide, always feels to me like the real beginning. Here we emerge–sometimes from a cozy, dark quiet; sometimes from a deep and abiding sadness; and sometimes, from a season that handed us both–into the light.
Interior growth stirs; it inches; it parallels the real and raucous blooms of spring–the first bold yellows of daffs and forsythia mellowing into the lavendars of hardy lilacs and tender violets, the many tulip hues, the bold scent of lilies.
We’re launching, now, into future. We must go forward,–no choice–, even when that means leaving something precious behind. But it means, too, celebrations of new life and new progress; it means embracing new roles and seeing new possibilities.
Some years those changes, those beginnings, are subtle; I have to search for them; they’re like violets shying into the uncut grass.
This year, my head spins with all the loud, proud, joyful shouts of Spring, of time’s changes, of new life. This year insists I take time and be with this. I hope I’ll be awake and brave and strong enough to take this season’s lessons all the way home to my heart.
Whatever holiday or holy day you acknowledge, whatever seasonal joys you lift your face to, I wish you all the blessings of this amazing season.