I rarely blog anymore. Moving back to Cincinnati coincided with having Gideon, and a year later losing David to a weekly commute to Chicago. In the past two years, life happened big and fast and moments where uninterrupted time and mental energy occurred simultaneously have been merely fleeting thought bubbles in my head as my arms sit elbow deep in dishwater, moments before someone needs to be wiped or sent to his room or held again, just because.
The days often loom before me busy and scattered and full of picking up and putting away. They end before I know it in a heap of exhaustion which has become--"Read to yourselves tonight, boys" as I collapse in Gideon's bed. Whatever remains to be done will be faced with a sigh in the morning, the dishes or the laundry exactly where I left them--unfinished.
It's been a full and hard two years, filled with wonderful, joyous, amazing things--new baby, new kitchen, new job, new friends, new life taking place in the exact same space where the old one left off. A good, full, wonderful life where mothering has become the fullest of the full-time jobs and writing has become something I once did. Sometimes I fall asleep drafting a page in my head, but rarely do I find the time and energy to actually type it out. So, now I find myself at 4:30 a.m., days away from leaving, trying to capture two years in two pages before everyone wakes up and the day rockets into chaos.
I doubt most people think of their lives in two-year chapters, but that has come to be a norm for me. Two years here, two years there, two years back again, and now how many years gone again? That's the question. Is Chicago a brief stop, another chapter which will turn into another city, another life? Or is Chicago a lasting destination? A place, a community, a neighborhood where our family tree will grow roots that spread and drink deep?
People ask me, "Will you be back? Is this forever?"
I wonder if anyone can see my smile inside when my shoulders shrug, "I don't know."
I recognized the very same smile last night when I sat beside Finny in the dark, 276 feet high. We were strapped into the Kings Island Drop Tower at the end of a full day, his first day standing just barely 48 inches tall with shoes on riding roller coasters.
I couldn't see him behind the shoulder harness. I didn't know his eyes were closed. Mine were open and I drank it in--the view, the lights, the unknown. I knew we would drop far and fast, but I didn't know when and I think that was strangely my favorite part. The not knowing. When we did finally drop, it was terrifying and thrilling and so fast and over so soon. But as we walked away holding hands, we were so proud of ourselves, of each other, for being so brave, for taking a leap and trusting that we would land safely at the end.
People also ask me if I'm excited. I tell them that's not the word I would use to describe it. But maybe it sort of is. I'm at the top of the Drop Tower, looking out at my life, my home, my Cincinnati, and I can see so many things sparkling around me. The memories that I thought would continue to grow and stretch and evolve right here on this piece of earth. My children live in a neighborhood where no less than a gazillion kids are out playing baseball, catching fireflies, riding scooters, running through sprinklers, eating Popsicles, and swinging high on the swingset we built just two short years ago in our backyard. They gather all of their basement instruments and start a band on the back patio. They sell lemonade and show off their missing teeth and they fight with and love each other all at the same time.
And it's not just the children being raised here, it's their very grown-up looking parents too. The parents who drink beer beside their baby monitors in the street. The parents who light fireworks, who giggle all day over poop in the road, the parents who are trying so hard to be responsible adults when very often they just want to dress up and drink too much whiskey and maybe even smoke a cigarette here and there.
Sparkling brightly around me is the bus stop, the driveway, the red plastic cars zooming up and down the sidewalk. Sparkling brightly around me is that initially suffocating cul-de-sac that became the biggest home we've ever lived in--no walls, no ceilings, just one big yard filled with abandoned bike helmets and mole trails.
Everything looks shiny when you're 276 feet high, in the dark, and preparing to drop. From that vantage point, you can no longer see what's in the dark spots--any conflict, sadness, boredom, or grief sits in shadows. You can only see the beauty of the lights. You can only feel air fill your lungs as your feet dangle below you, wondering what, what, what will the ground feel like when you fall and land in Western Springs, Illinois? And could it ever possibly be as brilliant as the earth that held you up, that pulled you in, that landed you right here?
So, am I excited? Yes. The way you are when you know that very soon, very, very soon you're going to fall far and fast and finally touch the earth again. But instead of nodding my head, I gulp and sigh because the thrill of the fall means a terrible goodbye to this very moment when everything around me seems so shiny, bright and beautiful, and there's part of me that will just always want to stay, just stay right where I am just a little bit longer before I unstrap my harness and follow my feet to the next ride.