Back from Las Vegas jet lagged. The three hours time difference feels like three weeks. My clock says 6:15 a.m., my usual waking time, but my body thinks it’s 3:15 a.m. Or maybe it’s not my body but family that pulls me back to bed.
For the last four days my family has spent nearly all of our waking hours together, drawn to Vegas for the unveiling of my Aunt Anita’s tombstone. Contingents from New York, Washington, Florida, California, Maryland are present. We have greeted each other with tight hugs and firm kisses, and when we stand at the gravesite, shoulder to shoulder, we pass tissues and reach for each other’s hands. We remember, together.
Always I am struck by the unbreakable bonds of familial DNA. Our daily lives do not intersect — we live too many hundreds and thousands of miles from each other — and yet we know each other well. And because there are no warring camps among us, our reunion, though bittersweet, is sweet.
We catch up, share Aunt Anita tales and form new memories. We vow to stay in touch, knowing we likely won’t. But when we meet next it will not have mattered. We’ll fall into conversation, share smiles. The hugs will be tight, the kisses firm. We will be together again.
(More of Aunt Anita and the remarks I wrote for her funeral.)
I would like to thank the sun for coming through my window this morning, casting strips of shadows through the blinds and onto the floor. They were the ladder rungs I used to climb out of bed and into the bathroom.
I would like to thank my sink and the cool fountain water I cupped to my cheeks. Splash, splash. Tingle.
I would like to thank my mirror — but forget that one. The mirror’s too judgmental, and so early in the morning! Bad mirror, bad mirror.
So instead I will thank my teal towel that gently rubbed and opened my eyes so I might see the day and pray to make it a good one.
I would like to thank the day for showing up yet again, whatever the season or reason. I love how it weaves its fingers through mine and gently tugs: “Let’s begin.”
And I would like to thank the universal powers that be, whatever their shape or name, for the periodic wisdom that allows me to follow my purpose, with trust.
I don’t miss being younger, experiencing the rough stuff of youth. The fears and tears of pimples and unrequited love, the not knowing what to say or wear, or who I would be when, at some distant time and place, I’d be all grown up.
Grown up. An interesting term. As if we grow in one direction, vertically, when really growth is a horizontal thing. With luck and smarts, we grow out, furthering our reach each day, no matter how crummy it may be, for no day is without possibility, however slim.
Grownup; another interesting term. As if we become a solid, single being, rooted in space and time and emotion, when, really, we are fluid. Without the ups and downs, our lives are terribly flat. At the very least, we need hills.
These days my life is hilly and what I see in the distance is my present. How confusing. It reminds of the time when, as a kid, I asked my mom, “Is today tomorrow?” I couldn’t grasp the concept of time, nor can I now. What day is it? What week, what month, what year? Have they merged and become something wholly different, like mixing red and blue and getting purple?
Purple. Not my favorite color but nice nonetheless. It’s the color of grapes, which I like, and the color of my recently purchased pants, which I love. Other than that, eh. I prefer the blue of clear sharp skies, the waters that ring tropical islands; worn denim.
All of which is neither here nor there, I suppose. Nonetheless, it summarizes my life: I am neither here nor there; I just am. Perhaps this is what it means to grow up, to be a grownup.