Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do You Stay Or Do You Go?

Jogging up the main street of Diablo in the cool of the morning, I looked at the people in the cars driving towards me.  For a change.  Most of the time I'm gasping for breath, or looking at my shoes trying not to trip on the uneven pavement.  But today I looked up, and with the shade from the trees I could actually see into the cars.

Most of the people behind the windshields were dressed for work.  Dress shirts and blouses, full make-up and neat hair, the occasional jacket.   Grown-up clothes, my family calls them. When the summer is over there will also be carpools, one harassed parent with a car full of bouncing children.  Sometimes the grown-up is smiling.  Most of the time, not.

Later in the mornings there will be mommies in yoga gear - a stereotype, I know.  Deal with it. You can tell when the women are wearing yoga gear - not so much the guys - one schlumpy tee shirt pretty much looks like another.  Plus how many guys do you see in your late morning yoga class?  I know a fair number of these mommies, and their kids, and they deserve some yoga.  And possibly a long tropical vacation, but that's another story.

And I thought:  there are two lives here.  There are two lives in many neighborhoods, urban and suburban.  Those who stay for the day; those who go away.

After the commuters leave, there is a change in the rhythm.  Rushing is over, cars are fewer, not so focused.  It's like the whole place takes a deep breath.

The calm is broken by the arrival of mowers, blowers, remodelers, window washers and painters, and the odd jackhammer.  (It's been an annoyingly noisy evening in our neighborhood, so I may be a little testy.  Who thought a jackhammer at dinnertime was a good idea?  Not me.)   So maybe there are three lives here: those who stay, those who go, and those who come to work.

I wonder now what it is like to leave at daybreak, come home at sunset.  I vaguely remember the days when I would leave before sunrise, come home after dark.  I slept there, I didn't really live there.  When I quit commuting and began gardening, I found I didn't really know my home at all, for weekends when so many are home have a different rhythm, and the seasonal changes are small and fleeting.

You have to be paying attention to notice that first day in winter when you can smell spring coming, although it is still a long way off.  And that day in August when the air cools, and just for a moment it feels like fall.  The changes in the light - from the flat bleak mid-day of August to the long shadows and frozen fingers of February happen so gradually.  You have to be home - and outside -  to feel the changes.

I remember when I was too young for school.  My sister was not - she would leave for school, my dad for the office, and mommy and I would smile - we had a secret: this glorious long day stretching ahead of us.  We could do what ever we wanted.  Sometimes we actually did.

I would watch her iron, we would eat whole wheat bread hot from the oven, and lick the butter dripping down our arms.  She would garden and we would talk.  I would ask a million questions and she would answer them all patiently.  We would eat yoghurt and orange juice popsicles for lunch, or cake with chocolate frosting.  One morning I was in my high chair and mommy asked me if I wanted pancakes? french toast? yoghurt? cereal?  eggs?

I said "I want them all!" and she made them.  All.  I still remember them, lined up in front of me on the table.  I don't think I ate more than one bite of each, but that feeling of being important, of an adult who took me seriously and let me be silly I have never forgotten.  I've also never forgotten that the fun was in the asking, not the eating.

Mornings are a gift.   I have lived that other life, and I am thankful I stay.  And for the memories of those long perfect days, just mommy and me.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post.

    We were in the car driving up to Tahoe on Monday, chatting with the kids about what they imagine their lives to be like when they grow up - urban, rural, bi-coastal, bi-national.

    Tory says, "I want to be like Jill -- friendly and outside."