Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birds and insects are singing all around me. Occasionally, church bells join in, coming in with the soft breeze; it's like their sounds are rolling over me just as is the cool air. A strip of sunlit grass glows, with cheerful, wild clover blossoms sticking up. Bumblebees float around the roses-of-Sharon that someone planted, who knows how many years ago, holding their own among tall weeds and neglected tomato plants against the back fence.
I think this is one of my favorite things about this summer--at least about the everyday routine stuff. Though in a way, I guess I do like this--my sitting in the backyard drinking coffee routine--as much as I liked seeing the USA and traveling to Vancouver. As much as I liked the excitement, I like peace, too.
It's nice to be able to sit and reflect, to take a small break from the anxieties of now and the wondering and worrying about these next weeks will bring. I only have fourteen more mornings to do this, to sit in this yard at this house. From where I sit, I can't see the garbage in the neighbors' yard. I can't see the inside of my falling-apart apartment. I can't see the tub that won't drain or the leaky refrigerator, the buckling kitchen floor and the broken kitchen tiles. I can't see dirty streets devoid of natural life (except for grass and invasive plants). I see white houses with colorful shutters and roofs, birds and insects, and our behind-the-house neighbor's vegetable and flower garden. I see my little refuge from the potentially scary future.
I know it probably won't be scary. Between turning in my last paper and leaving for the road trip, I would get these occasional, brief surges of panic--not because I was afraid that something terrible would happen to us, but just that it was so unknown. My routine that I've had for as long as I can remember would be gone. It would be like learning how to live and be me again, like becoming a new self. And I realized yesterday that I have changed a lot since the middle of May when I finished college. The way I approach things and think about things has in some way drastically changed. But it doesn't feel unnatural, like I jumped all over the place. It feels in some way like a natural progression, like even though I'm so different, I'm more me.
Mainly, I'm afraid of less things. I can't believe how much I used to worry. I still do, of course. But I feel like AFRAID is the word that fits how I felt. I was so afraid that I bet it kept good things out of my life, because I was too afraid to go out and meet them when they were coming to me, or go out and get them when they were just out of reach.
It makes me wonder if other people around me, who you wouldn't think are this way, are actually terrified of things in their lives that could be really good for them - just terrified for some reason - and it's crippling them, keeping them from being as happy as they could be.
Someone in this neighborhood is cooking breakfast. It smells like eggs and bacon and toast. I wish I could have some!
I just finished reading The Walk West by Peter and Barbara Jenkins. It made me want to see new things, the things I managed to miss on my 10,000 mile road trip; it made me want to mail a copy of the book to Mary right away and insist that she read it; it made me want to do something adventurous and physically taxing (more like testing - a test for myself, a test and an exercise) like going on a big walk; it made me want to see more of the world and read and read. It also made me want to keep going to work, keep entering my expenses into an Excel spreadsheet, and keep living this stationary, practical life for a bit, so I can save money and days off to go travel!
Especially when this stationary life isn't so bad. I had a really nice time at work yesterday. One of the things I did was help at a big outdoor event where, at our table, we were helping people (mainly people with no yards and possibly not a lot of money) learn about houseplants, giving them free plants, and teaching them how to re-pot and take care of them. I had this flash of memory, realizing that THIS was what I wanted to do when I was in college, working towards my botany degree. It's not the only thing, but something like this--making people happy, helping them out in some little way--my way being plants, because that's what I know about--that is one of the things I wanted to do when I was sitting in Botany School thinking, What do I ultimately want to do with this degree?
So now I need a new book to read. The last three books I have read were A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins, A Walk in the Woods by ... I forget ..., and The Walk West. All three books were about walking! Maybe I should read a more stationary book now; a book that doesn't encourage the desire to throw my belongings into a suitcase and hit the road....or head for the AT. Patrick and I traded A Walk in the Woods for Primary Colors, plus I still have his copy of The Magic Mountain. I "borrowed" a bunch of my dad's Richard Brautigan books, and I have a book about ferns to read, too.
I have nothing more to write about. I have today and tomorrow off, so I think I'm going to continue packing, cleaning, knocking things off the to-do list, but also make time for fun things like reading, relaxing, and baking zucchini bread or clafoutis. Or pickling cherries. I have some NY sour cherries and I can't decide if I should pickle them or make clafoutis. I think I'm going to finally - for the first time since the road trip - clean my car.

No comments: