Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lost Inside

Awake, every 15 minutes, since 2:20 this morning. Harried, psychotic dreams about a psychotic trucker, trailing me, or trying to rescue Mom and me from a parking lot where rough men yanked the windows out of my car with us in it. I'm capable of many exciting tricks in my dreams, including driving Nascar style out of such danger, even though being blocked in by several black, sleek monster-sized trucks. I finally got out of bed at 5:40 and started the coffee, Starbucks, a gift to Bobby from his co-workers at Wells Fargo, on his last day.

I'm listening to the remainder of the tender 'Everything I've Got In My Pocket' CD; it's making everything in me hold still and hone in on the fact that I've got tears running a river just beneath my surface, a gathering deep I won't be able to sandbag in very much longer. Outside on the patio with my mug of coffee, I wrote down my dream but couldn't work up the energy to attempt to analyze it, Clarissa Pinkola Estes style. Instead, I leaned back against the masonry wall and listened to the woodpecker, so happy to hear him back again, up in the heights of the most narrow palm tree in a neighbor's yard, on the other side of the irrigation ditch behind our patio. He plugs away, thump thump thump, changes angles, whack whack whack, moves again, plunk plunk plunk. Such a busy, determined little fellow. When I'm still, when my pen is down on the pages of my open journal, then the hummingbirds swoop my head, daredevils of attitude and arrogance and air-aerobics. There is one bird, surely it must be the same one, who zooms in within 2 inches of my face and hovers. Is it a challenge? A greeting? A look-see? I wonder how in the world I appear in the eyes of a hummingbird, anyway!

Today is Saturday. Saturdays on the farm in Nebraska followed a ritual of routine, cleaning, Grandma Lydia fashion. First the livingroom, dusting, fluffing pillows, laundering the doilies, refolding the crocheted afghan on the back of the couch. The smell of lemon Pledge, her admonishments correcting the order in which I dusted the collectibles on the open shelves between the livingroom and diningroom. Polishing the diningroom table and chairs and buffet (beautiful blond wood, for years they lived in MY house after she and Grandpa died)- that job I loved, the sweet oil, the deep massaging of that wood, the gleam in the rising sun through the south window after. I hated being leashed to the house, hated cleaning even more, was actually quite frightened of my determined, rather foreboding grandmother, but she let me oil the wood, yes she did. Always she had something in a big sink being starched, the bottle was blue, a load in the washer, a big basket with her clothespin bag on top which we carried together to the clothesline in the yard, under the arch of old trees, green light, cool. An old rag pinched around the wire lines and run their lengths, to clean off the bird droppings -- I loved that, too, when I was old enough to reach those wires, 'skating' along the grass anchored by my hand to the wire. Once I wrote a short story about Grandma and the ritual of laundry - I wish I could find it. The whoosh of the screen door behind us, how it would spank your fanny if you didn't move fast enough through it. The precision of her hand with the clothespins, and certain numbers of pins depending on which item was being hung up, how she allowed some thing to overlap under a pin, but not others. Grandpa's Sunday shirts (western style, with snap buttons, usually plaid with some sort of blue as the main color) on their own line, special. Sometimes one of the Brown's from up the road would go flying by in his pickup, shooting dust into the air, and Grandma would frown, but the windbreak of trees never let the dust in, it just kept rising up, backlit by sun, a prairie cloud soon evaporated. Grandma sang, too -- I wish, I so wish, that I knew what those songs were. Her voice very much like her -- sturdy, dependable, true.

Grandma seemed to travel a route of chores, sink to laundry line to freezer to garden to the colander of peas needing to be shelled on the stoop. Whenever I picture her, her hands are busy with a domestic task, her face frowned in concentration. And yet I know what two of her loves were -- and I saw her immersed in those, as well -- her unbelievable garden of flowers (& her prize-winning arrangements, absolute works of art), the way she would cup a flower in both hands and whisper to it ... the way they grew, I know they listened -- what did she say to them? And every evening, she sat at the foot of the narrow steep stairs climbing up to the second floor where I slept. She sat small and still, leaning against the wall to her right, her bible open on her lap, utterly absorbed.

I wish I could know her now, meet her as a woman and not the intimidated, obnoxious child I always was around her. Oh, I can't stand it!! The losses, all she could have taught me, that I was unprepared to learn then.