Whether we feel it or not, the earth moves beneath us

"The den"

“The den”

It was the first night this year that didn’t fall so hard. If it had been a theater production and a light cue, they changed the fadeout from 30 seconds to 60. Though unseen, hope stirred underground and you could remember what spring felt like still, it was there with all the other seasons on the bench, warming up. And in the morning the sky went from gray to pink like it was blushing, and then back to gray again.

Those vignettes from the weekend you scan through and edit on your phone, where you went, what you did: Charlotte swinging her legs underneath the table at a food court in the mall, her feet still not touching the ground when she sits. Time gives no warning when it’s come to the edges of things; it crosses over without notice, keeps its own schedule.

For a while we tried to pretend with our house it was still a grown-up house, that kids didn’t really live there, that we could put everything in a box at the end of the day and stow it. I worked to enforce rules about how shoes get arranged by the front door…the importance of putting things away…and then this January I just stopped, and now everything’s crooked and beaten up, and I don’t care. There’s probably popcorn kernels in the sofa still from Saturday night.

Now with all the hustle and bustle of kids coming and going at our house, the real sense it’s like a TV sitcom, I’ll sometimes step out of the frame and regard myself, and think I should be more fatherly, like I don’t quite fit the role, I’m not right for it. I flicker between feeling not grown up enough or that I’m aging too fast, but maybe that’s the discomfort of middle age, sitting on the seam between youth and what’s coming next, feeling it stretch beneath you.

After the mall I took Charlotte to Starbucks for a cookie and it was warm enough we could sit outside for a bit, but when the clouds took over it went right back to winter and we finished up, drove home, I collected branches and twigs for a fire but never got around to it (making a fire can be like starting a writing project, it demands all your attention and once I start, I can’t stop fiddling with it).

And I had a moment at the Starbucks where I settled back in the sun and smiled, thought “I live here, this is my neighborhood,” and for all the time I resisted identifying with the suburbs and people with money, I relaxed into it, hoped I’d see someone I knew, and we could make small talk, talk about our jobs.


Categories: musings, parenting, writing

Tags: , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. you’re settling into comfort like and old worn leather chair and it’s making you uncomfortable. let yourself sit among the popcorn kernels and be happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great title, great first line. Great second line that helps me better understand the first, which I already liked anyway. Great rhythm in the next two lines, nice balance, good cadence. Kudos on paragraph one. I could say the same about the others too, down to the last. Nice tie-up and bow on the last, by the way. And I relate to the fatherhood bit, wondering if I fit the role, may be better suited to another, with less responsibility. Think about it a lot. I’m in the role though, gotta do it. No choice there. Gotta find a way to win, as they say in the sporting world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, ha, ha. You are freaking funny. Thank you. Glad you relate (I think) on the father role thing. It is odd, flickering out of oneself once in a while. I’m hoping you get a chance in the coming days to read a post/interview I’m doing with a Colorado poet named Rosemerry who’s been my inspiration for a long time now, to do my damnedest to post every day. Something to that that’s noteworthy and coming, I hope you can read. Pulling content out of the B drive, you know. I want to see the Palpatine post! Are you working on it still?


      • Yes, I definitely relate. Will look for the post of which you speak. I took the Palpatine post down a few days ago with intent to soften it, but I reposted it without changing a word. I decided I would go ahead and be angry. But I’ve also decided to single-handedly elevate the quality of our public discourse. There’s too much bullshit-slinging these days. Reminds me of when I was camping with my Boy Scout Troop and the cow pattie toss was an actual, sanctioned activity. I thought it was disgusting and ridiculous, but we’ve achieved new heights of late.


  3. I like the seasonal bench warmers. Put me in, coach!
    A jolly piece, this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Man, that den is awesome. Please tell me it’s actually yours and not some stock photo from Getty.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a happy, pleasant post. I love getting those feelings of belonging where we live or at work. And often I feel too silly or not motherly enough…also getting glimpses that my girls are heading to the next stage and I don’t know what comes next. It’s scary sometimes, and then there’s the line here about swinging feet not quite touching the ground…perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

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