Transient in Place

I appear to be here in the now. I’m aware of what’s happening around me, on both the personal and the global scales. In fact I’m almost hyper-aware of everything that’s going on around me, to the point where I’m feeling like I’m trying to not miss a single second of what interests me. Right now, I’m trying desperately to hang on to the remains of summer which are juxtaposed over rapidly encroaching fall. Summer became my favorite season for the first time in my life this year. Ordinarily summer used to be the time when I was relentlessly hot, sweaty and uncomfortable, except when I could be swimming. As swimming this year was out of reach except for one glorious day, you’d think I’d have spent a good deal of time inside, sheltering in the air conditioning. But the outside was my refuge during the time of social distancing. I’ve always loved gardening but these past months, I’ve spent most of the daylight hours out in the fresh air, enjoying every bloom, butterfly, bird and insect along with the freedom they represent. Now, despite the chill and damp, I’m still out there, reluctant to acknowledge that staying outside will be difficult really soon.

If this was a normal time, I’d already have emptied and cleaned my flower pots – they’d be stored in the garage. But a number of my plants are valiantly staying alive so I’m recording their tenacity and will wait until they shrivel up and die before checking the chore off my list.

I listen to music as I wander around the yard, attending to its needs. I am as transient in my brain as are the seasons, although technically I’m rooted to this place. For the past week or so, I’ve been smiling to a John Prine tune called “Other Side of Town.” He introduces it with a little story about a man who’s developed a special ability to travel in his mind and be somewhere else while his body appears to be sitting in front of his wife as she berates him. My circumstances are hardly like his, but while I’m apparently right here in the now, I’m often somewhere else, far from my current life.

Watching Roger Federer practice in Cincinnati, 2018

I think back to some of the experiences I was able to have before the pandemic and remind myself that I’ve been really lucky to fulfill some dreams. Often I find myself somewhere in my memories of so many different experiences I shared during my decades with Michael, at concerts, on vacations or just watching a movie in a theater. We went to countless movies during our life together. I can’t remember the last time I was in a theater. I wonder when I’ll be able to go inside that type of venue again.

I’m feeling a curious combination of gratitude for everything I’ve been able to do, to strike out on my own in the years since Michael’s death. I think my mom’s example of shrinking into a very small space after my dad died pushed me to establish an independent life, to avoid becoming totally dependent on my kids for experiences and entertainment. I miss that part of my life and hope that I stay healthy enough to resume my travels on the other side of this confinement. But there’s also a sense of dread, that this way of life will be much longer than a year or so, a dread which I hope will be relieved somewhat when the presidential election is over and resolved without dirty tricks, disruption and most importantly, with Trump and his destructive policies relegated to history. In the meantime, I’ll continue sharing my history through my blogs, making the most out of what’s still available and safe for me, and paying attention to the subtle changes in the natural world around me. Transient in place. Kind of like treading water for an extended period of time. Here are more photos of this in-between time that can still fill my days with so much beauty.

I hope these help you move in your mind while you shelter in the winter ahead. I’m going to keep up the interior wandering to help myself stay sane. One pretend faraway step at a time.

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