I grew up before stranger danger was hip; I lived in the woods and did what I pleased. Nobody worried much back then. I spent my summers on the back half of our acres, with a brown bag for snacks and a vivid imagination. I thought the clouds obeyed my whim. I chased bunnies and picked blackberries, huckleberries. And when it was time for my Dad to come home, I'd tear down the path, through the wild christmas trees, to the corner, so he could pick me up and drive me the 300 yards home.
I grew up loving solitude, wishing I had the guts to hide away in a tree on Mt. Hood, like the kid from my favorite book at the time, My Side of the Mountain.
We were poor. It's popular to make that claim, to downplay your upbringing, but it's true. My parents narrowly escaped the drunken chaos of their childhoods, fleeing southern California and leaving the rat race behind. They bought some property, and propped our home up on blocks because they couldn't afford a foundation. We didn't have running water for years because they couldn't afford a well. They postponed having another baby until they had a bathroom hooked up. My Mom insisted she couldn't go through another pregnancy with an outhouse.
Yet, we were never hungry; we were content.
I think moving to Oregon saved their souls. I felt that early on.
Last night, Greg got back in town, just as the kids were packing it up. I bent the rules, they stayed up longer. He couldn't get through the door - they mauled him. Lexi read from her new book, Zack grinned his newly toothless smile. They kissed him, thrilled he was home.
We tucked them in and he unclogged the kitchen sink after all my efforts had failed. (I swear the dirty dishes were mocking me.) I feel a little foolish to admit it, but having my man home and being able to run the dishwasher made me giddy. I started to nod off, aware the week had been hard, but happy. I decided not to analyze it too much. I've kept depression company plenty of times before; it seems right to welcome the unexpected joyful times. Even when I can't explain it.
This morning my friend and I skipped the gym for the second time this week and headed to a lake nearby. The roads were frosty, my lungs stung as we started around the trail. We passed packs of retired women, greeting us with a hearty hello and bright lipstick. My kind of girls. A baby in a fleece hat peeked out from his carrier, getting some fresh air. We huffed and puffed uphill, jabbering all the way. (Correction: I huff, and she talks for a bit until I catch my breath.) The breeze brought the leaves down around us, a rain I can live with.
Maybe this is the secret to a light spirit - this solitude, this quiet. There are days when all that is dark in this world makes me weep, makes me doubt there is anything left to celebrate. Makes me wonder if I believe in anything at all. But today isn't one of those days.
Today feels divine.
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