So this past weekend was wedding weekend. My son's. And his beautiful bride. A magical couple but more. A mindful pairing. A heartfelt union. A deep love and even deeper respect. A truly joyful connection between two free yet still grounded spirits. I could not ask for anything more deserving for my beautiful son than for him to merge his heart and soul with this extraordinary woman. We are all very blessed.
And so it was that we - the two of them and the moms and dads, and sisters and brothers, grandparents and cousins, and aunts, uncles, families, friends, loved ones and chosen ones - rode this ride of emotion leading up to the wedding. And now it is the day after. Actually the day after the day after, but still, it is after the high of such an amazing event and I am sitting in this place of not quite knowing. Yet again.
I was here before. Last week actually. And the few weeks before that. Of not quite knowing what it was that I was feeling about the fact that my son was getting married. I wrote about this just last week. The letting it unfold. The not trying to figure out exactly how I feel but instead just letting myself grow into the emotions of this moment when my son creates his own family with the merging of his life into another.
And here I am again. In the same place of not quite knowing. A sad place in some ways. A drop after the high. Where the buzz of adrenaline is replace with scattered memories.
For that is what they are for me.
I can't quite place myself. At this wedding of love and light. When I woke up this morning - and the tears came quickly without my expecting them - I wondered how it could all not be there. Every moment. Because parts of the wedding are gone. Or happened so fast and so only pieces of the whole are embedded in me.
And not just the wedding. The day leading up to it. And the night before that, at a rehearsal and dinner where deep love and laughter were shared through stories and toasts as we ate good food and connected two families. Parts of that are gone, too.
I spoke to my son on the phone today. And he said it so well. He said we were so conscious of being mindful and in the moment that it feels like we were not mindful and in the moment at all. Or something like that...
And I am thinking that this is how it works. That when we settle deep into just being in what unfolds before us, rather than thinking about what unfolds before us, our brain perhaps doesn't store the information in the same way. We are not processing and forming opinions about what is happening.
We are not creating a story.
And as I am writing this, in the moment of it as my words and thoughts flow freely onto this page, I can see that is really quite lovely. Being so in the moment of something that it is truly pure in its happening and so the experience of it is 100% exactly what it is. It is just it.
I like this. The It is just it. But it is hard for me, too. Because I want more. I want all the details. Truly, I want to relive it again. But a bit differently, so the memories I have are joined by new ones. And then more after that. I want to go through this wedding like ten times. Present and in the moment of it each time but ten times of that. So that I can then have a complete picture of it all.
I want to sit in a dozen different places during the ceremony so that I can take in every angle. I want to speak to every person I talked to and every person I didn't. I want to taste the food again, but in a different order. And eat more cake. I want to dance more but I also want to sit back and watch the dancing more, too.
And I want to stand to the side and just watch my son and new daughter move through this magical night.
I have insomnia. Well maybe I don’t. You see, I fall asleep really early at night. Sometimes as early as 7:30. It’s easy to do this. I am all nestled snug in my bed, my dog against my legs. A cat or two on the bed sending off that lovely purring vibration. My husband sits across the room at his desk. His desk is his office and so his office is our bedroom. And I hear his voice on the phone or the click of his keyboard as he works at his computer and this, along with my companion pets and the comfort of my bed puts me right out. A deep sleep.
But not through the night.
Sometimes I wake up when my husband finally goes to bed. Other times not till two or three in the morning. And still other times around five AM, when I look at the clock and thank god that it’s not time to get up for good. And during each of these varied wakeup times I do a variety of things. I check my email. And my facebook. And I play Words with Friends. Three things that involve my phone and so constitutes screen time which they say is the absolute worst thing to do as the stimulation from the screen keeps you awake/ disrupts good sleep/yadadada…
But I do it anyway.
And I also just lay there a lot. And think about things. Or sit up in bed. And think about things.
And the other night/morning, as I was in sitting up mode and looking out the window at the few lights that burned back at me across the orange grove, from the houses across the road far away, a really beautiful thing was occurring outside my window. The road would light up with an oncoming car in the distance what I saw only as an immediate brightness of the trees. Even from far away I could see the branches, each illuminated by the car lights coming in. And as the car sped along the road, now in my line of sight, it would eat up the light as it moved forward on it’s journey. Devour the brightness that hung in the branches of the trees along it’s path. Until the road again was dark before the next car would appear.
I could not tell from which direction the car was coming. The road just lit up and I had to wait to see whether the trees would then disappear from the right or from the left.
I liked this feeling. Of not knowing exactly where the car would appear. Of seeing the light and knowing that something was coming but not quite knowing what direction it will take.
And so this is with my son’s wedding.
The light shines so bright right now. Five days to go and so the world, their world, is illuminated. With so much love and so much excitement. And I see it. Even from across the country. I see the light coming. It has been growing for months now, in the same way that the light of the car begins to brighten the trees from a distance. A slow and steady build up of brightness that is soon so clear and white. Yet still unknown to me.
The fact that my son is getting married hit me fully about a week ago. I was out walking with my dog in the orange grove below my house. And thinking about the upcoming week, which is now here, and going over in my mind the way things may unfold and the things I needed to do/bring/have so that the week played out smoothly for me in that I-so-don’t-like-to-travel-but-it’s-ok-once-I-get-there-and-this-is-such-a- fantastic-reason-t- be-traveling kind of way. And all of a sudden my son getting married just dropped in. Deeply. Into my heart.
This is huge.
It is not that I have not aware of the importance of this before now. Or the loveliness of it. Or the wonder if it. I have been. In my head. But on this day that I was out walking the truth of it, that my son, my boy, was now this man that is marrying this quite extraordinary woman who is so supposed to be part of our family, the importance of this became part of me in a new way.
And so over this last week, leading up to this wedding week, I have been sitting in this place of awareness. And letting the truth of my son’s wedding grow inside me in this lovely way. There is wonder in this. And joy. And sadness too. But a good sadness. More an honoring of the passing of time and the change that is taking place in his life. And in my life, too.
I’m still not fully understanding what all this means. And much like not knowing which way the car will appear on the road, I like this, too. That there is no knowing until the moment occurs.
My cat is up all night. To be clear, its not quite my cat. Rather she is not quite my cat. She is my youngest daughter's cat. But, as what happens to all pets that belong to children when the children go off to college, the cat is mine. Kinda. Also.
She is an incredible cat. Her name is Ophelia. Named after Hamlet's girlfriend. When I named her it was when Natalie Merchant's album Ophelia came out and so a lot of people thought that she was named after that album/song. No. She was named after Shakespeare's Ophelia. Get thee to the nunnery. (And what did Hamlet even mean when he said this?)
So my cat. Who is really my daughter's cat. She is up. All friggin night!. Constantly. Meowing. In a really awful siamese sound. Did I mention she is a Ragdoll cat. Which is this fantastic breed that is relatively new - and part siamese - and the kittens are just so cute and so, of course when the kids were young and we were filling up our house with cats and dogs and gerbils and rats and snakes and bunnies, we had to get this adorable kitten. And she grew up. And became Ophelia. And is fifteen now. Born on the 4th of July, 2000. And she has this awful meow.
So she's heading towards her sixteenth birthday and cries a lot. I think part of it is that she sleeps all day. Under my bed. And snores. And so, because of the all day napping, she is up all night. But I also think that she may be hungry. That is a possibility. Even though she's been fed already during the day and there is a bowl of food just waiting for her to graze upon at any time. The thing is she doesn't go downstairs to get her food. She just cries next to my head. And takes her paws and brushes my hair. which is kinda nice. Sometimes. Well not often but occasionally.
The other reason why I think that she cries a lot is because she is deaf. And being deaf, I believe, means that she cannot hear that she is making this god awful sound that she makes. I truly believe that if she knew the sound that comes out of her - a true siamese nails on a chalkboard sound - she would never make a peep. She just loves us so much that she would not want to torment us with this pain.
But, alas, she doesn't hear herself or is perhaps hungry or wants to be petted up and loved and given attention because during the day she sleeps under my bed. All day.
I have thought about waking her up during the day and keeping her busy. But it's really nice to be up when when pets are sleeping. It gives me some time to do things without their input, looking for my input.
Which brings me to my dog. My sweet and smart and so breathtakingly beautiful doberman puppy who is lying next to me on my bed right now. Passed out. From an intense game of ball this morning. It is part of our routine. We get up. We go for a walk - sometimes just the two of us but more recently with my husband along which I truly love as it gives him and I time together before the busyness of the day. Then my dog has breakfast and we head to the dog park for some intense ball throwing.
She - being a true working dog - is focused only on the yellow now turned to a muddy and covered in grass and dirt colored tennis ball. It does not matter if other dogs come into the park. She is zeroed in on that ball.
And not just the throwing of it.
In fact, what interests her more than chasing the ball is getting the ball. As in focusing in on that mother of a ball and grabbing it before I can. This is the game she truly loves to play.
This is how it works. We play fetch for like three throws. Because she thinks that's what she wants to do. But then I throw the ball and she watches it sail away into the air and then looks back and me to see if i have a second one at hand. Which means a number of things. One: it means that I have to go fetch it which is not an easy task considering the now blended into the grass color of this once yellow ball. And two: the game has changed from chasing the ball to the intense interaction of my brilliant pup getting the ball.
She loves this. I make her sit. The ball right there in front of her. Inches away. And I slowly bend in with my nifty black chuckit knockoff so that I don't have to touch the slime that has settled deep into the fabric of the truly disgusting at this point tennis ball. She watches as I move my plastic ball throwing thingamajig closer to her prize. Her body quivers. Stay I say. Don't move.
And then in that last second I go for the ball as she does, too. It's anyones guess who will get it first. Often it is me. Just as frequently it's her. And the game starts again. Drop it. Leave it. Stay.....
Until we head home. Where we make our way up to my room and onto my bed. And she curls up to rest after saving the world one yucky ball at a time.
And my cat snores quietly below.
We - as in my husband and I - are in Mexico. Specifically in San Miguel de Allende. We are visiting my parents, who rented a home here for three weeks. We are spending the first of their three weeks with them. A great trip. Time to hang out with them, which we always love to do, and discover a new city, which I don't usually love to do.
I am a homebody. Truly. I don't like to go away. I like my stuff. And my space. And my clothes there in my closet all organized and neat and ready for me to wear without having to plan days in advance so that they are with me when I wake up. And I like my dog. I LOVE my dog. And being away means being away from her. And that is not good.
My husband knows that I don't like to travel. We will go on a staycation next time he said to me the second day that we were here when I was talking about missing my dog and yet acknowledging that it is nice to have no responsibilities for her for a few days. And so we'll put our pup with her trainer - which she loves - and my husband will put a vacation response on his email and we will tell everyone we are going on vacation and then we will stay at home. For just a few days. Too many days means missing my dog. So for just a few days we will be on staycation. And sleep in. And eat dinners out in places we don't usually go to. And spend the day at the beach without worrying that my sweet and beautiful puppy needs us to some home. A staycation. It sounds perfect.
But that is not now. Now I am here in this lovely town. With my lovely parents. And my lovely husband.
We go home tomorrow. So, in fact, we have been here for five days already. The first couple of days we did basic stuff. We walked into the center of town and sat in the sun in this lovely square. This was after eating lunch at a fantastic restaurant a few blocks from where my parents are renting their house. All organic and so delicious and we have gone back there quite a few times in the short time that we have been here. It is called Via Organica.
Day two we went to these really cool art galleries that are housed in an old cotton mill. Room after room of quite amazing art. For me, after a short time I get sensory overload. Too many colors and shapes and textures to take in. Everyone else agreed and we rounded out our visit there by having a really yummy lunch at one of the three cafe's in the mill.
Then Saturday we went to a chili cook off. Now this was FANTASTIC! They give you this cool earthenware bowl and a plastic spoon and you go from chili to chili. Tasting all these rich and spicy - or sweet - flavors. At the end you give your spoon to the chili maker you liked best. It was between two for me. One reminded me of the chili we used to eat when my parents lived in NYC. It was called Anita's Chili and we went there every week. The other was this single guy - not a restaurant like most of the other chili makers were. Just some guy named Preston who decided to enter the contest and only had one pot of chili so he could only give a small tasting to each person. His chili was sweet. He said it had 27 ingredients in it - including two different beers - and he cooked it for 15 hours!
I voted for the Anita taste-a-like. My husband and my dad voted for sweet Preston. We have no idea who won.
Then yesterday was a hang out do nothing kind of day though we did walk to Via Organica and ended up meeting one of the founders. Turns out the restaurant is an association. Organic farmers and activists. And we spoke to a member who arranged for us to go on a trail ride.
That is what we did today.
The trail ride is out at a ranch that is part of the organization. There, they grow all the food for the restaurant and store. We got a tour of the place before getting on our horses for an hour and a half ride to this incredible place. Huge Cactus (cacti?) grew all around this woman's home. And the juice from the cactus settles in the center of the plants only to be scooped out and enjoyed. It was amazing. Sweet and smooth. And once fermented full of probiotics. You could feel the energy fill your body as the sweet liquid filled your mouth. It is called pulque.
And she made us lunch, too! Simply delicious food.
And after filing up on food and cactus nectar we made our way back to our horses and back to the ranch for the drive back into town.
My parents were amazing. Both being eighty years old and riding on a not so easy trail of rocks and trees and prickly bushes and unsteady soil. They loved it. And so did we. My husband and I.
And on the way back, sitting on the back of my horse with the sun sitting hot on the back of my neck, I thought how much I loved this day. That I were out in the open. That I was moving to the rhythm of such a powerful animal. That I tasted food that I would not ever taste anywhere else and drank an elixir that can only be found where I was today.
Today was the kind of day that makes being away ok. And that I got to share this day with my husband and my parents - well, that made today a very, very special day.
Last week I wrote about balance, boundaries and bone broth. For some reason, when thinking about what was on my mind today the letter B seemed to resonate again. As what came up for me was belly fat, breasts and body image. Not quite as easy a subject for me to write about. But obviously on my mind and worth the introspection and exploration.
Now I have written about my love/hate relationship with my body before. Here. A really good writing, if I do say so myself! Worth a reread if you have the time. It's a funny writing. A making light of the coping mechanisms that I have in place to function through the aging of my body. And when I reread it, it sounds like I really have this whole thing under control.
I don't. Not at all.
And this is becoming more and more apparent to me lately. My body, it is not my friend these days. I try to make it so. I try to appreciate the strength of my legs when I hike with my dog. And the smoothness of my skin when I apply my creams morning and night. I try and take in the shape of my eyes and remind myself that I have really great hair. And sometimes I can see these things and try to have it be enough. But usually it is not.
Now, I can go into the whole societal expectation of beauty and aging and how we are inundated with unrealistic expectations of what we should look like..whether when we are young, or as we age. But it's not that either.
It's more internal.
Because my body, it is becoming something that does not match the rest of me. Or what I perceive the rest of me to be. Not that my perception of what I should look like is a younger me. Definitely not that. Because I am feeling, in my soul, the power that comes with becoming an older woman. A wise woman. And so it is not this contrast of youth that is triggering my frustration - and often self-loathing of my body.
What I think it is, truly, is that the person that I am is not integrated with the body that I have. And I wonder, was this always the case or is this something new?
Body image has always been a tough one for me. I think the mixture of ballet dancer and not good enough created an inability to accept that I was. Good enough. And probably the constant self reflection while I looked at my reflection in the dance studio mirrors to perfect just the right tilt of my head, extension of my leg or arch of my back reinforced that my body, it was just not quite right.
And so now, when time co-mingles with past perceptions, I find that finding peace within my skin is a challenge.
So where do I go from here?
I know the right words. Words of affirmation and acceptance. I can bring them forth easily. In quite beautiful prose if I chose. But they don't settle under my skin in a way that is real.
But I am not giving up on them. Those affirmations. Because they are the beginnings of where I want to end up. And so I will repeat them softly. Honor my skin and my hair and my strong hiking legs. And more. See the beauty that I hold and that I seem to miss more often than I should. And I know - yes, this I know is true - that someday these words will become true. And I will then look at my body as part of the whole, when my soul and spirit are one with the history of my skin.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.