In lieu of pulling it up from the depths, I'm re-posting two of my favorite posts from last year or the year before or perhaps even the year before that. I think I'll have to post them annually, as long as September comes around and the yellow flowers on the tree whose name I can never remember keep blooming and falling and carpeting our grass and house and hair and car.
On Monday, before I left Los Angeles, I sat outside our house in the hammock that the boys have dragged to the front yard from the back. When they first did it, I told my friends that before you know it, I'd be pulling the couch outside and maybe even an old fridge such was the state of the front yard and a new lowering of my standards. But that's a digression because I was sitting on the hammock with Sophie at my feet, where she loves to sit cross-legged, pushing her slender hands into the grass and dirt. We were under the same tree, whose name I still don't know, the tree that turns bright green and drops tiny yellow flowers all over our front yard every September.
I realized that I'd written a post last year at almost the exact same time about this tree. There's something about fall, even in Los Angeles, where the seasons are so less delineated and where you have to pay attention to notice them at all, that makes one happy and melancholy at once. The sameness of it, year after year. September makes me realize that while things change, they are also the same. The seasons come and then they go. And then they come again. And that made me think of Sophie, in particular. Because I can watch the boys grow up and outward. It's evident not only in the shoes that they outgrow or the almost imperceptible growth in their height, the one morning when I look at both of them and think surely they must have each grown an inch overnight. Or the subtle changes in their faces and in the expressions in their eyes. Really, typical children are constantly in the process of change, changing from baby to boy to young man to adult. And this is good.
For Sophie, though, much is the same and sometimes everything is the same. There is a sort of stillness to her that defies description, something ineffable. I suppose that that could make me sad if I really thought about it , but I won't and it doesn't. And as I sit with her today, September 14th, 2009, I realize that despite the horrific year we endured, Sophie is in some essential sense the same. Like the yellow tree, she'll green out and drop her flowers. She'll shrivel and brown and be still and bare and dormant. And then before I know it the velvety shoots will appear and it'll all begin again. And while this can be exhausting, this sameness, it can also be exhilaratingly beautiful.
My friends and family ask me, "How is Sophie doing these days?" And I usually say, "She's all right. She has her ups and downs." I don't bother to tell them that she's mostly down right now because it's actually gotten to be routine. The down stuff. If I tell them, I'd also have to explain things and maybe help them to feel better.
Instead, I look at the moon, a huge, pale and glowing disk in the sky these last couple of nights and think it's really so close. It is what it is.
It is what it is.
There's a blanket of tiny yellow flowers lying on our front lawn. I can never remember the name of the tree that is shedding these tiny flowers, but we can't remember another fall where they were quite so profuse. We all trail them in the house and they're stuck in Sophie's carpet. I pick them out of my hair and sweep them from the bathroom rug. In the morning, when we drive off to school, they fly off the windshield and past the back windows, making the boys shout with excitement. "Yellow snow!" they exclaim.
When Sophie came home today, we sat on the grass for a few minutes and even lay back under the tree. The yellow flowers kept drifting down and around, on top of us. We got up and went for a walk around the block, and when we got back to the house, Sophie was very tired. I put some music on in her room, a CD of songs that they play in my kundalini yoga class, and Sophie lay down on her bed. I was going to leave her and go do some busy work, but instead I lay down next to her and held her hand. My palm was against hers, dry and warm and we both looked out the window at the palm trees swaying in the back yard. Snatam Kaur sang in her ethereal voice and I slowed my breathing, waiting for Sophie's own.
I wondered whether meditation could fill up the room, whether my mindful breathing could affect hers. I wondered whether she sensed my presence and whether our consciousness was linked in a way that was wordless. I thought of the green tree and the yellow flowers and the blanket over the green grass. It was all good.