Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Gathering Place




I love the buzz of summer and I also love the tranquility that comes from being away from it; like sitting by the fire during the holidays.


I lost track of time up there in a cabin on the last mountain before California becomes Oregon. After a slam at the Arcata Skatepark, I even broke my watch. I know that sounds cliché, at least the losing track of time on vacation part, but I feel since becoming a parent, I've never been more aware of time. For a year I'd watch my nursing timer just to make sure things were staying as predictable as possible; seven minutes was ideal. I'm aware of nap time and lunch time and music time and how long the newborn days seemed and how quickly her hair grew long and her socks became too small over night. 


But up there, in the middle of that forest where it felt almost like we were hiding in a grown-up fort, time stopped weighing me down. If Avalon was up early, one or both of us took her down to the river while everyone slept. We played with silty grey sand and threw dry sticks and collected cold rocks. One morning there was fog sleep-walking on the water. Another morning the wind blew east and you could kinda smell that bear carcus that was across the river. One afternoon we swam to the other side and touched its teeth. It was like I was aware of everything except for time while we were up there.

Aunt Liz and uncle Thomas seemed ageless too. At the very least, their spirits did. This is comforting to me in a transcending kind of way since I think one of the things I fear most in life is forgetting how to be a kid. 

Uncle Thomas listened to rock and roll at midnight louder than most people would at their wedding receptions. And he danced too; playing air guitar and shaking his shoulder-length hair, slamming the kitchen table with two open, rough palms. I watched him the way you watch a new world go by from a window seat, then awkwardly tiptoed away to make sure the baby was still sleeping. 

Aunt Liz played with Avalon like I imagined she played with her own daughter, Victoria, when she was small. She ran after her and assembled puzzles on the floor. She got out supplies for building blanket forts and made homemade ice cream on our fifth wedding anniversary, tasting it with her finger. She loves games. They both do. We stayed up playing Parcheesi and this European dice game called Chicago until 2 a.m every night. One night we went into the Indian Casino after dinner and Basia won $76 for picking number 17 (Aunt Liz's birthday) in roulette. A wolf came by other evenings. Her name was Bravo and she liked Basia and Phil's bed. You could tell she loved Aunt Liz and Uncle Thomas by the way her ears perked up when they were talking and how calm she was in their home.

I asked Uncle Thomas if we needed to worry about mosquitos and he told me, in his assertive German accent, "No! We have the bats!" because two bats had flown into their house and never left. And swift birds lived in the fireplace when the fire was out and the air was hot outside, to start families and displace soot. 

Their cabin is a gathering place. 

I feel like we went up to their mountain and river and hand-built home for a lot of reasons (not convenience). As I was packing, one thought that wandered my mind was that maybe seeing Aunt Liz wouldn't make me believe in things again, but would help me remember how to. When I was unpacking, I was thinking about how it was never God's fault, or anything I did, that made Maddie get cancer. It was just life. 

One morning walking the river with Avalon, I said prayers out loud. It was the first time I talked to God without feeling some resentment or obligation in months. It felt both right and silly that it had taken me so long. 

I could recognize then how God found other ways to reach me; Scott, mothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, baggers from Trader Joe's.

The ways that Basia has been there for me in this last, most challenging, year of my life are hard to describe. Especially because when we aren't together we communicate semi-infrequently. But she is like the ocean to me; when I'm around her I just feel better and I know she understands and accepts everything that I am without having to say it. 

Sometimes I feel nervous seeing Basia again because I love her so much and I want us to always have what we started with--the purest love and the most fun. But we always have what we started with; it comes back like the color to our skin when we're in the sun (in her case-red). 

And Aunt Liz. You know when you can tell that someone really loves you because just being around them heals you? Your dirty feet might be on their beloved crocheted blanket from their mother, but they just look into your eyes and ask all the right questions. She and Basia are alike and unique that way. 

I cried saying goodbye to them in the kind of way that's hard to understand and hard to stop.

When we got home, I found another watch in the recesses of my jewelry nest and strapped it tightly to my wrist.  But I watched Avalon more-- really observed her for all she is. I put things to dry in the sun. One night I even welcomed the neighborhood cat, for a minute, and listened to some rock and roll before I said a few prayers in bed. 

{+Picture of Fritz, the dog, and of our family by Phil
+Best advice I have for traveling with a kid: lower your expectations, enjoy the new experiences you are having with them, let them be on vacation too and pack a ton of snacks!
SaveSave

17 comments:

  1. The words. The pictures. It's all beautiful, Devon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! I Agee so much with Kassandra's comment! Loved and enjoyed this so much! Thank you!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Pearl! I hope you've been doing well!

      Delete
  3. It's lovely to go away for a while and look at life from somewhere else isn't it. Just back from a little camping trip with the boys. It's been a very good thing for us all. Glad you had a great time. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is nice to see life from someone else's perspective. I like the way you put it. Your camping trip sounded like a similar memorable experience, CJ <3

      Delete
  4. Sounds like it was such a great trip! You needed that, I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You know I'm a fan of your writing, don't spend much time on the computer these days but always find myself wanting to catch up and read your blog. It's refreshing in that real, honest kind of way that is hard to find these days. Just thought I'd share that with you. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This filled me up so much AM. Thank you! I'll keep this comment with me when I'm not feeling great about my writing. It's such an honor to have you as a reader! <3

      Delete
  6. Your writing is beautiful. And so are the pictures. New follower! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura! Thank you! And welcome! :)

      Delete
  7. "I was thinking about how it was never God's fault, or anything I did, that made Maddie get cancer. It was just life. " This simple explanation settled so many questions in my head today.. This place looks amazing, I need a cabin and a forest in my 2016. xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. Stunning pictures - looks like amazing memories.

    http://lizziedailyblog.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a collection! thanks for sharing enjoyable experience with us.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you! I try to reply within the comment form.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...