When they say to expect the unexpected they mean it. I expected to be exhausted,I expected all the uninvited advice. I expected to be filled to the brim with love…
What I didn’t expect was the constant worry, protectiveness, and fear of the unknown. I didn’t expect the loneliness, even though I had my husband helping out every step of the way. I didn’t expect to cry almost every night after my husband went to bed because he needed to be up at 2:45 in the morning for work. I didn’t expect to feel so alone, even though he was only sleeping in the next room. I didn’t expect my home to feel so unfamiliar to me the days after giving birth. I felt like I was placed in an alternate universe, that my home was just a set, and I was playing a role in some strange sitcom. I recognized my bed, my couch, my kitchen, the sheets I slept in days prior to going into labor. But even through my attempt to grasp these things, this familiarity, and to find myself again…I could not. My environment had changed completely, everything was forever changed.
I didn’t expect to worry about this tiny human being for every second of every day. I didn’t expect to wake up with my heart pounding out of my chest to the single sound of my baby hiccuping in his sleep. I didn’t expect that during the first few weeks my baby would literally be an extension of me, I would have to learn to eat, make a bottle, and prop a pillow under me all one handed, while holding a screaming newborn.
I didn’t expect how gut wrenching the sound of your child’s cries could shake you to your core. I didn’t expect that sometimes your baby can’t just be “soothed”, that it takes more than that, and sometimes it takes hours. I didn’t expect the exhaustion to be so overwhelming that at times, my frustration and irritability levels would be through the roof. I didn’t expect the guilt for feeling that way.
What I didn’t expect the most was the up and down whirlwind of emotions. And the ability for your baby’s smile to change your mood completely. I didn’t expect to be filled with so much pride, joy, and bliss when looking into his eyes. I didn’t expect to feel so blessed, scared, sad, overjoyed, and content all at the same time. I didn’t expect how NON routine a baby is, and how you cannot fit this tiny human into a schedule at all times. I didn’t expect to see so much change in such a short period of time…
What I know to expect now, is to understand that the only thing constant in this life is CHANGE. And it is our ability to ADAPT that can define us in a moment. And in this moment, I am embracing it all… the good moments, the scary moments, and the quiet moments.
Do you remember spotting those random dandelions among the reeds of grass in a field? And for just a moment, you get a tiny whisk of excitement? It still amazes me to this day how a simple flower (or weed) could have such an effect on people. Folklore says that” blowing the seeds off a dandelion is said to carry your thoughts and dreams to your loved one”. It is also said that if you wished to know where your “love” is, the direction to which the seeds flow to will show you. The path of the seeds will be East, West, North, or South.
I remember people telling me as a child to make a wish before I blew, and to try to get all of the seeds off of the head of the flower. Once spotted, I would eagerly pluck one from the soil, close my eyes, and mumble a desired wish. With eyes squinted shut, and fingers gently wrapped around its green stem, I would inhale deeply; taking in the pure air around me. Once the wish was complete I exhaled as hard as I could, making sure to free every feather-like seed. I would then toss the stem aside and chase the direction of the seeds. The wind waltzed with them, carrying them in an effortless swirl of airy freedom. I would abruptly stop my chase when I realized that they have now traveled way too high for me to reach, and their route was now a mystery. A sudden yet brief sense of sadness would take over as if I have just lost a part of me, my wish.
With a little faith and imagination stepping in I was reminded that just because I could not see the route of the seeds did not mean that they would not make it to their destination. It is little moments and memories like these that we need to carry on into our adulthood. The dandelion should act as a subtle reminder that every wish, every prayer, every hope travels somewhere; whether it be a distance that is near or far, and the only action necessary from ourselves is just one thing, to make that wish, and have faith that it will come true.
It is five minutes until I take center stage. Heart pounding, hands sweating, mouth dry. I can’t seem to stand still. I’ve waited for this moment for so long. There is organized chaos behind me. A group of soloists crowd around each other giving words of empty encouragement.
It’s my time. I stand on stage, microphone in hand. The lights are blinding, and all I see is a mysterious crowd of faceless people. I wait for the music to start. Breathe in, breathe out. It is a small confined room; the air is thick with cigarette smoke and mindless chatter.
I snake the microphone cord around my finger, and finally lift my head. The music starts, and the words flow out of me. It feels so natural in this state. I am but a single person, alone in this room. My voice carries across the stage, so strong and steady, it passes over the mysterious strangers.
How great this feeling is. To be so free, to share this outlet of passion with others. I am no longer nervous, I smile, and after my eyes adjust to the hot lights, I finally start to see the masked people. They are so captivated. It is as if I have hypnotized them. With wine glasses down, and so alert. They are actually listening to me. Listening to MY poetry. Then…blackness. My time is up. It is a natural high to be standing here. I walk off stage with a feeling of accomplishment, and confidence. I can’t get enough of this feeling. All I want is more
She starts to feel her body slowly slipping into the cool cotton beneath her. She struggles to get more comfortable under her sheets; the air feels cold and damp. Each rhythmic breath she takes sends her into a deep relaxation; they are in sync with the oceans gentle fury. The moon spills a milky beam of light through her window; particles of dust can be seen dancing among one another. It is getting later and later, and she is puzzled by her inability to fall asleep.
It has been years since she has retreated back to the cottage. A cottage that looks as it did 50 years earlier. The antique white and blue rocking chair is still in the corner of the porch, rocking once in a while to the frequent salty breezes. The creaking in the floor boards and the lack installation never mattered to her. She thought it gave the place character. It is nice to feel the wind come in through the windows unexpectedly, and having to steadily scamper towards the wood framed glass in attempts to close it quickly.
This post card of a place was her sanctuary. A place for her to slowly gather her thoughts, and de clutter the chaos that sporadically appears; uninvited. She always had a mental template of how her life should be, all neatly categorized in sections ranging from; work, school, family, miscellaneous, and of course love. She should already know by now that planning does not fit into every aspect of any individual’s life. Nevertheless, she strives onward in attempts to achieve the impossible.
Her body is starting to feel heavier now, and it becomes hard to resist the seduction of sleep. All is silent now, the ocean becomes muffled air, and her breathing deepens even more.
The heat almost feels unbearable, and the air is thick and humid. By the time her eyes adjust to the light she realizes that she is standing barefoot. The earth is warm and soft beneath her. An overwhelming sense of calm fills her body as she starts to follow the dirt path before her. She passes lush greenery, lightly brushing her hands against the leafs. They are wet with dew, and feel of satin. Clusters of blood orange and yellow flowers line this dirt path. Every tree seems to admit a glow of some sort, fire flies, birds, and butterflies dance together in slow motion. She walks towards them with curiosity. Wings flap and flutter with one another gently, the array of their colors and patterns can be clearly seen with each gust of air. A mixed sweet aroma fills her senses, she closes her eyes, tilts her head back and breathes in. A faint sound of a waterfall can be heard somewhere down the path. Intrigued, she makes her way down , occasionally looking up at the sky that is torn down the middle. One side is day, and the other is night. The light side is a combination of turquoise and emerald-green. The dark side is nothing but ribbons of deep purple and sapphire. The stars look as if they were created by the tip of a needle a jabbing needle.
She steadily makes her way down the path, searching for this musical waterfall. The sound seems to be getting further and further. Suddenly, the earth beneath her begins to shake, the rocks along the path begin to levitate, and the wings of the fluttering creatures freeze. Thunder crashes, and what looks like a far end of tunnel starts to roll towards her. Its blackness is over whelming, it starts to swallow everything in its path. She tries to yell, but her voice is no more; just a swollen ball of silence in her throat. Her feet become paralyzed, and as she looks down to release them she sees her reflection in the glittering earth. She knows it is her, but something is off, the face staring back at her is of an old woman. A loud siren blares, then blackness.
The clock set neatly on the nightstand flashes back the almost too familiar numbers; 3:15. She sits up promptly, and sloppily throws her hair into a pony tail. The bedroom window had opened again, as if just to irritate her. The oceans air heavily leaked in, creating a salty film over her skin. The orange and jasmine candle she lit before she fell asleep was still dimly lit, everything was in place. This recurring dream is starting to become another puzzle, another something to add to her chaotic mental template.
A moment resurfaces every now and again when I find myself walking in a large courtyard. It is open yet secluded; its tiles are sun withered with hairs of grass sprouting effortlessly between its aging lines. Columns reside at all corners; each uniquely concealed with enfolding emerald green ivy. The time is always evening, and the chirping of crickets becomes almost deafening. There is a wooden bridge that leads to a tall wall; vines and brush cover its base. Alongside the courtyard is a stream; crystal clear in spots, cloudy in others. It captivates me every time I glare into its abyss. My eyes follow the waters gentle course; memories of my past start to appear. These memories are painful to see again, they are filled with all of my fears, tears, arguments, losses, broken expectations, and broken hearts. In a panicked attempt, I quickly submerge my hands into the stream and twirl the memories into a twisted painting of myself. Unaffected by my rattled actions, the swirl of images slowly start to fuse back together. I watch my memories pass by over and over again, piercing into my soul. I start to chase them down the stream, feeling overwhelmed by their numbers. Which one do I catch first? They are all equally painful.
As I proceed to follow my watercolor flashbacks, I realize that I have been running in circles around the courtyard. When I feel like I have finally caught up to the first watercolor; I am standing in the place I started. Confused and now frustrated, I scoop my hands into the water in attempts to capture my memories,thus somehow ridding the stream from this pollution. Successfully, time and time again I watch the colors bleed through my fingers back into the subtle streams flow; still…nothing.
My images intertwine once again looking unaffected, and still religiously flowing along the stream that surrounds my courtyard. I start to feel isolated and barricaded. I stare at my reflection for a long time, watching my face stay…unchanged.
It is not until I see a bird’s reflection dart across the water, and soon after two more. I follow their path of flight to a stone bird bath in the center of the courtyard. There are two small birds and one quite larger. The larger bird is fearlessly flapping her wings in the bath, occasionally taking the water in with her beak. The other two are still perched on the statues edge, looking hesitant and rather skeptical of this newly found treasure. The larger bird slowly encourages the other two to follow her lead. First the feet, the legs, and finally…she submerges herself completely, allowing the cool water to wash over her feathers. I watch intently, they look so peaceful and serene.
Then it dawns on me, if they can why can’t I? I turn back towards the stream, close my eyes, and jump in head first. My first thought was how deep the stream was, my second thought was how incredibly warm it felt. In an instant, all my memories, all the images, all the pain…and lastly all the experiences suddenly started to cling to me; cling to me as if I was a magnet. I let them absorb into me, and as I lifted myself out of the stream I felt heavy. I dragged myself over to the bridge, managed to remove a layer of clothing, and looked down at the waters passing under me. They started to run dry, and the streams floor was starting to be visible. I glanced over to the bird bath and realized that it too was now bone dry.
It was in that moment that I understood that the stream needed my memories, it was the make-up of this place. I took a layer of clothing and gently started to ring it out into the water. Slowly, I started to see my memories mold back together. One by one, each drop of water fell from me. With each twist and turn of my cloth, I inhaled then exhaled, and decided it was a memory that I was ACCEPTING and was willing of LETTING GO, thus releasing them back into the water. The pieces were and will always be a part of me, for this courtyard and it beauty would not exist without them. As I watched my memories flow underneath me and the bridge, an overwhelming sense of clam surrounded me. I glanced over to where the wall once stood only to see a fresh opening before me. I walked towards the opening, with no fear of looking back.