Monday, December 29, 2008
I don't think I can watch the inauguration. I imagine I'll get too overwhelmed. The effect will be similar to the consequence of looking directly at the sun. I will have to look away lest I burn my eyes. It is simply too much to absorb. An abundance of bright must be as harmful as an abundance of dark, right? I will have to record the inauguration and fast forward through parts or I'll watch it in bits and pieces via media reports and youtube and facebook postings. Out of sequence it won't pack the same punch and then at least I'll be able to stay in control of myself, manage my emotions and maintain my dignity. I want to watch it with everyone else. I do. I want to be a part of this collective experience and take the first new step into this new world. It will be something, right? Of course the only thing worse than my not being able to handle my emotions if my great expectations are met would be my not being able to handle my emotions if my great expectations are not met. I admit I may be putting a bit too much on this particular day and it's meaning and the symbolism but there is a reason. I have a confession to make. I think Barack Obama's historic acceptance speech in Grant Park was kind of a downer. First of all he looked exhausted (understandably), depressed (remember, his grandmother just died) and profoundly world weary. (Duh.) In his speech he reminded the masses over and over again that things wouldn't happen overnight and the country is currently in the crapper. He continually put the responsibility of change on us citizens and he even prophesied that the needs of the country would likely not be met in one term. He was utterly and achingly truthful and real. His feet were firmly planted on the ground which kept me from drifting up to clouds despite the fact that so many others listening seemed to be headed there. A few days after the election I began to float upward on the endless possibilities his presidency could offer. As I wrote in a previous post ("Oh, the Audacity"--posted 11/10)"...from now until January 20th and for some time after I'll track Michelle's fashion trends, collect Obama collectibles, anxiously await the name of their dog and the school the girls will attend, and anticipate Barack's appearances, speeches and actions like a good old fashioned stargazer. I am going to revel in the new "Camelot" and "for the first time in my adult life" I will let myself experience the "audacity of hope"." But January 20th is fast approaching and I grow more cautious with each passing day. I want to be obliviously happy and hopeful and unrealistic and ignorant on the day but I'm afraid Obama's earnest realism won't allow it. I want to hear a speech for the ages that carries me through the good and bad times ahead. I know Obama is capable but I'm afraid his pesky propensity for the truth will get in the way. This country loves to build people up then knock them down. How long will it be until sentiments of "Obama the Great" are replaced with sentiments of "Obama the Terrible"? The first one hundred days will be more scrutinized than any other presidency in history I'm sure and it will be like a roller coaster ride with more twists and turns than the newest ride at Great America. Ah well. I have twenty more days to live in denial or start mentally preparing for the future which as we all know will rush toward us relentlessly whether we want it to or not. There is one guarantee, though. January 20th will certainly be something to remember. The moment will burn bright despite the result. Maybe I'll wear shades.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Audra is running. She is my sixteen month old daughter. On a snowy day my husband is home from work and after finishing errands we have stopped at a coffee shop I've driven by hundreds of times but never been to. We sip coffee in the corner of the cafe and Audra runs from our table to the end of the counter where we ordered. I'm not clear on whether this is a "kid friendly" place or not. There are no highchairs. It's an old school cafe with a chalkboard that informs what they have to offer, cheap coffee and characters like a bearded man who is coloring with crayons and a barista and her friend (apparently a former employee who just broke up with her boyfriend Skylar)who are talking so loud they force everyone to be a part of their conversation. I call Audra's name and she runs back to us with a smile then hugs my crossed legs. I hug her back and she runs away again. This time she gets past the counter and adds a table to her distance from us. My husband calls her name and she runs back to hug my knees and adds his knees to her affection. So far noone has complained and she has earned a few smiles from other patrons on her journey. The third time she travels past the counter, the table and almost into another part of the shop where we would lose sight of her. I get up and retrieve her. When she is back she hugs our knees once more. This time as I watch her leave us I realize we are metaphor. This is the parent-child relationship. With each hug she gains a security that enables her to travel further. My husband and I let her go but reign her back just in time. How many ways will we manifest this in the eighteen years that we raise her? How many times will we do it right and do it wrong? Someday we will have to let her travel out of our sight, won't we? I won't be able to pick her up and bring her back to us when she gets to the part of the cafe we cannot see. Hopefully we'll have given enough to sustain her by then and hopefully she'll occasionally run back.
Audra is spinning. She is my sixteen month old daughter. My husband, stepkids Thomas and Nora and I are watching her in our family room. We have just eaten pancakes. It is Saturday morning and Audra is spinning. There is music playing. The tune has a driving beat that is thrilling to her because she carries a grin that suggests there is no place she'd rather be. Audra is also falling. After to two three spins she topples over and lands on her bottom. As soon as she can she is back on her feet and the spinning begins, again. An addition to the spin and fall routine occurs when Audra spins, falls, stands and then attempts to walk a few steps. She teeters to one side with her arms outstretched. She tries another step and her body repeats the action on the opposite side. She falls, stands up and spins again. She is delighted. My husband and I look at eachother with a marvel that non verbally expresses, "Oh my God, we made her. Oh my God, we made her and Oh my God, can you believe we made her?" Every time her butt hits the ground Bill smiles, I laugh and Thomas and Nora giggle as if they had no idea the punchline was coming. Yes, Audra is spinning and her entire being is set to accomplish that task. When she falls she is not disappointed. Falling is part of the act. It holds the same value as the standing up and turning north, south, east and west. On it, she places no judgement. Thomas and Nora's protective instincts cause them to sit on the floor and create a barricade with their arms. The intention is to prevent her from hitting the ground but soon they realize she has no desire to be kept from falling. Their arms become a ring showcasing her movements and in a beautiful moemnt of grace they don't force their will upon her. Audra is still spinning and smiling and now she has added squealing to her repetoire. I've gone from laughing to holding my breath and fighting back tears. Usually one sees art-like beauty when they visit a gallery. The day is planned and they've paid their way. I had no plan to witness aching beauty on a Saturday in my living room. She is poetry, metaphor. She is an example in motion of what what we would hope to be. Determined. Joyous. Inspirational. Free.