A tree branch fell in the night Sunday, 3-something in the morning, and only you heard it. You described the sound as something out of a demolition montage, long and slow and loud, the machinery of old elm and neighborhood decrepitude. We slept, the others of us, and only discovered it in the morning. By 10 a.m. ropes were tied around the tree's base, and some of the ten or 12 children assembled were watching. When the branches came out and the trucks went away it was still and quiet here, for a minute, like we'd let in the light more directions and more ways than one.
We went on, with paint pans, with something enormous on all of our hearts. We went on, falling in and out of groups and factions, remaking "we," meaning different things, "we our family," "we our group," "we two kids." You and I. You and I.
In this house these few days are three families and we go together like we grew up this way, like I've always had someone to help and someone to be helped by. Like it's usual to count heads and leave the house in ever-changing groups of two adults. Like putting two or three on my bike or one on my oldest's back is part of our already-established dance. Like I know how your boy likes his eggs. Like I know we all, every last one of us, will eat a piece of your pork with our fingers. If need be.
Like you, too, we withhold and give back privileges, and those privileges are how closely we'll allow ourselves to be seen and how much we'll allow each other to see.
We knock down walls (literally) and we expose ourselves (figuratively) and we try to be comfortable with how close this is to perfect and how vulnerable we all still are.
Today there is painting and shopping and a dinner cooked, for so many people we can't count them, and soon we will return to separate spaces but not for good. Because this is what's good and I'm willing to make hard choices to keep, to hold, to live this. It's my vow, of a sort, it's my pledge.