cafe mama

a domestic realist blog

unhappy birthday . 12 september . 2014

southwest portland hill before sunrise

I've been broken-hearted you know.

A way to -- not fix it -- but put some of the pieces in my palm and hold them a bit, hold them and maybe lick a paste out of sticky things and glutinous things, press with my palm to my breast, a way to at the very least make a ticky-tacky art of my brokenness was to do things. Spectacular things! And so I woke up at just-after 4 a.m. on the day before my 41st birthday. It was a bang. A blowout!

I met Rose under the Hawthorne Bridge just after 5, and we rode up over the Terwilliger hills, and down, and up and up. We crested some hill I'd never crested before as the sun was rising. We rode down, down, down and all the way, stopping for peanut butter and doughnuts and peanut butter, climbing trees for apples, picking blackberries on a mountain ridge, pushing our bikes up the steepest hill you can imagine. At Adelsheim we watched the harvesters, their bucket tally cards pinned to their backs like toddlers and I don't know whether it made me angry or whether this was pride; they said of the fastest, strongest man, "eighty buckets already today!"; we watched him in awe running down the rows of pinot vines carrying four five-gallon buckets. It was 11 o'clock.

We helped sort grape leaves out of the tangy-sweet bins and then went in like the plebians, like the useless people, to taste wine like a whole florist's table, like seaweed and plums, like moss and strawberries and allspice. We ate peanut butter and butter and walnut bread and fruit out of the trees and off the ground.

We, our bikes and us, begged a ride home from an architect who rode bikes too, who almost never drove, so in her car we picked the way from an endless assortment of turns and hills and back roads and more turns, more hills, through roads I haven't seen since my 20s. I want to tell you all about the architect but that's her story, I'll tell you about my legs, they were so tired, and they were not half so tired as my tired, tired heart.

My birthday. Oh my birthday! The wind was high that day, wildly dancing, a tarantella, and I woke up several times in the early morning because of its force. Monroe woke too, many times in the night, we were a tangle of restlessness and soreness. It was the morning of my 41st birthday and when I opened my eyes the sun was already lighting the fir needles outside, and I looked out in the yard to see how my skirts were already stirring, Debbie. (I saw it there, shadow spinner!)

I wanted to take the small morning to make coffee and bake things, to wash my dishes, to sit on the porch in the sun and read poetry and those happy birthday messages, I wanted to try to take my tangled thoughts and weave them into something strong and sensual and fit for ritual. I found poetry on Facebook in the early morning and it was all about taking the joy and peace and wonder around us and squeezing it tight in your fist until it made a salve you could smear all over your face and your neck, your shoulders, find joy in the tails off squirrels, the frenetic activity of fir trees, the ripeness of figs, I'm paraphrasing of course. "Joy is not a crumb," there you are, Mary.

On my birthday I wanted to hold on to the dreams enclosed in lost things, I wanted to keep reaching out with my arms like if I stretched hard enough up on my toes I could flick my fingertips along them. How could they not turn around and look me in the eyes then?, I wanted to do all this and still leave room in my wide open arms for all the things serendipity and fate and the gorgeousness of your humanity have found for me. I thought, if I tried hard enough maybe I could fit it all into my heart, joy, hopefulness, love, loss, disappointment, all my heart knows is longing, all my heart knows is the glorious sweetness of purple clusters of grapes. The long-tongued bitterness of coffee. The caramel moon, yes I took that as a gift, the words and the things, the red wind!

It was all there, it was all lifting up and away from me on the wind. I went to work, I chased after it, my skirts swirling in the wildness, my skin feeling all the sun and soreness and want.

And in the end my birthday was not, really, not at all, happy. I do treasure the "happy" messages, though, I do feel loved, I am filled by having all so many loves in my life, so many who care for me. Those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter or here. I want to apologize. I am sorry for my spilliness, for my indiscretion, for being sad so out loud.

I did not have a happy birthday, I did get things from people who love me though, I did eat cake, I did blow out candles, I did see the moon painted on the sky. I don't think I'll get my wish! My wish crumbled around my head like the dry crumbs of cake. Days later, forgotten on the counter.

I don't think I'll get my wish, I'll have to make new wishes, I wish to wrap up like wool blankets in the love I have now, to experience all the passions anyone can offer me, to never stop telling stories. To smile and laugh even through the tears that come to me sometimes out of the blue and sometimes, expected. Ordinary.

I didn't expect this passionate life to lead back to ordinary sadness; it's a different sort of sadness than I had before, dull and achy and jaded, this is a sadness that gives me adrenaline! Sharp and stabbing and I'll press my hand to my breast now and lift off the blood that's there. Wipe it in further and treasure it somehow. If I touch you, my hand still red and sticky, you can see into me.

Right now I don't feel so well, but I'm still going to run out there into the world, stand up on my pedals and shout at you if I must. Thank you! I'm sorry. I love you. I love you too.

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read my previous post .

when I move I sit still . 22 august . 2014