I didn’t write yesterday, Friday, at all. I taught classes, we had a birthday in the family and presents to acquire, one marching band performance, one orchestra chili dinner, cycling laundry, and I crashed into bed hard. I thought about writing, approached it a few times when the schedule had a lull in it, but it never felt natural. I’m all about goals, but it has to feel like a fit. Yesterday written words just never fit into the flow.
I woke early this morning to go on a fun bike ride through our city with friends, returned to help wash dishes at our coffee shop, went home and showered and now the birthday celebrations extend into today with some time at a trampoline park. This is when I sit and try and write although there are so many people to watch, and I’m kind of jealous of those people over there in those massage chairs. Sweaty boys are requesting gatorade and water and we talk about electrolytes and why your body needs those replenished. My son has sweet friends and it makes this afternoon enjoyable.
I’m thinking about the word replenish now - to fill (something) up again. Thinking about all the ways a human, this human in particular, can replenish herself. With writing and a rest from writing. With cycling and a rest from cycling. With peanut butter nutty bars, the only food I’ve had so far today, and with coffee and water. With scheduled time in my future to simply sit and talk with friends. With photographs of acorns and spiders and tiny details that catch my attention while I flow, flow, flow through life.
This is actually an easy place for me to write, even though there is so much activity buzzing around me. Handshakes, high fives, hugs, coughs, nose-blows and squeals. So many moms with babies. How did I ever do that? I notice the pattern on the floor, speckled whites, reds and greys on a black background. It reminds me of a bowling ball, and it helps calm me in the middle of all this energy. It is nice to see it, but to not have to be swept up in it.
I think about the high five I gave my husband last night because we finally got our fourth and last child a phone for his birthday, and that felt like a chapter finally closed. Now we can communicate, all 6 of us, as we go our separate ways, and there are a lot of separate ways these days. And it is interesting how it feels nice to complete a milestone with my youngest. Getting a phone in fifth grade has seemed like a sort of rite of passage for each kid, and when you do it with the last it deserves its own hurrah. We made it to this point right here, and that’s really something. I don’t want time to slow, but I very much want to enjoy it on the way. Eleven years old feels special, especially for the little guy who isn’t little anymore.
The girl besides me doesn’t like how her socks feel, and she is crying. I had a daughter that used to do this. It feels like ages ago. When she talks it about it now she says it still bothers her she just matured and so is better equipped to deal with it. Life is like that you can’t handle a thing no way, no how until one day you surprise yourself and realize you can. I remember being in high school and having little things in my life that I just couldn’t seem to remember, and my mom would have to remind me, and I would think, “When will I ever remember?” or “How could I have forgot again?” And then one day I just got it, and it was easy, and I felt so proud of myself and I thought my mom must be thinking, “Finally!”
Fear is the same way. Each ghosty so unique and particular and daunting in its own right. I stare it down and I feel cold and hollow inside, gulping my way into a conversation with it. Bravely walking forward and thinking if everyone around me even knew how trembly I am, but walking anyway because ghosties don’t like to stand still. “Move with me,” they say, and so I move and think how can others be so nonchalant about this; I will never be nonchalant about this. And then one day, today actually, I am nonchalant about that very particular fear that used to wring me out and leave me proud (for trying), but whipped.
This morning I rode bikes with a woman who started riding after me, and has progressed so quickly and with great determination and a joy and ease about her that is contagious. I told her on one particular stretch of road that I used to always struggle hard on this part and fall off the back of the ride because I couldn’t hold on to the speed at which they took some of the turns in the windy road. It made me so proud of her, and I wanted her to know how very, very hard that section was for me. The people I rode with never told me how hard riding was for them at one time, once upon a time. They seemed to just always have ridden bikes and ridden them fast. They seemed to just always be helping me, waiting on me, being patient with what felt like all my DYING on a bike. But this woman was, doing it. Hanging on. It is a big deal to hang on. A really big deal.
When I rode on Thursday night of this week, I felt that familiar dread of getting as far as I can get and then watching the people pull away. But now that fear is familiar rather than unknown. This sort of fear is much more manageable. I know that it is part of it and that being there is how one makes that “getting dropped” happen less. A consistent showing up and letting the process be what it is. Difficult, challenging, and natural. This is how I better myself.
These words are serving their purpose of replenishment. I realize the ride this morning was replenishing as well because it was chill for me. Not every ride has to pin me to the wall with, “oh my gawd I can’t handle much more.” The edge is where I grow, but the the maintaining of my baseline fitness is healthy, steady, sure on repeat. It is enjoying my body and its new level of normal. Trekking down old familiar routes shows me how the bar has been raised. How it is always raising. It is so slow and sure it is almost unnoticeable day in and day out. But today was like waking up and realizing my sock seams don’t make me cry anymore. And I sort of smile with nostalgia at that woman who used to death grip her bike on the turns on the trail that wind around by the airport.
Replenishment is celebrating milestones, high fiving the moments we make it “here” and accepting that what seems hard now for me is actually hard now for me, even if it isn’t for anyone else. My hard isn’t just imagined. I’m not quitting when I hit my wall. I’m just hitting my wall. I’m pressing into a landscape of my abyss just that hard. It feels nice to know when things get hard that what you are doing is actually hard. Replenishment is accepting that the wall is where it is and it doesn’t have to be slammed into every single day to make progress.
There is a family of four little girls sitting at the table with me now, trying to get there shoes on and find their coats and the husband and wife are tag-teaming the approach to getting them out the door. The dad asks, “Are you guys happy? Are you all happy?”
A group of teenage girls try and get a group photo. One girl keeps sticking her tongue out, the back row keeps giggling. Re-take after ret-take, trying to get everyone smiling and looking at the camera for the photo.
A group of elementary boys keep screeching into each other’s ears. Finally a mom asks them to stop, my ears about to bleed.
A man motions to me, can he use the empty chair at my table. I nod, he smiles.
The boys come back and tell me about their adventures. They drink their drinks and compare stories. Life is good.
Post Malone’s Sunflower song comes on,
“I know you're scared of the unknown “
and it seems like a good ending to our time here, i.e. my writing.
I think about the boy in art therapy who can beatbox the intro to Sunflower perfectly, but how annoyed all the other kids get in the class when he sings. We are all bodies trying to navigate a life.
I want to navigate to the most enjoyable waters I can find (away from the shrieking children.)
I have managed to find myself writing again when it is dark outside, and I am in bed. Not for long though. I am the chauffeur to a birthday present hunt and then a high school birthday party. I am in my baggy sweat pants, but I’ve kind of gotten used to being the taxi and getting to hear snippets of my kids’ (and their friends) lives. I’m kind of astounded at how rich our life is as we push to our edges. We’re not good at everything, but nobody goes half way in the things that they care about. We’re nothing if we’re not all in, all in, all in.
I”m going to settle into this weekend surrounded with family and friends who challenge me to be my best me. I am surrounded by the healthy competition of people who are obsessed with being their best and giving their all. I am coming to see that even the conflicts have something in it for me. It is not about the other person at all, it is about me and my take away. How can I be replenished by this new clue about myself.
I am resting hard until I’m ready to push to my edge again. I will know when that moment comes.