The Speed of Summer

This has been the summer of slow: of washing the morning’s dishes; scraping and sweeping up Cocoa Pebbles off the ceramic kitchen tiles; straightening the throw pillows on the couch again; hanging pool towels on the line. There have been days when I wanted to scream, when I wished for salvation in the form of a plane ticket to Philadelphia paid for by my mother. There have been days I’ve feebly attempted to convince my 12 year old to wake up before 11 so we can spend a morning off the kibbutz doing “something,” but he’s never acquiesced and I’ve never pushed it.

It is August now, and we’ve done nothing, he and I. It is August, and we’re closer now to the end of the summer than the beginning.

Read more of this post at The Times of Israel.

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Throw my suitcase out there, too

The best coworker I ever had was the one who every morning sat with me for a half hour while drinking our morning coffee and did dream analysis with me.

She was good.

So was I.

Coffee + dream analysis = best way to start the morning.

I’m pretty decent on my own, but it’s more fun to analyze your dreams with a friend. I also really enjoy showing people the obvious connections they are missing. It’s pretty hilarious as a listener to understand immediately that your friend is simply exploring her fear of intimacy in her dreams of lesbian sex with the boss, when she can hardly sputter out the words, “sex with….”

Anyway, last night I had a version of a recurring dream I’ve had since moving to Israel 3 1/2 years ago. It was a few hours after waking, however, during shavasana (the deep relaxation at the end of yoga class) that I understood it. When I got it, though, I laughed out loud it was so obvious. Had I shared it over coffee with an experienced dream analyzer, she would have understood it in 30 seconds.

In the dream, I am in my childhood bedroom. I am an adult. I am there with two black duffel bags. I am packing for Israel. I realize that I have forgotten to pack my childhood books to send on the cargo shipment by boat. The books will certainly put me over the 50 lb weight limit the airline allows. I also realize a lot of my clothes are still in the drawers. Clothes I could use in Israel. Thick socks and the like.

I start making piles.

Piles to bring. Piles to part with.

Some items are easier to put in the “part with” pile than others.

I resent this process. I want it all to come with me. Not the old, stretched out long sleeve tees, but I want the socks and the books. Why should I have to leave them behind?

I notice, too, the formica furniture set is still in really good condition and I wonder why we didn’t ship it to Israel. We could have used it there.

But the furniture, I am able to let go of pretty easily. Not the books, though. I continue to make piles.

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

My 5 year old daughter appears. She has some extra room in her duffel. She lets me put books in there. I am grateful. I rearrange some of her clothes to make more room. I wish I had a bigger bag — a large sturdy suitcase would allow for more weight than this duffel.

Suddenly, I am on the plane. I have a white cardboard box, the kind you use to store files, and it’s filled with paperback books. I am able to lift it up into the overhead compartment despite its weight. I worry the flight attendant will call me out on this, but she does not. Instead, she gives me a resigned look and allows it.

I wake up.

Feel free to leave your dream in the comments and I will be happy to give you my analysis in return.

Thanks to Corvidae in the Fields for inspiring this post with his recent one on the “Cube test.

 

In the dark

I was one of those kids who was afraid of the dark.

Now, when I say “one of those kids” I do pause for a moment and wonder what kid isn’t afraid of the dark.

What adult isn’t still?

I think most of us are afraid of the dark. Even grownups.  We just pretend we’re not or drug ourselves or sex ourselves up to believe otherwise. We do something to smother the very innate fear we have of unknown monsters creeping like fog through the slats of our windows or more corporeal, through a locked door with the help of a plastic credit card.

There’s a reason why dark thoughts float to the surface of our mind at night.

I am still afraid of the dark. My bedtime routine? I read a book in bed with the light on until my eyes are practically closed and then I reach for the light and quickly fall to sleep. On the nights when I can’t fall asleep quickly, I’m troubled.

The dark is simply not a place I enjoy being.

It’s possible that not everyone is afraid of the dark.

If you’re one of these people, I’d be curious to hear from you. I wonder if it’s just us: Those of us with overactive imaginations; those of us with stress-related ulcers or migraines; those of us who jump at the sound of a ceramic plate falling to the ground; those of us who are afraid of the shadow we see at the corner of our eye when we’re drying our hair in the mirror. Is there a human being who welcomes the dark? Are you one?

My discomfort with the dark presents a quandary for me at bedtime with my kids. They all want me — still — to lie with them til they fall asleep. If they had their druthers, they’d sleep up against me all night long like spoons. One against the other in a row like a cartoon Tom & Jerry sandwich.

I can’t really blame them for that.

As much as I need space from them, space from people, space to be alone, I hardly ever want it at my own bedtime. This is not to say I enjoy tiny feet in my face at 3 am, but this is to say that I might, in some alternate Blade Runner reality, pay for someone to tickle my back and comb their fingers through my hair til I fell asleep. I might like that. It might be something I’d consider voting for in an election.

I want to know someone is near in the dark. But more important, I want to know someone is there to protect me.

I just want to know I am safe. Even if it’s a false knowing. Because, come on, do our kids really believe deep down we could protect them from ghouls, intruders, burglars?

No. I don’t think so.

They just want someone to whisper softly in their ears as they drift down into a subconscious that will take over for a time. They want the whispers to be true enough:

“You are safe. The world is safe. You are free to drift away. You are safe.”

I’ve been whispering these words to my middle son these past few nights. He had been having trouble sleeping the few nights before and our bedtime routine had become quite anguished, for both him and me.  I could continue to fight him; try for the 50th time to “sleep train” him successfully; or I could just acknowledge that my son is like me, afraid of the dark, not just the absence of light in his room but of the dark thoughts I know bubble up for him, too, at bedtime. Thoughts about people he loves. Thoughts about the fragility of life.

Who should have to be alone with such thoughts?

So at the end of an evening meditation I take him through, I speak the words I wish someone would speak to me as dreams carry me away.

“You are safe. The world is safe.”

Perhaps the more I speak them, the more the words will be true.

The less the dark will overpower me…and him…and you.

 

 

 

 

Meditation on Yard Sales

I have a tendency to hold on.

This tendency is so strong, I’m confident I will end up a haunting ghost in someone’s house when I go.

I hold on to photographs, to letters, to my child’s sketches. I refuse to part with shoes I want to love but can’t because they give me blisters; nor can I say goodbye to the beat up stuffed animal I’ve had since sixth grade.  The t-shirt I received as a party favor at a forgotten friend’s bat mitzvah sits at the bottom of a box  with fifteen others waiting to be turned into a quilt I’ll never make.

I hold tight to first impressions, grudges, undeserved adulation.

And then sometimes, I let go.

No, not just that.

I purge.

I prepare a huge yard sale and lay all my attachments on the grass for everyone to peruse.  Everyone I know and don’t know descends on my beloved belongings.

“Please take them from me!” my eyes say. And they do. For a penny, for a song.

And my load becomes lighter.

If I were to die then and there, I could float up to Heaven like a feather on the wind.