While I have been working my best to distance myself from the news that surrounds every place communication resides, I decided to focus my attention on joy. It is important to find joy, but sometimes I forget to look for it. Sometimes I need to remember on purpose, so today I chose to write a simple list of things that bring me joy. They were listed as they came, in no particular order.
Each year that passes, I think of them. That class. The one that left a permanent mark. It was a year that changed me. It may have been a year that changed all of us. When I think back on that class, I’m reminded of all that was good and all that was imperfect. We took all that we knew and all that we didn’t know and became explorers, daring into the unknown to learn more.
When I was a kid, my parents worked hard to keep me away from sad experiences. They especially worked to keep me from experiences connected to death. That all changed at about the age of seven. It was the summer of the best game of tag.
I must have been 19 when I took this trip with my dad. We were on our way to Los Angeles. To prep for the one hour trip, I remembered to grab a small cotton hand towel to dry my hands. I don’t like the feel of moist hands, especially when I drive. About 25-30 minutes into the drive, my hands began to feel a little moist. With one hand on the steering wheel, I reached down for the towel with my left hand. Just a quick rub on the cotton towel. No big deal. We were moving close to 70 mph, but I didn’t need to shift my eyes from the road to reach for the towel.
Looking down at my hand this afternoon, I noticed that the large cut on my left palm has healed. It took a few days, but I’m relieved to know that it is much better. In the time it took for me to look it over, memories of the car accident my son had a few years ago began to fill my mind. It took months for him to recover. It was a trauma for him, for all of us. The process of changing bandages, keeping him comfortable and calm is all I focused on those few months. That was not as important as having had him survive it all. He was alive and had both of his legs. All he needed was to heal and learn to walk again. It is as far as my mind will allow me to return to that experience, so my memories push further back to a class I took in high school.
She came in to schedule my next appointment, but in our few minutes we gained much more than I expected.
“Hello” she said from behind the mask, as she sat down and began the search for dates on the screen. “I’m going to schedule your next appointment… are you okay with scheduling it for next year?” “Yes, of course,” I said.
“Tap… tap… tap.” I looked up to see a masked woman with a pen and a notebook ready to take an order. I lowered my window. “Hi,” I said. “Hello. Can I take your order?” she asked. “Oh, you’re open! Great!”
It’s a good thing to have set up a writing community, especially on a digital platform.
Tonight, as I sat down to write my last Slice of Life post for the month of March, I heard a “ding.” My phone called out to let me know someone has written. Email? Text? No, it was a notice that one of my students had published a piece of writing. I guess technically, this student is no longer my student. He moved away back in December and returned to Argentina. It had only been a few weeks of learning to blog, during those small chunks of time available for it in the classroom. It didn’t seem to be enough time, but I guess it was.
I love listening to words, especially when the words come from the mouths of the people who put them together just so. Sometimes, they unexpectedly come from the people you love. Some people make meaning from words in such ways when they speak. Words don’t carry much value when they come without heart. I think about the voices I’ve heard in my life, especially those that have made spaces nestled deep in my heart and mind. My mother, my father, my sister back home, there are voices that sit there until I call on them one at a time to come sit for a visit. Today, my sister Sandra sent me a text, just a message with the need to have words spoken out loud. I called to hear her voice tonight.
After yesterday’s slice, I noticed that my writing goes in and out of the reality of living through this pandemic and the beautiful things that I am grateful to have in my life. Maybe it’s an automatic defense to write about something else. Or, maybe I just need a break from this pandemic every once in a while. I’m sure when this is all over and time has spaced out our lives now from what our lives will be in the future, it will be easier to understand why. Until then, I will give myself grace and freedom to move in and out of pandemic writing.