Lately I’ve been trying to put words to parenthood, and I’ve been coming up empty. I think that’s why so many parents reach for cliches when trying to describe what its like to see their own child grow—the experience of parenthood is just so unwieldy that words elude us. We use the cliche to tame the largeness of the experience, because no one wants to go to the universe and back when they ask, “How’s Hudson doing?”
To start, let me acknowledge that this post makes a few generalizations, for which, I apologize. Ish.
Recently, I was at an airport traveling solo, when a white man (I feel like the term “dude” is maybe a more accurate depiction, if I’m being linguistically precise) popped down next to me, headphones in. He was groomed and professional. After several minutes of not speaking to me at all, he pulled out an airpod and asked me to watch his stuff. At the airport.
I spent a glorious summer day yesterday ambling through a street fair in the Upper West Side. I stopped at Paper Source, bought myself a planner, soaked in the objectively perfect weather, and tried to stay off Facebook. It was an exercise in willful ignorance.
I want to write something honest. I want to uncork the bottle that Jeremy filled up. I want to stare out a window and do that legato slide from content to complex. I want to write something real, something major, something that doesn’t ice skate or dilly dally or dance across the surface of the stream.
If it hasn’t snowed (which, it hasn’t snowed), then December 3rd has a specific sort of smell. I think it’s the smell of frozen grass and crinkly leaves commingling. For some reason, I get the distinct whiff of cobblestones on December 3rd, and just so there can be a symphony of senses, there’s the sound of a shimmer of resilient leaves in the trees, and my chin starts to numb because it’s just barely too early for scarves.
I like the way December 3rd is.
I’m a “hopeful” blogger. A blogger that sends little opiates of hope to the masses in light of a tragedy, in light of a discomfort. I try to make people feel better, or if not better, at least understood. I tell human interest stories. Platitudes. Truisms.
I do not have time to write this blog post. Which means I’m writing it on the D line, and it’s rush hour, so I’m writing on my cell phone with just my right thumb while I cling onto the rail with my left. One never does her best writing on the subway. One-thumbed writing is hasty, filled with run on sentences and typos that people privately message me about after my blog is posted.
I like to start each new school year with a game. It’s called “Yes” and it involves students standing in a circle, asking for permission to move across the circle and take someone’s place. It’s a cycle of saying “yes” and my hope is that the idea of assent carries over to discussion. As the players improve at the game, I up the intensity. I have students toss a heavy, imaginary bowling ball across the circle. They practice saying yes by catching the imaginary bowling ball in a way that suggests that they’ve “yessed” its imaginary weight. Then we blow a feather across the circle while the bowling ball is circulating, and finally I pull a “lizard” from my pocket and send it scampering to a classmate.
This post has been sitting at the bottom of my brain basin for a long time, waiting to surface at the right moment. I actually wrote the majority of this post before the Mormon Facebook Apocalypse of 2015. Still, I’ve held onto this post. I think the time is finally right, as I confront the painful, vulnerable fact that I’ve been spiritually wounded. This is a loaded admission, one that opens up your soul to further misunderstanding, judgment, and (perhaps most terrifyingly and only in a few extreme cases) ire.