Carla says all we get is moments, and she’s right. So here are some of mine from 2008:
Listening to C play piano downstairs as he is doing now, while I type this in bed. The gentle sound drifts up. He’s improvising, noodling, it sounds a little classical, and then jazzy, and then like a lullabye…
Last Sunday, with my Little Sister in Redwood Park. She had asked me to “take her to the woods!” so I brought her up there. “Is this the woods?” she asked. She was curious, alert, interested, calm. Nature is big enough to hold her in a way that man-made environments can’t. We greeted and petted every dog we saw, looked at horse shoe prints, discovered moss, peered down gopher holes, collected pine cones. She was a dream, and I had so much fun with her. And it lasted for two and a half hours. She hugged me when we parted. A small turning point.
The wonderful Japanese restaurant lunch in Massachusetts in October, celebrating Dad’s and my birthdays. Eli flopping his all-of-a-sudden lanky little body on me, treating me like a bean bag chair. Noah slung his elbow over my shoulder just because he can—he’s shot up to almost my height and the next time I see him he will have overtaken me. Afterwards, standing in the sunlight with my dad and siblings and nephews, watching C play soccer with the boys. Pretending to be a shark for my nieces so they could enjoy screaming and running away.
White water rafting with C in Oregon, feeling the thrill of adrenaline as we rushed down the river, wondering if we’d keep our seats or get dumped overboard, getting drenched to the skin and at the very end slipping over the edge in our life jackets and paddling gently to shore.
The first bed and breakfast we stayed in in Oregon, a lovingly reconstructed old farmhouse—each detail was perfect. Seeing Othello in the big theatre, having read it aloud together and watched the movie. C whispering to me that he never would have enjoyed it that much if we hadn’t done that and how much he appreciated the new learning. Feeling like I could actually teach him something when he’d been instructing me all summer in carpentry and painting and sanding and spackling.
My fiftieth birthday party, I felt giggly and pretty and danced and read poetry and when I looked around everyone was playing music and making connections, and talking and eating and having fun.
Watching Arabian Nights a few nights ago at the Berkeley Rep. Gorgeous, rich theatre—I wanted to eat that production, I wanted to smear it all over my body like honey and sesame paste, it was like halvah, so rich, so sweet, so good.
Being at Harbin with Carla last July, laughing and crying on the bed, watching her enjoy water-walking in the big warm pool, slipping out of our room to go swimming in the early mornings, naked, with the pool all to myself.
In fact, swimming in general, a reliable way to reach ecstasy, especially when I have a lane to myself. There were some good swims in 2008. I hope for even more in 2009.
Reading Doubt and realizing I was in the presence of a work of genius. Reading Women of Manhattan and feeling my eyes widen in recognition: this writer gets it.
C proposing to me at the Berkeley Marina, my astonishment and our laughter and the deep gladness of knowing we both want each other that much. Being moved once again by how he’s willing to lay it on the line. Calling my father to tell him the news that evening; he was having dinner with my godparents, his cell phone was on because he was awaiting word from the hospital where my stepbrother Stoph and his wife Moire were having their first baby. Dad was so happy he said, “I can’t even begin to describe all the feelings that are rushing through me right now.”
Our sweet Passover dinner with old friends Lauren and Daniel and their two-year-old Mirabai. It was Mirabai’s first Seder and she was toddling around, very interested in everything and even wanted to come sit on my chair with me for a while which felt like a great blessing. Telling her about Elijah and opening the door. Passing on the tradition.
Dad’s visit—waking early in the morning and walking up 38th Ave to try to catch the radiance of his early morning self.
Watching Obama get elected. Screaming, “He got Ohio! He got Ohio!”—was it Ohio this time? The state he needed to put him over the top. Feeling so overwhelmed at what was happening I couldn’t take it all in. C beside me on the couch breaking into tears, friends drinking champagne together and feeling that the world had changed.
So many moments of sitting in audiences watching Carla perform, but the one that stands out to me is a gig at Anna’s. I was there with Gerry and she sang a song she had written about being scared in the middle of the night and I dissolved.
Climbing Mt. Grace in Massachusetts on a beautiful warm October day and seeing the undulant colored hills all around—a sea of hills, all the way to forever.
Having my play produced in Detroit and my Dad and stepmother and Masankho and C all came. Masankho just made it at the last moment. Seeing my dad crying at the end--he was overcome with emotion.
Writing Love Shack and realizing I’ve already got 13 poems towards my next book.
Making love in various rooms of the house and feeling like teenagers. First time I’ve lived without roommates in ten years. All our teasing, play-fights, and even some of our real fights. Holding ground—new and scary. Working it out. Tears and deeper understanding. Long walks in the woods.
Being scared to take the Impact class and taking it, and realizing the part of me that was hungering to fight and be powerful. Awakening the sleeping warrior inside.
Singing a duet with Catherine Rose at my birthday party and hearing her say she always thought I had a nice voice.
Making chicken mole for the first time and having it turn out well, making delicious gazpacho stuffed with fragrant herbs, making matzah brei for C this morning...
Sitting with a student at the Impact class where I was an assistant teacher. She was crying about a rape that happened years ago. Knowing exactly what to do—nothing—and doing it lovingly. Feeling her release her trauma, and knowing we were in the exactly right place doing just what needed to be done.
Going to The Albatross, a bar, with C and G and Carla, and playing that game about who would you like to have dinner with, living or dead. Realizing the people I most wanted to be with were right there at the table with me. Teasing Carla about how she needed to be carried out by two guys, even though of course it wasn’t because of the one beer she drank. Seeing how gentle and courtly G is with her.
Watching the Olympics, the tremendous spectacle of the opening ceremonies, even if it was politically incorrect and fake, it was still an amazing show. Watching the whole thing sitting on the couch between G and C, eating salt and vinegar potato chips.
Taking my Little Sister and her real big sister into the city to see Elizabeth’s show. Playing I Spy with them in the car going over, with C—just like a family.
Watching The Wire with C, occasionally pausing the DVD to deconstruct the action or figure out what the characters were saying. Feeling like it is a joint effort to appreciate this complex well-written show. Seeing how much of the street life it shows is similar to the lives of C’s students at Juvenile Hall, and how it affirms something to have that devastating reality reflected back.
Clothing swap with Marci and girlfriends, not so much the loot I came home with, just the camaraderie of women and bodies and clothes—humor, support, and generosity.
Singing with Beth and Hadass at E’s birthday, standing in the center of the circle, singing as an act of prayer, leaning in to listen closely and feeling bound by ropes of song and love.
And what were your moments of 2008, o readers, anonymous or named?