Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Remember 2014: a collective list

I remember the day when I remembered earlier days: going to a fair and getting little metal frogs that clicked; my mother explaining what a consolation prize was; walking with my grandmother to the shoe repair shop; the delicate oranges and lavenders of the persimmons, so ripe they had fallen onto the sidewalk; the house that was right here, but now it's gone.

I remember my grandson's birthday cake with one tiny candle.

I remember my presentation of haiku and haibun at the Hyderabad Literary Festival.

I remember hiking on the Finger Lakes Trail in October, walking on a carpet of golden leaves that crunched under my feet.

I remember when the thermometer hit 90 last summer and I thought "I prefer winter to this" and now I wonder "what was I thinking?"

I remember walking along the Seine River at night, seeing lights twinkle on the bridges, and boats cruising up and down, and feeling so far away from my home in Ithaca.

I remember being sick all last winter.

I remember coming downstairs and finding my cat dead.

I remember watching the full moon eclipse.

I remember parting with my daughter in the San Francisco rain.

I remember the delicate feathery milkweed seeds drifting away in the breeze.

I remember celebrating the 40th anniversary of my writing group, Five Women Poets.

I remember seeing a bouquet of birds outside my window: nuthatch, junco, titmouse, wren, chickadee dee dee dee, mourning dove, red cardinal, red-bellied woodpecker.

I remember the silent sobs, caught in our throats, the wet of our tears running down our cheeks, the thud of the earth hitting your coffin, the cold damp air we were all left to stand in, while you just lay there, already somewhere else.

I remember seeing some blue sky, way off to the east, and thinking: now I remember what the days used to look like.

I remember how angry I was with you then, until I forgot and I loved you anew.

I remember when I decided to participate in the Rutabaga Curl at the Ithaca Farmers Market, and singing in the Rutabaga Choir. 

I remember how great it felt to realize that exercise has made me so much stronger than I have been in years. 

I remember learning about the significance of the new moon. 

I remember going to the Labor Day picnic and singing labor songs that were written by Woody Guthrie.

I remember celebrating 20 years together by doing 20 brand new things, most of which were DIY projects, just like us.

I remember seeing my kitten across the road for the first time and knowing she belonged with us at #12.

I remember my grumpy old cat (who is the best grumpy old cat in the world) pretending she didn't like the new kitten, but I knew she was really truly deeply in love.

I remember my pink birthday rose surviving the green fly attack and blooming not just once in the year but twice.

I remember my first morning glory, opening a pure blue trumpet to the sun.

I remember your hand in mine when you pulled me out to see the super moon.

I remember the summer stars serenaded by cricket song, filling me with so many poems and with love for this earth.

I remember gazing up at the stars every night, walking my puppy and thinking everything is just right, despite everything that is not.

I remember going to work, day after day, with a heavy heart, and still giving it everything.

I remember thinking about my mother just as often as I have always done.

I remember all the days I made time to look for windmills and the hundreds of pictures I took of them.

I remember how I drove to Paris to meet a friend I hadn't seen in 42 years.

I remember the monsoon rain drumming on the roof of our holiday cottage in El Nido.

I remember hugging my dear husband each and every day, as I've always done for the past 26 years.

I remember the moment when I seriously took up reading again and caught up, too, with my writing.

I remember 2 large black crows filling up the side yard with noise.

I remember become closer to my mother, in a way we had never been before, after she moved into her new apartment in my town.

I remember my hands shaking from that awful pain in my back.

I remember seeing my husband in a dream, telling me he would take care of everything.

I remember receiving a piece of Halloween candy from another grown-up.

I remember playing my flute in the cold, with the pep band, to cheer on our losing football team.

I remember sitting by a warm fire with a book, and my family, and being utterly happy.

I remember visiting an art museum with my grandmother, and having long discussions with her about history and art.

I remember our trip to Italy: an apricot sunset over the city of Spoleto, the bells of the Duomo chiming in the background; the oppressively heavy smell of sausages wafting through the streets of Norcia; kissing you on the Ponte delle Torri.

I remember my daughter leaving; I remember my daughter returning.

I remember the early lettuce.

I remember fire circles, friends, full moons, new moons, good movies, great music, strawberries, and peaches.

I remember being absolutely positive that there was no possible way for a problem to resolve itself — until it worked itself out beautifully, only to present more seemingly impossible problems that are, hopefully, still working themselves out.

I remember when my husband had surgery: I was worried, I was a good nurse, I was awed by the generosity of our friends, I admired his strength and positive attitude.

I remember when my brother and his kids came to visit from Japan and I was filled with so much love for my niece and nephew whom I hardly know.

I remember the time I made my own pumpkin-spice latte and it was so much better than what you get at Starbucks. 

I remember our grandbaby's giggles as she let go and stepped into her future.

I remember the chilling sound of metal crunching as my car "met" another car.

I remember the sunlight dancing through the willow branches.

I remember being encircled by the red rash of Lyme disease.

I remember enjoying my days on the beach, under the umbrella, pen in hand working crossword puzzles with my sister.

I remember being surprised and elated that no one snatched the Schubertii Allium from my sidewalk garden.

I remember feeling that my life had shifted, that I was living in a parallel universe; the names were the same but everything else was different.

I remember when I finally discovered the groundhog that was eating all the greens from my garden.

I remember getting stung six times on my right foot after stepping on a yellow jacket nest.

I remember standing in the lake with the cool water up to my neck on a very hot August day, talking with a little boy about his pebble collection.

I remember sitting on my cat Sofia, who I thought was just a lump in the down comforter on my bed.

I remember that I finally came to terms with living in a retirement home.

I remember accepting the fact that my older sister may never love me the way that I have wanted her to, all my life.

I remember celebrating 20 years of living a sober life.

I remember that I tried to talk less, but I didn't succeed.

I remember a shy calico cat following me down the street for several blocks, pausing to hide every time I turned around to say hello.

I remember driving home, the day was bleary and grey, and then seemingly out of nowhere the sun appeared and bathed the world in golden light.

I remember coming into the room for something but forgetting what it was.

I remember the excitement of holding the proofs of my first poetry book.

I remember 50 years of married life with all its ups and downs.

I remember a trip to Cairns, and gathering seashells in the rain.

I remember celebrating love with my son and his bride on a beautiful July day, with the lake spread out before us, and everyone and everything was glistening.

I remember 2014 was the year when I was going to learn American Mah Jongg, and also Spanish, but time is running out.

I remember I left one job and walked right into another one that same day, and now really believe the phrase "when one door closes another opens."

I remember laughing with my sistah for no apparent reason, the best laughter of all.

I remember going to Stewart Park every night for the glorious sunsets and the occasional heron.

I remember losing my anger and then finding it again.

I remember lovely Sunday afternoon gatherings that lifted my spirits and inspired me in new ways.

I remember thinking about what Leonard Cohen's voice used to sound like. 

I remember turning 60 at Monument Valley among red rock monoliths, infinitely older than human life.

I remember my student comparing his pueblo to King Arthur’s court.

I remember how mad I was when you pointed out my neck is wrinkled.

I remember staying up all night reading the Tarot cards next to my account book when I got a 4% cut in pay.

I remember turning a corner in the autumn wind and not caring about the headlines or my own story.

I remember the color draining from her face as she learned of the sudden death of the friend who, decades before, had saved her from suicide.

I remember the purple whiff of scent before I'd seen the first lilac blossom.

I remember the changeover from child to peer as our 12-year-old granddaughter grabbed the snow shovel & dug in without being asked.

I remember the moment when I realized that what I see as your impatience is really unbearable fear and pain.

I remember standing tall among the Redwoods.

I remember the evolution of Freddy into top cat after his best friend Stanley died.

I remember the warm response of the neighborhood after we installed a Little Free Library in front of our house.

I remember the albino squirrel who arrived on the street.

I remember wondering if I might have been Scandinavian in another life.

I remember the opportunity to click the "refresh" button on my own life, letting go, letting go, letting go.

I remember working on my dissertation (dissertating, dissertating, dissertating) — draft after draft, endless editing, questions about grammar, wondering if it would ever be over — and then the final draft emerged, I  successfully defended my dissertation, utter joyfulness, this part of my life is completed, I feel blessed. 

I remember devising new strategies for coping with pain.

I remember the excitement of driving across country with a dear friend.

I remember the satisfaction of finishing at least a few of the Sunday Times puzzles.

I remember seeing "Guardians of the Galaxy" — reluctantly — in the movie theatre, and loving it so much I went back two more times.

I remember seeing my daughter off to 6th grade (middle school) and then taking to my bed, sobbing.

I remember the first time my daughter told me I embarrassed her and then throwing a "Mom, you embarrass me" party, cake and all.

I remember moving in with my beloved in August and finally feeling, in the middle of December, that our home is ours, not just his.

I remember hearing the first stirrings of "I am okay."

I remember declaring that this was the year that would make or break me as a writer.

I remember thinking how lucky I was to have seen Satchel Paige pitch at a Miami Sun Socks game, so long ago.

I remember when the cactus bloomed, nine pink flowers at once, and a few days later the red cactus bloomed.

I remember discovering a boyfriend was the cure for grieving that had gone on for 6 years.

I remember finding out my daughter is expecting twins, and that I cried with both delight and fear.

I remember losing a postcard with a poem I wrote for a friend, and being unable to reconstruct the way it went.

I remember finding a red mushroom under the bushes beside the mailbox.

I remember most what I learned this year, that love keeps you young forever.

I remember watching bodies move in a crowded room and anticipating the memory of that moment, anticipating this moment in which I am writing, and thinking how young I was, and how I would never be quite that young again.

I remember seeing my hands smooth and black with charcoal dust from hours of work in the studio, like the dark sculpted hands of Rodin's bronze figures — if I could go back in time to meet him, I would show him my hands and not what they had drawn. 

I remember coming home after I went away to college, dragging my suitcase off the train like Odysseus heaving his ship to shore, and making out my house's smell, which had previously been my default, for the first time.

I remember installing an elaborate underground watering system for my veggie garden and then it rained all summer.

I remember watching crows on a feeding frenzy after the field corn was harvested.

I remember driving through a thousand acre prison farm in southern Texas where signs warned us that "hitchhikers may be escaping prisoners."

I remember picking nettles from my clothes and checking thoroughly for deer ticks.

I remember watching meteorites shooting across the sky.

I remember seeing those 200 snow geese for one wondrous hour.

I remember writing 28 poems in a day.

I remember the moment when I started to feel old — not elderly, but old.

I remember how often I forgot things.

I remember that happiness eluded me a little too often.

I remember the day of the Ithaca Festival parade when my father fell and fractured his lower spine and we weren't sure he was going to recover (but he did!).

I remember that it was 80 degrees one day in November and then it snowed 2 days later.

I remember my cat brought in a baby bird that was still alive and I held it gently in my hands until it died 5 minutes later.

I remember when my brother was diagnosed with epilepsy at the same time that my mother had a cancer scare.

I remember making a 102 point word in a game of Words with Friends.

I remember when Simeon's was hit by a tractor-trailer truck.

I remember the haze over the moon on Halloween night.

I remember leaving heart-shaped rocks on the wall by the trail, for others, for myself.

I remember appreciating the ADA compliance of Hershey Park as I drove around on my electric scooter with my broken leg.

I remember a look of terror in your eyes that I hope you never feel again.

I remember seeing a house made of grass, right in the middle of the street, when I was far from home.

I remember the long summer sunset as we walked under the trees at Tanglewood.

I remember the short sharpness of our fight and the long sadness that followed.

I remember Mama, those mornings when the cat rubbed against the frame of her photo that sits on my desk.

I remember a year of change, sadness, death, letting go, hard and easy decisions, new beginnings.

I remember my garden plants got moved so that I'm not sure what's what anymore.

I remember various realignments in our family; a death shifts the balance of power.

I remember our cat's voice changing — she now howls instead of meowing and it's not pretty.

I remember the cardboard box — moving it here, sending it there, emptying it, stashing it, storing it, labeling it, recycling it.

I remember editing, editing, and more editing, as I worked on my new documentary film.

I remember the pleasures of directing a Senior Theatre Troupe: rehearsals, performances, so many laughs.

I remember riding bicycles with my grandparents on Cape Cod — sometimes my grandpa even stood up to get more momentum — and my grandmother wore her blue visor and a look of fierce determination.

I remember walking around the shrines and temples of Nikko, in Japan,  and the schoolchildren who practiced their English with us.

I remember finding out we were going to have a baby — the major thrill that brought us — and then the light through the window on our staircase, streaming in on the afternoon I miscarried.

I remember the morning I rode a camel over the rolling dunes of the Sahara, and the sunrise as it ascended over the growing horizon.

I remember my grandson saying "I am an angel and you are too," but I have no idea who ever talked to him about angels.

I remember when I was weeping because my little cat Fiona was going to die before morning and then she didn't after all, and hasn't yet.

I remember thinking that a whole fairytale world can be found in a paper-cutting by H. C. Andersen — a dream picture of the dance of life.

I remember that the rooms were very still and the spring sunshine crept in to touch the kitten; she had been out licking the dewdrops in the garden and now she strolled on with a lighter heart.

I remember reading my stories at the Spring Writes Festival to a room filled with loving, attentive people, laughing and crying along with me — remembering my mother.

I remember the greatest Chanukah gift I could ever imagine: no fracking in New York State — our precious, sacred land, preserved and honored, unfracked, Hallelujah.

I remember walking on the beach in Ogunquit, Maine and the expanse of sky and ocean so exquisite and peaceful I could cry.

I remember being told that I can have an art show of my strange drawings, framed and put up on the walls of Moosewood Restaurant, for all to see.

I remember hearing a friend tell me it disturbs her to see me wearing mis-matched socks.

I remember the sorrow of losing two good friends who suddenly dropped out of my life without any explanation.

I remember the day I realized that my hands looked different — older.

I remember hearing my mother say she was frightened, the shock of that, because she always seemed totally fearless to me.

I remember how rude I was to a flim-flam man on the telephone; no matter how bogus he was I regret yelling at him.

I remember dropping off 5 huge garbage bags, filled with black clothes, at the Thrifty Shopper store, and feeling much lighter and brighter afterwards.

I remember thinking "this is the last time I will see her" but it wasn't.

I remember the frustration of having four different pairs of eye glasses but none of the prescriptions were exactly right.

I remember the joy of creating a new tradition: giving each other good morning and good night kisses, not on the lips but at the third eye.

I remember learning a new chant: "Hello moment, I am here."

Thank you to all the contributors:

Angelee Deodhar
Anne Wexler
Antonia Matthew
Barbara Brazill
Barbara Cartwright
Barbara Kane Lewis 
Caroline Skanne
Ella Wagemakers
Gabrielle Vehar
Joan McNerney
Karina Burbank
Katherine May
Kelly Morris
Laura Levinson
Laura Rosenfeld
Lee Wagner
Linda Keeler
Liz Burns
Margaret Dennis
Martha Blue Waters
Maude Rith
Maureen Sudlow 
Meryl Young
Michael Lakin
Mike Schaff
Miriam Sagan
Nancy Gabriel
Natalie Detert
Nicole Ja
Nina Miller
Paula Culver
Peggy Miller
Phoebe Shalloway
Rainbow Crow
Rob Sullivan
Sara Robbins
Sharon K. Yntema
Stacey Murphy
Stacie Leone
Sue Crowley
Sue Norvell
Sue Perlgut
Summer Killian
Susan Lesser
Vibeke Laier
Yvonne Fisher
Zee Zahava