I was sipping my coffee on a morning after my Traveling Partner had returned home from some trip or another. It was quiet in the room, and in our home, and even out on the street beyond. I woke ahead of the alarm by quite a bit, and there was no hint of dawn-to-come in the sky. Not at that point. My coffee was too hot to easily drink. Based on a couple hesitant, testing, sips, it was also not very good. I pondered the variables in a cup of coffee, mystified and still groggy; how is one cup so crappy, and another so sublime? Don’t I make them all the same way? Do the tiniest subtle differences in timing or process make that much difference? (Are the differences, perhaps, not with the coffee, itself, at all?)

I sighed quietly, a measured, careful, observed exhalation, slowly released following a deep breath. I felt my chest expand as I inhaled, contracting as I exhaled. A cough interrupted the quiet. Another sip of coffee. That moment was okay, and I remained with it, centered and calm, for a while.

(This particular moment was almost a year ago – a blog post written, never published. It finishes thusly…)

It was an okay homecoming. I knew, when I arrived home, that my partner was wholly exhausted, having driven 1800 miles straight on home, then on arriving, unable to actually sleep (coffee is an excellent tool to keep one awake for a long drive, and the risk to our sleep, later, is often one we find acceptable at the time), until much later – shortly before I went to bed, myself. I made dinner. We ate it. Shared a couple of anecdotes. Managed to be contentious and at odds with each other for a moment, and got over that. We are, unavoidably, quite different people, and also quite similar. Neither of those things is an assurance of always being comfortable together, or always being in genial shared space, or even holding the same opinion about literally anything. We’re individuals.

The evening passed gently after dinner. We entertained ourselves with conversation and videos. Eventually, he called it a night, and later so did I.

I woke easily, and well-rested. I’ve already forgotten some useful habits for shared space. lol I think about the commonplace usefulness of any basic tool, whether it is a screwdriver or a habit; lacking the most appropriate tool for any given task is likely to result in greater than average difficulty, increased task complexity, frustration, and time lost to struggling with pieces that don’t fit. In the same way a screwdriver isn’t the correct tool to fit a pipe, good self-care practices are not likely to also be good communication practices (although good communication is a part of good self-care, when it comes to boundaries and expectations). It has been a common (and way too real) experience on this healing path that my own wellness does not change the general state of wellness for any one other person – and they still live their life, and see things through the lens of, their own perspective on life, on circumstances – and on the relationship we share. We are each having our own experience – and we’re not all using the same tools to get any given job done. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and a lot of human beings are barely managing their own bullshit; it’s a lot to ask that people also be kind, compassionate, patient with one another, assuming positive intent… it starts to feel more like juggling than living, at some points. It’s still worth making that attempt, in my own experience.

…It also takes practice. As with using any unfamiliar tool, it definitely takes practice, and some basic knowledge. Your results may vary – particularly where relationship skills go! (You’re not doing that job alone, and even such things as “getting along” and “communicating” and “sharing” require practice, and a commitment to learning and growing, and you can only do your own.) It can be seriously frustrating, however familiar and commonplace a task seems, to grab that screwdriver, and once already frustrated, realize that the damned thing is a Phillips-head screwdriver not a flat-head. Well, shit. That got complicated fast. True in life, love, and home repairs. LOL

So… I guess I keep practicing. 🙂 Honestly, in every practical way, I only need to practice my own practices, and handle my own self-care. The relationship stuff works out much more easily when I give other people room to be themselves, care for themselves, and we’re open to both the differences, and the things we share – while still understanding that however close we are, or may become, we are nonetheless quite individual. I smile and drink my coffee; nothing new here. I struggle, mostly, when I forget to let go. Attachment to assumptions, expectations, or internal narrative can quickly sabotage an otherwise good time.

…Strangely timely as we two individuals prepare to move. I found it “by mistake” (or at least not looking for it) moments ago, as I considered writing something that, oddly, feels pretty well-covered by the draft I opened with an errant mouse-click. Helpful circumstance. One that puts me gently “back on the path” feeling I’ve understood myself just a bit better in this moment right here, right now… I settle myself into work, and begin again. 🙂

I woke early. I laid awake awhile, content and not in any hurry to start the day. Maybe I could drift off again, I thought, several times. I didn’t. I got up a few minutes ahead of the alarm, made coffee, and got the day going.

I spent yesterday, Father’s Day, with my Traveling Partner, relaxing together – what else? I mean, seriously? The pandemic isn’t a hoax, and there is still a lot of risk out there in the world, although many places are beginning to open. I went out, briefly, for a walk. Getting to the unpopular trail I’d selected (because it is unpopular), I passed several local restaurants, now open for dine-in service. The parking lots were packed. Father’s Day. I get it. I also don’t get it. Do people think the virus will take a holiday? I found myself wondering how many days it would be, following Father’s Day, before the next spike in new cases?

I sip my coffee and let all that go, this morning. Just another morning living life in the time of pandemic. 🙂

I’m tired, but not groggy. I’m in pain, but it is manageable. I struggle with that juxtaposition of circumstances that is the collision of inspiration… and the lack of ability to act on it; the studio is packed for the move. I shrug it off; the feeling of inspiration, at least for now, is not unpleasant. Soon enough, there is a new studio to set up. New work to plan. I’m excited about the move, and my excitement stokes my inspiration. Plein air watercolors of roses painted from on the deck, perhaps? 🙂

I breathe, exhale, relax, and sit quietly sipping my coffee after taking time for meditation and a bit of exercise. I look over my “to do list” from the weekend. Most of the items are related to the upcoming move. I got quite a few things done, and I make sure each completed task is struck through. 🙂 Satisfying. Another week begins. The wheel continues to turn. The path ahead unfolds, ready to be walked. I let the morning unfold gently as I sip my coffee. So much to do…

…I guess I’ll go ahead and begin again. 🙂

My duplex neighbors were partying hard last night. I slept hard, but poorly. I woke, abruptly, at 6:30 am (on a Saturday), for no obvious reason. I got up and made coffee, waking my Traveling Partner, too. This morning I take a few minutes to wake up slowly, in the quiet of my studio. I can see the CPU fan on my computer spin; I don’t hear it over my tinnitus. I am in pain. My arthritis does not appreciate the higher humidity of recent days, and I ache. I’m stiff when I move. My head hurts. Rough morning, physically, and I’m a bit cross over it – thus the self-enforced moments of solitude, giving me a chance to be a better human being before I have a chance to snarl at my Traveling Partner over something pointless or petty. It’s a practice that works for me.

I get through the waking up portion of the day one practice at a time.

My “to do list” for the weekend is now sorted into “outside stuff” and “inside stuff”. I’m not certain why I bothered with doing that; it’s obvious from the listed tasks, and they were already grouped thusly. Simply proceeding down the list would like have been sufficient. Still, it seemed, in that moment, a distinction worth making. I was not yet entirely awake. lol

I sip my coffee, correct my posture, stand up, stretch, sit down, breathe, exhale, relax… and correct my posture again. It doesn’t do anything for the pain immediately. It’ll help later on if I’m not slumped over my keyboard like some sort of mythical writing monster.

I find my mind wandering to brunches out. I fucking miss brunch. lol Life in the time of pandemic… Brunch is the thing I think I miss most.

I gaze into my half empty coffee mug. I’m already thinking about a second cup. It’s already time to begin again. There’s an entire day ahead of me, and plenty to do. 🙂

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. 🙂

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. 🙂

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. 🙂

I sip my coffee and watch a cool video on a Wednesday morning, reflecting on the small wonders and good moments that have sprung forth during the pandemic…

this video, for example

I know. It’s a small thing, to see a group of musicians overcome the limitations of being socially distanced and stuck at home. So many small moments of unity. Candles in the limitless darkness, eh? Still, it’s something. Don’t forget to pause for beauty. Listen to a favorite song, sung a new way. The moments matter.

Have you been outside? I mean, at all? Taken a walk in the sunshine? Stood in your yard looking at the sky above you? For sure, it’s a poor time to gather in a large group in a bar, on a beach, at a club – I’ll pass, thanks.

There’s a lot going on in the world, in spite of the pandemic. There are things to celebrate – there are also things to protest, to mourn, to regret… there are songs for that, too. Sometimes, the same songs suffice.

Take a moment. Take a breath. Be present in your life – in your moment – every precious moment of our all-too-brief lives has something to teach us.

I sip my coffee, reflecting on life, on love, on my good fortune, in this moment, right here. It’s enough.

I look at the time. Still time for coffee with my Traveling Partner, if he’s up for it. I feel fortunate, indeed; there’s still time to begin again. 🙂