For the last three days, my eyes have popped open like kernels of corn precisely at 6:42 am, a solid eighteen minutes before my alarm. I lay there in bed a mouth breathing trout with popcorn for eyes, flopping to the other side, turning my shoulder to the sun. But even if I were to stitch my eyelids together, those eighteen minutes of slumber would elude me. For whatever real world reasons, I am Awake.
My darling girls went back to school this week. Long on legs and opinions, they are striding ever forward into the tide of school schedule and assignments, (and girl drama, I tell you. It's coming. I can feel it.) A Baptism of scholastic tasks. And so I started thinking, with my girls beginning the full descent into principle and regiment, why I don't I take myself to task? Am I even capable of setting my mind to an assignment and following it through all the way to completion? I think that part of me might still be in bed; sleeping in some shadowy corner since the mid nineties.
Let's face it, this space, my virtual square footage, could use a little principle and regiment. So, because I am endlessly inspired by these ladies and these ladies and because I have an eastern facing window and a camera (and apparently, an extra eighteen minutes in the morning,) I am commissioning my early morning photographer. I will be taking one photograph for the next 30 mornings and posting it here. I can't guarantee that they will be perfect compositions (or even good compositions.) I can't even guarantee they will be terribly, terribly interesting, probably a lot of photos of my breakfast and my garden because those are the things that protest the least as I click off frame after frame trying to steady my hand.
But even Georgia O'keffe saw the importance of living in the small moments of life. She said, "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment."
I am taking my world in my hand and really looking at it.
Tell them they've had their day. It’s someone else’s tomorrow. -Patty Griffin
We have just returned from returning home.
The epic journey through the heart of our country to the place where the Producer and I cut our teeth on shoe leather and Baptist church revivals. (Rather, he cut his teeth on his father’s sports car’s leather seats, and I came through by way of Equine surgical procedures…and Baptist church revivals.)
Through the heart with oil derricks like giant, grazing, iron horses, rusting out in the fields where they’ve been standing for the last thirty years. Hawks spiral against a pale blue sky, indifferent to the progress below. Highways scraped, resurfaced; in perpetual and varying stages of repair and disrepair. Cottonwood trees with ragged edges sprout leaves and hold them close to their trunks, leaving their fingertips bare, daring the tumultuous wind to try to take them down. Just try it. Farmers with their great expanses of land, two story tractors, ancient farm trucks, and the hard earned lines etched in their faces.
Through the mid-land states with their ribbons of highway knitting the country together from one end to the other, where the gray, heavy clouds sag toward the earth and the farmer’s fields sit up in the expectant way a child peers in the windows of a candy shop.
The soil turns from Saffron to Cayenne somewhere south of the Oklahoma state line.
This trip is always a sort of backward rebirth for me. I am certain that I catch reflections of myself as a girl in familiar places. More often, though, I catch glimpses of little boys here and there whom I could swear were my little brother. I will often whisper to myself, “Resist. Resist” as I pass by these little Sethy doppelgangers in order to steel myself from scooping them up or mussing their buzz cut heads.
I have decided that we leave pieces of ourselves like shadows or tattoos on the landscape as we come through. Moles on the skin of the world. Freckles maybe.
There are places I return to now, in my thirties, that have physical memory of my childhood self. I could curl up on the grass at Brookhaven Park and have a conversation with the seven year old girl who found the courage inside to skip a bar on the monkey bars all the way there and back. And then the uncertain eighteen year old girl would come and sit by us and barrage the seven year old with questions about certainty and courage and direction. And we would both listen with rapt attention as the second grader did her best to share what she knows. And then the eighteen year old me would kiss my seven year old head and squeeze my thirty-one year old hand and amble back to the third swing from the left and wait for The Producer to ask his question. And she will say yes on that swing in Brookhaven Park.
I do little of the talking in these holy places and almost all of the listening. It's hard for me to leave when there is still so much to be said.