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See you in September…

The next volume of my newsletter, From My Writer’s Notebook, will be arriving in your inbox on September 10th. It contains a gift for subscribers, an ebook titled Isaac with Elijah, which is a contemporary interpretation of an old story.

As my family prepares for the Jewish New Year, I can’t seem to get an old song out of my head. I keep thinking about how there won’t be much time to write or update the web site until the end of September, after all the Jewish holidays have been celebrated.

So, don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to ensure that you receive the ebook, and I hope that I will see you in September.

In the meantime, enjoy the song! Here is the original version by The Tempos (1959):

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Launch

16

10…9…8…

If you’ve ever watched a NASA launch or seen the movie Apollo 13, you’ll probably agree that the last ten seconds prior to lift-off are moments of heightened anxiety.  Waiting to hear the words “blast off,” everyone within earshot of the countdown cannot help but feel tense.

A similar tension has been mounting in my home during the last ten months since my eldest child’s 18th birthday until her move-in day at Oglethorpe University. The final ten days of transition—spent shopping for sheets and towels, transferring data to a new laptop, packing clothes to take to school and clothes to donate to charity—have been bittersweet. At times I’ve been filled with the maternal instinct to fold her into my arms and hold her so tightly that she could never go.

7…6…5…4…

One recent afternoon when my patience was particularly thin, I texted my spouse that I couldn’t wait for her to leave.  “Don’t say that,” he replied. “You don’t mean it.”  I silently admitted that he was right. I did not, however, admit that I’d actually said those words aloud to my daughter.

Today, in the final ten minutes before leaving the house, I remember with regret how I said these words in anger, typed them forcefully with my thumbs. But I also know that this was, and remains, partially true:

I can’t wait for her to launch.

Her exciting journey toward adulthood begins today. As I drive away from campus, I look in the rear view mirror and see the independent-minded toddler running away from me toward the sandbox in a NYC playground. I can hear the self-assured adolescent soothing her younger siblings before calling her father to report that we were in a car accident and that no one was hurt.

maital on stage webI remember every curtain call, my applauding as she stepped on stage, my swelling with maternal pride at her accomplishments. Now I realize that these moments were rehearsals—like the simulation exercises that NASA conducts with its astronauts—to prepare for the real journey.

I know that I couldn’t hold her back. I wouldn’t want to…

…3…2…1…

Safe travels, my child.

 

 

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Restless

I haven’t slept well in weeks.

I toss and turn through the night. In the dark before sunrise, I am jolted awake by some internal, silent alarm.

I can’t remember the thread of my recurring dream, but the feeling that it was disturbingly violent lingers as I stretch my cramped body toward the edge of the bed.

I stumble to the bathroom, still peevish about being awakened so early. On summer mornings the house is still, except for the occasional rustling of newspaper. My spouse sits at the kitchen table and waits for his ride to work.

Our three children sleep soundly in their beds, defiantly ignoring the birds chirping their reminder: “The school year is about to begin!” That is the song I hear, anyway. I imagine the kids pulling their pillows around the ears to block out the squeaking brakes of the noisy garbage truck.  We are not ready to set alarm clocks, negotiate morning shower schedules, pack lunch boxes.

The dog, too, is sleeping soundly. She is sprawled across the threshold of the staircase, blocking my descent into the day. In her dreams, she has returned to her youth; she chases rabbits and chipmunks across the yard, her back legs no longer plagued by arthritis and atrophy, by one torn and one repaired ACL. I am forced to step gingerly over her to reach the kitchen counter, where the coffee waits, where my spouse has left a note: “Jenna has not moved.”  She moves in her sleep, I think.  She is also restless.

I move slowly in my stupor toward the coffee pot, determined to remember the dream that I believe is the cause of my restlessness. As I lift the steaming mug to my lips, I am overwhelmed by a desire to spill the coffee into the sink and tiptoe back up the stairs.  Who would know if I stole a few more hours of sleep?

jenna in sun web sizeI hear the dog stirring in the hall. I finish half the mug in three swallows and head toward the front door. “Jenna, let’s go!” My voice is a whisper-shout, as I command her with false resolve. “It’s time for a walk.”

At the sound of the w-word, she is immediately awake.  I wonder if she remembers her dreams or forgets them, as I do. I wonder if I would sleep more soundly on the tile floor.

Pushing aside the fleeting thoughts of a wandering mind, I grab the leash and repeat the command.

“Let’s go! I’m restless.”

 

 

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