Deluxe Alien Queens
On Valentine’s Day, Khalil and I watched a couple of short films on Disney+. In Out, a gay man debates telling his parents about the man he loves. In Bao, a woman copes with her grown son moving out by parenting a dumpling.
He was curled into me — my little spoon —the computer propped on its side in front of our faces. During Bao, he pressed pause. “One day, I will be a grown-up,” he said. “And I will move out. When I go, I’ll do this.” He sat up and faced me, placed his hands on my cheeks, and leaned in, kissing my forehead. “I’ll kiss you, and I’ll say goodbye.”
He turned back to the computer, pressing play.
Khalil is back in school. Cases dropped enough for us to feel comfortable. He’s thrilled to be back. I want to hear more details than he’s willing to share so he claims, “short-term memory loss.” and stays tight-lipped. Though he did tell me that they played a game at recess they call, “deluxe alien queen and the face-huggers.”
Last week, we saw some cardinals. It still looks like a sepia photo outside our windows, and the snow reaches halfway up our shins, but spring is coming. This morning, a V of Canadian geese flew over the house. It’s not until the animals come back that I realize how still winter in Canada is. The lake is frozen now but soon, the ice will break apart and drift away and the water will again, crash with tiny waves onto our rocks. It’s not only the cold but it’s the absence of color and of movement.
It reminds me of when you have a long headache or a virus, and you start to forget what healthy feels like, but then the symptoms improve and you’re amazed by how sick you were and how much better you feel.
Not that winter here is all bad, but its retreat reminds me of how grounding it is to be in tune with nature. To witness the changes. I cried (of course) last spring when the first crocus came up next to our apple tree.
With the pandemic abating, for now, but a new war filling the spaces in our minds that Covid left free, I wonder if there will be a point in the next few years that will feel like Ontario in the spring or the morning after a headache leaves. Where we all realize how bad things were, and how thankful we are for peace.
Or do we live here now? Will late-stage capitalism and hyperconnectivity continue to push us into a dangerous entropy until we finally hit a rock bottom from which we cannot recover?
Anyway, just keeping it light and breezy.
My therapist, in 2020, suggested that I notice one beautiful moment each day and that advice has been a liferaft during Covid, political unrest, and a warming planet.
Hard times always have lots of beautiful moments and good seasons have lots of painful ones. Taking the time to really notice multiplies the good, and often I realize that my days are filled with more beauty than I expected. In that vein, a list of good things in 2022, so far.
Gifts: My love language is gifts — so the holidays, my birthday, and Valentine’s day can feel like an embarrassment of riches. The best gifts this year were the totally unexpected ones. A dear friend here in Canada, who has done so much to make Ontario feel like home, dropped a plant, fancy olive oil, and toys for Khalil when we were stuck in rental houses. And then, a few days later, a beautiful wool sweater arrived from a friend in California, who I miss very much.
Mona: When we were out of our house, for months, our neighbor and friend Mona cared for our (many) plants, ran our taps, brought in the mail, and facilitated contractors. We had assumed she would be helping for a week or so and when it expanded to months, she didn’t hesitate. When we returned home, on a day where the temperatures barely reached 0 degrees (Fahrenheit!) she and her husband, Dave, stood outside our house, waving and welcoming us back. Inside, we found biscuits, cupcakes, and sourdough from our favorite local bakery.
TV & Books with no cynicism: Somebody, Somewhere on HBO and Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found, have both been beautiful reminders of kindness and the hard and worthwhile work of finding contentment where you are.
Everyday oil David jokes that my enthusiasm for this oil gives the impression that I am involved in a pyramid scheme. I am not. I just love the scent and how it makes my house smell like a spa and how it helps repair my dry Canadian winter hands.
Love to you. I hope that wherever you are, you are in a place to notice when the birds come back and that you have someone who will stand on the driveway, welcoming you home.