Friday, January 2, 2009

Re-Entry Hell...or back to real life

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope '09 brings good, sweet,and easier times for those suffering under this world-wide recession.

I am back after a paradisal visit en famille to balmy Florida and my 82-year-old Mom,travelling from Montreal's winter palette of black,white and silvery-gray into heat and explosive tropical color. We all pile into my mother's modest condo, kids on air mattresses on the floor, and spend lazy days strolling the beach, frolicking in the waves, soaking up sun, sand, and the beauty of the bursts of fuschia, golden and scarlet flowers. Not to mention those palm trees.

My mother is extraordinary for 82, still beautiful, very active, and completely compus mentis. She has mellowed with age, or perhaps I have mellowed with motherhood and life experience. This is the first visit in a long while where we haven't had an altercation (what a great euphemistic word, how mild and clinical it sounds, nothing like what it means, love that) or two...or three altercations...not to mention not even one knock-down-drag-out that only passionate mothers and daughters can suit up for and knuckle down into. Enough. I've already had a lifetime's worth of those conflicts. Mom and I got along well. In fact, we actually all enjoyed one another's company, playing Apples To Apples, or smacking tennis balls around the clay courts, or enjoying twilight or nighttime swims which seem totally cuckoo, loco, to Floridians during their "winter."

It was fulfilling to give my mom a copy of The White Space Between, which is dedicated to her and my two other mothers. She read it while I was there, with great pride and enjoyment, though perhaps connecting too many dots between Willow and me. Ah well. She's a shrink, after all!

Evenings were cool and refreshing, clear skies scintillating with stars. We pointed out the constellations, letting the day's sweat, salt, and sand dry on our oiled skins.

I always experience seasonal disorientation while down in Florida--thinking that it is summer--that I will return to find it summer. This confusion begins on arrival, as my daughter Rosy bursts out each year when we exit the Fort Lauderdale Airport's sliding glass doors into the balmy heat: "Does anyone love these palm trees as much as I do?"


Outside the gated communities of the comfortable were storms of foreclosures, signs everywhere that despite the beauty of sunny Florida, many were in crisis, barely feeding their families, losing their homes. These tough times are bound to continue for another year or two.

Articles in the paper featured skate-boarders looking for foreclosures, cleaning the scum and rats from abandoned pools, enjoying new challenges on their boards as night set in.

We can only hope that Obama, our hope, will slowly, steadily put our world to rights, narrowing the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the have-too-much's and the have-little's.

There were the heart-warming stories. Like the head of Barnes and Noble who financed new homes for a group of families in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans who had lost their homes, restoring faith in these people's hearts that there are decent folks in the world who are not just grasping and grasping more and more and more.

We've returned home with a coconut and plan to smash it tonight as snow drifts down outside, drinking its sweet milk, and chewing on its flavorful meat, perhaps with a glass of champagne for Michael and I to celebrate, well, life, family, the hope for better in the New Year.

Now I have to belly up to re-entry chores, re-entry hell. Clean out the mucky fridge, do laundry, buy food (yeah, this family's gotta eat), slog through my email...take loads of leaves ('member I told you 'bout the ones that don't fall till the snow falls) to the dump and warm up the material for my fourth book, my new novel, the one I began before the launch of The White Space Between.

Not to mention enjoying, savoring the pleasures of home. Like a cuddle with my gorgeous winter dog, Monty Booh, a Berner who as I write is outside on a cloud of snow, in heaven, nipping at drifts.

Write me!



peacelovesweetness said...

As I read your latest blog post, I can't help but be filled with envy of your too perfect trip to the tropics! And after reading it, to have to look outside and see the whites and blacks of the winter right outside my window.....not fun. Anyways, I'd like to wish you a happy, healthy, and of course literature-filled new year!

Leo said...

Re-entry I agree with. Hell I do not.

When one spends time away from home, from the ordinary, from the routine, you gain a new perspective on things.

We always spend a week or two away from home every 4-6 months and the act of re-entering makes us realize that home, while familiar, is no longer the same as it was when we left. We've gained something while being away. Call it perspective. Call it context. We're still surrounded by the familiar things we like and it's always good to be back on your sofa, in your bed, in your office.

But while surrounded by the comfort of familiar, everything looks a little bit different. As if you were looking at things while standing just an inch or two to the side of where you used to stand. It's an odd feeling, but it's also a good one too as it provides you with a realization, with the wisdom, dare I say, to appreciate what you used to take for granted.

So, out with the Christmas tree, pack away the baubles and star, roll up the extension cords and lights, Christmas 08 is over and what a good one it was.

Happy New Year to one and all and may 2009 be as sumptuous, sensuous, serious and silly as 08 could ever be.