Water Snake Year neither bobs nor floats– it’s undulating side to side even as it moves forward. I’m doubled up with work, then doubled up once again, a coil of responsibilities and deadlines.
Luckily Daughter is a cool young cat sauntering in and out of the apartment, her fake lashes and black-liner lending her a sloe-eyed nonchalance as she re-imagines and shapes her life beyond her mother.
Son is mostly a voice on the cell phone, a sometimes text message. We meet, occasionally, for supper or lunch, catching each other up on the major events of our current lives.
I remember when they were small, and needed my attention every day. When it was difficult to find the time to write. There was scarcely time to think. The night crying fevered sweats the impacted bowel chicken pox scratching the cold snapping my temper frayed the blinds, the string, I was often in a state of slight unravel….
There is time, now, to be busy with work and work. Daughter is perfectly happy, even if I’m not, with eating spicy Korean instant noodles for three nights in a row. Son is making his way in a room of his own and a mile away.
With more space and time for work, work has taken up more space and time in my life. It presses, so, upon the shoulders, the tightness at the temples, the muscles in my neck. My T-rex arms that are perpetually bent at the elbows, even when I’m sleeping.
But I am not confined to a 9-5 job. I am not confined to an office dress code or monitored by the Bradford Factor. All that is required of me is to meet my deadlines, meet the expectations of my contract jobs. (No! Not THAT KIND of contract job!)
Even in the midst of work and snake and ladder creativity, if I really need to I can close the laptop. Put on my coat. Just leave. There is space for contemplation if it is desired or needed.
A few weeks ago it was my Oba-chan’s death memorial day. I wanted to do something that honoured her. Something that reminded me of her. Something nice, quiet and beautiful. I decided to go to the Bloedel Conservatory. My grandmother loved plants and animals– she was the one who taught me through example the wonders of gardening. She always looked so peaceful working among the plants, the evenly mounded rows of soil. It was the only time she was alone, I suppose. She raised me and three of my sisters. What noise and clamour we must have been….
D joined me that late afternoon. The air was saturated with peaty wet moisture. It smelled brown. But it was far from quiet for the birds. The dark green stems and leaves of tropical trees and palms, great banana plants and the flicker chit of brilliant finches. The raucous screechings of parrots.
The overlapping mesh of green. My grandmother was there. In the space between. In the fractal array of stems, in the tightly knotted red of a frond ready to breach. It looks like an angel being born, D said.
Oba-chan in the brilliant feathers of the golden pheasant. In the softly dimpled down. In the seeds that hungry finches devoured. In the minute droplets of mist that fell upon our faces. I breathed her in and breathed her out. Come closer, I said. Oba-chan, I miss you.