Thursday, July 26, 2018

One Last Walk

Sometimes, doing things according to plan is exactly what we don't need. 

Those who know me well would call me a planner. It would be a completely appropriate proper noun for me, as if Planner could be exchanged for my first name. It would need an article before it though, like The Planner... as in, "There goes The Planner, sticking with her plan." 

This morning, the plan was to brown some ground beef for burritos at dinnertime. I've been cooking in the mornings --er, planning ahead--to make sure I'm not sweating over a hot stove at 5:30, tired and cranky. This routine has proven useful and yet, there is a lot of prior planning involved to make it happen. I don't mind it. Cooking was never my forte in the younger parts of my life; my mother never taught us how to cook, just that we should somehow pick it up by osmosis, which is not how I learn at all. I want the explanations, the techniques and logic behind what I'm doing in the kitchen. Having an unrelated chat while someone cooks is far from instructive for me. 

That said, being a live-in nanny for a shrewish woman who had a vicious temper and Cordon Bleu training did put the spark in me to learn more. She was a mean woman who could also be wickedly funny and extremely practical, which were two things I appreciated about her. She wrote out recipes for me to cook at my boyfriend's house. A friend of mine says they still use her recipe for making black beans, and that was over twenty years ago. She also bought me the New Basics cookbook, which was a great real first cookbook, so different from the Betty Crocker and Land O' Lakes volumes I'd been previously given. We ended up parting ways when she was moving to another nearby town and her manner became too terrible to me to want to move with her. Friends took me in for a few weeks while I worked temp jobs, saved money for my own place, and tried out new recipes from my head. Sure, the black beans were a hit, but what about the chicken heart stew I made? It was cheap and the disgust factor kept me from having to share too much...and it was delicious. I was hooked on cooking.

From those days back in 1994, I would never have planned how my life would be now. I strongly believe that to be a good thing. The experiences I've learned through, grown through, endured and enjoyed... all of them bring me to who I am today: someone who likes to have a plan but won't get fussed if we go too far away from it. When the time is right for a plan to change, I can switch gears a lot more easily. The security, confidence and comfort in my life right now allows for that sort of ease in flexibility. 

Today seemed right to do just that... switch gears. After breakfast, instead of getting out the skillet and browning the beef, I suggested that we get a walk in while it was still cooler. Kiddo was amenable, and we strolled through the winding streets full of grand houses, then more modest ones, down to Providore, our favorite food market. Kiddo was on board to get focaccia and dolmas for dinner. I added olives (always, olives!) and then a peach and some strawberries to the basket for a fruit salad, a good way to use up the prolific blueberries we've had this year. Finally, a novelty... some rose water. A friend recently shared a bit of her rosewater fizzy water with me in a drink and I'm inspired to try out some new ideas with it. 

Kiddo got a honey stick and we headed home. That's when I realized that I hadn't written here for a while, and really, it was time to change this plan, too. So, as of this writing, I'm shuttering The Skyteahouse. 

The concept started out as a name for a studio apartment I rented from a guy who was more or less a slumlord. The Skyteahouse was a state of mind, and this makes sense. As a person who has a tendency to live in one's head, it's easy to imagine this as a remote refuge, not necessarily insulated from reality, but the goal was to be removed enough to have peace and a more objective perspective. Now, I have a husband and a son who both have that same tendency; we all have very rich inner lives, no matter what's going on outside of us. 

As a new parent, I wrote to share the joys, challenges and insights of having a child. His infancy brought out my sense of humor, perhaps a bit silly with sleep deprivation. The toddler and preschool years made me contemplate what I knew, what I thought I knew, and what still needed to be learned, which made me more philosophical. Hard moments and a lot of advocacy marked the elementary school years. All of these stages have helped me understand more about my family, myself, and our place in this world. Some of us lie blithely and say "I wouldn't have changed a thing", but really, that's such a crock. No one would not want to change some of the harder times and there's a short list of moments and situations we could have done just fine without. Not everything is informative to one's experience as false optimism might suggest; some of it is only superfluous and stupid. 

Yet, these upcoming middle school years are where I stop sharing. Kiddo's privacy is important to me. He's at an age when I am loving spending time with him and he's also pulling away. This is what he's supposed to do, and I am not entirely sad because really, it's a good thing. He's finding his own unique way in the world. Part of that, he needs Joe and I for, part of that he can do on his own. 
None of it, however, needs to be publicly documented with my insights and feelings about it. Kiddo will want to narrate his own story about this stage of his life, and it won't do him any favors to fit it into the themes which work for me. If he is a blueberry still wrapped in the embrace of that silvery bloom of freshness, what does that make me? A barren old part of the wood, no longer producing but still integral to the plant? These metaphors are mine, not his perception of himself. 

Some things, like history, we have learned to understand are nuanced and their 'truth' is the perspective of the person writing it, not the objective truth itself. Perhaps this is one of the best gifts I can give to Kiddo.... to allow him to compose his own story of himself at this age, when he's seeking out who he is and what is important to him. It's important not to try to fit that into my own template or thinking. His life is for him to interpret and with that knowledge, I am unsure it would be right of me to share any more of my deep thoughts about it. In short, he'll be just fine. 

This is also a time when I feel my desire for how and what I write shifting. The domestic hearth and garden is still my love, but that's not what the world needs more of at this point. I'm unsure about what comes next, only settled in my heart that it's time to say goodbye to this blog and move on to new things, new ideas. Thanks to all the readers who have come to peek in on our cozy little bungalow... let's drink a toast to the future with one last cup of tea, my friends, then we will shut the door and venture back down the mountain to whatever lies ahead. 

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