The Circle Game.

This morning I woke up to the wonderfulness of a cold front.  Since I don't watch the news, I had no idea it was coming upon us so it was a pleasant and very welcome surprise.  As we were getting ready to leave the house, I started picking out clothes for my little one to wear and was excited- in a way only new mommas can get excited- to put on her first fall/winter outfit.  She wore a pair of thick jeans, a long sleeve heart graphic tee, pink puma sock shoes, and a grey hooded sweatshirt.  She looked adorable.  It was funny to see her attempt to crawl in her sweatshirt.  She was looking at it as if to say "are you to blame for my limited movement right now?" I went to the closet and picked out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved yellow henley that I used to wear a lot while I was pregnant.  My tummy was so demure that I could wear it right up until I gave birth.  I put on the shirt and couldn't help but stand there in my closet for a few moments and just let the memories take me away.  It's hard to believe that a year ago I was nesting and getting ready for the little one that would win over my heart in such a special way and pretty much take over everything else.  Time seems to have sped up since then.

The other day I went to visit my friend who is a beautiful soul and a master yoga teacher.  She is raising this brilliant little boy who is now 5.  He knows 5 languages, he is extremely intelligent, he plays the piano, he educates other children about organic food and healthy living and he is wonderfully curious and inquisitive about everything.  He is also a huge ball of energy.  During my entire visit, he jumped on the rebounder that was in the living room in front of the couch where we were sitting and talking for the entire hour I was there.  I secretly wished I had that much energy still.  And wished that, like him, I could prance around naked when company would come over and have no one think it was weird or "inappropriate".  It was so cute to watch him having naked time there in his home, showing his toys off and hopping around on his little trampoline.  At one point, I looked over at him, his big bright smiling eyes and then over at his mom sitting on the couch- a beautiful Italian woman with very tired eyes who was many, many years older than her son.  I thought, "This is life."  You just live it.  You are born, you grown old, you pass on.  In the meantime, you live life and hopefully leave something better behind- be it a child or some other legacy.  Sitting there, I couldn't help but think of Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game"...

"... and the seasons, they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down.  We're captive on the carousel of time.  We can't return we can only look behind from where we came and go round and round and round in the circle game."

I've been singing that song to myself since that day and standing there in the middle of my closet with my little one fast approaching me (I could hear her handsteps on the floor as she crawled closer and closer to the closet), I suddenly felt like I wasn't sure if I knew what all of IT means.  Sometimes I am very sure I am close to finding out and then sometimes, like today, I feel that certainty go... leaving me empty.  Not in a good or bad way, just empty.

The first time I feel a cold breeze against my skin I immediately smile and get flooded with memories- some great, some not so great.  I remember being a kid and going to the park in the Gables and taking pictures in front of that huge waving Santa Clause with my whole family.  I remember decorating our fake white snow Christmas tree every year with carols playing drinking egg nog and hot chocolate.  I remember singing in between two large poinsettia-filled Christmas trees with my high school chorus for competitions.  We would win every year.  I can still feel the victory.  I remember Christmas at my college boyfriend's house which always felt very cozy and familiar- even the first time I was present there.  I remember cuddling up with another boyfriend, years later, and his 4 cats on a very cold winter night drinking hot tea, listening to soothing music and reading poetry.  I can still smell the tea.  I remember consoling my then best friend who had just lost her mother.  I can still smell the mildewy room in the building where they were staying during the funeral.  I remember driving to the New Jersey airport days before Christmas in a Uhaul truck filled with all my belongings in the back, being driven by a woman I hardly knew but was a cousin of a second cousin or something who had helped me move out of a New York apartment where I was living out what was left of a completely failed relationship. I had gotten the first flight back home.  The drive was so long.  I can still taste the salty tears in my mouth.  I remember flights to New York, staring out the airplane windows at the billions of bright lights and taking a deep sigh as we began our descent into the city.  I can still feel my cold toes wiggling in my thick socks.  I remember hot chocolates on my balcony in my UES apartment when my roommates weren't home blasting Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell and Dave Matthews.  I remember a really starry night in San Diego, on the phone with a friend from home wishing I could be in two places at once.  I remember leaving a fire ceremony with my husband- just married- and getting in the car to drive home.  The sun was rising and  U2's "Peace on Earth" was playing.  It was perfect.  I still remember the simple peace I felt at that moment.  I remember one really cold night in bed when my feet looked for my husband's feet and then wrapped around them.  They were so warm.  I still remember thinking "these are the toes I want to warm my toes forever!"  I remember the very cold winter day, waking up in our bed the morning after our little one was born.  I can still feel her warm cheek pressed up against me and her tiny hands reaching.  Just reaching.

And all I can do is look back.  And all I can say is "Thank you."