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From the Archives: Milkweed and Your 11 Year Old Self



photo credit: annabelle agnew

I am curating essays that I have written over the last few years.

Here is one that dates back from September 29 2016

Titled: Milkweed and Your 11 Year Old Self

I took Rosie out for a long walk this morning. As I reached into my pocket, I found an old milkweed pod. It was soft and made me smile instantly. I squeezed it for a few extra seconds and then smelled my hands.

Milkweed is sticky and produces a thick white glue when you break off the stem. If you happen to be 11 years old, you often pick the pods and try to fly the inner fleece, but the stickiness of your hands makes it impossible. But tomorrow you try again. You never know, maybe things change overnight.

The same thing happened this morning, except I'm no longer 11. And my collection of fluorescent zinc tubes melted in my snow suit a long time ago.

I don't hide in my closet to read anymore, and I don't roll up fake paper cigarettes and pretend to smoke like Marilyn. I don't write letters to save the belugas either. I watch my kids do that now. And luckily, they've taken over certain parts of my 11 year old self. They like finding treasures in the forest, when they're not complaining about how far we're walking.

I hear your same stories. You and me. Resentful, angry, sad. We manage to pull ourselves together when it matters, we can smile if we have to. But is it me, or is there something missing?

(My index finger really does look like that)

I have been painting with my eyes closed, and sometimes I cry while I feel the paintbrush glide over the paper. I can't tell you why. Nothing is different, everything is the same outside, but the tears keep coming. I cried through the Sunday School meeting this weekend,  overwhelmed by the kindness of the teachers and the baskets of home baked muffins.

All the while I had complained all morning about having to go at all.

Sometimes we can be jerks.

All the while I type, I cry and then worry about being sad, and how that's hard for those people around me.That everyone else has more reason to be sadder than  me. But then that makes me cry even harder and so I go on Instagram and pretend not to be sad for a few minutes. Usually it ties me over for a bit. But if I dare let my mind wander, it finds the forest and it closes in on itself. Sometimes Often, there is uncontrollable bread eating.

When I'm with people, I am not sad. I am interested and curious, present and connected.

These are the ebbs and flows though, right?

Maybe I just miss Nancy Drew. A lot. And maybe I miss the smell of the horses and the tickle that happens right before you uncover a treasure.

I've been dragging myself out of bed at 5am, sleeping in the bunk room because of crazy insomnia and the desperate desire to be alone, I get to wake up and see the moon at its final appearance of the day. I'm stretching a lot. Burning sage and candles. I lost another chicken... she went away. She comes back every now and again, but it makes me wonder why she would chose to live in the wild and not the in the barn that we made for her.

Why do we need to mow lawn?

We need to get ourselves ready for winter, but really, I want to sleep in the car and have someone carry me inside and put me to bed. Wrapped up in a wool tartan blanket. I carry the kids when they fall asleep, but when you're an adult, there's no one to carry you anymore.

I'm trying to not lose myself in the sadness. I really am, don't worry. I know the other side of just on the other end of the publish button. It's green and pretty and there are little miracles to be discovered in the strangest of places. There's wonderful moments of awe and inspiration. There's wild laughter, there's the warmth of knowing you've helped someone, there's the smell of a wood fire and the sound of chatter around the table.

I'm ok.

This sadness is temporary. And every time it visits, I recognize it as an old friend that drops in unexpectedly. The one that reminds you of who you were when you were 11.


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