grown ups are like that....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

head over heels

I was a feather of a girl for a while there. I could stand on my head in the middle of the living room floor for what seemed like hours. My mother would peer at me from the kitchen nervous that I would fall, but she did not scold or ask me to be sensible. She simply let me be.

She knew, I think, that those days were fleeting. She knew that someday the weight of many responsibilities would sit on my shoulders and my easy lightness would be replaced by a heaviness that would keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

I've tried now, cautiously when no one was around, to spend some time upside down again. But I can barely lift my legs into the air, and my feet feel like lead weights. I've tried, too, in yoga class with plenty of prep and lots of help from the instructor, but I always freeze up. Fear washes over me and I convince myself that I will fall and break a leg or embarrass myself in front of the entire class. So I quietly move on to something else: a nice, firm warrior pose or a quiet, safe child's pose.

But I see the others do it and wonder at the ease with which they seem to turn their world topsy turvey even for a second or two. I see them and I remember those sunny childhood afternoons I spent with my feet in the air and my heart easy. There was no fear, just action, as I swung my legs upwards toward the clouds. Then there was a calm while I watched the world pass crazily by as I stood on my head, motionless and quiet.

My son seems to be taking after me these days and spends inordinate amounts of time with his feet above his head. I watch him as he hangs upended on the couch, his small, perfect feet drumming a rhythm on the wall as he watches Scooby -Doo, and I envy the carefree flexibility of both his body and spirit.

I should, like my mother before me, let him be. I should let him hang there upside down among the cushions where he is happy, free, light. But I feel compelled to turn him right side up, tell him to stop before he gets hurt. I earnestly warn him that he could fall at any second. Even as I stand there scolding him, hands on hips, I know I shouldn't. I should listen to the little voice telling me,

"Don't fret. He isn't about to fall. . . he is about to fly."


Last night I dreamed of Italy. I was sitting in a small movie house watching a Fellini film while a rickety fan buzzed in front of an open window. Later, after the movie, I walked back to the small room I was renting on the second floor of a crumbling stone building in Rome.

I've never actually been to Italy.

Last week, my dreams also brought me to Scotland.

It was nothing more than a small bit of land, really, surrounded by azure waters and covered in palm trees. It seemed more like a tropical paradise than the crisp, Celtic isle of lore. I drove around its perimeter several times in a sporty convertible with a girlfriend who has been absent from my life for years now.

I have never been to Scotland, either.

Once I dreamed of riding a train through a forest in Thailand. I ate spicy bowls of soup as I watched the lush greenery of the forest pass by in a blur. My sleeping car rocked back and forth as the train lumbered on towards an unknown destination.

I've never traveled to any part of Asia much less to Thailand.


I don't know why I dream of these far off places that I have never been to. Perhaps it is because the day to day dullness of the upstate winters wear me down and leave me hungry for something more, something different. Or maybe it is because I know that I will never actually visit these places in real life so my mind tries to comfort me somehow by creating these clear, colorful, almost lucid, night time dream trips.

I usually awake excited as I recall the details of one of my never-journeys. But the excitement always quickly fades and is replaced by a steely bitterness as I hear the scrape of the snow plow, and I realize where I really am.