The wind is blowing frightfully hard here in the Los Angeles suburbs, pressing against the windows, reminding me of how terrifying this same kind of wind used to be when I lived in Pasadena with my parents. The wind was so strong once that it literally blew down a massive pine tree in our front yard, blew it down so all 90 feet of it crashed in between our house and the one next door.
We had been watching that tree in our darkened kitchen for all the electricity had gone out. My father stood at the sliding glass door with my younger brother next to him. We were talking about what would happen if that tree fell, that beautiful, pine-needle-sprinkling tree that certainly saw the development of our neighborhood back in the late 1800's. I was 18 years old and you'd think my constitution would have been stronger, way past the time when I was afraid of the dark or the boogie man. I was sitting at the kitchen table when all of a sudden my father yelled out that the tree was falling, get out! Time seemed to have stopped for me and I heard the tree literally being yanked out of the ground and crashing downwards. I had stood and turned to get out only I tripped on the chair and crashed, too, right down on the floor, imagining the house was coming down around me. My father pulled me by the arm, dragging me away from the kitchen, until I could get up and run with him outside.
I stood outside, the wind whipping around me and the tree...the tree down on the ground, huge and helpless, branches punched through the neighbors' roof, conveniently though lying right in between our two houses. Safely fallen. Miraculously fallen.
For many nights after, for years after, whenever wind blew hard against the windows, I would be overcome with an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Never before had there been a more perfect metaphor come to life for what I felt about living in the Pasadena house what with my parents' constant dramas.
When I married and moved, only when my father was near death did the wind scare me again. The fear faded only to be reinvigorated with my mother's passing. The fear receded once more. Until tonight. I'm in my office preparing for tomorrow's lecture and I'm scared of the wind as it presses the glass windows, as it makes the vent in the garage whirl wildly.
I don't wonder why I'm feeling this way, however. Last week we learned why J's behavior has so intensified, why for the past couple of months he's been making horrific choices when given options - such as choosing to shoplift a trinkette in a store when visiting the mall with a church group - such as choosing to disappear in the neighborhood with friends when making a trip from right next door back home - such as choosing to self-destruct with regard to his grades, dropping from the cursed D's to F's, even in the face of losing that which he loves most in this world, his drumset. I took him finally to be evaluated and the doctor said he's presenting classic symptoms of bipolar disorder, just like his brother, just like my mother.
For months now, J has become the primary focus of the family - becoming a mini-tornado in our home, causing disruption wherever he is, from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes down at night, always later than we want, always in defiance.
He's made me extremely insecure.
So the wind is blowing, I'm scared and I'm grasping once again to those little things in life to make me...happy. Moments of simplicity, or peacefulness, or joy.
Sitting in my grandmother's kitchen, eating chilaquiles and drinking instant coffee, while the sun pours in from the window right onto the table, warming the both of us, warming us as we talk about the family.
Driving in the car, coming home from dinner and a visit to the car dealership, D and I talk about how good it is that we found a new car for a price that won't kill our budget, that it's all going to work out just fine. We are practically giddy.
Picking up A from school and watching him lip synch Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire". He knows all the words and it is so funny to "see" such a deep voice singing about passionate love coming from such an angelic, smiling, still-a-baby face. We both laugh and laugh all the way home while Sassy sticks her head outside the open window, lapping at the breeze.
Walking around Barnes & Noble, deciding I'm going to spend $40 on books I'll never finish. I'm joyous.
Talking about movies and television with my friend, happy...happy. Isn't Keifer a beauty? Isn't it great the Shield is back on and smokin'? Doesn't every reality show suck, suck, suck? Yes! Wasn't King Kong great and how in love am I with Juaquin Phoenix? I'm relieved for the simplicity of it all.
Thinking about writing a post on Ray's Market, the treasure trove down the road. How it looks through my children's eyes, how it will look in their eyes when they look back on it as adults. How wonderful!
The wind is pounding our trees, the windows really take it well. I'm certain no trees will fall this night.