Sorting It All Out

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Back in the day, this jewel of a post office trundled from town to town, a communication center on the rails, gathering information here and depositing it there, helping people stay in touch with all those that were most precious to them, before it rolled on down the line.  I can relate, shuttling from country to country, writing letters to myself, trying to keep in touch with my observations and feelings before they slip away as life chugs on.

It’s three weeks now since we left France, but it feels like years.  Light years, that is.  We’ve slipped back into old habits like the old clothes we’ve dug out of boxes in the garage, although it’s sometimes an uneasy fit.  And often it’s the absence of past comforts that we wear like that poppy on the lapel, that smudge of ash on the forehead.  Today it’s Memorial Day in America, a day to remember, and indeed, Memory Lane beckons.

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We’ve practically never lived in this house without Riley, and we don’t want to now either.  I still see him everywhere, even though he’s been gone for over two years.  Sometimes the past just won’t stay past, but follows you around, begging for attention.

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Sushi too should be here, if only to remind us that death always comes too soon.  As if we could ever forget that.  That everyone has her time and place on this Earth, and that our time is now, and only now.

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And in our now it’s Spring, the time for growth and birth.  Restored by green food, renewed by the sight of a world in leaf, we begin again to find our way in this new old home.  The New World is both easier and harder to inhabit, and perhaps our ancestors also found it thus.

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To soothe the aches and pains of uprooting and travel we’ve been trying to get the hot tub working, but there’s a ground fault somewhere that troubles the circuitry.  That’s another thing I can relate to, as one life leaks into the other, fizzling and crackling at the interface of language and culture. 

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The food is different here, with the old familiar flavors, but expensive, shipped from far away, and the lack of daily bread leaves a void.  So today we’ll fire up the smoker for the first time this year, make a purely American supper, and take a step back toward a simpler life, a life before there were two lives.

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We’ll think of those who went before, and those who will come after, holding the past close as the future sweeps us onward.  We’ll live our two lives as if they were one, at least for today.

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12 Comments on “Sorting It All Out”

  1. Cindy Says:

    Oh Abra, seeing Riley makes me sad. He was such a good dog! I miss seeing him in the back of your van, sitting in a crate with the door open waiting for a cookie with a smile on his face. What a sweety!

  2. Shaya Says:

    What an adorable dog.

    Abra, your words give me chills. You are so right, this is our time here, and we need to make the best of it, but how often we forget this. And tell me, how do we manage to accomplish this with the backdrop of hardship and heartbreak that follows us around as we traverse this earth?

  3. Debra Says:

    Ah, Riley and Sushi – I’m sure you miss them and it makes you miss your kitties left behind in France even more! Hugs to you! We now have a Sushi and her sister Sake, our 2 cats.

    Abra – I would like to do an Evite for your ‘welcome back for now’ party on July 5th. Let me know if you have a list of friends you would like on that list. Thanks! Deb

  4. ray Says:

    I’d love to come on July 5!

  5. Hope Says:

    Abra,
    I so appreciate your sentiments, and your introspective, creative, kind writer’s voice. This post brought tears to my eyes (as so many have). I understand very well about having ‘just today’ and the importance of living in the present; for me it is too easy to be distracted by the daily routines and personalities. Thank you for the beautiful photos and the reminder about being in the here and now. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us via French Letters. Thank you for allowing us all a glimpse into your process and your heart.
    ~Hope

  6. Char Says:

    Heartbreakingly beautiful, Abra.

    Big hug whenever you think about Riley and Sushi
    Char

  7. Rebecca Says:

    Memories and this moment now, that is the ALL, to me.

  8. zuleme Says:

    We miss our beloved animals we have lost every day. My mother told me once she dreamed she had died and woke up in her bed to see every animal she had loved coming towards her. My relationship with my cats is always a mystery and a joy to me. I woke up this morning with Ramona under my cheek and her paws wrapped around my hand. And I heard Harper’s loud purr from my husband’s side.

    Are the flowers hydranga’s (spelling). I remember reading somewhere that they can be different colors. I remember them from the front side of my Cape Cod childhood home.

    I appreciate your blog and your thoughts on the challenge of living in two places as I contemplate our trip to France. My husband is Swedish and on his last trip to Sweden with his father he said he felt grounded when he was there. He’s been living in the US for 40 years and so have his parents. You always wonder how your life would be different in another place.

  9. Abra Bennett Says:

    Shaya – I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on the “heartbreak and hardship” aspect of it all, except to give the same advice one gets when traveling by plane from east to west over long distances: keep your eyes on the light.

    Debra and Ray – do you know each other? If so, party on!

    Rebecca – memories and the moment are the all, that’s beautifully put.

    Zuleme – we’re finding that life in another place is pretty much exactly the same and totally different.

  10. Debra Says:

    i guess we’ll all meet on July 5th!

  11. Jessica Says:

    I love looking at all of the creative ways that you put the “French Letters” mark on all of your photos.


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