1. Journal Diving

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    I was 23. I had been living in San Francisco for close to a year and I had come home to Vermont for a month to smooth down my feathers. 

    August 5, 2000

    Quiet, glassy, night water. Friends floating happily. Stars shooting. Seen. Unseen. With a head full of memories, like a house full of lovely sleeping people, I can breathe new into old. Being now, I am sad to grasp onto the time. Don’t tick. Please stop to leave me where I am. Hooded sweatshirt comfy and warm. Sitting up in the middle of the bed. Sniffly dogs, clacking paws but delicate (they are small). But happy being here now on a quiet glassy lake. Ready for sleep.

    Aug. 7, 2000

    I made the perfect cup of tea and I drink it outside between showers of rain. The lake is calm again. A breeze mattes the water soft. Breathing air that’s thick misty warm. The bubbling murmur of a distant boat engine. The calling birds. The drops of water dripping from the eaves onto the wet deck wood. The smell of my laundered towel. A waft of inside air. And I can smell a hint of the dinner mom cooked on Saturday, Memories collect now in every corner. In the corners of my eyes. In my curled hands as I sleep.

    I drifted down the Otter Creek with Keri yesterday. In a tippy canoe. We went slow. We talked long into the day. 

    The rain is here. My cup has been emptied. 

     
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  3. Asa is 4

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    January 13, 2014

    Dear Asa,

    It’s getting harder to write these birthday letters, to stand back from here and try to pick you apart into your likes and dislikes, your charm and challenges, your highs and lows over the last year.  You are complex, changing and growing by the second. You are simple as my beating heart, which you are.

    When I hold you and your skinny limbs are wrapped around me, you feel like a big kid, baby no longer. One day you’ll pull away from our hugging. Although it hasn’t been easy, you’ve embraced being a big brother. We see glimpses of a friendship forming with Indi. When it all comes down to it, you love him so dearly. You sing Twinkle Twinkle to him when he cries.  You tell us how cute he is, that he is your “best baby.” You have also embraced becoming “galooten free”!

    You say things like, “Oh my gosh, I’m SO excited.” And, “I asked her to play with me but she doesn’t want to be my friend.” Last night you said you didn’t want to ever be dead. You think in terms of family. Everything is a mommy or a daddy, from boats and pancakes, to cats and elephants. You can spell your name. You can recite entire books. You love to be cozy and make nests. You prefer to wear my t-shirts. Your obsession with vehicles has morphed from excavators and combines, to rescue helicopters and paramedic trucks. You count everything. You are really into the Berenstain Bears books, and you love listening to Peter and the Wolf (narrated by David Bowie).

    One of the highlights of the year was swim-lessons. On the first day, you told your swim teacher that you were “a little bit scared.” But shortly after you were jumping in and swimming across the pool on your own, your big eyes full of wonder and saline. This winter you went to your first ballet (The Nutcracker!) and you went downhill skiing for the first time.

    The year’s biggest challenge was probably at school, where you were hitting kids for no apparent reason. The teachers, who adore you, felt they needed some guidance to help you. So they brought in a behaviorist to observe what was happening. She saw a bright, curious, kid. We’re helping you learn to recognize your feelings without physically acting out on them, and the school is helping you make friends more easily. Maya is your favorite friend right now, and we suspect your first crush. You often tell me to write this down:

    “Happy to Maya,

    I love you and you are my best friend.

    Love,

    Asa” 

    Well, happy to you Asa. And Happy 4th Birthday! 

    We love you so much,

    Mom & Dad

     
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  5. Indi is ONE

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    Sweet Indi,

    Today you are 1!

    You are the happiest person we know, always smiling. You are expressive and warm, curious and confident. For a while everything was “Isaiah” but now you say Asa, ice, Mama, Dada, tiger, doggy, cheese, agua, cracker, apple. You LOVE Asa and he makes you laugh (and sometimes cry). You also LOVE Lupe and prefer her over anyone when she’s here. You wave bye-bye. You kiss-kiss. You WALK. We play peekaboo with you, you cover your face so proudly. When you hear music you dance thoughtfully, bobbing your head a little and pumping your knees. When you want my attention you put your hand on my cheek and turn my face to yours. You are charming and bright, innocent and open. We call you Indi-boo and Dr. Jones. Asa says you’re his best baby. We love you dearly, our sweet littlest boy. Happy Birthday.

    Mama & Ah-zay-ya

     
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  7. From 2 to 3

     
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  9. He’s 3

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    Today you are three. This year brought many changes for you…

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  11. The Camp Letters: 7

    One night at dinner, Mrs. D came to me at my cabin’s assigned table and told me I had a phone call. I followed her back into the kitchen, sat at a little table, and picked up the black receiver.

    “Jess, it’s Mom and Dad. We got all your letters and we decided it’s time for us to come for you.”

    Read More

     
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  13. The Camp Letters: 6

    Things change after this one, I promise…

    July 4, 1987

    Dear Mom, 

    You’re just telling me to try harder because you don’t know what it’s like. I lost my flashlight, Innie’s* head is very wobbly probably because I dropped her on the floor 3 times while I was sleeping. I am really worried her head neck might give in altogether. And there is this girl in my bunk. Her name is Amelia. She just thinks she’s the head of the world. She’s always saying that people only like me because I am always homesick and crying. She’s jelous of me! Why should SHE want to be jealous of me!?

    Read More

     
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  15. The Camp Letters: 5

    "It’s not like I’m going to be in the Olympics…"

    Dear Mom + Dad,

    It’s not fair what you are doing to me. I feel like I am in a jail. You’re making me stay here to the point of making me even more homesick. I don’t want to work really, really, really, really, really hard at swimming. I am already in swimmers. It’s not like I’m going to be in the Olympics. I hate swimming here. I am older than everyone in this cabin by 1 year. You just don’t understand. You don’t know how I feel! I wake up every morning thinking I am at home. Do you know how disapointing that is? It’s awful. I CAN’T HANG IN THERE DAD!!!! I would feel ALOT better if I had Lisa or Sara with me. Believe me. I HATE YOU FOR MAKING ME STAY HERE.

    Read More

     
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  17. The Camp Letters: 4

    In the thick of it now…

    July 4

    Dear Mom + Dad,

    This is to tell you how I feel and what is wrong.

    Read More

     
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  19. The Camp Letters: 3

    Here we go…

    Dear Mom and Dad, 

    Please let me come home! I don’t like it here. The horses are yucky and anyway riding makes me homesick. I want to come home!! Just let me come home. I don’t care about all the stuff you told me. I am crying right now ‘cause you won’t let me come home. You just don’t understand how I feel. Please! I mis Montpelier. (E. Montpelier)* I miss home. I promise I won’t be guilty when I come home early. Don’t you want me to be happy? If you do just pick me up and hug me and kiss me and say you love me. Then take me home to a comfortable bed. Please?!!!!

    Love 

    Jess

    Who cares what my friends think?

    p.s I WOKE UP THIS MORNING [THINKING] I WAS HOME!!!!!

    *Just to be very clear.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________

    TO: PARENTS:

    You Better call and ask to talk to me. And then agree to take me home. OR ELSE I WILL HATE YOU FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE

    JESSIE*

    *I spelled my name with an ‘i’ for a few years to match my friend Carrie.

     
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