I woke up early this morning in the silence of the house, and the first thing that popped into my head was all of us sitting around the table at the Farm on Thanksgiving day, plates heaping with food, each of us saying what we are thankful for, my response almost always, 'the mash potatoes', something that started off as earnest, then cliche over the years. As the senses became more aware, I remembered the smell of Thanksgiving day:
My dad in his workout clothes, sweaty, gathering up a gang to play a game of touch football; body odor mixed with beer (now weirdly not unpleasant) off my brothers and cousins from the night before, the Sobilo California smell mixed with the East coast; Sharon and Grammy Owl don't have their own smells this day - they are the turkey, the gravy, the food; Lindsey taking on the smells of wherever she lingers, and yet, as she gets older, there is her own smell, reminds me of strawberry lip gloss. In the background of it all, the turkey mixed with mud from someone somewhere coming in from the outside world (maybe even to walk the many dogs roaming around the place). That familiarity, my family, smells of warm chaos.
Since Monday, I have been trying to write this blog on being thankful, and up until now, I haven't been able to settle my mind enough on the topic to actually do it justice. Sitting here now in the quiet, I am processing the very 'fullness' of my life, moving at a pace that is fast, but directed, shifting, but focused, exhausting and wonderful.
Amelia and I have been talking about what it means to be thankful. Down to the very core of me, I am thankful for her presence, her spirit that is a true mingling of the very best of the widest net of family that I have ever seen. She is one of those rare persons who lights up every room that she walks into, makes every person who meets her feel happy, and with me, she nestles in and recharges. That more than anything else will be my role as her mother - to be like a power cord.
Yesterday on the way into work, there was a bad crash. Watching the ambulance race to and from the scene, this wave of vulnerability rolled through me, feeling a sadness for that family's Thanksgiving, and this very strong desire to do something physical. Despite the delayed start, I went for a run, short, fast, around Mountain View, the quiet of the early morning. Anyone who runs knows that feeling of sprinting in cold weather; that painful feeling in the lungs that is strangely pleasant. I am thankful for the joy of running, something that has been with me for so long, keeping me strangely grounded and free at the same time.
The days in work are fast, very, and I know I am making progress, even if just baby steps, as I find myself renegotiating the priorities of the work. Vinny arrived on Monday, and we have had lots of talks about the change, himself curious about the differences between the old and the new. And it has been reaffirming, the comparison, of the choice that I made. The people in both places are similar, smart, easy, the culture mostly void of airs and graces, and they work hard. But the pace of work is different, one being like a roller coaster with peaks and troughs, the other a high-speed train, the trick being to get off at the right stop each day. I am grateful for this new opportunity; the train suits me better than the roller coaster.
Padhraic has been pushing towards a tough deadline these past couple of months. He is very good about making time for Amelia each and every day, but there isn't much time outside of that. He is at the top of the roller coaster, stuck at the part going 'click, click, click'. Soon he is going to come crashing down, then things will level out, and we will have a chance to spend some time together, doing what we love best, the normal stuff, going for a walk with Amelia, maybe to the park, making a nice dinner, watching a movie on the couch. I am grateful for a partner who works as hard as me; for a marriage that is based on the beauty of the best parts of normal life.
It is 9AM and everyone is still asleep, but it can't be for long and I genuinely need to get cooking. I am hopeful for a day full of friends, food, new smells, a run, and those little moments of Amelia snuggling in for a quick boost of energy, Padhraic sitting on the couch with a cold beer, feet up and without his phone, me doing what I love best, taking in the energy of the world that surrounds me and processing it into memories for the years to come.
Much love to family, friends, and co-workers (old and new).