Category Archives: Florida Friday

Snowbirds: a poem

 

Snowbirds:
Please don’t take offense to
our ‘welcome-now-go-home’
attitude.

We understand your flight from
black ice, snow shovels and frozen
gray skies.
It’s endearing the way you
come to us in a wave
of exhales;
Your cares abandoned
in your coat pocket
back home,
Alongside crumpled Kleenex and
sticky throat lozenges.

Our service industries bow down to
your appetites, open wallets and ability
to morph into an audience:
Filling seats, buying tickets, renting
squares, shares and time.

We do try.
When you pour in, filling the space
between the crusts of clouds and sand
like too much pie filling.

We do try…
Politely maneuvering around
your grocery carts clogging
the aisle at Publix. Counting
backwards or counting
our breath as
we sit
in the parking lots that used to be
our highways;
Buying mangoes at midnight because
there’s no room
to park
in our parking lots.

Detouring us to accommodate you.

We do try.
Because we also like turning
strangers into friends,
Seeing our home fresh through
your eyes;

We do watch you–
Now that the thousands of
Ibis are gone.
(The ponds are gone, also.)

As you watch the sun
sink below the horizon;
smelling of sunscreen and
the Pinot Grigio in your
plastic cups.

A shared awe.
In these moments we
don’t have to try.

But also know that when
you go, when you flee
the humidity, leaving us to our
hurricane shutters and
evacuation routes,
We will exhale and stretch
into the quiet
space
you leave behind.

We will lay–empty as discarded,
pillaged clam shells—
(Our patience shucked)

Under the baking
August sun. We will float
in the salty ocean bowl–
warm as bathwater–and
recharge while smiling
languidly at the
stories
you’ve left behind.

Finding Zen at Disney

We took our five year old twin boys to Disney two weeks ago and on the our third  boat ride through It’s A Small World, I had an epiphany. Okay, here, I’ll set the scene for you:

You know the ride, right? Harmonic child voices sing…La La La La LA La La (until you’re la-la-lulled into forgetting you just stood in line for forty-five minutes) while the tiny boat glides through crystal clear water; carrying you from one magical scene of moving, dancing, twirling, hang-gliding animatronic children and animals from foriegn lands to another. By the third turn, you really forget you’re in Orlando.

Er. Full Stop.

By the third turn you really should have forgotten you’re in Orlando.

While all this magical stuff was happening around me and my boys were oooing and aaaaahing over all the magical stuff, here’s what was going through my mind:

“Wow, this is a lot of stuff to keep dusted.”

“I wonder what the electric bill runs for this ride alone? Guess I shouldn’t complain about my hubby’s Christmas light obsession.”

“Oh…there’s an emergency exit! It might be important that I noticed that if we get stuck in here or if terrorists hit Disney or…what if there really will be a zombie apocolypse?”

Seriously!

So, the epiphany hit me around the North American room. This ride was a miniturized version of my life! I am going through my days like each of those amazing rooms, not really paying attention to the experience but instead worrying about the dust.

And the bad part is, I know better. I’ve read all the zen books, the live-in-the-moment books, the breathe-and-shut-up-your-monkey-mind books. But in all those hours of pouring over books, I missed the whole point somehow. (I’m giggling to myself right now) The point is just to be. Just to experience it…this mysterious thing called life. Just to enjoy the small, make-believe drummers without wondering if one of those sticks could possibly fly loose and poke my child’s eye out.

And I suddenly understood (not with my head but with my heart) what this wize woman  means when she says, “My life is my practice.”

And so, I have been practicing. It’s tricky though. I have to catch myself. There are more and more moments when I truly am there, fully present in my own life. Moments when I’m watching my five year old struggle to read a new word and I’m not thinking about the fact I forgot to let the dog out; moments when we’re playing Go Fish as a family and I fight to keep my attention on the smiles and giggles instead of the pile of dishes from dinner.

Will the stuggle to stay present get easier? I’ll have to let you know. But I can tell you one thing…

Life is much less stressful when you don’t dwell on the dust!