Friday I touched a sea anemone. Between the cold water and the softness of the creature it was hard to tell I was touching it at first. But then—yes—I felt mass under my touch, something that gave way, and pale green—can I call them tentacles?—moved toward my finger, reached for and surrounded it. When I pulled back a bit it was like pulling a burr off clothing. Suction cups the size of pin heads had latched on to my skin. Its grip surprised me. The whole interchange was delicate, but the fact that it reached for me was delight, a blessing.
Hello stranger/hello friend. Worlds met briefly, held on for a moment.
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The sea anemone is easy to write about. It was a special moment—one of those things, standing on its own, that I love. What is harder to write about is what I want you to see under that story, or maybe threaded through it. What is so much more important.
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Saturday we went to An Extremely Large Shopping Mall. And all I really want to say about that place is that it tends to put me into something of a panic. Partly because there are so many people in one place and I can only take that in small doses, but mostly because I hate wanting so much. For myself or for my kids.
Getting through the better part of a day there felt like a feat of strength.
I thought a lot about the little brown catalpa seed in the pocket of my jeans. Middle gave it to me in the parking lot after breakfast out (cachapa venezolano with cotija cheese and maple syrup—goodness, my only regret is that I did not eat it more slowly.) She bent down to pick up one of the catalpa pods scattered on the ground and tore it open. “Look Mom—I love these big beans!” and we both admired how pretty it was, so smooth and such a nice rich color.
I thought about the sea anemone and how when I reached out it touched back.
I thought about how glad I was that Oldest wanted company when he went on the roller coaster (twice!) How good it felt to be nervous and excited together, and to give in to the ride and enjoy the sensation of rising out of your seat just a little. How sometimes he will still hold my hand.
I survived the ELSM. Sunday we all said goodbye to Nana and Grandpa and left my home state. We weathered a sick child, and extra stops on the way home, and driving with the windows open in November. I spent a lot of time reaching into the back seat to keep my hand on the leg of a certain sick, miserable child as much as possible. I still have my catalpa seed, and pictures of my friend the sea anemone, although I can’t get the colors just right.
* * *
Funny, sometimes, the things a person can choose to hold on to. In the face of Other Things they might seem small. In reality, though, they are enormous.
I’m glad to know that.
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