Tuesday and Thursday mornings—it says in my electronic calendar: Christina writes… an injunction that spins out through the year and into perpetuity—purposely. This is my commitment for the foreseeable future: save time to write, and use it to write!
Yeah. Right. A review of the past weeks:
Tuesday: PeerSpirit Annual Meeting to set our course for the year.
Tuesday: Fly to Austin, TX with Ann to present a day of health care consulting.
Thursday: hanging out in Austin after teaching, visiting friends, talking about circle.
Tuesday: Fly home from LA, after adding a visit with the grandchildren to our business trip.
Thursday: taking my dad to the dermatologist—kicking off a lot of medical decisions about skin cancer abrasions.
Tuesday: over at my dad’s apartment, helping him get carpets cleaned and other tasks.
Tuesday: Self as the Source of the Story Alumni group convenes.
Thursday: Teaching, consulting with students—and WRITING.
Saturday: WRITING all day—silent time at the seminar. Ahhhh.
Tuesday: Day after teaching: barely talking, writing only a few emails. Breathing in the satisfaction of the class. Listening for my own voice to re-emerge.
Thursday March 10: High winds and two inches of rain in an already saturated season. Ann is up at dawn to check the damage. She discovers water running down the neighborhood ditch has backed up flooding across edge properties, slurry over the bluff, very real prospect of losing our community beach stairs and bulkhead. High tide, high winds, destruction and hammering by water and drift logs against this precious access to our greatest spiritual practice—walking the water’s edge with Gracie.
I’m an English major, but I know impending disaster when I see it. The cliff is in danger of “calving” and burying our 77 steps to freedom, and the 70-year-old bulkhead. Ann has meetings over town we try to make a plan—get on the phone to someone who might know what to do.
My only writing of the day is an emergency email to the community warning everyone to stay away from the stairs and the cliff.
I call the project manager who has been helping us prepare a major repair on the aging bulkhead; he calls the county, the county sends two road crew guys and we all agree the overflow pipe right at the edge of the county road and private property is not working, is behaving like an artesian well. Yup. Water is everywhere. It just keeps rolling downhill the way water does. More rain coming. No other help from them.
I call a private drainage company. It is 3:30. Clouding over. It’s my writing time.
It’s my lifetime. A river runs through it…
This is how it goes.
Life is full of itself. Life demands. We make the best choices we can. We hold focus—and we hold relationship, emergency, replenishment, duty, love. There is an edge to things—people have to figure out how to go forward without understanding how it’s going to turn out. We have to make do with what we have, with what resources we can muster, with the folks within reach who can help. Oddly enough, this is exactly the theme in my novel, though set in another time and place.
My fictional story is full of people of the land, ordinary people who make extraordinary choices… and my reality is full of ordinary people making some extraordinary choices, as well. It took a while for the gravity to register. Water running where it should not run… so disorienting… and the idea that it would not stop running or unplug itself and then what to do??? Waiting on the county road crew, I stick my arm into muddy ice water all the way to my pit, feeling into the dark trying to understand the pipe juncture and where the blockage might be.
I call the young men of Apollo Drainage who have been up since 4:00 AM when the first frantic calls from the storm battered island woke them. They pump the water on long hoses over the bluff and down onto the beach so that the drain hole emerges… and eventually they find the problem, and unplug the drain and the river magically disappears back into its plastic tubing and safely over the edge. But damage has been done. There is a deep crack in the earth at the top of the stairs. There is a slumping slurry of mud on the south bluff face—it’s not done falling down, more rain is coming. The high winds, high tides, have ripped at our bulkhead, huge concrete pieces broken, logs ramming the fragile toe of the bluff.
The power of water rules all. I stand there thinking: you should know this, Christina… it was just a year ago you stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Water wins.
I am president of our homeowners association, Ann is secretary. We have a good board of four neighbors who face this crisis and inform 25 homeowners: the stairs are not safe. We put up Caution tape and buy and emergency lock. It is possible this shared asset is gone forever.
We bought this house because of the tree behind it and the beach access in front of it. I am grieving this loss of spirit and routine.
The storm passes. There is a day of sunshine, calm, rainbows. Another storm approaches. More extreme winds are predicted. It is now Sunday morning. It is pouring rain. We check the drain, watch the amount of flow coming off the neighborhood. We pray. We sing to all the trees around us to “stand strong.”
Writing time: my work in the real world is to accept challenge and change with at least as much equanimity and courage as the characters in my story. That’s why I’m writing: to use another time and place to make a story map, a model of pulling together instead of pulling apart.
A lot is pulling apart: I am focusing on pulling together.
I will post this now before the power goes out.
All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.