About a year ago I lost my footing. It felt like a slow accumulation of Things on my to-do list, but they eventually became so great, that I lost my balance and fell into them. I have been drowning until about a month ago. What happened, you ask? Something about renovating an old house, moving into a new house, then jumping into a fast and furious reelection campaign. After the campaign drew to a close in early June, I just lay and panted on the shore of my sanity for about two months. Which brings us here. I'm looking around and suddenly realizing that I'm *not* struggling through the pounding surf anymore ... I've got my footing on sure ground and the sun is shining overhead.
A (no longer cold nor broken) Hallelujah.
One sure sign that things are coming right in my brain again is that I've got a deep drive to clean and organize the house. That's what I did this week. The two Bigs were off on their first week of school, and Manasseh (2) isn't too hard to distract while I get work done. (Side note: This is the first time I've been alone at home with one child since Sophie was a baby. It is so. Much. Easier! I don't know if my endurance has deepened, or if he's just an easier kid than she was. Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining.)
My meandering cleaning brought me eventually to the living room bookshelves. Collections of books from college (Buzzed: The straight facts about the MOST USED and ABUSED DRUGS from alcohol to ecstacy), our slowly growing inventory of classics (David Copperfield, The Count of Monte Cristo), the requisite assortment of nerdly fodder (the complete Harry Potter, CS Lewis, Tolkien, George Orwell, George RR Martin), and my childhood collection of every book ever written by L. M. Montgomery.
Also on a shelf all of their own, my dad's collection of Hardy Boys books, gathered over a few obsessed, preadolescent years. These were sent to me by my aunt, when she found them tucked away in a box, in the corner of a closet, in my grandfather's house. I keep them out because they make me feel connected to a past I am too young to know. A past where a young boy in the 50's escapes into the adventures of two young brothers.
When my dad and mom came to visit recently, I came upon my dad, alone in the living room. He was perched on the arm of the sofa, squeezed back by the end table and wall of bookshelves. He had half of the Hardy Boys books out on the end table, and as I came upon him, was holding one in his hand, his fingers cupping the spine in an old and familiar way. I stopped for a minute, watching. His face was one of a man deep within himself. Something about the way he held the book, had the others stacked out, spoke of this being an act his hands remembered. I saw for a minute through the years to a young boy's obsession.
Turning from past to present. Manasseh had found, as I cleaned, a stack of his brother's pogs. He picked them carefully out from the flotsam and jetsam of their room - the Legos, Playmobil characters, blocks, race cars, clothes and puzzle pieces. He brought them as I was working to the living room, and had them all spread out on the cushion of an armchair. Spread out in a grid. Each had its place.
I watched him finish up his project with a satisfied, 'now my world is safe' look on his face. And identified that same look as the one on his grandfather's face, in that same room, a few weeks ago... and, I would guess, on the same man's, then boy's, face, sixty years ago.