Our five month Miami experiment began when Isaiah was six months old. Before he learned fear, I would take off his diaper and bounce around in the ocean waves with a smiley chubby baby in hand. We left Miami when he was almost a year old. When he was one and two months we went back to the ocean. I expected him to frolic into its arms, embracing the water like an old friend, but instead he cried out at its sight. He did not want to get close to it. Each time we got too close he cried and screamed and ran away.
Maybe its vastness made him feel small. I do not know. Isaiah loves to swim in his tub and in the pool. I dreaded him becoming one of those people who are scared of the ocean. The ocean, the sea, the lake, the river and the waterfall are my best friends. I may not care if my son goes to Harvard (that I cannot control) but I would love for my son to be a free nature boy.
I decided back then that I have to be patient, maybe it will take him years to realize how fun it is to jump in the waves. But he will dammit. I tried to help him. I ran water back and forth in buckets at his requests. “See Isaiah, water from the ocean. Feels good on your feet.” I lured him closer to the water’s edge by inching the buckets nearer. I tried to carry him in my arms playfully but when he saw a small wave crash at my feet, he cried.
On this trip, I gave up. I decided to let time do its magic. I did not want to lure, persuade or educate. Yesterday, Isaiah and I were playing in the sand and Yura decided to go for a dip. I saw Isaiah following him with his eyes. Papa went Koop Koop (that is short for koopatsa – swim in Russian). “Koop, Koop,” he repeated in a trance, hypnotized by Yura’s swimming form in the giant water growing smaller. I could not believe what I was seeing, I almost had to pinch myself. “You want to go Koop Koop?” He did not nod but he did not shake his head either. I picked him up and he consented. I walked to the water and no scream. I stepped in, he was still fixated on Yura. “Yura, he wants to go koop koop!”
My lovely husband was hogging the laptop all night so i am just sitting down to write now. This is late for me. It ties into my story about old age too. I sit here complaining that it is 9:55 pm and I am so tired.
Today I saw Sylvia at the pool. Sylvia is a little old lady who lives in the condo here. I met Sylvia last year when we attempted to live in Miami. After few weeks of living here, I was convinced that Sylvia might end up being my only friend in Miami. Her and the nice valet guy, whose name I should know because we go way back now. I don’t think he knows my name either but we are both to embarrassed to ask at this point.
The first time I met Sylvia, I was with Isaiah. She asked me where my husband and I were from. I told her my husband was from Atlanta. She said, where in Atlanta? I said, Dunwoody. She said, “Ah, they are all from Dunwoody.” (this meant the Jews) Coming from a non-Jew, this would be offensive but from Sylvia, it was hilarious and thus, I instantly liked Sylvia. She took a risk with that joke.
It soon turned out that Isaiah’s after nap swim time and Sylvia’s swim time coincided, so we found ourselves in the pool with Sylvia almost everyday that we were in Miami (5 months). Every time, Isaiah and I came up to the pool to greet Sylvia, she told us that the pool was warm. Every day, I thought to myself, yes I know Sylvia. This pool is not just warm, it is “old people” warm. This was lucky for us, because “old people” warm is the same as “baby warm”.
Today I asked Sylvia how she is doing and she said, I am good as long as the pool is warm. She wears a big hat and big sunglasses so I do not know exactly what she looks like. One day I was in the elevator with her and did not know who she was until she started talking. I recognize her outside of the pool only by her voice. Sylvia is in the pool everyday! Not swimming but kind of floating around. People she knows come into the pool and they float around together talking. Sylvia is quiet and not much of a talker. She is social but reserved, so I wonder how much of this does she enjoy.
Why am I focused so much on Sylvia? Sylvia has it pretty good. She is very old, probably in her 80’s. She is obviously pretty healthy or at least healthy enough to go swimming everyday. She is happy because the pool is warm. She does get upset when there is no sun or during high season when there are too many people by the pool. It goes from 2-5 people to 100 during the holidays here. Of course, these are just superficial things, I do not really know Sylvia. All I know is we’ve been coming here for almost two years and every day from 3-5:30 pm, there is Sylvia floating around while her husband takes his late afternoon nap in the chaise lounge.
Sylvia is just another archetype for old age for me. Is that what I have to look forward to? Will I be content with a warm pool? Will I be bored? Will I be dying a bored old woman, if I am lucky? I am still young but I forget that. I remember when I was first switching careers, I was 25. I thought, I am too old to switch my career now. I already have a degree in Computer Science, I should stick with it. Now I am 33, and I think, I am too old to do something new with my life, I am already 33. Then I look at Sylvia.
Forget the forgetful memories. Some days an image strikes me in the head. Something unpleasant from the past. An experience, something I said. Uncomfortable moment when I did not act correctly. I hold it anxiously in my mind’s eye, feeling the feelings as if it was happening again. If I wake up, I shake myself. No. No, I will not subject myself to the past. Sometimes a good memory strikes me and I try to hold it. I force myself to revel in it. To feel the pleasures of the memory, to grasp it. It melts into an unrecognizable puddle. I am left with today.
I hear the words, Live in the moment. I already know that, I need something new. I hear it again, Live in the moment. It is boring. I need new knowledge to grab on to. Something so special that when it comes into my life, it will shake me, like this blog. It will answer the questions that are.
I went to a party few weeks ago, it was rare for me. The people there were not my friends. I was excited to meet new people. New friends. I bounced from one conversation to the next. None of them made any sense. It was chit-chat. I hate chit-chat. Chit chat is what happens when you have nothing to say to each other. I recognize chit-chat. Chit chat is what happens when I myself do not know what I am saying. I talk in fillers, I pretend I care about minutia, I am trying to fit into a square, I am trying to find the boring middle. To fit a square into a circle has not made so much sense to me as it does now. I watch my son trying to do it with his toy that teaches shapes. It is funny to see the expression play out. It is impossible, I know it for sure now. I watch him try and try. It does not work. I hope that he learns that it does not work, a lesson I sometimes forget.
Even amongst my friends and my family, the feeling comes. It is discomfort of not being myself. The feeling that I am trying but I don’t know how to in this moment. I talked to my friend Lisa about writing. The reason I love it is because I have control over my expression. In a crowd of people, I become a chameleon, changing colors to fit into my environment. I do not do it out of fear, I just do it. A chameleon is trying to survive. I am not trying to survive, I am just playing hide and seek.
When you are talking to people, you have to wait. Pause. Listen to them. Ask questions. Listen again. Exchange ideas. Be interested, be interesting. Connect? And enjoy this process. Sometimes, it is magical. Sometimes, it is work. I do not know what to say or what not to say. I do not know when to listen and when to talk. Sometimes I am excited and I talk too much, sometimes I talk too little and it is awkward. It flows or it drains. New people are an ultimate challenge for me. I get excited by meeting them and instantly there is a discomfort of building a relationship. Do I even want a relationship? Am I an island like Paul Simon?
Today, I want to be left alone to my thoughts. Time is precious. It is all a trade-off. Go out see people or stay home and write. If I go out I am at risk of chit-chat. Tell me about you, now tell me about you. It all seems boring to me. I can tell you about me but what will you do with that information, go home and retell it to your husband. I know it sounds sad, but this is my blog. Even if it is for the two-day-later me to see and say, oh Olia you were just sad that day, you like people.
Today, I have no life force.
And this too shall pass. When I am happy I look at sad and say, how can anyone feel like that. Look at the sunshine, love and all of it around you. When I am sad and I see happy, I say, how is that possible. Happiness is unreal. The wave. I am on the down curve of the wave at the moment. So I want to write about it. I want to remember it when I am happy and invincible. The Buddhist strives for balance. The teachings do not want you to be extremely happy or sad. This too shall pass. Even and steady. Take in life. Drink it. Inhale it. Sniff it. You are the observer and a participant. Shakespeare said that we are actors but I don’t want to act. I don’t want to over act. This is not a comedy or a drama. It just is.
8:47 on Monday and 10:04 on Thursday. A few days later I do not feel this but I know I will again. It is a dear sad friend who comes to visit me. He makes me see things through his eyes for a while.
I danced Zumba today. I was filled with energy and excitement for life that has not been with me for weeks. It lifted my low spirits. Today I paid attention to Rita, a regular in the class. Rita stands out in her dancing. She is smiling. She breathes life into all the moves. She makes them her own. She is not painfully watching the teacher to make sure she is doing it right. She is doing it. She is shaking it. She did not come to class to learn, she came to dance.
I decided to do the same.
I get into the learning that I lose the goal of learning. Am I dancing to learn to dance or am I dancing to dance. Am I writing to learn to write or am I writing to write. Most new things I pick up, I feel that I have to learn and get better and better. When I do not feel that I am getting better, I get discouraged. I am waiting for that moment that I become “good.” After being told that I am good, I start to wonder if I am “good enough.” (Thank you Christine, for tying it all together for me, I had a feeling our conversation would make it in today.)
My sister (whose Birthday is today!) sent me the article recently about the Tiger Mom. In the article, she talks about discipline for Chinese children. She talks about them practicing piano or violin for three hours a day. The theory is that you cannot enjoy something unless you are good. It made sense but I could not stop thinking about it. Usually when I cannot stop thinking about something, it is a sign that there is something that I still have to figure out.
What is good? Is good playing a tune in C with both hands coordinated or is it playing Rachmaninov? In my jewelry terms, is good having creative designs or is it setting diamonds in a complex setting? Is it making a living or is it making millions?
The idea of getting good is complicated. I understand what the tiger mom means. You have to practice to become good at anything but do you have to do it with your blood and your tears? Is that the only way to get “good.”
I do not need to become a good dancer, getting my body to move like my teachers. I can have fun shaking my body until I sweat. If I had fun, it was good. The idea of first being good and then having fun, just does not sit right with me. Am I good writer? I do not know. I know that I am having fun writing. Does that mean I am good? You see, it can be a loop.
I read a book on parenting, Nurture Shock. It talked about complimenting your children on the effort they are putting forth instead of saying they are good or bad. Saying they are good at something can be paralyzing. Children become addicted to that. They do not want to take new risks because of the fear of not being good. They would rather just do that thing that gets them the “good.”
That is what I feel. I have become specialized or good at one or two things. New things are scary because there is a learning curve and fear that on the other side of the curve, I will not be good, just mediocre. I see how the Tiger mom makes her children break through that new and bad barrier by making them put time until they are confident in it. I think the word good should be replaced with confident.
I am just writing this because I do not think I am a good dancer and I do not think I am a good writer. I am happy that I am putting in effort. I do feel more confident the more I dance and write.
When I started writing this blog, I felt I was coming out of the darkness. I was hidden away all these years. I am ready to unravel myself. I wanted to write an email, the coming out of the closet kind, about my new venture but I was scared. Some days, I publish my blog with hand shaking, afraid that I might offend someone in my writing. My mom has been starting conversations lately by saying, don’t put this in your blog. This is an unknown world for me.
Few people remarked that they had no idea that this was going on in my head. People who are close to me. Now that I am out of the closet, I am happy to show just how “gay” I can be. I write about anything that strikes me when I sit down at the computer and I usually wrap it up with an uplifting phrase. But is that me? Lately, I stopped hearing myself in my writing. There is something missing. I found a rhythm and now I write to that beat. I like rhythm, but am not sure if it is just another comfortable box that I am crawling into.
I have a lot on my mind. It is not anything that I can write publicly about. Just because I am coming out of the closet does not mean that other people want to. My blog started honest and current. Now it is secondary. These are not primary subjects for me anymore. But this is the process. The balance between “the” truth and just truth.