Midnight Laundry


“But surely, there is a comfort to be taken from that,” continued the Count. “For even as the weeks begin racing by in a blur for us they are making the greatest of impressions upon our children.


To see a murmuration of starlings is to be breathless, awestruck.

At first, a surprise. A sense that what you are witness to cannot somehow be real.

What am I seeing

But once eye connects with brain, only then can you step back to appreciate the mass of wing and flutter coalescing and expanding. A celestial bellows, breathing in and out.

Biologists believe these birds gather to protect from predators, safety in numbers.

This, for some reason, comforts me.


Non sequiturs are his specialty. To chat with this crusty sailor, now 75 years in, is to become a pupil in the art. We follow a thread that only he can see – woven through mish mosh of random word etymology, how time in a submarine offers essential wisdom about relationships, the importance of hip hop and boat building in overcoming trauma

We have a deficit of proper fatherhood, a result of the epochal shift from agriculture to industry

And we’re electing 13-year olds as a result.

Huh

Tonight, though, my mind is on one thing.

I’m turning 50

Uh huh

It makes me feel old

That’s good.

You’re old!


I wake with a start

Ah shit

Forgot the laundry

I stagger up the darkened stairs and quietly open the washer door. It still smells fresh.

In hopes of allowing the rest of the household their well-earned slumber, I ever so carefully and silently slide the t-shirt over the first 5-metre bamboo pole, securing it well above the stairwell below. Extend the sleeves and shape it, readying it to dry.

This work is by nature mindful, slow, paced.

Maybe it’s the bamboo

Right now, this moment, a single starling, darts about and draws my full attention. Fresh. Rhino’s shorts, Elephant’s T, J’s blouse.

These three.

They mean so much to me

I see the curtain on my mortality steadily, sneakily dropping, just as the world’s stage leans open to the boys


“Perhaps it is a matter of celestial balance,” he reflected. “A sort of cosmic equilibrium. Perhaps the aggregate experience of time is a constant and thus for our children to establish such vivid impressions of this particular June, we must relinquish our claims upon it.”

“So that they might remember, we must forget.”


From the murmur, an individual starling will separate itself from the flock. Venturing forth, it catches our eye, saying

I am here

Look at me

And as we get old, officially old, old enough so that a slightly older man confirms the truth, the years and moments pull away

And then gather back in.

Like birds

We look back, and ahead, and back again. Moments dart away from the flock and demand our attention.

I am here

Look at me

And, we remember like they were yesterday. Hurts and regrets poke us, beaks sharp.


The memories that out stand, ones that stay, instructive and haunting, are here for a reason.

And with time, they poke and peck less.

Regrets, to be sure, are a sign that we’ve grown, that we are different

Wiser.

And all the memories, good and bad, blend, gather, and murmur together. Shielding one another for protection, from fear, and hurt.

My fifties were the best years of my life

For real?

Oh yes. I did my best work as an educator at 58.

You’ve been around the block. You’ve earned your authority

You should lean into it.


I still have moments of overwhelm

Worries about the future of sons and the future of the species converge

But today, now, I focus on how much of my heart is full

And make a choice to be optimistic.

And, so.

We express gratitude for those who love us

And those we love

You should lean into it

And, as I dart back to the comfort of this staggering, impossible murmuration of moments, days, months, and years that is 50

I think I will.


*Quotes from Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. Go read it if you’re growing older. Or even if you’re not.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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7 Comments

  1. A beautiful combination of discoveries, quotes, the metaphorical use of birds and more. Imagery used so cleverly – the clothes to symbolise the family;
    “I see the curtain on my mortality steadily, sneakily dropping, just as the world’s stage leans open to the boy”
    There seems to be an awakening that this new age has delivered. Dotted with the wise words from the elderly… a reassurance.
    I read a motion that matches growth and age, the motion of the bird, the flock.
    The post shares the ‘you’ you are, and the part you play as a father. This is beautiful Darren. I’m off to read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome to the weekly SOLSC. Murmurations…utterly captivating, almost otherworldly. A comfort in this tethering, indeed. Much like memory and loved ones and gratitude, as you illustrate…the starlings are such a beautiful analogy to movement of thought and stages of life. Perhaps not so much a dropping of life’s curtain but a definite fluttering of it… congratulations on your milestone birthday and the exponentially deep savoring (I know this well) that it offers.

    Like

  3. Wow, this is gorgeous. My mind went back to the murmurations of starlings over northwest Iowa corn fields, and I smiled seeing them with fresh eyes through your post. These lines are something I think of often too:
    “Worries about the future of sons and the future of the species converge”
    Your poignancy yet hope is evident throughout this piece, and I have been blessed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I noticed you drew us in with your combination of quotes, live streaming, and reflecting. What captivated me was learning about someone doing their best work at 58 (I am 58 and I feel like it may well be true!). Thanks for this image-filled slice and the book recommendation too!

    Like

  5. You wove your love, your regrets and your achievements into a whole – in essence just like a murmuration. Beautiful words…beautiful sentiments and expertly expressed. Thank you for this thing of beauty you have created.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 50, huh? I’m coming up on that milestone myself. But a strange thing has happened to me. The older I get, the older “old” is. Wondering if that’s just…part of the plan?

    Like

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