Tuesday, November 13, 2012

just write: to build an altar

Today I had one of those "stand still and remember" moments - you know that moment in time when all your senses come together in a rush and the world feels like the beautiful and wondrous place it is, even if only for a moment?

There's that time of day, usually right before the sun sets and the darkness descends, when it feels like life and everything in it for a brief moment becomes four-dimensional: length, breadth, and depth + time. You can hear and see the littlest details, like the flock of migrating birds free-falling and free-wheeling over the 405 bridge, the lights turning on in the apartment on the fourteenth floor, and the smells of restaurant dinners, car exhaust, and decaying leaves all mingling together to become a symphony of sensation, August Rush-style.

This moment caught me while we were on our daily walk. When it's not raining, we run outside for an hour or more of fresh air. We make our way northwest, over to the library on 23rd or the park at Chapman school, or south, up in the Pearl to roll into Whole Foods for a loaf of fresh sourdough or some item left off the grocery list.

Today we were out later than usual, and it was fully dusk at 4:30 pm. The girls sat snug in their stroller, their layers are growing thicker as winter makes its way into the Northwest, and most people on the street coo, "Twins!" and Ruthie waves with her tiny gloved hand. Today they have their new mittens and hats on, found in a second-hand clothing shop that is so good that it makes me swear to never buy brand new again.

My mind wanders in the grandness of this moment, as I sense change coming for us in so many areas. A new business is launching for the both of us, the girls are full-blown toddlers and walking (well, one is, but her sister won't be far behind), and there is a possible move to a house! on the horizon. All good things. But these things, happening right now, will never be exactly the same again, they will never be just like this moment.

I pause to take in the view of the park that has been our "backyard" for the past year and a half. It's built on a piece of reclaimed wasteland and used to be an old tannery, back in the days of early pioneering Portland, in the time of the shanghai tunnels and fur trading and the gold rush.

I think that's why I love this little place, find history fascinating - it cultivates a spirit of remembrance, of those who came before me and their hustling and bustling lives that mirror my own in only a few small ways, yet inwardly we are probably all the same. I take my place as a tiny cog, a quick brushstroke in the painting called Beautiful.

I snap out of it and we move on, my pace picks up to get us home before dark and to start the dinner-bath-bed routine. The feeling leaves quicker than it came, but I sit down tonight, when all is quiet, to honor that moment, to build an altar with my words and remember.

Just write. Join in!



  1. Oh I love this. I've lived so many moments this year that will never be again and I know exactly what you are trying to capture here.

    1. Thank you, Tricia! It is hard to put into words, right?!

  2. loove your description of that time of day! also, i have to say that looking at your pics makes me long to live in a city again...i've sort of forgotten how it feels to be surrounded by people and energy!! and to be within walking distance of a whole foods, damnnnn you have it made!!

  3. beautifully written. its crazy when time stops for a moment and we get to be a part of it in such a magical way.


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