Inside Out

I am sitting in my chair, laptop atop my lap, dog curled up, also on my lap, close enough to work as an armrest. The temperature has cooled down and a breeze gently comes through the screen window, for which I am very grateful. My body is like a rare and delicate flower needing a coolhouse as opposed to a hothouse where I am wilted and grumpy. I also need sunlight. I am aware of how many times I use the words “me” and “my” and “I” as “I” talk about “my” opinions, observations, and wisdom.  “I” am sort of kidding. It is all about “me.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I’m fairly certain most people have suffered that loneliness, heaviness, belief that they don’t belong. Most of the time though I am on the inside looking out. In a literal sense I sit in the living room looking out at the streets and scenery and flying things.

The street I live on starts just out of my normal view. I don’t know my neighbors but I see their cars passing, first leaving then returning later. Thanks to tinted windows and the angle of vision I don’t know the faces in the cars and only know which driveways are home to a couple of the vehicles. The cars turn right at the end of my little street to go down a few blocks on the downhill slope to another street that offers a left or right choice. In the winter I have a clear view of the hill. In the summer pieces of pavement are hidden by leafy deciduous trees in all shapes, sizes and shades of green so the cars play an involuntary game of Peek-a-Boo as they come and go.

The scenery is far better than the pavement and cars for soothing and calm and sometimes awe. Though I am unable to name the trees other than nonsense names like Griselda Mae and Jones, I am still amazed by the variety and change. I rarely tire of watching them bow and sway with the passing breeze, their changing colors both spring and fall, and the awe-inspiring storms bending the vulnerable trees to their will, breaking even the strongest, changing the shape of the weakest and leaving in their wake a testimony to the magnificence of the wind and storm.

I also, from the inside looking out, am diverted by the flying things. The birds come first on the list of things in the sky. Spring and fall the geese and ducks and many smaller birds clutter the sky in flocks and squawks, in formations and with direction, hundreds flying together with no obvious order and a few playing leap-frog as they travel from tree to tree. The sizes vary from flock to flock, the colors vary from bird to bird and season to season. Some fly smoothly, their bodies seeming to travel in a straight line. Some rise and fall with the beating of their wings and have to fly extra distance because of that rise and fall.  I find them fascinating.

And clouds! Varied, ever-changing, hanging in layers above me.  I have a view in my room, too, and often watch them spread across the sky, the layers moving independently, the sun playing with the colors by making some cast shadows on others revealing the separations, the heights and the depths.

There are also airplanes day and night. I enjoy watching the holding patterns of the big planes headed for the big airport on the nights where there are especially long delays. They also play peek-a-boo, first hiding in the clouds, then popping out again farther west or now heading north. Small airplanes fly immediately overhead aiming for the small airport. And then there are those various aircraft going home to JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the local army and air force base).

Sometimes, when the family is all together here for occasions like birthdays, Super Bowl, Christmas, I get involved with the arriving guests, spending a couple of minutes talking with them until someone else demands their attention. Usually the demanding one is our youngest grand-girl, Annabelle. Then somewhere during the grandchildren’s noise and activities, the adult children’s conversations  back and forth across the room, across each other, I am overwhelmed. I shut down for a few minutes.  As I return to the world of people I find that – though still in my recliner – I am again on the inside looking out. I’m a watcher. It gives me time to see how people are really doing and how much the grandchildren have grown, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I see them in a different light, and it’s good for me and for the people I watch, the people I love.

Then comes the leave-taking, the parade of family saying their good-byes, with kisses and hugs. We are a hugging family! I bask in their love. They leave, it grows quiet, and I am right-side-out again.

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