It’s 1:54 A.M. and I just came in from outside. I can’t sleep. I sat outside on my front porch; my mother’s front porch before she died, and I listened to the wind tango through the trees, the frogs talking to each other along the pond, my dog sniffing at the door behind me trying to get out, the washing machine down in the basement hum into action; and I swear I heard Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, calling to Jem and Dill from behind Boo Radley’s house. It was just for a moment, but I could swear I heard her. But then again, it’s summer and that’s what it does to me as June creeps up, across my skin and gets into my blood. I become a different person. A better person. I become whole again.
I had felt a little lost this last week. It happens to therapists too you know. Compounded by a $7000 attorney fee for my mother’s estate didn’t help, but I felt overwhelmed with bills; and I hadn’t written in a week and I felt stuck. So tonight, after Alex and I got home from going out to dinner with good friends, I loaded up the washing machine, sorted my laundry, finished my bills for May, got organized and started writing again. Which found me at 1:54 A.M. out on the front porch, listening for Scout and Jem and Dill.
When I was a little kid, my mom made sure I had saw To Kill a Mockingbird. It was an instant favorite and to this day, the meaning or meanings, change for me often. I used to love just the sounds of the music and the wind in the trees, or the scenes of the children playing. It made me feel homey or wholesome. But today, it brings me back to that, but makes me realize how each of those characters are such a part of me today. Even to the very end when Scout tells Boo, “You can pet him if you want.” referring to Jem, “He wouldn’t let you if he were awake though.”
How afraid we’ve become of the Boo Radley’s in the world. Of the unknown. Of the bills, the debt, the foreclosures, the first doctors appointments, the chance encounters…to only find that we’re really just afraid of ourselves. So I feel better tonight. A little more organized. A lot more centered. And hopefully more focused. I had a friend tell me today that I’ve grown quiet. That she used to think of me as talkative but I’ve become more observant lately. Have I become more Boo Radleyish? I hope not; and if so…I need the Scouts to bring me out, bring out my inner passions, my love and hate and fear and angst all together to make me live, live, live before it’s too late.
The other day I was telling Alex about my love of the library. We drove past the old library in Westfield, Indiana and it reminded me of when I was a little kid and my mom would take me once a week in the summer. I even remember getting my very first library card, manilla paper with a metal bar code on the back. She would usually pick a self help book by Scott Peck or Marianne Williamson. I would walk to the counter with at least twenty books, piled high against my chest, very proud of the accomplishment I had achieved in picking out just the right books for summer reading. I could imagine myself on sailing adventures, or having lemonade stands, or witnessing murders from a cherry tree, or living in a house with a clock in it’s walls, all from the confines of my bed at night. My mother would look at me and say, every time, “Honey, do you really think you can read all of those books?” to which I would respond, “Yep!” And so we would walk out, she with her trivial People of the Lie or A Return to Love and I with loads of adventure and mystery. One year I came across a book titled Summer by Alice Low; and it became an instant favorite. To this day, it is always on my top ten must reads of all time. (Maybe that will be my next blog…10 books/10 movies which should be enjoyed this summer to enhance your soul!) This wonderful little book, takes the reader through a summer day of a boy, a girl and their pup. Absolutely delightful. From the very beginning when “I hose you, you hose me.” to the end when a farmer gives them a ride on top of his tractor and the pup goes fast asleep, it is a wonderfully, delightful summer read. One which reminds me of childhood. Of summer. Of love and ice cream. Of swimming in the sun all day and sleeping in the cool sheets at night. Which reminds me…Alex is asleep upstairs, I can just hear him breathing softly, turning in the sheets to the soft disco of the box fan. It’s now 2:21…and time for me to join him as Scout tucks herself into bed, and summer begins…because, we’re on borrowed time as it is!