The sun has pushed through the grey bank of clouds hanging low on the Delta horizon. I woke at 5 to be the first person to call my sister Joyce on her birthday, six a.m. Pacific, eight a.m. Central. I channeled our mother and sang in a low voice, ending one verse of the perennial birthday song with a giggled “I hope this isn’t the wrong number”. She laughed, the throaty chuckle which we all inherited from our Syrian-Austrian momma.
Coffee, daybreak, breakfast, rain: Now my tiny house fills with the radiance of the Delta spring. We need the rain, I know; but I secretly will it away. I left my door slightly cracked all night. The morning breezes gently drift through these 198 square feet, wafting away the lingering odors of last night’s stir-fry and the acrid stench of cleaning sprays.
I have no plans for Easter Sunday. I could crash a service at any church in Rio Vista or Isleton, in one of my summer shifts and a wide-brimmed hat. I could slip into a back bench and silently smile at the man holding out a songbook. But my heart would not be content there. Instead my spirit would yearn to walk behind a handful of little boys hunting eggs in our front yard; to gaze at kites flying over Tower Grove Park; and stand among the pleasant buzz of families in line for brunch at Union Station.
Every time I meet someone new, they ask why I moved to California. I usually demure. I mumble something vague about a long story, a midlife crisis, a divorce, a specialist at Stanford. But the truth defies articulation. As another year unfolds, I remind myself that I came here to find richer soil for my fragile, starved roots. Out on my funny little deck, the succulents wind their way across the wood, reaching for the sun’s warmth, while the $15 cyclamen that my sister and I bought at Safeway in Lodi last November unfurls a purple bloom and raises its dark green leaves to the spring sky. I stand in the doorway and envy the sureness of their unbridled growth.
My mother used photographs to adorn home-made cards. One year she belatedly sent out Easter cards bearing a picture of my little brothers Frank and Steve carving a pumpkin on the previous Halloween. I wrote the message on each one in my careful Catholic grade-school penmanship: Happy Easter, Happy Spring. . . Happy, happy Everything! We hand-addressed the envelopes, licked the stamps, and sent the boys to the mailbox. My mother and I sat on the porch and watched them walking up the hill on Kinamore Avenue until they disappeared over the ridge. Then we went inside to fill and hide their Easter baskets, start the raisin bread for the morning’s repast, and iron our dresses for church.
It’s the sixteenth day of the one-hundredth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.