Saturday, May 31, 2008

Heat Lightning

Have you ever seen heat lightning? I love full-fledge thunderstorms, so heat lightning always puzzled me a bit. It's just a faint hint of the full power that lies behind a thunderstorm.

That said, I'm a sucker for any type of lightning. So as a kid I still enjoyed looking for those unexpected flashes of heat lightning. (I think it's a lot more common in the mountains than in NoVA.) The anticipation built, as I waited for a brief glimpse of a well-lit sky.

I've had a similar feeling of anticipation lately when the baby kicks. He is getting bigger and stronger, but I don't always feel his movements clearly. At night when I go to bed is the best chance of feeling a definitive kick. It's a lot of fun. I imagine him doing all sorts of soccer moves or karate chops. Sometimes I imagine him swimming around in there like a goldfish.

I'm never fully satisfied with what few kicks I can feel. It's as if he's teasing me, only giving me a taste of what's to come. I realized there are a lot of parallels to heat lightning. I wait with anticipation, enjoy the experience, but am left slightly dissatisfied, still hoping to experience the "real thing."

I'll just keep waiting patiently.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pregnancy and Public Transportation

Public transportation and pregnancy make for an odd couple. I take the bus and Metro to work. Each day I get to encounter interesting pockets of Northern Virginians. The Metro tends to be middle to middle-upper class white collar workers. The bus system has a wider variety of people, but mostly blue collar or international folks. One day during the first 15 minutes of my bus ride I heard 4 different languages before English was ever spoken! My friend Jacque put it well in saying something to the effect of, "On the Metro you see polished, pretty-face America, while on the bus you see real life.

Now that I'm visibly pregnant, it's been interesting to see how others treat me in public. For instance, almost always if I am standing on the bus, a man offers me his seat. There's a very defined sense of treating pregnant people, women with children and older people kindly on the bus.

The Metro is a different story. Only once has anyone offered me a seat on the Metro. I don't think it's that people are cold-hearted. I think they are just consumed by whatever they are reading or thinking about and it never even crosses their mind.

What's even more interesting to me is how differently I feel when someone gives up their seat for me on the Metro vs. the bus. On the bus, I am grateful and relieved. I feel like the man who gave up his seat for me is now receiving admiring looks from the other passengers. Both of our statuses are exalted in different ways. On the Metro, the one time someone gave me their seat, I was surprised to find myself a little embarrassed. I don't know if other people even noticed the man who gave me his seat. Even though he was incredibly kind about it, I felt a little ashamed. Almost as if by taking the Metro, I'm agreeing to not be treated any differently. A nagging feeling said, "If you can't make it on your own, you shouldn't be out here."

I know, I know - that's silly. It sure is interesting to see how we internalize our environment differently.

P.S. For the record, I have yet to ask someone to give up their seat for me. I've practiced several times in my head, but nothing to show for it yet. :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reincarnational Trees

The changing of seasons usually leads me to reflect upon how the life cycle of a tree is not that different from our own.

In spring, flowering trees announce themselves to the world. They are full of color and pluck like a child who does not yet care what the world thinks of him or her. The flowers give way to fresh green leaves that have a newness about them. They are full of new life and chirping birds, reveling in spring. I think of this like our 20's, when we still have a spring in our step and haven't been jaded by too many disappointments. That fresh green begins to dull in the heat of the summer. The trees are working hard at the task given to them; produce and store up for the harder times. Then in fall, like people who energetically embrace the transition into their retirement years, the trees heave out the last breath of life with an explosion of vibrant color. It's as if they are paying homage to the hard work of the middle-aged years of summer. Winter comes and the trees fall silent and pass into the hinterlands of their temporary death.

I used to see this year-long cycle of the trees as a parallel to the life of a human. This morning I rethought that analogy. Is life ever linear? Do we ever transition from one phase to another a clean break, never to revisit the past? That's not how my 28 years have played out so far. Instead, I'm constantly cycling through phases of life. Sometimes I regain a wonder for the newness of the everyday mundane tasks of life. Other times, even though living, I go through the motions of my life with a deadness in my heart and mind.

But the trees are like that too. Their lives are continuous cycles of death and rebirth. Sometimes spring is short and winter is long. Other years the celebration of Fall goes on weeks longer than normal. Why must the pluckiness of youth be limited to my teenage years? Can I not regain it in my middle-age?

I want my life to be like a tree's life, reincarnated with seasons.