Those Moments We Miss

fireworks and jigsawIn the grand scheme of memorable moments, riding a two-wheeler for the first time is the gold standard, the one that puts me in a place and time against which so much else is measured.  I can see the bike (blue and white), myself in the seat. The focus, the balance, the breeze. The closest thing to flying.  As a metaphor, “like riding a bike” encompasses that thing once learned and never forgotten. Leave it to Albert Einstein to bring even another dimension with his quote: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Recently, it hit me, a revelation of sorts: there’s no riding that bike without someone running alongside, holding on to the seat. Until the moment of letting go. Trust is a good thing. We ride, we fall, we get back on.

There’s an innocence to it all, and it goes with the territory of summertime, freewheelin’ days, school’s out, the light in the sky at 8 p.m. always a wonder.   Innocence slips, experience brings caution. And if we’re lucky, every summer brings it all back home, the moments missed but never lost to us.  In that jigsaw of life, there is a striving toward order, making the pieces fit.

The art of the jigsaw begins with a frame. Four corners to anchor the picture that will take shape. In that jigsaw of our lives, we have four seasons that, before we gave names to them, were a driving force all their own. These days we have Thanksgiving to define autumn, Christmas/Chanukah to define winter, July 4th to define summertime, give it an anchor. Celebrate. Dance to the music.

Not that I’m complaining. Seeing fireworks always makes me feel like a kid again. And the sound and light show I’m treated to each year since I’ve been spending  the 4th with friends at their lake house is as good as it gets. This year brought the added pleasure of my two dearest long-time friends visiting for the holiday. We partied, went to movies—the exquisitely nuanced Fill the Void and quietly powerful The Attack.  Both had their poignant and haunting  moments. Each, in its own way, was a reminder of the complexities of personal/cultural identity in the Middle East. Both had love at their core: sometimes it opens our eyes, sometimes it blinds us. Yes, we did a little shopping, too. And (duh) we talked.

Sunday, friends gone, I ease back into routines. First some cleaning up, then a few sun salutations in the bright and airy guest room that doubles as my personal yoga studio.  The phone rings. Sometimes, when I’m near the end of my practice, I’ll run down to answer it. This time  I let it ring. Five times. I figure my husband is either outside or napping. Whoever called will call back.

It’s near dinnertime, another phone call, during which the power goes out. There’s only so much stress the utilities grid can handle in a heat wave.  My husband and I decide to skip the not-yet-made salad and head out,  hopeful that this is not a widespread outage, three of four hours if I were to wager. I turn off my cell phone to conserve battery power and we head down to a favorite Mexican restaurant. A little tequila always does the trick.  Back in the car after dinner, I turn on my phone, a text from my daughter: Call me as soon as you get this. I broke my ankle. By my calculation that would have been the phone call earlier in the day that I missed.













10 thoughts on “Those Moments We Miss

  1. Ah. Wasn’t expecting that…the one time you turn off your phone.
    You live a breezy, contented life…just reading this made me feel good after a day of lingering stress. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful and moving little blog. Einstein was dead on about that bicycle. And you with that “we ride, we fall. we get back on.” I just reread an old Lawrence Sanders book. It brings back good memories in it’s own way just as your blog does. His main character was striving towards order and making the pieces fit just as you also mentioned.

  3. Your opening paragraphs with the jigsaw puzzle of life and the bicycle metaphor paint a picture worthy of a wall at the Met. And then the ending…oh! we parents never do stop do we? Can’t turn off our phones anymore now that we can be connected at all times and our kids expect us to be. Is that good, or did our parents have it better?

  4. To keep our balance we must keep moving forward… I’d not heard that before, but the metaphor of the bicycle was perfect. So glad you had such a wonderful 4th weekend and I’m sorry that your daughter broke her ankle. I hope she was at least dancing on a table top at the time. 😉

  5. Oh, you make me want to fly out to the east coast and spend some quality “summertime” in your neck of the woods! Such a lovely post, Deborah. Life gets so crazy sometimes, we forget how to see the world as a child would see it–it’s a good thing that once we get back on that bicycle, it all comes right back to us!I hope your daughter is all right!

  6. I loved this Deborah! I don’t how to put it, other than saying that I felt as if I were accompanying you through these experiences, these thoughts. It also brought to mind my first bike ride, our house”boy” trotting beside me, hanging onto the seat. Now I want to write about that time. I see it so clearly.Thank you!

  7. Oh, Deborah, I can just imagine how you must’ve felt. The guilt of having turned off the phone and not seen your daughter’s text right away. Hope she wasn’t too mad that it took you a while get back to her. My daughter would, no doubt. We try so hard to be there for them, but inevitable, life happens. And there you go.

    Glad you had a nice Fourth. Me, too!

  8. Not sure why I didn’t receive your post, so resubscribing to make sure! And what a treat to visit now, I’m getting distracted by images of shoes, having said I have no interest, I’m discovering the ‘art of shoes’ if there is such a thing I do indeed love – so while I’m doing that and looking up old tweets from you, you drop by to my blog, just love how those invisible threads loop and connect and pull us all together.

    The jigsaw of life, family gatherings or friends gatherings are just like that, replacing the missing pieces, those memories we haven’t visited for a while.

    I have just written a piece for my primary schools 100th anniversary later this year which I won’t be able to attend, so memories from the 70’s are being shared out there by my old school friends and I’ve added my 2 cents worth.

    And a sun salutation to acknowledge it all. Perfect. The power cut a gentle reminder to switch off. It’ll all be fine, light a candle.

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