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Here, Waiting

by Laura Green

“to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for, plot against,” from Old North French (c.1200 CE)

“to watch, be awake,” Old High German wahhon  (c. 800 CE)

“to be strong, be lively.” from Proto-Indo-European root *weg-  (c. 4500 BCE)

“to become awake,” Middle English (c. 1150-1470 CE)

“to become awake, arise, be born, originate,” Old English wacian (c. 500-1150 CE)

“to be strong, be lively.” from Proto-Indo-European root *weg-  (c. 4500 BCE)

To wake. To wait. To be strong, be lively. 

At some point waiting became scary. What happened? Who knows, but by the time the Old High Germans got to talking with the Old North French, waiting was something done while afraid. You were on your guard. You remained awake, but not in hope of arising. In fear of being cut down.

That’s how I wait to this day. Tensely. Impatiently. I wait poised and ready for the next thing. Not strongly alive in this moment. Watchful, guarding waiting. Willing to sacrifice this moment for the next moment, the one that really matters. The one in which I will awaken.

It’s just one little turn. Instead I could be originating while I wait. I could be becoming born. I could be opening my eyes for the first time. Waiting.

On Saturday I did yoga in my backyard, virtually, with my teacher and classmates as little squares on my computer. This is yoga now. Most of the squares are people’s knees and shins for half of class, then, when we lie on the floor, just walls. Sometimes a cat walks past. I’m waiting for a time when I can go back and do class with physical people and my actual teacher. I miss that. But on Saturday, a bee sat on me for 15 minutes while I moved through poses. She shifted around when I lifted my arms. She washed her hands. We’re waiting.

A friend told me about his friend who’s been walking the hill behind his house every day since quarantine. He hadn’t walked it before. There are so many birds. The birds were there, but he didn’t know. They’re all appearing to him for the first time. He’s waiting.

Sometimes I feel very Old North French about this period of great waiting. I don’t like not knowing what will happen. I miss you. I don’t know when we’ll be back together again. I feel like there’s an enemy out there somewhere, but I’m not sure exactly where. I hope I’ll be protected from it, but it’s invisible.

But so many things keep appearing. I’ve been watching the mother squirrel move her babies around, a lot – they’re big! Easily three quarters her size. They curl up like fern heads, she clasps them in her masterful jaws, and off they go. When they were smaller, she did this often. Now that they are big enough to voyage out onto the limbs themselves, she moves them seldom. I’ve seen this happen in the past, but only once or twice, so I thought it was a rare thing. I thought when I wasn’t witnessing it, it wasn’t going on. I was wrong.

And the pigeons! I’m waking up to pigeons. In every way they’re like water: their sounds, their iridescence, the way they separate and flood away from a disturbance, then return and refill the space once it quiets.

I feel like I’m waking up to my yard, to my neighborhood. And you. I miss the old way we came together, but there are new connections. There are lovely things I didn’t know to watch out for.

It’s hard to change the way I wait. This fearful kind of waiting has deep roots, but the deeper root is healthy and still there.

To wait. To wake. To be strong, be lively.

I’ll be right here, waiting.


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