Falling and Staying

“They’re called jacarandas,” she told me, as we stared out the window after The Kid’s therapy session. “They have those purple blooms and they all come out at the same time. You see them everywhere.”

She wasn’t lying. A couple of weeks prior, I’d pointed out the trees to the boys on a car ride. “Look at the purple flowers!” I told them, and we all stared. Now they notice them everywhere we go, Little Brother pointing and exclaiming, “Look, Mommy! Purple flowers all over the ground!”

Because that’s what the petals do: they fall, covering the ground beneath the trees, concrete and grass alike, in purple. A floor of purple, the same colour as the hydrangeas at my wedding. They’re everywhere, and I love them.

Because I’m falling too, in this season of spring, our first spring here in Sydney. I’m falling for the sea of purple outside my window that, from the corner of my eye, looks like yet another body of water next to the bay that’s always there. I’m falling for the kids in my boys’ lives: the way LB’s friend ran up to him at school and grabbed him into a bear hug and they both fell to the floor laughing; the mum who told me through tears in her eyes about how her own boy came home and told her, “Sometimes I don’t understand James,” and as she wondered how to respond to his inevitable questions, he instead concluded, “because he’s American.”

I love him.

I love the rest of the mums, who all gathered around a table for dinner and way too many drinks the other night, discussing our kids and life and everything. For the friendships that were formed and continued and solidified then and now. For the friends who read my writing (and like me anyway) and whose kids bounce toward me during reading and call me by my name and walk to school with us.

I love the speech TK gave to his class last week–his life thus far, because damn has it been a doozy–and I love how he giddily and shyly stood in front of them and they all clapped and he finished by yelling, “TA DA!” I love the tears in his therapists’ eyes at his progress and joy over his accomplishments, to which they remain committed. I love the way TK bounded into school this morning, when months ago he would have fought it, to pass out an invitation to each kid in his class for his birthday party, shouting some of their names across the school yard.

I love going to the movies (cinema) and not feeling compelled to immediately locate an exit in case a deranged gunman shows up.

I don’t love hangovers, but I’m working on that.

I love seeing my kids grow here, and remembering that phrase I used to hear before they were born, when people would say they were falling in love with theirs, and I would gag on the sweetness of it. Then mine came along and I knew I loved them, but in love? That was a stretch. But feeling TK nestle into me on the couch, or hearing LB say, “I keep you safe, Mommy. I love you,” I feel it: the falling in love that is so sporadic but true, fraught but there, interspersed among moments of insanity and irritation and discipline and fighting, but there. And it strikes me that the truest part of love isn’t the falling, nice as that is (especially in New York with The Husband over endless tapas and wine), but is this:

The staying.

We love most not by feeling the fall but by choosing to stay.

And I wonder what that means for us here, when TK told me over dinner the other night, “I want to stay in Australia forever.” Will we? We have years to decide and a new house to pick in the meantime. We have progress to make and homesickness to endure and fights to weather and tears to dry and laughs to release. We have stories to tell, and chapters to add on to those stories. For now, though, there is so much life here. And I love it.

TK’s teacher told me the other day that she heard him tell it to another teacher, the thing I’ve been telling him: “My brain is different.” She and the other teachers present all looked at each other and felt the beautiful weight of it, this difference and his awareness of it and pride in it. I think about the crepe myrtle outside our house in Atlanta and how much I loved it, how I dreaded missing it, and how it’s been replaced by the jacaranda: something different.

I’m living, and loving, the different.

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