• Learning to Let Go

    by Jesse Loren

    I’ve never been any good at letting go of anything except inhibitions.

    I have stayed far past the curfew of love and long into the dark tunnel of despair. I have thrown myself like a bleeding bomb because I believed. Because I believed.

    I’ve never been any good at letting go.

    This week I spent several days at my mother’s. She is losing the ability to maintain what is real, true and constant in reality. She knows this and it upsets her. In some ways she is as sharp as a tack, but then in others, not so much. Her mind has already let go; the strings of memory have floated up like little helium bells going back into the universe.

    I will fight this when it is my turn. I will fight to keep her going. But I realize that sometimes the fight has begun without the wonderful timbre of the trumpeter or the solid pounding of a drum. Sometimes things start to go away before you know it.

    Not being good at letting go, I regularly take stock of things. I take stock of big things, like mom’s health, and of small things, like the little bats that fly out of my neighbor’s attic.

    I love bats. They seem effortless at letting go. At dusk, they fall (more than fly) out of the little opening in the building and soar away in jubilation. “I am alive! I am! I can fly!” they seem to shout to the evening stars as they appear. Even before they fall out into night, they bunch up in their cumbersome bodies against the grate. They twitter and meep in anticipation. I love them. They make me happy. For the past few years I have watched them tumble out from my neighbor’s attic then swarm over my yard before throwing themselves back in as the sun rises. It is majestic, enchanting. But not today.

    When I got home from my mother’s I swam until I had to de-prune and go to bed. I did not notice not noticing the bats. I was too wrapped up in the twitter and meep of my own cumbersome body floating in the pool.

    Today, I noticed a one-by-one-by-18-inch board screwed over the bat opening in my neighbor’s attic, and silence.

    Some nights I have seen only 30, other nights 50 bats zoom out from the roost. I called and asked the owner what happened. He boarded up the grate because he suspected bats. I explained that he boarded them in, not out, and he graciously allowed my husband to climb his fence, carry over a ladder and remove the wood. He lives too far to do it himself. My husband climbed the fence, took the ladder, and removed the board.

    It has been some time, and I am not good at letting go.

    It is time for them to fly.

    There are no meeps tonight, no crowding at the vent, just silence. I don’t know how many mothers, babies, or male critters were in there, but I imagine it went something like being stuffed into a trunk.

    Fly away Jack.

    Fly away Jill.

    Breathe, please breathe and throw yourselves like fists into the dark night!

    I wish this like some people pray.

    I have been watching the grate for 45 minutes. My husband offers, “They often move when it gets too hot, maybe they moved out before the board was set?”

    It is past time for them to fly.

    My husband and personal hero just climbed back over and looked into the vent with a flashlight. I imagine eyes like the ones in Snow White’s forest. I imagine they fly out, but there is nothing. Not a sound, not a meep, nothing scratching in the deep.

    He screws the board back in place like a good soldier. Each turn makes a rattle sound. He makes the exasperated sound of breathing out. It is dark. He is not enjoying this. The houses are now black with the backlighting of the setting sun. The full moon is nearly riding into view. He checks his work. Meticulous, careful, exact, precise. The sky is quiet. Maybe it was hot and they moved. I wish this like some people pray.

    I am not good at letting go.

    • perfection. simply perfect. thank you for this.

      • Judy

      • June 22, 2011 at 9:26 am
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      A lovely, poignant column.

      • Hollye Dexter

      • June 22, 2011 at 11:20 am
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    • Incredibly written … as usual.

      • Jesse

      • June 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm
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      Please, if you come across someone with bats… they are protected, there is a humane way to get them to find a new home and it doesn’t require killing them. http://www.batrescue.org/

    • WOW.

    • I, too have a Mom that is also letting go and it is getting faster now. For years it was slow and almost a second thought. Now it is fast and furious and still only the very deep past is visible and then only sometimes. I will not fight but just make me end on my terms.

    • FABULOUS writing! So visual, and creative choices of words…. excellent, and poignant.

      • Mitch

      • June 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm
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      Amazing essay, Jesse.

      • BigPoppaJah

      • June 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm
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      • Ronda Ballew

      • June 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm
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      Mesmerizing, poignant, heartwarming. Thank you. Ronda

      • Jesse

      • June 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm
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      Thanks peeps, I just wish there was something else to do…

      • Brian

      • June 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm
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      Beautiful column sweetie.

    • With you, Jesse…heartbreaking.

      • Sherlie Magers

      • June 24, 2011 at 10:45 am
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      Glaring look at what we must give up as we still live our lives…lovely piece of work Jesse…sometimes letting go is a present to the bats…and a Mommy…love is forever and is our gift for the giving…bats and Mom’s. Love you Jesse! Breathing is good Sherlie

      • Chuck Schilling

      • June 25, 2011 at 5:11 am
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      Lovely metaphor. Consider this: there may be another way out of the attic. Things aren’t always what they seem.

      • Jesse

      • June 26, 2011 at 10:42 am
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      Thanks for all the good writing love friends. This was extremely personal for me. Thanks.

    • Yes, Jesse, yes.

      • Kate Hutchinson

      • July 1, 2011 at 7:12 am
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      Thank you for sharing your amazing self.

    • Lovingly written…..that was just so sad though, it made me cry. And it didn’t matter that I am not particularly fond of bats. How cruel people can be as if life, any life, doesn’t matter.

      • Linda

      • July 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm
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      Wow, Jesse, that was brilliantly written. I know how much you loved the bats. I cried a lot as I read it, partly because I’m feeling vulnerable today. I have a soft spot for Canadian Geese, and witnessed a terrible tragedy in Davis last night. I can hardly bear to think about it. All 3 sub-adult goslings mowed down on Covell Blvd, right by the Goose Crossing signs. Mom and Dad were refusing to leave the roadway, and honking back at the blaring horns. I cried all the way home, and again this morning. How does someone not see 5 big geese crossing in a 45mph zone? Careless, or they didn’t care enough to stop… I hope all your bats found their way out, not just Jack and Jill. I wish this like some people pray.

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