nonfiction from Elena Delhagen
Excerpted from Bluff & Vine, Issue Three
It’s late August here in western New York, which means we’re in the middle of that mysterious time called the in-between place. The days are still warm and hazy and slow and sweet, but if I close my eyes, I can feel them getting shorter. Sister Summer is struggling to hang on, but we all know the truth is that we’re on the cusp of colder winds and leaves too shriveled and weary to remain on their branches any longer. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier about it. Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially since our family moved to the Finger Lakes region three years ago. I always find myself eager to rush my way through all the other months to get here.
It was only recently that it occurred to me this is often the exact same approach I take to life as well. I’m forever spending my days waiting on what comes next, and in my anticipation, it becomes easy for me to miss out on the life to be lived here in the present moment. I yearn for what’s down the road at the expense of where my feet are currently planted. I’m never really all the way there; only partially, if I’m lucky. Perhaps this is why I’ve often felt to be a perpetual Israelite, wandering in the desert for years while all the while, I’m longing for Canaan. Sometimes, I think we’re meant to stay stuck in seasons until we learn what we’re supposed to from them. Maybe it’s possible we need to root ourselves in a place for longer than we want to, but the good news is that it’s never in vain.
Never has this been truer for me than during my pregnancy. Those forty weeks were nowhere near comfortable. I was huge and hot and exhausted, swollen to the point I scarcely recognized my own body anymore. Additionally, I was impatient, ferociously so. My arms had been empty for years. I had been dreaming of meeting this little one for so long, and I wanted nothing more than to finally embrace the tangible flesh of my flesh and blood of my own blood. Even my birth experience was long, for crying out loud—a stretch of hard days in a late-July heatwave that seemed to go on forever.
Then, suddenly, he was here, writhing and shrieking and so very alive. After all that time, all that waiting, in an instant, my womb was empty; and as I write this now, he’s already three years old. More than ever, I understand what people mean when they say that time passes too quickly. Had you asked me a year ago, or three, or five, I would have told you that this moment, right now—a breezy August afternoon by the water, my son playing happily in the sandy space where the waves kiss the shoreline—was exactly where I wanted to be.
To read this entire story, pick up Issue Three of Bluff & Vine at Longs’ Cards and Books in Penn Yan, or by visiting amazon.com/Bluff-Vine-Issue-Literary-Review
Bluff & Vine is accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cover art until September 15, 2021. Details available at http://bluffandvine.com/submissions/