“You’re different,” said Anat Baniel, the guru behind San Rafael, California’s Anat Baniel Method, when we visited yesterday. We’ve been coming here for therapy for years now, on the suggestion of multiple friends in San Francisco, all of whom have run across Liz Preuitt (of Tartine fame) and her family, who also have also used the method with their daughter.
“When you first came, you were more stressed out,” she continued, looking straight at me in her unnerving way. “Now, it’s like you’re calm. Like you got something out of your system.”
“I did, I guess,” I said hesitantly. Going to Graham’s therapy was his realm, not mine, and I wasn’t sure whether I should mention the book. But I did. “I wrote a book about it. That helped.” She wanted to know everything.
“Anyway, it’s good to see,” she said, stopping the infinitesimally small movements she was performing on Graham’s spine. Keep going, I thought. I’m not paying you hundreds of dollars to look at me. “Things change, you know. I see it all the time. Parents change.”
I was quiet, willing her to continue working on Graham’s back. As she moved again, her words sunk in. Things do change. And sometimes, it takes an outsider to notice them.
I am, in a word, Jew-ish. I have a good Jewish nose and I can pick the skin off a chicken with the best of them, but I am not religious. There are, however, parts of Jewish traditions that resonate deeply with me. Every Passover, that means matzo ball soup, and the concept of dayenu. The first you know. The second is technically a thousands-of-years-old song—one whose Hebrew words and tune are completely unfamiliar to me—whose words translate roughly to “it would have been enough.” Literally, in a nutshell, it thanks God for all he’s done for the Jews. But the spirit of it, in my atheist mind—the part I take with me each year—is simply being thankful for what you have. And this year, I have a lot to be thankful for.
It would have been enough, I think, if A Year Right Here had been published at all. It would have been enough if my dear friend Hannah Viano had created such a beautiful paper-cut image for the cover. It would have been enough if I’d just gotten to read at my local bookstore. And of course, it would have been enough if Graham had just been Graham, even if he hadn’t learned to walk, and if I didn’t now notice, after a week of twice-daily therapy, that he’s starting to walk heel-toe, instead of plodding each foot onto the earth like I imagine the dinosaurs used to walk. But there’s been so much more, this year, that this spring really does feel new and alive in a different way.
It feels like rebirth for many reasons: Because today, a story I was once afraid to tell is out in the world, in a form I am very much proud of. Because today, our little family is happy and healthy, even when some of us have work that carries us outside Seattle. And because this week, as Graham turned 8, he walked independently across a street, without a hand to hold, in his neon orange New Balance kicks.
And somehow, all that has been letting me make my own changes. This is my last post here. Soon, Hogwash will live in the archives of my own personal writing website, where favorite recipes like nettle pesto and caramelized rhubarb jam (and old posts) will still be accessible. It’s been 11 years since I started writing here. There’s still more to write, of course. (There’s always more.) But this—here—was enough.
I’ll leave you not with a recipe, but with a text I look forward to every single year: my brother’s Haggadah. Traditionally, it’s a guide to thankfulness, but as you know, he rewrites the classic for a pithy, political, sometimes off-color take on the Exodus story. This year, as you might imagine, it’s funny as hell.