By now you may have heard the interesting story about ‘the king and the car park‘, about a real live king who was found under a parking lot in Leicester, England (check out the CNN wrap-up for more details).
King Richard III, the honored, cherished and now celebrated English figurehead died on the Bosworth battlefield on 22 August 1485, but his remains were never found. For five hundred years, his unclaimed bones have stayed shrouded in mystery: some say his body was thrown in the river, others say he was left in a shallow grave by the Tudors.
This got me thinking about the strange juxapositions that we find ourselves in throughout the course of our lives, and perhaps even beyond them. How does this happen: in one moment, I’m a king, and in the next, I’m a parking lot.
Maybe it’s telling that I’m diapering and feeding a baby again after the growth and relative re- stability after my first, who’s now a very grown up seven. Mundane tasks are all around me ( i call this ‘meditative mothering‘). Matching mittens, nighttime feedings, filing mail. I walk the dog over and over, through the same trails under four seasons of trees. My husband and I just caved and traded in our beat up old Suburu for something that could fit tents, strollers, and the dog all in the back. Or we can put up the third seat for carpooling (the thrill of the expanding family!)
I have become the proverbial parking lot.
But somewhere in the vagueness of consciousness are memories of my years on the throne. Some of them I relive from time to time, like the other day, when Leila looked up from the book she was reading and asked, “Mom, did you and Dad meet at a rock concert?” (also see, “Mom, are you a teenager?”)
“Of course,” I replied, trying to impress her. “It was love at first sight.” I swooned a-la “the Triplets” from Beauty and The Beast. A rock concert – yes, let’s keep it there. I thought we met on the beach, but Mitch says it was a local establishment, and through a good friend. ‘A rock concert’ will do. I distracted her with a muffin when she asked, “Which band?”
But there is a sense of predictability to my parking lot: lines, spaces, lanes. Order. The things I thought that I would never seek. With my twenties mantras constructed under Phish’s “the truth was to surrender to the flow” and Jerry Garcia’s “formlessness and chaos lead to new forms”, I rarely forecasted that I would so enjoy the quiet stillness of folding baby laundry, or sitting daily in the silent moments of a sunny window that lead up to the arrival of the yellow school bus. Leila usually arrives running, usually yelling something to the tune of, “Mom! My teacher says I can’t bring my tap shoes to school anymore!”
My thirties have brought with them the placid calm of regular hours. Stability. Calm. Peace.
Richard the third’s unearthed remains have inspired royal lovers from all over the world as scientists match DNA, recreate features, recapture his spirit and recount his life. Maybe as we grow and change we will recreate our own features – carve our names in the sand and watch them disappear. My time as a roaring twenty-something may be done, but someone else’s is just beginning. And who knows, I may be a king again someday.
The king and the car park. Please share some stories about where you are in your lives ~ life in the kingdom or life in the car park? What’s better? Why?