I am halfway through the most luxurious vacation. Ask me where I am going and I will tell you I am here. Right now.
Once upon a time, I would step out of my office for lunch and watch the tourists wander the streets of DC with envy. I would wish it was me in their shoes, walking my streets without the rush, the to-do list, without my head buried in emails or lost in a conference call. I would watch the tourists and sigh and want to be them. And then I would go on vacation to some wonderful far away city and watch the locals with envy. “It must be so wonderful to walk by this river every day!” “I wonder what it’s like to come to this amazing coffee house every morning?” “I wish I knew what it feels like to pass through this park in all seasons and weather!”. I would watch the locals and sigh and want to be them. The irony (and dare I say maddness) of this was not lost on me.
Its been such an adventure filled year. It has been quite a dance, learning to balance a full time school load along with the job that pays the bills and parenting a busy 10 year. Life is so very full and truth be told, I don’t remember being happier. This year I woke up to the fact that the life I have always wanted was actually the only life I have ever had. It’s always been here this life, not “out there, beyond the to-do lists and someday achievements”, but right here. The good, the messy, the sometimes sorrowful or maddening or sweet. Its all right here. I am so blessed.
And yet, there have been times this year when the crush of the work at home, school and work was so intense I could barely breathe. What I did in those moments was breathe. And when I got real still, a tiny voice inside me would whisper, “Tend my life, just tend my life”. And I would. I would do the dishes, fold the laundry, answer email, print out my homework and smile. Smile for having had food to eat, clothes to wear, a job and the incredible privilege of returning to school as a 42 year old. In tending my life I would rediscover the joy of it.
When talking about this month I have off from school, a friend said to me, “I bet you can’t wait to get away–escape the craziness!” It was then, there in that exact moment that I knew I wanted to do nothing else but stay here and take 16 days to sink into my life, this life I am creating, this life that supports and sustains me, this everyday existence. I wanted nothing more than to wander the streets of my own life and practice being awake to the beauty of it. To tend my life and not to miss one sweet thing. I wanted to host Max’s friends for playdates and to fold the laundry and go for walks and nap. To walk to the grocery store and read books about acupuncture and have dinner with friends. Truth is I wanted to do everything I have done all year with peace in my heart, more ease, more gratitude. I wanted to use the space created by no classes and a few days off from work to really drink in my life with slow sips and deep gulps. It is here that I am practicing letting go of the agenda and the striving and the to-do list entirely and instead do what is in front of me because it needs tending, because I love it, because it is everything I ever wanted afterall.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Standing on the edge of the pool I am blown away by these kids, the ones who swim like lightning, the ones who make it all seem so effortless, and the ones that struggle through and push hard. The ones whose googles fall off and keep going anyway, the ones who shave seconds off their time. I never could do anything like that when I was a child and so their movement, their ease, their courage, their dedication, their endurance seems magical to me and at the end of every event, I want to celebrate them, jump up and down, kiss them on the head and bless them–exclaim to the world that they are a miracle.
Instead, I tell them their time as they climb out of the pool and whisper something like “great swim”, “that rocked”, “great focus”. The quiet encouragement is what they need right then, as they make off to celebrate or lick their wounds or jump up and down and scream their heads off for their teammates. So I tell them their time and sneak in a silent blessing, a quiet alleluia for their growing up, their personal victory.
This swim is something that is theirs alone.
No parent, or teacher, coach or teammate pulled them along or won for them. But man, how they all did yell.
It is gorgeous to watch them, the kids lined up along the deck, screaming and cheering for each other. They hover behind me, their teammates, and they say things like, “wow–best time ever” to the kid who came in last, the one who is improving steadily steadily week after week. Every kid is made to feel a rock star, a prize fighter, a hero in the moment of their struggle. It makes my heart swell to think of all they are learning. To think of how kindness and encouragement flow like water here. To think that this is the real strength training, here at the poolside.
Every personal battle is just one swimmer in a pool–moving as gracefully as she can. Hoping to keep it together, do a little bit better than last time. He is racing against himself. No one can do it for her. No one else will make or break this for him. And yet he knows that the cheers, the yells, the high fives and the hand to pull her out of the pool are what keep her going hard. The team and their love–it is what allows each swimmer to pull the strength out of his belly and do one more stroke.
Falling asleep, drifting fading in and out. It is then, only then I remember. Sweet voice I hear you and then you are gone, faded into the night like a whisper of a dream sequence, like mist that rode in and then dissolved, blown away by quiet heavy air that came in when we weren’t looking.
I can smell the spring chill now, feel the perfume on my skin, it lingers to tell me that once upon a time I knew you, once upon a time long ago. The memory of you is left like a footprint. But no embodiment or ripeness to wrap my fingers around, no door on which to rap, no.
Waking to a memory of a memory of a memory–a reflection in a glassy pond in summer’s fading light at 9 o’clock in the evening as the frog’s croak out their love songs, by a gas station with an ancient stationwagon under sharp florescent lights which reflect the fumes and turn pretty girls into stone, by a hotel room on a country road an hour before curfew, in a driveway, bold girl wandering out in the night to say good bye and not let you leave not let you leave not let you leave. Curl my fingers around yours, drop my keys, not let you leave.
When I went to college, I made a decision.
I decided, actively decided, that I would live in joy. That I would find the positive in each situation and that I would discover something to celebrate in everyone, and every situation.
I had some simple practices to implement this decision. One, I remember so clearly, was a promise to myself that I would not to vent or complain without first considering the impact my words would have. What would the impact be on the subject of my rant (that annoying kid in class, the teacher who was boring, the rude drunk guy) but also on the people who had to hear me vent. How would this impact them? How would it change their mood to listen to my negativity?
I was tired of the high school scene with the judging and insecurities and well intentioned exhausted ramblings that were twisted into hurts by equally well intentioned, insecure and hurting people. Frankly, the whole thing had left me depleted. I realized that I had, for the first time since kindergarden, an opportunity to start over.
I have to admit, that at the time, my motivations were not 100 % pure. Like so many young women, I was deep down worried that people wouldn’t like me if I wasn’t “nice”. College, like all things, is messy. And I messed up plenty, especially when tired, or hurt, or after drinking too much beer. But I kept this decision before, like a compass that I used to find my way.
There were many unintended consequences of this decision. For instance, the light on Mt Saint James where I spent those four years was the most beautiful light I had ever seen in my entire young life, especially at sunset. Remembering it now I feel a wave of peace. I think now, that the light in this industrial town was no more special than the light everywhere else. It simply was that I was awake enough to notice its majesty–the subtle magic. With my brain more clear of rants, past and future, as well as regret, anxiety and fear about what mess my words might have wrought, I could see the world shimmer so much more easily.
What I learned through my experiment was that happiness may be a situation but joy is a decision.
A couple of years ago I went to a workshop on healing where the teacher challenged us to presence joy. If you walk into a room, that is dull or dark or full of angst, laugh, smile, giggle, tell a story. Dance. Find something beautiful and point it out. Play. See what happens.
It strikes me as funny how this powerful play in my playbook gets lost in the hubub that is my life. And it strikes me as glorious how easy it is to dust it off.
I am renewing my vows to a practice of joy. Not happiness. Not an absence of grief. But reckless, deep, unfettered, silly, magnificent, playful, unrelenting joy. To dance with abandon and to celebrate the simple pleasure of being able to feel.
A week or so ago I scrawled this on the bike path at a park near our house.
You know the saying, you put out in the world, the messages you most need to hear. Yeah, well, this one had my name all over it.
For years, I have been a cheerleader for everyone else’s dreams. I have silently dreamed mine up, blew them like kisses out to the Universe but I never expected them to come true. Dreams becoming real, well, that was for “other people”, not for me.
For years I have had a persistent story about bounty and abundance being for “other people”. I relished and loved being a witness to other people’s greatest joys unfolding. I felt it was such a gift to be a dreaming midwife–to hold the space so others could birth their very magical dreams. I felt grateful for that place but I never once really imagined that the big dreams could be mine.
I could spend hours unproductively and painfully pulling apart where this story came from but my point is that I am ready for that story to go. it’s been a little bit hard to get there. See, this story protected me for so many years, kept me from taking risks I wasn’t yet ready to take. It kept me safe and secure in a world who’s logic I understood. Telling myself that dreams were for other people meant that I didn’t have to do too much trusting, that I didn’t have to take the big risks, the ones that leave you with egg dripping off your nose or sprawled out on the floor figuratively bleeding. That story let me be right about so many things, especially about the futility of trying something scary and so it kept me from being too vulnerable. I spent this week, often in tears, saying good bye to that story of mine and feeling terrified and naked and a little bit raw without her.
I have another story that I have been wishing farewell. A story that goes something like this: “Before you leap, have all your ducks in a row.” I am the queen of setting up those ducks. I am a queen of making sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed. I am the queen of taking calculated risks with very probable chances of success. I used to set up my ducks and then take those very carefully calibrated risks and call it courage. Up until this week, I had a whole long list of things I needed before I could lean into my dreams: financial security, a partner to support me, health, happiness, inner peace. Each of these things seem as far away as they have ever been, elusive preconditions. And I realized that setting up ducks is really just a gigantic stalling tactic.
That “ducks in a row” story is really the twin sister of the “other people” story. Its a story that lets me off the hook. Its the story that tells me its Ok to give up. Its the story that tells me that its safer to sit back and watch and blame circumstance. Its the story that keeps me from really feeling my fear and pushing through her.
Its time to let those stories go. For the last several years I have been practicing for this very moment. I have been saying yes to improbable and crazy things. I have been practicing being a beginner. I have been practicing failing and starting again.
I am ready to start dusting off some of those long cherished dreams and (baby step by tiny baby step) to manifest them without any promise that it will go swimmingly. In fact, it is quite likely that it will all be one gigantic mess, or maybe a huge miserable disappointment, or perhaps just a anticlimactic fizzle out. But truth be told, I am so very ready to stop wishing for these dreams. I am so ready to stop wondering what it feels like to be “other people”. Instead I want to take action, to simply lean into the action of my life and see where those steps take me. Maybe if I can take a step they will take me where I dream of going. Maybe they will simply take me somewhere else interesting. In any case they will teach me courage. Of that I am sure.
Don’t worry mom, I’m not doing anything unsafe here. But I am taking steps that scare me, that I never thought I would take, without any promise, shoot without any hope, of success. These steps might make a more courageous person laugh for but for me they are big.
Watch me now, friends, lets see what happens when I leap.
For two and a half hours I have been sitting here, perfectly still, wondering. Because I don’t know how else I can explain that I am moved to the point of not being able to move.
Two weeks or so ago, I was walking with my friend Stephen down the street. “How is your brother?”, he asked me. “I don’t know” I said, looking down. “I don’t really talk to him these days. In fact,” I said looking up at the sky, “I haven’t really seen him in a year and a half.” My brother is a policeman and he lives far away in a big big city. I come through town only now and again. Its so hard to drive so far with a small child. Its so hard, as a single mom, with a life so full, to get away. The few times I have made it through in the last year and a half, he has been working. He made an arrest. He was sleeping at the precinct. Or he was out of town. Its hard for a policeman in a hardened city, with a life so full to get away.
But then, suddenly, he was here. Walking through the door at my friend’s house in Silver Spring. Surprising me at a party his wife had planned from 300 miles away. Suddenly I was dancing with him like we did when we were teens, while Jeff, Jamie and Randy played music. Everything that is sweet about my childhood met everything that is sweet about my grownup life. I swung my gorgeous nephew around and around to the sounds of homemade music played in a living room and laughed and laughed.
I danced and danced with my dad, with my cousins, with my neighbors, with my kindergarden best friend, with Odette, my past, my present and the future all colliding into one perfect now.
I don’t know how she found them all. My sister-in-law. A detective’s wife. But she found my work friends, my friends from the neighborhood, my soulsisters, friends flung far and wide. Friends she had only heard about in passing. She caught their names as I spun my tales and tucked them in her heart. And she is sitting on a bar stool with her son sleeping on her lap. And I love you just doesn’t seem to be enough.
Erica and Eileen drove me home. Max would stay at the hotel with his cousins. He is squeezing every last bit of love out of their visit as he can. I still couldn’t believe my eyes-couldn’t that they were here in my living room–these loved ones of mine who live so far away. “By the time it really sinks in that you are here you will be gone” I said mournfully. I look at them with relish. I drink them in while I can.
I wonder if maybe I can put some of this love in tupperwear and freeze it, pull it out like soup on a cold and rainy day. If I could, then maybe I could sleep.
I am having to rework so many stories tonight. The thing about surprise parties is that they surprise you. And the party is only the first surprise.
Sneak out of work early, but not too early. Even though you just got home from vacation. Even though its the middle of the week.
Drive out to where the river meets the bay, where boundaries between fresh and salt water are not so hard and fast.
Put on a bathing suit and wade into the dark murky water, full of silt and lettuce-edged seaweed, holding the hand of the one boy who always makes your heart sing. Whisper that there are no water snakes here.
Wade out waist deep and crouch a little so the warm brackish water comes up chest high. Float around a bit and chat. With the boy, with his friend, with the man who has brought you here.
Dig with your toes in the velvety silt. Dig as you walk and float. Feel with your feet as you move along the bottom until you find it, a clam…then two, three, many more.
Keeping your toes on the clam, hold your breath and dive into the silty water. You won’t be able to see the treasure on the bottom. But maybe you can grab it. Deposit it in the blue bucket.
Later, after a picnic dinner, when the boys have gone to throw the clams back into the Bay, when the women have gone in to clean up after dinnner I was all alone in the moonlight. I stripped off the suit I wear, and dove back under water. There I found joy and peace and quiet in swimming alone, in feeling the water carry me like a little child. This is how I squeeze the last juice out of the summer days.
The summer is waning. Even though this is the 40th time I have experienced it, I am shocked now, surprised how quickly the days grow dark now. This time last year, I sat in a similar space, resisting the coming autumn, reluctant to allow summer to pass. “Please, stay another day,” I begged August, but September came and with it blessings, lessons, a winter of quiet and growth and peace, an unfolding and a relearning and a return of the spring. It comes and it goes. With luck I will return to summer’s shores again but only after having seen a new world. Each summer is entirely new.
And this one is not yet gone, though the slipping away is palpable.
I wander out in the waves of a new year, hold the hands of those who make my heart sing. I cannot see the bottom, cannot see if there are prizes, or monsters or anything else here. I do not know what we will find, or what will happen when we take the next step. There may in fact be water snakes here. We don’t know. But I feel the solid earth and I know if I walk and dig we will find treasure. This keeps me walking even when the birds will leave. This keeps me walking even when the flowers die back. This keeps me walking.
I am a word girl. While I love visual art, can get lost in the movement of dance and revel in music, when it comes to making meaning of the world I find myself here. At a keyboard. Or with my nose buried in someone else’s poetry. My friend Jeff laughs at me. Whenever he is playing a new song he has written, I listen once or maybe twice and then demand to see his notes with the lyrics. Moved as I may be by the music, I need to take in the poetry of his words. I dive in there to open up more space so that the music can better seep in.
For the last few weeks, I have been exploring quiet places. Covering ground that seem ordinary and extraordinary all in one. It is impossible to articulate the wild ride I have been on. If they are paying attention, I think, many of my friends are confused. I am fine, life is good, and yet, I am so quick to well up, the shut down or to just grow quiet. Normally flowing over with affection, I am not so quick to rise and hug. I am ebbing a bit now. But its not a contraction. More like a centering, a stillness, a 40 day rest and coming home and being yin. I am moved, but not sad. I am grieving but am not lost. I know deep in my heart that everything is fine and have been trying to sink into the easiness of the world.
There is no way to explain what happens when you are growing while it is happening. Its a story that can only be told with a glance in the rear view mirror further up the road. Whenever I try and explain what shifts are happening in my heart right now, I find myself wordless. I stumble thinking that it seems both so big and so small all at once and that if I even tried I would sound so crazy it would defile this growth spurt. And in these moments I love that I can stop being a word girl, even if it makes me a bit wobbly.
This song is grounding me these days. While I have long loved it, I cannot tell you what the words are. Every time I hear it, I feel an expansion in my chest and feel a road roll out before me. Blue winter light filters in through snow dusted cedars and pine, the sun sinks low. I roll down my window and breathe in the crispness. The reaction is purely physical now matter how many times I hear it. Its a tingling expansion that moves from my chest out to my limbs. It is melancholy and joyful all at once. It is hopeful and content. It is not just grounding me. It raises me up above the trees, the weeds of words in my mind.
Every mid-June as the days swell, our little town here is blessed with the SilverDocs Film Festival. Sponsored by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, it is an eight day exploration and celebration of documentary films.
Last night I had the good fortune of scoring a ticket to a talk given by the legendary Albert Maysles at a symposium that honored him.
Mr Maysles films are beautiful. Last year at this time, when I was feeling so dark and dreary, I went to a midnight showing of Gimme Shelter and began to feel lifted, transformed. Grey Gardensanother one of his films is a tender portrait which clutches my heart.
As I sat in the darkened theater, Mr Maysles was charming and sat chatting with the humility of a great uncle in the kitchen. And he uttered words that resonated at a frequency that tapped right into all that I have been learning this year, a perfect finish to a wild roller coaster ride that started 12 months ago.
“Everyone just wants to be seen” I heard him say. His words washed over me. I am paraphrasing here for I am not sure I have them quite right but the gist of what he said was this: We all need to be seen and loved for who we are. That the whole point is the loving. That in and through this great, compassionate, loving gaze we can finally come to know and understand one another. We long to be seen, exactly as we are–and to be loved that way. Broken and wounded, when seen through the eyes of love we can be whole and perfect. That the greatest shame of our society is that we learn to live with our hearts hidden and locked, not daring reveal our inner thoughts and feelings, when in fact to reveal our secrets and be loved–that is the point.
In snippets spilled out casually in humble answers to an interviewers questions, Mr Maysles summarized the whole of what this last year has been about for me–what I have learned through the crazy twists and turns, through the ups and the downs. Yes…I silently prayed in thanksgiving for his words…Yes, me too…this is what I have come to believe.
We all desperately need to be seen, exactly as we are, through the lens of great love and compassion. We crave it–it is indeed what heals. This belief which has become unearthed in my own heart, this belief is what is compelling me forward these days. It is that which is calling me on this next leg of my journey.
Tomorrow is the summer solstice. The light will be at its greatest and I have to admit, it is as though so much of what we have dreamed of seems to be slowly coming true. Without telling stories before their time, I can only say that for very special people in my little tribe marvelous and magical things seem to be coming to fruition after a long dark winter when the dream of them seemed simply impossible. I too am feeling shifts in my own journey, as though I am coming into a clearing which is bright and where suddenly I can see the path. Midsummer at its most magical.
I wish you a tomorrow swollen with abundance and with the joy of being seen–exactly as you are–with great reverence and love.
Today is the 1st anniversary of my divorce from Juan. Its both hard and easy to believe that a full year has passed since the courts made it official, since the judge signed the papers, since I was able to let go at another level. Of all the stories I have written about loving Juan and the process of losing him, this is my favorite. It seems appropriate to post here again. Its made it into a couple of my best hits compilations. Apologies to those who have seen it before and don’t want to read it again. New writing is coming soon. I promise.
It was an unusually warm April day. We were standing in the park. It was a Saturday but we were working–the way people in Washington, DC do. But because it was Saturday we could give ourselves a break from the relentless pace and walk around the block. We stopped in the park and stood about three inches away from each other and talked, the way we had been talking for months, about life and family and justice and my married lover and movies. Suddenly the skies opened up and it started to pour. I barely heard him over the thunder. “You know I love you, right?” he said. “Yes” I said, slipping my hand into his. The next moment before we kiss stretches infinitely out before us. Spacious. Open. At that moment everything in my life changes.
He slipped the key into the lock and it turned. We couldn’t believe it was ours, this house. It felt like a palace. After the studio apartment where he spent almost every night and then the one bedroom basement in Mount Pleasant that we shared, the openess seemed like a metaphor. Our whole lives lay out before us–full of possibility and hope. He rolled around the floor and I took pictures. We dragged in paint cans and ladders along with a suitcase full of dreams and made love on the drop cloths.
I was rolled up in a ball–scared, terrified. I was eight months pregnant and I realized that when I had this baby he might just love it more than me. I had never been loved so deeply before in my life and for the first time ever I had felt rooted and at home. I was scared, so scared that it would all start to shift away from me once there was this little person around–this child I so desperately wanted. I would become second in his eyes. I would fail as a mother and he would love me less. The tears started to drip off my chin. He wrapped his arms around me and promised me it would never come true. He would always love me. Always. And I knew he was right.
The day they placed Max in my arms. I knew I had it all wrong. He would never stop loving me.
There are endless stretches of no sleep. There are short words. There is postpartum depression. There are chores that don’t get done. There is frustration. There is unhappiness that creeps into every corner of the house. There is a child that consumes both of us and leaves so very little left. We have nothing to give each other.
But we try. We rally and laugh and delight in this child we created together. We hold hands and share our stories of him. We find our way back to each others bodies at night. We tell ourselves that love will get us through, that we are a team. We make plans and we dream. We convince ourselves it is going to be OK.
But work is hard. Life is hard. There is so much falling apart around us we don’t know how to start holding it all up. When we go out for dinner we are so tired we can do nothing more than stare at each other.
We love each other madly even though it is beginning to feel that love may not be enough.
The day he tells me he is leaving me, everything inside my body goes cold. I can’t breathe. Everything stops working and then starts working in reverse. And then stops again. The walls that just five years before had seemed so widely spaced are closing in on me. Our two year old was sound asleep in his room. How did it come to this?
We could figure this out. We always could figure it out. I beg him. Lets figure it out.
Nine months later, the air is so heavy in our house I cannot breathe. “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to stay. I can’t do the hard work. I can’t figure it out,” he says. “I can’t believe this is us, falling apart this way.”
We are sitting three inches apart from one another. “You know I love you, right?” he says to me as he pulls his hand from mine and gets ready to walk out the door. “Yes,” I say but I am not sure he hears me. He kisses me too quickly and in an instant my life has changed again.
I have everything I wanted out of this divorce settlement. There was no fight. It is sketched out on a napkin at a Lebanese restaurant. We promise we would be our best for each other, for him–the only one each of us truly knew how to love at this moment. After years of disappointing each other so deeply I wonder if this was yet another empty promise. I try to so hard to forgive–to forgive him, to forgive myself, to forgive love for not being enough.
I need to bring my marriage certificate to court on Friday. I finally bring myself to dig it out of my files. Sometime last year I had moved it from M for marriage to D for divorce. I pull out the file. There is only one certified copy left. I need a certified copy for the court. I make a mental note to write the County and request another for my file. And then it dawns on me that this is the last time I will never need a certified copy of this document ever again. I don’t need to write the County. I put my head in my hands and the reality of the last 4 years hits me like a truck.
I move in and out of my day. I am so blessed. My life is a good one. I have beautiful friends, I have not been without love for one day in this whole journey–not one. I laugh every day now–genuine hearty spontaneous belly laughs. I wrap my arms around my dearest girlfriends–soul sisters who understand my heart and giggle with me until 3am. My life is messy but I am bowled over by the stark beauty of it. I am better for this journey I have taken. I am wiser and slower and kinder and gentler. I know that I would not have this–this community, this love of life, this appreciation for slowness, this knowledge of the depths of my heart had he stayed and pretended, but I can’t help but say to anyone who will listen, “I don’t recommend divorce. I say stay. Stay. Stay.”
I sit and play my guitar but my fingers don’t want to work on this right now. They want to twine themselves in the hands of someone I once thought I would never live without. I stop and don’t even notice that I have. ”You’ve stopped” my friend says. “Sorry” I say and I mumble something about how I was frustrated with myself. ”I want to start again”. The metaphor hits me like a ton of bricks. I want to start again. Yes–I want to go back to the moment in April when the air hung hot and the thunder clap almost drowned him out. Before I knew how it would all turn out. I want to rewind the movie and play the beginning over and over again.
Despite the thousands of ways he has found to disappoint me, I still love him.
I can’t live with him anymore. I don’t want to.
I remember this fact and look at my friend. I look at the guitar in my lap. I think about the richness of my life, about the gorgeous details in this tapestry that is my life. It all turned out exactly as it should have. I have everything I need.
So I pick the guitar back up. I apologize for my bad mood and rotten attitude. For the somewhat wasted lesson.
My friend launches into a spiel about how its the middle of the second period and there is another period and a half to go and you might be getting your ass kicked but you still have to put your head down and tough it out and play and hope you learn something for the next game. I want to kick him out so I can have a good cry but I know that he, with his icehockey metaphors, is right. Wait for the final buzzer I tell myself. I put my head down and I play so soft thunder would drown it out.
He plays Tom Waits. And then he plays another song–a song I believe I have known since before I was born. He knows I love it and he wants to cheer me up and he does– a little. I hug him–it is time for him to go. I tell him as he packs up that Friday is the day. “I know” he says. “Its hard”. There is nothing more to say than that–and I silently thank him for not trying to say more.
I sit in the dark and wrap my arms around myself. I breathe in and out the truth–the honest truth. I love my life, with its ups and its downs. I love the strength I have discovered in myself. I love my friends, my urban family and the rhythm of this community we have created with shared meals and Eric’s homemade key lime pie and Jackie on my cell phone and Stephen in my office making fun of me. I love Barbara with her laughter and Jen with her schemes and Jeff with his music and Cathy with her cup of coffee and the kids begging me to stay for dinner or take them to icecream. I love my housemate with her fancy salads. I love my job, even when I have to fight with my colleagues. I love raising Max more than I have loved anything else in the world. The truth is I am giving birth to a life that I love more than anything I have ever loved and I couldn’t do it without losing my marriage.
And I know, honestly, that I would walk this path over and over just again to sit here in this moment right now. The moon is full and I am incredibly happy even as I am sad.
“You know I love you, right?” I whisper to noone in particular–to the moon, to my sleeping son–to myself. I feel the words vibrate around the room before they finally settles on the couch next to me and slip between my fingers. The moment both stands still and passes quickly. And I tumble on, head over heels in love with whatever will come next.