I am sitting in a hotel room, far, far away from my regular life. 

I am in Puerto Rico for work.  I have been here for days and will be here for days more.  I am here for work, although I am doing a job that is as far away from my regular old job as it can be.  I am wandering around a backstage area, on a radio, managing a production with people from my organization with whom I barely ever speak.  I am waking up hours earlier than I usually do and going to sleep hours later than normal too.  Tonight, I went out for dinner with some of my dear work friends but instead of our normal cheap but good fare, we splurged for a $100 (a piece) meal and a $60 bottle of wine.

Max is safely tucked away in the arms of our loving community.  When I call him several times a day to check in, he is quick to say his “I love yous” and jumps off headfirst into the activities that feel so much like home to him–wrestling with Jeff or swimming with his best friend Jake.  I am thrilled that he feels so secure without me.  It bodes well for the future.  It makes me feel somehow more safe myself.

I could be someone else entirely.  Someone who is not a mom.  Someone who is not a labor union organizer.  Someone who does not pinch her pennies to pay for swim lessons and a pool membership.  I could be a roadie on some production crew, a script writer, a wild salsa dancing woman with a disposable income.  A very important person with credentials.  I could be anyone and anything.  I know it is true because here in just a matter of days I have reinvented myself–if only for just a short while.

The only thing that grounds me is my polar fleece.  It smells like clean West Virginia air and the campfire I sat beside all last weekend.  It smells like community, like my son’s shouts of discovery.  It smells of streams that we forged together and of bourbon sipped slowly after Max was asleep.  It smells of dreams and hopes and aspirations that were all sent to the heavens as we stirred the coals and watched our breath form clouds even though it was late May.    It smells of love–love of my life exactly as it is.  It smells of home.

I am in Puerto Rico in June but you would not know it.  The Convention Center where we plan our show is the temperature it will be when it is filled with over 3500 people.  I wear my fleece all day and clip my radio to it.  I carry it with me the way castaways carry that one remnant of home–the pocket watch, the faded picture, the broken locket.  I sniff it and sense how each day the fleece smells more and more like airconditioning and less and less like home.

I feel so far far away.

And yet, it is here that I see myself so much more clearly.  I watch myself with wide eyed fascination.  I notice how certain people, certain events do or don’t ruffle me.  I watch my feelings, my thoughtgs, my ideas, my sorrows pass in front of me like words on a teleprompter.  I chose not to see them but not to buy into the story.  I watch with the detachment of a stage manager.  I am able to step back and suddenly it all comes together.

I am far, far away from (almost) everyone and (almost) everything that I love and yet I am closer to my self than I have ever been.  I breathe and sigh, wrap my polar fleeced arms around me as I walk into the humidity of San Juan in June, lift my eyes to the moon and sing. 

It has been raining all spring here in Maryland.  It has been a cold wet spring.  Usually at this time we have broken out the shorts and sandals and we are dining on the porch but I am sitting with a sweatshirt on shivering.  It has been gray and drizzely and the weather just matches my mood so well.

I had been waiting all winter for the spring and frankly I am a little disappointed.

I had been waiting for the blossoming and am feeling heavy hearted.

I had been waiting for something to spring forward, new and exciting but am just feeling stuck in the muck, the sticky emotional mud that pulls and splatters.

Last Friday, I wanted to climb into bed with a pint of icecream and a box of feeling sorry for myself but instead I went to my neighbor’s house for pizza.  He had invited a whole gang of folks–people I like, even people I love.  I was so grateful to be surrounded by these wonderful people, people who can make my heart sing but at the same time I was so aware of my otherness–how apart and completely alone and unconnected I felt.

As I sat at the dining table and watched all the families–the couple interacting in their perfectly imperfect ways I was aware of how terribly lonely single parenting can be.  Of how alone I can feel when Max does not need attending to and I am there, just me.  I was so painfully aware of each of the small kindnesses, the  knowing glances, the intimacies around me and knowing that no matter how my communities loves me they don’t love me like that and as much as I don’t want it to be…the tremendous way that they love me…it is not enough.

With each breath I find myself shrinking and growing smaller, unable to give, unable to think, move, act beyond my
own small petty problems.  It weighs on me heavy, and I can’t focus beyond my own small little heart and its small little sorrows.

I lay my head on the pillow and let the tears flow like the rain, leaving my bed cold and wet.

And I wonder, where is the grace that will break me out of this cold wet spring?  I reach into my heart to touch it but all I feel is deep wanting.  It almost consumes me so run from that dark place, slam the door and shrink some more.

I want to build a fire but the wood is wet.  I want to open the door but the wind is forcing it shut.  I want to dance in the sunshine but the rain is falling hard, through the trees.  I want to dwell in hope but this is where I am.

I am here.

Last summer, on one steamy August night I sat on the couch. I was having another late night talk with Jackie. She lives just down the way. I wanted to sit with her on her porch and drink a glass of wine and tell stories. But Max was sleeping and it was late and I am, after all a single mom. “What you need”, she said, “is a roommate.” It was a leap for me to agree with her since I had come to value my solitude in the years since Juan had left but I leapt and I had to agree with her.
****

My roommate Odette and I were sitting hunched over the kitchen counter, counting cash and making plans for what to do to deal with her daughter Grace’s diagnosis with TB, the fact that her younger child Lillian too had been exposed, that her entire family back home in Africa was at risk for developing the disease. “Do you think everyone in the family should be tested?” I asked her. “Yes,” she said, claiming her power as a matriarch. “Yes, I do.” Max looked at me with wide eyes, “Mom–will a TB test hurt?” I looked at him shocked. “We’re not getting tested baby,”. “But why not,” he said, his eyes still wide with fear, “We are her are family.”

Yes, we are. I think about the crazy path that took us from that moment in August to this moment now–this recognition that we are more than friends, more than housemates. That we are family. And I think, I never ever would have ended up here had it not been for a wild crazy leap.

****

Back in August, Jackie and I walked the dogs and plotted about how I would find a roommate. Someone who would accept our terms but who would be nevertheless a good fit for us. But I needed someone who would trade heavily reduced rent for the regular babysitting and for agreeing to stay home so I could run over to Jackie’s for a glass of wine after Max had gone to sleep. Where would I find someone like that? The thought of finding anyone who fit the bill seemed downright impossible.

****

Tonight, Odette and sat at the table eating ice cream. We looked at each other and exclaimed, “What would I do with out you?” “NO…what would I have done without YOU?” “No what WOULD I HAVE DONE WITHOUT YOU?” Neither of us can get over the miracle of how we stumbled into finding each other when we needed exactly what the other had to offer.

The story of how she came into our life was magical, a story which will need to be told another day. I never needed to post an ad, I never needed to interview candidates. I found her and she needed a place to stay. We made the decision in a half hour sitting in the living room of a mutual friend. Cheap rent in exchange for cheap babysitting seemed like a really good deal. But what I never really understood was that when she walked into our house and settled in that I had found a long lost sister. That when she moved in she would bring sisterhood with her in her suitcase.

When Odette walked into our house back in September we both took a leap of faith. We had no idea what this experiment would have in store for us, how much we would each gain from this arrangement. We were two strangers who would have to deal with each other in pretty extreme and unusual circumstances.

She came to our house searching for her freedom and in coming gave me mine too. She came searching for a safe spot but ended up providing a safe space for Max. She came looking for a place to rest her head, but she instead has offered a shoulder where I rest on the nights when I feel weary or sad.

I am rambling here, not quite sure what or how I want to say. I think it something about leaping–about listening to your heart when it tells you to jump. I think it is about recognizing doors that open intentionally, answering prayers–about realizing that life unfolds in patterns that may not make sense at the time but with hindsight open with perfectly timed synchronicity.

The blogosphere is full this week of stories of leaping into sacred, scary places. Of feeling the fear and doing it anyhow. Of trusting and relaxing into what seems absolutely the right place to go. Of saying, “I got the life that I needed.”

I am not always sure why I got this crazy life instead of the one I had always imagined I would have. But one thing is abundantly clear to me as I get myself ready for sleep this night.

I am grateful for the leaping.

Late last night, my stomach full of yummy, yeasty homemade pizza, I lay down my head to sleep. Sleep was not coming though and so I was able to indulge (thanks to the magic of cheap phone cards) in a three hour marathon conversation with my dear friend Jen down under.

It amazes me, even now, that she and I found each other. We live literally half a world away from each other but our hearts beat at the same frequency. I can’t quite figure out how the universe matched us up, but in some ways, it almost doesn’t matter how. The fact that we are connected now is all that really is important.

Getting off the phone with Jenni I was drunk on the notion of possibility.

But I had called her in an impossibly bad mood. My last several weeks have been about meeting obstacle after obstacle–many of them homemade by yours truly–but obstacles none the less. I feel bruised and battered from the onslaught of “no good news”. I am a little bird flying into windows I didn’t imagine were there. My nose is sore from pressing itself up against the glass in so many of my little life venues.

The message I have been getting from the universe is this: Wait. Sit. No. And I have been angry. I want to experience: Now. Go. Yes.

These last couple of weeks I have started to sullenly accept the wait, sit, no. I am adjusting to this season, to this reality, to this place I am. This quieter place. This space of not now. But perhaps too much. Because last night I realized that I had given up on Now. Go. Yes. I had moved into a grieving spot for it.

Letting go of the need to move forward feels healthy to me. Closing myself off to the possibility of moving forward does not. Its such a fine, practically invisible line, but once I cross it I know it. It is the the border between peace and despair.

My friend Jenni, she knows about this line too and together we talked about the challenge of staying grounded in reality while still staying open the possibility that reality is going to shift and change. Indeed, it always does. When reality is not so rosy, it is easy to only consider the negative possibilities. We whisper to ourselves instructions to come to terms with the possibility that we might not get well, might not accomplish our goal, might not have a fairy tale ending, might not reach the finish line.  But we feel so committed to helping our brains consider the negative that we refuse to give equal due to the other possibilities–we might get healthy, we might accomplish it and more, we might have the ending we hoped for or something better, we might reach the finish line and keep on moving.

I asked Jenni why we do this to ourselves?  Why do we only consider the negative?  Is it that we don’t want to be disappointed when the negative possibility comes true?  But really will we be any less disappointed when the time comes?  And by only considering that negative possibility have we actually taken a step to make sure that it is the only one that will come true?  In an effort to prepare our hearts for the worst, do we actually start to ensure that the worst is what we will face?

Somehow keeping open to all possibilities seems to be the lesson of my week.  To recognize that every moment, in fact every breath provides an opportunity for a new possibility to unfold. To learn to stay in whatever this moment brings knowing that the next brings a brand new world.

I woke this morning to the sound of the rain through the trees and the birds trying to raise the sun with their song.

The first thought that crossed my mind was “When is the last time that has happened?” Indeed it seemed as though these two morning sounds, both soothing in their own right, often don’t go together. Its either the birds OR the rain.

Its so easy to get stuck in either/or. Indeed it is often a logical place to be. Being a grown-up means making choices. Either I stay up late catching up on the blogs or I slip off to bed early to catch up on my sleep. Either I go to the meeting or I stay in my office and finish the assignment that is due at the end of the day. Either I dig through the fridge and find something to make for dinner or I give up and take Max out to his favorite haunt to eat.

Indeed, we are told that we need to teach our children about choices, and making good ones to prepare them to grow up. When Max howls about not wanting to bathe, I pull out the two words “either or”. Either you can take a bubble bath or you can take a mist shower…but you need to get clean. Once when I put those two choices before him he looked at me intrigued…”Can I do both? Can I make a bubble bath and run the mist shower at the same time?”

Either/or…They are powerful words and they are often necessary. They help us frame the thousands of choices we need to make each day…Help us sort out consequences and act rightly. “Either I splurge and buy that fancy coffee on the way to the office or I bring in milk and make the best of the stinky work coffee but save $3 I desperately need for something else.” “Either I tell that consultant what I think of his childish behavior or I wait until I am less angry and can respond with maturity.”

But this morning it dawned on me that sometimes, just sometimes, either/or is nothing more than a habit. We set ourselves up into a series of false choices because we are so used to having to choose. We rush to the choice, not waiting to see if a third way emerges, a possibility that makes the choice unnecessary.

This morning the birds and the rain whispered a little message to me. See the third way where you can. Keep eyes open to the possibility. Sometimes there is no choice to be made. Sometimes the rain and the birds actually both can sing.

A year ago today I was sitting with my dear friend Jen Lemen at a neighborhood potluck in the park. We were talking about my fruitless efforts to get Max’s dad to be more active in his life. I was frantic about what would come of him without a strong male role model. I was interrupted when suddenly, chaos broke out at the picnic table. Being a curious girl, I stopped my anxious rant and I wandered over to see what all the fuss was. A bunch of neighbors I barely knew were singing Happy Birthday to some guy.

In an attempt to determine whether the cake was chocolate (an important fact that would determine whether I would stick around) I looked toward the birthday boy. I was stunned by what happened next.

It was one of those moments where the past, present and future all seem to exist in exactly the same moment. One of those moments where time stands still–where the world stops spinning for a second or a lifetime.

This may sound weird but it happened just like this: I laid eyes on him and instantly knew that I would love him. Not in a swooning, romantic way. But with love weighty and substantial like a boulder. I had a flash of recognition–I knew him from somewhere in my long ago past or my far ahead future and I knew, the way I know my own name, that I would love him–or to be more accurate–that I already did.

And then a breeze blew or someone called out to me and the world started spinning again. I shook it off. He was just a guy I didn’t know. The cake was (regrettably) not chocolate. So I slipped away unnoticed leaving him with his family and friends, returning to talk to Jen about blogging. I chalked up the experience to two too many glasses of rum punch on a warm afternoon and the blissful way I feel about my community. These things happen.

The months tumbled on. Summer events and parties filled our schedule. I bumped into this neighbor of mine from time to time and we exchanged pleasantries. I learned that he is a steadfast friend to some of my dear ones. I made note of the fact that he seems to give with a wide open heart. That he really knows how to pack a moving van. That he throws a kick-ass party.

But I never again thought twice about the picnic table and the cake and the rush of warmth I felt for him that day. I had forgotten it already. The summer was big and ripe and full and there was so much to think about and May felt so far away.

One night in August, Max slept over at the house of neighborhood friends. I stayed awake reading, waiting for Jackie to call me to let me know her kids were sound asleep. We had plans to sneak away to her porch and have a glass of wine. But I was sleepy and my book was very good and so when the phone rang, I almost told Jackie that I was done for the night.

But I didn’t. I met her on her porch and then walked with her to a dinner party that was winding down. I didn’t know these people and didn’t feel the slightest bit social but felt somehow that going there was what I needed to do.

I shyly sat at a table where a neighbor, none other than the birthday boy who didn’t have a chocolate cake, reigned as a king of the stories. Drawn in by the storytelling, I found myself laughing harder than I had in months. One by one people peeled off and then it was just four of us in the yard under the stars with one last glass of wine and it dawned on me–I really wish I had a good guy friend. I miss this.

I wish I could really say how it happened that we became friends as summer gave way to fall. But there really is no story to it. It happened so gradually and naturally I barely knew it was happening. I didn’t try to make him my friend. He didn’t try to make me his either. In simple acts of neighborliness he eased into our lives.

For the last 8 months or so he has taught me to play guitar. We camp together and hang out with Jackie on her front porch. He has becomes my conspirator–the one I know I can drag out to go listen to live music. He will crack open a beer with me on a school night. He will stay up late around a campfire and chat.

We can spend hours talking about guitar, hockey, food, parenting and music. We are a built in audience for each other’s stories. He is the only person in my life (other than Jenni Ballantyne) who can sing with me the entire score of Jesus Christ Superstar from opening note to closing curtain. As an added bonus he can play the guitar parts.

He is my accidental zen teacher. He will casually say something while working with me on music that will resonate at a deeper level. I will turn over what he said like a koan, a little zen puzzle that leaves me thinking for days. Like Superman with x-ray vision, he can see right through my carefully constructed pretenses and nail my insecurities. He calls me on them in a way that makes me laugh.

He helps me pick out the outfits I wear on first dates. He helps himself to beer in my fridge.

But what really turns my heart inside out is the friendship he has built with my son. He gets Max. And he gives to him from a seemingly bottomless well.

Sometime this fall he realized that Max was a guys’ guy stuck in an all-girl house. Even more importantly, Max who is all yang energy, all boy, had no mirror to look into to imagine himself all grown up, a healthy, strong, compassionate man. Little by little he has adopted Max. Or maybe Max has adopted him. They have adopted each other.

When we went ice skating he took Max by the hand and Max looked up at him with eyes that sparkled. He brought him to his son’s hockey games and sat with him in the scorebooth explaining each play. He is becoming a regular fixture at pick up at Max’s school and he takes Max swimming almost every week. He comes by the house early on guitar lesson nights so that they have some “guy” time before Max needs to settle in. Sometimes they wrestle, sometimes they talk, sometimes they play killer attack duck vs playmobile guys. But then always Max snuggles into his lap, wraps his arms around him and never wants to let go. At bedtime I literally need to peel Max away from him. Sometimes I just want to let Max stay there, cuddled up against his chest. I want to kiss them both on the forehead, turn out the light and be warmed by the glow of their affection for each other.

He has filled a wide expansive gap in Max’s life. When Max and he are together I see deep wounds healing right before my eyes. Our whole tribe has all noticed it–how Max is knitting himself back together in some of the places where he hurts most–the parts having to do with trust and consistency and men. And I know that a major part of it is the friendship he has found with this neighbor.

So yes–it is a year later and I find that sure enough I have come to love him with a boulder-like love: plain and ordinary, unmovable and solid . I love him for all that he has given Max, for the everyday ways he gives to us both. I love him for the blues he plays and the way that he sings for me. I love him for packing the van when we go camping and for cooking soups when we are hungry. I love him for dozens of small kindness he extends our tribe, the hundreds of ways he cherishes his family, for the thousands of ways he teaches his children to care. I love him for his stupid jokes and his strong opinions but mostly I love him just because he is good.

People ask, “How long have you known him?” When I measure the time in months people are always shocked. And I am too. Even as the words exit my lips I realize that I want to say “I have known him always. He has been my friend ever since I can remember. ”

One night, a few months ago, he got ready to leave my house after our weekly guitar lesson. I reached up to casually hug him as is my habit now, it is an act that feels as natural as breathing. And suddenly out of nowhere the birthday cake, the singing and the lighting strike of recognition came to me. In fact it almost knocked me over.

And I realized that that afternoon flash forward in May was not about the rum. It was a call to pay attention. As he walked out the door, I stood rooted in the belief that yes some things just unfold exactly as they should without us having to do a thing. We find the people we need without searching. We go looking for chocolate cake and we don’t know what other sweet gifts we will find.

From that day forward, I have found myself completely relaxing into faith, letting go of old tired habits of worry. I may fret now and again for dramatic effect, but that horrible anxious stuff that used to fill my brain, the voice that used to tell me it was all going to hell in a handbasket-its now gone. Somehow, the whole experience of this friendship which unfolded so effortlessly, this friendship which has answered my most fervent prayers for Max, has changed me at a cellular level. I now believe that whoever, whatever we need will arrive at exactly the right moment if we are just open enough to welcome it/them in. It may not be what we expected or even what we imagined but it is what we need.

Love is going to carry us, like a river, home.

I recently realized that for all the stories I have told my friend I have never told him this one–the story of the cake and the singing and the rum and the deep knowledge that bubbled up from nowhere. I never told him of how he, simply through his regular old work-a-day effortless presence, restored my sense of faith to the place it was before I was born. How simply by being he taught me to trust–not others but myself and my crazy gut.

He doesn’t read this blog. It’s not his thing. And besides he hears most of my stories, spun out in the oral storyteller tradition of my ancestors. But maybe just maybe the next time he grabs a beer from the fridge I will start a story that says, “On your last birthday, the strangest thing happened…” In the meantime, I will whisper this wish out to wind, and tuck it in a card we will slip under his door.

Happy Birthday darlin’…Here’s to you, the love you bring to so many and your big ol’ heart. May your year be full of the kind of magic that you bring whenever you walk through our door. You are plainly extraordinary.

My friend Maya needs our help. The other day when wandering through the office she told me a story that made me weep. I need to tell it here and ask you all to help us.

Last Wednesday, two of her family’s oldest and dearest friends, Waheed and Nusrat Hashmi, an elderly Pakistani couple, were ripped from their homeby Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Hashmis were placed in detention near Cleveland, where they remain, clothed in orange jumpsuits, unable to see each other. They are likely to be deported this week.

The Hashmi’s story is a story of the system failing. Plain and simple, it is a story of it all going wrong. Dr. Waheed Hashmi legally entered the United States in 1973 as a Fulbright Scholar. Since then, he has worked with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and with immigration attorneys to ensure that he and his family have a chance to attain permanent residency in the United States. He followed the rules every step of the way.

Over a period of approximately 35 years Dr. Hashmi, a scientist, and Ms. Nusrat Hashmi, a floral designer, have lovingly raised their children, held jobs, paid taxes, contributed towards social security, and invested their time and talents to build a better Toledo community.Due to a series of circumstances and occurrences beyond their control, including oversights on the part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, some of which were revealed in documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, the Hashmis have faced several obstacles to attaining permanent residency but they never gave up hope of achieving what all immigrants want–a decent life for themselves and their children. However, as law abiding people, when they recently realized that their dream of staying here could not be realized, they voluntarily made plans to leave and return home to a country they had not been home for more than three decades.  But those plans were interrupted last week when ICE showed up at their door and arrested them.

If the authorities had taken the time to explore the details of the Hashmis’ case, they would have learned that after Dr. Hashmi retired from the University of Toledo, the couple began the process of selling their home and leaving for Pakistan where a job was waiting for Dr. Hashmi. They were never given the chance to prove that they were in the process of returning to Pakistan. Instead, public resources were used to lock up this elderly couple who posed absolutely no threat or risk of flight.

At the Maple Heights City Jail, Dr. and Ms. Hashmi are being held in separate quarters, are unable to see each other, and their interaction with their children has been severely restricted–they have been allowed only 20-minute visitations during which they can only speak with their children via a telephone and across a glass screen. The trauma of the detention threatens the health of Dr. and Ms. Hashmi–both of whom have serious health problems.


As it stands now, they will never again see their home in Toledo. They won’t be able to say their goodbyes–to their home, their community of 35 years, not even to their children, who won’t even be allowed to hug their parents before they leave.

It is simply inhumane to hold two elderly people in custody for no good reason, especially when they were voluntarily planning to depart the U.S. The Hashmi detention is a colossal waste of precious tax dollars and does not make us any safer. ICE should lock up those who would do us harm, not senior citizens whose misfortune has brought them into the grip of a dysfunctional immigration system. ICE needs to do the right thing and release Dr. and Ms. Hashmi.

Please read more about the case and consider signing on to a letter to Julie Myers, the head of ICE. Maya and her family , are hoping that if enough of us speak up together the Hashmi’s can be released from detention and allowed to close up their house, say their goodbyes and start their new life with dignity. The unjust detention of the Hashmis is not at all an unusual case. The Hashmi family hopes that bringing attention to their case will help the push for immigration reform.

You can get to the online petition that Maya set up by clicking here. Please take a moment to go there and read their story. This should not be. It should not be. It should not be.

UPDATE:   

The Hashmis have been released!   Our joint efforts on many fronts—grassroots, legal, and political—sent a powerful message to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The Hashmis arrived home late Wednesday night.  They are tired but relieved to be home with their daughters.  They have three short weeks left in the US.   Message from Waheed and Nusrat Hashmi: We are so touched by the outpouring of sympathy and concern that came during our ordeal.  So much love and support came from the people we know and from people we will probably never meet.  It was a horrible experience but despite what was done to us, you all helped us keep our faith in humanity.  We need to continue to speak out against a system that is utterly inhumane and inconsistent in its handling of immigration issues.  We feel that people who are decent, honest, hard working and who obey the law should be valued, and respected, and honored—not put in jail.  We all need to continue to speak out against atrocities committed against innocent people.  Thank you for everything! 

Yesterday I ran down to the yoga class at my office thinking I might be late.  Instead everyone was waiting in the hallway, including my teacher.  The room was locked and no one had the key.   The woman who coordinates the class had put a call into housekeeping but the minutes dragged by.  I made a joke about this being our yoga for the day, this lesson in patience and non-attachment.  Why were we so attached to our room?  We could do it in the hallway, even if it would be a bit loud.  We had all rolled out our mats and were  getting ready to start when the key finally arrived.

Yoga was something I desperately needed last night.  I needed to practice letting go, something that is so much easier to do on the mat.  See I have been quite cranky now for the last week or so.  Its a mood that is not promising on lifting any time soon.   And as I rolled out my mat last night I had to chuckle about my own comments about attachment.  Because if I am honest my crankiness is all about my own refusal to let go of my latest attachment.

Over the last few years, I learned all about non-attachment when I realized that I had to let go of the story that I had written for myself.  The story that went like this:  Girl meets Boy.  Boy falls in love with Girl.  Girl and Boy get married, buy a house, have a  Child and stay together forever.  Girl and Boy work through their problems like champs and figure out how to make it work and live happily ever after.  Wow.  Was I ever attached to that story.  I had planned on riding it all the way home to my grave.  Letting it go was almost as hard as actually letting Juan go.

The experience of letting it go was transformative.   I felt so brave and like an adventurer woman willing to just rely on faith.  But, I have come to learn that while letting go of that one, I secretly attached to another fairy tale.  This one goes like this:  Girl survives heartbreaking loss and learns to make it on her own.  She nobly walks a hard road, learning to breathe and take each day as it comes.  She walks this road, defeating fear, and realizes that it all happens for a reason.   She learns to appreciate the journey and not to question why she was set on it. That reason becomes clear (she is so smugly Buddhist in her non-attachment to the specific result) as  she rounds the corner and finally arrives at her own Happily Ever After.

Its the Happily Ever After part that is getting to me.  I am really attached to the notion that it is all going to work out exactly right.  I am going to fall head over heels in love with a man who will sweep me off my feet, or my true calling will emerge or I will finally get successful at cleaning the house.  That it will all make sense to me and I will say, “yes–no wonder I had to go through what I went through–How else could I have landed here?”

I have been so angry at the Universe for failing to deliver my happily ever after in a timely fashion.  I have been angry that others I love are having to wait far too long for theirs.  And I am angry because its dawning on me that it never gets delivered.  People suffer.  Then there is joy.  Then they go through different hard times.  Life never really gets better or worse, it just presents different challenges and obstacles–some easier to clear than others.  People get sick, people die, people break each others hearts, people fall in love, people get better and we all keep trudging along on a road to nowhere–no castles and happily ever after in sight.

This all makes so much sense to my 38 year old wise woman.  But my inner 8 year old, the one who was counting on it all someday getting better and coming together for a reason is struggling with bitter loss–the loss of the fairytale that kept her marching on on the dreariest of days.

I want to believe that the pain I have felt is just the cost of something better–that it will be exchanged for something beautiful at some later juncture, but I am coming to realize it doesn’t work like that. I want to believe that it is all going to be worth it one day when I pull into the land of Happily Ever After but I am realizing that no such country exists.  It is a mythical city in the fog that has inspired, confused and driven many a traveler to drink.  No road leads there.

But the road is worth traveling anyway, or at least that is what I am told.  Seems I have a lot of work to do these coming weeks to let go of fairy tales.

Its been almost a week since I’ve been able to sit down and write. In fact, its been a week since I have been able to do much of anything expressive. Words are not coming to me and indeed I find myself wandering silently about my day.

I am in a resting space.  A yin space.  I have been dwelling in silence.

Its been a wild rollcoaster of emotions here. The high of the party was followed this week unbearably sad news about my housemate’s daughter having TB and the hopelessness that comes to all of us when we realize there is nothing we can do but pray and hope and send money for medicine and pray some more.  There is nothing I can do to comfort my dear Odette.  I feel almost empty.  If I am honest, I have to admit that part of my silence is my anger with the universe, with this someone greater who is holding us.  I feel like we are being played with, toyed with, made fun of.  That we dared to hope for magic and instead we got a cruel twist of fate.   We have been asking for miracles and we are answered with radio silence and so I am just silent myself.

But at the same time, something keeps telling me that the story is not yet over and that somehow it is all unfolding exactly as it needs to.  It is so easy to remember that when everything is going well.  Its so much harder to accept that when it seems to be going to shit.   Holding on to faith this week has been hard.

On Friday, I raised my head and realized I had misplaced most of what I needed to get through my life. My bank card, my cell phone, my work security ID, my keys.   The house was filled with junk. The yard is overgrown. Everywhere I look I see the signs that I just need to buckle down and tend to the little things in life right now. I somehow believe that if I can just pay all the bills, pick up the clothes and fix the broken things around the house that maybe, just maybe the part of my heart that is feeling drained will fill back up again.  I believe that if I can just gather the scattered pieces of my life my scattered faith, my scattered energy might just come home too.

So this coming week I plan to chop wood and carry water.  To fill my moments with the ordinary tasks in front of me in the hopes that I can regain my voice and find a little patience for the world.     I am going to focus, not on big things like hope and joy but on little things like clean laundry and less clutter.  Lets see what happens at the end.