There always is a moment.
For her it came on United flight 965 from Chicago’s O’Hare, as the plane broke through the rain clouds and warm sun filtered in through her closed eyes, warmed her face and hands.
It was then she realized that the only human heart who would truly be able to love her in the way she desperately wanted, no, needed to be loved, was her own big heart. Only she was capable of the love the would fill her the way she needed to be filled.
And she wondered if it was possible to love herself so deeply, after all those years of waiting for someone to show her just how lovable she was. Could she let go of her need for proof? Could she simply given in to it.
She closed her eyes and fell asleep.
When she awoke, her realization had grown from a fleeting thought to an understanding, ancient and deep. She thought of all the other women who had woken up to this fact on journeys, on buses, in taxis, in shelters and refugee camps, and suddenly she understood where thousands of generations of brave women before her found the strength to risk everything and lose over and over again only to rise like brilliant phoenixes to risk again.
No parent, no husband, no child nor friend could love her perfectly the way she needed. Knowing that it was up to her was the most liberating and welcome news of the decade.
For everything and everyone we ever love leaves, or messes up, or fades away or simply just stops. Its the nature of being human. We go.
Everyone but one human heart will one day leave us. Try as we might, we cannot escape ourselves. Whereever we go, there we are. This is the only love that won’t ever fade away, she thought. This is the only love she ever really needed.
She held this thought as a new truth as she left the plane and walked past the man in the suit saying good night to his children. She thought of all the marriages crumbling around her for want of this knowledge. How her own marriage had crumbled under the weight of hundreds or even thousands of silent, resentful and sullen accusations that his love/her love was not perfect enough to patch the hurts in their hearts. She turned it over as she glided past the airport bar where a younger Bob Dylan sang about rolling stones, and she thought of all the energy she spent trying to prove to someone else how lovable she was, only so that they could prove it right back to her.
If she could just open up to it, be brave enough to love her big hearted self the way her big hearted self loved the rest of her world, what would open up and shift? Could she finally forgive? Let go of disappointments? And accept love, messy and imperfect for the gift that it is–without measuring it up against the holes in her heart?
She carried this new realization, like a tender new born babe into the church-like silence of the empty corridor where the only sound that mattered was the sound of her boots, walking step by step home.
Max looking worried as the Caps lost their two goal lead and we headed into overtime…
Last Easter weekend Max and I went out for Mexican food at our favorite restaurant. Many of our friends were away for spring break. The beach. The mountains. They had all fled while we decided to stay. Money. Work. I have to admit, I was envious.
And so my mind was on travel. I started telling Max about some amazing trips friends of ours would take this year. Vacations that had been dreamed about for years. Ari was going to China. Jackie and family to Guatemala. I wanted to start dreaming with my boy, to make a plan to go someplace amazing. I wanted to be able to sit and look at books and smile wistfully and say, “Someday…”, scrimp and save. So I asked Max, my wise old 8 year old, the question that was burning in my heart. “If you could go anywhere in the world…ANYWHERE…If you could plan your dream vacation…Where would you go?”
Max sat and contemplated this very important question. He furrowed his brow. He was uncharacteristically quiet. He looked up and said with great seriousness:
This was not the answer I had hoped for. I wanted him to say “Italy” or “India” or maybe “Vietnam”. I wanted him to speak of far away places, of the exotic, of the new.
“What?” I said. “Detroit? Really?”
“Yes mom. My dream trip. Detroit.”
“Wow Max, that’s interesting.” I tried to sound excited about Detroit, about the wonders it might hold. I was failing terribly. “Why Detroit?”
Max looked crushed. How could I, his mother, the woman who gave him life, NOT understand this dream. His voice got strained. “Because MOM…Its my second hometown.”
Now I should say for the record that, to the best of my knowledge, no member of my family (or Juan’s) hails from Detroit. We have never been there. We have never even flown through the airport with Max. But I also need to say for the record, that while Max’s heart belongs to the Washington Capitals, his second favorite team in the NHL–his favorite team in the Western Conference, is the Detroit Redwings.
I must still have looked confused, because Max’s voice rose a bit and sounded strained. “Duh…mom…the REDWINGS….”
As it turns out, all Max really wants to do is go to the arena and watch his boys play. And then, come to think of it, he wouldn’t mind seeing the Blackhawks play in Chicago or the Rangers play at Madison Square Garden.
And suddenly, the dream trip that I had been salivating about started materializing before our very eyes. Not as one fantasy vacation but as a journey, a quest. To go home, see them play at home. Over and over again. Route for the home team. At home.
“Mom,” said Max. “Lets try and get to all 30 NHL arenas before I graduate from college.” I thought about it. Fourteen years. This could be doable. And even if we didn’t do all 30 arenas, we could try. It could be an excuse to see parts of America we would never have dared go, explore cities we would have long ignored. Its an excuse to find old friends in New York, Vancouver and Minneapolis/St. Paul. To uncover old stories and tell new ones as we drive. I started to think of all my old friends, long lost, recently found who live in great hockey cities. I think about the stories I would tell Max knowing we would see them soon. Stories I might never have thought to tell. All the ways this journey would lead me home to some hidden part of myself. It could be a quest. Not for the Holy Grail, but for hometowns. And for finding our loved ones, our heros, our enemies, perfect strangers at home.
Max declared that all the previous games we had been to at the Verizon Center did not count. No–it had to start in October. And it had to start at home. So last Monday, it did. Because in the end, its really all about returning there.
I am swimming in words. They trickle down and slide down my forehead, blur my vision, drip down my nose. Words are streaming down on me these days, like the heavy October rains. This is what happens when I don’t write.
Three weeks ago, I decided to take a break. Not really consciously. But I decided it would be OK if I didn’t write because I felt it was time to turn my attention to other things. Not big things. But important things. After a summer on the go, after years of prioritizing my social life over my home, after weeks of birthday celebration, my intuition told me that I needed the slowness, the easiness, the aloneness of simply just living. Not writing about living. Not thinking about living. Just washing dishes. Packing lunches. Taking walks. Reading to my boy. I told myself I would write if I had time, but no pressure. Just for a week or so. The blog would hold.
And then my internet broke. I guess the universe thought I needed a bit more of a break than a week.
Its been most wonderful, this respite. It was so nice letting go of that judging voice that says: “OK girly…get to your computer and write something.” I loved being able to silence the little supportive but annoying voice that said, “have you made time for your morning pages today? If you want your writing to grow you need to spend time writing”
I spent my extra minutes feeling on top of the bills, cleaning the dishes, not feeling guilty about a thousand other things that seem to pile up while I sit here at this computer. I even made some progress at learning to play the F-chord. Its been a productive time here at chez Meg.
But sometime late last week, I noticed that suddenly words were falling around me in the supermarket. They were chasing me in the car. They were piling up like the dirty laundry that was no longer littering my bathroom floor. Random phrases became stuck in my head like songs. I would repeat them over and over again. I missed writing. Really missed it. I kept telling myself, you don’t need the internet to write. But I had equated not having the internet with not writing and it felt good to be on vacation, even as I found myself falling slowly apart.
I am glad to say that today my internet is back and my self imposed hiatus is over. The technician was 4 hours late but here I am, better late than never. I am happy to be at the computer again.
I am awash in words that don’t yet make sense–there are so many stories, none fully formed that are begging for me to play with them.
Mostly, I just wanted to say HI. This is me waving. Shyly, perhaps. But it sure is nice to be back.