Indeed, bet on humankind – especially when we get our s–t together.
I’m trying to find the better part of me, and when I engage in such challenging activity, I am always tempted to talk to you. You see me as better than I am. The truth of the matter is, you see everyone and every situation bathed in a light that softens the edges, mutes the glare, blesses the spirit. (If you don’t believe me, check out his blog windinmywheels.com – there’s just something about my friend Simon).
People spent their snowbound days differently. Just as the snow began, we were meeting with a stager – a very talented woman who claims the professional mission of depersonalizing a home and transforming it into a space that others could love. So, I have been packing and purging – nauseous and angry and and considering everything except the pictures of my family (in all its iterations) dispensable. I’m not convinced I’m ever going to feel that sensation of ‘home’ again.
And yet you reminded me that ‘home’ has a far, far different meaning than I ascribe. Your quote “Home is where your heart is. It is your resting place” – my heart is everywhere, Simon. It feels both full and far too diffuse. It hurts. And as stupid as it sounds, home could be anywhere (and has been, believe me) I felt my family around me. And though we will find a place to rent here and a place there, I am less and less tethered. Is love what keeps one from floating away? I have no idea. Clearly if one were to determine what ‘element’ I am, it isn’t air…
So how does this all connect – bear with me. Our first dog was a little schnauzer named Demi (hybrid of my sister’s name and mine). I loved that pup as only a child can (though I think the person who truly adored Demi was our dad – they even looked a bit alike). Yet, when I was told that I needed to ‘share’ him with my sister, my response was to tell my parents that she could have him. I didn’t want him anymore. A lie of course, indignant and self-defeating without question. If I loved him so much and had to let go of him a bit, I would let go of him completely. Just so you know – we shared Demi, loved him and his nuttiness and there’s no unhappy ending.
And here I am today – plowing through closets and rooms that held the people I love in various stages of growing up (which include some moments that one might want to forget) and railing – ‘Take it all. Give it all away – none of it means anything to anyone but me anyway’. Hmmm…similar reaction to sharing that little dog all those years ago.
I guess I go to extremes, huh?
And yet my friend, if I want to extend a little kindness to myself, I could just admit that sometimes it’s hard to love – family, home, memories. It’s hard to let go and harder still to trust. It’s hard to be understood by the people who you think would get it, and then you are given the chance to cry with relief for the friends who do. And that brings me back to writing you. Thank you, Simon. Thank you for being so selfless that from across the pond, you sat with me for awhile. You let me go first as we sat and talked. And you nodded and smiled. And in that moment, I felt blessed. Wherever I go, I will remember being there with you and perhaps I will rail a little less and relish a little more…
Much love to you and Jilly,
Just checking in…this New Year is beginning – as most do – with ridiculously large amounts of hope and an almost equally impressive amount of anxiety. It’s all about balance…
They say that when one door closes, another opens. Whoever ‘they’ are, may I call ‘b.s’. When a door closes, it’s shut. There may not be another door, hell there may only be a window that’s been painted shut for years. That kind of closed that is going to take some muscle, intent and a few tools. And then prying it open can take some time.
No worries, I’m not going to suffocate. I’ve got the window wedged open a crack, and I can smell the freshness in the air. I check on that door every once in a while, but I’ve gotta tell you – the damn thing won’t give. It’s not supposed to.
We’re putting our house on the market sometime next month. And as every cliche attests – after twenty three years, it’s far more than a house – it is the keeper of secrets and memories, of hugs and arguments, firsts and lasts. My sneakers are in the garage, placed there when we moved in so I could be ready to run and it is here in the quiet of the morning where I also planted my roots. It’s where I checked on sleeping sons every night and/or waited in the family room for them to sneak in from wherever they weren’t supposed to be. It’s where we worked to blend a family and succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed.
It’s where I could hide or choose to be found.
We moved here when I was young. Now I’m not so young. I had a new husband who looked at me in that way I had always imagined. Somehow romance existed alongside emergency runs for Frosted Flakes. I knew that marriages morph and change – but I had no idea how malleable they have to be to survive. And we’re still here, shaped in no small part by the moments in this house.
I brought my boys here and even though I knew they would grow up and leave, I didn’t fully understand how the ground would shift when they did. Their lives and loves and futures so fantastic and I stand proudly on the periphery. As my sister reminds me – that’s the way it’s supposed to be. ‘Go find the balance, Grasshopper’. I’m on an emotional hover-board. And I’m clumsy.
So over these next few weeks, you will find me in the throes of purging and packing, preparing for a stager to come in and completely de-personalize what I’ve held so personally. It’s disorienting to pack up the pictures that crammed every mantel, use too much bubble-wrap to secure the art my mom created and/or the belongings that once were in my parents’ house which provide comfort and familiarity in mine.
And that window? Yeah, it’s there and I am sure that in time it will open wider and with greater ease. It looks like we’ll be building a new house – an experience I’ve never had – in a smaller city where there is family who are happily anticipating our arrival, and some understanding of its rhythms from visits there as well. It will be a new story line – Mimi & Andy’s Most Excellent Adventure – as soon as it begins. It’s this interim period where one is not yet saying good-bye or hello which is a little tricky for the heart. Where there are too many moments being packaged and memory-making days on hold. Can you imagine some of the stories I will get to tell though? The karma truck is going on the road – one of these days. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I figure out the right GPS coordinates.
Yup, the first post since April must be written to you – for you demanded I write again. You didn’t forget that I had this blog (even though I pretty much did, and assume most others have as well), you kicked me in the butt in your typically unforgiving-yet-most-caring way and caught me pre-coffee. No defenses properly caffeinated. All rationalizations fragmented in the middle of the night when one has the freedom to forgive lethargy, holding one’s doubts as a pillow while huddled in the corner of the couch. Your timing is pretty damn good.
So what’s been going on in eight months? Nothing. Everything. I’ve been graced and damned, overwhelmed with love and had my heart broken a little bit, thinking it would never mend and bowed my head until I felt it beat again. I celebrated new life with such awe and humility, that I remembered what it felt like to be drunk with love.
Details? You want details? Not this first go-round, pal – the words are swirling around in my head arguing about which should be written first, debating how transparent I will seem, when my preference is to remain a bit opaque.
I can say this – I remain grateful, yet I no longer feel that I can write about it without cliche or some really sickening elevator music playing in the background. The karma truck was becoming a paean to gratefulness. Not a bad thing – but a personal thing. It’s not a commodity. I’m not selling it. You are gifted with it or not. You are blessed with the frightening awareness that there is nothing more ephemeral than this moment and you’re either going to foment some goodness in it – or not. Your choice.
When I last wrote, I introduced you to my magnificent granddaughter Sienna Reese. Almost four weeks ago, my other son and daughter-in-law welcomed Sophie Ida into the world. She is miraculous and magical, beyond beautiful and/or adequate words. As I marvel at Sienna already exploring her world with determination and a smile that can change the hue of the sky and the color of one’s day, I watch her weeks-old cousin already turning from newborn to little baby, eyes alert, fingertips with special powers – as they curl around a finger she enters the bloodstream. Two of my sons now have families of their own. And when I’m not in tears, I am laughing a song of life.
Balance shifts, roles change, rhythms are re-calibrated. Andy’s mom passed away in May, and though not unexpected, it is never expected. Each of us responds to this part of the journey differently – and his story isn’t mine to tell. But I watch, I wonder, I ache. I marvel at his dad, who at ninety years of age, gets up every day with the intent to engage himself in his days. Golf, bridge, speakers’ series, synagogue. He has taught me how to grieve deeply and not turn one’s back on life. How to open your arms to the day and those people who fill it.
Life – that’s what’s been going on. What you do with what you have when you have it; what you choose to do when you don’t. I guess in the span of one moment and the next, so much happens in the space in between. The stories we get to tell depend upon the traffic in one’s head, the road maintenance on one’s heart and how close the image in the rear view mirror appears.
“We ain’t anything more than a name and some likes and some distastes, and a story we tell about ourselves.” (M.T. Anderson) – And what others say about us too, I think.
It was good to write to you…let’s stay in touch.
Hi all – I’m painfully aware that it’s been almost three months since I have posted anything at all. I’m gearing up and felt there was no better step into re-entry than this post from David Kanigan. Enjoy the moment.