Lost In Thought

Hi,

How have you been?  I have been remiss in writing to you timely; the thoughts in my head refused to make themselves apparent when I sat down at my laptop.  True, I could have sent you some jumbled, free-form excuse for a post, but you would have seen right through it.

“Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory, pausing, bending and stopping” — Nicholas Sparks

Yeah, I’m good…thanks..

So – we have moved.  Not just around the corner – go big or go home – we moved to another state.  Renting a lovely little house until our new home gets built.  Ostensibly, this should be completed before the end of the year, but something tells me that’s a concoction of hope combined with good intentions.  Looks delicious to drink, with a surprisingly bitter after-taste.

I have found my toothbrush, coffee, hairdryer…the Sirs have found their favorite spots in the backyard, though their enthusiasm is tempered with a bit of anxiety.  Andy discovered his sweatpants, iPad and softest t-shirt.  All that we’re going to unpack for this temporary stay has been unpacked (let’s not talk about how much remains unopened).  I’d say we’ve made progress in a week.

I have found the supermarket, Target and HomeGoods.

I’ve had the delightful company of my almost-six month old granddaughter who discovers the world around her with a contagious delight.  We’re learning as we go.  My appreciation for the warm welcome from my son and daughter-in-law and her family is greater than my facility with the English language permits me to articulate.

So, I promise you it’s all good – remarkable really,  given that we just threw our lives up in the air a week or so ago.  And yet…

I’m so lost right now that if someone pointed the exit to a paper bag, I’m not entirely sure I’d find my way out.  Directions have never been my long suit.  I miss my other son, his wife and yummy daughter, I’ve lost the familiarity of faces that graced my days for years, the enveloping comfort of driving down a street that welcomed me for decades, the subtleties that define ‘home’ and gently imprint themselves on your heart.

Don’t get me wrong – it was time to shake things up.  Learn a new neighborhood rhythm, find alternate ways to embrace being lost and learn how to find one’s self (my GPS never seems to have those coordinates).   Grab onto some newness to life in a way that one is forced to in situations like this.  I’m going to learn how to play the ukulele, start moving these arthritic hips and see if I can at least make them a bit stronger.  Slowly wind my way around the maze of uncertainty and trepidation, bump into some privets along the way…I’m going to sit down and have a good cry some days and I’m going to get up and keep going.  And one day, we’re going to have a new house, and it will shelter new memories, its walls will contain laughter and love, and family get- togethers will be enhanced by the miracles of two little girls who will define their grandparents’ home in ways I can only imagine.

But right now, I need to figure out where the light bulbs are…

 

Connecting The Dots

Hi Simon,

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,

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

Passing By A Window

Have you ever had one of those moments when you pass by a window and catch a glimpse of your reflection without recognizing yourself – albeit briefly? Please nod your head affirmatively, or I’m going to seriously wonder if my crazy level just escalated.

Is there any greater dissonance than not recognizing who you are? Who you have become? Accepting that none of us perceive ourselves as we are perceived by others, at least our self-perception should align with what we see. And I have to admit, that there are moments when they just don’t line up.

When my head insists that I can rock an outfit which a) I clearly can’t and b) is arguably no longer in style; when I sit in meetings where people moan about millenials and I wonder why they’ve skipped two generations in the dialogue (including my own – hello???); when I dance around my house (full disclosure – only the dogs witness this activity) and find myself hoping the next song is a slow one.

The moments when I realize that my children are now men. Awesome men. No longer in need of that overpowering, all encompassing love that arrived in utero. In my head I am still able to carry them on my hips, pudgy fingers around my neck, little boy sweat and kisses that smacked. And always sensing that if I hold on too hard they will have to wrest themselves from me painfully. I tried to keep my grasp loose-ish. Do they even have these reflections in their mirrors? Perhaps somewhere. Certainly not something they consider when defining themselves at this point in their lives. Nor should they. It isn’t time.

Am I the woman in the little black dress meeting Andy for the first time 23 years ago this week? That curiosity and humor and hint of possibility filling the Georgetown harbor with something unrecognizable yet familiar? I could probably fit into the dress (there was some lycra involved I’m sure), but would I recognize the woman? Sometimes, perhaps…when we dance in the kitchen to a song of Andy’s creation (don’t ask).

So many passages that define this reflection, so many exhilarating moments and sad lessons, an awful lot of pain and kindnesses of indescribable magnitude. To look in the mirror and see that I’m still evolving, the image isn’t static even though there’s something to be said for thinking one is frozen in time. The reflection is the reality – no longer eligible for the ingenue roles, juggling mom, menopausal manic, or driven senior executive. Now? Good question.

The reflection is still blurry, morphing into something gentler, arguably a little easier on the image staring back. Perhaps a little less intrepid and sensing something that haunts my thoughts in ways that are unfamiliar – the limits of time maybe?

The eyes though – the eyes I recognize – they crinkle from laughter, they well too easily, they look to the sky with such gratitude. Sometimes I don’t recognize the face in toto – I just recognize the heart. And sometimes that’s enough.
Photo on 5-25-14 at 5.33 PM

Pick A Card, Any Card…

I always wonder how magicians do it.  Being quite naive and slow to track a sleight of hand, I’m one of those excellent candidates that others shake their heads at, wondering how I could have missed it.  I miss it every time.  So when in the audience, I never volunteer.  I’m too easy.  Andy figures out all of these tricks – it’s part of that male mystique of his that requires the provision of an acceptable answer.

Lately I feel like I’m the one trying to figure out the scheme.  And as usual, I’m not exactly blinding anyone with my brilliance.  Rather, I’m letting each moment happen and have surrendered to the limits of my intellect.

In the past few weeks, there has been a health scare with my son (he’s totally fine – but if you think I could string two coherent words together at the time, you’d be giving me way too much credit).  I stayed awake – certain that if my vigilance failed for a moment, something awful might happen.  I’m not sure I was breathing, yet I must have been, ’cause I’m writing to you now.  As soon as I heard he was ok I saw myself as a puddle on the floor.  No longer with any form or substantive thought.  It doesn’t matter whether or not he understood my reaction for it wasn’t/isn’t about me – he’s the child (even though he’s an adult), I’m the mom.

One of my sons completed his MBA.  This is his second Master’s degree – both completed while working full-time at one of the most unforgiving consulting companies when it comes to time and billing (let me take that back – all professional service firms are unforgiving when it comes to time and billing).  Yes, I whooped when they called his name (but at his request, I didn’t yell “Go baby!”).  These men o’ mine are no longer men o’ mine – they are husbands first.  And I wanted my mama lion role back (with no disrespect to either one of my lovely daughters-in-law), mourned the loss of the role I know well.  Chuffing at the opening of my lair…

Andy’s parents are moving to CA to be closer to their daughter and her family.  The weather will be kinder. the opportunities greater for my father-in-law to golf, my mother-in-law to get involved in some activities.  Andy’s up there helping them get organized until he makes it home today.  We’ll go back up together on Wednesday.  I’ve been here before; there’s nothing about it that’s easy.

My cherished friend going through the ebbs and flows of possible transitions – not knowing from one moment to the next whether she’s going-along-to-get-along or passionately caring about the life choices ahead.

So I wake each day with a hint of worry attached to my coffee cup.  My shoulders a bit more bent.  Roles change all the time, relationships morph because that’s what relationships do.  The earth always moving beneath our feet and relying on our sense of balance to remain upright.

And yet…I am acutely aware that everything is ok.  I caught two blue jays yakking it up yesterday afternoon (wow are they loud).  The early morning stars shone with such clarity I wept at their beauty.  I gratefully accept the morning’s invitation.  Somewhere inside I am as full and fortunate as any one person can be.

I am going to take a page from some of my fellow bloggers and take a bit of a hiatus.  It’s not good-bye of course, just some time to fiddle with the idea of blogging, maybe change the paint on the karma truck, rotate the tires, shift gears so to speak.  It’s time – we’ve been on this road together for a long time and rather than lose the company, I’d prefer to pull over and park this baby for awhile.  Get outside, renew, re-think, restore.

And maybe, just maybe when I get back, I’ll be able to tell you just how the magicians do it.  See you soon.  Much love…m

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It’s All About The Plot

“Become major…Live like a hero.  That’s what the classics teach us.  Be a main character.  Otherwise what is life for?” — J.M. Coetzee

I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately.  My friends who are encountering detours and re-routes that they hadn’t anticipated.  Bumps that feel like moguls on one of the Olympic ski runs.  The kinds of change that can leave your posture skewed and your jaw clenched to the point of pain.  Jo told me that she thought transitions were easier when we were younger.  Perhaps.  Perhaps we just weren’t aware of what part of our story we were in the middle of – innocence is a wonderful thing.  But when you get a bit older, when the time comes that you realize that this is in fact the story line in which you are the focal character, perspective changes a bit.  We spend so much of our life planning our next chapters – even when they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

As a child, I remember feeling that I just couldn’t wait for life to start – I couldn’t wait to be able to ride with the experienced riders; couldn’t wait to be double digits.  As a newly-minted teen, I couldn’t wait until I could wear Yardley’s cake eyeliner.  Then I couldn’t wait until I was legal.  Anticipation in my twenties – to be a mom, be seen as an adult (and be forgiven for transgressions that were a result of not knowing what I was doing as an adult), have my own home.  The thirties brought confirmation that though I no longer had the excuse of being a novice grown-up, I had fertile years to dig into this life I was creating without boundaries or barriers.  Perhaps in my forties it began to wear a little thin, but not so much so that my mind was reluctant to keep moving ahead, anticipating next steps with energy and spirit.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that looking forward no longer held the same thrill.  And despite the gratitude (which accompanies most things for me), there lingers questions about legacy and lasting impressions, an awareness that looking forward diminishes the present and quite frankly, too much future-thinking just makes me anxious.  I can write a chapter, but I’m not prepared for the story to end.

And perhaps that is why these transitions get so damn tricky.  Our emotional muscles aren’t as supple; we have seen enough to hesitate – able now to determine the degree of difficulty associated with our next move.

There is a certain grace in such awareness though.  To be able to be engaged with life and observe it simultaneously.  Moving thoughtfully enough that you don’t miss a cardinal on a snow filled branch or the sound the wind makes right before it blows through your hair.  Arriving at a point where you know what matters more often than not, and staying that course.  Transitions may not get easier as we get older, the choices may change in scope and size, but we are each, still the author.  And I for one, think my story is damn good.