I am mulling.
I guess this is seasonally appropriate, since fall is (maybe? finally? at last?) upon us. I’ve had so much input, and so many experiences, and made a handful of decisions (after months of making none). I started a huge work project, started looking for houses outside of NYC and my son has started school and wow, time has passed, time has passed.
I believe I may have finally made it through my sad season—though my memories of being so dark and down under are so fresh, it makes me nervous to type that. (Superstition follows me everywhere; we all need our lucky charms.) The pain of losing my parents in such a traumatic way has mostly turned into a companionable daily grief that keeps them close. The strangeness of having a steady and solid 20-year-career in magazine publishing disappear under my feet at the same time I was losing my parents has stopped feeling like insult added to injury, and instead clarified into a simple fact: those jobs are fantastic and wonderful, but the business is changing rapidly, and I just didn’t want to go back and face the same challenges. (And maybe I didn’t want to have to find out if they were done with me, too, but I’m okay with that possibility. I lose no ego in that equation.) My son made it through his terrifically challenging year, and I feel like I’m a stronger parent for having faced the truly humbling truth that I can be his ally, his rock, his foundation, but I can’t make things easier for him; he has to do that work for himself, alone. And somehow, my boyfriend and I made it through a time of such unsettling unsettlement—which befell us a mere three weeks after he moved in with me and my son, taking on parenting and living with the strange clockwork of divorce, with a sense that I was a provider (which probably mattered much more to me than it did to him, but still…)—that I just marvel that he is still in my life. God knows I tried, begged, pleaded, screamed, yelled, hated, threatened, and crazied all over him, so desperate was I not to have someone witness what felt like my destruction. In one particularly terrible moment I shouted, “I hate you, and I. HATE. ME. Don’t you get it? I can’t stand it! Why won’t you GET OUT!?”
But, you know, I’ve always been dramatic like that. Life reverberates through me and I send the echoes outward. The cleanup is never pretty—that particular episode stunned us both into a few dark days of quiet, so wounded by my rage, and me, so terrified that that much anger and fear was within me. I thought it would never heal, that I had done my worst and laid our relationship to rest. But even scorched earth welcomes tender shoots, a beautiful truth that will never cease to amaze me.
People wonder why I want to share the darkness, why I don’t instead tell stories of light. But I know in my heart that making agony ordinary is its own kind of sunflower face, turning toward the future.
So now I’m no longer mulling about my pain, the months I lost to depression and fear and total motionlessness. I’m not even really mulling so much about Who I Am or Where I’m Supposed To Be. I’m happy to have my days full of regular rhythms and familiar complaints: Oh, man, I have to finish this article! Shoot, I really should have gone to the gym. Gee, my kid is talking a lot a lot a lot right now. I’m happy to feel purpose again, like a thrumming engine, instead of feeling like life is a series of disconnected obligations and burdens. And the truth is, nothing has really changed that much in the world. Nothing is more certain or more clear than it was a year ago. I’m still in transition; my son, my boyfriend, my career, my home, my financial situation, my certainty are all still in transition. What has changed is the direction of the thoughts within.
So I’m mulling over what’s been, of all I felt, and what I’m supposed to keep from it. I do know is that for perhaps the first time in my life, instead of kneeling on the riverbank, sifting through the sands looking for the pearls of wisdom I’m supposed to string together, I’m instead wondering how much of it all I can throw in a burlap sack and toss over the edge of the roaring waterfall and never look back. I want to get in my canoe and paddle away toward the inevitable, perpetual, don’t-care-about-my-history-at-all sunrise.
The wisdom sinks in whether you turn it into stories or not, the wisdom sinks in.