It’s almost seven on a Sunday evening and I find myself losing the plot. Who am I? Where am I? What am I supposed to be doing? Isaac is making dinner and Julius is crying for a car or a bike or a wheel or something. When I am with my son, I am okay. When I am with my son, I am also not fully myself. I notice how much I put on my happy, brave face for him. I am not always brave. I am not always happy. I think before I had a child I felt more permission to grieve and process my feelings behind closed doors, in the morning over white lined paper, a cup of steaming tea on the arm of the sofa, socked feet curled under me. Now I don’t know if I own any socks, nor where they are. Now, I rely on coffee in the morning and alcohol at night to re-balance some semblance of equanimity.
I woke up to an email about Patti Smith’s new book. I also woke up with the lyrics to Adele’s Hello repeating over and over in my throat. Hello from the other side. I must have called a thousand times. My angels, I feel I have left you. I feel I have dropped my phone in the primordial bath and you have no way of reaching me any longer. I don’t know why my heart is in a box, why I wear this dark hat. The most beautiful men love me deeply, one I gave birth to, one whose DNA flows with mine in this Seraphim child. What have I done? How far I have traveled to find my home. To find a place outside of me that feels in alignment with my soul’s calling. Ojai – I love you. You are amplifying all of my faults, all of my dreams, all of my yearnings, and how much I am slayed by everything you are showing me. My ego thrashes about before the mirror each day, telling me I am not there yet, I am not enough, I am not lovable, I am washed up. I stand there defiantly and look myself in the eyes until I see who I really am, and can safely walk out the door.
Patti wrote a book called The M Train. It’s about the transience of time, of our lives, the truth of this strange universe where nothing ever stays the same, and loss is just as real as love. Adele’s tearful wails trigger my own. These artists, they remind me what’s pure, what’s really real. Although loss is as real as love, it is only by recreating it, refashioning the broken bits of glass into something worth remembering, something beautiful, something whole again. We must stay authentic. We must share what it’s like to be human. It’s not enough, this surface dance. The surface of the pond is only one thread in a tapestry of creation. How deep is your love?
I haven’t been being very loving. Not to myself, not to my beloved. I am hiding. This shield serves the wounded me, the open sore whose origins I cannot recall easily. Why am I hurting? Because my loved ones leave, because they aren’t perfect, because they don’t always do what I want them to do, because their rough edges chafe against mine. I hurt, in this bright light. You are wresting through your jungle, and I am stumbling through mine. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to raise ‘decent humans’ amid the incessant effort and distraction of expansion that bringing children into the world entails. It’s not that we don’t love parenting, the process of it is beautiful, even elegant (!) – but it’s painful. It’s exhausting. Maybe that’s just me, perhaps because I was never the kind to be patient, or steadfast. I’m one of the most generous people I know, but then again, maybe my idea of ideal parenting requires a saint-like level of engagement?
I steal a moment to write this, and still the dogs bark and the boy imbibes his father to play, and the sun sets over the coast and the mountains fall dark after hours of clouds dancing upon them. The pasta comes to a boil and the doors slide open and shut and life goes on. Always changing, asking of us to play, bringing us to the boil, sliding us open and closed.