It’s coming up on a year. A year since I threw away what was, on its face, a perfectly good marriage. Since I split up a family and kicked away financial security like covers on a too-hot night.
I have mixed feelings about this anniversary. The rush of adrenaline I felt at first — my own space, my own time, calling the shots, feeling those highs and lows so acutely (it’s difficult to describe, but I missed feeling) — that’s all worn off. I haven’t become a star blogger or novelist with all my new-found time, Rebound Boy handily and completely broke my heart, cleaning up My! Own! Mess! is still cleaning up. And all along, like a bass line to the song, the fear that I am damaging my child with my decision to leave vibrates in my ears.
So this morning, I walked with my Sweet Boy to school. He still puts his hand in mine and when we walk we have our best talks. This morning we were talking about the apartment and how long we have lived there.
“It’s coming up on a year,” I say. And I remind him how the morning I moved, we stopped by the empty apartment to pick up the keys. How they were in a drawer where all our silverware is now. How he went to his friend’s house for supper that evening while the movers came.
I don’t tell him that I sent him away because I was too scared of what it would do to him to see me physically moving the bed, the chairs, that chaise lounge from the living room. I don’t tell him how I sweated and cursed building his room out of Ikea furniture, drafting a friend’s husband when I realized I couldn’t make the bed go together right. How I collapsed in tears in the still unfamiliar apartment losing faith that I could pull this off.
Almost a year later, we are walking to school in the September morning sunshine. His dad will pick him up and they will spend the weekend together. I will miss the feeling of his hand in mine, the footsteps from his bed to mine in the early morning, the wide-ranging conversations that take us from South America to France to Japan. I will wonder if his new compartmentalized life is deeply wrong.
But then he says, “October first? We should celebrate! Celebrate the apartment!”
“Cupcakes, a special dinner, gingerbread men,” he says. (Nothing in his world says “party” like gingerbread men.)
He is happy. He is holding my hand and talking about a celebration of the first year he had two homes.
My kid is awesome.
One of my superpowers has always been sleep.
I know, right? Why couldn’t it be running really fast or extremely good eyesight or, hey, even blogging. But no, among my meager superpowers is sleep. I can fall asleep quickly. I can sleep through loud events. I can sleep for a really long time. I’m not a terribly talented napper, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. When it comes to getting my eight (PLUS) hours every night: I’m very adept.
But during this transition, and I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone, I’ve become acquainted with this phenomenon called insomnia. I can still fall asleep with the best of them, but these days I can count on waking up in the middle of the night. And once I’m awake: game over. It’s never the lovely thoughts that crowd your mind when you’re awake in the middle of the night. It’s all the crap. How badly am I screwing up my child? How will I make it financially? Am I expecting too much from life? And, oh by the way, how am I going to make that deadline at work? All this in the dark.
And darkness is a bounty in Portland this time of year.
Except. We’re crawling out of it. We’re off of two days of sunshine in Portland and it’s been amazing the effect it’s had on me. On everyone really. We adopt this siege mentality all winter and when the sun comes out and the daffodils bloom, we go crazy. We’re pulled outside as if by magnetic force. We’re compelled to smile. We silently congratulate each other for having the fortitude and good sense to live here.
And last night, this happened:
I woke up in the middle of the night, right on schedule. And as I rolled over, I saw the full (nearly full?) moon flooding the room with its exquisite light. I hugged the pillow. I waited for the gloomy thoughts to march through my thoughts. They didn’t come. It was unsettling. I turned again, feeling utterly comfortable in my skin, my bed, my room, my life.
What was that feeling that crept outward from my belly and seemed to radiate up to the moon?
It was happiness.
I can’t figure out why I liked The Moviegoer so much. It wasn’t just the New Orleans bit, it was more the fog that the main character walked around in the entire time.
I guess I can relate.
I’d be reading on the bus and not want to pull out a pen and mark up the book, which had me tweeting my favorite lines instead. It’s probably kind of annoying and maybe pretentious. But, eh, who cares.
The main thing about Binx — in addition to having an “x” in his name, which, let’s face it — was that he was in pursuit.
“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life.”
His search was sloppy and at times it looked desperate. But he was committed.
I guess I can relate. Except that I need to become more committed.