Where I’ve Been

Cleaning. The fridge doors. Under the burners and couches and beds. Mountains of laundry. Washed, folded, put away. Clearing and claiming space.

Sleeping. Like the dead. Like it was going out of style and I never even knew it was so in. Like someone who hasn’t slept in ten years. From drifting to deep.

Watching. Brokeback Mountain again, late Friday night crying my eyes out. My own daughter playing by herself in the street before I stepped out with a tennis ball to join her. The first spring buds on the trees.

Listening. Rickie Lee Jones and Snatam Kaur and Joe Cocker. Cardinals and chickadees. Water dripping from gutters. The quiet of my own heart. Voices on the phone–a new friend who brought me back to my own story, a lover whose presence soothes me and reminds me it’s okay to need soothing. My little girl’s questions in the dark.

Walking. With the dog in the woods, to town where I bumped into the right person at the right time and saw someone I used to know running by. Around the house. The rooms I inhabit.

Paying. Bills I can’t keep up with. School lunches. Vacation camps. Electricity and internet, health and life insurance, heat, hot water, cell phones and parking tickets. The mortgage. The bent-up fender.

Wondering. How I keep doing it all.

Remembering. This is how. By keeping going. I feel like I just read a poem about keeping going and I can’t recall whose words they were.

Reaching out. Without even knowing it, even when I think I’m retreating, I’m reaching out, to myself, to my people. Standing in the middle school gym looking around at the other parents, sure for a moment I’m the only one having a hard time.

Preparing. Taxes for meeting with the accountant this week. For spring. For Monday. For the day after that. For the rest of my life.

Staying. With the hard time that eases and changes by cleaning, sleeping, watching, listening, walking, paying, wondering, remembering, and reaching out. With myself. With the present moment. With vulnerability. With loneliness that morphs into blessed solitude. With anxiety that gives way to motivation. With space. With gratitude.

Writing. A few words here and there. A whisper on the sky. A wish to live within my means, even when I can’t see how or when that will happen.

Eating and drinking. Homemade peanut sauce. Coconut milk. Lemongrass paste. Ginger. Broccoli. Chinese noodles. Fried eggs. Sourdough toast. Chocolate-chip cookies. Honey. Coffee. Seltzer. Vodka and mixed berry juice concoctions. Hot chocolate.

Reading. A poem. A magnet. A postcard. A text. A chapter from a story that tells me all signs are good signs.

Working. Full-time, months go by, seasons changing. Learning. Resilient. Opening to coaching again, not just for the extra money but because I love it and want to be giving back and connecting in that way.

Knowing. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. That for every all-or-nothing proposition there are a thousand increments, small steps, subtle shifts and choices.

Letting go. Of guilt. Of self-questioning. Of needing approval or validation. Of stoicism. Of what didn’t. What wasn’t. And what was.

Touching. The cat’s soft fur. My own smooth skin. The bump on my head I really should have checked. Her sweet freckle nose.  The hot handle of an iron skillet. What is.

Coming out. Of the closets of panic, overwhelm, fear, and embarrassment. The closets of pressure and urgency for anything to be bigger, better, or different. The closets of isolation and impulse to hide. The closets of tension and strain. The closets of old stories and the illusion of permanence. The closets of effort and striving. The closets of broken doors and messy endings. The closets of empty pantries and pockets. The closets of lack. The closets of lost.

Being. Honest. True. Slow. Steady as she goes. My own witness. Anchored in love.

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