Well, hello there, old friend. Fancy meeting you here.
I have been away from this blog for a long time, clearly. I have waited until it was “safe” to write again, based on advice from counsel, and even when that time came and passed, I waited until I felt the ground was steady under my feet again. And then I waited a little longer, still, until I felt like I could understand why I even wanted to write again. And then, I waited even longer until a dear friend sent me the nudge, and said…go. It’s time. And then, finally, I waited until I could find the words to qualify and explain and protect myself from future damage with a person who matters deeply…who said, predictably…GO. Be you. Freely.
And so now I begin. On an ordinary Thursday, girls hanging out upstairs, doing their teenage girl things, as I sit on my couch under the twinkle lights that now fill every room, and not just my old Athenaeum office. It’s a new life now.
I have been a long time gone from this, and I have struggled with whether or not to return at all. I have thought long and hard about my motives for blogging in the first place – was it just for attention? Was it to be able to present myself to the world as I wanted people to see me, rather than for who I truly am? Was it just to have a platform to use in order to call myself “writer,” since a writer no one reads is just…what? A diarist? Is that even a word?
So, to come back, I have had to ask myself very deeply…why do I feel the need to do this? And if I do it, what do I want it to be? I am starting today because I know the answer now to both of those questions. Or at least, I know the answers on this exact day as much as I am capable of knowing them. To the first question, the “why,” the simple answer is this: I blogged, then, because writing myself out into the public was a way to keep myself accountable for the person I was striving to be. Not the one I always was, but the one I was reaching for. The person who saved baby swans. The one who pondered life next to Christmas tree lights even in the summertime, and who tried to get sixth graders through their awkward year with some semblance of dignity in tact. I used to feel, sometimes, that some things only happened to me so that I had something to write about. Looking back, I still feel that to be true. Not always, but often. There was so much that I didn’t, and couldn’t, say, but that didn’t mean that what I did say was inauthentic. It was just a slice of life, a series of snapshots of my little world and what I was trying to forge.
Up until today, I hadn’t looked back into this blog at all. It just felt too sad, honestly. But everything is different now. I grieved hard for the past two years, mindfully and with lots of therapy and way too many Saturday nights alone in yoga pants watching reruns of Will and Grace. Today, though, I looked back through some old entries, trying to see myself through the eyes of someone who had never read these words before. How would that land? Who on earth is that cheery, striving, Universe-loving middle school teacher with the showtune soundtrack and the fervently cockeyed optimist mindset? I am not that woman any more.
The life I used to lead is so foreign to me now, and my secondary struggle in the past two years has been to figure out which parts of my spirit to leave behind, and which to bring forward into this new life. My first struggle, my primary focus, has been on how to meet my most pressing needs of providing for my daughters and navigating a brand new career in the midst of this topsy-turvy new world.
Those two things have taken a lot of energy, as you might imagine.
With what energy has been left over, though, I have tried to rebuild my own soul, cleaner and wiser and more hopeful than before. It has taken lots of therapy, lots of journaling, lots of crying, and an embarrassing number of boxes of cheap-ass chardonnay. I have kept my head above water for most of it – not all of it, but most. I made it with the support of my most excellent Tribe, and a determination to do my mourning now and not shy away from it and save the worst of the grief for later. I grieved very thoroughly, with every damned how-to book I could find, and very slowly, I have emerged blinking into the light of this strange new land. What country is this? And what will I bring to it?
Which brings me to my second question…what do I want this blog to be? Now, in my life’s Second Act, what do I want to offer up to the world? I am no longer the winsome sixth grade teacher. I am not raising little girls in a “happy home,”scrapbooking my Lovely Family Scenes while watching romantic comedies in the Athenaeum. I am not the showtune singing, daisy picking, party throwing, Universe-loving woman I used to be. Now, I teach teenagers. I am raising teenagers. And truth be told, the Universe and I spent the better part of the past two years in a really big fight, and I have devoted considerable energy to trying to punch it in the face. So what does this sadder-but-wiser woman have to offer?
The answer is clear to me now. What I have to offer is all that any of us have – I have my journey. My truth, as much as I can state it at any given moment. My hope, my voice, my fears, and my sincere wish to do the best I can…and my determination to articulate that, in the hopes that someone out there might find some light of their own through my attempts to climb out of the dark.
For those of you newly catching up, I would like to say…I didn’t write about my marriage before in my blog, for lots of reasons. I am not going to write about that now, either, though its ending, up until recently, remained a daily factor in my life. Ironically enough, my divorce agreement has an “intellectual property” clause, which allows both of us to write freely without the other either profiting from or inhibiting it. That still just makes me shake my head…that it ever had to come to that. This blog will not be a rehashing or a slam or a tell-all. It is not about then. It is about now. And here. And this. It is about forward, and emergence, and whatever is happening today.
So…today. Today, I wrote scenes for a Harry Potter parody for my acting class. I chose out new music for my women’s choir. I ordered the royalties for our fall musical (West Side Story) and I cleaned out a file drawer full of old sheet music. I talked my oldest through a stomach ache, watched a vlog with my youngest from the star of Les Mis, made pasta for dinner and had a Facetime conversation with a dear friend across the sea about the nature of art and music and creativity…one of many such conversations we have shared.
So, when last you tuned in…I was a cheery wife and mother living in my house of dreams, about to start my Dream Job at a dream school, having no idea how it would turn out. Now, I am a divorced mother of teenage girls, struggling to afford this House of Quite Dented Dreams, with two years of crying and grieving under my belt. The Dream Job? KICKING ASS. I love it even more than I ever could have thought I would, and it has been my saving grace in this whole deal. The Universe and I spent a lot of awkwardly silent and sullen nights alone together, where I pouted and kvetched, and the Universe said, patiently…just wait. I have plans for you, dear one. And I threw popcorn at it and passive-aggressive jabs, and rolled my eyes and felt terribly sorry for myself. Until, finally…I quit. I gave in, and decided to put back into practice what I knew to be true. What I saw work for me in the many years of writing…that when you expect the best, you get the best. When you offer up your heart in gratitude for what you are hoping for, rather than what you already have, then good things always come.
After the worst thing I could imagine happening…happened…something better than I could ever, ever have hoped for has hit me like a ton of bricks. I fell in love. And the broken pieces of myself are coming together now in a whole new and very unrecognizable form…one that I would never have expected or predicted in my dark hours. Maybe this blog will also be a little bit about that.
It’s spring. Daffodils and apple blossoms and peepers. I have found the past two springs kind of insulting, honestly. How could the world still be bursting into cheerful bloom when I was so damned sad? But now? Now, I am blooming right along with the pink azaleas that I pet on my way into my theater each morning. Thanks, Universe. I never really doubted you all along.