One year later. those words keep echoing as I was writing this week’s essay. It is about growth, acceptance and adventure. My favorite topics to write about. As you are reading this, try this writing prompt: where were you last year? what did your expectations for the immediate future include and how is the reality different?
I realize I am curled up next to a crackling fire. My toes are heating up and the night air above me takes on an embracing calm chill. I need this now more than ever. My phone is unable to reach a call, or a buzz of bank alerts as a reminder of how close I am to failing at this. But I can’t yet define failing as every day is just a struggle to get from one moment to the next. So many people depend on me not to fail that I may have been doomed before I started. (According to my anxiety) What a year it has been. I say to the fire, and the air. Here I am, writing in the dark. Living this moment a year later than when I started this journey. Two toddlers are asleep in a tent; I hear a soft roar of their snoring as I take my sigh of relief in the form of a freshly poured glass of wine. The fire is begging me for it and I am happy to abide. This is my therapy, my happy place. My love hate relationship with the world, especially the people in it, has pushed me toward solo relaxation. No waiting in line to use the restroom or nudging my way through crowds while lost in a sea of people watching – Just me, the fire, the chatter of my older daughters and light conversation with my husband.
Lately, the last year has lingered over my head like the clear stars above me. The world has spun me around and put me into this place of uncertainty. Last year, I lost my job identity. I wanted to fall right into doing exactly what I always wanted to do. The opportunity was there. The need was there. But my identity was not. If I think back over the last three hundred and sixty-five days, and the word pajamas oddly jumps out. As in, every morning I get to wear my pajamas a little longer than most. I have my coffee, and my journal and I am not chasing time, rather it is chasing me. Then a tiny stampede of toddler feet barrel out of their bedrooms and their outstretched arms reach for me, no longer surprised I am there. We curl up to warm cups of coffee and cool cups of milk. They slowly wipe all the sleep from their eyes and I kiss their foreheads, with barely a notice at the smell of wet diapers and dragon morning breath. (At least at first). The calm of the moment takes over. We aren’t rushing to be anywhere so time can linger longer than usual. Last year, I set out to do all these amazing things, life-redefining things. Everything was supposed to just fall right into place.
As I unwind by the fire, I am reminded of how mesmerized by the water at Niagara Falls I had been. It was about six or seven years since the last time we visited. I was oddly surprised; it was exactly as I had remembered it. Year after year it was still the same majestic water show- racing to the falls, and to the rainbow. In between chasing Jackson along the sidewalk since a part of me wasn’t completely sure he wouldn’t try to climb over and squeezing into the crowds of tourist inching to take rainbow selfies, I would feel the mist brush my face calming my toddler and crowd anxiety. I feel a sense of nostalgia; it wasn’t Jackson hanging on my hip but Liv. (check it out here) It was seven-ish years ago and the same feelings wash over me: infinite awe and gratitude. The world around me, complete with fall colors and sunny skies, were are a reminder of how fast one year or even seven years can disappear, like the water into the falls. When I look back on this time in my life, what I feel is turmoil and difficulty, may end up being the years I spent in my pajamas with two small toddlers, driving teenagers to school and savoring my short time in a constant state of motherhood. Seven years from now, the girls will be in the early stages of their adult life and my toddlers will be ending their elementary school years, and I delight in the fantasy of the life I am trying to build. This year is almost over for me. (I don’t live my life on a calendar year, rather it starts when I am another year older so October is the last month in my thirty-seventh year of life.) A road trip was the perfect therapy to escape what I wanted to feel about my last year. It is almost over now, and I may be out of money and full of love, but I am not quite ready to give any of it up.