Dear How Things Used To Be,
First of all, I miss you terribly. I miss the friends and bottles of wine and walks along the bay. I miss mornings at Old Town and endless cups of coffee after staying up all night with kids or projects. I miss the hipness of bike art, farmer’s market magic, Avelino chai, and most of all the sprawling line of coast, sparkling with stories from the edge of the world. I miss the comfort of knowing my place, knowing I have a tribe. This is the security in roots dug deep into a community, interweaving with the foundation of earth and the magnetic pull of geography. I think about the nights I spent painting the inside of our house. Shades of green and yellow making us a life in a place we thought we would never leave. A little yard we filled with baby plants that no doubt, we would watch grow big through the years.
But, here we are, How Things Used To Be. Across the country, while families walk through our old home, deciding if the green and yellow paint should stay or go if they buy our house. Will they paint over the gold stars I stenciled in my son’s room and plant things in the tiny raised bed in the front yard?
For the last year I’ve been getting to know How Things Are a little better. She’s sometimes subtle but more than often, quite pushy. I find that you, How Things Used to Be, are better remembered for all the good times. The bad have seemed to drift out of memory and maybe that’s why I long for you. Even though she can be insensitive, How Things Are has reintroduced me to some others that help me deal with the separation from you. Vulnerability, in not knowing place, sometimes not even the language has made me humble. I am fragile and not all knowing, in fact, most of what thought I knew turned out to be shit.
Loneliness came next. She held on tight while I was a foreigner in Peru, then in the rural life of upstate New York, next in the mother of an infant, and finally, in winter. The long, cold winter that is still blasting freezing wind and tricking me into believing there is hope for spring in the beginning of April. I’ve found that Loneliness is also a shape shifter. Sometimes she makes me long for some other company, but most often, makes me realize I’m bored with myself. How Things Are doesn’t always hang with such a sad crew, through her I’ve also met the friends who kick me in the ass or give me giant hugs and nourish me with their gift. When I’m consumed with the complexity of Loneliness and Vulnerability I leave them listening to Iron and Wine and ditch them for Bravery. She’s the woman in leather, stomping through the craggily woods with a shotgun on her hip and a crazy grin. I stand next to her and feel the wildness and borderline recklessness. I’ve learned to take the neurotic, overwhelming feeling of “life as it is right now” and turn my focus toward the unknown. The Way Things Are is full of surprises and sometimes I need Bravery to hold me up while walk toward those dark places in the woods.
I am also finding a lot in common with Contentment. She half smiles when she tastes something delicious that has come out of her oven. She coos while taking a bath with her baby and feels peace sitting on the floor in front of the fire with her family. Nowhere to go. Warm and happy and loved. I breathe with her, my soul yoga teacher.
So, The Way Things Used To Be, I love you. I love what you have made me. I love the people you have brought to me and the experiences you have given me. But I’m saying goodbye-an ongoing goodbye. I’m keeping the photographs and Facebook posts, but au revoir to the belief that you are better than the Way Things Are.
My Endless Gratitude,