There’s something in the air with me lately. It’s been absolutely beautiful (if chilly) the last couple of days, with bright blue skies, as apparently Seattle and LA have switched off weather patterns for the time being. The cherry trees are starting to bloom a little…this morning on the bus I even saw some petals cascading down onto the frozen concrete. I wrote a delicate and evocative haiku in my head when I saw that, all about the juxtaposition of hard and soft, material and ethereal, about the relentless turn of the seasons:
OMG I can’t
Even believe it’s cherry
Blossom season, dude.
I haven’t been to Target for something like three weeks because I’ve been busy going out and having fun. Normally my weekends involve a trip to Target not only to pick up barrettes and disposable plastic bowls but also to return half the stuff I bought the preceding weekend at Target. I mill around and get stuck in Housewares amongst the non-stick pans and then I poke at some towels and then I get in the car and immediately curse myself a block and a half from the house for forgetting what I’d really gone there for (disposable plastic bowls, barrettes) yet somehow managing to come out with a lot of stuff I don’t need (staple remover, mosaic mirror, bath scrubby thing). Not lately, man. Lately it’s been all about seeing friends and having intense conversations and about alternative theater and hilarious lunches and about dancing around in my underwear and about appreciating the lengthened days, one by one as they unwind from the spool of the year. I may get lost next time I go to Target. I may walk right by the returns counter and everything!
People are complimenting me at work for being good at what I do. My social calendar is filling up. I’m watching great movies and reading good books and even the cat hasn’t been biting me so much. I feel better about my body than I have for a long time and last night I caught myself admiring my collarbones. People are coming up out of my past and getting in touch with me in random ways and my old friends are even more awesome than I thought they were. Last week my mom called me at work just to hear my voice and tell me she loves me.
Maybe you’ve had the experience of going through a devastating couple of months or even years. After the first shock of trauma or loss or heartbreak happens, you get used to just kind of slogging it through. You are constantly running an internal diagnostic and you are chillingly aware that today may be the day that you go officially crazy with grief or worry or loneliness, and you have to step carefully. There is a lot to think about and a lot to talk about. You get to the end of the day pretty pleased with yourself that you haven’t cried for three whole days now, you know the end is in sight. And it’s just fine, you just keep going, doing the stupid annoying work of getting on with your life, rearranging the furniture in your heart and making sure to show up at work on time. No big deal, nothing the matter, doing fine thanks and you?
So practically speaking, nothing really has changed for me. No one has offered me a book deal yet and I am not even up to the point where I want to kiss a frog, let alone find some mythological prince. No huge boxes of money have come in the mail and my hair hasn’t suddenly begun any type of peace process with the rest of my head. I didn’t just get a month and a half off with pay just for being awesome. Everything is relatively normal around here.
So how do you explain the sudden realization that some of the burdens of shame and disaster and disillusion I’ve been carrying for so long are almost gone, almost all the way off my back and firmly in the past? What happens the day you pick your head up and look around and wonder why everything seems different somehow, why you feel so much better than you have for months…or even years? Could it be years? Could I have spent a goodly portion of my late twenties absolutely miserable and become so used to it I didn’t even realize how sad I was?
I’ve had a couple of conversations with dear friends in the last six weeks or so wherein they have gently and compassionately told me that they think I’m a lot more fun to be around than I was this time last year or the year before. “I was so worried about you,” these friends said. “You were so unhappy and you didn’t think anyone else could tell and I wanted to let you know I wanted better for you, that I thought you deserved better, but I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t know if you could hear me.” What can you say to something like that?
I think all you can do is pick your head up and look around, hold tight to the people you love, notice that it’s cherry blossom time, let the burdens unfold and leave them behind you, keep walking and giving thanks for the blue blue sky.