It’s November now, and right at this moment I really should be packing for my long weekend in Melbourne that starts in approximately eight hours when I have to catch a before-dawn cab. Instead I am shaking my head at the results of the US midterm elections and looking askance at the spring rain outside the window, wishing I didn’t have to bring my tiny wee herb garden over to my friend Daniil’s house so that that it will get watered in my absence. I’ve been thinking quite abstractly about this trip for quite a while but it pretty much just dawned on me today at about noon that I was actually going tomorrow. Not to worry: the Air BnB is booked, the electronic visa is on the passport, and the outfits have been conceptualized—I just need to put it all together. It’s Guy Fawkes tonight and people are just starting to let off fireworks.
Since the Queenstown trip I have been…working a lot, I guess? There was a point in there for a while where it felt like I was flying up to Auckland every week, because I was flying up to Auckland every week. I joined a gym, which I really do not enjoy, because I was freaked out by the paragliding people weighing me in public and then writing that weight on my hand in red marker. In what may be unrelated news, I baked cookies and watched movies and made dinner and went for walks, all the normal things I usually do. I thought about what I want to do for Christmas holidays, which are only six weeks away. I thought about getting a new couch.
This time last year, during the run up to the first anniversary of my mom’s death, I felt sicker and sicker as the day itself approached, and I could think of nothing else. Now I feel like the grieving is still happening but is so far buried under normal busyness that I don’t really have the time for it. I’m not even sure, exactly, where it is. I still cry for her, occasionally. I still think of things I’d like to tell her, or see things I’d like to give her. I don’t talk to her, though. She isn’t with me.
But today I thought, very suddenly and clearly, “Mom would still recognize me, if she were alive today.” I mean, I’m still living in the same flat. I still have the same haircut. I have a lot of the clothes she bought and sent to me at great expense. Lots of things have changed since I last spoke to her, of course, of course they have, but I’m only a little older and a little sadder since I saw her. Only a little bit, only a manageable amount; nothing that couldn’t be caught up on in a couple of hours over tea and cake.
Because I did think that, today, also, for a second. Less than a second, less than half of a tenth of a thousandth of a second. I thought, “It won’t be so strange for her, then, if she ever comes back. We’ll be able to pick up right where we left off.”
So. That’s where it is, then, the location of my grief: somewhere both painful and inaccessible. The scar tissue that pulls and tightens, the itch I will never be able to scratch.