It’s midnight. My tears have finally dried. My lungs have stopped heaving. I have wadded tissue around me and my dog is by my side. I have cried my first deep cry since I’ve been here in the Asheville area a month now.
Many would say there’s nothing to cry about. There should be many things I am thankful for. Just today, I got an apartment that I can move into starting September 7th. I have made my first big mark on my white canvas life. On what one of my friends called my “do over.” Why then all of these tears?
Are they tears of relief or anger? Maybe both. I now know I have somewhere more permanent to land. This cottage has been far from ideal. It is not the “writer’s retreat” or the “lover’s paradise” I was hoping it might have been. The pictures on the rental site are nicer than the actual space. There is a mildew smell that wreaks havoc on my lungs and causes me to break out in rashes every time I walk inside. Mold once covered the entire insides of my window AC unit and the tiled shower has it in droves. I scrub everything daily, stirring up more allergens probably than necessary, but I itch so much that I can’t stop trying to clean. Ants march around my food and the recliner has so many stains I’ve stopped counting. I don’t read by the standing light there anymore once I found that the light bulb is on sideways and held together by duct tape. I can’t enjoy the backyard with my dog because it has piles of dead sticks among all the pine needles, gravel, and black plastic pushing out from underneath like blackened weeds. The cottage gardens are overgrown, and instead of scented wisteria vines and honeysuckle, there are bagworms and spider webs at every turn. I must face the fact that I cannot get back what I once owned and called “mine.”
Are they tears of grief? Maybe. I miss my friends and family daily, yet I do not wish to return to my old life. That old life was a tight, itchy sweater that I only kept on wearing because I thought I had to. Because I thought it was expected of me. And though it wasn’t comfortable, it was comforting to know that the restrictions I had placed on that life at least kept me safe. Yet they also kept me small. They kept me in what I thought were my expected roles: The reliable daughter. The authoritative teacher. The know it all big sister. The eccentric aunt. The go to friend. I never dipped my foot into the other part of me that has been calling for a very long time. That part of me that knows how to be sensual, to be sexy, to be earthy, to be creative, to be divinely feminine. In my previous life, that larger role was a threat to all these smaller, more comfortable facets of myself that seemed more appropriate in polite company.
Maybe the grief is due to the fact that I have begun to face the facts that I will probably not physically have a child of my own. That I have no man I deeply love in my life to warm my bed. To hold me in his arms. To protect me from all of the elements as I face my inner fears. I have to face them alone. With no one else’s help. And I must confront myself and my fears more fiercely than ever before because as Rumi once wrote “What you seek is seeking you.” I must surrender to myself and to the forces inside of me that know I can no longer look outward for my happiness. I have arrived in the location I was meant to be in. Now there is no turning back. I have mysteriously been drawn to this particular land. To find within its cool mountain streams the pool of soul-recognition. Now, I must look deep into that watery reflection and see that I have carried what I have been seeking all along. And at some point, I must bring whatever that is forth.
This is my Romantic side calling me.
The practical side of me says “Cut all of the poetic bullshit. Dry your tears. You get a do over. So, don’t fuck it up. You can’t make any mistakes here because you can’t turn back. Besides, what’s there to go back to? You fucked all that up. So, let’s come up with a plan to make your life easier and get you back to being a full-fledged member of society.”
Are these tears of frustration? Maybe. How do I listen to my Muse and bring forth my inner Romantic creative and beautiful soul-self on a larger scale yet honor some of the practicalities of trying to get everything organized and managed well enough so I don’t lose what money and resources I have left? I am being pulled in these two very opposite directions almost every day and I don’t exactly know how to regulate each one. I came out here to eat good food. To play. To create. To be in nature. To feel connected. To explore my options. And any time I start really getting excited by that, I listen to the practical side that worries more about how much money I spent on a Glade plug-in at Walmart so as to ease the mildew smells of the shack, (er I mean cottage). After each exciting encounter with the new life and the new me, I then revert to checking my bank statements and holding back on eating out more often. I choose to stick with tuna fish sandwiches and chips as opposed to experimenting with my cooking or trying out a new restaurant. It’s as if I have relocated that old, itchy sweater of my past life and keep putting it on again and again in hopes that it will fit and feel good now that I have made some major life changes.
But that’s not how a do-over should work, right? Maybe. Maybe not. But just maybe it’s more like the metaphor of reaching the end of your leash. You keep coming back to the point where you left off and touch base with the familiar in order to remember that you no longer want that anymore. Then, you grow stronger and braver and again reach the end of the tether you tied yourself to long ago. And a few strands break, but not enough to set you free. Or maybe you got a little too scared that it would snap all at once propelling you too forcefully and into a space that’s not ready to
catch you just yet. So, you come back to the start again, and again. You regroup before stretching out even farther the next time, where even more fibers of that old rope break some more. Until one day, you are floating and then flying and then soaring into the new side of yourself that has been seeking you all along as much as you have been seeking it.