On Homesickness. - The second time I went to New England was after a prolonged time in the deep south. My tenure at Louisiana State University had come to a close (relativel...
Monday, December 22, 2014
2014: From Residing to Embracing
I take stock on a reading rock, in the town where I grew up. It's a rock bulkheaded riverbank, looking onto a glassy December river. It's too cold to have to worry about snakes.
I came down to Oxford to take a particular photograph, which I have. Now I am in the gravy. Sitting along a river I have swum across on a bet; looking at a dock we jumped and swam off of as kids.
I am 42. At this time last year I was married and working as a government contracted technical writer in Washington, D.C. This year I am separated and between jobs. And I am happier than I have been in a long time. There are reasons for that, one of which is knowing myself and learning my heart. Another is returning to activities that make me feel alive. Last year I was sleepwalking through life; this year, I am awake.
Today I am a tourist in the town my father's family has lived for centuries. A backpack with books, a notebook, ski cap, snacks and water; taking pictures of things that catch my eye; walking streets and sidewalks and sitting cold to scrawl a note or contemplate a color. No two people would describe "brackish" in the same way.
This has been a difficult year in places. In March, I went on Zoloft to help me through the worst of it. I was worried it would change me, sap my creativity, hollow me out. It didn't. But I stopped taking it in October when I found myself too numb to life around me; not feeling enough. I don't regret either decision.
I have connected with new people and reconnected with others. Adversity can lead you to a clearer understanding of friendship, of family, and of who those folks are. I am finding, I think, that my way forward in life has rarely ever been a straight line; maybe a series of cutbacks and switchbacks and circling spirals, ultimately leading up the mountain.
I have too many blessings to count. Health, my own and my family's, and two honor roll student athlete daughters to whom I want to give the best life possible.
Tourist. Maybe that's my problem. I have been a tourist in my own life. I have not recognized enough the things, people, places that I love and committed to them. But that's changing.
Work. Passion. Love. Family. Art. Self reliance. Home. Pablo Neruda's epic autobiographical book/poem, written over the course of 20 years, is called "Residence on Earth." There is something to that notion: residing, inhabiting. But it sounds too passive. For me, I need the idea of engaging with others, activity. Maybe beyond engaging, it's actually embracing. Yeah, I think that's it.
Last year I was residing. This year I have started living. Now it is time to embrace.