Sunday, December 6, 2009
Ramblings on Re-entry
A LITTLE HELP WITH RE-ENTRY: MAI TAI AT HONOLULU AIRPORT WHILE WAITING FOR MY CONNECTION HOME
Since coming "home" three long weeks ago, I've wondered about so many things. I've wondered how it is possible for the kind of joy that I experienced during my last weeks on Moloka’i to vanish so instantaneously, so effortlessly and thoroughly that I’m left wondering if it actually existed at all. I've wondered how it is possible that I could spend three months alone and isolated on a small island in the middle of the biggest ocean on the planet, never experience one moment of loneliness, then return home and with the first breath of still, crisp late-afternoon air, the first sight of the lazy, hazy, glow of a bay area sunset in fall, I am overwhelmed with it? And I've wondered how it is that I didn’t think to “prepare” myself for my first major holiday since my separation (as if that were possible), for waking up alone for the first time ever on a Thanksgiving morning; no warm, cozy house prepared and waiting for company, no mouth-watering aroma of turkey and cinnamon-scented candles, no stressed-out husband in the kitchen, no jostling the “kids” awake for breakfast before the hungry hoards descend.
I can’t help but wonder, in hindsight, if my “re-entry” experience wouldn’t have been completely different had I chosen a different season. Though I love fall on one hand, the transition of it, the cooler air and beautiful leaves, for as long as I can remember, late autumn and early winter have been synonymous with loss, and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season especially, I’ve danced that razor’s edge between being overcome with anxiety and depression to craving the joy that I could sense lay just beyond my reach. I was shocked my first day back, sitting in my “Ex’s” new house, the sun stretching long toward the west, that uniquely fall texture in the air, knowing it was time to go “home” to my little apartment, and feeling every cell in my body deflate and my spirit empty, remembering not with my mind, but with my physical being, my sensory awareness, not just the times of loneliness, but how they had disappeared completely in the warmth, safety, and security of partnership, family and home.
I’ve long thought it amazing, not to mention contrary to everything that is, that we light up our houses, streets, and cities the brightest when earth experiences her dimmest time. When the elements, by their very nature, draw us into the warmth and safety of the “cave,” when leaves turn and fall, perennials die back, and earth rests in moist darkness, we are lighting the tree, decking the halls, crowding the falsely lit stores and malls for ever bigger and grander presents; running from one festivity to the next.
It seems as though we’ve lost our connection with nature and the cycle of life; our own ability to go inward, to be quiet and rest, to let earth be our guide allowing whatever is no longer necessary die off and be let go of.
On Moloka'i, my very purpose was being alone, and I reveled in it. Back home, to my surprise, I am still, more often than not, shocked to find myself existing by myself; wandering my little apartment alone; eating alone; being alone, with no one to say goodbye to when I leave, hello to when I return, no one to check in with if I'm running late or have a problem, no one to even know if I make it home or not.
No one to help pull of my boots after a long and tiring day.
On Moloka'i, I lived life free of the filters of history, expectation, experience. It was a blank canvas upon which everything was painted, all new, all unexpected. Once home, I see that here in the Bay Area, where I grew up and have lived my entire life, where I got married, lived over three decades with my husband, raised our daughters, everything is seen and experienced through the lens of what was and is no longer. The canvas is full... and not just with history, but with ideas and visions about what life was supposed to look like, what it would look like, what I believed I wanted it to look like.
Had I stayed on Moloka'i (which believe me, I was sorely tempted to do...), I'm pretty sure I could have skipped all these less than glorious feelings tied so intimately to the cold and darkness of fall. Yet I would also have missed the enjoyment on the other side... the beauty of yellow, gold, and red leaves (sometimes all in one leaf!!); watching the storm clouds move in over the bay; snuggling under thick and cozy blankets and comforters; the crackle of a fire; the simple yet enormous pleasure of a warm cup of tea. Most importantly, I would also have missed the opportunity for fall and winter to do their work, as unpleasant as it sometimes feels, as necessary as it absolutely is.
I hope to get back to writing regularly again. Thanks for your patience, as I stumbled back to the mainland, and these weeks of just allowing the equilibrium to right itself as much as possible; as I get used to living and breathing again among so many people, as I re-enter my life here, and get it that that's exactly what it is... my life here, in my for now anyway home.