Monday, August 2, 2010

Parallel Universe(s)

Sitting in a coffee shop at the corner of Divisadero and Fulton in San Francisco, traffic whizzing by, buildings outnumbering trees by some exponential amount, fog like thick, white cotton, pedestrians and bikers bundled up as though expecting snow, I feel like I’ve been dropped into some strange and foreign parallel universe (at the risk of being redundant… wouldn’t a parallel universe always be at least foreign, if not strange…?). And believe me, it’s sweet relief, in many ways, but especially after four straight weeks of the sunny, mid-nineties to triple-digit summer temperatures that are apparently the norm where I now live.

I’m going to go for the gusto here and say that one of the things I’ll be doing while in the Bay Area today, in fact, at one o’clock this afternoon, is see a shrink. (Somehow, I can’t quite bring myself to write the “P” word, which sounds so much more serious and threatening than the euphemism.) Someone named Dr. Fink (really??), who, in her hopefully infinite knowledge and wisdom, can evaluate me, and if necessary, give me the boost I might need to help me along this particularly precarious, high-wire version of the road I’m traversing at the moment.

It’s all about chronicling the trip, right? The peaks, valleys, deserts; the sweet and low down; the good, the bad, even the ugly…

I drove down early yesterday morning, picked up my youngest daughter at BART, and headed to the Santa Cruz area for the day. We wound our way south, through the tree-clad mountains, to Capitola, one of our favorite little places, where we sat watching the tourists, surfers, the ocean, before heading back up the coast on Highway 1, past Pigeon Pt. Lighthouse, through Half Moon Bay, over Devil’s Slide, and into the foggy city. I stayed the night at her really sweet little studio apartment near Alamo Square Park, where we shared her double bed, me hugging my side of the bed so as to intrude in her space as little as possible, lying awake, remembering how until she was probably eleven or so, she’d climb every morning into our big bed and snuggle as close to me as she could possibly get, arms and legs thrown haphazardly over my shoulders and hips, head nearly on top of mine, her need for physical nurturing, from the time she was a tiny infant, always so apparent.

Grown now, living on her own in the city, finishing up her degree at State, supporting herself by nanny-ing for three families, talking about where she might want to go to do her graduate work. My heart is heavy, and at the same time swells for her; I’m like a proud mother bear, yet at the same time, it’s like watching a foreign film, sans subtitles, this unfamiliar life unfolding on the screen before me, it’s own parallel universe in fact, me single and on my own, one kid in Washington State, the other eager to fly away, their own hopes and dreams fueling them. And truly, it’s what I want for them—to spread their own wings, find their own true paths and happiness, revel in their own aliveness—in fact, it’s not only my joy, it’s my job to nurture and nourish this in them—

I just didn’t know how much it might suck, how much acute pain it could cause. I didn’t know it would require a serious re-write of the script I had so unconsciously penned when they were young...

Someone told me years ago, when they were really little, long before I could begin to fathom them one day leaving, that with our kids it’s the greatest love we’ll ever know… and also the only love that by it’s very design is meant to be let go of. Ugh. Not that we ever, ever let go of the love, just of them. Though honestly, where one ends and other begins is so often lost on me… And the letting go sometimes feeling like my limbs being torn violently from my body.

Almost time to head across the bay to Berkeley, Mapquest directions in hand, and find the office of Dr. Fink, complete stranger, whose job it is to poke, pry, intrude, inquire into my current state of being, and decide if perhaps I might could use some help turning the lights back on...

Wish me luck ... whatever that might look like.

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