Thursday, July 31, 2014


My chest felt tight and unusually heavy as we swung out of Panera, coffees in hand, to make the 40 minute drive from Oklahoma City to my childhood home. This was the trip home that ended things, most things left being sold, my mother's house contracted for sale, the end of my time of having a place to land should I need it. This all ended long ago with my mother's death and our inevitable dividing of things and the eventual acknowledgement that our childhood home would be bundled up for someone else to own.

But it's been a tender couple of days. I walk past all of the tables in my mother's house that are laden with memories in the form of glass and silver and ceramic and oil paint and I feel a tug, a grasping for these items that remind me of my grandmother's home or of some piece of family history that I'm not quite ready to let go. I suddenly think that I haven't taken enough, that my parsimonious view when we were dividing things was short-sighted, that now I need these things to fill up a certain void left by dividing and new space and the time when my own children might want something of their own. I have a moment when I believe that I have bankrupted their future with a few fickle objects, which is total bullshit because these things mean nothing to them now and will mean nothing to them in the future because they don't know the people for whom these pieces had value. Still, I feel the tug and want and I sit in these feelings for a moment just letting them come and go, come and go.

The most interesting feeling that I am having is the feeling of grasping at something, fine threads of memory that are silken to the touch but so fine that they are hard to feel between the calloused fingers of my memory. I pick up my grandmother's wrecked suitcase, I take my dad's toy monkey, I find an electric razor that may contain DNA that would help me unlock who I am through where my dad came from. This all lands for me at a remarkable juncture in my life. I am losing the emotional security of my childhood home just as I have moved into a new place of my own to live. I am packing up a lifetime of memories just as I am launching into a new sphere of work. Never have I been in such a transitional space in my life, all by choice, all completely without a concrete plan or emotional safety net.

A strong vision or the predictive power of decision trees have been my family's way of managing through some of the shittier events in life. Have a vision, you'll know what to aim for. Map out the predictable outcomes, you won't be surprised when the worst outcome arrives at your door. There is comfort in knowing what is going to happen and in a family that has had such wildly unpredictable loss, it's been a saving grace.

But wrapping up pieces of your life and closing the door on spaces that house your memories is terrifying. It means closing off the one thing that you knew you could come back to, no matter what. It also means that sometimes you just have to sit without a vision for the future, that sometimes you have to just be in it. And you think back across those people whose things you touch: remembering what a kind woman your grandmother was, or what a fiercely strong woman your mother was, or what a generous and loving man your dad was, or how you look back over your family history and realize that you come from perserverant and courageous stock.

And the grasping slowly subsides and is replaced by appreciation. And you muster your own courage and think about working without much of a net. And you can let go, slowly, and move forward, slowly. And so be it. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. All too soon this will be my plight. I am not looking forward to it at all. Peace to you, new friend.