one year on

There are good days and there are bad. Some days start out well but then take a turn for the worse. There is no telling, really, how it will go.

There could be, for example, a long string of very good days, and then I hit a wall, but it’s never so high I can’t find a way over it, and on again until the next one.

In between, there is all the stuff of which a life is made. Each tiny tidbit, taken alone, is almost without consequence, but considered together, the pieces create something far larger than its parts, and this thing they make, it is mine, the only life I get. I’d like to make of it something that is beautiful and good, even if it is not what I thought it would be. Even if it is not what I thought it was supposed to be. Especially if it is not that.

And so, despite the difficult days, I am well into experimenting with the possibilities of this new life. It is not all bad. It can be a little intoxicating actually. As it turns out, freedom and solitude are a potent mix. There are more good days than bad.

If at first a week felt insurmountable, and in the early morning light I suspected I would not live till noon without shattering into a million tiny pieces and dissolving in the atmosphere, and someone said it would take a winter and a summer to feel better, or to feel just normal even, twelve months were unthinkable. But time is relentless: it plods along, even when you look the other way. Especially then.

Somehow a year went by and here I am: still breathing and I didn’t fall apart. As time marched forward, it carried me with it. And now, most days, when I look back at what was once so big and terrible, I see that it isn’t as big as it used to be. In the distance it is smaller, but not only that. I am bigger, too. I am bigger than I used to be. It didn’t break me. Instead, it made me grow.

There was something extraordinary mixed in with the terrible. My life capsized and rather than simply righting it again, I caught sight of the possibility of something that is not just beautiful and good, but also more authentic and more genuinely mine. A gift, of sorts. The discovery that all that pain can have a purpose if you’re not so afraid of it that you won’t let it in, if you can look closely at what you had, look honestly at what you were and are and hope to be, claim what part of the terrible is yours and decide what you want to do with it and what you are going to do with the rest.

There was a rock here, in this apartment, when we moved in. It was ugly and uneven and it had holes. Some edges were smooth, others jagged, and it was big and heavy. I didn’t know where to put it and there were so many other, more pressing things to take care of, so I left it out in the hall, on the steps that lead up to the attic, where no one goes, except the boys when they are playing. It sat there for months, and every so often, when I was locking or unlocking the door, I looked over at it accusingly. Damn rock.

You’d think it’d be easy to get rid of rocks and other similar burdens, but it’s not. Where do you put them? How do you let them go? After a while, it’s like severing a piece of yourself. The weight on your sternum that used to be unbearable, the rock in the middle of your chest that made it hard to breathe, it lessens over time, but you can still feel it there at the end of a deep breath. It becomes a part of you, and you begin to suspect that it might be the very thing holding you together, even as it holds you back. Especially then.

No matter how fast or how far you run, you will never get away from it if you are the one holding on.

I couldn’t stand to have that rock outside my door one day longer. I put it in a sturdy bag and we lugged it to the park. There is an ugly rock formation there where the boys climb, Three calls it the Rock House, and that is where we put it. It might very well have come from there originally. It didn’t look out of place, and I almost couldn’t find it when I went back to check. It seemed small, even, among the other, bigger rocks. It is something completely different outside the context of our little home and our new life. It is still ugly, and it always will be, you can’t change the nature of a thing, but it is not so very terrible at all. It’s just a rock.

And I’ve been carrying that damn thing around long enough.

I took what part was mine. What’s left of it does not belong to me.

I think I’ll let it go.



About Jennifer

I'm a freelance translator and American expat. I live in Northern Italy with my two young sons.
This entry was posted in Separation anxiety, the year of seeing. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to one year on

  1. anno says:

    As ever, making beauty in what you find around you…

  2. k_sam says:

    This was very beautifully written. Congrats on making it through the first year and coming out even stronger on the other side.

  3. Katerina says:

    You are amazing.

  4. Marge says:

    Amazing is correct. This post blew me away.

  5. rosemarie says:

    A lovely piece of writing as are you and the boys. You are healing……keep going.
    un’abbraccio, rosemarie.

  6. Mauryn says:

    Fuck (sorry!) that was beautiful. Good riddance.

  7. meredith says:

    You are so strong.

  8. Jill in Seattle says:

    One step, one hour, one day, one year…. you are doing it!

  9. Laura Fair says:

    not to be repetitive…but absolutely beautifully written…brava

  10. Simplyjen says:

    Bravo! You are inspiring & amazingly strong. I wish I can give you a hug and say “Well done!”.

  11. Annemarie says:

    Love you, my friend. Love you.

  12. Jadie says:

    It’s wondrous, how much perspective you have achieved.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Such a beautiful piece of writing. You have done well.

  14. Acasse says:

    Brava, brava, brava, brava, bravissima.

  15. Pingback: celtis australis | Still in Italy

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