Yesterday, as I returned to the warm emptiness of my home after my brother left and I had finished clearing the driveway of the mountain of wet snow that had slipped off the building and dented the roof of my car, I was freezing. I'd been shoveling in the rain, and I stripped off my wet clothes in the hallway, and sat down in the bathtub under the hot stream of the shower.
I knew, when I got out, I should blow-dry my hair and make myself some dinner. I knew that if I didn't I'd be cold and hungry and cranky. But the thought of having to take care of myself was overwhelming.
My supervisor at the hospital tells people to "take good care" when she says "goodbye". I've picked it up and use it on some of my patients. I like it. But it is certainly true that there are times when taking any kind of care is sufficiently difficult and taking GOOD care is completely out of reach. Last night was like that for me.
Out of the shower, I wrapped my hair in a towel, put on a robe, and lay on a couch under a blanket. I wondered how it was that I am sometimes immobilized to take care of myself, even as I spend most of my days taking care of others.
It occurred to me then that the yawning, empty feeling I get, most often when I'm laying in bed at night or driving in my car, is probably not what I've been calling it. Because it usually happens when I'm alone, when I'm single, when I'm away from my best friends and my loving family; for years I have been calling it loneliness. But I see the value in being alone: the quiet spaces of early morning, the opportunity to accomplish things without considering others, the chance to let down every defense. It never really made sense to call it loneliness.
This is exactly what I was talking about when I told Rachel last week that I knew this vacation would be fraught with personal reflection - and therefore growth. What started as an afternoon with my brother, and then a damaged car, ended with a discovery: I am not lonely. I am longing for someone to take care of me.
I haven't decided how to understand the scale of this. But I can tell you that last night I was rescued. My sister came home and fed me dinner, she listened to me cry, she hugged me tight. She quelled the longing for awhile, and I went to bed early feeling much more complete.
"Life is not perfect and never will be. You just have to make the very best of it, and you have to open your heart to what the world can show you. And sometimes it's terrifying, and sometimes it's incredibly beautiful. And I'll take both, thanks."
Click here to see the whole, wonderful film.
This poem by Pablo Neruda really makes me think of the woman I work with. I hesitate to share it, because I hate that last line, I wish he'd left it out. If he had, it would have changed the whole tenor of the story. You'll see what I mean:
The Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks
All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking: they began to spit.
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the color of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.
"There is a special place in hell for women who doen't help other women."
This is what we do, humans. We tinker and change and endlessly imagine a more perfect future. And at the same time, we idealize the past. So we're trapped. Progress' constant companion is nostalgia for the way things use to be... The think we forget about progress is that there is no master plan. It lurches forward, in the dark, accidentally, and you're never sure where it's taking you.
Alex Blumberg, This American Life, "Pandora's Box" television episode
A couple of weeks ago, I walked into my classroom on a Monday morning wearing my new eyeglasses, and one of my favorite students cried: "Miss Merrick! You look HOT in glasses!"
His is 13 and has AS. His comment was innocent and honest, and I have carried it with me ever since and think about it every time I put on my glasses.
This is the view from my bedroom, looking across the living room to Rachel's room. That chair is beautiful and one-of-a-kind and was given to me by my aunt.
This is the view from the couch. You can see the kitchen and front door to the right. In the cabinet is the telly and all Bailey's DVDs. I have pretty purple sheers to put up in the glass, but my sewing machine broke. Also, there is supposed to be some artwork to the right of the built-in but one of them fell and smashed. I'll post another photo on flickr when the sheers are finished.
The view from Rachel's room across to my room (the door is closed because it's a mess in there!). That painting is a life-sized self-portrait that Rachel painted.
Next up, the living room! And then I'll have covered all the common living spaces and you'll have to wait a little bit to see my bedroom, because it's not finished yet.
Another detail. SEE THE STRIPES! They are very subtle, but I love them.
Bill got his dad all hooked up with wireless internet, an old laptop, and email. Usually this generates a fair amount of silliness. For instance, on March 17: "happy st. pats day everyone. i have my green underwear on." Or on March 23: "somebody forgot to tell the weatherman that it is now officially spring. maybe tomorrow? anyway- happy easter")
Today he sent this:
spring has arrived in montpelier. i just saw my first robin. the back roads are so muddy and rutted as to make them impassable to but the very brave, those who don't give a damn or those who absolutely must for duty or survival. we thought spring with enough fervor that at last somebody somewhere listened. please take care and lots of good wishes to all with love------- grandpa
I love that. It is simple and poetic. It says something about his signs of spring.
For me, spring arrives after the crocuses and the robins, although they are harbingers. For me, spring has arrived when the whole world looks at if it's been dusted with green and when the forsythia blooms outside my childhood home.
It hasn't happened yet, but I'll tell you when.
How can you tell spring has arrived?
Okay, I actually like Will.i.am's "Yes We Can" video better because it's focused on Obama's inspiring and moving words, whereas in this one is pretty much just a crowd chanting his name and famous people talking about what they want. In fact, I think this would be more moving is it featured normal people talking about what they want from Obama and why they're inspired by him... but I digress, that's not the point I'm trying to make.
The reason I'm posting this is because of what Obama says at the end of this video:
"We are the ones we've been waiting for."
Holy cow, I'm so in love with that I can't even tell you. We ARE the ones we've been waiting for. We can rely on ourselves and on each other. What we're looking for is right here.
For me, things are happening. I wasn't offered the Resident Assistant position, much to my surprise. I was pretty sure I was going to turn them down, but not having it offered to me left me feeling a little defeated and worried about my plans for next year. Then, Kelly announced that she was moving and offered our apartment to me! And THEN I got a phone call late one night offering me an intern position at Beth Israel! !!!
I'm so excited to start this next adventure. I can't even tell you. I'm so proud of myself, and I'm ready to step up. I can do this.
And I'm not the only one: Ashley is about to graduate with her Master's, Rachel is about to get married, Kelly just made a life-changing decision, Benjy went back to work a few weeks ago, Denis is pursuing a career as a school administrator, Liza is applying to grad school. And that list is by no means exhaustive, people seem to be growing all around me. Even my Mum's gone back to school. I'm just amazed at how much we are accomplishing.
This is it, we're changing ourselves, we're changing the world.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Oh, yeah! I forgot to mention some other cool things, in addition to the stellar field-placement opportunity (keep thinking positive thoughts for me, people!):
First, I send a little update to one of my professors from undergrad and got back the most lovely, warm response within hours. It made me laugh out loud and tear up a little bit. It totally made my day.
Also, someone I know (sorta) saw the photo I took above and said that I probably live in an anthropologie catalog. Now, while living in a catalog is perhaps a little contrived and materialistic, this was a huge complement because I would love to be the kind of woman who surrounds herself with beautiful, eclectic, and unusual things, which is sort of what Anthropologie represents to me.
And I made a chocolate cake for no reason at all.
And I feel beautiful these days.
Also, when the faculty contact for the Beth Israel placement saw my resume she said it looked spectacular, which is a huge vote of confidence and meant I owed my dad a call for all the help he gave me with it!
And I think that's it for now, but that's a lot of things to feel great about. I'll savor them for awhile.
PS: Could people offer some thoughts on wardrobes for this interview... supposing I get it? Do I need a suit?!
But now I've returned to normal life and the social engagements have diminished drastically. It's okay, I need the time go get things done. However, it's only the beginning of the semester and things haven't gotten too chaotic yet and I feel lonely. All wanting for companionship that had sort of gone away or been crushed by busyness is all back again and I don't much like it.
I think it'll go away again. By the time my first paper is due (a month from now) I'll be all "friends? I ain't got no time for having friends" (because that's how I talk). But right now it's not much fun.
So, hi! Sorry to post something cranky and/or depressing. Hope you don't mind!