In some very small but acutely painful ways it would almost be better to have never moved away from, only to return to, my hometown. 12 years after leaving place of address I return relatively whole as a person – no longer obsessed with new parenthood, having accepted career hiatus, enjoying my family very much but open to experiences outside them. Then I encounter every possible repressed feeling of FOO, of old friends, old hurts, places with bad memories; places with memories bittersweet and nostalgic and feeling as if they happened to someone else. I feel out of touch (not what I want) from friends I used to hold dear. I try to reach out but am sometimes paralyzed by the worry they no longer will care for me. I love the town I live in but every now and then it feels so claustrophobic, as if I will live and die on this same spot and nothing could stop that (and would it be a bad thing?). All in all it can be, occasionally, very painful. I know if I never would have left it wouldn’t be painful. I know if I never would have returned I perhaps could have avoided these feelings.
Living close to FOO is a mixed blessing, but so far I’m so glad I moved closer to them. I love them and I love spending time with them. They make me laugh, a lot. I have good boundaries with them. My mother in particular is so loving that any changes I go through, any requests I make, are listened to and usually honored. As well I enjoy being close to them as they live their lives in the ways they are seeing fit these days; I enjoy the thought I will be with my father as he experiences the last days of his life, however many those days will be (I’m hoping for a lot).
My small family took me out of commission for a while. It was a trap. I have always been interested in people and how they work; it’s something I love thinking about, talking about. I did not realize this prior to breeding, but to have children is to watch a person form, in fact from the very beginning when they are a quickened fish-flop deep within your own body. Who could blame me that the experience absorbed me for a while? I feel in some ways terribly apologetic to my family, to my friends, to my husband, to my self – that marriage, family and child-rearing took up so much of my mind and soul. Things seem to be different now than they were a year ago. My children are just as fascinating, just as visceral and bone-deep, but I have also looked up and seen the rest of the world again. I am reading history books, I am thinking about the world’s people and the world’s children; I am trying to listen in to other people’s lives with the listening ability so many have praised me for. I am wanting to spend time with my husband more than anyone else. It’s hard to make that time but we both try.
As I write this my daughter sits on my lap. I can smell her hair and thinking about her dearness stings my eyes. She is not entirely a separate being from me although she thinks she is. No matter where my mind and body take me, they can always return to her. She can read aloud what I write here and although she can’t understand my meaning maybe one day she will.
For now, the beautiful weather and an open day ask us to put our sandals on and get on the bike. We’ll probably find modest adventures; watching my mom paint mayoral campaign signs, picking blueberries, getting a little sun. I hope to see you on the road!