iscribblings

Charting life's circuitous path


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Getting back up again

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When you begin to fall apart around the edges, the more you try to put the pieces back together, the more they seem to bend and crease in your shaking fingers.

Yesterday saw pieces of me shattering in little piles on the floor with every step.

I arrived at work with a sense of confidence and a patchwork idea of who I was.

I left work feeling like I had been holding up a picture of myself that wasn’t painted with a light on.  I was smudged and just off a bit there and there.  Something wasn’t right and it hit me steadily in the heart during my entire shift.

A stack of errors greeted me as I put my bag down and spoke to me about ignorance and mistakes. What am I doing?

A meeting where I suddenly realized that I was still holding onto my past identity like rusty armor.  What am I doing?

A colleague that scattered more pieces of me to the floor with a simple phrase said under her breath.  What am I doing?

A mirror in the empty bathroom that reflected the trail I was leaving behind and the shattered image of a woman who didn’t know why she was there, what she was doing, or who she was.  What am I doing?

I came to realize that I had been lying to myself since the start of this journey nearly two years ago that I was free from my previous identity.  Apparently erasing who we once were wasn’t so easy.  We can go on for a bit with the belief that we’ve changed our skins, but underneath it all, we’re still who we are – the girl that wants something. Having a career that matched my skills was important. It wasn’t enough to just get by.  I had thought I had found that something, but yesterday forced me to see the truth – I have to accept who I was and make her a part of me before I can fully accept where I am.

For a while, I had settled and believed myself content with this patch of ground.  Now, I realize I have to get up and keep going. To keep seeking, to keep searching.

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“What we can’t speak, we say in silence”

If you need to get somewhere in a hurry, don’t get me talking about health or I’ll regale you with cholesterol levels, BMRs and weekly exercise routines.

It’s funny how easily words pour out of my mouth as I describe the talented dogs at the Jump show over the weekend, but the minute I had my childhood best friend on the phone I was struck silent.

Hearing bad news is obviously a moment for reflection.  In an instant a physical weight that’s part emptiness, part vagueness, but all sharp angles and coldness spreads out to your fingertips.

In that moment, knowing what to say to her to offer comfort, to express the refracting emotions scattering about my brain, seemed impossible.

All I could say was “I hope everything turns out okay” and immediately felt the ineptitude of the statement.

Of course I hoped she’d be okay.  Of course I hoped that the ultimate prognosis would be the most favorable possible.  Of course I hoped for the best.

There are long stretches where life seems easy.  You interact with people and laugh, tease, and smile.  Conversations might be hard or awkward, but we muddle through and move onto the next one.

Then unexpectedly you encounter a situation where an “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough.

Where a “I hope everything is okay” just doesn’t cover how you’re feeling.

Where silence forces your tongue to stick to the back of your throat.  Large vocabularies scatter like grains of sand and quick brain impulses seize and congeal. We have so much we want to say but so few words to adequately explain them.  Meanings trip over themselves on their way to forming words and we wonder “Will they get it?” Will they understand what I mean?  Can I even begin to list what I feel, hope for, and wish above all?  Perhaps a list would even cheapen my paltry words with its inadequacies.

Perhaps my feelings and hopes and fears conveyed themselves through the ether, but I’m not sure they did. I stood there struggling to figure out which words were right, but in the end, we hung up on that blank note and it has troubled me ever since.

It’s ironic how being human gives us this gift of speech, but words are not always suited to what life hands us.

I really don’t expect to truly find the “right” words, but I hope she was able to gleam a bit of what was soaking up my silence.

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(Quote in subject line by Hillary Jordan, Mudbound)


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Missed memories

Things are always happening around us and to us.  We feel our hearts race when we encounter a surprise (like getting an extra large chocolate chip in your ice cream), and we hold onto those memories for quick lifts during dull days.

I just wish I could remember more happy little surprises as the days roll on and the years speed by.  I had read somewhere that our notion of time flying as we grow older is due to our brain’s already well-stocked memory.  So, as we go along our day to day lives, nothing has quite the same sparkle as when we were younger – nothing surprises us anymore.

The advice, of course, was to create and experience new sensations so that time “slows” and our brains stay active.

My brain needs a good kick to remember details (that’s why I blog, scrapbook and journal).  It’s not like I forget daily tasks or other things that have happened, but I might forget them after a week, month, or year.  I was always amazed (and jealous) of my friends that could relate that “time” we had back in high school or their first day going to elementary.  I can remember sensations (like standing in front of my school’s doors looking at our class assignments and hoping against hope that I wasn’t placed with so and so), but they’re vague and not concrete.  As each day, month, and year flitters by, I’m more and more aware of all of the “wasted” time that wasn’t filled with more sensations to remember and experience.

I’m even more reminded when I go to see my grandmother.  Her 81st birthday was recently, and the family converged on her square red brick home for cake, pizza and a lot of kid-watching.  My cousins seem to have embraced the idea of “big families” whole-heartily with one cousin bringing 5 of his 7 to the party.

The party was like every other party, but this time it felt different.  Rather than a birthday, it seemed like a holiday – perhaps July 4th or Memorial Day. The family bursting into the birthday song took me by surprise even though we had spent the last ten minutes ribbing my aunt for cutting uneven slices.

It wasn’t because we were having so much fun or the laughing, running and shouting of the kids as they played in the kitchen.  It wasn’t even the chaos that was trying to figure out how to make change out of a 20 for the pizza.

It was because my grandmother had, well, become transparent.

My grandmother is a woman of strong opinions. She might not always voice them, but she was sure to join a conversation or to ask what others were talking about. Lately, however, she’s grown more and more silent.

This last birthday is the first where the most I heard her speak were a few sentences.  She couldn’t remember whose great-grandchild belonged to which grandchild, or their names, but who could really blame her – I found it difficult myself to separate them all out.

She’s been having memory lapses for over a year now, but this was different.  She might repeatedly ask the same question, but she would interact with the group.  This time, she asked a couple and then sat back on her floral couch with an intent, but static smile on her face.  She watched people, but never asked them what they were doing, or if she could help.  Activities happened around her and so, I’m ashamed to say, everyone interacted without her.

After the party, I felt a sad sense of loss. Rather than remembering the party as one where my 81 year old grandmother had fun, felt involved, and was treated equally, I now remember it as a party where she melded into the background.

And I let her.

Too often we live a life precariously balanced between the now and the illusion of eternity.  Our family was going about the party like any other party.  Afterward, I was struck by the stark present and the missed moment.  My grandmother has changed- changed in such a way that every present is valuable and clear whereas tomorrows and yesterdays are forgotten.  We are running through life with our worries and our joys, but it’s when we notice an absence that we begin to see the preciousness of the now.  The present.  The immediate.

My grandmother now lives in the immediate.

I want to join her.

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