Archive for April, 2012

Fast Forward

It is now 2012.  No more back-dating my entries.  But I will pick up where I left off, because I’m a (mostly) linear kinda gal – when it comes to storytelling.  (Call me out on that one later.  We have catching up to do here.)

My efforts to narrate, muse, and post in a dedicated and timely fashion have been upended.  Sofia’s death threw a monkeywrench into what little momentum I had after the Big Drive, and instead sent me grieving and back on the run.  My house was definitely no longer a home, and I had to get the hell back out of there.

A couple of days after Sofie died, I left for Thanksgiving at Mom’s.  My brother and I drove together and stayed nearly a week.  But first, the friend who had been there for me on that agonizing day had returned with me to my little cottage, rushed into the house ahead of me, and immediately begun clearing up all the sick-kitty detritus that littered the house.  Blowing off her own family on short notice, she spent the night with me, took me out of the house to friends, and helped de-kitty the house so that I would not return from the holiday to face such graphic reminders.  Other friends came by over that weekend, paying “shiva visits,” bringing me chocolate, mourning with me, and taking away the remaining cat food, medicines, and such so I would not have to deal with them.  I know wonderful people, but have to admit was taken aback at the kindness and generosity shown to me over the loss of my pet.  Pet people understand.  When you are single and live alone, these creatures take on even greater significance.  She was my child, my confidante, my companion, my solace.  She gave structure to empty days, and comfort to solitary nights.  Sofie was an extraordinary creature, one of the greatest blessings of my life.  (Even non-cat-people found her exceptional and loveable.)  I’d thought she’d make it to 20, but know the time I had with her was a godsend and a gift.  We’d been through much together, and she’d always adapted, growing only more devoted through the years.  I would never have gotten through my divorce without Sofia. Truth is, I don’t know how I’d have survived my marriage without Sofia!  This loss would be a enormous.  My family and friends were exceptionally kind, loving, and supportive during what was, for me, a bittersweet holiday.

After Thanksgiving, my brother returned to his life and children, my existence felt more vacant and purposeless than ever.  I literally had nothing to do, no one to look after, few responsibilities, no agenda, and absolutely no direction.  Except I knew for a fact that despite the wonderful connections and community I had slowly but steadily forged in Philadelphia, I needed to leave.  I didn’t know where I would go, much less when, or how, but knew I required a different environment.  In the past, a sense of community and deep social connections would have been more than enough to hold me someplace – they would, in fact, have kept me there.  But now, for the first time I could recall, relationships were simply not enough.  Which grieved me.  It took me nearly six years to build these ties, and I really thought I was finished starting over.  But 7,000 miles of road had shown me – if nothing else – that my environment is critically important to my sense of clarity and well-being.  And my little cottage in the woods, so cozy and nurturing, so safely sheltering in the years rebuilding after my divorce, had come to feel confining.  The very trees that had canopied me in their height and history now held back the sky, and blocked the flow of fresh air and energy.  The forest – or at least my life within it – had grown stagnant.  Life in Philadelphia was full, but frustrating to navigate.  Just going to the doctor, or servicing the car, or going to the movies, was a time-consuming production.  The traffic and parking and asphalt, and the chronic frenetic energy were corrosive and overwhelming to me.  I knew in my heart – but didn’t want to admit – that I needed less chaos and more wide-open space.

So I booked a timeshare in Los Cabos, Mexico, and arranged to go from there to San Francisco for New Year’s.  I had first gone to Cabo two years earlier, nursing a broken heart following my last big breakup.  I had gone alone, to a place I’d long itched to visit (photos of this place had lured me since my married days and through the divorce, when there were plenty of timeshare points, but no time or money for real vacations).  Several breakups later than intended, I had taken myself there at last, bearing a spanking, empty new journal, and a small stack of self-helpish books.  I went down to reflect, conceiving it as a sort of recovery retreat.  I would ponder, contemplate, take in lessons learned, and “tune in my own radio station” as I liked to put it.  The joke was on me:  I never cracked any of those pages.  The stack remained untouched on the table for nine days.  Instead, I had gotten back down with my inner extrovert, located my latent barfly, practiced my Spanish 14 hours a day, and made a pile of new friends.  I’d gone down with a bleeding heart and returned with a smile on my face.  A quick trip back the next year solidified my friendships, and this place in my heart.  Closer to the equator, even at the Solstice the days were longer, the breezes gentler, and the sky hanging over the sea turned pink every night.  I would go back and nurse my bleeding heart once again, staying even longer than before.

But I still couldn’t stand to face the new year in the northeast.  So when an old friend from grad school, who had reconnected with me through Facebook, invited me to stay with her and her husband in San Francisco for a week over New Year’s, I knew I had a plan.  Three weeks over the darkest days of the year were covered, then, and the light would be returning, minute by minute, by the time I’d return to Philly.  I hadn’t been back to San Francisco since before my marriage ended.  I had loved it there, and during my marital years we shuttled back and forth regularly.  But since the split, it had sort of become “his” turf (his parents and kids were there), and I had evaded it like the third rail it might be.  Now it was time to discharge that voltage.  I had found and loved San Francisco well before I met my husband.  I’d been happier there than anywhere else in my adult life, and  I had long-neglected friendships that seemed willing to welcome me back.  It was time to return, revisit, and reclaim a piece of my history.

©2012. All rights reserved.

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