Thursday, July 14, 2011
Elephants and Dragons
Ten years ago, around this time of year, I made an important decision - I was going to leave my husband. My daughter would be born a couple of months later. We would continue pretending to be a family until she was twelve weeks old and then she and I would leave. That was the beginning of a decade of strife, impermanence, uncertainty and angst. My marriage was still new when I bailed out – less than three years old and we did not own a home. During that time, I had always feared the rainy day and saved like a squirrel. When the rain came pouring down, I was grateful to have the resources to go solo with an infant.
For the first time in my life, I will have a home. DB, J and I are planning the big move coming up. We come to this point in our lives from very different places. For him, it is about making up for lost time – he wants to leapfrog to where his peers are in their lives without having put the twenty years to reach there. For my daughter, this event signals the transition from transience to permanence – something she has waited all her life to see happen. We are about to become a “regular” family that lives in a "real" house, has play dates and birthday parties there , the neighbors don’t holler when the kids go stomping up and down the stairs and there will be a backyard – her world would finally become "normal" (at least in her limited world view)
For me it is about the most expansion I have experienced in my life. I had grown used to living very minimally, planning for no more than a few months at a time – putting away as much as I could for the dread rainy day and my child’s future. Most importantly, I was not tethered to anything – place, job or relationship. I feel like being ejected head first from a dark tunnel into blinding sunlight – a near birth experience if there is such a thing. Suddenly, I feel the full weight of commitment – of making decisions for decades and a lifetime when all I have capacity for is six months. Even marrying again was not as unnerving as home buying is turning out to be. In a sense I am trading my financial security and mobility for things that I don’t know I am really ready for.
The marriage is now more real than ever before – it is no longer the commingling of two apartments into one and the constant jostling for space. Our battlegrounds had been in the closet, the cluttered living room, the missing room where we could get some alone time, the kitchen and the bathrooms – nothing was big enough for the both of us. We had grown too used to having the space alone and sharing just does not come easy. The problem of room will soon be history – if anything we will have too much of it.
The house will draw us out into the suburban life so many other families of our vintage live – unlike them who have done this for ten or twenty years, it would be the first time for us. I don’t have the excuse of “only temporary” anymore to run away from issues that have remain unresolved for a while. Once the dust settles there will not be another big dragon to slay – that is when the elephants in the room will want to stand up and be counted.
Mostly, I dread my lack of preparation for that day which is probably right around the corner. The decade of strife is finally over and I realize that I have lost the skills to thrive in a time of peace – I need those elephants to deny and dodge ;dragons to chase to get me feeling alive. I very much want to keep the biggest elephant in the room around because he shields me from a lot of things I am not prepared to deal with it. If he insists on being acknowledged, I will likely be off dragon slaying to avoid making eye contact.