Transition / Writing

After the Fall

I hate a quiet blog.

I haven’t written here too long and it’s been barbing at me. Every time I look at the empty months on the site calendar I scream on the inside, just write something, dammit! Anything. And I’ve attempted a few times, including this time, which who knows, may or may not end up a false start like all of those other aborted posts.

There are a few reasons I can offer in way of explanation/excuse/salve/sanity:

  1. I moved. Yes, finally, back into my house along with my husband and cats as I dreamed about. Everything went well, but it still went with all the time suck and chaos that come with packing up from one state and hurtling into another, bumping right up into:
  2. The holidays. We moved the week of Thanksgiving, threw a fabulous homecoming Christmas party, and spent much-needed time with missed friends and family.
  3. I was sick. Ugh, I know. Who cares?
  4. I was free-falling.

Actually, I already free-fell. You saw some of that (whoever you are… dear diary? Loyal reader? Interweb zeitgeist?). But there is the actual free flight, and then there is the THUD on the ground and staring back up at the sky not sure if I remember how to use my knees, humiliated in the blatant, awkward physicality of my stumble.

Today at lunch I finished reading my friend Susan DeFreitas’s debut chapbook Pyrophytic, a short story about a young woman who studies controlled burns in the high desert. I couldn’t help but feel a kinship to her character and contradictions, how well she knew that life could only go on through the cycle of destruction, but this knowledge could not satiate her sadness at seeing the necessary carnage. I know that everything I did last year was necessary. I had to leap at an opportunity or I would have spent the rest of my life wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t tried. I had to leave that position because, from the inside, the company was toxic career suicide. I know that shelving my book saved my sanity and opened up a fresh start that I needed.

I can say I know, and I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel ashamed, or that I know what to do with myself.

In this in-between time from settling back from charring my job, household and writing life, I was flailing. I tried to grasp at projects and ambitions as rafts, but just as I claimed them as my savior, they dissolved. My worry about when and how I would be reunited with my husband and if I would, and should, keep writing manifested itself in my appearance. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve worn every emotion outside of myself. As I walked home from school, my mom could tell from eight blocks away whether I’d had a good day or not. On good days I practically levitated above the pavement in a waltz; on the bad ones I hunched and dragged like a wounded animal.

Last year, I bloated. Not just weight gain, but the gain of this sickly, pallid aura that made me doubt my own reflection. My smile became tight and flat. I held my hands awkwardly at my sides, like a boy coming to terms with puberty. I was timid in my skin, crippled by self-consciousness. I lagged behind in conversations, too wrapped up in wondering how odd I felt to be present with anyone. I seemed out of place and foreign to myself.

I’ve been here before, and I know I can’t live in this depressed space. This is largely why I was desperate to leave Arizona in the first place–I knew I was turning sad and dark and away from who I wanted to be. Coming home has made it possible to change that, but it’s not a magical, instantaneous fix. I got worse before I got better.

It’s taken a new year, but I am getting better. I’m eating better, sleeping better. The progress is slow but it beats the retreat. Thankfully, I’m writing again. There have been a few neat developments in January, but my most shining accomplishment is doing what I thought might be impossible, which is just sitting here word by word, doing the work. I have been reminded that writing does not leave you, even when you are interrupted or unable. You don’t lose what you’ve accomplished. You are not “over” with a setback. The only way you fail is if you stop. Everything else, all of the sad and hard and blissed out bits, that’s all participating. It adds up. It seems invisible, but it does.

I guess I wanted to wait until I was in this happier, more productive place before saying much about “a writerly sense of place from north to south.” I wanted to be thankful instead of drowning, and I am so very, very thankful to all of the people in my life who kept giving so much love when I could not reciprocate. From my closest family to surprise kindnesses extended from people I hadn’t seen in years. I needed you, but I didn’t know how to say it, and I didn’t have to.

It took me a while. But that fire knew what she was doing. Our worlds, eventually, make sense.

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