I’ve come to realize over the course of the last several days that this is not the sort of writing that I can simply pump out and send off. Perhaps I set myself up for failure by expecting to finish the remaining 10 pages in 3 short days. This last bit of writing that I am currently working on will act as the "introduction" to the creative portion of my project. In short, I am attempting to summarize my topic, explain its importance, and offer a brief discussion about the genre to which it belongs.
It turns out that trying to bundle up some of the most difficult years of my life into a polished little package is extremely, well…hard. And emotional. There are numerous layers of separation and letting go is possibly the hardest one of all. Letting go is, after all, the final farewell.
This entire project is centered on the notion of a sense of place. It is made up of a collection of personal essays, all of which are inspired by the thoughts and experiences that have come about within the past 3 years—spanning from the time I put my place out in the country up for sale, until now. The topic of my thesis is about leaving a place I once loved, a place of magic, a place that spoke directly to my soul. But, more than that, my thesis is about my attempt to once again find my place in the world.
Writing a simple summary—how could I know that it would open up such a flood gate of tears and old emotions? I’ve been trying to meet a page count, untangle the messiest years of my life, and lay it to rest all at once. I now realize that expecting myself to finish the last 10 pages in a certain number of days was asking too much of myself. I had no idea that all this other stuff would push itself so forcefully to the surface. In my tarot reading, Jamie said that I would cry for my old self and for the way things were (and, whoa, was she right!)--but I didn’t know that it would happen now and be about this particular part of myself. I wasn’t expecting this.
There is a quote that I recently stumbled upon by Scott Russell Sanders who writes: “There’s no need to go looking for a home, of course, unless you’re lost. I have been lost, in ways no map could remedy.”
There have been two places in the span of my life, so far, where I truly felt at home. And they are also the only two places that caused such a deep surge of tears, upon leaving. One of those places was
This week I cried over the place in the country that I once loved. I miss it there intensely. I cried for my dog, Abe, who died one early gray morning just before the move. That was the day my heart truly broke. I cried because, the week following, my grandpa also died. I miss his smile in a way that words don't understand. These things, along with a horribly stressful grad school experience and the divorce of my parents after 33 years, happened in one fell swoop. I experienced a tremendous amount of loss all at once. In the process, I lost my sense of direction—the result of too much stress and conflict and upheaval all at once? I lost my footing and, in little bits and pieces, the world dropped out from under me. Even so, I've done my best to buck up and move on.
And so here I am, writing about it in order to let go of it. I’ve come to this little café in the middle of the city with its small table pushed up close to these over-sized warehouse windows so that I might better hear the words that are doing their best to push their way to the surface. Only glass separates me from a busy sidewalk filled with the chattery vibrations of school children and, beyond them, an occasional siren that conflicts with the deeper, more constant, rumblings of downtown traffic. In a place so completely opposite from the one I left behind, I’ve come here to say goodbye.
There is an Albert Camus quote that I have tacked up on the wall next to my desk at home that says: “Live to the point of tears.” And so I have. I have loved so very deeply and I recognize that this surely is a blessing.
original oil on canvas