Good morning on this Monday — are you settling into this new time? Now the dark is earlier in the evening and the light comes sooner in the morning; the pup and I were just getting acclimated to morning ball-catching time by the half-light. Full sun is cheating!
For you Nanowrimo-ers reading, have you already reached your word count goal for today? Listen for me cheering you on from your sidelines! I’ll be joining you later this morning, pushing out my own 1670 words.
Today I am in this new life all the way. Friday was my last day at my day job at UCSF. The goodbyes felt complete and honest, and today I’m here wondering how all the pieces are going to come together. That perseveration isn’t at my surface, though. A calm has lifted in me, one that I’m not sure yet I can trust. One that feels like — like what? Faith? Is this what faith feels like?
This weekend I thought about rootedness. I was invited to consider that I have come through my transitioning: that I am transitioned — that I can settle now.
I felt both relieved and terrified at this idea. I don’t come from people who settle. I come from people who wander, who look for something else, who are always scanning the horizon, people who crossed continents in covered wagons, people who crossed seas looking for better/more/possibility. We moved three times by the time I was in kindergarten, and by the time I was twelve, my mom and dad had moved 8 times, I think, between them. The place I lived the longest (to this day) was in my stepfather’s house, the place where we were abused — you can understand, perhaps, why I have wanted to keep moving: in my adult life, I’ve moved almost every two years, with just a couple longer (2.5 years, four years) stretches along the way.
So here I am in the light of this new adventure: a morning devoted to words, a puppy curled up on the couch (that’s a picture I’m trying to draw for you — in reality she’s standing at my ankles, ready to go outside in spite of the fact that she had me up at 3:30 already, needing to go out), a bright day outside the windows: four writing projects ready for me to settle into them, writing workshops holding my shaking hands, a life ready for me to find its balances, ready to find our synchronicity and play — and already today I’ve thought about moving out of my still-brand-new apartment, going back to school, launching a new business, finding a new job. Anything to avoid not being in transition. Anything to keep from finding my routines, my patterns, the fullness of love possible from rooting right in this particular place.
Just there, when I was writing that last sentence, I typed “rotting” instead of “rooting.” There’s my fear: if I stay in one place long enough, he (the still-imprisoned stepfather) might be able to find me. The fear and terror and panic might catch up to me. The loss might settle itself in my bones and smother this life that I have begun to imagine could actually be just mine to live.
And what if it does? What if I let it all catch up? Then what?
In my early morning dream (caught into at 3:45 or so, after Sophie and I came back in), there were a bunch of young folks who I hollered at — one of them was shouting out a misogynist rant, and I wanted him to stop long enough for me to get past. They didn’t appreciate my interruption, got up to follow and harass me out to my car. I shouted, which startled the harassers at first, but they were emboldened when no one responded to my cries for help. I didn’t have enough breath to sound the whistle I kept on my keychain. I managed to get all of us to a friend’s house, and there, the women gathered stood up with and for me, backing my tormenters off.
When I woke, I took this immediately as metaphor: alone, I am intimidated by my dreams, my pursuits, my panics. But I don’t have to do this alone. In fact, I’m not doing it alone: I have community, a profound support that has startled me. No one has accused me of madness in this decision to go off “on my own” and focus my work energies on writing ourselves whole and my own creative writing projects. Instead, what I hear is encouragement around following my dreams, and a reminder to call on folks whenever I need anything. What kind of a gift is that?
What do rootedness and transition mean for you, or your narrator? Do you hold those ideas comfortably in your own life, or do you struggle against one or the other? Give yourself ten minutes (at least) with rooting, or change. Set the timer, and begin with the phrase “When I think of setting down roots, I…” or “When I think of change, I…” (shift the pronoun if you want: When she thinks of setting down roots, she… or When they think about changing, they…). Follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.
Be easy with your good self on this Monday. Thanks for the tender ways that you remind yourself and others to play. Thanks for your generosities and patience, inside and out. Thank you for your words.