I’m in my car, sweaty after a day of working hard, surrounded by a bunch of shit like a mobile hoarder (with a windshield that needs to be replaced so bad I’m about to ditch the whole damned circus on the side of the road and do a “Thoughts and Prayers”) and I pull into the Sugar House Barnes and Noble shopping center heading to Whole Foods because tonight’s the night I reclaim my ankles from the 50 pounds of bloat (per) my unhealthy eating (due to lack of time) mercilessly attacked me with.

And I turn my car around the corner and outside of Jamba Juice is a family.

Mom, dad, two kids at a table outside drinking frozen juice as the sun sets on their weekend together, spending quality time to show one another who they are and how they care, and suddenly, I’m back with James. Taking the kids to Costco(etc.) on the weekend, buying stuff we didn’t need, pretending we weren’t pretending, making every stupid little thing an event like we were just killing time, and smothering our most expansive selves for the good of the marriage. And while the two little kids float around their dad in his white shirt and crossed legs, leaning back in the chair looking as if relaxed—taking part in this Sunday evening ritual of family time—I can see that the scenes that make up ideal societal life often feel like product placements.

And as I pass this family outside Jamba Juice, the music I’m blasting offers counterpoint and my head fills with the new me, a 50 year old woman who works too hard, lives too messily, sleeps too little, whose self-care is akin to a shot of whiskey while crying softly in a bathroom yet who knows from living out so many choices that sometimes in the intersection of chaos and unknowing you’re offered a breath so deep there’s no way you’d be able to suffocate. And it’s inside such a heart that life gets to beat to the vibrant passions of all time.

And so it is that in the cool of days’ end, Led Zeppelin vibrates in song about sex and in unburdened reverie to such desires—cankles flapping—I exit my car and smile to the sky that from the seductive whispers of conformity I could be borne into the freedom of myself.

2 thoughts on “Sunset on an old self

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