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I’m in my car, sweaty after a day of working hard, surrounded by a bunch of shit like a mobile hoarder—my windshield needing replacement so bad I’m about to ditch the whole circus on the side of the road—and it’s the night I start to reclaim my ankles from the bloat my unhealthy eating (due to lack of time) mercilessly attacked me with.

And as I pull into the Sugar House Barnes and Noble shopping center heading to Whole Foods, 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.

And my kids tell me they can’t imagine me being married to their dad and I’m 11 years out from my divorce yet 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—there we are. James and I. Observing “quality time” to try to show one another who we are and how we care. Taking the kids to Costco 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 the emotional holes of our childhoods for the sake of some labels. For the sake of a dream someone else made up.

And as I pass this family outside Jamba Juice, the music I’m blasting in my filthy car offers a jarring counterpoint.

For 11 years out—with so much struggle I literally almost died—I can see all the selves I’ve been stacked up like Jenga in scenes that often felt like product placements. Making compromises unhealthy for me to make, Unknowingly blind but treading water and trying to quickly fill those holes as if I ever really could.

And as a 50 year old woman who works too hard, lives too messily, and sleeps too little; whose self-care is akin to a shot of whiskey while crying softly in a bathroom, it is only within this counterpoint that I can fully behold.

For in living out so many scenes the intersection of messy cars and loud music becomes a breath so deep there’s no way you’d ever suffocate yourself. And inside such a life beats the vibrancy of observing emotional holes while forever-blossoming the artistic potential of a masterpiece of healing.

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 even from the seductive whispers of former scenes, I could somehow be borne into the freedom of myself.

2 thoughts on “Sunset on an old self

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