It’s snowing again today. Early march, in like a lion when what my soul cries out for is the sweetness of the Lamb. Spring always stirs up the water in me, revealing the truths indelibly marked in my soul, the memory of who I am, the anticipation of who I am coming to be.
The past few weeks: a blend of the irritating, incomprehensible, and ironic, all whirled with a fine dose of intoxicating sunshine as the stuff of life dances a loop: fall apart, back together, apart, back together.
It would be a nice kind of lie to say that I’ve spent the time overlooking it all from a perch on the fence of mindful ambivalence, but a lie nonetheless. Everything lately has felt so unsortable. I wake up most days after very short nights facing a still-tangled mess of thoughts and circumstances, the mass of which I cannot seem to sort. If I could only find the loose end and unravel it all from there.
And in the core of it all, a sense of leaning, straining—reaching for some unnameable thing ahead. Amidst all of the busyness have been the stillest of moment, moments of clarity, assurances that all of this builds up and into a purpose.
But what purpose?
Just as the answer takes shape in the mist and the fog begins to clear; just as I step towards the meaning of it all-the memory of who I am and what I value-the world inevitably falls back to chaos.
Things progress: the old sputtering engines are exchanged for the new, we lift each other from the floor and into arms, into chairs, into the waiting rooms where doctors try to tell us our fates, and the show still goes on. Anticipation is met by the pattering of small padded feet across the floor, and, if done correctly, you exchange plane tickets and hours of anxious waiting for a week full of kisses and laughing hellos. Jangling nerves relax, the tangled knots release, and purpose begins to take shape again, closer this time, clearer now, almost discernible before disappearing once more back into the mist.
I haven’t yet learned how to handle life, and how to do so gracefully. I have to laugh at my name sometimes, at the way it belies the clumsy tumble-trip of my feet and flailing hands as I desperately try to find balance. I wonder: is there ever a time in life when you no longer feel that you’re at odds with the innermost pieces of yourself?
The fissures lacing their way up and down the walls mark a nonsense map: indent of beating fists and bodies. I remember the feeling of my hair being pulled, punctuated by angry words. I trace my fingers across the lines, making new memories. Whispered words send their tickling messages into waiting ears. I watch the cracks re-join and the lines heal. I watch the scars disappear.
The purpose takes shape and clears the mist, revealing itself not as a single being after all, not a hulking, nameable thing, but as a summation of so many parts. Pieces of me that I lose sight of but have always known to be mine. And thenI remember who I am.
The girl who loves receiving mail but who cannot seem to ever properly open an envelope.
I’ve learned to count my days in anniversaries, the passing months in memorandum of the things that have passed, the people. I’ve learned to identify myself with endings, to wait with bated breath for the next passing. Last year as I sat distracted one of my best friends- and someone in my care- took the opportunity to silence her own life two-thousand miles away. It was midmorning on my birthday when I got the call informing me that she’d died in a hospital bed, the scars on her wrist still healed but the combination of prescription drugs and the entire litres of alcohol in her stomach tolling the death knoll all the same.
“At least she checked herself in,” the business-like voice tries kindly, “at least she changed her mind. Now, she listed you as her only family…”
I still don’t know how to describe these things out loud. I haven’t really tried. I do know that I’m finished marking my life by tragedies, and I am ready to see my life in light of a grander scheme than merely defined by the losses that have surrounded it—that I am done singing requiems.
The challenge is learning, after so long, to find a new song to sing. But there is joy in that as well, a sense of adventure and uncertainty as you fumble with the unfamiliar notes and build a new tune, one entirely your own.
Or at least this is what I tell myself to make it all seem less daunting.
The truth is, I don’t know how to be alone. For all my independence, for every table for one, every private date with myself to every film, every night in with a cup of tea and a book and the void next to me I’ve been staving off some inexplicable sense of sadness I’ve been too frightened to allow myself to feel. I’m afraid to admit that I’m not just alone, but that I’m lonely. I’m afraid to own that the boundaries of my own mind and the pages of a book may not always be enough to satisfy the longing of my heart to find some kind of meaning. I’m afraid to admit that I don’t want to be alone, because how terrible and embarrassing would it be if my wish never came true and I was left kissing frogs for the rest of my days, desperately hoping one will somehow turn into a prince.
But as if the knotted loose ends know what is to come, it seems that they have already begun to fall, unravelling themselves. Or it could be that they have simply been loosened by other fingers, the same ones that formed me, perhaps, or the ones that have lovingly traced the length of my spine. Or both. I’m not certain that I need to know.
As this old life falls apart, I light a match and touch it to rubble and watch it go up in flames, burning itself into my memory in some great, glorious, fiery impression. One final, blazing salute to the chaos of what was as I turn to embrace the chaos of the unknowable what-will-be.
After all: chaos is a friend of mine.