we are swimming in the changes.
last july, we decided to put our house on the market. a spontaneous and years in the making decision, that cracked our too tight shells and started us rolling, as a family, for better or worse, picking up new stories and layers, moving forward, around, in circles. the kids and i flew to the east coast, to spend a summer we had been dreaming about, with my parents. and within a week the house was sold and we were in this fuzzy, present, salt on our skin, memory on our tongues kind of limbo that we all wished would stretch out infinitely. it was that simple. it was completely suspended. it had me confused about time, purpose, even my age some days. caught between parallel stages in life, time looping around on itself, being the mother in this same place i had spent sticky, happy summers as a kid with my brother, as a bursting at the seams, wild teenager, the nights opened up like a book i should write in blood and sweat.
each day was a step closer to the next dangling decision. everything was pulling us to a starting over place. i left berkeley almost twenty years ago, but smoky spirals of me had never gone from that beautiful, foggy bay. and so we decided what we knew we would decide. from across the country we wrestled with dreams and money like they were pieces of the same puzzle. until our heads nearly exploded with hope and impossibility trying to share a space. i am still amazed we found common ground with them. the messy scene at the end of the tunnel was found under some incredible light.
so here we are. san francisco called and we tapped every reserve to come. in a town that feels like a home, but is new at every turn. the happy ending that is laced with so many threads of reality. the way it is in life. the way every single day of our lives is: a mix of the image and its negative, of joy and struggle. we have missing walls, but our limbs are intact. termites and rats are having to share this place with us. we wake them up with our dancing and singing and forever ad-libbing chatter. we share a bedroom, which is only that because of our mattresses on the floor. and this sharing of rituals and books at night, sleep sounds and bad dreams, suitcase closets and a single dresser, stuffed animals and one mama between them…it is maybe the closest and most exquisite thing i can remember.
there is watching them behave with a brave and open grace, and then there is feeling myself let go of all expectations. it is turning frustration into patience. with my marriage, with the terror and relief jig that money has us dance, with the absolute final straw thrown out the window about what our life should look like, the prettiness, the furniture, the way we dress it up. and then there is the way patience turns to gratitude. this is how it happens. there is no magic formula, no transformation of lives, no constant stream of outward joy. it is a quiet turn, a together turn, a made up of a thousand tiny pieces turn. as if it were all done to a music. like our hearts can only follow its beat.
all this beautiful, scary newness. it is so low on the pain scale. this is us distilled. i will drink it straight.
(all images are from my iPhone. which seems to somehow fit…)
Wendy VonSossen is a lovely friend who makes lovelier images of her family and life…