Posted on | January 8, 2013 | 10 Comments
At eleven last night I was doing dishes, slowly and methodically scrubbing around corners and in between tines, the citrus smell of detergent billowing into the air alongside the accidental bubbles. There were two (okay three) empty beer bottles to recycle and counters to scrub and yet another load of laundry to dry before I could crawl into the warmth of my bed. I let out a sigh, patting the curve of my oldest dog’s head and finished my work, slowly climbing into bed around midnight… feeling emptier, as though I’d dropped bits and shreds of my self, of my soul, into the lukewarm water of the kitchen sink or down along the hardwood floors.
Too soon, morning came and my eyes wrestled with the sunlight, wondering about the dream that hovered just out of my grasp, just above my thoughts…. another piece of me, somehow gone even though I never knew it well enough to speak its name. I went through the motions of getting ready to leave the house: feed the dogs, feed the child, dress and clean and fold and press the life you’re muddling through. Before I knew it, we were parked along the sidewalk at daycare.
I dropped down to one knee and wrapped my arms around my son as he made a clucking noise with his tongue against my cheek, his way of giving a “real kiss.”
“Have a good day, buddy, I love you,” I nuzzled a little closer, breathing in the sweet spot just below his ear lobe where he still, sometimes, smells like the baby he used to be.
I watched him skip/run off to the train table to play with his friend and exhaled the sweetness of my soul, watching that perfect piece of me waft through the air and land on his shoulder. Another piece of me gone, I thought slowly, another day of his life ticking away without me.
By quarter til 8, I was on the treadmill, sweating out the stress (and beer) of yesterday and watching the miles slowly add up on my Iphone, and my sneakers, and my life. Each bead of sweat, another bit of me gone, scrolling down the side of my face and disappearing onto the smooth black surface below my feet. Everything I do seems to remove something from me, I thought, it’s all working to eliminate something that maybe I need if I just had time to figure it all out.
The gym shower was out of hot water so I danced beneath and between the drops, my muscles taut with tension, frozen by the icy chill. Each shiver shook another bit of me loose, another something gone, another not-so-perfect moment. As I got dressed in my work clothes and did my best to look presentable to the office where I spend so much of my time, I watched the other women move around me in the locker room. They brushed and plucked, chattered and smiled; each pulling on her suit or uniform, each doing her part to put her best face and foot forward. All around them, the pieces swirled: single mom, divorced, newly married, pregnant, mother of four. They were engaged in a dance they didn’t even see, darting in and out of responsibility, juggling the nuances of being a modern woman: Working, learning, teaching, raising, dating, laughing, eating, exercising… living.
Suddenly my eyes were opened; suddenly I could see this dance for what it is… no beginning, no ending… just life. Just the motions and emotions of a busy world full of busy people. No one had it worse or better, no one had a sadder story or a happier ending… not in that moment, not in that locker room. We were just moving, just living, just watching in awe and wonder as the sweet and sour of our lives spun around us in rich tapestries of loss and love and learning. We’re not losing pieces, we’re not leaving them behind in the dust to be forgotten or destroyed. We are doing what we should… we are living our lives. I watched the pieces of me dip and soar, in and out of my finger tips and circle my head like a halo and suddenly I knew that these are more than pieces of me… these dots and sparks and songs of joy are nothing more and nothing less than just life.
Just life the way it should be lived… one tiny piece at a time.