Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Dance in the Middle

I just gave my 60-day notice to my landlords. I’m moving in with Jonathan in August.

Jonathan and I looked at engagement rings on Saturday. We have been talking about marriage for almost the entire “just-about-two-years” that we’ve been together. We’ve also been talking about having a baby.

The past two years has had its share of sadness, anxiety and anger, all of which have been nicely tempered with happiness, feelings of good fortune, and a sense that I can begin (the starting line keeps moving ahead on me) to relax and try to let go of the tears that still plague me.

I really do wonder how long getting used to the death of a spouse takes. Spouse isn’t really the right word for who I lost. Chris was a soul-mate, a teacher, and a best friend and a savior. From experience, I know that grief lingers for at least five-and-a-half years. Reemergence happens alongside grief, both traveling in opposite directions, intersecting in the middle right smack where positive change begins. I’m ready for that change, now. I don’t believe I have ever been ready before now.

My landlords like to remind me that, when I moved in three years ago, I told them I was done with dating and love and all of that stuff. They joke and say, “Oh, she was done dating…no men for her…she liked being by herself.” It’s not a joke in which I find humor. It’s a joke that makes me want to say, “Well, when one of YOU dies, the other one will see how much fun it is to be widowed.” I know. It’s mean. Like I said, I’m still a work in progress.

I’m not sure if I can paint an accurate mental picture of how I see this pivotal scene in my head. Grief comes from the west, and reemergence approaches from the east. They meet, but don’t pass each other right away. The two circle one another at the point of intersection for hundreds of years (less in real-time). Grief ponders being on its way. Reemergence ponders resuming the joys of a life interrupted by a cancer diagnosis seven years ago. The dance continues until the time is right and then maybe grief leaves, taking chest-crushing anxiety and depression with it. And maybe reemergence finds itself standing on the ground with nothing but sky in view.

I want to sing. I want to act. I want to run. I want to exercise. I want to eat delicious foods. I want to bask in the sun. I want to cry less often. I want to spend hours engaged in frivolous activities with my friends. I want the eclipse to go away. I want the sun back.

There’s an upcoming audition for a musical I have loved most of my adult life. I began to prepare to compete for one of the two leading roles, both of which are played by women in their twenties. I wanted it seven years ago, and I wanted it as recently as this morning. On my way home, on the train, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the subway window, and even though I look much younger than my years, I took a breath and admitted to myself that I’m not going to snag either one of those roles. That time has passed. Perhaps ten years ago, when I looked twenty years younger than I do now, I might have stood a chance. I shudder to think of how many sweet, beautiful twenty-somethings are going to show up with the same desire to sing those roles, each more talented than I am. The time is theirs, now, not mine. It’s okay. There are plenty of roles that call for forty-three-year-old women. Plenty.

In admitting that to myself, I think I may have entered a very early stage of working grief and reemergence apart, loosening the knot that keeps them intertwined and sending them on two separate journeys into the future.

I was young once. I’m not old yet, but I’m not twenty, either. I spent my thirties falling deeply in love and then losing that love. Ten years gone. More.

But Jonathan’s here, now, and I learned that I can love very deeply again, even though the thought chokes me when it’s not filing me with joy and wonder. There’s that dance in the middle, again.

Sometimes I feel desperately tired and unable to cope with everyday occurrences. Sometimes I still feel the need to stay in and cry. Sometimes my head is full of negative existential thoughts. And sometimes I’m the luckiest woman in the world and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.

I’m just dancing, right now, and it's nice to know I have moved from the beginning to the middle.