Last night I was driving to yet another thing when I glimpsed the full moon hanging in front of me, beckoning me to look outside my head for just one minute, just one lousy minute. I’ve been too inside lately. Too much with my thoughts and my yearnings and damn old worries. It’s paralyzing you know. You’ve got a whole moon whispering to you, winking its stories, and you leave it there because you’re too much with yourself.
Too much with myself.
I couldn’t let the moment pass though, that rare lightning strike of self-awareness. Because sometimes you make yourself step outside. Because the road can’t be all there is to you. Because there’s a moon out there.
Afterwards, I thought of this post I wrote last year and how here I am again. I would re-write it, hang new words on its branches, tweak its prose tinsel, but it just too aptly sums up my head right now.
I hope you don’t mind.
Certain images stay with me a long time. Pictures in my mind that will forever define turning points, give a face to a particular time in my life, demarcate the moment of “this is me now,” right before I jump into “this is who I’m going to be.” I tend to look back at those mental crossroads, pull out the visual of the second the changing thought struck me, and weave the pictures together in a mind scrapbook I leaf through from time to time. One of those snapshots is from last night. It was about 10:00, I was driving home from a meet-up of lovely women I’ve met through blogging and Twitter, and as I turned onto my street, the near-full moon illuminated every house in a surreal landscape that is today my life. Neighbors that gather outside, curbside basketball hoops, walking dogs, the nearby roof of the elementary school.
As I do, I gazed inside lit windows, aiming for a glimpse of life behind closed doors; seeing who is up late, who is deep in conversation, who silently sits in a LazyBoy. I’m always fascinated by secret lives, and what compartment we choose to put ourselves in — the one we escape from at 10 on a Sunday night or 4AM, rocking alone in the backyard swing, contemplating things like “purpose,” and “life mission,” and “passion.”
So here I am, silently steering down my cul de sac, wondering about these houses and who swings in repose at 4AM; appreciating the bulk and solidity of the mountains in front of me, the fragility of the leaves on the driveway, and the sure figure of my husband waiting inside on the couch, and I thought about where I was returning from — close conversation with women I know mostly through online snippets– and what I was returning to — my life, made up of things I can hold and see illuminated. And why do I need all these compartments.
I doubt this makes sense to you, and sometimes not to me, which is why I need those images to make it visceral. But see, I’m wondering what I’m doing. I continually take myself away from my family, because I need to, I want to, I crave not just being in answer to someone(s), and I explore this compulsion. I need to be someone “other than” — a book club member, a mom’s night outter, a Twitterer, a writer working on something, a person not always at home, yet the reality is that I have a home and people inside it wait for me.
Why can’t I contentedly be a mom and a wife? There’s all this turning away, but toward what, I don’t know. I suppose it’s my search for meaning, and will my family be the better for it, for this multidimensionality I strive for, for this richness of being. Yet all along there is this richness right before my eyes, not a snapshot, nor a scrapbook, just real life people calling me off my 4AM swing.
I am lucky in other ways. My husband supports my compartments, my yearning and turning. He truly wants to see me put my mosaic together, and I him, so that’s a wind beneath my wings thing right there. Still, when I returned home last night, opened the door and saw my husband outlined in shadow, I wanted to turn on the light and wash him in technicolor. Which I very nearly did, but instead went upstairs and almost kissed the girls awake. Because they are there. And none of them are a computer manuscript, a virtual friend, a glass of wine with a neighbor, a jewelry party, a picture even.
And neither am I.