Tuesday, January 31, 2017

the advantage of a moment: planting flowers for the new year

It's early morning (okay, it's just morning), and my baby is asleep upstairs. She probably heard me type that. When she wakes, I will run, and we will snuggle, and I will forget all about writing for awhile. You may have guessed, this happens a lot. It's a new kind of life, and I am smitten with it.

The birth of our child has brought a sort of rebirth to our family, as well. In our hearts and handholds, we have changed somewhat. A baby will do that to the ones who love her. The world could be crumbling outside, but one look at her causes everything to be still. Uncertainties solidify. She shifts priorities in an instant, and calms the center.

As in any birth story, there's pain, trial, triumph, determination, and strength. The renewing of our family, and my personal, outlook is no different. We hold tight to the ones who love us, we let go the ones who refuse.

Recently, a dear friend of mine let me know that she doesn't like me, and hasn't for some years. I've gone from being someone I thought she loved, to someone she refers to as "that woman." She won't even meet my baby, unless I agree to leave the room first (if you're guessing, no, she hasn't met our baby yet). There was a facade of love and like for a great while, one I believed wholeheartedly. I suppose, though, pretending only lasts so long, and eventually, we have to be true to ourselves -- she had to be true to herself, too, and let me know.

I remember my mom telling me once, many years ago, how she'd rather be kicked in the shins than have people talk about her behind her back, and I can say now, I agree with the sentiment. Like me or don't, but don't pretend to.

So why am I starting the year this way? Why bring this up at the beginning? I can assure you, I'd rather not. Besides, this story makes me look like a total asshole. Someone dislikes me enough to reject a baby. It's possible I am as horrid as she has been telling people I am. Why in the hell would I write about this? Because, life has a way of blocking us from the page unless we agree to write about the hard stuff. For all my attempts at writing about something else, I couldn't, haven't been able to. So here we are.

One moment, one word, one choice; ad nauseum. Time and life spend themselves like small change; the ticking clock and the tally are always running, on our relationships, on our finances, on our visions. These moments, these small bits of ourselves that make up who we are and how we are in relation to one another, they are like nickels and dimes in a wallet. They fill up like jars on a shelf. We are, after all, a collection of everything we've been.

If we can nickel and dime our way into debt, surely we can nickel and dime our way out of it. This concept has struck me anew as I've processed the loss of, what was to me, one of my favorite friendships. All without knowing, my friend has been hurt or has chosen to believe I want to hurt her. Instead of checking in with me, talking to me about it, or believing I have good to offer, she kept it to herself until she couldn't anymore. Over time, these bits of myself have accumulated for her into something very big. It's the tiny-heavy-gathered stuff that makes or breaks us, anyway. If we, by small acts of insensitivity, have squandered something, it is going to take small acts over time to repair that same thing. If something can be ruined, certainly, that same thing can be fixed, or made new with effort and perseverance. Little by little, good can be added.

Maybe. When it comes to those who will not forgive you, small change in this case looks like self respect, like self assessment, like moving on. It's 2017, a new year, and this time, I choose to listen. I understand there are people who don't like me, and I won't be forcing anything. Former versions of myself would have spent countless hours of energy worrying those relationships into a fix, even if it meant the abandonment of self. But the present version of me just doesn't have it in her. She's full and happy, and will invest her heart only where it will be allowed to grow. I'll pay attention to those people who say it can't or won't, only so far as it allows me to do the opposite.

And besides, look at this girl I'm snuggling. She's the reason I stay up at weird hours, have foregone previously unmovable boundary lines of self, type one-handed. This year is one for enjoying the village; and the village around this girl and I, well, it's full and beautiful. If you are looking for us, that's where we'll be.

photography: www.thelabourunion.com