I really should be at work now. Instead, I’m at home, my little home in Texas, slowly waking up after the long trip yesterday. I have been savoring this last “vacation” morning, even though today isn’t really a vacation day—it’s Return to Work Day. Which I will, in a few hours. Soon, I will shower and wash my hair, get dressed (a blue cowl neck and black pants for today), pack my lunch, and ride my bike to work. But for just a few moments more, I’m on vacation. It feels good.
It’s very quiet here today. I am missing the smile of a four-year-old who greeted me happily every morning and asked if I would watch her shows with her. I am missing her so much that I’m about to make myself cry—again! I feel myself filled to the brim with contradictions: the joy and relief of being in my home again, the sadness of leaving my family, the pleasure of a peaceful morning alone, the pain of not sharing that morning with Lydia and the rest of the bunch. To hold these contradictions together in my heart is weird and difficult. I wonder if the shape of my life is the result of a certain kind of greediness to have it all: the freedom and independence to carve my own path, the need to be a part of something bigger and more profound than my own selfish interests. For some women, “having it all” means having a career and their own children. For me, having it all seems to mean having a career in some far-flung location and belonging to a family that accepts my comings and goings without question. It’s a family that made it possible for me to leave in the first place, and a family that welcomes me back with open arms, home, and heart when I return.
The biggest and deepest contradiction that shapes who I am is that I love being alone and I love being with family. This feeling is also applicable to friends and Matt. He understands my need to be alone without question. It’s harder to reconcile this need when it comes to Lydia, even though I know that she too is finding the quiet pleasures that being alone can bring. For me, the state of being “alone” is part of how I take care of myself, how I refill the well so that I can be calm and patient and happy with others. Occasionally, I wonder if my need to be alone predicts that I would be a bad mother if I had children. Sometimes I feel like a bad auntie for not being around more often. But I know I’m not ready to return to Michigan for the long haul. I don’t know if I will, though I do think about it. For now, the shape of life is a home in Texas, a family in Michigan, and a heart that finds love and happiness in both places.
About today’s photos:
* The first is a shot of the Texas landscape as we drove to Houston to drop me off at the airport.
* The second is a view from the airplane window, somewhere over North America.
* The third is looking out from my brother’s backyard, into someone else’s property. I like the wooded, wintry feel of this photo—it feels very Michigan to me.