Monday, May 11, 2009

will the circle be unbroken

Life at the end of a semester is something like I imagine Plath's bell jar was, or rather the motive for her crawling beneath the house, taking pills, and truly hoping not to be found. At any rate, try to understand the madness and the always-tingly-tightness of anxiety as a physical symptom - strung across the muscles of a lower back - and the lack of sleep and the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. That has been the last two or so weeks. Then there was my invitation for a Mother's Day weekend, which was mostly kind of okay except for the lingering anxiety and equally tingly-tightness of muscles prolonged by comparisons to my father or early afternoon drinking or the mention of a man friend. I wanted a couple of days to lavish in the freedom of my first year of grad school completed but it didn't work out that way. Tomorrow morning (earlier than I had planned for) my father, who just today compared me to my mother, is picking me up for a week long road trip to the coast of South Carolina. While a suburban is a fairly spacious vehicle, I often feel that the 250 miles between here and home is not enough area of space. If I had had the time to myself, the luxury of surfacing slowly enough to avoid the bends, I would likely not be so dreading the next 7-8 days.

It's difficult to understand what has happened over the last four months. Mom kindly pointed out that she was worried about me having spent so much time alone - a comment spawned out of one of my explanations of these new lifestyle changes. But something has changed in me. I used to be this independent before I left their house, before I had the physical escape of leaving the tumultuous energy of home. I would sit in my room and do god-knows-what for hours without being bored. I mostly recall painting in the floor, the oatmeal carpet stained multicolored with acrylic pigment, the therapy they never funded.

When the rooms here felt too silent I looked to those memories for reassurance. Then one day I was strong enough to just look forward. The unsettling part has been realizing that I have re-arrived here, that I am somehow enough and that I am content. As I was talking to a friend about this very phenomenon, she used a phrase that struck home, "false independence," as in feeling needless in the front of one's mind while holding tightly to the security that remains in him, even if he's not here. It's like her daughter - able to walk but refusing to take a step without the aid of an adult's finger gripped within her tiny fist. Maybe I've only sold myself on the hype, just like I'm supposed to, distanced myself through days upon days of the mantras, the whatever-it-takes methods of coping. In the process I have fallen in love with my little piece of the world. This house is my domain. This house that I thought I could only loathe and curse is my niche, and I kind of hate the thought of leaving my security if only for a week. Leaving means breaking all of those habits that I've built my independence on. In moments like these, on the eve of variation, I dread packing and driving away from the reliability of home. I miss him more. I feel like a traitor to the routine that keeps me from flying apart in all directions. I start to feel short of breath.

He sent a couple of pictures the other day of him Over There. His smile is still perfectly heartbreaking and his eyes and his form and his skin-just-out-of-reach, and what I first thought was how much I wanted to touch his hair. He in his uniform and my bags waiting to be packed make the earth shift underneath my steady footing. Yesterday all of this seemed so much easier, and coming full circle, it would seem that my sense of independence is completely false. I have wagered my ability to survive on the continuation of a domestic cycle of old things done in new ways and old passions reignited. I've gone back to my savior, Creation. As long as my hands are busy, as long as I can dovetail the pieces that I've made, I'm fine. You would never know how much it hurts to be apart from him - most of the time these days I don't.


indiana.girl said...

I have felt so much the same way, that feeling of being deeply and contentedly rooted in one place and that has been my security as well through this deployment. When I had to leave, I also felt as though I were leaving him, even though he doesn't live here now. How are your plants doing?

gardenymph said...

Hi there! I was wondering how your Mother's Day brunch went. I'm sure it was lovely, especially with all of the touches that you were talking about in the shop.
I was thinking about you today and wondering if you had left for you trip yet. In my opinion, the Carolina coasts are some of the most beautiful coasts in the world.
I wish you many pleasant and happy days of writing on your journey. Come by the shop to see me when you get back.