What do you do on the doubting days, when you shower and get dressed in your childhood home and go downstairs and make breakfast and tea and suddenly find yourself crying into your cantaloupe?
I'm sobbing about all sorts of things, but what I can discern the most is: once this was my only home and now it isn't, and I made and grew and found so much in other places, and now I've come back to this first place by choice. And it's that freedom of choice now coupled with commitment to this new thing (that I must do well, I must do well) that makes me sob heavier in the hard moments.
How did this become a hard moment? I just woke up and there it was. Well, and yesterday I woke up in a different place, in one of the homes that he and I have made our own and that we'll soon have to say goodbye to.
(and the "have to" is my doing, I went and turned our lives upside down) (this is my unfounded guilt, where my nature dwells too much - I hate change and when I cause change, and for more than just myself, well then...)
We ate at our favorite places and we walked on familiar streets and it didn't feel much different than what our life has been like the last three and a half years. Except then I got in my car and drove four hours without him to the place I knew long before him. And it wasn't the same place I knew then because I am not the same person I was.
And so you're dripping tears on your fruit and trying to chew peanut butter toast and starting to spurt out every little thing that is scaring you, aching in you, making you sad and angry and terrified in this particular moment and it's not even 7:30 on Monday morning.
I go upstairs and don't even bother washing my face and I put on my make up over my tear stains and go downstairs and go out the door (I lose both sets of car keys for ten agonizing minutes and that would have been the cherry-on-top of this peachy morning) and leave. Because it's Monday morning and I'm an adult.
During those first couple of hours in the office, I feel soft - like someone could push me over with their pinky - with this bubbling ache in my chest that travels up to my eyes. I try to speak like my head is clear and my heart is up, like I know what I'm doing and I've been here for years. I try to follow my words, create sentences that make sense, make sentences that create confidence. Everyone is kind, and I muddle through okay, though that's about all it feels like - muddling. I make a mistake, small but to me it feels huge, and I take deep breaths, send an e-mail, follow up in person, and then go do a YouTube video workout with two other staffers in an empty classroom.
Your arms are pumping and you're getting lost trying to count steps with the instructor and one of your new coworkers asks, interested, what it was like to live in your old city and suddenly you picture what you would be doing at this time in that city on a typical Monday. You can imagine every part of it - the drive to work, the farmer's market, the friendly faces at spin - and that softness comes back mixed with sweat, any second you might lose your balance, curl up in a ball and cry until you wake up and life is normal again.
But when will that be? And what will that look like? So many things are changing around us. Everyone I know, it seems, is going through some sort of shift. In the past week I heard news of change that took my breath away in horror and news of change that made me beam with joy. Both made me go to God for goodness. Because all of it is messy.
Driving 500 miles on the road this weekend, I would sing one song with gusto and the next through tears. I felt at home in two places, most deeply with one person. We have begun together many times, and we are waiting to begin again.
The pumping blood and deep breaths of the workout do you good - and the fellowship of people, slowly coming to know each other. That is the grace you feel, perhaps, the steady work of movement, the slowly (SLOWLY) coming to know - in everything.
You go to your second meeting of the day and speak clearly and ask questions and nod as you listen and affirm what you hear and you get nods and affirmations back. You gather your papers and take a deep breath - soft around the edges still, but perhaps a little more solid.
There is still doubt. There is still the ache of missing presence, missing place, there are still decisions made and unmade, the countless things we don't know. There is still the immense to-do list, there is still the haze on the horizon and the tomorrows that hold nothing knowable or doable for today. But the thing about doubting days, I find, is that sometimes they can turn even the slightest bit - with a smile, a word, a text, a few minutes in the sun. Hell, sometimes transferring a prescription from one pharmacy to another - simply waiting on hold on the phone - will feel like a massive victory.
You wind up at the same kitchen table after work, the table where you had your head in your hands this morning. You and your mother talk about writing and wedding and work, in between savored bites of mango. Tomorrow will come soon. Another doubting day when the alarm goes off? Maybe most days start out this way, especially in the throes of a transition. Maybe some will be worse than this one.
But I want to do my best to remember that doubt is messy and, well, doubtful enough to turn. I like to think that it can even begin to mold itself into a kind of hope.