Nature and Love

February 8, 2019

There is something starkly beautiful about a New England winter. For some reason I find myself here almost every year at this time or at least in some wintery place. But the gray landscape lends itself to introspection. At least here on this mountaintop, I am isolated with just two of my immediate family, my mother and brother. And so, often, I am alone with my thoughts. Since I don’t ski, or snowshoe, it is just me and the fire and watching the snow melt on this strange day.

I will hardly be the first person to say that your family is who they are and sometimes you love them in spite of yourself and in spite of themselves. I was told recently to remember that there is family you choose and family you don’t choose. And you love them differently. And sometimes, there is the family that chooses you.

Over time, people have come into my life that I love very much. I did not know that I could love as much as I do. I did not know how much I would value the love and friendship of the women in my life. And I did not know how much I would value and be touched by the people I have known the longest and who I see the least .

When I was young, all I understood of love was sex and marriage. As an aside, marriage has not worked out well for me. But marriage gave me my son, from whom I have learned a very different kind of love; The kind for which you would throw yourself in front of a moving train.

It is always interesting to me the extent to which nature, the weather, the scenery affects my mood and feelings. Sometimes it affects my optimism. Sometimes it is all about memory. When I come to this place it is full of memories of people, events and love past. And it is full of the present – thoughtful, joyful, difficult.

It has taken these years of living to begin to understand the nature of love for me. And it is all of the above, thoughtful, joyful, difficult, memorable. How happy I am that I have begun to understand the difference between need, want and love.

Academy of What?

 

It is amazing what my mind can do when left unsupervised.  Some of the things I think should and will remain unspoken, or at least unwritten.  But some random thoughts deserve to be aired, or at least it seems so to me.

I was driving down the road and saw a large sign on a building.  It was one of those moments when you just see the sign in passing out of the corner of your eye because of course you are watching the road. And what I saw, or what my brain thought it saw was: Academy of Marital Arts. I’m sure you can figure out what it actually said.

Now imagine what an academy of marital arts might be.  Listening lessons on one floor, sex on another, how to find common interests in one classroom, compromise in another.  The possibilities are pretty numerous.  And speaking as someone who has ended less than successful marriages, I think such an academy could be very useful.

In fact, I suspect that academies of marital arts might better equip our young for the future. Now understand that I have great respect for academies of martial arts and I completely understand the values they teach; discipline, respect, physical health and so on. But there are many places in our culture that teach, or purport to teach, these or similar values; little league, Boy Scouts, pop warner to name a few.

But just think, did your parents tell you how to be married? Mine surely didn’t.  My father was never married more than, I think, about 6 or 7 years; twice. My mother was able to sustain a little more longevity but has been married four times.  And, sad to say, I am coming up on her fast. But what matters is this: did anyone ever tell you to consider your lover’s needs when enumerating your own, did anyone ever articulate what day to day compromise really looks like, or true and genuine communication?  For most of us, no.

I grant that there are those of you that had wonderful parental or grand parental role models for how to be married. But even for those of you that lucky, it is likely that the world and cultural norms and expectations have shifted so significantly that those models quickly become passé. An educational institution could keep up, maybe.  So despite the usefulness of martial arts, I will continue to hope that somewhere there is an academy of martial arts.

Home ~ What Is

There are many, many versions of “what is home”.  It is where you hang your hat; where your heart is; where your dog is; where they have to take you in (thank you Robert Frost). And so on and so forth.  If you were to google quotes for “home”, I am sure there would be a whole lot of them.  But what is it really, beyond the trite cliches; whatever seed of truth they may have.

[tweetshare tweet=”I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be” username=”TrienahM”]

I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be when my college student son, who is getting ready to leave home for good, was gone for about ten days.  The background here is that I separated/divorced about two and a half years ago, after roughly twenty seven years.  At that time my son had come back home to finish college after having left for two or so years.  His presence was and has been a blessing as I have travelled through this weird and unexpected transition.  But when he was gone for those ten days, the emptiness of my home struck me, hard.

As I worked through the feelings I realized that home, for a long time was the place I created for others.  Now mind you I am a nestbuilder, having lived almost nowhere for more than five years in my entire life, but that is an analysis for another time.  For twenty five years give or take, home is the place I created for my son, for my husband, for a family.  Now the son is leaving (and taking the dog), the husband is gone.  So home has to be what I create for myself.

Home is about habits and routines.  And for just me, the habits and routines are very different than they were for family.  I eat at different times, I sleep at different times, I do laundry at different times, I grocery shop at different times.  My life is no longer circumscribed by family life, only by work and my own wants and needs.

But that realization wasn’t immediate.  What was immediate was the awful feeling of coming home, for the first time in almost 30 years, to a dark and empty house.  No other car in the drive, the outside lights not on to welcome me home, no dog wagging a stump so happy to see me, no other living soul.  The house had a very different feel despite the fact that I have lived here longer than anywhere ever and it is very familiar.  I cried.  Not sure why or for what.  And each day it got a little easier, a little more “normal”.  I could park in the middle of the driveway, not worrying about leaving space.  I remembered to put out the trash.  I grocery shopped for just me.  And each day it got a little easier.

My son is back, but working on his own transition and will soon be gone.  I am thankful for the crazy cats, they still greet me and are happy to see me, mostly.  But I know when he goes this time, it will be a little easier, a little more familiar, a little more “normal”.  I know that home, now, is what I create for myself, finally.

Singularity ~ Pun Intended

So over the last year and half or so, I have been doing and going and showing up at all manner of things by myself.  Having ended a marriage of over 25 years, I am re-learning the joys of doing things “single”.   People often speak of the joys of partnerhood, and I will come back to that later, but rarely do you hear people speak of the joys of singlehood.  So here goes.

I find that I am much more able to make space in my busy life for solitary prayer and for meditation practices.  Now mind you I don’t often find a 30 minute block of time, but I do find short spaces for meditation and I feel much more centered and at peace for those short spaces.  By solitary prayer I mean prayer that is not in a ritual or congregational setting.  There is nobody here to think I am weird if I just sit up in bed, close my eyes and talk to G-d.  Who, by the way, does not mind if I drink coffee during these prayer conversations.

I do not have to ask what anyone else wants to watch on tv, what movies they like or what kind of music to see.  I happily have gone to symphony, american folk, several types of jazz, blues, musical theatre and gospel without needing to find out if any of those are acceptable to a partner.  It is not easy to find folks with broadly eclectic tastes to share these things with.

I do not have to explain that I rehearse twice or three times a week because music is everything, with books, teaching and live performances close behind.  I am free to stand out on my front porch and contemplate the moon and stars or sit out on my lanai and watch the raccoons and listen to the frogs whenever the mood strikes me.  There is nobody to think I am crazy.

But then, there is that moment when you turn to the partner who is not there to say “look at that beautiful moon” or “listen to that frog choir”.  There is nobody to bring the coffee in bed.  There is nobody to talk about the music, and the joy it brings, with.  There is nobody to put your feet on while you watch a movie at home.

[tweetshare tweet=”I have learned, this past 30 months or so, how singular I am and that I can be joyful alone, and that I am not alone.  I have amazing people in my life.  But I have also come to understand that singularity makes you difficult in ways that are hard to explain.  And so, I am not only singular, I am single and, for the moment good with it.” username=”@trienahm”]

Becoming ~ Redux

It is a year on down the line and some things are clearer and some things not so much…..

I have had many small adventures, theatre, symphony and other cherished music.  Live performance is critical to my happiness.  I have spent much time with loved female friends and have talked to the dog and the cat at great length.  I have watched my son becoming, in a very real sense, the man he will always be while being intensely grateful he is my child.  His help and support this past year has made my life manageable as I swing madly from fierce to afraid and learn how to do things I have never had to do.

I have learned to clean the pool, I have learned to dispose of dead animal cat gifts, I have learned I cannot change the light bulbs in the kitchen or the air conditioning filter.  But I have found people to help me with what I cannot do and I accept that there is much I have to do.  All this has shifted my perspective about what my life will look like in the future, what I want to deal with and what I don’t or won’t.  BAM, everything changes.

I have understood love and I have not dated.  I have taught children about God and in the process found my faith stronger. I have begun a crooked walk towards possible retirement and the financial realities that I will face.  I have made music with people I love and in that creativity have found immense joy.

How odd to think that one morning I will wake up for the first time in about fifty years with no need to rise and go to someone else’s employ.  Probably the most exciting and the scariest thing I have ever contemplated.  If I can stay in the idea that this is a great opportunity and that wondrous things still await me at this late time in my life, it will be amazing.  And so I work on creating options, possible paths for myself, knowing that at any moment, BAM, a totally different path may appear.  Stay in the moment but plan….faith is the antidote to fear.