I started writing here over six years ago, in October 2008. At the time, I was married. My first son had just left the Somerville Public Schools to start at SVS. My world had been rocked. My other two were ok, youngest was struggling. Both visited SVS with Ben, neither was ready to go. I was running the day care, just over forty, wondering where to go myself.
Six and a half years later I’m still writing. Hardly anything else feels the same. Shortly after I started writing, my marriage fell apart. Separated and divorced and living on my own now five and a half years, I’ve undone and learned a lot. Career wise, I’ve contemplated and begun lots of changes, found myself back at WFDC full time, wondering still how the rest of my career will go.
I’ve lost more friends, more family, more financial security, more companionship, more physical and emotional and psychological support, more time with my children than I had really understood I would. Divorce is big. I suppose deep down I knew that, but the reality is stark.
Through it all, I’ve written here. Six and a half years later, I have a few semi-regular readers known to me, perhaps some regulars I don’t know, too. The numbers are steady, if small, and I wonder how many are generated by random searches, how many are real readers, and how many are just hits where folks click and move on.
It’s an odd thing to write into a void, and compelling.
Sorting out thoughts in writing does something for me that draws me on. Probably there is or will be research on that. Folks have been journalling and writing letters about their days for years and years and years. Blogging, while relatively new, adds the twist of the larger, mysterious audience.
I’ve read poetry almost every day since early in the writing of this blog, after over forty years of rarely appreciating a poem. I’ve taken over 36,000 photos, since halfway into my first year of writing, some of them posted here, though not so many of late. I’ve dated and tried again. I’ve spent more time alone than I ever thought I could. I’ve joined the Quakers in their silence and community, found new home there. I’ve missed my kids until its no use talking about it. This is what it is, divorce with shared custody and teens gradually leaving the nest.
I’ve rediscovered swimming and biking and cross country skiing, found readings and museums, listened to loads of music, recorded and live. I’ve learned to cook again, bought one or two pieces of furniture, taken a few off the street, mostly cleared things out, bag and box and piece by piece by piece. I’ve contemplated sharing my home with others, stepped back each time the opportunity fell through, contemplated trying again, decided to wait.
I’ve repaired the house as its fallen down, new wood, new paint, new plumbing and electrical, new windows and storms, stopping short of a remodel, contemplating moving on, tight finances, one income, simplicity, companionship the draws.
The money has covered the bills, and gradually, the extras I worried I’d not be able to do, some new clothes, an occasional movie, concert, play or meal out, trips the last few years, my share of camp and lessons, sporting equipment, college and private school tuition for the kids, semi-weekly cleaning of the house and day care, medical expenses that some years seem big, retirement savings in hopes of someday stopping work. The kids and caregivers and I are careful, and we do our best to have fun.
Wednesdays I try to be with the Sharing Circle at Cambridge Friends, a weekly get together for those who’ve been incarcerated and those who care. I’m learning there to value the things money can’t buy, to see life through different eyes, to share a meal and conversation, to listen attentively, to be sensitive to all I’ve got and to what others may not. I read the paper differently as a result. The news of violence against prisoners at Rikers Island jail and Attica prison reported by the New York Times the last two weeks feels personal. I wonder what the men I’ve met have experienced in their years behind bars, look to them with deeper compassion, wonder where this experience of sharing our lives might lead.
I find inspiration in the Circle to cultivate an inner life. One man struggles mightily, and he writes, reading novels from the library to feed his mind, constructing stories he loves to share, making novels he hopes others might one day read. One man fights a legal battle, acting as his own lawyer. One woman studies self-improvement. Another sings. One man is in love with the data base. Another woman writes from her life experience, as well as fiction reinterpreting her spiritual understandings. Another man looks after relatives who depend upon him for their daily care. Some shovel and help out at Meeting. Some look out for others who were formerly incarcerated. One woman teaches in prison, studies criminal justice as a college professor. Another paints houses and hires folks needing work to be on his crew, makes social justice the core of who his is. All those in the Circle seem to care and to value the coming together. Occasionally we have visitors who come one night or two. This stretch of my kids being away three weeks I may attend three weeks in a row. After missing weeks and weeks due to holidays, mixed up schedules and snow, I’m happy to be counted amongst the regulars.
All this is to say, I’m still here. I’m still writing. Still thinking. Still changing, if more slowly than I once was. My thoughts and life feel less inspiring and inspired than they once did. I’m still hoping that by following them in writing they’ll take a shape I can better understand. Good day to you and thank you for reading, whether as a regular, occasional, or passerby.