Many years ago, the gym served as my home away from home. I was one of those aerobics people in those days, the kind who chattered her way through locker room into the open floored class space, and then whooped her way through class. I was exceedingly comfortable in the musty, wet-carpet smelling gym. Before class, I threw my clothes into an open locker—most everyone did—and thought nothing more of it. Most of us eschewed locks. We were friends, after all. One day, the inevitable happened. My favorite blue chenille sweater was stolen during class from the locker. Now, this was not a gorgeous sweater any longer: soft, but not baby blue, it was very well worn and looked that way, pulled, sagging sleeves, misshapen like a tent, and even holey. I loved this sweater; it was hands down my favorite. And I felt so violated in the sacred space of the friendly (for me) gym. More than the object itself—in fact, I had another, in purple, same cut, even—was that gnawing betrayal, the feelings surrounding loss that aren’t about the thing, but the losing.
This week, I took my increasingly sluggish (beyond lugubrious, constant color-wheel-of-death-spinning) laptop to the nice people at Yes Computers. The hard drive was fried. Recovery of my data was a days-long and dicey proposition. It seemed like most of it would be saved—thank you external hard drive—but the drive had stopped working too. So, here I am with a new computer I had no intention of owning (planned obsolescence we abhor you, my son, Ezekiel and myself). The old laptop will have a new hard drive next week and become a useful homework machine (in a year’s time, Lucien will be in middle school and Ezekiel will be in high school).
During those few days of anxious waiting to see whether the data would be recovered and overnight as I began to piece back together email addresses and the like, I thought about why losing things and then the process of finding them again is so difficult. I think it’s like that Joni Mitchell line: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” We chug along, not thinking we’re taking so very much for granted. The process of finding one’s way back, in order to be worth experiencing, has to have as much to do with being grateful—noticing, for real—what we’ve had, and what we cherish, often no longer the thing itself, but the part of ourselves that loved it and how we loved and can continue to love. As I limped through writing an art review and a blog post and discovered other routes to find some people I tend to contact via email, I was acutely aware of how much I like writing and connecting and sending out the weekly email reminder to the pick-up soccer crew and sending out work. In a sense, both the losing and the finding were relatively easy.
Much harder was learning our beloved housemates/childcare provider just decided to move: new apartment, new jobs—and this month (for October 1). Up until learning otherwise on Thursday night, we’d had an agreement for this coming year. Suddenly, we’re looking for a whole new everything: person or persons to move upstairs and exchange childcare for housing. This isn’t as easy as renting an apartment, because we’re so intimately entwined through the childcare. Way beyond tenants, we need that “just-right” fit with our kids (and us). At other times, we’ve spread our babysitting eggs into more than one basket, but at this moment, we’ve been more than less holding one basket with some wonderful summertime support. Fortunately, we’ve had amazing babysitter karma (on a par with my mother-in-law’s brilliant parking karma), so I know by now that “just-right” isn’t unattainable; we’ve had plenty of terrific fits, as babysitters and as housemate/babysitters.
I didn’t sleep Thursday night, though. Like the blue sweater, I was stunned as much as anything else—a kind of kicked in the stomach sense of betrayal, because I really hadn’t any inkling this was afoot—and I was hurt. That part takes a little while to dissipate, but eventually, it will happen. Following directly behind hurt was a sense of overwhelm. There are really huge tasks ahead: foremost, telling the kids (they will be really upset because they love Kathryn and Hunter, and so do we; Hunter and Kathryn brought great people and ideas and projects—including Remy Friends, which was dreamed up right here in this house—and a wedding and their fun-loving ways). Then, there’s the time it takes to initiate outreach for this slot (all of yesterday, thus far) to make calls, talk to people, send emails… and then, of course, meeting people, and trying to figure out who will actually fit into the scene best. That’s a hard choice and one you want to feel confident about going in. Then, there’s the upheaval of having people move in and out of our house to follow, getting everyone comfortable with everyone else and all the routines to boot… And all of this takes place during a time of year when we have plenty of transitions on our plates: toddler Saskia to Sunnyside Child Care Center three mornings a week for her first experience in that kind of peer/preschool setting (which she’s going to love, but will be a big change), Remy to first grade, Lucien to sixth (the last at the Smith College Campus School, so it’s a time of final experiences and rituals and includes our needing to look at middle schools), and Ezekiel to eighth.
Over the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been trying to lick my wounds and move ahead all at once. And in doing so, I am sure of these things: I’m so grateful to be this sad, because it means we had a dreamy situation for a year (and sometimes, situations in the childcare/housing haven’t been quite so copacetic) and I’m searching for my optimism about the new, because new people always bring gifts to the mix. Additionally, and more importantly, I’m being reminded of the lessons learned from losing, acknowledging, and then finding anew.