i opened yahoo this morning and saw a news story about the earthquake in Haiti. i thought something must be wrong with yahoo’s site because the headline made it seem like the earthquake just happened today. alas, i read on only to discover that they had a horrible aftershock today and i thought, ‘can’t these people catch a break?’ i’ve been hesitant to write anything about Haiti. truth be told, i’ve been hesitant to think that much about Haiti. so much sadness is difficult to comprehend and feel. i keep searching for some pearl of wisdom, some insight that will help it make sense or at least provide some clarity. i come up with nothing. it is just horribly horribly sad.
another Canadian singer-songwriter passed away this week – kate mcgarrigle. she was best know for the music she created with her sister, anna mcgarrigle. she was also the mother to the awesome rufus and martha wainwright. i saw the mcgarrigle sisters perform once in 1996 or 1997 at the Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky. i went with my dear friend Julie. hi jules! i had been living in the States for about two years and was struggling to find ways to stay connected to Canada. i remember that it was pouring rain that night and all throughout the show, you could hear the rain hitting the roof. that evening, the mcgarrigle sisters helped me feel a little more connected to Canada and home.
i was on youtube this morning watching clips of the mcgarrigle-wainwright family and found the following clip. it seemed like an appropriate way to tie together the two topics of this post. i hope that everyone who is reading this is safe, appreciating the comforts of their surroundings, and holding their loved ones close. be well.
above is the picture of the first house i lived in. we lived here until i was about five years old. i don’t remember anything about this house except for the floors creaked. i have other memories that i think are based in having seen photographs of the house and heard stories. like the story about how my brother threw an aerosol can in the fireplace one day. you can imagine how that turned out.
i also remember sitting on the roof of our blue station wagon and watching the activity of the street. my parents have pictures of me running up the windshield of the station wagon. they must have had a lot of confidence in my agility.
it is amazing how a physical place can trigger so many memories that have otherwise been lost. i saw the park to which my friends and i would ride our bikes and hang out. the old outdoor skating rinks (really? outdoors? whose idea was that?). the bowling alley that my mom would go to and i would hang out in the daycare in the bowling alley. the place where my brothers would get their hair cut and i would get a lollipop. it has been years since i thought of these things. it’s nice to be reliving them. finding those memories is helping this place feel less foreign and more like home.
i am in d.c. right now. we just experienced a snow storm that brought about 18 inches of snow. the city looks so peaceful and at night, there is this wonderful white glow from the light reflecting off the snow. during the storm, i have stayed confined to my apartment, (hopefully) nearing the end of packing up all my possessions.
i have moved 12 times in 13 years. i should be a professional at this packing business by now. yet, it still causes me anxiety. the worst is that last push – the final five or so boxes that you fill with random oddly-sized objects – hangers, a desk lamp, that huge wooden bowl, that magnetic knife bar that i never hung up in this apartment. i am reminded of all the things i wanted to do in this apartment and never got around to doing them. then i am sent on a thought process about how i never settle into any apartment – the combination of immigrant status, unstable employment, and changing relationships has caused me to feel like everything is temporary. i felt like i might have to pick up and leave at any moment. i am finally learning how my worrying creates the sense of impermanence in my life. that if i can just be in the moment, i can find all the permanence and stability that i might need.
and then i realize that 30 minutes have passed and i haven’t made any progress with those last five boxes.
~ raymond carver, last fragment.
anais nin, “there came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (via a.l.).
the first 23 years of my life were relatively stable – same city, same neighborhoods, same home, same family. the last 14 years of my life have felt like an almost constant move – city to city, apartment to apartment, boxes upon boxes. recently, i’ve been feeling a little too old for such shenanigans. time to settle down, pick a place to live, maybe even buy a home. there is some part of me that felt, and perhaps still feels, like a bit of a failure for not doing this.
only recently have i come to accept that this is how i live my life. that such fluctuations do not have to represent failure – they represent my path and all that i have been fortunate to experience. there are moments when i feel untethered – when i don’t know where to call home. and then there are amazing moments when i feel roots binding me to so many places that i feel truly lucky. making the decision to move again, pack everything up again, this time live with even less of my stuff, live with an even greater sense of transience – this decision was really about taking the risk to find that place again where i can be in my own skin and be happy and feel at home wherever i am. although moving and leaving again are hard, staying where i was would have been more difficult.