Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Away I Go

I was in Philly this weekend helping the Aaron move into his new house (it’s lovely and he and the little dog are very happy, thanks for asking). When we weren’t doing the semi-heavy lifting, cleaning, discussing furniture placement, laughing at ourselves and each other, eating or napping to catch a second wave of energy, I was reading Amy Bloom’s novel, Away. I picked it up in preparation for a book signing Bloom was doing in town. I haven’t read her work in a while, so I wanted a refresher before I went to the event. I came across a passage that I haven’t been able to shake for days:

"Sometimes it's the case that when you hear the thing you have most wanted to hear, you cannot take it in. Hope is everyone's mirage and everyone who comes upon that green and grassy spot, the swaying date palms and the bubbling blue pool, is temporarily taken in, even people who have been there before and even when, upon closer inspection, the oasis is nothing but a reef of sand; even with grains of sand blowing lightly across our faces, we find ourselves standing on soft grass of a tenacious, unreasonable green."

Wow, right? I know. I’ve read it over and over again. There’s a part of me that doesn’t get it at all and a part of me that goes “yes,” every time. It’s been a long time since something I read had that sort of effect on me. And now I am trying to figure out why. I know, I should just go with my gut and not try to figure out why, but that’s what I do sometimes, think too hard and too long about something because I need to figure something out instead of just running with the feeling. But this many days later, this many hours of mulling it over, I think I know. I read that passage in the afternoon, I experienced it later that night. And that might be what I’ve been really thinking about for days.

Aaron and I were having dinner in his new house on Sunday night. We were sitting in a couple of armchairs in the dining room (we ran out of steam before we could get the dining table together), finishing our drinks and talking. The discussion turned (as it so often does) to relationships. Here’s what my dear friend told me:

“You don’t have any role models for the life you’re leading. You’ve had to carve this life out on your own and figure it out for yourself. And you’ve accomplished a lot.”

Seems obvious doesn’t it? It wasn’t. Not to me. I’ve spent all of this time feeling like a misfit because my two strongest (literally) role models, my mother and sister were/are working married ladies with children. Yes, I’m a lady (I mean a woman…fine, I’m a broad) and I work, but the other two parts…not so much. My mom and sister are from another generation and a whole other culture. By the time she was my age, my mother had gotten married, had two children, moved to another country and had another baby. My sister took a modified approach to my mother’s plan as she so often does: marriage, two children and a house (instead of leaving the country). I spent much of my life breaking away from that lifestyle, setting the apron strings on fire when I left for college, moving away without ever considering going “home.” I’m not saying that any of us Abreu ladies chose the wrong path, just different ones (and sometimes the paths chose us). Now that I’m not some brooding kid who didn’t want to be like them, I’ve begun to realize that I want to be like them in some ways (my sister’s endless positive attitude in the face of anything, my mother’s ability to cut to the chase regardless of who gets sliced by her words), I’m already like them in others (fiercely loyal, tender hearted, eager to please) and may never be like them in others (mom: widow with 3 kids; sister: married with 2 kids; me: late 30s, childless and single) It’s all OK. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I’ve had to figure a lot of it out on my own and I’ve done alright for myself, right? Right. Sometimes you just need to hear it, even if you can’t take it in right away.