I’m Not There

What does it mean to have had a home once–and then to give it up? I mean, who does that? And why?

 And how can you know it will turn out all right? “It gets better,” a friend told me when I first left.

“It has to.” I said at New Year’s.

But you never know. That’s the god-awful truth. And reading Shakespeare’s King Lear probably isn’t much help; one of his themes being “It could always get worse.”

But I keep leaving, and leaving. And leaving.

A church. A community. A family. A partner and a home. I tell myself to be thankful–how many women over the centuries dreamed of such freedom as this? To be a wayfarer and earn my own bread, live under my own roof, dream and write and dance as I please. How they died from wishing for it. How they “line[d] the crowded/River beds,” as Alice Walker wrote. “With other impetuous/Fools.”

In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, Baby Suggs keeps telling her traumatized daughter to “lay it all down.” Just lay it all down, honey. And the woman’s right–you can’t carry it around forever.

But how does that day come?

Just like any other, I imagine. When you least expect it. It comes cloudy and cold, with a chance of showers. Steely gold in the east, and you walk out your door and down the road. And then you realize.

You’re done with it.

Just like that.  And you lay down your little bundle of wasted love and slide your empty hands into your pockets and walk on, not looking back. Not wondering about it anymore and not thinking how it could have been different.

Lest there is a god and he turns you to salt for “mourning [what’s] past and gone.” It’s all to dust and ashes soon enough. Better to make the most of what still is, while we’re here.

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