My birthday was last Friday, May 16. I adore having a spring birthday, because usually it’s warm and green and colorful, a day full of hope for another year and anticipation of summer. Sandals and windbreakers, rolled up jeans, and pretty flowers in vases.
But after the horrific Polar Vortex we lived through this past winter, it seems like our seasons are all off-kilter. And believe or not, it SNOWED ON MY BIRTHDAY! May 16. It snowed. On. My. Birthday.
I was driving to work watching those damned white frozen raindrops hit the windshield, and the She and Him version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” accidentally came up on my iPhone playlist. Well that’s fitting. I thought.
After a nice day of friends wishing me a happy birthday, and Desta writing me a sweet card, and a movie and pie with David, I woke up in the middle of the night with knots in my stomach. Is this where I imagined I would be at this point in my life? I panicked. Not just the weather feels off-kilter. My LIFE feels off-kilter.
While those around me seem to have a trajectory that’s clear and strong….moving from Point A to Point B without much effort, I am bumbling along. I meander and get stuck and then unstuck and then stuck again, wondering if I’m going in the right direction and more often than not thinking I’m spinning my wheels or wandering off into the woods. And then I finally reach a destination I have in mind, only to feel that I’m unprepared …..and the destination seems so different than what I imagined.
I’m bumbling. That’s the only word I can think of to describe this journey. On paper it looks like I’m accomplishing many good things. But it has taken a long time to get there, and I just thought it would feel different. Publishing a book did not make me rich and famous. Instead, it turned me into a knot of anxiety and insecurity as I obsessively watched my Amazon sales rank nosedive. Motherhood is not what I imagined….much harder and messier and 100 times more beautiful. Then, there’s marriage. I have a good one, but we all know that it doesn’t solve anyone’s problems.
I wake up in the middle of the night on my birthday and I feel a concrete brick in my stomach and stumble into the kitchen and feel around in the dark to find my Lorazepam to quiet the pesky demons in my head.
I walked a labyrinth a few months ago. It was in the middle of the desert and beautiful and quiet and still. I had never walked a labyrinth. The sign at the entrance of the rock-lined path explained what I was to do: I could run or walk or dance. There was no one way to do it. I could pray, or think, or just listen.
I felt a bit silly. I checked a few times to see if there was anyone around that would see me walking around in a circle being all contemplative. But I only saw Gambel’s Quail running from cactus to cactus and the desert jackrabbits hopping around the labyrinth, their tall ears perked for sounds of danger.
So, I took the first step on the desert sand, feeling the warm sun on my head. I slowly walked the circular path. I put one foot in front of the other, and noticed the smooth stones that marked my progress. You cannot get lost on the labyrinth. It looks like a maze, but it’s really not. It’s one long meandering path and if you stay between the rocks, it eventually leads you to the center.
So, another year passes. I get a hand-written card from Desta that says, “Mommy” and “I love you.” I feel the warmth of David’s arm as we sit together in the cold movie theater. I get texts and messages from dear friends, and a call from my dad. I read an email from someone telling me how much my book meant to them.
These are the stones that line my path, and I know if I just keep bumbling along they will eventually lead me home.