Beginnings. It’s a daunting topic. On one hand it’s exciting to step into a brand new year—any new year—but especially the one in which I’ll become a published author. Although this is far from the beginning of that journey, it is the beginning of the next leg of it. On the other hand, beginnings are exhausting, laden with unknowns as well as opportunities, strewn with disappointments as well as surprises. I sometimes think it would be nice to be steeped in the middle of something solid, known, unwavering. Then again, I might find it boring.
Almost 14 years ago I moved into the house where I live now. Prior, I’d lived in five states in nine years. In the homes in those cities, I unpacked boxes, decorated, and built a life quickly yet carefully, so that my family had the facade of being settled and at home, long before our roots began to grow. And just as they did, we moved again.
I never begrudged those moves because most of those places never felt like home, more like layovers where we met nice people and did nice things and then left without leaving our mark or a trail to help us find our way back. Under other circumstances I would not have had the chance to live all over the country and to learn that I liked four seasons, Midwestern sensibilities, and suburbia. But I was ready to settle down and I didn’t want to do it in the desert, which is where we were living. Lucky for me, it was time to move again.
So enter the nice little town in the suburbs of Chicago, the house with the stone walls and fireplaces and neighborhood with blue ribbon schools. I ordered custom draperies because you can do that when you’re staying put, when your new beginning is something you can see clearly in your rearview mirror as you move forward. I stenciled my motto on the foyer wall: Bloom where you’re planted. And then I got divorced.
I must say it went rather well. But just as I found my footing in the world of being single and 40, my ex-husband passed away.
My kids and I traversed the worst, the next-to-worst, the better-than-the-worst, and then things improved steadily after a few years. When things settled into a new normal, we hadn’t moved houses, but things had definitely changed a lot.
Then my son went to college.
I sold a novel.
In May the novel will be published.
In September, my daughter will go to college.
And of course add to all the big beginnings, all the little ones. New friendships, jobs, situations. Even new technology. It was a new beginning when I redecorated my son’s baseball-themed bedroom into a functional office space for myself.
No, it’s not all bad, not even a quarter of it is bad, but it is reminiscent of jumping on and off a merry-go-round because someone keeps pushing you off your horse, when all you want to do is enjoy the ride on the damn horse even though the whole thing makes you dizzy.
I guess I’m a realist when it comes to beginnings. They can offer a lot that the status quo cannot, but beginnings can also kick your ass into next Tuesday without asking permission.
Of course I’m looking forward to a new beginning with the book. HELLO? PUBLISHED AUTHOR? ME? YES! I’m also looking forward to living alone for the first time ever. Sometimes. Sometimes I’m not looking forward to that at all. It’s another example of daunting yet exciting, of having to find the blessing in the bullshit. Of course, I am always grateful beyond belief when things that should happen do happen, and my daughter going off to college is one of those things. (Perhaps I can write the insensitive (ie stupid) things people say about me becoming an empty nester another time.)
And while I am happy about all of it, I also often tire thinking I’ll step off the curb into the next version of my life and not recognize any of it. Or myself.
Although that’s also pretty exciting!
(See what I mean? Exhausting!)
So, do you prefer brand new or tried-and-true?