All right, I'll say it: one of the reasons why I was so happy during my two years in Indiana was that I was living a thousand miles away from my family. I still came home to see them all the time, of course: fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Gregory's recital, spring break, Mother's Day, the whole summer. When there were problems to be dealt with, I did my best to deal with them at a distance. But "at a distance" is so different from "all day, every day."
In Indiana, I had no meowing cat begging for breakfast at 4 a.m. I had nobody asking, "What's for dinner?" I had nobody caring where I went or what I did. I went out every evening to talks, concerts, book group meetings, without a particle of guilt. I did whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I lived in a tiny rented house my first year, and a tiny rented room in a rented house my second year, both furnished with the belongings of other professors off on sabbatical. All I had brought with me from Colorado fit easily in my Chevy Aveo, and most of that was just books for work. I was so light and unencumbered. I was so free.
Today, Thanksgiving morning, I'm also waking up in a small house (1500 square feet). But I'm not waking up alone. In this small house live me, Snickers-the-cat, my former/current husband, my older son and his wife, now pregnant with their baby due in March, and her little dog, Tank. My younger son is home from college for the break. So there are five humans, two other non-human animals, and the last two ants who are still alive in my ant farm. I've already been dragged out of bed to feed Snickers her breakfast. I have a fridge stuffed full of food to feed everyone else.
We're having a Thanksgiving brunch today and the big feast tomorrow, as today Christopher and Ashley are going down to her uncle's mid-day for a huge family gathering. So I'm producing not one but two big holiday meals this year. I'm back to trying to make sure that other people are having fun. I'm back to trying to make sure that other people are happy.
Right now I'm happy, too. Happy and grateful.
I'm grateful that I had two whole years without my family.
Now I'm grateful that I have my family back again.
I'm grateful that it's good to be alone.
I'm grateful that it's good to be in close connection with others.
One of my favorite lines of poetry ever is from Ezra Pound: "Thank you, whatever comes." Aloneness or togetherness, freedom or commitment, peaceful quiet or joyous hustle-and-bustle, English muffin and jam for dinner all by myself in Indiana, or crowded table groaning under a Thanksgiving celebration here in Colorado.