My brain is another story. My brain, clever brain, is always trying to figure out ways of weaseling. My brain is a slicky tricky guy. Now, before you go condemning my brain for being dishonest, know that it’s all in the name of self-preservation. You see, my brain, otherwise known as me, wants myself to be ok. So, therefore, when I am having a hard time with something, say, a move, my brain tries to make me feel better by getting creative and tricky. For example, my brain might try to reassure me that I am doing well in a new place, that it is feeling like home. My brain might get excited and tell me all of the good things about moving here, it goes over and over all of the cool and interesting things to discover and look forward to. Sometimes my brain even gets a little pushy, even a little bully-ish in convincing me I’m fine and happy here.
The other day, though, we went back for the weekend to do some odd jobs on the old house, and as soon as we crossed the boarder into our old city my heart gave me away to myself. It heaved a heavy sigh of relief. I turned and looked at Greg and admitted through blurry tears, “My heart feels at home here.”
Not to get all sappy on you, but moving is much harder and emotionally devastating than it looks, people. And not that I think we made a mistake by moving. All signs so far point to we think we made the right decision. But that doesn’t make it any easier to move from the only city that’s been home to me in all of my 34 years. It doesn’t make it any easier to walk away from the house inside of whose walls I conceived, carried, and then brought each of my three children to grow for the first few years of their lives. It doesn’t make it easier to start fresh in a new place where I don’t know anyone and am connected to nothing and no one.
It’s all perfectly natural, I’m sure. And healthy. If I didn’t feel these things, it would be because of my bully brain or because it didn’t mean as much to me as it does. How could it not? If I have such trouble leaving, that means I loved it, of course. And who can regret that?
So, when I feel the tears come, I try and cry them. Because if there’s one thing I learned through the death of my father, it’s that you honestly can go for a long time, years even, without grieving. But believe me, you can’t avoid it. It’s either something you will have to go through later on when it’s even less convenient or it becomes something heavy that hardens your heart and weighs you down for the rest of your life. It’s much better, if you can stand it, to face the heartache head on, feel it completely, grieve, process, and then move on with a purified and lightened heart.
And for the sake of grieving and lightening ones heart, today happens to be the 16th anniversary of my dad’s death so I thought I would share a poem.
My Carpenter Father
I look and try to see through your eyes
and think of my hands as moving like your hands
holding hammers, twisting stubborn nuts on worn metal threading, cursing
smoothing putty like I imagine you would’ve done
patiently, and in no hurry as though nothing matters but this one hole in this here wall getting it perfectly smooth
clearing my throat and shuffling my feet,
standing back and looking again
I wish I had some smooth jazz
and an old flannel
and some cold coffee in a ringed mug
that might help me
that might bend the light just so
add some magic dust
to help conjure you up
a friendly apparition
my ghost of a carpenter father
then i’ll sit down on the porch and take a break, dust off my clothes and rest my achy bones for a sec
look down the block and take in the hum of the neighborhood, the changing light of early spring, listen to that piercing song of the first robins and cardinals echoing off the cold brick houses and say, “What a day.”
and almost hear you next to me say, “He makes some gorgeous ones.”