I have been away from writing for so long.
The keys feel foreign beneath my fingertips and the words come achingly slowly.
I do not know how or where to begin, so I follow an old writing instructor’s credo — “If you don’t know where to begin, just start.”
For months now, I have been mulling the idea of The Finish Line in various life stages. It seems to me that we are almost constantly chasing an invisible end point — that magical point at which we achieve a true and lasting happiness, or at least a huge and permanent warp speed thrust towards such a nirvana. We tell ourselves that if we can just meet our soulmate, get that promotion, move to that exotic locale, finalize our divorce, or get pregnant, then — THEN! — we will be happy. And why not? After all, Hollywood assures us this is the case: most movies end on an upbeat note that has you departing the theatre, comforted that the characters’ lives continued offscreen in some version of Happily Ever After.
But real life doesn’t usually work that way, does it?
I had a foreshadowing of this illusion when I was still young and arrogant enough to faithfully trust that the illusion was real. I was about to graduate from college, and some friends of mine were experiencing worldwide music success on a scale they’d only dreamed of. Their songs were racing up the music charts, their faces graced magazine covers, celebrities knew of them and approached them, and their tour dates were selling out spectacularly fast. After a tour that took them through most of Western Europe, Russia, and the Far East, they returned home to find their girlfriends the object of hate mail and their homes staked out by paparazzi. A few days later, in the wee hours of the morning, after a night on the town, I found myself standing in my kitchen with the founding member of the band. I waxed on about how wonderful their success was and how amazing it must be to experience. He paused a moment, licked his lips slowly, as if considering his words carefully, and said, “Nothing is ever what you think it will be. And sometimes the pieces you thought would be so great are the biggest disappointment, and the precious moments take you by surprise.” I was shocked and asked if he somehow regretted their success. He quickly answered, “God, no. It is amazing. But you think, before it happens, that if only it would happen, you’d never be sad or lonely or insecure or bored again. But you are. You really are.” I left him that evening feeling that perhaps he’d had a fight with his girlfriend or was overly tired, because, really, how couldn’t you be happy when you’re becoming rich and famous?!
But life doesn’t usually work that way, does it?
Some people have hoped for a happy ending to this blog — that somehow, some way, after these months and years of writing and analyzing and crying and persevering, I might finally have my Happily Ever After. Some wish this because they know me and care about me personally. Others wish this because they need a beacon for their own journey, some reassurance that such a thing exists.
I wish I could report to you that now that James and I have purchased a home, moved into it, and blended our families, life feels constantly sweet and comforting and certain. But it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.
In fact, we are struggling. Getting back together and making a big commitment did not serve to wrap a pretty little bow around us and leave me blissfully smiling my way through the rest of my life. I wish it did. I would love nothing more than to write post after flowery post about how perfect my life is now and how wonderfully loved and cherished I am.
But I can’t.
So, instead, I will remain true to my one commitment I made to myself and my readers — to be real, and honest, and authentic here. Some readers may be disappointed that I resist the embellishments that would permit me to write a very satisfying fiction, and a few are likely to be smugly satisfied at the lack of a fairytale ending, but none of that changes what is real for me.
I remind myself frequently these days that life is about the journey and not the destination. I allow myself the luxury of spending some days (or long nights) just being along for the ride, watching it unfold and trying not to cling too hard to expectations or wishes. I hold my blessings tightly, counting them like a miser with his gold.
And I wonder whether what I am experiencing is wisdom or disappointment.
Only time will tell, I guess.
Because that’s how life usually works, doesn’t it?