Saturday, September 08, 2007

the missing piece

As summer draws to a close I am forced to face facts: this hasn't been the best of times for me. I haven't been able to put my finger on it since I've been home, but there have just been too many mood swings, too many mornings when getting out of bed has had the same appeal as licking the drain after a garbage man's shower. My parents and boyfriend have taken the brunt of it - whether dealing with my moods or accepting once again that I just don't have the emotional energy to actively participate in the phone calls that keep us sane. During my time away from home the moods have lifted. I had a blast with friends in Portland (that post never did make it up but perhaps the pictures will eventually) and Southern California, and with the Frenchman in Alabama last week. Each time I return though I'm caught off guard at how quickly the dark hole of an unidentifiable oppressor seeps back in.

Tonight I figured it out, and while I wish I could say it was due to my own soul searching and insight, it was more the result of listening to one of my cousins bring me up to date on some recent events in her life. In the process of dealing with the sort of craziness that is only born of love and family, she's had to revisit some aspects of her past that she's never laid to rest. During this process (being guided by a therapist) she was asked to identify her "safe place." Listening to her story I realized that my anger and anxiety this summer is a direct result of having lost my own safe place.

My grandparents house is on the edge of a field and sits beneath the watchful eye of Jack's Peak. There has always been a magic to this house, whether it was the smell of rose pedals as we crushed them with the ancient mortal and pestal that Grandpa had dug up, or the feel of the orange shag rug beneath our feet as my cousins and I danced to "Sunrise, Sunset," played by invisible hands on the electric organ. The walls have absorbed decades of family songs, and bear the faintest traces of generations being lulled to sleep next to a crackling fire in the living room. For as long as I can remember I credited the family this house fostered as the greatest blessing in my life. I saw how special my grandparents legacy was, how with a quick stroke of an e minor chord, we'd all chime in on Grandpa's favorite song. I have always known that not everyone has been lucky enough to know or appreciate this magic.

When my parents decided to move into my grandparents house (at that point vacant for 11 years since their deaths) I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, we were leaving another home I'd loved, on the other, I would now come home to the place I'd always identified as home in my heart. My relationship with this house revolved around the core understanding that no matter where you go, you have a place to come home to where you can regain a sense of peace. I think I've needed that more than ever coming back from South Africa, and I just haven't found it. The memories are feeling more and more like exagerated assumptions and the ties I thought this house represented appear fragmented. It's too confusing and painful to explain in depth, but perhaps recognizing this loss is the first step in overcoming the powerful sadness that has accompanied all of the daily blessings this summer that I have not been able to focus my energies on. For in times of sadness, the blessings never go away. They're there, almost taunting you to get the hell out of your clouds and back into the reality of your life. If only you knew how to make that reality feel more like home and the safe place it used to represent.



Blogger Heather said...

This is a really beautiful post and I hope you're able to work through some of these things. It's never easy though, is it?

9/09/2007 6:08 AM  
Blogger K said...

I love this post. It's content really made me think. Now I'm trying to figure out what my safe place is...because I think we all need one.

I know there is a place in nature over recent years that I have grown to love, but from my childhood....

You really made me think.

9/10/2007 7:55 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

That was a really great post. I know what you mean though, sometimes the things that have always been reassuring and familiar lose some of that charm. It is hard to get it back but I hope you do.

9/10/2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger Eve said...


I also think there's something so unsettling about returning after a cathartic trip abroad, especially someplace that is so utterly different from home, and coming back so changed, but somehow everything else is also changed, but in a way that seems to have left you behind. Or something. It's change that's so hard to deal with, but when it happens while you're away, it's really jarring.

At least that's my take on it.

9/11/2007 12:57 AM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

heather - thanks, and nope, it's not!

K - Let me know when you figure it out. We do all need one :) I think I need to focus changing my perspective a bit - perhaps less on a physical space and more on an emotional space...

Natalie - thanks :)

Eve - definitely. Although I think these changes have less to do with my trip, and more to do with the general aging and evolution of people and families. There is good and bad involved in this - I think I just have an eternal desire not to grow up!

9/11/2007 4:29 PM  

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