starting over (again)

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in my old life, everything seemed predictable. and now nothing does. and what a relief. every step forward is a rabbit hole. every look backward is, too, come to think of it. there is only one thing actually in front of me: my kids. i’m responsible to nothing else but affection for them. sure, a lot goes into making a place for that — a job for rent, groceries and gas; the poetry/poetry community that keeps me going — but my place in the world has never been clearer to me.

it’s an interesting thing to know at this moment. upon moving out of my house and leaving my 20-year relationship, i felt like a woman without status, a nobody. yes, that makes the feminist in me cringe, but that’s how it felt. i lost my place in my local community. i lost my address. i lost, for a bit, my kids’ trust. i left behind security and one brand of stability. starting over didn’t feel very good at all.

it’s taken more courage than i knew i had, and i have been so exhausted. my writing has suffered. some of my friendships, too. i’ve had to give so much of my energy to starting over that i’ve had little for anything else. but i can feel that changing. i can feel some fire returning. and i recognize that starting over, almost from scratch, is a liberation. i’m not going to say that i’m recreating myself. i really hate that concept. what i’m doing is daring to let my outer life reflect the inner.

it’s not a glamorous process. i’ve never been a graceful girl. i’m clumsy and awkward, and there’s a homeliness about how i navigate the world. but something interesting is happening: i can see that it’s its own kind of advantage. people who are afraid for others to see them stumble usually don’t attempt anything tricky. tricky is my middle name. and it has been tricky — lots of tricky things in rapid succession. so says dorothy: ‘people come and go so quickly here.’

since i last wrote a blog post two months ago (april 3 at my old site), for example, i gave up hope that my divorce proceedings would ever move toward an acceptable ending — and yet? they did. my grandmother used to say, ‘it’s all over but the shouting.’ in this case, that’s done, and now it’s all over but the paperwork.

since my last post, i also found a boyfriend. and lost him — the delight of his bare chest in the kitchen, the thrill of his harley, the really good music he made on his guitar — to what i realize is for him an endless loop in which he returns to his ex. but it’s all good, as they say. even though you’d think i’d be careful after the damage i suffered in marriage, i learned from being with him that i have a lot to learn about how to be myself in a relationship. i was having a whole lot of fun, however, which is ok at this point. when you start acting like a married person at 19, there are things you miss out on. which is really just another way of saying there may be lots of starts and stops. but who really knows? since the break-up, i’ve started over again. some things don’t change: i’m still a sucker for sweet talk and lips on my neck.

since my last post, i’ve also renewed the lease on my downtown apartment. can you believe i have been here long enough for that to come around? 10 months ago, i sat on the stoop so unsure of myself, watching movers carry everything i’d claimed as mine into a tiny little garden apartment in albany. i felt incapable of making even the smallest choices: on which wall would the bed go? which room will hold the books?

since my last post, i’ve had no idea where i might be going with my writing. i’d all-but accepted that maybe 2012 would join 2011 as a “year of no writing.” i had no idea what might be next, what might invigorate me, what might set me back on a path i felt was productive. and already, there is a path. a local college has started an mfa for poetry, something i can work on in-person and bit-by-bit. i’m going to attempt it.

and right now, a kind man i’ve known only a couple weeks prepares swordfish fillets for the hibachi he assembled while i blogged. the pigeons on the building next to mine look on. the crow sits up high and knows where we all are. my upstairs neighbor laughs with her man on her deck, and across the alley they’re grilling, too. it’s all kinda normal.


  1. I think you’re graceful. But maybe only when you’re not looking in the mirror 🙂

    Good job, Carolee. Hard road. You’re doing it. xo

  2. Ooooo. Nice digs. I am sorry I’ve been tardy. I didn’t clue in form the FB links!

    And, as you know, we are *all* clumsy. Silly. xoxoxo

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