Monday, November 2, 2015

Life Lessons


Hello! Remember me? I'm alive and mostly well and missing this space like crazy. The last several weeks in a nutshell: cross country wound down and the season ended; Husband traveled; I worked, Husband got back, and I left for San Diego 8 hours later; I got home, worked all weekend and Husband left for his next trip. Like two ships passing in the night, we have been parenting separately and maintaining our relationship mostly via phone calls and FaceTime chats.

I've been dealing with some unpleasantness in the workplace and the intense disappointment that inherently comes with finding out that your dream job (for now) isn't as dreamy as you initially thought it would be. I assumed a break would usher in a new perspective, but I came back to the same sad social dynamic only I was exhausted, fighting a cold, and therefore ill-prepared. Navigating the world of mean girls is no easy feat for someone who a) has never been one, and b) has no experience tangling with one. (True story: I was inadvertently included in a text conversation in which they sarcastically called me their "bestie" and stated that I need to "go...away." No one said mean girls are necessarily clever in their meanness.) Jealousy + insecurity is certainly at the root of such behavior, but there is little one can do to resolve the emotional hangups of others. Instead, I smile and exchange pleasantries while simultaneously watching my back. Oh, and first and foremost I remember that this is temporary: a means to get where I want to go. Yet the pure, childlike part of my nature wonders why people can't just be happy for each other and choose kindness, always. Compounding the aforementioned emotions is the heartbreak of losing my sweet and lovely grandmother. Though she is never far from my mind, as in those moments where I think Can I do this for the next 12+ months?! I hear her saying My Sweet Sarah can do anything! in that earnest way that made you believe her wholeheartedly.


I spent the last 7 days of October in San Diego helping pack up and sell her things, sorting through pictures, and spending time with my aunts and cousins. My family moved away when I was 10 years old, so many of those relationships, although intact, became less close than they were when I was small. Family dynamics are complicated and some have more dysfunction than others. But as the years pass age differences have been confined to just the numbers: I have plenty in common with my decade-younger cousins (my mom was the oldest), and my aunts and I have very adult conversations and interactions. Marriage is marriage whether you've been betrothed for 25 years or 10—we all encounter the same obstacles and bicker over the same silly subjects—and a 23 year old can share the same adoration for air plants and garden gnomes as a 34 year old. My extended family, Mario and Kiddo, close friends: they have become my tribe. They've filled in those little gaps left by relationships that can't, shouldn't be, rekindled. Relationships that leave me exhausted or feel one-sided are strictly limited whenever possible. What I am left with is a carefully curated group of people who love me, believe in me, want me in their life. People I trust. People who love me for who I am despite my many flaws (and me them). I'll take that over a biological ball and chain any day.

We shared so many laughs over those 7 days. Tears were inevitable, but what I didn't expect was the immense joy. Nothing would have made my grandma more happy than to see us brought together. All she ever wanted was for us to be happy. And although her physical presence was all but erased, she was very much alive and well in our hearts. Looking over family photos and baby books, reading the cards and letters I sent her when I was little (she saved everything her grandkids ever sent her), I've come to feel like I've been given the gift of really, truly knowing her as a human being. As a woman who raised four girls, each of them very different. A woman who spent her whole life searching for the kind of love I was lucky enough to find all those years ago when I met Mario. A woman who struggled with her weight and self image her entire adult life. A woman who told me I was perfect, and meant it, but couldn't see those same qualities in herself. (Who did she think I inherited them from?) A woman who was whip smart, funny as can be, and could solve the New York Times crossword puzzle every. single. week. In pen. A woman who, as a nurse, devoted her life to healing the sick and comforting the dying. (She loved her patients.) She modeled what it is to be a strong, compassionate woman, and for that I will always be grateful. Her strength was showing her grandchildren unconditional love, but through her unfulfilled desires, many of which were discovered after her death, she's taught me to be unabashed in my pursuit of happiness—a lesson so important I intend to live it each and every day. Life is too short to wait for outside sources of contentment.

A melancholy return to the blogosphere, I know, but that's life and love and how these things go. We are never alone in our plights, our need for kinship universal, and thus blogs were created for these sorts of things. And lest you thing all is dim and grim on this side of the keyboard, know that this is just a small facet of my life. I'm excited to take on some projects, enjoying this fall weather, and rejoicing in family time. There are plants to be planted and movies to be watched and books to be read and home cooked meals to prepare. After a healthy dose of venting, I'm ready to focus on the good things—they far outweigh the bad.

1 comment:

  1. My sincere condolences Sarah. I am quite touched by the beautiful portrait that you paint of your grandmother... she was clearly very loved and touched many people around her, especially you. As for those mean girls, they can suck it! Not sure why people feel the need to be mean, after age 15... like seriously? I just finished reading "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg... a must read. It does explain some of that catty behavior but more importantly, it convinced me that I am heading in the right direction!

    And thank you for all your book recommendations... I think I only have two more to read from your list! Really enjoying all of them!!!!

    Natalie
    XX

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