motion that forces change—this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing is to be pure.
What you get is to be changed.
When my husband’s new job post came through and I was preparing to leave New York after seven years, and I was saying goodbye all the time, everyone—every single one—everyone (even a friend who was a war corespondant for 20 years and should know better) said, Oh it will be such an adventure! You’re going on an adventure! How adventurous!
I suppose they were being nice, as a way to console me. But after a while I grew tired of it. If it’s so great, I wanted to say, why don’t YOU go on a stupid adventure?
Why don’t you pack up everything you own and stand alone weeping in the empty rooms of your home—the bare rooms actually exuding a longing back to you—the ghosts of love, longing and joy, loneliness and accomplishment punching you in the stomach; the grief of departure lurking over every day because no matter how long you’ve prepared—and you’ve prepared for years—the grief will always be almost unbearable.
Why don’t you say goodbye to your children’s teachers, choirs, rituals, classrooms and friends, to the long walk to the school bus and to the true neighbors you’ve loved and depended on since pre-K, who you meet twice a day waiting for the school bus and so you know every innuendo of their days and lives.
Why don’t you say goodbye to the dog you adored and the cat you endured and your babysitters who saved your life every day? To knee-high boots and sweaters and guys who know what they’re doing when they cut your hair. Even if it’s like $10,000. To the view out your kitchen window and to the thousands of pre-dawn moments when you gazed out the window while waiting for water to boil for coffee.
Your parents, and your brothers and sisters.
Your church, which gave you meaning for the first time in your life. Your friends.
Your seasons—autumn and fireplaces—to your English language, your coffee and your snowfall. Say goodbye to the feeling of entering Central Park for a long walk—the transformation of that. Say goodbye to the bunk bed your children slept in together all these years, and to the doormen who watched them grow up and who ushered us into and out of the world each day. Say goodbye to the children too—the little children—because soon after we leave, your son will master the Rubik’s cube in 38 seconds and your daughter will have her first boyfriend, and their childhoods will suddenly seem far away.
So why don’t you have the adventure, and let me be? I’ll stay here. You jump from the ledge into the abyss and see how it feels. You know you’ll have to do it eventually anyway. We all do at some point. Feel how crushing, sad, lonely, brutal and disorienting it is, and think how it all could be avoided if you just had a different life.
Take your little adventure. Take the leap, and let the force of the current carry you. And watch for the angels who arrive to usher you, and watch how you survive. And feel, one day, the way you resurface, and feel the realignment that happens—and see how you have changed, and how you are the same. And how everything is different now, and how it is always the same.