Once in a blue, life hits a rhythm when it clearly becomes time to take stock and purge the people and possessions that no longer give back. I feel this in my literal house: the impulse to empty every kitchen shelf and cabinet onto a tarp in the middle of the floor, throw out half of it, scrub everything clean, and reorganize smarter and more efficiently now that we’ve lived here for a bit and we’re not just desperately sticking things wherever in a rush to liberate our lives from cardboard moving boxes. My closet feels overstuffed with clothes I don’t wear, a pessimistic insurance policy in case I get fatter or a whimsical hope that I’ll take off the rest of the grief-weight and want to don the old denim mini in a moment of ill-advised nostalgia. Stored in labeled bins, crammed on hangers, piled haphazardly in scarcely accessible cabinets, waiting in baskets for a final destination–I want it all out, to feel a little lighter, more streamlined, less choked by the congestion.
I’m also in a really strange place with friends, shedding relationships like a molting bird, some of it circumstantial, some of it by choice. I can feel the tectonic plates of life moving beneath my feet, which is a frightening and disorienting sensation, and this summer feels decidedly like the end of something, a vestibule between major phases. There’s the motherhood piece and the year spent stockpiling progeny in Colorado and now New Jersey, the friends that have drifted away as we round the bend of five grueling years trying to conceive while they celebrate toddlers’ birthdays and preschool graduations with their children, absorbed by parenthood and its natural social circle, a million miles away from us. My best friend since childhood is moving far away–no small matter since she is basically my sister and her children my nieces amid so few healthy attachments to my family. Leaving my position at the middle school where I’ve worked for the past ten years distances me from a cozy gaggle of girls, the loss of proximity and the undeniable impact of that no matter how much we vow to “keep in touch!” And then there are the friends I’m choosing to shed because they just don’t serve me; because they are inconsiderate and self-involved or profoundly incompatible, perhaps relegated to light acquaintances for the sake of maintaining peace and sidestepping some toxic blowout. It feels really lonely–a solitary boat still lingering in the harbor, having cut ties with some and watched others set sail for grander adventures–and that makes it tough to resist the urge to cling to things that are already gone.
But if I dig down deep into my intuition, what I find is that I think my life is reorganizing to clear space for the next big thing: in career (for sure) as a high school teacher, *elsewhere* (most crucially) as an expectant and then new mother, and the bonds of camaraderie to be cultivated in each of those unexplored spheres. Mostly, it’s exciting to imagine the reordering of priorities away from the taxing and tiresome navigation of friendships to put family at the center once and for all. I can find the courage to face this because there are a few things I know with certainty: (1) my marriage remains solid even through trauma; (2) I’m blessed with a handful of really wonderful friends despite the challenging schedules and miles between us, and (3) no matter what happens in this life, I can always rely on myself. So I’m trying to put my Buddhist hat on, ride out the shift, watch these things float away like little carbonated bubbles without grasping and clutching in fear.