July 30, 1998
The Moving Dream
 


I've been too wiped-out by this week's heat wave to do much of anything. So in lieu of a *real* journal entry, here are portions of an e-mail I wrote to a friend, earlier in the week. It pretty much sums up my frame of mind the past few days:

" ... This has been a bittersweet weekend. My daughter Kacie  --  aka Daughter #2   --  was here with me for several days last week. It was the first time that any of The Tots had come to visit since I moved to Oregon a year ago, and it was unbelievably great.

We didn't do much: mostly we just kicked around my apartment, playing on the 'puter together, talking, cooking, going for walks, riding the bus around town, watching TV. I had to work every day, of course, but we spent the evenings together.

One day I came home and discovered that she'd cleaned my entire apartment, top to bottom. (That took her all of ten minutes, probably ... but still.) Another afternoon she went out for a walk around the neighborhood and came home with a huge bouquet of wildflowers she'd picked along the way. This is one seriously cool kid.

The truth is, I wasn't sure how well the two of us would get along, crammed into this tiny apartment together. For one thing, we've always had a somewhat *prickly* relationship: not because we don't get along, but because we're almost TOO similar, if you know what I mean ... both of us extremely intense, volatile, moody, needy creatures. For another thing, I was afraid she would be disgusted by my somewhat-less-than-elegant "accommodations" (no furniture, no real household "stuff," no car, etc.) I get along fairly well here  -- I'm growing accustomed to living in very *spare* fashion  --  but she's fifteen years old, a bit fussy about some things (like hot and cold running water ... actual food ... etc.) and I was afraid she might either be appalled or bored. Or both.

But my fears turned out to be groundless: we got along beautifully, she seemed to find my empty apartment oddly appealing, and it turned out to be the best five days she and I have ever spent together. When I put her on the bus to go home, Friday morning, she turned around and hugged me. "Thanks for having me," she said. I hugged her back, and then I stood there at the curb and cried while the bus pulled away and went over the hill. My heart felt like a little crumpled ball of tinfoil at that moment.

I've spent the rest of the weekend *mourning* the loss. I went into the bathroom a little while ago, and there was her hairbrush, still sitting on top of the sink where she accidentally left it. I actually pulled a couple of her long brown hairs out of the brush and just stood there holding them in my hand for a few minutes, crying. Pathetic.

A lot of the time I get so wrapped up in my day-to-day existence -- work, writing, laundry, SURVIVING -- that I'm able to put emotions like loneliness and guilt and sadness (about being apart from my children) on the back burner. This past week reminded me of how much I lost when I ran away last summer ... but (more importantly) of how much I still have.  Someday I might move back to Seattle, so I can be closer to them. For the moment, though, Oregon is where I need to be, for reasons I'm not able to fully articulate.  It's about needing distance and solitude, getting my life back in order, getting myself healthy again. But someday, in the not-too-distant future, I can visualize myself moving back to Washington. Going "home." Getting back to being a real MOM again.

In the meantime ... I do love living alone. I freely admit it. For so long I didn't believe this would ever happen ... that I would ever actually have the chance to live by myself. I thought I would be trapped in my marriage until I died, or else I thought I just couldn't afford it, or else I thought I wouldn't have the courage to try surviving on my own. But here I am.

I especially love waking up in the middle of the night, sitting next to the window and looking out over the hilltop at the lights of Oregon City. Those are my moments of greatest peace.

... Every night I have the same dream: I dream that someone --  or something  --  is forcing me to move out of this apartment. Sometimes I'm being forced to move back in with my ex, sometimes I have to go live with my parents, sometimes I'm forced to move back in with my last boyfriend (the one here in Oregon). In every dream, I'm furious and sad and frantic. "I LOVE living by myself!" I scream, but it doesn't do me any good because no one is listening. That's usually when I wake up and realize where I am ... that I'm still here in my beloved funky little apartment  ... and I'm overcome with relief so sweet I can TASTE it. Then I'll go make some tea and sit by the window and look at the lights until I calm down enough to go back to sleep ..."

 

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