Let it go

I've been sleeping hippie style on a short platform bed - just 2x4s and plywood, no headboard. It's comforting somehow - closer to how I slept as a kid on the futons on the floor, against the wall, my hand tucked above my head, up in the corner. The house is pretty quiet this Saturday, the kids sprawled across different areas of the house catching up on their books, texting friends about their first week of school. They started at an area public elementary school just a week ago, and they've made it through 5 consecutive days of 6 a.m. wakings, grumpy breakfasts, walking home…so much change in so little time! We are all feeling generally positive about the decision, but the emotions are still running high because of the chaos of change, the upheaval and uncertainty that comes with it.

We spend hundreds on complicated school supply lists; backpacks; lunch bags; Thermos' for drinks for lactose sensitive kids. I pin fancy bento box lunches: pandas with faces; PB and J sushi rolls; love notes written onto food canvases with raisins or chocolate chips.

All four kids go to the eye doctor to get a check-up before starting school. Three of the four need glasses this time around. They pick dark, hipster frames (like Papa's) and I shed a few tears at how grown up they look.

Giving up control has never been easy for me. I haven't understood why until recently. Why? Giving up control forces us to stand face-to-face with our insecurities and inabilities.  Handing the reins to someone else means I am not always the best driver in all situations. It's admitting, in public, that I am not perfect, not even close. I cannot meet 100% of my children's needs. With that thought used to come guilt, shame and disgust. Slowly, I am learning it is what it is. We are raised by a village.

Wedding day

The bobby pins hit the ceramic of the sink in a torrent, a whole box of them spilled from the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet. I sigh. It's been such a long morning...now this. Bend down, pick up the box, pick up the first copper brown pin. I bought these to match my hair on my wedding day. They matched my hair back then. I hold one up to my post-cancer crown, now almost black no matter how hard I look for my familiar red and gold highlights. In a moment, holding that bobby pin up to my hair, everything crystallizes and a flood of memories washes over me.

I remember not washing my hair for two weeks before my wedding. I wanted it to be nice and curly, and the only way to do that was to let it be. The morning dawned humid with a thick cover of gray rain clouds. Our September day looking questionable. I rinsed my hair that morning in patchouli and vanilla water, my signature hippie cover-up for two-weeks-unwashed-hair. It looked great in the mirror, bouncy and sassy and beautiful. My hair has always been one of those features I can focus on when I look at myself and still think I am pretty. Later that day, I pinned up my hair loose around my face, and stuck baby's breath in the pins. Simple, no veil, no hair stylist, just my hands and those copper bobby pins.

That night I remember the tinny sound as each pin hit the sink, dropped from my hands as I stood fresh from the shower, shaking rice out of my hair. I drew it out, the time in the steamy bathroom, because you were out there waiting and I was shaking in my boots. As much as I loved you, as much as I truly desired to spend the rest of my life with you in that longing, aching way that cannot be squelched, I was afraid to sleep with you. Every morning thereafter for almost two months, I cried in our bed and you held me in your arms and were quiet with the unknowing and the wanting to fix me. It wasn't commitment - I signed a 30 year mortgage at 21 without blinking an eye. It wasn't you - you with the handsome Roman nose and the shock of thick curly brown hair and the dancing eyes. Every dream coming true, and all I could do was cry.

I come back to myself, here at the sink in 2014. This September is our 12th wedding anniversary. It seems like such a very long time ago, when I try to remember past babies and chaos and the rollercoaster of our life since. I hold the copper pin, running my thumb over the sharp grooves. Tears fill my eyes and I think, I've dropped it, just like the box of pins. I've dropped it - the memories, the beauty of this marriage - and now it is scattered and broken and I just want to salvage one little piece for my dreams if loneliness is my future. I walk out of the bathroom and tuck that bobby pin into my journal.

I'll find it again someday and perhaps I'll cry. But perhaps I'll smile with the warmth of your memory spun round my fingers for a brief second as I fly back to that Indian summer day on my parent's lawn with you squinting in the sun and I smiling brave.

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast
you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep

You only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go
~Let Her Go (performed by Jasmine Thompson)~