The Ending I Am Writing

I was thinking, again, how Beth W. said that often my life reads like a novel. This, as you know, is an idea I keep returning to. And I thought, yes, it has the drama and the pain of a novel, but unlike a novel, it just keeps going. Loose ends are never tied, things are never resolved, and complications just keep complicating. Then, on my walk today, I returned to this idea and thought, “You know, we’re all walking novels.” And that sounds melodramatic, but what I mean by that is this: there are events in our lives, transformative events that like a novel, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So in this way, my life this past year is very much a novel. Now, looking back, I feel that I’ve come to the close of this transformative experience. That doesn’t mean that my life stops; it doesn’t. It means that I’m now entering a new novel, a new time, filled with new characters. But this year, this particular year, I’ll remember for a lifetime.

It began in taking a step that was ferociously brave: to correct the mistakes I’d made by starting my life again. Now, it ends with something quiet, something sweet.

When I look back, I have to shake my head at this year. From running into my husband (just two weeks after I’d left him) on his first date with the woman he would later propose to while they were pushing my kids in the stroller….to the hopeless Christmas I spent entirely alone with a broken foot…to trying desperately to get a house and being told I could not have it. And there was the day when The Friend of the Court told me I would only have $100 a month in support and I left sobbing, thinking I was destined for poverty, only to have a message on my phone from Ruth O’Keefe (now passed away) offering me a full-time position at Kendall. I walked across the street, literally, cleaned myself up in the bathroom and then signed the paperwork accepting the job. And then there was the first man I dated, the mad I treated coldly and unfairly to see if I was still capable of feeling anything. He was followed by a man I could-have-loved, but now I see as only a false kind of love. And there have been times when I cried in my empty apartment because I did not think I mattered, or I was strong enough, or I was smart enough.

Now, though, things are different, and I find that I’m not apologizing anymore for being an emotional person. I look at my kids and they are happy. I have students and a vibrant work life. I am writing and producing my work. And I have friends, real friends that I can talk to and laugh with and share food with. And that house? I signed on that house. It's now mine.

So. If this year were a novel in my life, here is the ending I would write:

She walks into the empty house that has all the things she ever dreamed of: a warm kitchen, a sunroom, nice bedrooms for her kids, and a back yard where she can have a garden and toys and people over.

The house is empty but she can see the things that will be: she can see the Christmas tree in the corner, the turkey on the table. She can hear laughter and hushed voices talking. She can see all the things that will be brought into her house to transform it into a home and, after a long time of searching, she feels, finally that she can rest.

She does not know what will happen in her life in the coming days. She does not know what kind of love and happiness and sorrow waits for her, though she does know there will be all of these things somehow. She doesn’t know anything other than (at this moment, standing in her empty house that will one day be her home) what she has right now is enough. Her life is enough. It’s enough. And in that small word ‘enough’ there is a quiet beauty. So, for now, she simply sits on the bare floor, and breathes, and waits for what will happen next.