the company we keep

June 5, 2009

i have lost friends this year. actually, for the last few years, they have been moving out of my life in rapid succession. there is lisa, now in maryland; sophia, in san diego; tracy, on her way back from two years in austria, but to colorado, not california. more recently, june and her boys abandoned us for mexico and then, fittingly, northern california. my mainstay and pillar of strength susan up and hit the road with family in tow back to the east coast last summer. and after that crushing blow (i thought she would stay here, away from everyone and everything she grew up with, knows, and loves, just for me), it was with both selfless glee and selfish despair that i celebrated ruthie’s wedding, then said goodbye days before she left for france.

such a swirl of departures left me breathless and more than a little filled with longing for the women i call my dearest and most inspiring friends. but the carrot that dangled before them, that titillated their thoughts as they weighed options, saw possibilities, and made life- and location-changing decisions, was, for them, an opening in to growth, and evolution, and the next healthier place to be. and with that knowledge in me, and my own enormous wanderlust mostly satisfied in my teens and twenties, i wrapped them in my simple love with wishes of grace and safety, and said goodbye.

this year, these months, have been different. i have said goodbye, literally and sometimes silently, from within the space of my own heart, to another handful of women. women whom i love, and some who continue even from a vast distance to inspire me, women that i miss. but shifts occur. we shift, we change, we move toward and move away from. and what once fit so seamlessly suddenly, just doesn’t anymore.

when something or someone moves away from me, there is a space there, an opening – at least that is my experience as i have looked back upon the movement that has occurred within my life. the years and history laid out behind me show me that as something ebbs away, there may certainly be something already flowing toward. is it balance? i can’t imagine what else it would be. of course balance is the last thing i felt as loss hit, or i moved to yet another place by myself, or i lost the fight for someone or something i didn’t want to let go of. but in retrospect, if i let everything go for a moment and really look, there it is. balance. funny that i strive for it so earnestly and constantly with the feeling that it is just out of reach, that i achieve it only in the tiniest, fleeting moments. then i look back and see it there, calmly, in its almost mathematic perfection.

which brings me to the balance, however fragile and precarious and barely-there, of now. the last twelve months have kicked my ass in ways i never thought i could handle. the financial stress has woken me, and then kept me awake, more nights than not. watching my business crumble at the same time i have been job-searching in an economic slump has humbled and exhausted me. i’ve brainstormed tirelessly to figure out how, as a forty-four year old artist and single parent to my now six year old daughter, i can weave a beautiful life for myself and for her, and keep my creative soul intact. i have experienced the deepest loneliness. i have asked for help from people – my friends, my family – after twenty-five years of never needing help. never. i’ve been paving and paying my own way, and supporting my own decisions, since i was fourteen.

but shifts happen – as i mentioned before – and gratefully it seems i have been able to leap off the last year’s hamster wheel, at last. my family has scrambled to keep me afloat, my sister has given countless pep talks, a few amazing friends have listened and love-bombed, and i placed one of the toughest phone calls i’ve made to ask a friend for help. but in what felt like a single moment, the wind which has been blowing against me for what seems a very long time, changed course suddenly, and i find it now at my back, a lovelier breeze, easing me along.

why did the wind shift course? a shift in energy, that’s what i believe. a singular, specific shift. suffice it to say that a friend, one of a few that have shown me extraordinary faith, pulled me in to her environment and gave me a place to sit for a time. and other people there, the ones that also sit for a time and do what they do, welcomed me and made me fall in love with them and showered me with gifts, the kind you feel but never see. and once that person’s gesture opened a space for me, another person’s gesture showed up – gloriously and without actual cause! – and then another. and the little shift became a larger shift, and i watched incredulously as i experienced the domino effect of someone saying, hi, i see you, and yes, i can give you a little help. and thanks to her, and the others who have shown up recently, and the ones that have been there all along, i think now i will be okay, maybe even better than okay. and as sad as i have been to say goodbye to so much and so many this year, there is balance and love in the company i keep. my gratitude is endless.

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2 Responses to “the company we keep”

  1. Mel Says:

    Award Winning. Truly.

  2. Gail Simmons Says:

    You know Kerri,you are expressing the deepest thoughts and feelings of so many during these times, but I would not have guessed as you so regularly express the joy of the day to day, and squeeze the beauty out of the smallest of events in a way that I so love. I love this last writing even more.


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