I suppose it’s true that we contain multitudes. (Thank you, Walt Whitman.)
Sitting in my house, my dog asleep beside me as I type this, planes flying in the blue sky above me, a wedding band on my left hand, I am listening to an old playlist from a few years ago. Songs I haven’t heard since an era of my life came to a close.
It’s often hard to reconcile the two women who have listened to these lyrics, these melodies. One was wild, searching, a little bit broken. She was uncertain but willing to dance the night away. Catch her in a bar with her friends, and nine times out of ten she’d have a beer in her hand, maybe her lips tasted like gin, maybe her dress was red, her mind already busy with how she’d write about it all. She didn’t know where she was headed, but she was going to travel and work and remain soft in a world that had left her in pieces a couple of times.
Today’s woman plans dinner, walks the dog, sits at a desk like before. She’s a little sunburned from sitting at the winery with friends yesterday. She wakes up each morning to a husband who makes her laugh first thing, whether she wants to or not. Mornings have never agreed with her (more accurately, she has never agreed with mornings), but she always kisses that uniformed man goodbye, has never missed a day.
Today, her view is very different than years ago, a small yard on an Air Force base, a tiny garden that she and her husband planted a few months back. The squash is beginning to flower. The basil is pungent and sweet. When the tomatoes ripen, she doesn’t wait to eat them. They’re perfect right off the vine.
She tries to write, but the pain isn’t what generates the words anymore. She’s far too content, too full of a quiet, daily joy to need the escape. In some ways, it scares her. The words used to flow like water and she simply couldn’t stop. She had to sit down and get the heartache and uncertainty on paper. It’s what healed her, and humorously enough, it’s what brought her to today. She only pets that soft, sleepy dog and tends the garden because the man–who will come home to eat lunch with her any minute now–read what she wrote and worked up the courage to reach out. To alter the course of their lives forever. She is only watching all those planes fly overhead because that unsteady version of herself decided to write.
She wouldn’t trade this new life for anything. But every now and then, she needs to play those old songs. To remember what it is to write with reckless abandon. To write because she has to. To write because it is as much a part of her as all the women inside of her. All the women who are still there, still willing to dance and stay up late weaving words together.
Still willing to take a risk and see what happens.