About three years ago, shortly after Thanksgiving, I wrote a post called Suspension. We had moved to a new island a few months earlier and had just been back for a visit to our old island, so I wrote about our feelings of being suspended between the two islands, of living “half in the old world and half in the new one.”
(Truth in blogging interruption: It’s now killing me not to go back and rewrite that post. I wrote it in a moment of raw emotion, attempting to force pen to touch at something I was only beginning to understand and thus, blundering in the process. But there you have it. I’ll probably say the same thing about this post three years hence.)
Over a thousand days have passed since I wrote it, and as they have, my weight has shifted more and more to the new island, as life and people and jobs pull me in further. This is only natural, and is as it is meant to be. Still, there’s a part of me that longs for what once was, a part of me that could walk seamlessly back into that old life.
The thing that stands out to me now, however, is this: Isn’t life, at least for some of us, a series of suspensions, where we hover between our worlds? I started thinking about this in Chicago, where we spent a good part of Thanksgiving week last week, where memories were made live again as we walked down Michigan Avenue, as we stood ninety-five stories above the Chicago streets, as we introduced or reintroduced the kids to so many of our old haunts. One foot was back in that old life again.
And I realized that part of me longs to return to that old life, to the life of suburbs and cities and Midwestern vibes.
It was a good life.
But at the same time, I also kept thinking back to our old island, where we’ve spent so many Thanksgivings. I thought about what we’d be doing had we opted to spend Thanksgiving there instead. On the way to a steakhouse Monday night, I thought, “Hmm, we’d all be sitting out on the deck looking at the moon over the ocean.” On Tuesday afternoon, as Baby-Girl showed me everything a girl could possibly want from the American Girl store in Water Tower, I thought, “Hmm, I’d probably be walking the beach with LCB right now.” Time and again, I pictured standing as I’ve done so many times before, with my feet in the Atlantic, facing the shore, watching “the life being lived in the distance” in the houses that line the coast.
This probably sounds like moments of wishful thinking on my part. Indeed, some of them were. But there was something else within those moments.
There was also celebration.
Because this condition of being suspended – no, this act of suspension that we, in the end, can choose for ourselves, is a blessing. That we can choose to love more than one place, that we can choose to make those memories live again, either by physically reinhabiting those worlds or by recreating them in our minds, that choice is a gift.
On its surface, suspension can seem arduous, like a constant state of disconnect. And it can be both of those things. It can feel like being torn, like something inside you will irreparably sever if you remain like this.
I’ve felt torn this way.
But suspension can also be a gift. To have loved even one place the way I have is something that’s brought such undeserved joy. But to have loved two places that way, and to be on my way to perhaps loving a third place like that?
Yeah, sometimes it feels like a tearing apart.
But sometimes, it also feels a lot like grace.
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