Late night lights in Truth Or Consequences, NM
I’ve been writing Ramshackle Glam for nearly ten whole years – which means that there is a LOT of good stuff hanging out in my archives. So each Friday, we’ll be doing a little throwback to one of my personal favorites. This week, I got to thinking about readings – I’ve had a few done over the years, but two in particular stand out in my memory. The first was a reading that Kendrick and I did together midway through our cross-country move from New York to California. The second was a reading I got shortly after the divorce.
Both made me realize that there’s something I’ve been trying so hard to find for years now. But I’m starting to wonder whether that something is a part of me I left in the past and want so badly to recapture…or a part of me that’s still dancing around the edges, waiting to be discovered.
We needed this trip. So, so badly.
I knew it when we decided to drive out here, how good it would be for us to just spend time together, as a couple and as a family, in a way we haven’t in a really, really long time. It’s mostly the hours in the car that have done it: we talk, sing along to music, run around gas station convenience stores picking out terrible, horrible things to eat, and mostly just hang out together.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted this: to just be together.
One of the coolest, most unexpectedly crazy and amazing places we’ve stopped so far was a tiny (tiny) town called Truth Or Consequences, in New Mexico. A reader recommended it, and so we spent the night there on the way to Tucson, and what we discovered was the most remarkable place: a town full of mineral springs and crystal rock piles and offbeat art installations and people so chilled-out they could have been sort of pleasantly sleepwalking. We did lots of mineral bath-soaking and thrift store-browsing, and then, in the spirit of that whole “let’s do this Life Thing together from now on, rather than apart” concept, decided to book a tarot reading for two.
Here’s my feeling about tarot readings: I believe in them; I really do, but not exactly because I think I’m being “told my future.” Kendrick’s never done one before, and so he was surprised I was volunteering so much information to the reader (who came to our hotel room and gave us the reading while our kids watched – and then had their own palms read, which was super cool). I think Kendrick’s impulse was to not give anything away, to see if the guy “got stuff right,” – but to me, it’s not a party trick; it’s a conversation. Sort of like a therapy session; it’s a chance to talk and see what feels right and get it all out with someone completely objective (and theoretically very intuitive).
And so we talked, and told the reader what was going on in our life, and what he told us (among lots of other stuff), was that he had the sense that we were both trying – so hard – to recapture something in our shared past that we felt had been lost somewhere along the way.
He was right. We are.
The day after Kendrick and I got engaged, we spent the morning splashing around together in a Vegas swimming pool and laughing like lunatics, just because we were so crazy happy to have found each other. I miss that; I think everyone misses that about the beginning of a relationship. But I also miss him, you know? I’ve missed him a lot, these past couple of years. I’ve missed being partners in the everyday whatever, not just planets that collide every so often.
Just this morning, the kids were napping and Kendrick and I decided to get in the pool, and then all of a sudden there we were: swimming around and hugging and laughing and it felt so much like it used to. It really did feel very much, like a…I don’t know, I don’t want to get too weird here, but whatever, apparently I get weird after fourteen days in a car – it felt like a healing. It’s just true: something about this trip has felt like a spiritual journey, in addition to a physical one.
For the first few states we were still pulling out all our old baggage, sifting through all that crap we’ve been carrying around these past many months – the blame and who’s-doing-more-for-whom and the guilt and the worry – and then, somewhere around the middle, something changed. And now we’re out west – we’ll be hitting the California border later on today – and out here in the desert the water is so scarce that it feels…magical, almost. And every time we step into it – a mineral bath, a pool, whatever – it’s felt to me like an opportunity to shed the past in preparation for whatever’s next.
You know what my son said to me the other night, after a long day of running around? He sighed: “Today was a long time.” And then he looked at me and said, “But it’s just the beginning.”
Kids, man. They’re like little readers, just telling you the truth.
The strangest thing happened over the weekend. I dropped off the kids with their dad for a bit, and headed back home, intending to check a bunch of things off my to-do list (fold laundry, start dinner, vacuum, whatever), and then I thought…f it. None of these are things that can’t wait. I’m going to do what I want to do for a minute. I’m going to do something that makes me happy.
And then I realized that I had absolutely no idea what that might be.
I’m serious. I had virtually no idea what I might want to do – just me, with no one else’s wants to think about. Did I want to…read? Nap? Watch a movie? I sifted through all the things that sounded like, you know, things people do when they’re relaxing, but nothing sounded even vaguely appealing. You know what I really wanted to do? Fold laundry. Start dinner. Tick boxes off lists.
A week or so ago I had an online tarot card reading done. I’ve always been a big believer in tarot – not because I think the cards will “predict the future,” or anything like that. I view a reading as an opportunity to talk through the central issues in your life with someone who’s objective, and theoretically very intuitive. Ultimately it’s up to you to figure out what the reading means, and I think there’s something very powerful about exploring a problem from a completely new angle.
The reading – from Queen of Wands Tarot ($33! You should do this, seriously) – was almost stunningly spot-on and thoughtful and relevant to my situation, but one of the many parts that I keep coming back to was this: the reader told me that the spread was about taking ownership of enormous internal resources, and being proud of them and the things that they have helped to create.
Am I proud of myself? Of the life I’ve built? When I stop and think about this idea of pride, the easy answer is yes, I am proud – but what strikes me is how many of the sources of my pride are external to me. A book I wrote. A pretty room I decorated. The fact that I’ve been teaching the kids to read, and they’re doing such a great job at it. I’m proud of the fact that I do so much, all at the same time, and that I never stop, ever. I get shit done, and done well. That’s my thing, you know. My personal narrative, or whatever (thanks, therapy).
But standing there alone in my silent house, with really nothing at all that I had to do, and yet still unable to stop trying to figure out what “needed to be done,” for the first time, maybe, it struck me as odd. I had to wonder: what if some (or a lot) of this nonstop work I’ve spent so many years doing wasn’t…well…necessary? What if I’ve spent years creating work for myself that didn’t even need to exist?
And what if – and here’s the big one – the reason that I’ve done this is to put off what I’m afraid I might discover when all the boxes are finally checked, and all the lists are finally finished:
I might not actually know myself very well at all.
Because “myself” – not the things I do, just…me – isn’t a thing I’ve ever given a whole lot of thought to.
Am I proud? Of myself? I have no idea how to answer that question.
I work. I vacuum. I do load after load of laundry and make sure my kids get to gymnastics class on time and fill up the bowl on the table with fresh fruit whenever it runs low. I wake up and roll over and check emails, and then run whatever the day’s marathon is, and at the end of the day, when it’s time to slow down, I sit down to watch a movie with my kids. I sit down, and – like clockwork – my mind spirals off into the dirty dishes in the sink and the proposal I haven’t finished and the fact that I should really check the bank account because the mortgage is due soon, and then all of a sudden I’m sliding out from between them and whispering “I have to do one thing! I’ll be right back!” …but then one thing becomes twenty, and all of a sudden it’s later, and the movie is over.
I want to sit through the whole movie. I want to know whether I like it, or whether there’s one I might like better.
I think this shifting, painful, impossible moment in my life might just be a good time to find out.