The night may be tinged with cricket song, but the driveway is muddy and my new car is streaked, and there’s blocks of clouds covering what the stars do automatically. The house is quiet, but my heart is noisy and there’s pain behind my eyes. There are no obligations to do or be anything at this hour, but I’m all out of gumption and my body has settled into a heavy inertia that feels a lot like sinking.
Maybe all this push and pull means I am on the brink of something new. Like an idea. Or a direction. Or a buried passion that I will stumble upon like a shiny penny from the year I was born. Or maybe I’m tired. Maybe Ron’s poem tonight about writer’s block hit home. Or maybe it didn’t hit anywhere near where I live. Maybe a poet doesn’t live here. Maybe I’m just a mom and wife who thinks she writes. Maybe I’m feeling sorry for myself.
One of my dearest friends is turning 70 tomorrow. I’m pretty sure she is not feeling sorry for herself. She said she is “dancing into a new decade.” This is yet another example of why I love everything about her, and how she carries herself in this world. Unlike me at this moment, she is grace and beauty, kind and deliberate in her sharing of herself and the lovely things that easily surround her. I wish I could accept her way in the world as a gift she continually gives me every time we are in touch, instead of hoping I, too, will magically have the same delicate footprints leading to myself at age 70.
The truth is, maybe this moment, here in my vacillating between love and indifference, clamor and quiet, empty and full, I have come to a fork in the road. And I’m going to take it.
Such is the way of a gypsy spirit. Without sounding distinctively familiar, we can choose to go down one path and be content with it. But we can also choose halfway down the way to turn around and go back the other way where there might be more bends, but the pathway is lined with lush green ferns.
Here is where I’m deciding to turn around. Instead of moving away from the things I love whenever I feel deflated, I need to walk uphill toward them. I’m sure that this is what my newly-70-year-old friend must do on a regular basis. She doesn’t mind stepping over all the broken branches, or that it gets damp and cool the deeper she goes in. She will come out carrying pocketfuls of gemstones she found along the way, and looking refreshed. I want to trek that path, too, because I’m pretty sure it leads to where I belong. Where friends and family and artists and music and new cars and drink and great books await me, like an audience that’s always clapping for me.
From here to 70, I, too, am now deciding to live fully engaged to all things beautiful, to build a home for myself, and toss the simple nuisances aside like that time I threw the candy wrapper over the fence at the high-school football game. I might get caught; I might have an “oh-shit” moment, but I dance on. Screw headaches and writer’s block and downtrodden mindsets and one more wrinkle around the eyes. This gypsy spirit is moving ahead. I need to keep up with my beautiful, young friend and be thankful for one more gift she just now gave me. No matter which way I go, there I am. And, yes, a poet does live here.