Since the demise of my marital condition I have spent 11 months homemaking on couches and in guest rooms. I have tackled the questions everyone has to answer as a relationship ends: Who am I? What does my past mean? What am I afraid of? Whom do I love?
I still tackle these most days.
I work daily to be a loving mother who cares about and encourages her kids in their ever-present condition of becoming. I get teeth brushed, hair washed, and something nutritious in them and me most of the time. We play, talk, wonder and sleep together on the half-time custody schedule.
I've earned money by taking whatever job my friends and associates offer me since applications don't bear fruit. I've done a passel of funerals, sold a lot of chicken salad, scooped behind many a beloved pet of someone else's.
I wrote a screenplay during National Script Writing Month. It wasn't very good and I didn't mind a bit. We all need our sanity projects.
A couple months ago I thought I was coming to a pretty good handle on it all. Not a lot of answers but at least the questions weren't making me almost wet my pants any more. Winter was over. I had housing set up for at least four months, money for groceries, and my pillow stayed dry four out of seven nights a week. Felt like I was on the upswing, you know?
Then I fell.
I was house sitting and setting out in the morning to get my kids from their dad's house to take them to school - a morning ritual which saved my emotional life on more than one occasion. I had my computer bag on my shoulder for midday job hunting. Heading out from the second floor guest room I made it down one step and my hip gave out.
So there I was: alone in a house across town from my kids falling down a flight of stairs.
I thought that in falls like that there's a delay before you feel the pain. There wasn't.
I thought that there's a point in a fall when your body stops fighting it. There isn't.
I never thought about it, but if I had I would've thought that when your spine gets shaped like a C with an ear stuck to shoulder and hip stuck to elbow that there isn't anything you can do about it. There is. But I don't recommend it.
Falling is just gravity voodoo. I saw a young buzzed guy fall off a barstool the other day (yes, DAY). He burst out laughing and hopped back up. I saw my son fall the next day. He shook his shoulders a little and moved on.
I fell down that flight of stairs and within 20 minutes managed to get my spine mostly back in place, climb in the car, and drive to where my children were. I screamed like a Banshee for much of that process but I still made it happen. My neck hurts as I type this, but it's way better and I probably wouldn't notice if I weren't talking about it.
It's the other falls that keep us limping. Stumbling out of a relationship. Tripping into unemployment. Slipping into mid-life. The gravity storm of grief. Those falls can knock you down and keep you there if you don't learn how to emotionally and spiritually give yourself a chiropractic adjustment and some serious recovery exercises.
On my stair tumble I broke my tailbone. I messed up my spine and neck which gave me shooting pains in every which direction for long weeks. My computer didn't even get a bump. I was lucky. But I did lose something when I fell. My chutzpah, my defenses, my denial of the extent of the losses of recent years... something tumbled out of me that I have yet to pick back up.
I recently met a woman who took a fall at a family event and was laid up for weeks of recovery hundreds of miles from home. Two years later she's sporting a plate, some pins, and a healthy wariness of stairs. She walks just fine. The same woman has been married twice and says she'll be alone the rest of her life. She likes being alone. Except it sure would be nice to have someone to go to the movies with or to look over an unfamiliar menu with and wonder together if they should risk the special. Each type of falling is different.
There's an old joke about a devout but frail Presbyterian widow who believed in the doctrine of predestination so firmly that when she fell down a flight of stairs she hopped up on the landing like a stunt woman, brushed herself off, and declared, "Well, I'm glad that one's over."
This one ain't over. I'm moving again, still looking for work like dozens of my friends. The divorce papers come through soon. I'm trying to jump up, right the stool, laugh, and climb back on but the gravity voodoo keeps catching up with me. That's just how it is going to be for awhile. Guess it's time to laugh harder.