A year ago at this time, I was emerging from the most horrific year of relationship drama of my life only to be greeted by my dissertation. As memory serves me all too well, I was between domestic situations and camped out for about a week on my best friend, Amesbooty's living room futon in the People's Republic of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. All I really remember of this time was the feeling of relief that Amesbooty was there and worried about me. It's rare that I lean so hard on a dear friend, but truth be told, I was worried about me.
Of course, I knew it would take a matter of time and sheer strength of will for this to pass. In spite of the fact that my life was incredibly frayed and messy at the time, I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to face my life and this meant that I had to write. In facing my life, I had to face my dissertation...
So a year ago, I put myself together enough to leave Amesbooty's enclave in Capitol Hill for one last and final spin through Manhattan before heading north to New England for a summer of solitude and thought. On the way, I stopped for a healing session with a healer friend of mine in Long Island. If I hadn't done enough weeping already, it was done in spades as my healer friend made her magic. After that, I felt like I could handle a summer of writing and solitude.
And writing in solitude is what I did. As a metaphor for my life and my future, I ripped apart and put the pieces back together of my first chapter. I spent the next two months attempting to write, sleeping fitfully, attempting self-care. I was sad, very sad, but equally determined to find some way to triumph over the sadness. The fear of writing was paralyzing. But then again, the fear of not writing was motivating.
I wrote. I ran. I biked. My only friend was the chronically depressed, chain-smoking anthropologist living in the apartment beneath me in the hellhole of an house I was living in. We met almost weekly for her to tell me the stories of her men, her missed opportunities, and her depression. I watched her chainsmoke cigarrettes and made exciting drinks for us with the vodka she provided. She knew of my struggles, but it didn't seem to register for her. The interesting thing for me was that this meant that I could just listen and drink and not have to talk about or reflect on the deep sadness I was swimming through.
Fortunately, I think it is safe to say that I reached the other side of that sadness. I can't precisely say when or how I emerged from it like an upright sea creature covered in muck, but I did. All I know is that I put one foot in front of the other and walked out of it one day. No medication, no professional help. I just...did it.
By the end of the summer, I had a completed draft of something that my advisor tore to shreds within 24 hours, but I didn't care. I had written, and I knew that what I had was good. I continued to work on it for the next few months. But I knew that I was starting to tell a story worth telling, and it was good.
So, here I am a year later. On Saturday, my dear friend Amesbooty is set to come and visit me in Jerusalem. As always, we're going to have a marvelous time. And, of course, I am still writing. Writing and reading. Thinking and hoping. I could be anywhere right now, and I often have to remind myself that I am no longer in exile. In so many ways, I am home. The work is getting done, and at the end of the week I have the good fortune to put it all to rest for an evening of food, prayer and singing. The process has now become very peaceful for me. Some days are better than others, but the writing is flowing. I'm no longer scared of writing and scared of not writing at the same time.
And so, it's good. Every new page is proof to me. It's proof of survival and proof of being. It's proof that the path is always there. And proof that good things always seem to fall into place when we are living the lives we were put here to live.
Yes, my friends, all I can say is that I take the pain again for the realization of the beauty that comes after it passes. The rainbow is worth it despite all of the clouds. Perhaps this is really what it's like to live your dream?