Like afternoon changes to evening, sometimes when things change, you can’t put your finger on when they changed. Things stay the same, day after day, but then you look back, and everything is different. A lot of things in my life have changed lately. But unlike how summer left San Diego and closed the door quietly behind her, these changes are loud. And needed. Like rain flushing a river. Like mountaintops cutting clouds open, their waters washing everything, allowing new things to grow.
In the Vista courthouse, I plodded toward the civil wing in sterile sunlight filtering through floor-to-ceiling windows. I felt relieved. I smiled at the pumpkins pinned to the walls of court clerks’ cubicles. I glanced down at my new cheetah-print flats as a bailiff handed me stacks of trial binders, holding the door open for me as I left the court room. And as I pressed the button of the elevator with my black-and-white-stripped-sweatered elbow, I felt like everything was changing. Like blobs of color were placed at my edges, doused with water, and now the bright hues were seeping in towards my center.
This is my new job – a temp paralegal job covering the nicest woman ever’s maternity leave through the spring. Parts of it won’t be easy. I am going to have to find a way to still write. To write more than I have been, honestly. I am going have to hold onto writing – that side of me – like a dog at the other end of a chew toy, thrashing its head around. But isn’t this what being an adult is about? Reaching deep into your pockets and pulling out your moxie? Standing in the women’s bathroom during your break, putting your hand over your heart, amazed that its beating? Knowing that – through the hurry, hurry – the magic isn’t lost? Standing on a rooftop – the top floor of a skyscraper – overlooking a city, and knowing that the million warm rooms below you are filled with a million different stories and each of them like their own little award-winning movie filled romance, and failure, and triumph?
I don’t want the easy way out. I want to be bloodied and bruised in my corner of the ring, glove in the air, at the end of all this. I just want to be a woman I am proud of. One who uses her talents. Who is strong as nails. I want to squeeze Life like its an orange, leaving nothing but a rind.
I do try my best. But sometimes, I fall down. I get sad. Sad like the light is lost and won’t ever be found. I stop believing in myself. I make the wrong decisions. But when I dip my brush into brown eyeshadow in early morning hours… when I drink coffee as birds wake in song outside my window, I know this is me becoming something. There is a future in which I hold baby bottles, or there is my baby bottle-less future. But I know that winter-stripped trees reach their arms into the sky. And this is a future someone. This is – and I have to remember this – the young woman I’ll remember in my wheelchair. And my choice to put on deodorant…My memories that sting like a thousand busted beehives… The fresh cut flowers I can’t afford to buy, but look longingly at… all of these things are my becoming.
I am looking forward to the little things. Like making recipes from my cookbooks, because I am not strapped for cash. I am looking forward to planning. Maybe my plans involve U-Hauls or standing on the Great Wall of China, but this job opens that door. The Planning Door. The gas stations in the middle of nowhere-door. The eating weird things skewered on sticks-door.
I search through court websites for Demurrers to Second Amended Complaints. I watch the setting sun wipe an entire coastline in a warm red. I sit on the couch next to my Mom eating chocolate-covered almonds, astounded at how one particularly obnoxious bride chose a $3,000 gown for her reception and a $6,000 gown for her ceremony. The banter between my Mom and I is something like, “If I see a strapless mermaid with a sweetheart neckline one more time, I’m going to freak the f*&% out.” “That would look good on you. I can see you in that.” And I’m not always going to have these conversations with my Mom. I may not always live here. I will not always be this girl. This woman rather.
This change, honestly, was not the one I expected. But it feels so good. It feels like I am the inside of a hurricane. Like I am complicated. Beautiful in a not-simple way. Wounded and broken, but also fierce. Like I’ll bite your head off fierce. Like I’ll rip your house from its foundation-fierce. Morning breaks, and I can survive more. Do more. Be more. My wings hold me better. And even though I get afraid, something deep within me says, “You are on the right path.” And no matter how many twists and turns there are in the darkness, through the maze with walls thick and tall, I will hold my lantern high and steady and try to remember: I will find my way. And you will finds yours, too. And in the clearing, there you will be.