Snow days, Mimosas: Dear Karen
About six years ago to the days, a BFF and roommate of mine who was just as organizationally challenged as I am sat down on our couch at 425 West Kelly with our piles of paper and mimosas to help add pep to our menial tasks at hand. It was April, no real skiing to be had on that day and like today it was gray and wet and slightly snowing.
Without planning it, I have nearly created the exact same scenario at my home this afternoon. I haven’t had a mimosa yet but I do have a fairly recently opened bottle of prosecco in the fridge. I’m aware that my not-so-recently opened box of unsweetened almond milk won’t really work as a mixer but I hope my roommates would oblige me with a few drops of their juice to make this walk down memory lane complete. I’ve covered my living room with piles that came from other piles that were put away in big plastic tubs which help me feel organized by procrastinating the clutter which silently overtakes my life. Journals, bills, pictures, scripts…Tax forms really should be put in a safer place then a plastic bag…
I’m feeling pretty good as I have just found $100 stashed away in an envelope I was about to throw away.
As I organize I am aware that in another six years, one year after not being in my 30’s anymore, I’ll probably be going through the same stuff again, reminiscing and looking for orange juice for my two day old prosecco. I might have kids or a cat, live in Italy, live in god knows where, know how to crochet, own a new computer, be married, be single, have student loans. I’ll probably still bite my nails. I’ll definitely still be completely in love with my nieces.
I’ll sit and look at our photos and I know I’ll be stronger than I am now. Maybe I’ll be able to tell whoever is with me in my life about this woman I loved as a sister without getting that strange frog voice which makes everyone (including myself) a little uncomfortable.
I hope I can still hear her laugh as I do now.
I never responded to her last email where she wrote to me about an ending of a relationship:
I need to think only of gratitude and it turns things around.
(Lump in throat even as I’m writing those words. Cue mental frog voice.)
In this year I’ve been successful in holding down jobs I basically like, paying my bills, having some laughter in the midst and learning to forgive myself for not writing Karen the email she deserved before April 11th 2014. I had scratch just a few short notes with intentions to get a good, long one in to her when I finally had a day off. I was, as I am all too often and still, “too busy/getting my life on track/trying to figure out the next step/working too much.”
Looking around at the piles I see stacks of ADD, paper and dirt-archived snapshots of things I forgot to finish. I catch myself feeling so much guilt for all that I haven’t done in the last year, or in my life in general. Then by some grace of courage, I find myself re-reading those words of Karen (I haven’t been able to see the old emails) and those receipts, playbills, old notes and half-full journals become like messy but perfect little fibers of love that make up my life. I get to feel grateful for those past snow days, mimosas, talks about broken hearts and digestion. There’s a little triumph in my Monday.
And things turn around.
I am frequently disappointed in the fact that I haven’t been able to write about my experiences of in losing my best friend or finish grants for the next wave of project1979. Mainly I just work and watch Netflix and know that soon this aching hole will not have so much power over me. I’ve been numbing this raw humanness of living through tragedy and today, in the midst of the chaos of my piles, a snow day and a memories I found that little crack where Leonard Cohen says the light gets in.
Karen went on to write:
I try to eat kale, too and it helps because then I poop first thing in the morning and it is wonderful.
Gratitude, kale and a healthy colon…
I can imagine her giggle as she wrote that.
Thank you for that advice.