Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What I lost and what I found.

There's a lot I don't miss about the way my life was before Coronavirus. I don't miss driving.  I don't miss shopping (except at the Goodwill Bins). I don't really even miss socializing. I miss little things, unexpected things. I miss wearing boots. I miss holding our one-year-old baby friend Amal. I miss waiting for Lucia to get off the number 48 at the transit station. I miss seeing her talking, laughing, leaning into one of her friends. I miss her yelling goodbye to them as she gets into the car, reporting to me about her bus ride or the hilarious thing that happened in Chemistry. I miss the natural distance that makes coming back together again sweet and special and welcome.

I cried four times yesterday thinking of that scene-- of Lucia rounding the corner past the entrance of the US Bank on Rainier Avenue. I can see it so clearly-- her smile, her comfortable carriage, so familiar with every aspect of every movement,  knowing that she'll be right back at that same bus stop with the same friends the next day.

Why does that specific image give me such intense longing? I long for that feeling of coming together after being apart. This natural rhythm of moving apart and coming back together is the action that polishes the stones on the footpath from childhood to young adulthood. Each time our children brave the big, open world, they experience tiny, manageable moments of insecurity and fear. And then they come home to their parent(s), to the reassurance that they can rest in that home ground of childhood and safety again. That experience-- Lucia, out in the world, her own person, in lockstep with her friends, deeply satisfied with these new relationships, but still needing me just a little bit-- doesn't happen these days. There's nowhere to go. No friends to see. No adventures to have.  I miss the natural separation and coming together, that sweet spot of reconnection and appreciation that we used to have. I miss it for myself and I miss it for Lucia. I remember those teenage years when I tried on independence and then came home and shored myself up for another round the next day. I want that for Lucia and her friends. I want the big open world to be their playground again.

I have faith. I know that the world will open up again. We'll go back to "normal" and I'll long for the days when Lucia was close in and safe all the time. It's human nature, to long for what we do not have. But in the absence of the old, there is space to find something new. When I stop longing for what once was and step into what is true right now, I can see clearly that there are things happening now that would not have been possible before. Lucia and her peers are building a different kind of resilience right now. They are being called to figure out their autonomy in different ways-- managing their own school work in the absence of in-person teachers and classmates, finding ways to move their bodies alone instead of with their teams. They are being forced to both spend time with and create space from their parents, discovering the strength in their own voices as they ask for what they need. They are inventing new ways to connect with their friends and entertain themselves.

I miss those tender, predictable moments at the bus stop. But, as I make room for these new daily rituals, as I appreciate them for what they are, I can see that when they're gone, I'll miss them too.

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